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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

That blogrush thing

I have waited for ages for this blogrush thing, apparently they have taken some blogs off the list. That will make it work better they say... I don't know about any of that.




What I do know is the interface looks alot better - it is easier to change the interface that is on the blog... true, but I mean the application dashboard for blogrush, it is a lot better than it was before, it even shows what posts have been syndicated and how many times and how many people actually clicked through on it. That makes it actually worth having... it would be good if they had more post history, but perhaps they reduce their data retention by only storing your last 10 posts?

You can also go in and filter your content and other blogs content to stop it interfering with your readers...

So I am adding the blogrush widget to this blog again to see how it goes.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Oasis CIQ XML


I've got this project on at the moment where we are transplanting the address system to use International standards. This is what this diagram I've uploaded represents... the CIQ xAL.xsd.

What I need to do is work out how we represent this thing as part of a cSharp (C#) .NET web services application. And I have been surprised to find very little about this international address standard online.

Though the xAL UML diagram looks a lot better than my diagram.


I generated my diagram using the Microsoft.net framework xsd application, it comes with Visual Studio. This application allows you to generate Microsoft supported languages, like VB, C, jSharp and cSharp. Once I had the cSharp file, I imported it into Enterprise Architect. I then had a mess of classes, but the relationships existed. I then spent a little time 'sorting' the diagram so it looked a little less messy.

But I would have thought I'd be able to find an existing c# library implementation of the Oasis CIQ XML standard. It doesn't look like there is much out there.

Update: I have a more manipulated image, got rid of some of the relationships shared by a lot of classes and it looks a little tidier!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Idea 4: Web2.0 centric community cooking website

I think there are a lot of websites out there that help people find recipes.

My idea is a website that allows users to add recipes and tag recipes using some simple rules. Things that I could see somebody like me searching for are:

  • Recipes with only 3 or 4 ingredients
  • Recipes from various regions
  • Recipes to impress a date
  • Recipes to impress your partner - might be different!
  • Recipes for less than $1, $2, $5, $10 per person
  • Recipes that I can create that contain "something I like" ingredient
  • Recipes that only contain this, this and... this
  • Recipes that contain foods commonly available in "the region I am in"
  • Recipes that contain ingredients all available at the local supermarket
  • Recipes that I can serve for dinner and take less than 30minutes for somebody not Jamie Oliver and Co to make
  • Recipes that are good for you but taste like they are bad for you

I'd also like to be able to request recipes... like when you go to a restaurant and you have something that you like, you could, given a large enough user base, request the recipe and ingredients. Of course, you may not be as good at making it as the chef - but you wouldn't be a real developer if you didn't try and build it yourself every now and again.

There are lots of things that could be added to a website to make it useful these days, and community centric stuff is becoming more available, especially with social network frameworks like Facebook to piggy back on. And Mashup tools like Popfly and Pipes.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Firefox even cooler than IE!!



Well this isn't Firefox, as such.. it is a new application they are developing at Mozilla Labs called Prism.

Why build Prism? Because internet applications are changing the way we work, I use web based email more than traditional client email... I use online documents as much as desktop documents (excluding source code, data, etc), most of my desktop documents are stored on a server that could be in another country for all I know. So Mozilla are exploring a different type of web interface that is optimised towards the application, not the location and history of the internet journey.

What is it? Well playing around with it, it seems to be a web browser without navigation buttons and some other traditional components - like a menu. It does have a menu, but it is very simplistic. For those that have been following this for a while (and it seems it has been for a while), it used to be webrunner, which seems to be based on XULrunner - I've only really started looking at it, but xulrunner is the executable that appears in my task manager. Sorry, it seems more likely that webrunner was a xul application that was run by the XULrunner. Which I suspect is why xulrunner is appearing in my taskmanager and not prism.

What does it do? It seems to be a basic web browser... it doesn't seem to have off-line functionality? You can create shortcuts to your favourite websites (this is like creating a bookmark) except they will run independently of a webbrowser.

What will it do in the future? It is going to be updated soon to grab the favicon of the web application you load and store that on the desktop for you - or you can add your own icon art. It will also allow you to change the CSS of a web application to provide the look and feel you prefer, not that boring blue and white that Google put on everything!

What could it do?
It would be good if it provided offline interaction with websites, this doesn't mean checking your email, or reading your RSS feeds... but it might mean being able to write messages that are sent when you are online, or adding RSS feeds to your reader. You might be traveling on the train and see one that you'd like to read... or think of something you should send someone! ok, it doesn't sound very likely, but I'm sure it would be useful once in someones life.

New application windows are opened when you follow some links, it would be good if it could work out that you want this new application saved and not save the one that you loaded - this might be a bug?

It looks like they are going to integrate the tool with Firefox, so you can add any web page as an application from Firefox (I can't do this at the moment, though it is probably an extension I could add). This would be cool.

You can currently download a windows version of the application, mac and linux will be coming soon - or you can build them! And you can learn a lot more about the application in Alex Faaborg's blog, but this is more about where the technology is going... not really where the technology is now.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sun spot Java implementation of Minority report

I'm a Java developer... typically, though I end up doing a lot of different stuff... I ended up reading about Haskell on the Builder.AU website - I wasn't really sure why they had an article on learning Haskell, it is a cool language functional paradigm instead of imperitive or Object oriented... but it is largely academic (both in theory and practise!) a truely functional language should have no IO, as a true function has the same result everytime it is provided the same paramaters and no side effects. It is the nature of IO that it is a side effect... so making functional languages useful is somewhat frowned upon. Unless that use requires no IO!

Anyway, Microsoft has just released F#, a functional language for the .NET platform, so perhaps the purpose of Builder.AU writing about Haskell is to provide a functional language developers can play with for free, as opposed to getting into F#.NET, which probably has some resource that require Visual Studio?

