Steve's personal weblog

Interesting flotsam on programming, Java, .NET, Configuration Management, and the geek lifestyle.

Monday, December 08, 2008

It has been several years since I have updated this, but in case anyone happens to come across this page, I want to reiterate that my personal blog is at (which actually redirects to I also have recently started posting at

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

I've started setting up a new blog at my new site. Maybe one day I'll write something interesting, instead of just reading other people's interesting thoughts. Anyways, the new blog is at I've noticed that the main thing I had been using my blog for was posting links to things I found that were interesting. I'm a link collector. I've also found recently that is better for that sort of thing, so you can see my collection if you're so inclined. The new blog, powered by Pebble, has the ability to do posts via XML-RPC, and uses the 'standard' blogging API's. Next thing to do is see what Firefox extensions are out there for blogging that way.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Dana Epp's ramblings at the Sanctuary: Revisiting "Behind the Scenes: How I Build Software": "Finally I want to talk about our automated testing. Since I last discussed this I have done a 180 on our testing approach. Although I find unit testing to be great developer's asset, I think an even better approach is to use a testing framework that offers unit, regression and integration testing in a single suite. That's where our decision to use AutomatedQA's TestComplete has been a god-send. I now have a dedicated Quality Assurance Test Specialist whose only job is to build automated tests for every single piece of shippable code using TestComplete. As our test library continues to grow, we continue to refine the testing mechanisms in an effort to maintain stable, shippable code at all times. We also added some new systematic processes in both our dev and QA workflow:" Nice post. Might have to look into TestComplete - maybe something that DataCert can use.

Monday, June 27, 2005

CruiseControl.NET and MSBuild: "If you start looking around the web for an automated build solution for .NET that can also function apart from Visual Studio, you'll probably end up with a combination of NAnt on the one side and CruiseControl.NET, Hippo.NET or Draco.NET on the other side. NAnt is the answer to scripting the real work behind your build process, and the other tools provide you with (a.o.) a way to schedule those builds (or execute on-demand builds) and a nice overview of past and current build results and reports. What you don't get is a way to combine one of these tools with MSBuild. Of course, you can do this with NAnt by using the task to start msbuild.exe, but I wanted to cut out the middle man. Note: I do NOT want to start a religious war here and i don't consider MSBuild to be better than NAnt (or vice versa). Let's just say I wanted to make it more challenging by veering away from the path most travelled :-)."

Monday, May 16, 2005

Top 1000 High Schools Newsweek posted this list. A very simple metric - the number of AP and/or IB tests given divided by the number of graduating seniors. It's a bit of a pain to search the whole list. So I copied it all to an Excel spreadsheet. There are quite a few Austin high schools on the list. Good to remember that top 1000 is top 4% in the country. The asterisks on the school name indicate that they use IB tests. The Subsizdized Lunches Number is the percent of the student body eligible for free and reduced lunches. So here are Austin's finest:
RankSchoolCityStateScoreSubsidized Lunches
72 Westlake Austin TX 3.0351.8
76 Westwood* Austin TX 2.9786.5
165 Lyndon B. Johnson Austin TX 2.44241
204 Lanier Austin TX 2.26376.6
298 Anderson* Austin TX 1.95514
441 Stephen F. Austin Austin TX 1.67525.1
521 McNeil? Austin TX 1.5428.3
582 James Bowie Austin TX 1.466.9
678 McCallum? Austin TX 1.35727.5
892 Crockett Austin TX 1.14748
999 Akins Austin TX 1.04451.5
577 Lake Travis Austin TX 1.4637.8

Sunday, May 15, 2005 - platypus: "Platypus is a Firefox extension which lets you modify a Web page from your browser -- 'What You See Is What You Get' -- and then save those changes as a Greasemonkey script so that they'll be repeated the next time you visit the page. Editing pages to suit your needs is dandy -- but making those changes 'permanent' is the real payoff." This is some amazing stuff that changes the way you do things. I already have greasemonkey and it rocks. I read the NY Times on the web, and there is a greasemonkey script that makes all articles use the single-page format. A small change, but it makes my life a small bit simpler. And then using firefox with adblock also changes things - much more relaxing. I'm gonna go get this now.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Agile Modeling Tool
I saw this written up somewhere - these are sheets of white plastic that hang on the wall with static cling - a portable, put it up anywhere instant whiteboard. Just got them in today - I'll have to see how they work out. I put one up on the wall next to my desk for notes and stuff. We already have one large whiteboard we use - and not much more wallspace - but this will be helpful, I think.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Outsourcing off Los Angeles?- "What if you could outsource to a company that offered the cost savings of an India-based outsourcing firm, but whose facilities were just a few hours away? That’s the premise of three entrepreneurs in San Diego, who are in the final throes of launching a company that will offer software development off the coast of California—three miles outside Los Angeles, to be specific."

