31 December 2015

Article Removed

09 December 2015

DelphiDabbler.com Lives On!

30 November 2015

System Information Unit v5.2.0 Released

I've just released v5.2.0 of the System Information Unit.

This release adds support for detecting and reporting on the new "November Update" TH2 release of Windows 10.

This has been quite hard to detect because although Microsoft bumped the build number they haven't classed the update as a service pack, so TPJOSInfo reports no service pack as being present. In fact everything looks the same as the original Windows 10 except for the build number.

To allow users to display a bit more information when running on Windows 10 TH2 I've added a new ServicePackEx method to TPJOSInfo. This returns the same result as the existing ServicePack method when run on any OS prior to Windows 10 TH2. However on that OS ServicePack returns an empty string while ServicePackEx returns 'TH2: November Update'. The rationale of providing the new method is that I don't want to subvert ServicePack from its documented remit of reporting genuine service packs and only genuine service packs.

The intention is that ServicePackEx will also detect any future major updates that aren't classed as service packs by MS. Whether this is possible remains to be seen.

The other change in v5.2.0 is that the TPJOSInfo.BuildNumber method now always returns 0 if it can't determine the build number. Prior to this BuildNumber would sometimes try to get a build number from the registry as a last resort. This feature has been removed because it's become apparent that the registry can return the incorrect value for the build number despite the correct number actually being visible when the registry is viewed in regedit. It seems like Windows is spoofing the registry to report an older OS in these circumstances.

Well it all gets more and more complicated with each release of Windows doesn't it!

01 October 2015

DelphiDabbler.com - Live Or Die?

If you're one of the regular visitors to DelphiDabbler.com then you may have noticed that it's not been updated much over the last year or so. Same goes for this blog, my applications, the code library and the code snippets database.

What it boils down to is this: the time has come to decide whether to continue with the site or not.
 And I need your help to decide.

There are a couple of reasons why I've got to this point. The first is that my interest in music, playing the guitar and recording has resurfaced and it's taking up some of my spare time. The second, and most important, reason is that I'm getting disillusioned with Delphi (the compiler, not the language). I just can't, or won't, keep up with the cost of upgrades.

The problem is that I'm just a hobbyist developer and the cost of staying up to date is getting prohibitive. I feel I'm getting more reward by spending my cash on musical instruments and studio kit than on a constant stream of compiler updates.

I'm not having a pop at Embarcadero here. Amateurs are probably not part of their target group of customers. And if that's true, I can offer no argument as to why we should be! I'm simply commenting that the cost of entry is too rich for me right now.

You'd be staggered to learn quite how many decent quality instruments and bits of studio kit I've paid for just by missing out on a couple of Delphi Pro updates and not upgrading to the Android support module!

Here's where my Delphi XE4 to XE6 update cash went: a stunning Tanglewood koa wood tenor ukulele and an excellent Yamaha bass. There are many more examples like this!

A consequence of all this is that if I'm cutting back on my Delphi development, I need to look at whether the DelphiDabbler website is worth continuing with. After all it's a lot of effort and costs me money to keep going. Donations have been drying up lately, meaning that more of the financial burden falls on me. (Whether the lack of donations is a sign of the website's diminishing relevance or the fact I've not been updating it much is debatable).

There's still time to decide what to do because the domain has been secured up to August 2017 and the web space is paid up to June 2017, but I think that now is an opportune time to start the debate.

I don't want to just pull the plug and waste all the effort that's gone into the site since it started back in 2002. So at the present time, here's what I think I might do to salvage as much as possible:

  • Move all my apps and components etc. wholly onto Github (Git projects) and SourceForge (Subversion projects).
  • Convert the articles and tips into PDF format and put them on GoogleDrive or similar.
  • Close down the SWAG database web app and simply make the database available as a zip file.
  • Close down the Code Snippets Database web app and make the snippets available as a Git project or as Gists on Github.
  • Close down the site Contact page to reduce the amount of email I need to deal with.
  • Cease development of most of my apps, components etc., leaving some in maintenance mode only, with a just a chosen remaining active. I'm likely to keep only my CodeSnip application (in a modified form) and the System Information Unit and Window State Components under active development.
  • When the web space account expires redirect DelphiDabbler.com to some pages on GitHub.
  • When the domain comes up for renewal either let it expire or move to a new cheaper .co.uk domain. Alternatively invite others to take it over.

All the above is up for debate and if there's sufficient interest I may keep a more tightly focussed and easier to maintain version of the site up and running.

The only things that are pretty much fixed at the moment are that I won't give up the music and I won't upgrade Delphi beyond XE4.

In the meantime I may explore the Free Pascal and Lazarus options. However once XE4 becomes so outdated as to be useless, that's likely to be where I bail out.

I'm still considering making the site more mobile friendly for what is potentially its last 18 months of existence.

I need your views

So, what do you think? Any observations will be welcome. I've come to a crossroads and I need some guidance about which way to go.

Please comment. Should I let DelphiDabbler.com die? Should I keep some parts? What's the most useful to you, if anything?

I'd also like to hear from anyone who might like to take over the site and/or domain over?

Delphi XE and ShellExecute glitch

Just encountered a strange bug in one of my programs when running it from the Delphi XE IDE on Windows 10.

Triggering a TBrowseURL action with a valid URL property value causes the program to hang and the default browser (Chrome) is not displayed. The BeforeBrowse event is triggered, but AfterBrowse is not until the program is closed. Sometimes the program hangs and I have to close it with Ctrl+F2.

Running the same code outside the IDE works correctly, but running the program either with or without the debugger in the IDE makes no difference.

I've tracked this down to where TBrowseURL calls ShellExecute from the ShellAPI unit. If I call ShellExecute directly I get the same problem.

I never noticed this problem before when running Windows 7 on my old laptop - it just seems to have started on my new Windows 10 laptop. Still, it's possible the bug was still there on the old machine and I just never noticed it, but I doubt it.

Anyone else had this problem? Any ideas what may be causing it?

04 September 2015

DelphiDabbler Code Library project on GoogleCode Closed

Following the announcement earlier this year that GoogleCode was about to close I moved the Delphidabbler Code Library Subversion source code repository to SourceForge, where the downloads had been hosted for some time.

A little later I started a GitHub project to host the library documentation and copied all the docs formerly hosted in the GoogleCode wiki to there. The documentation is currently split between GitHub and my wiki sub-domain, but ultimately I intend for it all to be on GitHub.

Now that GoogleCode has become read-only I've decided to close that project down, and that's happening as I write this. The old GoogleCode URL will simply redirect to SourceForge.

So, in summary, you'll now find the library in the following places: