Using TreeSize Free to increase disk space

A couple of days ago, when I switched on my PC and opened My Computer I was presented with a bright red drive tile icon, indicating that it was running short of free disk space.

Drive C is red and reports 10.0 GB of 111 GB free
Drive C isn’t looking very healthy

I was puzzled as I had only recently run CCleaner to collect unused files, old browser caches, un-required file settings and bin them all. I was sure that I had over 13 GB of free space.

TreeSize Free

I turned to TreeSize Free to help me identify what was taking up so much space. I first blogged about TreeSize Free in 2011 in a post called My top free Windows 7 add-ons.

Once installed, all you do is right-click a folder (or drive), select TreeSize Free from the context menu and after running for a moment the application will tell you how large that folder and all its sub-folders are.

This is what it looks like.

Screenshot of TreeSize
TreeSize shows me that I have 5.4 GB of music in the Amazon Music directory

What I learned the other day was that four items were taking up the most space:

  • Podcasts (14.8 GB)
  • Amazon Music (5.3 GB)
  • XAMPP Apache server (2.9 GB)
  • Adobe CS4 applications (2.7 GB)

I deleted the podcasts and music—I keep the music I listen to on another drive, this is simply where I download them after purchase.

Then I uninstalled Adobe and XAMPP, and reinstalled them on a larger drive.

Now I have a much more healthy 36.0 GB of free drive space.

Drive C now shows 36 GB free
That looks more healthy

If you are in a similar situation, I thoroughly recommend TreeSize Free. As they say: if you don’t measure it, you can’t control it.

Offline documentation with Zeal and Sublime Text

Zeal - a documentation browser
Zeal – a documentation browser

Yesterday I came across a really useful application for web development which has already sped up my workflow when needing to look for documentation: Zeal.

The efficiencies come about mostly because instead of having to open up a new browser tab, then either search or navigate to any documentation bookmarks you may have saved, you can instead search (or browse) within the official documentation which has been downloaded to Zeal.

Download documentation sets

Inspired by the Mac-only application Dash, Zeal is a simple offline API documentation browser.

In other words, select the languages you want documentation for, click download and it’s all available in one easy-to-search location.

Select which documentation sets (docsets) you want and click Download
Select which documentation sets (docsets) you want and click download.

You can either browse the documentation, or simply search.

By default searching returns results from all documentation downloaded, but you can also prefix your search terms with the name of a particular language followed by a colon should you wish to limit the search to only that language or framework, e.g. wordpress: get_header.

In order to install it you first have to unzip the application files to your C:\Program Files directory, or C:\Program Files (x86)\ for Windows 64-bit, and create your own shortcut—there isn’t an automatic installer.

Sublime Text integration

Where I’m finding it particularly useful is within my coding editor Sublime Text, using the Zeal Sublime Text package (available for both Sublime Text 2 and 3) which allows you to search the documentation from within Sublime Text, without lifting your fingers from the keyboard.

I found that to configure it I had to first install the package (using Will Bond’s excellent package control), then run it by pressing Shift+F1 which returns an error, and then locate the Zeal.sublime-settings file (via Preferences > Browse Packages…) and update the “zeal_command” parameter to wherever you unzipped the zeal.exe file, which for me looks like:

"zeal_command": "C:\\Program Files (x86)\\Zeal\\zeal.exe",

Then in Sublime Text itself I have two options:

  1. Select something to look up and hit F1.
  2. Or press Shift+F1 to open the Zeal search box to type in my search term.

As an example, I’ve just highlighted padding-left in my CSS code and pressed F1.

Highlight a keyword press F1 and Sublime Text sends that plus its context (a CSS file) to Zeal
Highlight a keyword press F1 and Sublime Text sends that plus its context (a CSS file) to Zeal

You will notice that the Sublime Text plugin has also respected the search term’s context, within a CSS file, and passed that too as an argument.

I’m really impressed and thoroughly recommend you check it out if you are involved in any kind of coding. Both Dash and Zeal share the same documentation sets. There are a lot! And it can also be integrated into a lot of editors, not just Sublime Text, such as Coda, TextMate, Emacs, Vim, Eclipse, and PhpStorm.

