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View Full Version : NEW feature... PLCS.net "on the road"


Phil Melore
November 16th, 2002, 10:28 PM
Hi Folks,

--Here's another EXCITING and unique NEW feature for you--

Too busy 'at work' to stay current on this forum? :(

Always yourself typing in Word? Drawing in AutoCad? Programming your favorite plc? Wish you knew what what going on here... but no time to constantly visit 'all day' to see whats up here?
Not anymore! :D

Now you can see the last 10 topics and who last posted within them... even when you're not 'surfing the web'.
Just add the forum to your toolbar!
I've written some code so NOW it's possible for you. Here's what I mean and how to do it:

Here's a typical screen and what it will look like with a new toolbar:

http://www.plcs.net/desktop/desktop2.gif

Here's a closer look:
The topic titles scroll one-by-one continuously and AUTOMATICALLY update themselves every 10 minutes. Click the 'light bulb' to temporarily disable it.

http://www.plcs.net/desktop/desktop1a.gif

Here's how to set it up (nothing to download, of course). This example is shown on Windows ME.

Step 1: Right click on your toolbar:

http://www.plcs.net/desktop/desktop3a.gif

Step 2: Choose 'new toolbar'.

http://www.plcs.net/desktop/desktop4a.gif

Step 3: Type- http://www.plcs.net/ticker.shtml and click the ok button.

http://www.plcs.net/desktop/desktop5a.gif

If the title of the page shows up in your toolbar, and you don't want it there, right click again on the toolbar and uncheck 'show title'.

That's it. You're done and now always know what's going on here.
NOTE: It works best when you have a constant connection to the internet. (i.e. cable modem, isdn, dsl, T1 line, etc). Remove it simply by right clicking on the toolbar and uncheck 'plcs.net'.

USE IT AT YOUR OWN RISK! It should do no harm and installs NOTHING on your pc... it's simply a Windows feature that few people use. However, I can't give computer support unfortunately. Should be compatible with all Windows 95 and newer operating systems... but nothings guaranteed. USE IT AT YOUR OWN RISK! (end disclaimer...)

Click on the 'light bulb to disable/enable it if need be.

Enjoy it, and feel free to offer comments/suggestions, good/bad as always.

I'm particularly interested in feedback about the width of it. Currently it's 300 pixels but may be too wide/thin for some systems. I use a screen horizontal resolution of 1280 pixels so 400 would be better for me but I think most people use 800 horizontal pixels so 300 may be a good compromise.

Enjoy,

Prince
November 17th, 2002, 12:39 AM
Dear Phil

here I am trying to show what I am seein on win Xp, I can enlarge my toolbar and it will get ok but it will take more of my screen.

I thought you may want to know about that.

P.S : Sorry for my English

Phil Melore
November 17th, 2002, 12:11 PM
Originally posted by Prince
I can enlarge my toolbar and it will get ok but it will take more of my screen.


Hi Prince,
Thanks for the feedback. I was concerned that on smaller screen resolutions it my appear too large. Looks like you're using 800x600 screen resolution.

Notice to the left of the new toolbar it says "PLCS.net". This is the title. To remove it (and get more space), right click on the new toolbar and unselect "show title". This will remove "PLCS.net" on the left of the toolbar and give you more space.

http://www.plcs.net/desktop/showtitle.gif

Here's a screenshot before "removing show title" to show the space difference. (Makes a big difference...)

http://www.plcs.net/desktop/showtitle1.gif

Enjoy,

Steve Etter
November 18th, 2002, 10:59 AM
Pretty Cool Phil! I like it.

I found it to be a little big for my resolution, but went ahead and dropped the title and then increased my screen resolution (1280 x 10124 now), too. I will work at this resolution for a while and see how it goes.

Steve

Phil Melore
November 18th, 2002, 10:10 PM
Hi Folks,

Someone sent me an email about the fact that Windows allows a dual bar. (Learn something new each day...) So anyway, I verified it was indeed true. Perhaps someone will find it useful to know, so screenshots are shown below as well.