So why the Minority report... well Haskell was boring and I noticed they had some videos about the minority report! This video demonstrates pointing and clicking using what is called the Sun Spot... there are other videos that describe what this is... the glove she is wearing is a virtual reality glove that she says she picked up on eBay... and then soldered into her sunspot to provide her with some sort of virtual reality Java enabled mouse... seems like it is a little clunky for my world domination plans... but it is moving in the right direction!

Monday, October 22, 2007

what is a whizzoo?

We weren't sure what a whizzoo was or should be... so we decided it might be fun to build a simple tool that allowed people to come along and say what they thought it could be.

Perhaps we will build a social tool that is socially designed?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Firefox is better than IE!


Firefox plugins...


I broke my firefox install, which probably isn't a very good advertisement, but it wasn't Firefox's fault... I must have installed 20 different extensions and obviously one or two of them did not like each other... so I had to start again and since I'm blogging stuff this is what I added:



Search:


I added Technorati, Wikipedia and del.icio.us search plugins - most of these should work with IE7.0 as well.



Extensions:

  • iMacro Lets me automate anything that I do on the web... including write blog posts - I'm actually getting a coffee at the moment.

  • english dictionary
    My automated blogger uses a spell checker, now I can too. Be warned
    that by default it installed the US dictionary - that one has all the
    Zs and ORs and ONs... not quite what you are after if your from
    downunder. The link if for the English dictionary... here is the US dictionary.

  • ScribeFire
    to optimise my blogging (robot - see above). I haven't used scribeFire
    before, but I am very impressed with what it can do... I'll
    beinstalling this on every Firefox capable machine that I visit from
    now on! It is capable of logging into all of my blogs and letting me
    choose which one I post content to! It is also integrated with my
    Wordpress blog... but probably not my Share My NZ blog... yet ;-)

  • BlogRovr
    Because it looked like it provided cool functionality - going and
    getting blog post about subject I was viewing.. cool. It is a really
    neat aplication, which pulls up post about what you are looking at from
    their collection of posts and displays them in the window. BlogRovr is pretty cool... but I find the googge blogger search better... it just seems faster and not as memory greedy.

  • greasemonkey
    Opens another world of Firefox plugins that I can use to edit page
    content - for example putting google page rank in their search
    results... which may be meaningless soon as Google is talking about where they will go with Page Rank. And I've added SEO tools like the next extension to tell me this stuff...

  • SeoQuake
    Puts some Search engine optimisation stuff drawn into google search and
    right on the page.. so I can see results for any page I am on!

  • Blog web comments
    It is an extension for Firefox by Google... really good at finding out
    who is commenting on the things you are looking at! One issue with it
    is that you should also be able to create posts, but my blogger account
    is a new one with gmail signup and I just don't seem able to log in
    using this tool.



Other stuff:


Subscribe as you surf - this isn't a firefox extension... It is just a handy linkt that will let you open any RSS feed in your google window - you'll have to subscribe to it when you get there though.


If you find yourself repeatedly visiting a website to check for
updates, or if you just stumble across a page you want to keep track
of, you can easily subscribe to it in Google Reader using the subscribe
bookmark.


To use the subscribe bookmark, simply drag the link below to your
bookmarks bar. Then, when you're on a web page, you can click the
bookmark to view it in Google Reader.

Subscribe...


Once you see the feed preview, confirm your subscription by clicking the "Subscribe" button within Reader.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Radiohead slowly revolutinising the music industry


I read this post by Seth Odin and since I couldn't comment there, I thought I'd comment here. I should possibly do that all the time, I'd end up with a lot of extra content.

Seth says:


If they're smart, they'll continue to change the way they work. Paying for their mp3s should get you into a club, a club with continuing benefits.


I'd say that would be smart - but aren't there already plenty of Radiohead fan clubs, user groups? I'd say Radiohead already utilise these - a search on Google for
Radiohead community
returns almost 5 million results, a search for Radiohead on Facebook returns 500+ members and 500+ groups.

I think if Radiohead want to continue to lead the industry, they'd do several things... one of which would be working out how to use p2p to deliver their product. Another would be managing the user base as Seth mentioned. But perhaps this is completely unnecessary for a business like Radiohead - they already have the numbers, what they don't want to do is drown everyone who buys their music with news.

But many of their users are currently using p2p services like bittorrent, at least if radiohead implement it they'll have a better indication of the number that do.

jquery or prototype?

I've just taken to using the jquery libraries, but one prototype in conjunction with script.aculo.us module that I have noticed and am pretty excited about is lightbox.

So I've started using jQuery for AJAX and Form validation, so before swapping I'd like to know how the two compare in these areas. AJAX appears to be pretty similar between the two. No issues there, it is part of both frameworks. How about form validation? Well jQuery has a good form validation library that I have implemented. Prototype seems to also have a form validation library, which is possibly more powerful? But it doesn't seem as well tested or documented as jQuery and validation may be part of the jQuery framework in the next release.

Not really sure, I'm impressed with some of the libraries built using Prototype and Script.aculo.us... like lightbox, but many of these have been ported to jQuery as well.

Idea 3 Greasemonkey flashget download of youTube video

I don't want to download all video into permanent locations on my computer. I want to be able to watch video without it jumping around and waiting to download. I know that the broadband in New Zealand isn't fantastic, but I also know that video quality will continue to improve as people can upload better quality video.

I just want to be able to go to a website and be able to download and watch a video as fast as I can... isn't most video online such that a tool like flashget can split the file and download multiple streams... and estimate how long it will take so it doesn't start playing until it can realistically keep ahead of the playing content?

