Monday, December 24, 2007

Issues when attempting to build native Ruby extensions on (K)Ubuntu Linux

Just a friendly reminder that anyone attempting to install Ruby gems for Mongrel, ruby-debug-ide, or anything else that needs to build native extensions will need to install build-essential and ruby1.8-dev Ubuntu packages into their (K)Ubuntu Linux system prior to installing the gems. Seems like an easy thing to remember, but I didn't, and ended up wasting a lot of time dorking around with it.


$ sudo apt-get install build-essential ruby1.8-dev


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Saturday, December 22, 2007

NetBeans 6.0 is an awesome Ruby on Rails dev environment

I've been doing some Ruby on Rails stuff lately. Nothing serious, just playing with the platform right now. I've been using Aptana Studio 1.0.2 on my Kubuntu box here at home and it's worked really well. Today, I thought I'd try out NetBeans 6.0 and see how it's Ruby on Rails support is. One word--AWESOME!! It's much nicer than Aptana (which is really quite good in its own right) and for newbies like me trying to get their feet wet with Ruby on Rails, it's done very nicely. NetBeans is quite quick on my dev machine here at home. I really like the integration with Ruby and Rails that Sun has built here. Kudos to the NetBeans group for providing a top notch Ruby on Rails dev environment. BTW, I'm using Ruby 1.8 and Rails 1.2.4. I may try JRuby at some point, but right now I'm fine working with stock Ruby and Rails.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

dpuint for real Adobe Flex unit/integration testing

I've been really underwhelmed by flexunit and its inability to properly unit test Flex UIComponent implementations. Well, it looks like I'm not the only one. Digital Primates have a new unit and integration testing toolkit for Flex that is quite nice and really supports testing of Flex UIs. I've been using it for a few days and it's much better than flexunit.

http://code.google.com/p/dpuint/

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Flex Builder for Linux Alpha 2 out!

Seems to bundle the new Flex 3 SDK Beta 3.

http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/flex/flexbuilder_linux/





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Monday, November 26, 2007

Integrating DbUnit and Grails together

I've been struggling within the Grails world for a while. It's pretty cool stuff, but the story around testing seems a less than desirable for my tastes. For integration tests, I like to have a database loaded with some data, and I don't want to have to load that data via object construction. In the Java world, I would use the excellent DbUnit framework to bulk load/unload data to/from the database. Why should Grails be any different? After some playing around with DbUnit 2.2 and Grails, it isn't any different. Works like a charm for integration testing. I'll still use metaprogramming and mocking techniques for unit testing, but DbUnit allows me to build up simple datasets of the database tables that I can easily load and unload through my Grails integration tests.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

IntelliJ IDEA Android Support plugin out in the wild!

Well, it didn't take too long before an Android plugin became available for IntelliJ IDEA. It's available through the Plugin Manager as Android Support. Works really well for a new release. I've been able to build some simple examples and run them through the Android emulator. I'm really enjoying playing with this Android SDK. It's done very well and it seems that they made the tools easily integrable into existing IDEs (for now Eclipse and IntelliJ).

http://code.google.com/p/idea-android/



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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Google's Android SDK rocks!!

Just got my first taste of the Android programming environment. Very, very cool. I have it set up on Linux and I'm using the Android Eclipse plugin with Eclipse 3.3.1. It's really freakin' cool. Much better programming environment than Microsoft's Windows Mobile stuff on .NET (formerly .NET Compact Framework). I've done some things in that world and it seemed OK, but this stuff that Google released is absolutely beautiful. Debugger works pretty well and I've heard that JUnit is included in the Android runtime on the emulator be default. That was always a hang up with Microsoft's stuff--you couldn't write test cases for anything. I really like where this thing is going. This is going to be fun!!