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Fractals of Change: Managing CEOs for Programmers A funny article that most programmers will enjoy.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

TDD and Multiculturalism While reading Jeremy's blog, i happened across this link. A very good post on TDD, but what I found interesting was this section on multiculturalism.
I think I could have accelerated the TDD assimilation process if I had a mentor who could have clearly bridged the gap between what the Java folks were saying and my own experience. In truth, I just didn’t have the code skills and experience to be able to identify with the issues that these folks were talking about and readily solving. I knew they were accomplishing something; I just couldn’t map that something to my own experience. It’s like learning a foreign language and finding words that represent concepts that the English language doesn’t even recognize. It’s not a linguistic division, it’s a cultural division. I can "speak" Java, but I don’t claim to understand the poetry or humor. For this, you've gotta be much more than multilingual. Multilingualism is just the road sign that might tell you how far away you are from the on-ramp. Multiculturalism is when you merge with the traffic as an inconspicuous, well-integrated part of the whole. I got lots of experience in multiculturalism from growing up in Montreal. In case you might have missed it, Montreal is in that massive chunk of the Canadian Shield called Quebec where the official language of the land is French. I learned to "speak" French as a kid. It didn’t occur to me that I had never laughed at a French joke until I was about twenty-five. I was rolling in tears in belly laughter from a quip that a band mate had just fired off before I realized that something quite significant had happened. I had crossed a subtle, invisible line from multilingualism to multiculturalism. I had spent enough time immersed in French Canadian culture by spending so much time with a group of east-side, unilingually French guys that I had gained an innate sense of what makes certain concepts more significant than others, and how those things become irony and humor in the right context. At that moment I also realized that Quebec's linguistic battles could ramble on forever. Much of Montreal's population is bilingual, but few bother to immerse themselves in each other's culture and in each other's concerns. Only a relatively small portion of the population would ever gain an innate understanding for the concerns of the other. Bi-lateral understanding would hinge upon this kind of depth of awareness. It felt like we were doomed. Not just because so few people had given themselves the opportunity to become bicultural, but because so few people had actually become aware of the differences that were so subtle to perception, yet so profound in effect on behavior. Without the understanding that multilingualism is just the tip of the iceberg, the potential for progress would always be stuck in the muddlings of separatism.
A great analysis - really 'getting' someone else's culture leads to a whole new level of understanding of them. And when you further realize that each of us is a member of many cultures, it starts to boggle the mind. I'm a member of the white culture, man culture, american culture, english speaking, geek, liberal, etc. etc. Sometimes when we don't understand each other, it is because of cultural impedance mismatches. The whole "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" idea is derived from this. Men and Women are from different cultures, even if they share other cultures. I wonder if "understanding a joke in that culture" is a good yardstick to measure mutliculturalism?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Olympian dives into city’s bid to win 2012 Games My brother Scott got interviewed by The Villager, a local newspaper in New York. They talked to him about New York's bid to be the host of the 2012 Summer Olympics. A well done article.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Textbook disclaimer stickers Sad and funny at the same time. I am glad my kids are in a Montessorri school where they actually talk about this in a mature way.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Turn your back on Bush.: "On January 20th, 2005, we're calling for a new kind of action. The Bush administration has been successful at keeping protesters away from major events in the last few years by closing off areas around events and using questionable legal strategies to outlaw public dissent. We can use these obstacles to develop new tactics. On Inauguration day, we don't need banners, we don't need signs, we just need people. We're calling on people to attend inauguration without protest signs, shirts or stickers. Once through security and at the procession, at a given signal, we'll all turn our backs on Bush's motorcade and continue through his speech and swearing in. A simple, clear and coherent message. "

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Election result maps This page shows the standard electoral result maps that we all saw on the networks, but then goes on to show them in several different and more enlightening ways - showing them as 'catrgograms' for example, with the states sized by raw population, or sized by the number of electoral votes. The one most interesting to me, though, was the picture with the results by county, showing whether a county went for Kerry or Bush. Look near the center of Texas. See that one blue county in the sea of red? That is Austin, and that is why I would probably never live anywhere else in Texas. Well, there are those counties down in South Texas, but I don't think I'm moving down there. One thing to note - this map seems like a sea of red - but make sure to look at the same map as a cartogram, which sizes each county by population. Then you get a more accurate picture that shows (as the numbers do) that 48% of the country went for Kerry, and 51% for Bush.
Another good map, which shows results by county, shaded in degress of purple.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Comparison of average IQ in each state to how that state's electoral votes went in 2004: "I think matching census data to the results of the election reveals some very interesting things." Yup, pretty interesting. He also has links to some other sites and data. This does appear to me to be a hoax. This site in particular has some other data that makes things look very different, and this guy looks like he has also done some research into it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The New York Times > Opinion > Editorial: John Kerry for President: Senator John Kerry goes toward the election with a base that is built more on opposition to George W. Bush than loyalty to his own candidacy. But over the last year we have come to know Mr. Kerry as more than just an alternative to the status quo. We like what we've seen. He has qualities that could be the basis for a great chief executive, not just a modest improvement on the incumbent. We have been impressed with Mr. Kerry's wide knowledge and clear thinking - something that became more apparent once he was reined in by that two-minute debate light. He is blessedly willing to re-evaluate decisions when conditions change. And while Mr. Kerry's service in Vietnam was first over-promoted and then over-pilloried, his entire life has been devoted to public service, from the war to a series of elected offices. He strikes us, above all, as a man with a strong moral core.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The New York Times > Washington > Campaign 2004 > Big G.O.P. Bid to Challenge Voters at Polls in Key State The GOP is signing up lots of people to challenge voters at the polls (the Dems read that as 'intimidate voters' and/or 'inconvenience voters'). Make sure you get out and vote!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

About Us - "We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit, 'consumer advocate' for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding." This seems to be an excellent site. They do seem balanced, and after reading it you get back to that old joke "How do you tell when a politician is lying? A: Their lips are moving." I signed up for their email updates.

Monday, October 18, 2004

The Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News - 18-Oct-04 - John Eisenhower:
Why I will vote for John Kerry for President
I seem to see LOTS of Republicans thinking about voting Democratic this time around...