I think I have all the tools on my computer, greasemonkey (to embed javascript into webpages - it is a cool firefox plugin), flashget... several video players... it seems like it would be possible to implement... I'd like it on my computer. But I don't want to be downloading video all the time, storing it, finding it and opening it... I want a script to do it all.

I did find a greasemonkey script that exposed the download link for google and youtube, I guess all I would have to do is take this script, alter it to replace the video content with the downloaded file... and all I'd have to do is hook up flashget to download it and work out where the file was saved... if I gave the script increased privileges it could probably do all of this by itself - but who wants a script that downloads and saves files on your computer! Ah yes, well I do... but I think I can trust myself? Can I trust other sites to behave themselves around the script which such privileges though? Nope.

So some manual input obviously required.

Update I did find a downloader for Firefox that grabs embedded video streams, attempts to get them as AVI or similar and will forward through to you flashget downloader. The issue I have noticed with Google video is two-fold, google video appears to be faster than youTube (this probably depends on the picture quality more than the servers) and the download only allows a single stream... for flash get downloader type tools to be useful, multiple download streams need to be available. Once the video is downloaded, you obviously also need to go and find it - like I said, I'm not actually interested in keeping it... I just want to be able to watch links that friends send me occasionally.

Well done Argentina!

I didn't know this game was on TV this morning, I didn't go out of my way to watch it, I was hoping I'd be at work early to catch up on some software design I need to have finished soon! But France-Argentina, a game you would think would be worth watching... it was 3-3 when I turned on the TV and scanned the programming to see if there was anything worth watching today while I had breakfast

Then Argentina scored an amazing try...

Then Argentina scored another amazing try... it was unbelievable and left me clapping and cheering at home, for those who don't know me... I don't usually react in this manner when watching sport, or culture... I may politely clap at the end, if I think that is expected. I may cheer when I am in the stadium, if a performance is worthy, but not at the TV - the TV is an inanimate object... the teams do not benefit from my cheering at home - it is like swerving your body when playing video games - pointless.

But the performance of Argentina was difficult to explain... it was similar to watching the All Blacks losing to France. Only France was on the receiving end... all of the ball and possession, but none of the points.

The last 10 minutes of the first half were tense and it looked like the referee was completely out of his league, finally he took control back and sent off French captain Raphael Ibanez and Argentina's Rimas Alvarez Kairelis, to leave both players with only 14 men just before half time. This led to a lot of players swapping around early in the second half, as France had lost their hooker.

The second half was just as exciting, the Pumas scoring another couple amazing tries... one of these tries started with Ignacio Corleto slipping through the French defense on the left, offloading to Manuel Contepomi basketball passed it to the right - after barely catching it. Two huge passes later it reached wing Federico Martin Aramburu who dived for the corner, protecting the ball to bring it in closer - but the ref ruled the try had been scored.

Every time "Los Pumas" got hold of the ball, the broke the line and ran as hard as they could to the French line... and when the French were attacking hard, Los Pumas defended hard... The French crossed the Pumas line only once and to late in the second half for it to be significant - it was almost immediately answered by a 70m run by the Pumas to score again.

The final score was an awesome 34-10, I am sure that the Pumas scored every second time they touched the ball... if the French had learned anything about the English 'style' of football, they could have perhaps used it against the Pumas... because letting them touch the ball was not a great idea!

What was different about this game (when compared to the All Blacks game against France) is both teams were aggressive in the breakdown, both teams were pushing the limits of what the referee and touch judges would accept and could control and the result was Argentina's attack won them the game.

Their performance left me thinking that perhaps Argentina are the best team in the world... ok they lost to South Africa, but they didn't play against South Africa the same way they attacked France. And to be the best in the world, you have to beat the teams that you respect... not just the teams that you don't respect.

When asked about their chances against New Zealand, a Pumas player said they could win, if the All Blacks had diarrhea, snipers shooting at them and they played badly and the Pumas had their best game ever... Perhaps Argentina thought that similar was necessary to beat South Africa? I missed that game and feel sorry for Argentina and France. France should have beaten England, England do not deserve to be in the final and I feel as if I watched the real final today. Not that I think France is better than the All Blacks, but they beat the All Blacks and I doubt I would have seen such an amazing performance by Argentina if it were the All Blacks today.

I was disappointed by the French captains comments after the game, enjoy the win because there will be new generations and France will beat the Pumas? I though Raphael Ibanez was going to do the political captains speech congratulating the Pumas for an excellent win - No? Well I have some results from the Rugby data website...

France have played Argentina 50 times now, today was the 50th rugby test match between the two nations, the first game was played in Argentina in 1949 (won 5-0 by France), since that first match Argentina have only won 10 times against France, there was a draw in 1977 - this was the first match not won by France.

The first match in France was in 1975. The first match won by Argentina was in 1985 (24-16 played in Argentina - In 1987 France went on to the final of the Rugby World Cup against the All Blacks). Counting from 1985, Argentina have met France 26 times, winning 10 of these encounters.

There was a period between 1992 and 2002 where Argentina lost 8 times in a row... but Argentina won again in 2002 (28-27 in Argentina) since that game Argentina have won 7 out of 6 encounters.

This run of victories might come to an end again soon, this is the nature of international competition... it may be time for France to come back, sure. But looking at the track record, there are no grounds for Raphael's comments, I hope they do the job and encourage Argentina to continue their run against France! But I am concerned that professional rugby will do nothing to encourage Argentina to play with such heart and enthusiasm they have shown in this World cup. Lets hope it does.

It was also heart warming to see man of the match Agustín Pichot congratulate his team, the fans and talk to the media with his daughter wearing the "Homme du match" cap!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

jquery providing ajax with form validation

Last night I spent a little time putting in place an AJAX integrated email register form, with form validation. The tools I was using were: PHP, MySql, jQuery and the jquery validation plugin.