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Brian Goetz's Java Concurrency in Practice

Started reading this book tonight and working through the code examples from his book's website. If the first two chapters are any indication, this is going to be very good book. Very approachable discussion on concurrency, which never seems to be approachable.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

nvidia-settings, the Nvidia configuration UI

If you're using Nvidia's restricted drivers, use nvidia-settings to access their GUI for tweaking everything under the sun on your Nvidia board.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Pheasant hunting in northeastern South Dakota

Got back from an excellent pheasant hunt yesterday. I shot 7 pheasants over 3 days of hunting (limit is 9 for 3 days of hunting). Two friends (Pete and Kevin) came out from the Twin Cities to partake in the festivities. Very fun, especially on Sunday when it was just the three of us and Kevin's German shorthair pointer and a farm dog helping out for the hunt. We shot our limit of birds in about 2 hours. Weather was pretty good until Monday--Monday was extremely windy and really difficult to hit anything. The birds would fly real high and let the wind get behind them, so there wasn't much time to get a shot off. I'm still having problems ejecting spent shells from my Benelli Nova pump and get a new round into the chamber.




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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Finishing up the pergola in the backyard

My neighbor is just finishing up the pergola for our pool area in our backyard.



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The pool is done!

We're finished building the pool. Pergola is still being worked on.






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New Quad Core Linux workstation on the cheap

Built a nice new development Linux box (Kubuntu 7.10) for dirt cheap. I already had the mouse, keyboard, speakers, and LCD monitor. Everything was purchased from NewEgg. Not bad for under $1,000. I probably could have stepped up in the processor, but it's still quite quick at 2.4GHz.




































Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz 2 x 4MB L2 Cache LGA 775 Processor $280
GIGABYTE GA-965P-DS3 LGA 775 Intel P965 Express ATX Intel Motherboard $100
XFX PVT84JUDD3 GeForce 8600GT 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 SLI Supported Video Card $130
Thermaltake Purepower W0100RU ATX 12V 2.0 500W Power Supply $50
NZXT HUSH Black SECC Steel/ Aluminum/ Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case $90
G.SKILL 4GB(2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Memory $170
SAMSUNG Black 20X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA DVD Burner $30
Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD5000AAKS 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive $110
TOTAL $960


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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Flex Builder Linux installs new Flash Player

Seems I have a new version of Flash Player 9 after installing Flex Builder Linux on my Ubuntu system. Adobe's Flash Player site reports the following:

9,0,60,235 installed

Hmmmm....interesting. Wonder what's changed?

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Flex Builder for Linux alpha posted

http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/flex/flexbuilder_linux/

Looks like Adobe's getting very serious about Flex development. Very good to see. I've been using Flex Builder on the Mac and it's OK, but Linux has Java 6. This alpha works with Eclipse 3.3 (Europa).

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Using autotest and RedGreen

http://errtheblog.com/post/15

Nice blog entry about using autotest and RedGreen together for Rails testing. Works like a charm. Thanks Ted for this "gem".

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ruby on Rails screencasts from PeepCode

PeepCode screencasts for Ruby on Rails developers

Very cool way to learn Ruby on Rails. I bought a 10-pack of credits. Very well done screencasts. Highly recommended.

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Aptana as a Ruby on Rails IDE

I'm using Aptana as my IDE for learning Ruby on Rails. So far, so good. Has a lot of good Rails support and works well with Rails on both Windows and Linux. Not bad for free, open source software.

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Building Mongrel on Ubuntu Linux

Had some problems installing the mongrel gem on Ubuntu. This link quickly solved my issues. Full steam ahead on this Ruby on Rails endeavor.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

More on IntelliJ IDEA 7.0 M2 EAP and JetGroovy

Just tried out the test runner and the debugger for a Grails application. Both work awesome without any setup or configuration. My integration tests ran within the typical IntelliJ IDEA test runner and the debugger worked too. I'm just stoked about Groovy and Grails development now!!

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First impressions of JetGroovy in IntelliJ IDEA 7.0 M2

Holy crap!! JetBrains really knocked the ball out of the park on this one. The newly released IntelliJ IDEA 7.0 M2 EAP supports a new Groovy/Grails plugin, JetGroovy, also created by JetBrains. I've been working with Grails 0.56 in Eclipse using the Grails Eclipse plugin. The plugin is not great and has some serious performance issues. BTW, I'm running all of this on Mac OS X 10.4. I tried out the new IntelliJ EAP with JetGroovy tonight. It absolutely rocks!! It found my Grails and Groovy distributions without intervention (they were setup in the environment on the OSX). Creating new domain objects, controllers, views, etc. is all done through the New... menu item. What's really cool is the quick view of the domain object, its controller, view, controller test, and domain test classes. Links to each are at the top of the editor window, and selecting a link changes the editor window contents to that file. Very, very cool. This plugin will singlehandedly get people playing with Grails and Groovy. Looks like a winner. Can't wait to see where this goes over the rest of 2007. IntelliJ IDEA 7.0 is set to be released in early 2008.

