Kwakkelflap: tools for the IT pro

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Automatic currency conversion, part 2

I wrote about the automatic currency conversion system I wrote for the website some time ago. The system works, but there are some issues with it. The biggest problem for me is that the converted price is not always the price at Plimus. Obviously due to a slightly different exchange rate. So I could only display an estimate of the converted price and potential customers could be confused by the difference.

Then Plimus announced that users could use calls to their conversion script. A simple URL with your product ID and the visitor's IP address and you get the converted currency back. I did some tests with their system, and after some PHP tricks it seems to be working. Too bad they do a straight conversion and don't use their own rounding system. But these are both new features, so I expect they will implement this later on.

The system is used on a few web pages for evaluation. It's looking good so far. I'll probably remove the old system this weekend.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Software awards

There is some turmoil recently since Andy Brice posted his test results regarding software awards. Every software author suspected a lot of download sites where giving awards without even trying the software, and now someone stepped up and tested this. It seems that we where right in thinking there are a lot of bogus awards.

As a result, I've removed all awards from the website. Yes, there where awards that where not fake. But how can a visitor know which award is fake and which isn't. Awards lost every credibility.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

x64 Conversion

I'm still working on 64bit versions of Watchdog - O - Matic. Right now, I have a beta version that's working on my Vista 64bit and XP 64bit. But there are still some problems on other test machines that need to be corrected.

All in all, creating a 64bit version isn't that hard, except if you have to do some low level stuff. One of the things I had problems with was the system to detect the command line parameters of a running program. You see, when the watchdog checks a running program, it need to know the parameters. Otherwise the program will not restart with the same parameters if it crashed. Windows has a function GetCommandLine() which returns these parameters of the current process. So in order to know the parameters of another process, I need to write in the target process memory, create a remote thread that executes the GetCommandLine() function, wait for the target process to execute the remote thread and read the target process memory to handle the result. You can imagine that creating a 64bit function, and running it in a 32bit application is lots of fun.

One of the biggest challenges however is creating a 64bit disassembler so we can mail disassembly info of the crash. This is a huge task without much gain, so I think that the first 64bit versions won't have this option on board. The primary concern is creating a 64bit version so people with a 64bit operating system can actually use the watchdog.

If anyone is willing to test the beta version, drop me a line.

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