There are a tonne of resources online for this sort of stuff and I wish it was available 2 or 3 years ago! We it did exist back then, but it wasn't as usuable as it is now and obviously there weren't as many resources around... before it seemed easier to build this stuff yourself, not now!

The first issue I had was in making sendmail send HTML email, using PHP, which I am not yet a specialist in. I found the PHP API and the attached useful... for providing the template for the code... it wasn't until I started sending to Gmail and using the 'view original' function of gmail that I was able to mend the mail output - it didn't actually look wrong to me... but obviously something was?

I had a lot of issues with jQuery not being able to register object listeners to DOM objects that I was importing on the fly - my big idea was to load a non-AJAX enabled page, then once the DOM was loaded (this is very easy using the jquery library!) then go and download the AJAX enabled HTML - if the browser can't do AJAX, then this will never arrive (smart eh?). Well I couldn't work out how to do this... It would be great if someone else did, because I can't put form validation on a downloaded form without it... unless I use the metadata plugin? Which I decided not to use - but it seems a cleaner solution.



/*
* Function is run when the DOM is ready.
*/
$(function() {
$("#emailform").validate({
event: "keyup",
errorLabelContainer: $("#messageBox"),
wrapper: "li",
rules: {
email: {
required: true,
//rangeLenght Option [minLenght,maxLenght]
rangeLength:[6,50],
//It is an E-Mail address
email: true
}
},
messages: {
email:
'Please enter a valid email address'
}
});
});

/*
* The submit function for our AJAX form
*/
function submitEmail(){
$.ajax({
url: 'register_ajax.php',
type: 'POST',
data: { email: $('#email').val() },
dataType: 'html',
timeout: 1000,
error: function(msg){
$('#sign_up').html('Sorry, there was a ' +
msg.status + ' error saving your email: ' +
msg.responseXML);
},
success: function(html){
$('#sign_up').html(html);
}
});
}


Ok, I solved all of these issues and learnt rather a lot about jQuery in a few hours... the validation module is excellent as well, very powerful! To use it with AJAX, I'm loading the AJAX enabled forms with the page, so no altering the DOM after loading... it means that I don't know what the client can do and will need to consider this for each AJAX element. But its probably less work... writing every routine twice sounds like more work than giving every routine duplex functionality!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Integrated Debugger for Java*/JNI Environments Part 5

This follows on from earlier posts in my integrated debugger for Java*/JNI environments series (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4). I have made a few attempts, but think I was just unlucky in my environment states!

There are plenty of resources out there for people interested in implementing the Apache Harmony based Intel JNI debugging environment... including a forum.

I have just found an alpha release plugin for Eclipse written as part of the summer of code program to provide seamless debugging between JDT and CDT. It is interesting that this plugin appears to only require the plugin install (and not the alternative JVM - which I feel makes the point of debugging a little vague). Mariot Chauvin has been documenting his progress in his blog (up until the 1st of September).

I have not attempted to install the Eclipse JNI seamless plugin by Mariot.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Good idea? blog action days?

October 15 was blog action day... I think? Perhaps not officially... I didn't get a day off work, somebody should communicate with my employer. Is it a good idea?

Yes the environment is important to me, I like breathing, I find it invigorating! But encouraging the world to blog about a particular subject... mention it yes... but to blog only about the day... hmmm... what if they had nothing else to blog about that day? Why not blog amnesty day? - don't blog on this day if you wish to save the environment! Think about the electricity you are consuming... go out volunteer for the day, help somebody, do something.... plant a tree... turn off your computer...

Or try change the world by doing exactly the same thing you were doing before... good thinking, I'm sure it will work.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Wellington at night


_MG_0647
Originally uploaded by Unit Seven
This is a cool unitseven photo I ran into on his website a while ago... the photo was taken with a 30 second exposure... and other stuff is mentioned in the flickr details. I think the round-about is the turn off to Wellington Airport.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Javascript performance

I was very surprised today to discover performace differences between global variables and local variables in both Firefox and IE.

The results were rather surprising to me, I thought there shouldn't be a performance difference between global variables and local variables... ok it makes sense to make locally defined variables explicitly local by using the var keyword (preventing a lookup for the variable? But such a simplistic test as the one below wouldn't make much difference ... surely?

Well, I'm running Firefox 2.0.0.7 (so many o's) and IE 6.0.2800.1106.... Yeah I almost supplied a picture. But in Firefox I get:
79ms
46ms
219ms
78ms
47ms
finished

And in IE I get:
266ms
250ms
781ms
266ms
250ms
finished

Now why is Firefox so much faster than IE at this? It seems to be statistically significant that local is faster than global variables... but should I care... and why is using the window interface so slow in both Firefox and IE?

The code I used is below (I used csharpformat to format the code for this blog and then I replaced the class tags with style tags and pasted in css format over the class attributes - as I could include the css here - though now I write this I suspect the style link tag would have worked!)