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

HTTP Scoop utility for HTTP sniffing

If you're on a Mac and doing web development, HTTP Scoop is a nice little tool for sniffing HTTP traffic. My friend Ted hooked me on to this tool. Very nice and super easy to use.

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Got a MacBook from my consulting client...

and I'm loving it!! This is really the first time I've ever done anything substantial on the Mac OS X platform. Wow! What a difference it is over Windows. I'm really enjoying myself on this thing. We're doing Adobe Flex and Groovy/Grails programming at my client and the Mac platform is great for this type of development. I just came from a .NET 3.0 programming gig using WPF and WCF and the Windows environment was really flaky, even with its own development tools. For Flex programming, I'm using Eclipse 3.2.2 and the Flex Builder 2 plugin for Eclipse. Works without a hitch. I've been pleasantly surprised by the plugin when running Eclipse on Mac OS X. It's very quick and responsive and development is a breeze. I'm really enjoying the Flex programming (two weeks in so far). I pretty sure my next laptop is going to be a MacBook Pro with the high resolution (1920x1200) display. The MacBook that I'm using now is great, but we're hooking up external LCD monitors for primary display. The 13" display on the MacBook isn't enough for development.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Adobe Flex 2 XML Schema for MXML markup

If your interested in using some other tool besides Flex Builder 2 for building Flex applications, you'll probably end up looking for an XML Schema (.xsd file) for MXML markup. I found one here.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Installing Dreamweaver CS3 on Windows Vista

It seems that the Dreamweaver CS3 installer will not work with Windows Vista x86 directly out of the box. I tried it a couple of times and every time it complained with an internal error 2739. Here's what needs to happen to make it go smoothly:


  1. Open up a command prompt as Administrator by right clicking the command prompt icon and selecting Run as Administrator.

  2. Navigate to \Windows\system32 directory.

  3. Run the following command from the Command Prompt: regsvr32 jscript.dll



That seems to solve the issue.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

User Account Control (UAC) on Vista

I've been fascinated by the amount of User Account Control or UAC dialog prompts I've been getting in Vista. Think of UAC as a graphical sudo. Basically you don't run as Administrator in Vista--you are prompted to allow administrative authority when a process needs it. It's actually pretty annoying, given that most Windows .NET development software needs administrative privileges. My Visual Studio development experience is vastly different on Vista than it is on XP. Not sure what to think of UAC. It certainly clues you into heightened access by programs, but it never prompts for an administrative password (for example in Linux when the adept notifier is opened, it will prompt you for a sudoer's password).

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Monday, April 30, 2007

Getting Ruby on Rails up and running on Ubuntu Linux


  1. Install RubyGems: sudo apt-get install rubygems

  2. Install Rails: sudo gem install rails --include-dependencies

  3. Download and unzip Eclipse.

  4. Get Ruby Development Tools via Software Update: http://updatesite.rubypeople.org/release

  5. Get RadRails via Softwware Update: http://radrails.sourceforge.net/update


  6. An in-depth tutorial on the use of these tools (using Ruby on Windows) can be found at http://www.oreillynet.com/lpt/a/6998.


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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Flex Builder 2.0.1 - Terrible first impression

I downloaded Adobe's Flex Builder 2.0.1 for trial drive. I'm interested in rich client development and Flex and Flash seem to be where the action is at. I'm currently doing WPF in the .NET world, but that necessitates installing .NET 3.0 on the client machine and XBAP deployment is still a bit shaky these days (partial vs. full trust issues come to mind). Anyways, I thought I'd try out Flex Builder 2 for 30 days. Well, it only took me a few minutes to see that this tool probably won't be very productive for me. The thing is terribly slow in source code mode, to the point that it becomes unusable. The design mode seems to work OK, but switching to source mode just brings the tool to its knees. It is built on Eclipse 3.1.2 and I've been lukewarm on Eclipse these days too. Not sure if its the Flex Builder stuff or Eclipse causing the issue, but it ain't good either way. Now looking for other tooling to help with Flex development. Luckily, it does look like I could just use a text editor and use Ant and the Flex build tasks to build stuff up. Stay tuned.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