Mobile attitudes–how many apps do you have installed?

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In this month’s .net magazine there is an interesting article about Mobile attitudes that focuses on who is accessing the Web via mobile devices and why.

Based on research by MRM London, they group mobile Web users into one of four camps:

  1. Rookie – tend to be older, watch less TV, listen to less radio and surf the Web less than others. They tend to have around 9 apps installed on their smartphone, if they indeed have a smartphone.
  2. Rationalist – generally between 25-45, they are happy to use the Web on their mobile device but are very selective about what they access. They have a general lack of understanding about what extra value their mobile access can offer them.
  3. Everyday – mostly under 35, these are heavy mobile Web users who understand the value that mobile Web offers, but they would generally prefer to be sat in front of their desktop PC/Mac or laptop.
  4. Restless – for this demographic, mostly under 34, the mobile Web is an integral part of their everyday life. They understand what value mobile usage brings, and they consume a lot of media, not just online but TV, radio, magazines, etc.

Western

Something that struck me about the article was how Western these categories are. I wonder what differences there would be if this study was extended worldwide. How about mobile users in Africa or China or India, for example?

Mobile Web is just going to get bigger, user base will be larger and more and more developers will need to think about their mobile strategy more than they do now.

How many apps do you have installed?

The article talked about the number of apps that users tend to have installed. I guess the implication was that the more confident the mobile user about what they do online the more applications they would have installed.

I suspect (I hope) that HTML5 will change all of that as more mobile browsers become more capable of running complex Web apps that these app downloads will move to becoming simply website/web app URL bookmarks.

Anyway, it reckoned that the average user has 20 apps installed, of which they use less than half; rookies have only 9 installed, and those labelled restless have 42.

I’ve recently spent a lot of time on my mobile phone (stuck in bed for days after damaging my back, other blog post soon), and have just uninstalled the apps that I don’t use in order to free up memory and speed up my HTC HD2 running Windows Mobile 6.5.

What I have installed

Here’s what I now have installed (in not particular order), which are the apps that I actually use. This doesn’t include default apps that came bundled with the HTC HD2.

  1. Opera Mobile 10
  2. Spb Mobile Shell 3.5 (replacement user-interface)
  3. Spb Wallet (password safe)
  4. BBC News
  5. Nitrogen (MP3 player)
  6. SimpleAct QuickMark (QR code scanner)
  7. Mobipocket Reader (eBook reader for .mobi format)
  8. CoPilot Live 8 (GPS)
  9. Leaf GPS Dashboard (GPS toolkit)
  10. Panoramic moTweets (Twitter client)
  11. Microsoft Office Mobile 2010
  12. JAM Software TreeSize Mobile
  13. MSN Weather
  14. Gmail (Java app)
  15. SKTools (Registry editor, free-up RAM, temp file cleaner tools, etc.)

How many apps do you have installed on your smartphone? Do you use them all?

The app ideas on The Apprentice were rubbish… how hard can it be?

20110511-apps

I’ve just finished watching the second episode of the current series (series 7) of The Apprentice on BBC 1 during which the challenge was for the two teams to design, launch and promote their own mobile phone app[lication].

The boys created a border-line racist app with annoying voices. The girls an app with annoying sounds.

If I’d been on The Apprentice I’m sure I could have come up with better ideas. In fact, I’m going to prove it by blogging my ideas live. Right now. Watch:

  • IDEA #1: Often you’ll be out and about with your phone. Maybe you’re running late, perhaps for an interview or a meeting. Maybe you’re just tired. Why not create a mobile phone app that’s also a bike, so you can just sit on it and it will allow you to pedal yourself to your destination!

Genius! See how easy that was?

  • IDEA #2: An app that makes the most out of the accelerometer (motion sensor) built into a lot of mobile devices these days. So it’s an app that helps you tie your tie. You first attach your mobile phone to the end of your tie, using bulldog clips or elastic bands or something, then the app talks you through tying a tie: “That bit over and then under and then through…”

Wow! I’m on a roll.