   1:   
2: <html>
3: <head>
4: <script language="javascript">
5: var x = {"FirstName":"Michael"};
6:  
7: function test1() {
8: return x.FirstName;
9: }
10:
11: function test2(z) {
12: return z.FirstName;
13: }
14:
15: function test3() {
16: return window.x.FirstName;
17: }
18:
19: function runTests(testSize) {
20: var xx = {"FirstName":"Michael"};
21:
22: var time2 = 0;
23: var time = new Date().getTime();
24: for(var i=0; i<testSize; i++){
25: test1();
26: }
27: time2 = new Date().getTime();
28: report("test2", time2 - time);
29: time = new Date().getTime();
30:
31: for(var i=0; i<testSize; i++){
32: test2(xx);
33: }
34: time2 = new Date().getTime();
35: report("test3", time2 - time);
36: time = new Date().getTime();
37:
38: for(var i=0; i<testSize; i++){
39: test3();
40: }
41: time2 = new Date().getTime();
42: report("test3", time2 - time);
43: time = new Date().getTime();
44:
45: for(var i=0; i<testSize; i++){
46: test2(x);
47: }
48: time2 = new Date().getTime();
49: report("test3", time2 - time);
50: time = new Date().getTime();
51: var z = x;
52: for(var i=0; i<testSize; i++){
53: test2(z);
54: }
55: time2 = new Date().getTime();
56: report("test4", time2 - time);
57:
58: var el = document.getElementById("test_space");
59: el.innerHTML += "finished<hr/>";
60: }
61:
62: function report(s, t){
63: var el = document.getElementById("test_space");
64: el.innerHTML += t + "ms<br/>";
65: }
66:
67: </script>
68: </head>
69: <body>
70: <input type="button" onclick="javascript:runTests(100000)" value="run test"/>
71:  
72: <div id="test_space">
73: </div>
74: </body>
75: </html>

dzone : fresh links for developers


I added this to my technorati profile a while ago, but hadn't really looked into many of the articles with much attention. Until today... and I was rather amazed by the depth of the content! It is largely Java stuff that is posted there, but there is also PHP, Linux, Eclipse, Windows .NET, JavaScript, CSS... you name it. Developer zone is basically a Digg or Technorati for developer only resources... so if developers link to it, it will appear. But check out some of the stuff that has been posted today:

Thread safety and SimpleDateFormat - I didn't realise SimpleDateFormat wasn't thread-safe. I'm not even sure I would have given it much thought. When I found this link I forwarded it to the developers on my old team so they could check it out. I've never run into a problem like this, but it would be hard to find in a large web services application.

Why I don't use Swing Hacks - Having done a lot of Swing development recently, I found myself heavily relying on Swing hacks to get the sort of functionality my target audience expected to see. As they expected to see a windows application. Turns out the client IT dept is keen to get them onto Linux, which will be an issue as we used other windows only hacks to deliver the functionality they insisted on, but thats another story (and almost entirely our fault). Anyhow, any reference on Swing is useful as it isn't as easy as you'd hope to twist functionality out of Swing. This is hopefully different in Java 1.6 - I haven't had a good look yet.

jQuery crash course - Pretty much everything you'd need to know to get started in jQuery development. It also has a link to this video... what I love about these computer topic presentations is how uncomfortable developers look in front of an audience - I'm sure plenty of people can relate to that!

Project Zero - Ok I don't really understand what this really is, but it looks good! Project Zero simplifies next-generation Web application development and increases developer productivity by providing:

  • A simplified approach to development through the introduction of agile programming and assembly techniques which are attractive to Web developers.
  • A platform optimized around popular technologies found on the Web that are recognized for their ability to lower complexity and shorten development time. This platform uses REST and ATOM to form the basis of the service invocation model; JSON and XML as the data interchange format; and Ajax as the model for a rich client.
  • Building blocks that enable developers to get applications up and running quickly by leveraging reusable components such as code snippets, widgets, libraries, templates and pre-built services.



Java/J2EE companion - I'm doing .NET at the moment... so my manager will be happy to see I'm paying attention to this resource! Especially due to the abundance of Java work around at the moment. The site contains example CVs and interview QAs, perfect resource to improve your career... though there really isn't much need for brushing up on your interview or CV techniques in Wellington, showing up is good enough.

Tips on being a better programmer - No need to use StringBuffer, and other tips. Even swing hacks, like multiline cells in JTable... I was going to implement this in the above mentioned GUI, but we flagged it. I guess I would be able to implement it now, given the opportunity.

Creative UI post on minimalism in web design - I also think a minimalist approach to web design has had a popular following. Google search launched a long time ago, and their were plenty of minimalist sites prior to Google. However this post has some good points and some good links - also in the comments.

Another tutorial on parsing JSON with jQuery - These resources are very good at getting into JSON parsing, as jQuery is another widely used framework. Again I was never very big on JSON, it seems like much more fun getting xml and processing it with XSLT and Javascript to load page elements. Mozilla XSL Transform.

Firefox mobile release? For USB stick or cellphone... You can browse the minimo source code.

jQuery: Write less, do more is another guide to javascript development using jQuery, but this time with an Opera spin.

Check out Developer zone, as a developer is bound to have interesting stuff in there for you.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Coil guns?

Seem there are some people building Quake coil gun weapons ... currently it seems the technology is border line dangerous :)

Blogger templates

I have just 'stumbled onto' Blogger templates, which has some great features and templates that can be downloaded onto Blogger blogs... I added the blogger comments widget from there and I might investigate some of the themes as well - I like the look of many of them.

Not particularly interesting if you don't have a blogger blog - but very useful if you do - and the blog also contains some cool general website resources - like integrating google chat onto your site.

Idea 2 - Regional web portals

I am always amazed by the amount of content out there that is produced in New Zealand... Obviously this is the same all over the world, you often discover things going on in different countries before you realise it is also happening in the appartment beside you - perhasp not literally - but this is the way of the internet.

I have just come across this site: kiwi writers which seems to be a CMS based group for writing, including a community and writing resources. It is an idea I had a while ago - write a Sci Fi novel... then I thought other people must want to write a novel (duh!).. and ultimately, they could write a novel for me...

Sorry digression... a community of like minded people is always a good idea, especially if they can help contribute to your successes. But what if you can't find the community you are looking for? Techquila Shots mentioned a user controlled search mechanism a while ago... I think this is a web directory - but with rankings etc it could be used as a search instrument... where users add sites and tools to the portal...