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Nova Spivack's idea on How to Save the Upcoming Elections from Terrorism Alert Manipulation "There has been much recent discussion lately about alleged evidence that the Bush administration is issuing terrorist alerts for political gain. While I am not taking a position on this issue, I do have a suggestion that could eliminate any doubts, and in the process protect our upcoming elections. In order to prevent the possibility that national terrorism alerts might be issued for political gain by an incumbent Presidential administration, the right to issue or imply terrorism alerts and the right to postpone elections, should be given to a bi-partisan committee. This policy change should be instituted immediately. " I think this sounds like a perfectly reasonable idea. Which means that if it is suggested, it is likely to be dismissed by the current administration."

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Despite accusations, Kerry's position on Iraq has been consistent: "Kerry voted in October 2002 for the congressional resolution that authorized President Bush to go to war in Iraq. He now says that the invasion was not justified and has made the United States less secure. These positions are not contradictory, but his attempts to explain the distinction between them are often complicated, and they have given President Bush an opening to caricature Kerry as a flip-flopper. However, beneath the torrent of campaign verbiage, Kerry's position on Iraq for the past two years has been consistent and defensible - just difficult to sell in a sound-bite world." It sure would be nice to spread this around. During the first debate, it seemed to me that Bush didn't really say much except that Kerry was inconsistent. Never really defended his positions. Kerry kept saying he was being consistent, but I don't know that people are hearing him.

Friday, October 01, 2004

NSIS: Home: "An installer is the first experience of a user with your application. Slow or unsuccesful software installations are the most irritating computer problems. A quick and user friendly installer is therefore an essential part of your software product. NSIS (Nullsoft Scriptable Install System) is a tool that allows programmers to create such installers for Windows. It is released under an open source license and is completely free for any use. More about NSIS features..."

Open Debates | The Issue: "The Presidential debates -- the single most important electoral event in the process of selecting a President -- should provide voters with an opportunity to see the popular candidates discussing important issues in an unscripted manner. But the Presidential debates fail to do so, because the major party candidates secretly control them."

Catastrophic Success - The worse Iraq gets, the more we must be winning. By William Saletan: If you are one of those people who believe the republican's oft-repeated (do they say anything else) mantra that John Kerry is inconsistent, you won't like this article. I, however, found it very pointed and insightful.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

OK, maybe this is what happened to that plane that hit the pentagon... A video showing what happens when an F4 Phantom slams into a reinforced concrete wall at 500 MPH Not much left to look at.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

AlterNet: MediaCulture: Flip-flopper in Chief: "George Bush's image as a strong and decisive leader is a creation of journalists too lazy to notice that the president has a long history of changing his positions to suit his political needs."

Applications development in one-tenth the time- "TenFold has a PC-based version of EnterpriseTenFold called Tsunami on its Web site ( that Walker says will prove to doubters that a user can build an enterprise app in just a few hours. By following a script, 'anyone can build a complete, enterprise-scale CRM application that is like, only better,' Walker claims"

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Java Certification Simulators for Java Certification Success: "Java has evolved from being a language to develop platform independent client application to providing the architecture for developing N-tier enterprise application. It is important that you keep yourself updated with all the changes so that you are not left behind with obsolete systems. Taking certifications and update exams is a structured way of updating yourself with the technology. Therefore you should think of Java Certification from the day you decide to work on it."

Monday, September 20, 2004

The Trac Project - Trac: "Trac is an enhanced wiki and issue tracking system for software development projects. Trac uses a minimalistic approach to web-based software project management. Our mission; to help developers write great software while staying out of the way. Trac should impose as little as possible on a team's established development process and policies."

Friday, September 17, 2004

DamageControl - Continuous Integration Server Feature Matrix: Continuous Integration Server Feature Matrix There are many Continuous Integration systems available. This page is an attempt to keep an unbiased comparison of as many as possible of them. The goals are:
  • Make it easier to choose an appropriate CI tool for your project.
  • 'Healthy comptetition aid' for the people involved in the development of these various CI systems.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Cheney Spits Toads: "Without Zell Miller around to out-crazy him, and unplugged after a convention that tried to 'humanize'' him with grandchildren, horses and wifely anecdotes about his inability to dance the twist, Mr. Cheney is back as Terrifier in Chief." ouch.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Cooking For Engineers: "Cooking For Engineers Have an analytical mind? Like to cook? This is the site to read!" OK - this is actually interesting. A different way of looking at cooking. I know how to cook, and I know how to read recipes. But I like this.

Source Control HOWTO: "Source Control HOWTO I have started writing a series of articles explaining how to do source control and the best practices thereof. See below for links to the individual chapters in this series. The Introduction explains my motivations and goals for writing this series."

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Dude, I Love Math: Commons Math 1.0 RC1 Released: "Dude, I Love Math: Commons Math 1.0 RC1 Released The Commons Math team hopes to release the first stable version of Commons Math 1.0 in the next two weeks, based on community response for the First RC. Commons Math, released under an Apache 2.0 license, provides functions for statistics, linear algebra, random data generation, root finding, interpolation, gamma and beta functions, arrays, factorials, complex numbers, distributions, matrices, and solving linear systems and much more. Here is a listing of the packages included in the commons-math library, and brief notes on what they implement: * Analysis: implements of common numerical analysis procedures, including root finding and function interpolation * Complex: implements complex number type and implementations of complex transcendental functions * Distribution: implements common discrete and continuous distributions * Linear: implements linear algebra support * Random: implements random number and random data generators * Special: implementations of special functions such as Beta and Gamma * Stat: implements data storage, manipulation and summary routines * Util: implements Convenience routines and common data structure used throughout the commons-math library"

Monday, September 06, 2004

9/11 and the plane that hit the Pentagon The link above will show you a movie that lays out the premis and basic evidence that American Airlines flight 77 did NOT crash into the Pentagon on September 11th. If true, this is very disturbing.