To do it, just point your mouse to the top of the toolbar until it changes to a 'vertical double sided arrow'. Then click and drag the tollbar up to make it taller (i.e. a dual toolbar)

1024 resolution with 'dual toolbar':

http://www.plcs.net/desktop/1024.gif

800 resolution with 'dual' toolbar:

http://www.plcs.net/desktop/800.gif

For the record, I'm sure some of you are cursing me for including such wide images in the thread. (makes the thread hard to read since you have to scroll left/right) :embar: Sorry... but I wanted to add the full screen shot.

Enjoy,

Jay Anthony
November 23rd, 2002, 09:29 AM
Phil:
I've noticed a phenomenon(feature, bug,un-intended annonyance...) with your otherwise ingenious desktop tool.

I mainly work out of my house where I maintain a home office equipped with four computers and a common KVM switcher. I love the toolbar addition and run it at the bottom of my 21 inch monitor. I check it regularly out of the corner of my eye and love seeing all the regulars' names pop up along with what's on their mind. (Kinda of a passive IM.)

I had to teach a week long class at a remote office and checked the Forum every morning and night at the remote office. But it always returned "no new posts." I finally dawned on me that the new toolbar running on the computers at the home office marks every post as read as the new post comes in. I must have been missing a lot of posts!

Can you think of way to have the best of both worlds? Have the toolbar preview the posts without having them marked as read? Would there be a way for the toolbar window to be logged as guest and the main window logged in as your username? I know you said "no support" on this feature, but I thought I would bring it to your attention. Anybody else got an idea?
:confused:

Phil Melore
November 24th, 2002, 10:26 AM
Originally posted by Jay Anthony
I've noticed a phenomenon(feature, bug,un-intended annonyance...) with your otherwise ingenious desktop tool.
snip....
Can you think of way to have the best of both worlds? Have the toolbar preview the posts without having them marked as read? Would there be a way for the toolbar window to be logged as guest and the main window logged in as your username? I know you said "no support" on this feature, but I thought I would bring it to your attention. Anybody else got an idea?
:confused:

Hi Jay,
Thanks for the feedback.
On the toolbar the links should be red for unread and black for read. If you see a black link that means you've already read the most recent post. When it reloads (every 10 minutes)the black changes to blue to signify read. (that's a bug I guess I should fix!)
If you have the toolbar running it doesn't mean you're logged in. Hence, any new posts are not yet marked as read.

I think what happens is when you click on a link in the toolbar it takes you directly to the topic within the forum. NOW you're logged in. If you just read 'that' post and leave the forum it logs that as a visit(the forum does, that is)and I'm guessing that's why if you revisit the forum it shows 'no new posts since last visit'.

I have to run more tests but I'm 90% sure thats what you're seeing.

In other words, running the toolbar doesn't log you into the forum. Otherwise you'd show up on the main page as being a 'current visitor'. And then there would be tons of people logged in all the time and the '44 registered concurrent users visiting now' record would be shattered.
To verify that's true, log out of the forum. Keep the toolbar running. Wait 35 minutes(or more) and re-visit the forum. You won't see your username on the bottom where you can see who's online.

Kindly let me know if you believe my analysis is mistaken. Again I admit I'm only 90% sure. I'll try to think of a workaround perhaps based on referrer.

For reference, the 'disclaimer' above was just meant to let people know I couldn't offer guaranteed help for their computer if they couldn't get their toolbar to look the way they wanted it, or who knows what else. I'm happy to support the toolbar functionality and modify it if requested.

By the way, sounds like you've got quite computer setup there!
Enjoy,

Allen Nelson
November 24th, 2002, 01:39 PM
I've got 2 NT 4.0 machines, sitting side by side. I didn't set up either one, so I'm not entirely sure of what the installation history is (they were set up by (now former) IT people.

On one, I right click the taskbar and get the "Toolbars..." option you show. The other one does not. I suspect, but don't know, that this is a feature of "Active Desktop" (one one machine, but not the other).

How/where is this ability installed? Is it part of the Windows CD? Does it come with the Browswer? Is it a Microsoft patch? Is it a setting that I'm missing?

