"A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new." - Albert Einstein

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Studio Tax

Free Canadian Income Tax Software

It's getting to that time where we need to file income tax. Last year, I did a search and came across this FREE software from a company called BHOK IT Consulting. The software is called StudioTax. And it is absolutely free for personal use. No additional forms or modules are required if you have income or deductions like investments or a small business. As I said, last year I used it and got a sizable refund.

StudioTax is a windows bilingual personal Income Tax preparation software made by Canadians for Canadians. StudioTax is distributed using a free licensing model. No license key or registration is required to download, install and use StudioTax. After you use StudioTax and you find it useful, please  take the time to make a modest monetary contribution toward the support of this product.

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Saturday, January 30, 2021

Net Updater

Auto Update Tool

The NetUpdater component enables Delphi developers to easily incorporate a powerful, automatic update feature to their own software. Net Updater provides a flexible, easy solution to manage all your update requirements.

Built using some of the same functions found in Net Update, this Delphi component supports all common, trusted protocols (HTTP, HTTPS, FTP and LAN), automatic proxy detection, interactive and silent mode, and much more.

Industry Standard Protocols
Properties NetUpdater uses safe, trusted protocols for HTTP, HTTPS, FTP and LAN updates. These are the same protocols used today in Microsoft's Internet Explorer. So you know it works.

Flexible Version Analysis
Update status is determined by either version number or date-time stamp. Typically, a complete update to the whole application would be controlled using the version number, and application patches or modifications would be controlled using date-time stamps. Additionally, updated miscellaneous files can be controlled by file size - only files where the size differs would be updated.

Interactive or Silent Modes
Flexible running modes ensure update notices are delivered and provide a choice on how to apply to update. The normal, interactive mode prompts the end user all along the download and installation path. You can enforce corporate software standards by selecting either Silent or Hidden modes. Silent mode shows the end user exactly what is being downloaded and installed, but does not allow him to cancel the update. In Hidden mode, all download and update operations are carried out in the background, entirely hidden from the end user.

Choice of Update Method
NetUpdater provides the developer with a choice of how the updates are to be delivered and installed. NetUpdater can download and install all required files itself, or download and automatically run a third party installer (Inno Setup by Jordan Russell is recommended, but any third party installer will work), or the user can be directed to a URL for more information and download.

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Friday, January 29, 2021

Email Marketing Basics

Email marketing isn’t that much more difficult to do than sending out regular email. There are only a few things that you need to be aware of when sending bulk emails.

  1. Most ISPs and web hosting services do not allow you to send out tons of emails all at once as they view this as possible spam. For the most part, there is a cap on what can be sent out. Usually around 200 – 250 emails per day and not more than 50 emails per hour. There are some exceptions, but for the most part, they are exceptions rather than the rule.
  2. The more images you include in the email, the more likely it will be caught as spam. To save on bandwidth,  most bulk email messages use images stored on servers rather than attached to the email message itself. Doing this will increase the likelihood of being caught as spam.
  3. Outlook 2007 will really mess up formatted email. Microsoft decided that with Outlook 2007 that they would use the Word engine to render and compose email in Outlook rather than the Internet Explorer engine. Problem is, Word is not 100% compliant with internet style standards. So messages created in anything else, including many online emails services, look terrible when received in Outlook 2007... and about 25% of email users use that program for their email.
  4. If sending to recipients on Yahoo or Gmail, there is a good chance your email will be flagged as spam. If received by too many recipients at Yahoo or Gmail, your domain and/or ISP may be flagged as spammers and blacklisted, which could mean other email servers may start rejecting your email.

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Monday, January 25, 2021


Easy-To-Use Home Inspection Software

Columbus is an excellent first-choice, report writer for the home inspector doing residential inspections. Additionally, Columbus can be easily customized to fit any type inspection or reporting style. Save time and money publishing comprehensize inspection reports. Enjoy the speed and convenience of a checklist system, and still produce the professional and effective narrative reports your clients expect.