When pair programming rocks

I recently spent about 2.5 days pair programming with another developer at a client gig. We camped out in a small conference room for the entire time and set up a laptop with a nice 20" widescreen LCD monitor so both programmers could easy see what was happening. Wow!! What an awesome experience and when the time was up, we had refactored some nasty eventing code into a thoughtful design that has a nice set of unit tests around it (where as the previous code had no unit tests). An awesome agile development experience. Probably one of the only times I've truly felt super-productive on this project. Looking for more opportunities like this at this current client engagement. Kudos Mike!

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Goodbye, ankhsvn!

Well, I and a couple other developers at my current gig stopped using ankhsvn within VS 2005. Cool tool and it works great if your solution doesn't get too big. But our stuff is getting huge and it just became a drain on resources. It needs some serious perf tuning, but I'm hoping that it does improve to the point that I can one day use it. Just not ready for prime time at my client. Now I'll have to manually maintain the svn adds from TortoiseSVN. Not real excited about that, but I can't take the hit on performance that ankhsvn subjects me to.








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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

SharpDevelop's SVN support

Seems SharpDevelop is using the excellent TortoiseSVN component to handle Subversion integration in the IDE.  I'm really impressed at how far SharpDevelop has come in the past few years.  It's a very capable IDE and much faster than VS 2005. 





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New Dell 2407WFP monitor

Just received a new 24" Dell widescreen flat panel LCD monitor. It's quite nice! I have it hooked up to my Dell XPS M170 laptop and its a dream. I had a Dell 20" widescreen flat panel LCD monitor previously connected to this laptop, but the 24" will run at the Dell XPS native resolution of 1920x1200. Sweet! I paid $569 (no including tax); there was a email coupon offer that I used to get the monitor at that price. If you have the money and a video card that will drive a monitor of this resolution, it's well worth the cost.



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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Adam Nathan's Windows Presentation Foundation Unleashed

Beautiful book, at least from the aspect of color. The whole book is published in rich, glossy, colorful pages. Code examples are syntax highlighted, just like they would be in VS 2005. The content of the book looks excellent. I have Sells and Griffiths Programming Windows Presentation Foundation, which actually seems quite out of date. That book seems to be based on early Avalon releases and has many errors now that WPF has been released. I think there is some value to the book. but not being up-to-date hurts it greatly. I also have Moroney's Foundations of WPF. This book is scant on hardcore WPF information. It tries to use the Expression Interactive Designer tool to demonstrate designing UIs. I much prefer Nathan's book, which really goes into the deep internals of WPF. Looks like a winner.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Using SharpDevelop for WPF programming

It can be done! It seems that SharpDevelop 2.1 Final (which I just downloaded and installed) can be used to develop WPF apps. There's no XAML-aware editor; you get the XML editor and you have to come up with everything by yourself. But the tool understands the binding between the XAML file and the code-behind partial class file. Very cool. I tried to use C# Express Edition 2005 with the WPF and WCF extensions installed and that didn't work out so well. I wonder how difficult it would be to develop a XAML addin for SharpDevelop. Heck, one could use Kaxaml to prototype the XAML and then move to SharpDevelop after the XAML is complete. Anything to avoid purchasing a license of VS 2005.



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Friday, March 30, 2007

Concepts in Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF)

Found a PDF of Adam Nathan's third chapter from his WPF Unleashed book. This chapter goes over dependency properties, routed events, and commands, all important core concepts which are heavily used in WPF. Might be worthwhile to the WPF developers out there. I ordered a copy of his book, though it hasn't arrived yet.






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Thursday, March 29, 2007

KNetworkManager, part 2

Just dropped into a local Dunn Brothers Coffee shop here in Shakopee and effortlessly connected to their WiFi with Ubuntu 7.04 (development snapshot). Why is this a big deal you say? Because it was so easy to do with new KNetworkManager applet on the panel. 10 seconds after logging in, I was able to auto-discover the network and connect to it with two clicks of the mouse (one to open the applet popup menu/configuration and the other to select the Dunn Bros. network to connect to. Much, much easier than in previous version of Ubuntu. I really dig where 7.04 is going.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Test-driven development is hard!