<hr>

When I close the PLCs.net toolbar, I lose the address and have to retype it (well, copy and paste it) back in. But my Quick Launch, Links, and other toolbars (that came by default) aren't lost.

Is there a registry entry, INI file, or some other place I can edit so that the PLCs.net toolbar is always an option.

<hr>

When the ticker is ON (Yellow light bulb) the Link PLCs.net takes you to the LIVE Q&A forum (great). When the ticker is OFF (white light bulb), you go to WWW.PLCs.net (Old Forum home page, with links to the new).

Can you make it consistant?

Thanks,

Allen

Phil Melore
November 25th, 2002, 10:05 AM
Hi Allen,
Thanks for the feedback.

2 PCs side-by-side. Great! Many nice setups around this forum.

regarding your points 1 and 2-
Unfortunately, I run buggy Windoze ME so I can't tell you what's up on NT4. However, I have some friends running NT so I'll check with their systems. Unfortunately, I won't see them until after Thanksgiving.
Perhaps someone here has NT4 and can help??

regarding 3-
Good call. That goes to the site home page and not the forum cover. I have updated it now to go to the forum cover. Thanks for pointing that out!

Side note-
The black vs blue visited links colors have been fixed as well. Red links mean the latest post is unread, blue means it's been read.

Jay-
I'm now trying some beta to eliminate the 'everything read' phenomena you wrote about. No success yet...

Enjoy,

Stevie_S
November 26th, 2002, 05:22 AM
Allen,

My NT4 box didn't have active desktop installed. Problem appears to be that I'm not running IE4.

If you have a search around, there is a workaround, and it actually works!!

If you're running some flavour of IE5, find your ie5setup.exe file, navigate there in the DOS prompt window and type
IE5Setup.exe /C:"ie5wzd /e:IE4Shell_NTx86 /I:Y"
and go for the "Typical Installation" rather than the custom one - active desktop doesn't appear in the list of items. And an added bonus is that it doesn't mess with IE/Outlook settings!

If you've got IE6, just substitute all instances of IE5 for IE6 in the command line and apparently that works as well.

Or if you've got nothing better to do, uninstall IE5/6, reinstall IE4 and then upgrade to IE5/6.

Woohoo indeed.

Steve

iknowsomeplc
November 26th, 2002, 06:16 AM
Phil,

This is very cool.. I liked it very much. I have a suggestion. When I move the mouse over the running query topic , it stops. Well fine . But is it easy for you to add some more code to pop-up the query description ( or at least , say first 100 characters of query description )? If you are using a hyperlink for the query topic you may use the 'Title' attribute in your anchor tag to show the pop-up as a tool tip ( This works with only IE browser, still I will be happy since I use only IE ! ).

Thanks

iknowsomeplc

iknowsomeplc
November 26th, 2002, 06:34 AM
If anybody finding difficulty in putting it as a toolbar may try putting the same URL in desktop like this..

Phil Melore
November 26th, 2002, 06:40 PM
Originally posted by iknowsomeplc
When I move the mouse over the running query topic , it stops. Well fine . But is it easy for you to add some more code to pop-up the query description ( or at least , say first 100 characters of query description )?

Hi iknowsomeplc,

Thanks for the idea! I'll try to implement it.

Enjoy,

Phil Melore
November 27th, 2002, 10:41 PM
Originally posted by iknowsomeplc
When I move the mouse over the running query topic , it stops. Well fine . But is it easy for you to add some more code to pop-up the query description ( or at least , say first 100 characters of query description )?

OK iknowsomeplc,

Thanks again for the idea. It is now implemented.
Here's a screenshot:

http://www.plcs.net/desktop/tooltiper.gif

Basically it pops-up the first 100 characters of the topic when you move your mouse over the link.

However, seems like Windoze ME(and maybe other versions) has a feature (ie. bug) that doesn't let the 'tooltip' happen unless the toolbar has the focus. (I'm sure it's not my programming that causes this... :embar: )
To translate that, you must give the toolbar focus by clicking somewhere on it. Then you can see all the tooltips.