Pragmatic Automation - If you just can’t convince the boss to buy those lava lamps, or your team is dislocated and can’t share a visual monitoring device, then you need another inexpensive way to visually monitor your build. Paul Julius sent in these two screenshots of his system tray and a note about how it works...

Active Duty Military Attending the RNC || A recent report filed by the Associated Press contained a startling bit of information: About 15 percent of the 4,800-plus delegates and alternates to the convention in New York are veterans, organizers said Monday. An additional 3 percent are active military personnel. This report was displayed prominently on the Republican National Committee's website, and lauded gleefully by the fine folks at Free Republic, among others. As it turns out though, it's actually not such a good thing to have active-duty military anywhere near a political convention - if you value your democracy. In fact, up until just a few days before the convention, it was quite illegal for active-duty military even to attend. And yet, there it was in black and white. Active duty military members were not only attending, but participating as delegates in the RNC. How could this happen? An interesting article. One of the questions I had as I was reading it though, was how the Democrats were able to get that whole phalanx of generals up there. A lot of them were retired, but I don't think all of them were. What are the regs for retired military, and their participation in the democratic process?

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Russell Beattie Notebook - Republicans Suck 2004: "Republicans disgust me. They are liars and manipulators. Dividers. Fear mongers. Smiling when they talk about war and grinning when they tell their lies and distort their record. Trying to impose their hateful morals on the rest of the world, they're nothing but the Taliban reborn. Have you seen their platform? Have you listened to their speeches? These warmongers? These liars?" Wow. This guy is not a happy camper. And I agree with most of what he says. Don't know if I go as far as he does, but pretty close.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Why file URLs dont work on Mozilla/Firefox/etc. At work we were using DemoShield in a Windows installation,which I thought was dumb since we were using this heavy program for something that could easily be done with simple HTML. So when we did a seperate installation for Linux, I suggested that we just use HTML. Seemed like a good idea, but we kept getting strange behavior - the page wouldn't load, etc. I recently started using Firefox as my browser (the boys back in Redmond would be appalled - I used to nominally be part of the IE team - my name was even in the "easter Egg credits for IE 4) and I noticed that I couldn’t do things like open the “About-DecisionSpace.html” file from the filers. Very strange I thought. So I did some looking. Turns out Mozilla (which Firefox is based on) considers those a security issue, and won’t open them: Bugzilla 122022 Bugzilla 84128 So I did a test with the ‘javascript console’ up and saw this: Security Error: Content at may not load or link to file://///afiler1/dsbuilds/DecisionSpace/branch_2003-15-L-9/win32/daily/40903.02/About-DecisionSpace.html. The 1st bug link above does list a workaround: Also, I read in Bug 66194 that the way for individual users to fix this problem is to set the pref called "security.checkloaduri" to "false". This is handy for getting around this problem (but exposing yourself to the security hole). or this suggestion for wording when this happens: "Security violation: links to local files currently disabled. To enable this feature, you can set the variable security.checkloadURI in your prefs.js. But be aware that you open a possible security hole, esp. in connection with javascript!" So that explains why we were having difficulties with things like the ‘demoshield html’ on Linux. There are also many duplicates of this bug. Aha – If I close all instances of the browser completely, then double clicking on About-DecisionSpace.html from explorer works. Strange, because when I got the error it was trying to load the About… in a different browser window than the one I had open. P.S. on firefox, the preferences file is actually at C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\greprefs\all.js

Thursday, August 26, 2004

US company shifting software development facilities to Pakistan - PakTribune: "SLAMABAD, August 06 (Online): Halliburton's Landmark Graphics Division, a US-based company, announced Thursday it had decided to migrate some of its main software development centres in Norway to Pakistan through its majority-owned company LMK Resources and it was further looking at the possibility of transferring some major projects started elsewhere to Pakistan."

Electoral Vote Predictor: "Welcome to Electoral Vote Predictor 2004, which tracks the electoral vote (EV) state by state. In 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote by over half a million votes but George Bush won the electoral vote by 5 votes and became president. Thus watching the electoral vote is more important than watching the national polls. This website is dedicated to tracking the electoral vote by examining the state-by-state polls. As new state polls are released, the maps, spreadsheets, tables, graphs, and movies will be updated. In the maps, the white states are essentially tossups and are subject to rapid fluctuations. The magic number needed to be elected is 270." There is also another site doing something pretty similar. is run by someone who admits to being a Kerry supporter. by someone more conservative. Interestingly, they both seem to be reporting similar numbers.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Up and Over the Windows Firewall (copied from an email sent to me. This may be on the web somewhere, but I just copied it here for reference purposes) I installed Windows XP Service Pack 2 on my test system a few weeks ago and started playing with it. A lot of what I call "playing" entails remote administration and management. I wanted to see what SP2—especially the much-hyped new Windows Firewall— would do for (or to) remote management. Naturally, it pretty much broke everything. The first thing I noticed was the constant warnings that my XP system wasn't running an antivirus package. For legal purposes, Microsoft made XP SP2 complain incessantly until you installed antivirus software, which you had to purchase from another software company. I'm OK with that. We should all be running antivirus software and I don't mind being reminded. But the minute I tried to Remote Desktop into my newly service- packed machine, I was stymied. Nothing connected. Windows Firewall, it turns out, works spectacularly. You just can't touch a remote XP box once that firewall is running. This is somewhat irritating when I've got several clients making heavy use of remote management scripts that are now, essentially, useless. I know I can control the Windows Firewall through some Group Policy settings, but my test XP box isn't a domain member, so I wanted to look at alternatives. I found the start of a solution on the blog of a Microsoft Scripting Guy. Seems Windows Firewall is accessible to VBScript. He provides the following four lines of code to set the firewall to allow RPC connections, which is what Windows Management Instrumentation WMI and many other remote management scripts need to operate: Set objFirewall = CreateObject("HNetCfg.FwMgr") Set objPolicy = objFirewall.LocalPolicy.CurrentProfile Set objAdminSettings = objPolicy.RemoteAdminSettings objAdminSettings.Enabled = TRUE Problem is, you have to first get the script onto the machine, which is near impossible with Windows Firewall running. In a domain, you might assign the script as a logon script or startup script and it'd take care of business. You can do a better job with Group Policy, allowing incoming RPC connections only from the local subnet, for example, if that's where you'll be running management scripts. Obviously, you need to use a script like this with some caution. Make sure you're not opening a hole bigger than you need—the firewall exists to help protect client machines and if you indiscriminately shut it off or punch it full of holes you're defeating that protection.--Don Jones