I'm on a consulting gig at the moment and the team is collectively trying very hard to embrace test-driven development (TDD). We have an agile process lead or meanie as he likes to be referred to and this meanie does a great job of keeping us focused on having a good test suite and a thriving, evolving code base. However, we're under a tight deadline for the first release of our product and I keep wondering when the ax will fail from the business. When will they tell us that we either make the deadline with all the features or we're looking for new gigs this summer. I absolutely believe in test driven development and the benefits that TDD affords to software projects. Unfortunately, businesses typically don't understand or cannot evaluate the importance of TDD. Come hell or high water, we're going to hit this date. Our project team is already behind in the amount of features that we should have implemented by now and I really feel like our development velocity has been all over the board and has not settled out into a semi-predictable range. Time will tell how this goes off, but I have learned the importance of driving development with tests. I've done testing before, but this time we're really focusing on pulling development forward with tests. It takes an enormous amount of discipline, at least for me.

On a related note around TDD, one beef I have with Visual Studio 2005 is that it's not geared for incremental compilation and testing cycles. It's always compile and packaging bytecode into DLLs and EXEs. That really starts to hurt when your solution has lots of projects and the projects start to get a lot of source files in them. Java is much nicer in this regard. You compile to .class files and run your tests. No packaging required. Heck, if you're using an incremental compiler like the Eclipse compiler, the compilation step is almost negligible. I am becoming a big fan of NUnit and attributed tests and test fixtures.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Eye candy in Feisty Fawn, part 2

I've been playing around the development snapshot of Feisty Fawn and the new transparency stuff baked into KDE seems to be working well. I didn't have much luck with any of this stuff before Feisty, so this is a welcomed change. I don't believe any of these effects are provided by Compiz or Beryl, as much as I can tell. I've played with Beryl about 3 months ago and the effects provided by Beryl were trippy and fun...but alas it was quite unstable at that point. I would assume that Beryl would be stabilizing in the near future and that we could expect some of its graphical goodness in a future version of Ubuntu/Kubuntu. I think Suse already uses Compiz or Beryl in some fashion in their desktop product offering.



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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Man, I've been away from Java for a while...

I've been working in the .NET world for my day job for the past 6 months. Wow, when I work on my home Java project in IntelliJ running on Linux, I'm continually amazed at the speed that I can work at. Much, MUCH faster than our .NET development environments. Some of it is the corporate laptops that we're given to work on, but I will say that Java 5 and 6 are blazingly quick on Linux when compared to the .NET stuff I've been doing. I really miss IntelliJ--ReSharper helps, but it's not IntelliJ. I've been doing some Swing programming lately and enjoying some of the new effects coming out from various Swing gurus at Sun. Romain Guy and Chet Haase have a new Swing book coming out that looks very interesting.



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Eye candy in Feisty Fawn

There does seem to be more eye candy in Feisty Fawn. Immediately noticed the expanding ghosting effect when click on app launchers on the panel. Seems to be more transparency and fade in/out effects also. For the most part, the effects and animations are working and you can tweak them to your liking (which I did not see in Vista when I was using it). Feisty seems very fast compared to Edgy. Apps pop open and things seem quite spry in the new Ubuntu development snapshots I'm working with.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

KNetworkManager

There's a new KDE app out that seems to be a major step up for wireless network configuration in Linux--KNetworkManager. It came down with the upgrade to the development snapshot of Feisty Fawn and it's been a dream to work with. Discovers broadcasting wireless networks and seems to make switching wireless network effortless. A much improved user interface for networking in Linux. Lots of information is displayed about current network connections also. Very cool. Kudos to both the Ubuntu community for including it and the OpenSuse.org community for bringing this tool to life. Thanks.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

OpenOffice.org updated to 2.2 in Feisty Fawn

Looks like OpenOffice.org is getting an update in Feisty Fawn. I just upgraded to the Kubuntu 7.04 development snapshot and opened up OOo Writer, and lo and behold, the splash screen states it's version 2.2. I can't tell any other difference than the new splash screen. It does look like the issue with greyed text in OOo has been fixed. Save dialog is different than the one in 2.0.

