November 28, 2006
Taking the dog for a walk
For a while now I have put off actually having to deploy my Ruby on Rails applications into any environment other than WebBrick, which is perfectly fine for doing demos, prototypes etc.
It has been a while since I actually dug that deep into any system and so I was a bit hesitant about getting started.
But this afternoon I took the plunge. Without much hassle I managed to successfully set up my system with a current Ruby version (which I had to compile first) and Mongrel to run my RoR application. I then plugged mod_proxy into my Apache server and basically was up and running after a really short time.
Old hat to all you techno-geeks out there - but I was pretty chuffed. Not that I need it yet - but tomorrow I may even set up a mongrel_cluster - just for the ride.
November 27, 2006
My new MacBook Pro just arrived, so I have important things to do today. Moving from a 12" to the 15,4 " and I'm already struck by the size difference.
2 hrs later: Ok, so what did I miss. I have transferred everything over to the Pro using the assistant and my new Mac now looks and works just like my old Mac. But bigger. And faster.
November 22, 2006
Now that the startup-dust is beginning to settle, we are starting to identify the areas we need to build up capacity in. So, today we put out our first job description. If you live (or would consider living) in or near Paderborn, Germany and are a PHP or Ruby on Rails developer - then we want to hear from you.
Video content on the XBox Live Marketplace
Nearly a year ago, I wrote about being impressed with the seamless connectivity of the XBox360 to the Net and in particular to the XBox Live Marketplace.
Now that the pipe into your house has been installed, the content provider can start pushing their content down the pipe. With the XBox already hooked up to your TV - the pipe is end-to-end. For video content.
I've no idea what this is like because it's only available in the US.
November 20, 2006
e-Passport testing the "Open Source way"
One of the things I really like about my new job is the varied types of things I'm now able to do - apart from cleaning the coffee machine or paying bills that is. Most of all I am now able to get around and see some of the interesting things being done with Open Source technologies and methodologies.
We have been working in various areas with a local customer who is something of worldwide expert when it comes to e-Passports. One area where they recently decided to go an alternate route is that of the testing of e-Passports. These documents have to be tested for compatibility and compliance with certain standards and regulations, such as those from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). In an industry that up to now has been typically fragmented on a per vendor basis, our customer has gone the Open Source route.
After making the underlying testing platform available in source, HJP then formed a community where e-passport industry experts can discuss compliance testing. This is just the first step however, and in the coming months HJP will be releasing their testing platform for various electronic ids and cards as a "traditional" Open Source project - where anyone can join and participate. The platform itself is built around Eclipse and utilizes various Open Source components and technologies.
So, while e-Passports remain a subject with a high public interest, it is interesting to see how Open Source is slowly making inroads into these types of typically closed-shop scenarios.
November 18, 2006
openBC is now XING
Looks as though the (originally just German) business social site openBC has now morphed into XING. I'm still a fan and regular user of the site and hope to see more good stuff come from the move. At the moment XING only seems to be a new layout and I can't see any new functionality as such. But still, congratulations to Lars and team.
Update: Ok, there do seem to be some new features (thanks Rolf). The address book has a new business card layout (but that's still "just" layout). In the last half hour or so they also migrated their "about us" page over to the new XING layout. I was actually hoping they would add a date/time stamp to the "who visited my profle page" feature.
November 17, 2006
Open Source goes TechCrunch?
I have found the last few days to be "interesting" when it comes to reading some of the recent blog-posts from friends who have a long and deep background in no-marketing-speak Apache Open Source projects. Here a random pick of quotes from various posts around The Venice Project. No links to protect the innocent.
…it is about being being able to watch them just every time you want - whenever you want. Legally! In amazing quality! With lots of extras!
"It's TV as it always should have been, on-demand, instantly (no download), with plenty of community features that make TV an enjoyable experience"
"literally changing the media world as we know it"
"The product is looking good and we have so much more waiting to get in that it is just plain incredible."
There sure seems to be enough kool-aid in Leiden. *chuckle*
November 16, 2006
What's the next big thing?
I think "Triple Play" has a good chance of being the next big thing and having a major impact on how applications are written and how we use technology in general. Forget Web 3.0.