Main Features

The main features of Columbus include:

  • Easy, intuitive user interface using familiar wizard-style
  • Create an unlimited number of reports with licensed version - no annual fee
  • Reports are personalized to your company
  • Publish reports to HTML and RTF documents (and then print to PDF)
  • View pending, completed or all reports from a single screen
  • Track and report on client and site information at time of inspection
  • Each section includes general overview, description, limitations and observations
  • All text, including default general comments, can be edited to match your reporting style
  • Add new narratives on-the-fly, or to master templates for future reference
  • Attach photo and/or sketch with comments or caption to each observation

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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Cheap Hi-Speed Internet

High-Speed Internet 5Mbps for $18.95 /Month

Looking for a cheap hi-speed internet service. I just came across this service available in Ontario and Quebec. Apparently it's been around for a couple of years. Now offering hi-speed service for only $18.95 /month. With unlimited service and no activation fees. Great if you are into downloading media. No limit on bandwidth and you can get encrypted browsing if you want it  Also, 100GB of online storage, SSH tunnels and a FREE static IP address are available. In order to get the $18.95 rate, you have to pre-pay for one year. After that, the rate is $33.95 /month. Still a great deal considering the unlimited bandwidth.

What if you don't have an active Phone Line?
Acanac`s Naked DSL lets you surf the net without having an active phone line. This is great for cell phone users who do not have land lines or Voip users who are tired of paying the big bucks to the major phone providers. All you need for Naked (Dry Loop) DSL is a phone jack. No dial tone is necessary.

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Friday, January 22, 2021


Powerful permissions-based email client

Espresso is a powerful permissions-based email client designed to completely eliminate spam as you define it from your Inbox. And now it is available absolutely FREE!

Espresso's unique email filtering system is based on common sense. Everyone knows from whom they want to receive email. Anyone else who sends you messages is sending you junk, otherwise known as spam. Espresso does not filter junk. It only looks for messages you want to receive based on simple, yet powerful rules. Using a number of options available, you decide how to handle messages from unknown senders.

In addition to controlling spam, Espresso offers the following features to control how you manage email:

  • lightweight and portable email client
  • powerful junk mail filtering based on permissions
  • filter messages using regular expressions
  • ability to add notes to individual messages
  • hide private messages from prying eyes
  • automatically blind copy on all outgoing mail
  • easily flag important messages
  • supports POP3, IMAP4, HTTP protocols
  • preconfigured for easy setup of Hotmail and GMail
  • built-in backup and restore mailbox
  • powerful spell-checker for outgoing messages
  • choose to save or delete messages when you send them
  • automatically mark messages as read when moved to trash


Lightweight and Portable
Espresso was designed to be both lightweight and portable. In order to maintain it's lightweight architecture, Espresso supports all the expected email requirements, but eliminates all the unnecessary "fancy" features which tend to make the application chunky and add no real value. As a result, Espresso requires just over 2MB of hard disk space (plus the size of the mailbox), and occupies about 7MB of RAM with a average size mailbox loaded. This lightweight feature gives Espresso amazing speed.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021


Eliminate over 98% of junk mail... before it ever reaches your inbox!


Get the email you want and nothing else. Junkanoo quickly and easily helps you stop junk mail (spam) from reaching your inbox with just a few simple rule-based options and white/black list filtering.

Feature List
This unique and intuitive application allows you to block junk mail (spam) from ever reaching your inbox, while allowing email from trusted senders to pass immediately! Through the easy-to-use configuration and main screen, you will quickly and efficiently manage potential junk emails, your POP3 and SMTP accounts, and email filter rules.

  • Check unlimited number of POP3 email accounts.
  • Setup in minutes... start filtering junk email immediately.
  • Delete junk email automatically or manually directly from server.
  • Ignore email over specified size.
  • Quickly view messages in plain text, html or raw format.
  • Reply to messages or send new message through SMTP server.
  • Use whitelist to ensure good email reaches you.
  • Check for personal information to identify good email.
  • Use blacklist to fine tune junk filter.

What is Junk Email?
Junk Email (or "Spam") is really any email received when it has not specifically been asked for. Usually it is advertising goods or services, but can sometimes carry harmful "viruses". Invariably, it is always something that you most likely didn't want to receive. Also, some of the material you receive may be considered offensive, ie: advertising that contains pornographic material and images.