The end product is the most important web tools in the region are clearly visible links... the rest are there but are hidden or need to be searched for etc.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Idea #1: Social lending (p2p) New Zealand

I've been very interested in this phenonemon for a few months now... I thought it would be a great idea to implement something for New Zealand and Australia back in May... by July I discovered that there were other competitors interested in New Zealand. And to be honest, I'm still not convinced it is a bad idea to get involved! But for now I will wait and see, these seervices should be available in New Zealand before anyone else gets something together...


Peer Mint are interested in bringing a service incorporating Australia, Canada and New Zealand. This is the better looking of the ideas I am familiar with for our region, I just don't think there is a strong customer base in NZ alone. But uniting 3 regions, should relieve some demand for lenders. They will obviously have to deal with foreign currency exchange, but this can add to investor returns and also make lending more attractive!

Globe Funder would satisfy the risks I mentioned above, but I don't think they have the right idea in their model. They seem to be looking for solid investors? And are possibly only going live in the USA... they just missed their October go-live date. So may be running into issues with their model?

Nexx.co.nz is a pure NZ offering, winner of the Spark 40K challenge and all current students at Auckland University. Their model is very similar to the Prosper model of lending - where bidders elect how much they will contribute towards the loan and at what rate. The bidders with the lowest offered interest rate win, on Prosper, the winning bids are hidden and the interest charged to the borrower is the lowest loosing bid less .5%. Prosper.com has a very nice interface for this, but they only offer services in the USA. It looks like Nexx will go live some time in January or February.

You can keep up to date on the current social lending and p2p lending news from around the world on P2p-Banking and Social lending watch. Nexx does have their own blog, but I haven't seen anything new there since they changed from DoshMob. So you'd be best to follow the social lending blogs!

Ideas...

I'm going to start publicising business ideas, or application ideas that I have from time to time, much like Steve Poland at techquila shots...



I couldn't possibly know if they are original or not, that takes way more work than most ideas are really worth! And if I talk about things that I think would be useful, then someone might actually point out where a decent version of my idea or someone elses idea is already implemented...

I've already mentioned a few ideas, an RSS to MP3 convertor/reader... a socially updated RSS feed browser... perhaps some others? But they'll be easier to find now, with the tag: ideas...

Of course my company website will be announced soon... it will also cover some interesting ideas.. but more on that soon!

Added bookmark this to blogger template

To do this in blogger, I went to customise, Template, and edit html, I also clicked on the expand widget check box - as this is what the feedburner instructions directed me to do when adding the email me links.





This was more difficult than I expected, the blogger template is rather powerful... but I had to ensure that the posted code was XML valid... the first problem being the &pub part of the add this link....







The next problem was that I hadn't understood how the data:post.url and other data components actually worked - I still don't really... so I followed well proven development techniques, I looked at was already implemented and I copied it... now the book mark this button still opens in a new window, but it isn't a javascript sized window... its just a normal window - and in my Firefox settings I have this opening in a new tab behind the scenes...





I change the code to look like this, taking a link example and making it load the URL that would have been generated previously using javascript:





<a expr:href='"http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?wt=nwpub=alphafoobar&amp;url="+ data:post.url + "&amp;amp;title=" + data:post.title' target='_blank' title='Bookmark using any bookmark manager!'><img alt='Bookmark this post' border='0' height='16' src='http://s9.addthis.com/button1-bm.gif' width='125'/></a>





Which makes me think the template is preprocessed using XSL? would this be correct... or some other XML processor?





Anyhow, doing this means I don't have to edit my posts post posting to get the correct URL, or double enter the title... So much easier.

Rss feed to mp3

I've been thinking recently about how I read RSS feeds and how this could be improved. Then I thought I could probably get through a lot of Feed items if they were converted to an MP3 type format and I could listen to them on an iPod or intelligent phone.

Surely this technology exists already... it is applied to web pages, surely rss feeds are easier?

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Learning Java?

Well, I get asked often about this... I know too many people at Uni...


XML

Java 1.5

Eclipse

And also ... GWT

Because most people want to build web applications now...

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Feedburner functionality

I've just added some Feedburner functionality to this blog following the instuctions for the FeedFlare... It seems that the modification didn't work when I viewed the blog, but when I viewed the feed via FeedBurner it works fine...



I guess this is what I am after!



Update: It seems to be working in my blog as well, as you may be able to see.

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ready to celebrate

You already know that the team has been assembled. Now we have been incorporated, and a company motto is "Always celebrate success!"... we are allowed other company motto's... we are unique - actually I think that might be one?

Anyhow, there will be a website online in the next couple of weeks that will tell you more about the company and some of the things we intend it to do... But this weekend there will be some celebrating! The team is location impaired, so we will be celebrating in Wellington and Auckland, New Zealand... and may provide some photos or perhaps not... we will be celebrating this minor milestone!

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Monday, October 08, 2007

breathing world



Just came across an amazing Flash application based website, via stumbleupon, which I've just signed up to and installed a toolbar for... anyhow, this site estimates CO2 emissions and births and deaths for every country on earth (every one they have data for I suspect - which appears to be most of them).

The website is BreathingEarth.net and it doesn't do much except show births, deaths and CO2 emissions... I guess seeing trees and other CO2 consumers doing their thing would also be cool... But Breathing Earth is definitely worth a browse... simplicity is elegance.

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ajaxian tutorials: JSON with jQuery

Being a Java Developer with web services background, I like XML parsing, as I see it fitting into enterprise Java applications better.

But feed back to the Ajaxian reveals that AJAX developer prefer JSON. So the Ajaxian have published a tutorial on processing JSON with jQuery as well.