November 14, 2006
Mapping Le Web 3 (or: blowing up GoogleMaps)
I'm still vaguely musing on whether to attend the upcoming Le Web 3 conference in Paris in December and yesterday evening I was poking around the Website and looked at the GoogleMap that displays the conference attendees. Or rather I tried to. Now that over 530 people have registered, the map is - as implemented - basically unusable. Here is the link - click with care.
So, I poked around a little more and looked to see what could be done to change that.
The problem is that all attendees are being displayed with the map at minimum zoom level. That's over 500 little pointers that need drawing etc.
In version 2.67 of the Google Maps API, the GMarkerManager was introduced. Version 2.68 is out and contains some bug-fixes.
The GMarkerManager provides more control over which markers are visible at certain zoom levels. So a first step to the above problem could be to use the GMarkerManager and set the zoom level accordingly.
var visitors = ;
// Push each visitor into visitors
var point = new GLatLng(x,y);
visitors.push(createMarker(point,'Matthew Langham / Paderborn, Germany','http://www.indiginox.com'));
var mgr = new GMarkerManager(map);
// Only display the markers if zoom level is between 6 and 17
mgr.addMarkers(visitors, 6, 17);
I tried this out with a copy of the LeWeb3 map (I just viewed and copied the source) and at least the display of the bubbles above the pins seems to be quicker when you use GMarkerManager.
But that still leaves the problem of missing clustering. If the GMarkerManager has to display as many markers as the original (which would be the case in the Le Web example), then performance would be similar to before. Clustering can be done best from the back-end. If at least one person has registered for the event from a specific city (like Paris) then at a lower zoom level it would be enough to just display 1 pin (a "cluster" pin) that then expands into the individual pins at a higher zoom level.
var clustermarkers = ;
// If someone has registered for Paris then clustermarkers.push(createMarker(...));
// Only display the cluster marker if zoom level is between 1 and 6
mgr.addMarkers(clustermarkers, 1, 6);
The API description also contains a clustering example for the various Google offices where they use different "layers" to differentiate how many markers they need to show depending on the zoom level.
So, shall I go?
November 13, 2006
Tim Bray on Atom and RSS
Last week, at W-JAX, I was able to take part in an interview with Tim Bray. In the interview, one of the questions I asked was for Tim's take on the current state of Atom and RSS. Part of the interview is now up on YouTube and I ask my question around 3:00 into the video.
Update: Mark Woodman has transcribed Tim's answer.
Java to go GPL today
November 09, 2006
Moments not to be missed
Unfortunately I wasn't in the session where the following happened at W-JAX - so here is a second-hand report:
During a presentation on BIRT, a lady from the audience asked the presenter if he could show how to configure something specific by tweaking some parameters. The speaker agreed (somewhat reluctantly I was told) and proceeded to show how to configure the parameters. When suddenly - boom - Eclipse crashed completely and vanished without a trace.
The lady spoke up from the somewhat stunned audience - "Yes, that's what happens to me too".
I'm told she went to apologize after the session finished.
The shape of SOA
Mark Happner is giving the lunchtime keynote at W-JAX. His talk is on the 'shape' of SOA. Mark main focus is that global service collaboration is becoming more and more widespread in the vertical areas of development such as e-commerce, e-government and e-health. Some quotes:
The only reason for SOA and related technologies is to enable global service collaboration - everything else is secondary.
A non-global service collaboration is a contradiction in terms - it's a car without wheels..
Does a service network composed of a global collaboration of agent-code service actors help you visualize service collaboration? Yes!
Java to go GPL
After hearing Tim Bray's keynote here in Munich on Tuesday, it is interesting to follow the news about the license Sun seems to have chosen for Java - the GPL. The official announcement is scheduled for the beginning of next week.
November 08, 2006
Another day - another boring keynote
Jason Vokes and Jon Harrison from the Borland Developer Tools Group EMEA are giving this afternoon's keynote at W-JAX. The title of the keynote is "Getting the best of both worlds through use of open source and commercial development software". Guess where this one is heading.
The first part of the keynote was, as Jason called it, "teaching your Gran how to suck eggs" (which doesn't translate well to German - so luckily they didn't try). Jason really just went over some of the advantages of Open Source and what developers expect from a tool. Yawn.