Monday, August 23, 2004

Debugging application startup when you don't directly launch the app: Matt Pietrek's blog discusses a cool way to launch a debugger on windows. Allows for the debugger to start the app and get involved VERY early.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Technology Review%3A Burger Profiling: "Pull into the McDonald%92s in Chippewa%2C PA%2C these days%2C and computer vision software will tell the fry cooks what you probably want for lunch before you get out of the car. Over the past year%2C HyperActive Technologies of Pittsburgh has equipped eight fast-food restaurants in Pennsylvania and Ohio with cameras and software that analyze incoming traffic%2C providing a jump on likely food orders. "

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

The Old New Thing "Why is the virtual address space 4GB anyway?" A good series of articles at Raymond Chen's blog on Windows Memory Management, covering the size of the address space, user space vs. system space, the 3GB switch, and other goodies.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Novell Open Sources Linux-Exchange Connector (LinuxWorld): "Novell Open Sources Linux-Exchange Connector May 14, 2004 Summary Putting a pea under Microsoft's stack of mattresses, Novell is open sourcing the Ximian Connector for Microsoft Exchange Server, the stuff that lets Linux desktops manage Exchange 2000/2003 e-mail, calendars, group schedules, address books, public folders and tasks."

Thursday, April 22, 2004

'Rocketman' takes wing - SpecialsStrangeButTrue - "Rocketman Eric Scott shot 46 metres into the air in London and promptly claimed a world record. Scott, 41, from Dallas, Texas, donned his red and white jumpsuit and zoomed into the north London sky in his bid to achieve the highest human elevation using a Rocketbelt. His feat, which saw him reach the equivalent height of a 12-storey building, lasted just 26 seconds but allowed enough time for a couple of pirouettes." mainly just posting this to test the atom feed and how it works with my newsreader, intraVnews. I am testing the beta of intraVnews, which supports atom.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

USS Clueless - Inductive logic: "What it comes down to is confusion about the difference between deduction and induction." my buddy John and I were talking about deduction and induction the other day, and this was a good definition that helped me out. Maybe next time I'll know what he's talking about :-). This guy's blog is good, by the way. Lots of stuff to read.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Catalyst Systems - Managing the risk of developing Enterprise and eBusiness applications. Openmake eliminates the use of makefiles and improves change and configuration management by automating the build management process. Build Java C++ Unix and Mai: "Openmake is an evolutionary build management tool designed to eliminate the need for XML scripting and makefiles while empowering developers with the robust functionality of ANT. Openmake supports a collaborative engineering process that allows developers to contribute to the build while ensuring standardization and consistency across all platforms. Openmake delivers a single build process for enterprise applications regardless of IDE, language or operating system. Openmake ensures that executables are created the same way every time."

Wednesday, March 31, 2004 - Technology - Magnetic Fan in Japan - Japanese Magnetic Fan: "When we first got the call from an excited colleague that he'd just seen the most amazing invention -- a magnetic motor that consumed almost no electricity -- we were so skeptical that we declined an invitation to go see it. If the technology was so good, we thought, how come they didn't have any customers yet? " He has customers now. Hard to believe, but he claims effeciency of 330%. I'm going to buy a few, plus a few generators, and run my whole house for the cost of a single lightbulb. 100 watts in - 330 watts out - 330 watts in - 1089 watts out - 1089 watts in - 3593 watts out...

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

distcc optimizations: "If you don't already know about distcc I recommend that you check it out. Distcc is a tool that sits between make and gcc sending compile jobs to other computers when free, thus distributing compiles and dramatically decreasing build times. Best of all it is very easy to set up. "

Kasei: The Importance of Fudgability: "Part of the problem was how arrogant we were. We believed that we could spend a couple of days watching trained lawyers perform a highly-skilled job, talk briefly to them, and then make their jobs completely obsolete. Worse, we made the job completely non-fudgable. In any human process there's always a degree to which the outcome can be fudged by the person performing the task. Even when the rules are simple or well-understood, there are always cases when someone will have a compelling reason to do things differently. In this case we didn't even know all the rules, and discovered to our horror that there were many more edge-cases than we'd imagined. "