All junk emails have a number of common qualities. For example, all junk email will encourage the reader to visit a specific website for more information. In order to do this, the junk mail message has to contain a link to another site. ALL junk email does this one basic thing! For the most part, your friends do not, as a rule, send emails containing links. Junkanoo will automatically identify emails containing links and mark them as junk. This is just one type of filter effectively used by Junkanoo.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Add Watermark / Background Image to Listview

After using the listview component for awhile, undoubtedly you will want to add a background image or a watermark to the background just like Windows Explorer does for the My Music or My Videos folders. A watermark is simply a background image that stays in the bottom right-hand cornor of the listview. Seems simple enough. A quick Goggle search for "listview background image" turns up countless results which range from using a custom owner-drawn technique to using built-in properties for some of the newer versions of Visual Basic or Visual C++.

Background Image
It quickly becomes obvious that adding a background image can be accomplished in any number of ways. And, that no one really seems to know how to add a watermark to the listview the same way that Windows Explorer does. Searching through the Mircosoft documentation for the listview control uncovers the Windows message LVM_SETBKIMAGE and the LVBKIMAGE record or structure. It would seem that this is a good place to start.

There are three key members of the LVBKIMAGE structure which determine how (and if) a bitmap image is displayed in the listview. The three members are ulFlags, hbm, and pszImage. There are three flags to indicate the source of the image, and two flags to indicate the style. The source flags are LVBKIF_SOURCE_NONE, LVBKIF_SOURCE_HBITMAP, and LVBKIF_SOURCE_URL. These three source flags are defined as follows:

      The list-view control has no background image.
      A background bitmap is supplied via the hbm member of LVBKIMAGE.
      The pszImage member contains the URL of the background image.

The LVBKIF_SOURCE_NONE flag when set produces obvious results. No background image is displayed.

The LVBKIF_SOURCE_HBITMAP flag is interesting in that the Microsoft documentation indicates that the hbm member is "not currently used". Interesting that there is a flag for a bitmap handle that is not used. As we'll see later, it is more that using the hbm member is undocumented, rather than unused.

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Monday, January 18, 2021

My Hawaiian Journal

Hawai'i is a beautiful place to visit, as I did for our 25th wedding anniversary. This Hawaiian site was my first web-site and I include it here as a tribute to how this all started. Surf on over. You'll find lots of tips and other useful information about Maui, Kauai and O'ahu. Have fun browsing. If you get a minute, let me know what you think.


 Maui was the first island we visited on our trip to Hawai'i. For a first time trip to the islands, or a revisit to the islands, Maui is a definite destination point.

In Maui, we stayed at the Aston at Papakea Resort, an oceanfront haven set within 13 acres of freshwater lagoons, picturesque bridges, and lush tropical landscapes. Even though an ocean wall separates the resort from the water, the beach is easily accessible for an enjoyable stroll or dip. I highly recommend staying at Papakea's when visiting.

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Monday, January 18, 2021

Japan - Yakitori Shacks and Cold Coffee

Occassionally, business takes you to places you only dream about going. This is the case with a recent trip to Japan. The majority of our group had never been before, so everyone was looking forward to the adventure, though not necessarily the long flight. Starting in Toronto at 10:00am on Sunday for what was a relatively short 5 hour flight to Vancouver. Following a two hour layover, we boarded the plane to Japan for the final 10 hour leg of the trip.

The flight path takes you north over Alaska and across the Bering Strait, then down to Japan. Clear skies ensured an exciting view of Alaska. For hundreds of miles, the view consisted of a vast wasteland of cool white snow and shadows cast by the afternoon sun.

Somewhere in the middle of the Pacific, we crossed the international date line, arriving in Narita Airport at 5:00pm Monday afternoon. Narita Airport is an hour drive from our hotel, the Shinagawa Prince, in Tokyo. Having been up for over 24 hours, the plan was to force ourselves to stay up a couple of hours more, then get a good nights sleep and start fresh in the morning.

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