The rest of the keynote was how Borland is moving JBuilder2007 to be on top of Eclipse, while maintaining the "JBuilder experience". In the slides, Jon Harrison went through all the reasons Borland thinks JBuilder is better than just an Open Source solution. Yeah, right.
The whole talk was way too full of "market-speak" for my taste and while I realize why sponsors of a conference demand their right to do a keynote - why can't someone kick their butt so that they actually talk about something interesting? Please.
Added: Just to make it clear, not all the keynotes here at W-JAX are boring. Just enough to make me want to write that title. Tim Bray's keynote yesterday was really interesting (for example).
SuiteTwo - Web 2.0 applications in a package
The integrated suite, a family of interconnected services combined to improve productivity and enable high-engagement marketing, is comprised of business Web 2.0 capabilities from leading software companies, including Six Apart, Socialtext, NewsGator, SimpleFeed and SpikeSource.
SpikeSource also have some screenshots of the suite on their site. The suite will be available in English and Japanese to start with, so it looks as though European non-English speaking countries will have to wait a while. At the moment there is also no sign as to what the pricing will be like or who exactly you call in case something in the suite breaks (i.e. a single entity or each company individually).
November 07, 2006
Interviewing Tim Bray
Thanks to S&S Verlag, I was able to participate in an interview with Tim Bray that was recorded to be printed in one of their upcoming magazines. Tim talked in more detail about the subjects of his morning's keynote and I was particularly interested in the enterprise aspects of things like Open Source Java, REST and adding scripting languages to the Java eco-system. Hopefully a lot of what Tim talked about will find it's way into the magazine in one form or the other.
After that I took a photo of our booth here at W-JAX.
Tim Bray on dynamic languages
Tim is now talking about dynamic languages and the impact on Java. Here are some quotes:
"Often, people will look at PHP and Rails and say 'that's a toy' - but it isn't. Those things will change the world."
"They have lessons we need to learn."
"Ruby is the easiest to read language"
"So, is Java dead? No it isn't!"
Here are 2 slides from his presentation:
Where the Java Platform Wins
- Excellent performance
- Excellent concurrency
- Excellent deployment Tools
- Excellent documentation
- Excellent security
- Best libraries
- Biggest community
Where the Java Language Wins
- Excellent IDEs
- Static typing buys performance
"Dynamic typing is becoming more and more interesting"
"Rails running on Java platform via JRuby probably by the end of the year."
Tim Bray at W-JAX: On Open Source Java
Tim Bray is doing the first keynote at W-JAX this morning and he touched very briefly on the upcoming Open Sourcing of Java (he says the actual release of Open Source Java was postponed due to the US elections today).
Tim: There will be forks of Java. Sun will still control the brand "Java" (logo and name). Anyone wanting to bring out another "Java" will have to pass the TCK tests and more. If you are a commercial company then you will have to pay. Universities and non-profits will be able to get "scholarships". If it's called Java it will be compatible and reliable.
Tim also said that the possibility of forks will put positive pressure on Sun and he expects that plenty of forks will come from the release of Java as Open Source.
November 05, 2006
Support the Creative Commons
They said it couldn't happen
After the power outages in the US and Canada in 2003, German power companies were quick off their mark in stating that something like that could never happen here.
They were wrong.
Luckily, power didn't go out where we live, but there was a lot of strange flickering at the time and I thought something must have happened.
November 03, 2006
My new phone - the Nokia E50
My new company phone is the Nokia E50. After several weeks of frustration with the first phone I got, I decided I needed something a bit more up-to-date and went for the E50. I'm pretty happy with it so far and now that I also have the Blackberry client installed I can keep up with my email while we're away next week.
Setting up the Blackberry client and Vodafone's Blackberry service was a snap and so far things are working flawlessly. The font size on the E50 screen is pretty small but I can read it ok and it does allow you to actually be able to read the emails when they arrive.
Any suggestions what other applications I should have on it? Leave a comment!
November 01, 2006
Motorola to use Apache License
Motorola announced that it will develop a Java ME Stack under the Apache License Version 2.0.
Motorola will work to align its future Java ME-based developments with Apache's model of licensing and open governance in order to help promote a unified mobile Java platform.
This will certainly add even more development momentum to the already speedy mobile industry.