Monday, March 29, 2004

Simon Willison: Pydoc: "Pydoc Pydoc is awesome; I don't know how I missed it for so long. Simply type the following at the command line: pydoc -p 8888 Then point a browser at http://localhost:8888/ to browse interactive documentation for every Python module available on your system. This includes moduldes installed in your site-packages directory. If you keep code you've written yourself in site-packages you'll be able to browse the documentation for that too. If you're even remotely consistent about writing docstrings you'll be amazed at how useful the resulting documentation is. I can't believe I only just discovered this!" "Here's an XSL stylesheet kindly donated by Joseph Walton (joe at kafsemo dot org) that generates RSS output from changelogs in XML mode (requires 2.51 for the isoDate patch)."

distcc: a fast, free distributed C/C++ compiler: "distcc is a program to distribute builds of C, C++, Objective C or Objective C++ code across several machines on a network. distcc should always generate the same results as a local build, is simple to install and use, and is often two or more times faster than a local compile. "

Monday, March 15, 2004

Martin Fowler's Bliki: BuildLanguage: "Since I do a fair bit of programming in Ruby, I've naturally started to play with Rake, a ruby make. The interesting thing about the rakefiles is that they are regular ruby programs with a few conventions and support to allow you to declare tasks and dependencies. I only have small tasks to work with it, and so far I find it very comfortable. Since it is a full blown programming language I would expect it to work well for larger builds, I already have found it handy to do things like loops, subroutines and list collection in my build files."

Friday, March 12, 2004

One Thousand Reasons: "One Thousand Reasons to Dump George Bush" That's a few more than I had before...

Ipod Used In Domestic Homicide: MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE (HLN) - A Memphis woman was arrested and charged with first-degree murder after she bludgeoned her boyfriend to death with an iPod. If it wasn't so sad, it would be funny. Apparently she was upset that he erased her iPod. According to the article, he did so because the songs were illegally downloaded over a 3 month period.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

The Register: "Protecting bodily waste in the public domain" Too funny. BOFH = Bast&rd Operator From Hell PFY = Pimply Faced Youth

Friday, March 05, 2004

FinalBuilder - An Overview of FinalBuilder: "FinalBuilder is designed to automate tasks that you routinely do as part of your software development cycle. It allows you to quickly define a repeatable list of actions that can be executed in the same manner time after time." Yet another build tool I ran across. Winodws only, and surprising that it has a GUI, since it is designed for automation. Somewhat ant-like in its approach to tasks, etc. Supports some tasks that Ant currently does not, and is much more squarely aimed at Windows - includes tasks for .net, delphi, VB, RoboHelp, InstallShield, etc.

Defining Enterprise Continuous Integration: "Enterprise Continuous Integration (ECI) is an extension of Continuous Integration (CI) to multiple projects. This short article gives you a brief overview of ECI, its characteristics, benefit and current limitations. As we progress in developing this practice, I will continue to provide additional links and information."

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

CIA Bot - CIA: "CIA is a system for tracking open-source projects in real-time. People all over the world are constantly collaborating and creating software, creating a constant flow of new code and new ideas. CIA provides an easy way for people to observe this flow. Developers can see the latest changes to their code immediately, users can subscribe to see the latest bugfixes in their favorite programs. Everyone can take a chance to step back and look at open source development as a whole." Sounds cool. I like the description of where the name came from: "CIA started out as a simple bot hacked together by Micah Dowty in an afternoon to monitor commit messages for the PicoGUI project. Lalo Martins came up with the name "CIA" to refer to this IRC bot: PicoGUI is hosted in Subversion, and the bot was a brainless entity designed to keep an eye on subversion :)"

Tuesday, March 02, 2004 - Help Line: "For those readers who are a bit more technically proficient and want to disable the automatic creation of Network shortcuts in My Network Places, there is a registry edit."

Friday, February 20, 2004

Black Duck Software, Inc.: We offer an automated solution for Proprietary and Open Source code detection Open Source license validation and management Software auditing and certification.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Meta Cvs: "This all works so beautifully that some CVS users will break down crying. Imagine the cool things you can do. You can work on a branch while someone on the trunk renames the files you are working on. When you merge the branch, your patches go to the correct objects under their new names! "

Monday, February 16, 2004

Eric.Weblog(): "One of the toughest parts of cross-platform development is the build system. No matter how clean and portable your C code is, getting the tree to build on multiple platforms is a whole different problem." One of the guys at SourceGear - they make SourceOffSite, and Vault (a source code control system) wrote this in his blog: This week I discovered a nifty tool I had never seen before. It's called CMake, and it's the build system used for Kitware's Visualization Toolkit. I've seen lots of alternatives to 'make', but this tool is surprisingly different and deeply neato.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Robert Scobel on : "Why Sharepoint really isn't used for weblogging" Scobel lists 5 reasons why SharePoint differs from blogs. What is amazing is he claims to monitor 1300 feeds. How does he get any work done??

2 + 2: "A little boy throws stones into a pond and discovers a principle that may explain how the whole universe comes to exist."

Friday, January 30, 2004

Gas on Ice: "Scientists have demonstrated for the first time that they can produce natural gas from an existing gas hydrate deposit in nature. "

Thursday, January 29, 2004 - interesting project - using a computer-controlled spray can as a large-scale plotter.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Using the java.lang.Character Class and Handling Uncaught Exceptions: "All the exceptions that an application typically tries to catch are subclasses of java.lang.Exception, and so are caught by this technique. This excludes exceptions like OutOfMemoryError, which are descendants of java.lang.Error. If you really want to catch everything (not necessarily a good idea), you need to use a 'catch (Throwable e)' clause. " - something I need to do for my Java photo resizer - sometimes it runs out of memory, and I don't handle that very gracefully. Maybe this will help.

Career Calculus: "The key to a great career is to focus on L, the first derivative of the equation. L is the rate at which your cluefulness is changing over time. The actual value of C at any given moment is usually a distraction. Only one question matters: With each day that goes by, are you getting more clueful, or less clueful? Or are you just stuck?"

