GUI piping instead of screen shots

Currently I have to share info via capturing screen shots of various tools. An example of where this is required is in Eclipse’s Java developers environment.

The Eclipse IDE via the various added plugins and features captures a lot of metadata about a project and its various assets. For example, in the outline view you can see various listings with applied filters. Now try to share that in an email or document. You have to take a snap shot of the screen. This is not a very practical example, it’s just to show the issue. This issue comes in various other plugins like Team providers. Note, I’m not singling out Eclipse on this; all tools and applications have this problem.

While screenshots can convey the original purpose of sharing a particular view of data, they are very difficult to reuse in diverse ways. For example, we may want to sort or filter a listing of data. Or we we may want to reuse that data with external reporting or metric applications. With a GUI screen shot this is not possible.

Graphical tools should allow piping of information. As in Unix piping, a tool should allow re purposing of its generated data. This is not just a developers geeky need; many times error pop ups and other types of displays do not allow the end user to copy the actual ASCII textual information.

There are many ways of doing this. At root, the two options are textual piping, as used in *nix systems, and object piping, as used in PowerShell.

The ideal solution would allow a drag&drop functionality. This is already used in many apps via OS or application level support. For example, right click on the browser and you can copy stuff. Yet, even in the browser scenario, the data result is not semantic (based on the information context), it’s just text or via the contextual menu a set of standard objects.

One possibility is that a drag&drop sets up a pipe line and a standard markup of the data is transferred.


Windows file symlinker gui

Windows has the ability to create file links. Not the regular “shortcuts”, Linux like links.

This is hidden in a shell command called MKLINK. Many people are not comfortable with a command shell (even many developers!). I sometimes just want to stay in the graphical view too.

Example Use
Just downloaded the new Groovy 2.1.0-rc-1 to check it out. I put my tools in a versions folder and then I create a directory link to the version I currently use. I wrote about this in “Switching between versions of tools“. So, when I install this new version a directory list (dir groovy) would look like this.

C:\java>dir g* | find "groovy"
01/10/2013  09:08 PM    <JUNCTION>     groovy [C:\java\GroovyVersions\groovy-2.1.0-rc-1]

This would usually be created with the mklink command as follows:

mklink /D groovy GroovyVersions\groovy-2.1.0-rc-1

With symlinker:
“The goal is just make it easier to create symbolic links, hard links, or directory junctions, using a pretty simple interface, so no more bogus command line to do it… ”

Is there any gui linker that allows you to create the link in the current explorer location? Yes, we can create a shell extension and all that, but shouldn’t computers make this easier to do? On symlinker’s project site, a user asks for this capability.

Ok, so it is graphical and looks good. However, now you have to fill in two input fields that require you to navigate using Windows explorer, where to create the link and then where to point the link. Using the command line is faster especially if you use tab-completion. You can use the Windows explorer window and type, of course, however, the “completion” there is more awkward.

Anyway, recommended tool for occasional link creation in Windows.

Tool Switching
The approach above is easy and works. If you need to switch a group of tools and libraries to different versions, that is more complex, perhaps even in the realm of package managers. In Windows there are no lightweight frameworks for this. On Linux there are tools like GVM.

TiddlyWiki save changes on FireFox browser

Just tried to save my TiddlyWiki local homepage. Failed under FF 17.

Went to the TiddlyWiki forum to see if there is any info: link
I installed the new TiddlyFox extension:
Restarted the browser and now I can save wiki pages to local file system.

FireFox: 17
TiddlyWiki: 2.6.5

Synergy now easier to configure

Just updated Synergy to version 1.4.10 which uses a GUI to help layout the different screen relationships. Nice. Took about two minutes to install and share the keyboard and mouse between a PC and laptop.

Synergy lets you easily share your mouse and keyboard between multiple computers on your desk, and it’s Free and Open Source. Just move your mouse off the edge of one computer’s screen on to another. You can even share all of your clipboards. All you need is a network connection. Synergy is cross-platform (works on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux).

Basically, it is a software Keyboard Video Mouse (KVM) switch.


  1. Synergy
  2. How To Control Multiple Computers With A Single Keyboard And Mouse
  3. Synergy for Mac: SynergyKM
  4. KVM Switch

Show hidden windows utility on PC

Sometimes a program may crash or show deranged behavior and one of the dialogues cannot be accessed. I remember years ago I used a utility that could show these hidden windows. Good luck searching on web for something like “show hidden windows” or better phrases. You won’t find it. Well, yea, you could. I did.

Sometimes a program may crash or show deranged behavior and one of the dialogues cannot be accessed. This just happened to me. A program looks like it is stuck in a thread issue. When I look on its thread list it seems to be waiting for user input. There is no dialog visible. Clicking on the program’s window just gives the waiting mouse pointer. Sure you can just kill the program but this may not help you find out what the problem really is.

I remember years ago I used a utility that could show these hidden windows. Good luck searching on web for something like “show hidden windows” or better phrases. You won’t find it. Well, yea, you could. I did. But, I’m good, smirk.

Note that this utility is pretty basic, just shows a list of window objects. Some of them should not be unhidden, they will lock the utility itself or cause other problems. Perhaps there is something out there that is better? Seems this should be part of the Sysinternals utilities.


  1. Unhider
  2. Windows Sysinternals