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kdesvn upgraded in Ubuntu 7.04 development snapshot

I upgraded my development laptop (Dell XPS M170) to Kubuntu 7.04 development snapshot and was pleasantly surprised that kdesvn was duly upgraded to version 0.11.0. It now seems to handle Subversion 1.4 formatted directories. IntelliJ 6.0 is using an updated version of the Java Subversion library which upgraded the folder metadata in Java projects to the new format. Now Subversion works again from Konqueror. Happy days!


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Sunday, March 18, 2007

wajig

The Debian Package of the Day for March 18th is wajig. It's a command line tool that unifying several package management interfaces commonly used on Debian and Ubuntu. I did an apt-get install and was up and running. Seems to work well and has a ton of options. I like the use of this facade over a number of disparate tool interfaces.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Apple has a ton of cash these days

BusinessWeek has a good story on Apple's current financial situation, which is outstanding these days. Something like $12 billion in cash and no debt. It wasn't too long ago that Microsoft spotted Apple several million dollars to stay afloat and ease the monopoly concerns. I wonder if this is what Microsoft had in mind when it gave Steve Jobs that infusion of money. Kind of interesting.





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Getting Java 6 Runtime from apt-get

Looks like you can get the Sun JRE 1.6.0 from an apt-get repository. I still used my update-alternatives to configure the default Java Runtime Environment to version 1.6 and configure the default Firefox Java Plugin. Looks like Ubuntu is staying up-to-date with Java.





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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Getting Java 6 to be default JVM on Ubuntu Linux

After installing Java 6 using the Sun shell script installer, I wanted to set the default Java installation to the new Java 6 installation that I just installed. This is how you do it:





sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/javac javac /usr/lib/jvm/jdk1.6.0/bin/javac 30

sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/javac java /usr/lib/jvm/jdk1.6.0/bin/java 30

sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/lib/firefox/plugins/libjavaplugin.so firefox-javaplugin.so /usr/lib/jvm/jdk1.6.0/jre/plugin/i386/ns7/libjavaplugin_oji.so 30



sudo update-alternatives --config javac #then choose javac6

sudo update-alternatives --config java #choose java6

sudo update-alternatives --config firefox-javaplugin.so #choose java6 firefox-javaplugin.so





Found this ditty here.





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Saturday, March 10, 2007

JBoss and Exadel teaming up

http://labs.jboss.com/portal/rhdevstudio



http://labs.jboss.com/portal/jbossrichfaces



http://labs.jboss.com/portal/jbossajax4jsf



Looks pretty interesting. RedHat/JBoss seems to be getting very aggressive on the Java EE 5.0 front. Should be interesting to see how all of this plays out, but certainly RedHat/JBoss seem to have the strongest offering in the Java EE space. I've used Exadel Studio Pro in the past (mainly for its Hibernate tooling) and it was very good back then. I'm not a big fan of Eclipse (prefer IntelliJ IDEA), but this should be viewed in a positive light within the Java community.



I've been working in the .NET space for the past 6 months and I long for tools like Eclipse and IntelliJ. Yeah, we use ReSharper 2.5.1 with VS 2005 and it's a huge improvement over stock VS 2005. However, VS 2005 is just a pig with memory and performance on our development laptops. .NET has a lot of growing up to do to catch up with the likes of the Java development crowd.



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Friday, March 09, 2007

Initial thoughts on Vista Business, part 1

Here's some of my quick thoughts on Vista Business before I go to bed. I tried to upgrade my Windows XP Professional installation on my Dell XPS M170 laptop, but the Norton SystemWorks uninstaller rendered that installation totally useless. Hence, I had to reinstall Windows XP Pro and then perform the Vista Business upgrade. Painful, but I got Vista up and running.



  • The UI is pretty, but I'm already finding that I don't like the window titles and the goofy shading that they display on the window decorations. The animation is pretty cool.
  • Windows Defender sucks! If you've seen the Apple commercial you know what I'm talking about. Good God it's annoying! If this is Microsoft's answer to better security, yikes!
  • I don't care for the new Explorer windows. I can't figure out how to apply global folder options to all Explorer windows and bookmarking folders seems to be hidden somewhere. I think they fixed some performance issues with Explorer windows (they seem spry and don't lock up when opening directories or deleting a directory tree of content).