Also interesting in the last couple of days on Ajaxian is this post on optimizing Ajax code. I tend to agree with some of the comments, I don't think the try/catch model in JavaScript is particularly good. But that doesn't really matter - the article has some good meaningful links:



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Sunday, October 07, 2007

RSS Feed reading services

I would really like to have a web based RSS reader that I didn't really have to interact with. Something that collected all the blogs on the web like Technorati and Digg. And stored all of their feeds and made it easy for me to read them from anywhere in the world, like Google Reader. But unlike Google reader, tagged all the blogs automatically and provided tagged browsing and filters so I didn't read all the blogs in French (unless I wanted to, but actually I can't). And allowed me to rank the blog posts, instead of just starring them... but didn't care if I hadn't starred them or ranked them, because it used the scores of all the other blog readers in the world!

Way back in 2005, the Google Reader API was 'documented', so I wonder if the API is still valid and if some sort of Morphed Google Reader/Digg/Technorati Feed reader is possible? Because I'd sure like to take advantage of social blog tagging and make my RSS feeds easier to manage and find the good stuff!

Update: The Digg.API looks to provide a similar interface to what I would be interested in using for managing RSS feeds, for example sort by most popular today.


Update [Oct 11 2007]: I have just found myFeedz which attempts to be a social newspaper... I think it could go a lot further... but it is a start, you select relevent tags, then it selects your feeds... you can also your own feeds.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Massey war memorial


_MG_0178_79-Edit
Originally uploaded by Unit Seven
There are many war memorials scattered around New Zealand, and the rest of the world I would imagine. This shot reminds me of a structure in a first person shooting game, since the lines and the contrast is so sharp. Admitedly, I have not ever played a first person shooter with graphics as cool as this, on a machine capable of rendering it... but if I did have the opportunity, I would take a pause to respect the memorial.

Wellington at Night


_MG_2035
Originally uploaded by Unit Seven
An awesome shot of the wellington city area with the lights on full and a little haze.

Rusted Kiwi


Rusted Kiwi
Originally uploaded by Unit Seven
This is an image from unit seven's image collection. This image strikes me as being a great background image for a website on New Zealand trade or something similarly Kiwi oriented.

alphafoobar technology links

These are some blogs and websites of mates and fellow bloggers... I just thought I would post a little about them and why I have linked to them.



Ergscores.com is a Java web application developed by Jeff Wagner. The purpose of the application is to assist Jeff and others all over the world record their erg scores. For those that do not know, an Erg is a rowing machine commonly found in gym around the world. The most typical make is a concept 2, though I find the rowperfect equally effective and perhaps a more accurate representation of on-water rowing. The concept 2 tends to be the officially endorsed rowing machine for most popular indoor rowing and internet rowing competitions and also national team selections. Ergscores has also integrated with Facebook.




Playing with profits is a fellow blogger with an interest in software development and making money online. WizCoder is also keen on Ironman training - which I respect a great deal, I've been pretty lazy with training recently as you can see from my training blog!



Kiwiology is an awesome combination of all the kiwi bloggers out there - alphafoobar: technology mumbo jumbo is even included, because I'm from and in New Zealand. It will be very interesting to see this resource grow as a strong New Zealand centric web media centre. Following a similar path is sharemynz.co.nz, which is more like a blogger.com than a blog.



Wargames supply is the eCommerce store of a corporate colleague - and Senior Java Developer/consultant. Remarkably, he broke free of the corporate chains to open his store: Wargames supply in Wellington. The eCommerce site is only an extension of his 'real world' store. And he supplements his income through contracting his Java and now also CMS skills, while also dabbeling in the Forex with automated trading.


Unit seven is the new website of Sam, a good friend with some rather unique artistic abilities, providing some stunning photographic images as well as some inventive images incorporating cartography.


The musings of the Rebel Rabble... in blog form. A founder of nzfusion and having a strong affliction for youTube and believes that caffiene can cure RSI. You can check out Belle's wicked animation on youTube and here and in Belle's blog - the musings Rebel Rabble. She also links in other cool stuff she finds, Belle is interested in finding what is useful for you and interesting and making it more useful and more interesting.


Careering through life is Jason's blog, largely about your future or current career. Jason is also a founder of nzfusion. Jason is also interested in finding ways of developing himself and providing this information for everyone else. We are both quite interested in the internet market and how some people largely making something from nothing and what part does syndication, affiliation, advertising and other web based franchising technologies that play a part in web2.


Alphafoobar: technology mumbo jumbo is about technologies, especially those that are involved or could be involved in the development of web applications, recently covering Javascript frameworks and open source wiki/cms offerings. And those that are utilised for managing our remotely organised projects. But it is also about interesting stuff discovered online... for example Java/JNI.


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Creating FaceBook Application Part 1

I've been interested in creating a Facebook Application for a while, but I have also been wondering what is there that would be useful to publish as an application?

Flickr API
Google Maps API &
Google Maps API documentation
And finally Facebook developer documentation
FBML


I'm really thinking about 3 features:


  1. Page visit counter (Friend, Anonymous Friend, Anonymous facebook user, World)

  2. Where in the world the visitor is from - based on google maps, with images from flickr and facebook profile

  3. Postcards - again based on google maps and flickr


The idea is that users that view the page are counted, anonymously, unless they choose to make themselves known. And they can also position themselves in the world map. Or send a postcard.

When they send a postcard, they can select pictures from Flickr based on the location they are in.

Using the Facebook example application is pretty simple. What is a little hassle is the referenced database appears to need to have an exposed port on a static IP. Which needs a little more preparation than I have currently given it.

I guess for the initial test aplpication it will need to have zero database interaction - which will make it pretty boring. However there is still a lot you can play with and you'll see what I mean if you check out the Facebook tools - note that you will need to be logged in. I also recommend FQL, you can get whatever Facebook will let you have using FQL and get it formatted to fit.

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JavaScript Resources

Way back in the first couple of posts of this blog, I thought it would be a fantastic idea to publish JavaScript style guidelines. And it was, but there are many many resources online that I use when I am developing a JavaScript application and it always seems silly to replicate work. But what I should do is provide a list of resources that I use - and a list of resources that almost make a lot of it obsolete.

