ailon's DevBlog: Development related stuff in my life

Automatic Unit Converter

5/21/2010 2:54:45 PM

What & Why?

On my recent trip to USA one of the biggest challenges was a constant need to evaluate all the US units and figuring what they mean to me. Miles, feet, inches, gallons, ounces, Fahrenheit… Come on, guys, it’s about time to switch to normal measurement system! ;)

Nevertheless I’ve liked it there and would definitely want to go again. So, Microsoft Lithuania contest to make an Internet Explorer 8 accelerator with trip to MIX11 as a grand prize couldn’t come handier.

When first paragraph met the second one in my head, I knew immediately what to make for this contest.

Please welcome my Automatic Unit Converter IE8 accelerator and complimentary site. You just select some text on some site, click the blue accelerator button, hover over “Convert to Metric” and get all the known units in your selection converted to metric.

Automatic Unit Converter for IE8

Why not just use Google, Bing, etc.?

  1. Not everything work automagically with Google and Bing. 60 ft 5 inch works, but 60'5" doesn’t. Often you have to tell Google what your target is. Building an engine to figure that out is one short step away from just converting the values. So I just made that step myself.
  2. Multiple values in arbitrary text. When you are looking at a text containing multiple values (like in the screenshot above) you don’t want to select and convert them one by one.

What about other systems and directions?

I would probably improve US-to-Metric over time and add Imperial-to-Metric. As for converting these back from metric I’m not personally interested in it. That said I’ve created a conversion module in away to allow expansion and I’m ready to make it open source. So, if someone is up for the task, let me know and I’ll post the project online and implement selection and specific accelerators for different scenarios into the site.

Vote for me!

My accelerator is listed on the contest page as “Matų konvertavimas”. Click on “Patinka” if you like the accelerator.

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Internet Explorer, HTTPS/SSL and ASPX pretending to be XLS

2/22/2008 5:51:24 PM

I've developed a system for a client where among other things he was able to export a certain product list as CSV file to import it into Excel/OpenOffice etc. I did it the usual way: created an ASPX page which was outputting data in CSV and pretending to be XLS with code like this:

Response.ContentType = "application/";
Response.AddHeader("Content-Disposition", "filename=\"catalog.xls\"");

It all worked fine but then we ran into the Opera's dumb-caching issue, so I added

<%@ OutputCache Location="None" %>

to all sensitive pages. "Excel" export still worked fine. Then we moved the app under https and suddenly export stopped working in IE with the message box claiming

Internet Explorer cannot download file from server.
Internet Explorer was not able to open this Internet site. The requested site is either unavailable or cannot be found. Please try again later.

In Firefox and Opera it still worked fine.

I found this article in Microsoft's KB explaining that caching should be allowed in order for IE to save the file to temporary folder and then open it from there (hence the file not found error). This solved the problem. Hope this helps someone or myself in the future.

kick it on

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Good News for Flash Developers &amp; Co.

11/9/2007 10:54:20 AM

Back in April 2006, we made a change to how Internet Explorer handled embedded controls used on some webpages. Some sites required users to “click to activate” before they could interact with the control. Microsoft has now licensed the technologies from Eolas, removing  the “click to activate” requirement in Internet Explorer. Because of this, we're removing the “click to activate” behavior from Internet Explorer!
IEBlog: IE Automatic Component Activation (Changes to IE ActiveX Update)

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