Well, I certainly find that inconvenient and it seems to defeat the purpose of the tooltip. :(

Unfortunately, for now it stays 'as is'. BUT, I know I can write some simple javascript to get around the problem. And I will... but not right this second.

So, try it for yourselves if you wish (the 'feature' is automatically there now) and look for a fix in the very near future.

Enjoy,

awalinski
December 6th, 2002, 02:36 PM
Hi Phil,

This new feature is absolutely great. I am tempted all the time to stop working and see what problems people have and what can be the ansver to them !
I also immensely enjoy The Forum. It teaches a lot. I do not have possibility to talk with others and exchange experiences and ideas, so this is the way to learn always something new.
Thanks for having this site!

ganutenator
December 20th, 2002, 04:35 AM
Its growing on me. naw, just kidding. I am absolutely loving this site. [don't know if people are loving me love this site or not though, my posts are probably a little wacky] Thanks a million.

Merry Christmas to all!!

December 23rd, 2002, 09:13 AM
Does anybody know how to put this on the NT tool bar??

Jim S.

Allen Nelson
December 23rd, 2002, 09:42 AM
What Steve S. said was dead-on. The NT station that didn't have the TOOLBARS option when right-clicking the taskbar was running IE 5. The NT station that could see it on the menu was running IE 4.

I tried the command line install, but it didn't work for me. I wound up re-installing IE 4, and then upgrading both machines to IE6.

hesham
January 27th, 2003, 07:42 PM
Hi Phil
This is a very nice feature. i like it as much as i love this site.
but every time i connect to the net i must refresh this toolbar to work and displays the latest posts.
Is there any way to let this feature work as soon as i login to the site .I know you said that this feature works better if the machine is alawys connected to the net .A lot of us access the net from different machines(work,home,friends...etc)
thanks

Phil Melore
January 27th, 2003, 08:38 PM
Hi Hesham,

That's precisely why it's better to use a dedicated connection. A dialup will work but some inconvenience will be seen.

It is programmed to look to the forum every 10 minutes and gather the latest posts. If you're not connected to the internet when it tries, it fails and tries again 10 minutes later. If it just checked (while you were offline) and then you dial into the internet you must wait the remainder of whatever time is left from the programs last look.

To update when you get online, just right click the toolbar program and choose 'refresh' as soon as you get online.

If you're asking if the program can automatically set itself up on whatever pc you're using whenever you visit PLCS.net, no it can't. Remember it's not a windows or java or whatever program and nothing is 'executed'. It's just a windows 'feature' that is being utilized.

If it ran that way, you would never see if there are topics that were unread by you(among other things) when you visit the forum main page. Because, you'd be logged into the forum although you weren't 'really there'.

Actually, it's starting to eat alot of site bandwidth/resources going out due to it's popularity. Right now -every person- using it queries the forum every 10 minutes. Quite inefficient programming on my part... eh?

The new site design (currently 27 days behind and counting...but 90% done) will include a more efficient system (transparent to all currently using the toolbar function) out of necessity for a 'new visitor treat' :)

Ok, I'm rambling...
Hope that helped explain anyway.

Enjoy,

Eric Nelson
January 27th, 2003, 10:53 PM
Originally posted by Phil Melore
The new site design...

New site design? Oh boy, I can't wait!...
[attachment]
beerchug

-Eric

cdobis
January 28th, 2003, 09:30 AM
Thanks for the tool, Phil, I really like it. Some great code.
The site is also great. It has helped me a lot. I had been out of working with PLCs for a few years and was a little rusty when I had to get back into again. Now I am even more excited about PLCs and what they can do.
I was also interested in seeing what some of the users here have done using PLCs in a home environment. Anyone got any ideas? Use it as a burgler alarm? Environment control? Any other ideas?
Thanks!

yellowriver
March 9th, 2003, 07:00 PM
:) Thank you very much,Phil!I'm a Chinese and not good at English.When I browse this site,I usually open my electronic dictionary. Even so I really like this site cause it gives me so much help.I hope you can stick out and we will always support you!

Shaun
March 28th, 2003, 07:47 AM
Thanks Phil this will definitely help me, exactly what I need.