  • IDEA #3: Jane and I like our toast to be different levels of cooked-ness. Jane likes hers to be very brown, I like mine to be borderline hot-bread. How about an app that you run, tell it what colour brown you’d like your toast to be, then you pop your phone into the toaster (beside your slice of bread) and it will play an alarm when your toast has reached the right level of brown. Obviously it would need to use the camera for that.

Practical! Although, I suspect like a lot of apps that’s one that will not be used very often. Presumably because it would help educate folks about how long bread needs to be in the toaster until it reaches their ideal state.

  • IDEA #4: How about an app that you run when you’re standing next to a busy road. The interface would be nice and simple. First you enter your average walking speed in (metres per hour or fathoms per second), then you press a “check now!” button which activates your device’s in-built camera which you point first one direction and then the next, pausing for a minimum of 7 seconds each direction. Then… and this is the really clever bit… the app will play an alert of your choosing (from the three available: a horn; the sound of a gibbon slurping ice cream; or the same horn, but played in French) so you know when it’s safe to cross the road.

I imagine that that’s the kind of app that could save lives.

See! Not a single idea there that involves racist stereotypes or annoying sounds.

Touch Weather for Windows Mobile review

One of the things I miss most about the default HTC HD2 home page is the animated weather (below) that the HTC Sense interface provides. Not only is it pretty but it’s intelligent, using GPS to find your location and GPRS/3G to download the local weather conditions and forecast.

20110425-htc-hd2-htcsense

Spb Mobile Shell 3.5 does have a weather gadget but it’s not as comprehensive as the HTC version: it doesn’t include Anstruther, St Andrews or Selkirk. Instead I have to rely on the ‘nearby’ forecasts for Dundee or Edinburgh, which are just not accurate enough.

Touch Weather

Last night I discovered another weather application Touch Weather for Windows Mobile, which is a gorgeous, animated (with video effect snow, ran and clouds) weather application that pulls in data from any of six, international weather forecast sites:

so you should hopefully be able to include most places you’d want; the application claims to provide weather for 50,000+ locations worldwide. I certainly found Anstruther, St Andrews and Selkirk using AccuWeather.

I never worked out where there is a limit to the number of towns you can store at once but I’m delighted that I can easily switch between my usual three.

20110425-weather-0120110425-weather-02

Free and Pro versions

The application comes in two versions: free and pro. The free version provides an animated weather forecast for the current day only.

For US$9.98 you can upgrade to the pro version which gives you a detailed daily forecast (morning, afternoon, evening and night) as well as a more complete, seven day forecast. While running the free version you can trial the pro version for 14 days.

System requirements

Touch Weather runs on anything from Windows Mobile 5 PocketPC and Smartphone to Windows Mobile 6, 6.1 and 6.5 Classic, Standard and Professional versions.

It also supports the following resolutions (in pixels):

  • VGA 640 x 480
  • WVGA 800 x 480
  • qVGA 320 x 240
  • WqVGA  400 x 240
  • SqVGA 320 x 320

Data

Typically the data download per location has been around 180 KB which shouldn’t cost too much on a GPRS/3G data connection, and you have complete control over when and how it updates: manual or scheduled (every 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, 4 hours, 12 hours or 24 hours).

Backgrounds

One really neat feature is the ability to customize the background. Touch Weather comes with six built-in panoramic images, and the option to use one of your own. This appears to be set per location. So, in theory, you could use a photograph of the location you’re pulling in the weather forecast for.

Looking at the six default panoramic images it would appear that dimensions should be at least 800 x 480 pixels, although the largest is 1600 x 1200.

Video demo

Here’s a video demo on YouTube of the interface, albeit in Russian.

Conclusion

While Touch Weather doesn’t show itself on the phone’s home screen, or integrate with Spb Mobile Shell, and it doesn’t use GPS to automatically determine your location such inconveniences are a small price to pay for such a beautiful, customizable weather forecast application. I’ll definitely be upgrading to the pro version when my 14 days trial expires.

Looks like there is a version for Android now too.