  • SQL Server 2005 doesn't seem to install correctly. Seems like a service pack is coming out soon to fix this.
  • No ActiveSync...Vista uses Mobile Device Center or some tool like that. Could not get MDC to connect or sync to my Verizon XV6700 Pocket PC smartphone. My wife's Windows XP system with ActiveSync 4.5 connects and syncs without issue.
  • Stand By works really well. No issues there. System seems spry going into and out of Stand By mode.
  • I'm using MS Live OneCare. Seems to do an admirable job of keeping my system up and running. Does anti-virus, backup, defrag of hard drive and Windows Update, among other things. Much better integration and performance than Norton's offering.
All that said, I took my Vista hard drive out of the laptop and went back to Ubuntu Linux 6.10 running KDE. I guess I'm just hooked on Linux these days, though I am thinking about buying a Mac laptop later this year.





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Putting parents on Linux

Well, it looks like my parents are going to make the jump to high speed broadband Internet connectivity. They're scheduled to have Charter install a cable modem at the ol' homestead this coming Monday. I thought my father would never move to this. Now he's inquiring about a cable modem router and how one would go about sharing the connection between two or more computers. And he's inquiring about alternatives to Windows. Why? He's completely fed up with all the malware, adware, viruses, anti-virus product offerings, forced annual upgrades for anti-virus software, incompatibilities of sharing documents saved in Microsoft Office formats, blah, blah, blah... People will not continue to use Windows if it continues to degrade in performance and reliability. There are viable alternatives in Mac OS X and Linux these days and people are starting to figure that out. Perhaps some of this is due to the iPod phenomenon--people buy an iPod and then start to contemplate buying a Mac (perhaps a Mac Mini or iMac) for the integration with iTunes. Whatever the reason, Microsoft is on a slippery slope here (I'll blog about my initial thoughts of using Vista Business here at home later tonight).



So, I'm going to give him one of my old computers with Ubuntu Linux on it. I'll probably wait until Feisty Fawn (7.04) comes out in April, but yeah, I think he'll be better off with this Linux box. My father does his email through GMail and really just surfs the Web and downloads pictures from his digital camera. So Linux should work well for him there. I'll make sure that Java and Adobe Flash 9 Player are installed. It should be interesting to watch him learn and use Linux.





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Curse you wmiprvse.exe process

This process has been a pain in my arse lately. I'm working at a client site that seems to make copious use of this process within their internal network. First of all, what is this process used for...



http://www.neuber.com/taskmanager/process/wmiprvse.exe.html



Yep, it's part of the Windows operating system. Makes sense why a company might want to use this tool for collecting and setting information on client desktop systems. What doesn't make sense is how the process renders my development laptop totally useless when it is activated. I'm assuming the process always runs, but stays silent until activated by some WMI remote calls. At that point, the process sucks 80-100% of the CPU for a long durations of time (minutes). Particularly irritating when attempting to build a large Visual Studio solution or testing our WPF application. If you kill the process from task manager, it just comes right back. I probably kill this process 5-10 times per day. ARGGGGHHHH...it's damn frustrating!! One more reason why not to use Windows for a development environment. I really like a lot of .NET and C#, but hooking it up to the Windows XP operating system cripples the .NET platform. I'm going to have to investigate Mono one of these days. My Ubuntu Linux boxen don't exhibit this type of behavior ;-)





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Saturday, February 24, 2007

F3, Sun's new declarative scripting language for the JVM

F3 a new scripting language from Sun, looks pretty interesting and seems to be a direct statement to Microsoft's Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF). I've been using WPF professionally (getting paid for programming in it) for about 3 months now. It's pretty cool stuff.