I was going to spend a little time writing a review of all of these links... but it was time consuming enough just to put them here! I haven't even put in everything I wanted to include.. but I can edit it as I go and so can the world.. well the world can comment anyhow.

javascript style guidelines
http://developer.mozilla.org/en/docs/JavaScript_style_guide
http://www.javascripter.net/faq/index.htm
http://javascript.crockford.com/style1.html
http://javascript.crockford.com/style2.html
http://dojotoolkit.org/developer/StyleGuide
http://www.codestyle.org/javascript/GoldenRules.shtml
http://www.bobbyvandersluis.com/articles/goodpractices.php
http://javascript.crockford.com/
http://www.quirksmode.org/
http://15daysofjquery.com/

javascript API references
http://www.irt.org/xref/index.htm
http://krook.org/jsdom/
http://www.mozilla.org/js/spidermonkey/apidoc/sparse-frameset.html
http://www.mozilla.org/docs/dom/domref/dom_shortTOC.html
http://www.soi.city.ac.uk/~sa386/epterm2/sqlxml/week9/The%20XSLT-JavaScript%20Interface%20In%20Gecko.htm
http://www.javascriptkit.com/domref/
http://www.javascriptkit.com/jsref/function.shtml
http://developer.mozilla.org/en/docs/XML_Extras

javascript API examples
http://developer.mozilla.org/en/docs/Traversing_an_HTML_table_with_JavaScript_and_DOM_Interfaces
http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/web/library/wa-ajaxintro2/

javascript frameworks
http://developer.yahoo.com/yui/examples/history/history-navbar.html
http://www.google.com/apis/maps/
http://script.aculo.us/
http://code.google.com/webtoolkit/?utm_source=en-ha-na-us-google-j2jsc1b&utm_medium=ha&utm_campaign=en&utm_term=gwt

javascript application builders

javascript application tools
http://www.jslint.com/

my earlier javascript posts





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Friday, October 05, 2007

open source wiki

I have been updating my earlier blog entry on Apache httpd, php, mySQL and phpWiki on Windows and I have come across another set of wiki web CMS total solutions that were mentioned on the tiki wiki website.

They are:



What I am looking for is a solution that will make deploying a user managed wiki very simple. I have also been looking for a solution to deploy a user managed blog. These implementations seem to do this very well.

I use Toad for MySql, but it useful to know that the command to create a new database is
CREATE {DATABASE | SCHEMA} [IF NOT EXISTS] db_name
[create_specification ...]

create_specification:
[DEFAULT] CHARACTER SET charset_name
| [DEFAULT] COLLATE collation_name

12.1.3. CREATE DATABASE Syntax

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I signed up for PPP!

Why would I sign up to PPP (PayPerPost)? Well I saw Malathy Badri's blog Blog Avenues with a Pay Per Post widget on it. And I thought that it is a pretty good idea. Not really so I can make money from this blog - but wouldn't that be nice? Imagine securing a John Chow salary from surfing the net and writing about stuff that you think is cool and you would be doing anyhow, while touring the world! Hmmm, must stop dreaming.

I thought that I might be able to offer to write reviews about people's blogs/products etc for free. However PPP take a cut and the minimum they allow me to charge is $5.
Hire Me Direct
If anybody would like me to write about something, then please click the link above and lets find out how useful this PPP service really is! I don't know how applicable this will be for this particular blog - but I will find it interesting to find out what the market is like.

Some of the PPP "opportunities" seem a little odd to me, like $8 to "blog about my restaurant"? Not sure if that is value for money for the restaurant, but it probably costs a lot less to get a good review from a blogger than a crappy review from a restaurant critic? You'd probably get better coverage as well.

Well, I'll see if there is anything to this soon!

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Integrated Debugger for Java*/JNI Environments Part 4

Sorry that I haven't been able to post on this for a while, I went on holiday down to Queenstown for a week which was awesome. Even did some snowboarding! There is a forum on the Intel what-if website covering the installation of this product.

It seems that the supported harmony version is only avaliable via subversion. Since I am using a windows client - I use the Tortoise SVN GUI client.

Checking out the source from the subversion repository may take a little while.
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How I went from 0 to 900 subscriber in 4 months

I obviously do not have 900 subscribers... according to my feedburner stats I probably have less than 3, which is amusing, because I know I have at least 2 feeds myself :)

Anyhow, a regular reader of this blog (I know he is, he has posted comments on two of my blogs) WizCoder, does have 900 subscribers and has written an amusing and interesting article on how he came to build his readers in his post: How I went from 0 to 900 subscriber in 4 months!

In summary of the 9 points WizCoder lists, the main point WizCoder makes is content. This is something many of the money making blogs deny is important! But then I don't think the purpose of the WizCoder blog is to make money, I might be wrong, but I think the purpose of the WizCoder blog is to learn about online marketing. Which would be something almost everyone running a blog is at least a little interested in - right?

Four posts a day, some big articles and some little... but 4 a day! Go content.

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BlogRush is actually generating traffic!

Yeah I know that is the purpose of BlogRush, but I didn't really think it would happen. Who would click through I thought? Who would even consider it... the BlogRush component is too bulky for my liking, it really looks like an advertising tool... adsense looks like a list of links. BlogRush looks like it is advertising itself - actually that is pretty much all that it looks like it is doing, but the people at BlogRush are currently trying to optimise the click through possibilities and minimise the cheating. And if I get any click throughs from BlogRush, then something must be working... I've only got a few hundred credits, so to get any visits from BlogRush is very surprising and perhaps an accident! But I'll go with the positive spin on a statistically unviable sample size for now.

Good luck!
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