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Developer Testing, discussions about best practices: "Was there any way they could get a quick sanity check on code without having to wait an hour? The solution was to install CruiseControl on a second machine and create a new Ant target that just pulls the changes, compiles all the code, and runs our smoke tests. This cycle typically takes about 2 minutes, meaning that after a check-in the developer can expect email reassurance (or blame) in their inbox in under 5 minutes. "

Friday, January 16, 2004

FUH2 | F%^& You And Your H2: "The government rewards you more savings for buying an H2 than you'd get for buying an electric car. "

shtoom - pure python VoIP. I wonder if it will work with our new VoIP phones? Wonder if it works with Skype? I recently signed up with Skype, but I haven't used it. Because it is skype-to-skype only, I don't currently have anyone else to call :-(

Monday, January 12, 2004

Joel on Software - Bionic Office: " I sneer at silly building managers who still think that one LAN port per office is about right. For lawyers, maybe."

Aleron Unveils Superfast Ultrawideband - "UWB is 25 times more power efficient than Wi-Fi." - and cabable of hitting speeds of 480 Mbps! The range is short (10 M) but if these things also acted as repeaters, as many have suggested, your whole house could get covered pretty easily. 2389: integrating javascript into stylesheets

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Top 15 Ant Best Practices - found this through Glenn's blog.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Kev's catalogue of this and that.: September 21, 2003 - September 27, 2003 Archives - Someone named Kevin shows how to deal with dependencies in a pretty stylish way with Ant 1.6 (include ability), XSLT, and a dependencies.xml.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

BitTorrent and RSS Create Disruptive Revolution - an interesting perspective. RSS is cool, but because it is pull (clients poll for updates periodically) it may not be good for things like large media files. BitTorrent is good for big media files - it spreads the bandwidth requirements out so that the creator of the content doesn't have to supply the bandwidth for ALL the clients. So the combination of the two could be very cool. Read the article.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Linux Professional Institute certification 101 (release 2) exam prep, Part 1 - I need to learn Linux better, so here is a free set of tutorials from IBM that might help me out.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Paper Kits - this is cool. Paper kits of a working clock, trebuchet, racing car. Download em and build em!

Friday, November 21, 2003

AskIgor - Automated Debugging Service another interesting thing - this service allows you to send them some computer code, (has be be x86 Linux) and some command lines - some that work, some that don't - and they have some programs that will analyze the program and determine where the bugs are.

Vnc2swf - a VNC recording tool for Flash I'll have to check this one out again. Can't remember why I blogged it. Haven't added anything to my blog in a while, so I'm going to try doing it some more.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

XSLT Blooms with Java - how to use java within XSLT stylesheets. Something I have wanted to do lately...

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

UML diagramming, OO software modeling, Source code engineering Tool MagicDraw UML from No Magic MagicDraw is a visual UML modeling and CASE tool with teamwork support. Designed for Business Analysts, Software Analysts, Programmers, QA Engineers, and Documentation Writers, this dynamic and versatile development tool facilitates analysis and design of Object Oriented (OO) systems and databases. It provides the industry's best code engineering mechanism (with full round-trip support for Java, C#, C , and CORBA IDL programming languages), as well as database schema modeling, DDL generation and reverse engineering facilities.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Another application of Landmark technology - the world (especially first-world nations) generate LOTS of carbon dioxide, which causes greenhouse warming. One way to help that would be to capture carbon dioxide and store it underground.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

ARGH! Trying to figure out how to get the EXIF comments that the Winodws Properties page saves to JPG files out, and into the web photo album. Turns out MS did something non standard.Mark M has a blog about his attempts.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Five days into the war. We are suffering casualties, as expected. We do seem to be progressing quickly at least. This morning I was reading some stuff on How Stuff Works about sidewinder missiles. The part at the end of this page was interesting. I have also recently been reading some pages about video cameras on model rockets - the rollerons would be a pretty good way, it seems, to stabilize those as well.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Sounds like the wargasm (part II) has started. Just sat and watched TV for a while. I have mixed feelings. Don't want this, but maybe this will be short and things will be better for the Iraqi people afterwards. Latest that I heard was the first strike was directly at Saddam. Maybe it worked and this will just end! One can hope it will be that simple. But I doubt it. Even if he was killed in the attack, I doubt that would end it.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Wired News: Google: Net Hacker Tool du Jour - an easy way (using Google) to find databases that are public on the net. Yikes! Hope you're not using FileMaker Pro!

Rivals chip away at Microsoft's dominance Open-source software takes on Windows, Office A story about a guy who was fined by the Business Software Alliance (an industry association co-founded by M$) because he had unlicensed copies of M$ software. So he wiped Windows off all his machines, and uses all Open Source stuff now. He figures he saved $80,000 in the past 2 years (even including the $90,000 fine!).

With 6 Degrees of Separation, Computers Stay in Sync An article in the New York times on grid computing

Monday, March 03, 2003

Just in case you were wondering, here's a guy with a take on The Meaning of Life. His take is that he is working towards a singularity - a point in time where we don't know what might happen after that. The singularity he is working towards? When computer intelligences, combined with human intelligence, starts getting twice as smart in matters of a year, then 6 months, then 3 months, then... Who knows? It could happen.