I think Sun could have something here if they made Swing programming easier and then built up infrastructure around animations, transitions, graphics operations, transparencies, reflectiveness, etc. that WPF does so well. If all of that can be deployed to the web via applets and Java WebStart and works reliably, then Sun would have a real winner on its hands. As I've previously stated, I'm not a raving fan of the AJAX programming model, but no one until recently has come up with anything better for richer clients on the web. Now all of sudden, Adobe's opening up Flex and bringing on Apollo, Microsoft's pushing WPF, and now Sun is sweetening the pot with easier Swing programming with F3. I've been very impressed with Swing performance in both Java 5 and Java 6 on Windows and Linux platforms. Hopefully Java 7 will continue this trend.



http://ajaxian.com/archives/f3-suns-new-declarative-java-scripting-language



http://blogs.sun.com/chrisoliver/category/F3



http://blogs.sun.com/chrisoliver/resource/f3.html





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Thursday, February 22, 2007

C#/.NETAnnoyances, part 2

Compiling and building in .NET results in DLLs, not loose bytecode or IL. When your project gets large, it can take a significant amount of time to build all the dependencies. You really see this when doing a lot of NUnit testing. I like to go back and forth between code and NUnit (using test-first programming), and it becomes a real pain when you have pauses all the time for building DLLs because of one change. Our .NET solution is composed of 16 projects, so a change to the domain layer project can cause the building of many other DLLs. I now appreciate the incrementalness of Java with loose .class files or with Smalltalk with the image file. Yeah, the C# compiler is blazingly fast, but it does take time to build DLLs. .NET programming yields a much different development experience when compared to Java.





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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

C# Annoyances, part 1

  • Namespaces don't restrict where source file resides in folder structure on filesystem: Source files can live anywhere and have any namespace. Nothing in the language restricts where source files reside based on namespace. Refactoring becomes a real headache, with lots of manual changes to maintain some semblance of organization.

  • Interfaces cannot have constants: No way to static import constants into source files.







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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Flithy rich clients, WPF XBAP and Java applets/Java WebStart

For the past two months I've been immersed in the world of .NET, C#, Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and Windows Communication Foundation (WCF). This immersion resulted from a failed attempt to build an AJAXified web application using ASP.NET AJAX tools (all the previously codenamed Atlas stuff). So far, the WPF XBAP experience has been far superior to the AJAX web experience, both on the development team and the customer. Initial conclusions from this 4.5 month gig: AJAX web applications are fine for simple applications, but it's not suitable for something as complex as a clinical care management application. Our domain model is huge and thus there's a lot of information and screens that need to built. The WPF XBAP deployment model has been boon to our productivity and the customer really likes the user experience and performance of the XBAP.



This situation has gotten me thinking that Java has most if not all of this stuff in the form of applets and Java WebStart. The Java Runtime works on nearly every platform imaginable and both Swing and SWT are more than performant in their current incarnations (Java 5 and 6). I wonder if applets and Java WebStart won't be considered more often in the coming months and years for deploying complex rich clients to the web. I've had excellent success with both applets and Java WebStart on my Ubuntu Linux and Windows XP systems. Java 6 added support for OpenGL in Swing, so some of the neat animation and effects features found in WPF may be doable in a cross-platform manner in Java.



Whether its WPF XBAP or Java applets or Java WebStart, I don't look forward to working AJAX anytime soon. I'm feeling underwhelmed by the mishmash of technologies and web framework involved in that sort of solution (CSS, JavaScript, HTML). GWT is about the only thing that gets me excited to do web development these days, mainly because it hides all the crufty JavaScript, HTML, DHTML, CSS crap from me and allows me to work in Java all the time.





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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Initial thoughts on .NET 3.0 and WPF

Well, it's been about a month of using .NET 3.0 and WPF. WPF is cool, though it does seem to have some rough edges. A DatePicker seems to be omitted from the WPF component palette. I would have thought that would have been a given. I'm using WPF at work and we've had many issues with XBAP deployment and executing under partial trust. Code signing and deploying the signed application seems to be an area that was neglected by MS. Very painful at the moment. The Java Plugin and Java Web Start do the certificate and code signing much better. On the plus side, animation and effects are very cool and easy to use. The jury's still out on XAML. I see why they went to XML declaration of the UI, but damn, make sure that Visual Studio 2005 understands the XAML consistently. It seems to have issues with XAML, and I'm using the WPF/WCF CTP for Visual Studio 2005. All in all I give it a thumbs up. Hopefully MS will improve and tweak it aggressively over the coming months.





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Using Performancing Firefox add-in for blog entries

Just trying out the Performancing Firefox add-in. Seems straightforward to use and works on Firefox on Linux.





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