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Here's a good one. Someone's Redneck Neighbor. I actually ran into this site a while back, but someone sent it to me again today. <sarcasm>Unfortunately</sarcasm>, my evil neighbor has moved out and a nice family has moved in, so I can't compian about him anymore. He wasn't nearly as amusing as these folks, though. For those unfamiliar with the story, though... The time was September 2000. The end of a long hot summer in Austin. We were under mandatory watering restrictions, and my neighbor had washed his driveway (to get the leaves off, you know) several times that summer. So I decided after he drove off to leave a note for him. Thought about doing it anonymously, but decided to sign my name to it. Hi Steve - 
Just wanted to remind you that washing your driveway (even on your designated watering day) is against the law while mandatory watering restrictions are in effect. Please don't waste water. 
Steve Donie I was out in the backyard trimming some trees when he came over to the back fence. I walked over and he seemed like he was going to be nice enough, but then just went off on me. Told me to mind my own business, that this was a nice neighborhood until I moved in, that what he did on his property was his business. I did argue with him - told him that it was my business, that the water belongs to all of us, that I was trying to be nice by not just calling the cops. As the argument went on, he proceeded to tell me to just stay off his property, and that if I did set foot on his property, he would kill me. That he had a gun, and that he would blow my head off without asking any questions. And that he would do the same for anyone in my family. I tried to be reasonable and not provoke him. After a while, he left, and I went back to my pruning. He came back maybe 2 or 3 minutes later, yelled at me from the corner of Bonnie's yard that if I did call the cops, "You'll just see what will happen." I asked him if that was a threat, and he replied as he left that it was a fact. The most amusing thing was when he "accused" me of being "some sort of libertarian". Called the police about an hour later, after Julie got home and I told her what had happened. Pretty scary. When the police came they sent 2 cars. They came to our front door, then one went over to talk to Steve. They filed a report, gave me a case number, and told me that I could talk to a detective on Monday. I called this morning, but the case hadn’t been assigned to anyone yet. The cop I talked to told me that he didn’t want to say what charge could be filed against him, but he thought it would be either a class C misdemeanor threat, or perhaps a class B misdemeanor terroristic threat. He also told Steve that if there was any kind of retaliatory action on his part, that would be a felony. I guess Steve just told the cop that he didn’t want me coming on his property any more. Fine with me. Julie and I are both pretty pissed off. I am going to call the detectives this afternoon, and I think I am going to file charges, whatever they may be. I don’t like being threatened, and I sure as hell am not going to let him get away with threatening my family. The guy is a nut. Afterwards, we were both pretty worked up. I set up my PC camera to point out the window and keep track of any movement, in case he decided to do something stupid.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Even WITH wireless LAN access I didn't do much work at the conference - too much NetWorking! Good conference.

Friday, February 14, 2003

It has been a busy week at work. I've been meaning to change our product documentation to something with more structure, so yesterday I downloaded the 0.4 release of Forrest. It was as easy to set up as the docs said it would be, and I was able to generate the simple empty site in about 30 minutes. The next test will be how well it can handle our existing documentation, which is badly organized and all HTML - no XML. Next week is our yearly developers conference, so I probably won't post much. Unless they have set up wireless LAN access at the conference...

Friday, February 07, 2003

I set up a family blog today - I'm not sure if anyone besides me will use it, but it's there in case folks want to look at it. I've given folks in my family the ability to post to it.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Anthill is a tool I've been thinking about using instead of CruiseControl. Here's my writeup on my initial experience: It was pretty simple to set up out of the box. I was able to get the commons project I have started building pretty quickly. Some strangeness I had to figure out - the version number must be stored in cvs, you have to give it the name of the file, it stores something like .buildnum. and increments the last buildnum, where prefix and suffix are strings. Here is their build loop: checkout working copy (clean checkout every time) Does a checkout and then REMOVES working copy every time. Would get slow, it seems. check if build is needed, generate changes since last good build list. if so, increment build number and check that in tag the project (if set to 'tag on all builds') build the project tag the project (if set to 'tag on successful builds only') publish the project (call a secondary build.xml, or second target in build.xml) remove working copy. send email, including changelog. Likes: easy to set up. Pretty easy to add new projects. Handles dependencies. Everything is on one machine. Dislikes: seems like it would be very slow with projects the size we have (always doing clean checkouts) need to adapt to their versioning scheme ugly email (not really a big deal) email sending not as flexible as CC only seems to publish latest version no security at all - anyone can change anything! Looks like they are now moving to "AntHill Pro" with more features. Presumably, they will start charging money for it. According to email from Erik Hatcher, though, they will continue to support AntHill OS (Open Source). One of the issues that I had with it was its lack of security. It is a web application, and anyone with access to the website can do anything - add projects, remove projects, run builds, etc. Here is a link to the urban code mailing list that has a solution to that problem. Another issue is the clean checkout thing - here is somehting I found that would address that issue also. [Anthill] How to stop the code tree being removed?

Friday, January 31, 2003

Work-related website: Neat stuff there.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Julie is working today, and we were too tired to move her tools from the van to the truck, so I drove the truck to work today. I do like it. Been wasting a bunch of time this morning looking at the web. Yesterday too. Some neat stuff I found: The Periodic Table Table - Theodore Gray, one of the cofounders of Wolfram Research built a conference table with wooden tiles of the periodic table of the elements. Under each engraved tile is a sample area, and he claims to have a complete collection of the elements that can be collected. . He had a good rant on educational software

Monday, January 27, 2003

Trying to see what if there is a way to include photos and such. Of course, if the images aren't always available, that will be a problem. Right now, for example, I have photos from July 2002 to December 2002. Let's see what happens with a link to a November image I like:

A nice picture of my girls.
Cool! That works.

Welcome to the new blog. There are some new photos of Julie's truck on the home page.