Sometimes I hate myself…

..because I get into the train to travel to work. I managed to get a nice seat, no yelling kids nearby or other nasty loudmouths. I flip out my PowerBook. *&@$, I forgot that I deleted my preliminary notes after posting them on my blog. Can’t find anything in my browser’s cache either. So I slept all the way, better luck tomorrow. Right now I only jotted down like 12 slides.

Also today our Knowledge Center secretary posted the invitation e-mail to all my co-workers. So that’s past a point of no return. I wonder who will show up this wednesday, a lot of people are on vacation too.

The biggest thing missing in my slides right now is a link to the “local hero” strategy my employer tries to implement. I promised I would tie my presentation into that subject too. Personally I am really curious what this really means for our company. We are a knowledgable player in The Netherlands, from my experience we have an ok reputation (always room for improvement). But this “local hero” stuff is still a bit vague. Does it mean we are a bunch of extremely hard working people? Are we really that much ahead of the competition? What qualities makes a “local hero” a “local hero”? Because I have not seen anything heroic as of yet.

I’ll have to figure this out today or tomorrow.

New project assignment, something with Python

Python logo I’ll be taking over a few tasks while a colleague of mine is taking some well deserved R&R. The thing is, I’ve heard it involves Python. *sweet* 😉

That does mean I’ll be scrapping my Ruby experimentation, because I have to brush up my Python skills a bit. It’s been a while since I’ve done any serious Python coding.

If you’re looking into Python too, start here. Oh and, MacOSX 10.4 comes with Python 2.3.5 pre-installed.

The problem with getting some input…

About three weeks ago I sent an e-mail to all my colleagues with a company blog. In the e-mail I asked for anything extraordinary caused by their blogs. So far I only received only a few responses. I let that settle a bit and I have come to the following possible reasons for the lack of response:

  • Nothing special happened.
  • People don’t care.
  • I ended up in a spam filter or got snowed under piles of other e-mail.

Lets review each of the items in the above list.

Nothing special happened
Well then that would be a shame. This could mean a few things:

  • Nobody is reading it because it’s just not interesting.
  • Nobody is finding it because it’s just not findable.

Both would be harsh conclusions if you ask me. Since the keyword count seems high at the blogs of my colleagues and I do believe that my company employes a lot of smart people. While I can not look into the server logs of the different blogs a few colleagues do have a stat counter on their page. Reviewing these shows that, while there is not a whole lot of activity, there are quite a few revisiting ip-s showing up. So my best guess would be that the blogs are just not indexed properly. Lets just put this on my TODO list for this week.

People don’t care
Another possible reason could be that people just don’t care about their blogs. “Nobody is reading my entries, so why would I care about my blog?” Let’s just say that I don’t think that’s the kind of people working at my employer, lets hope not. Then there is only one other alternative I think, people just didn’t care enough about my request. After-all it was a simple e-mail message. With about 14 addressees. The thought that someone else will have responded enough comes to mind. Luckily I got this cell phone here with all their numbers on it. So yet again, another one for next week. Let’s call some people, give them that little personal touch. Should work I think.

I ended up in a spam filter or got snowed under piles of other e-mail.
Spam filter? No way, it was an internal message to other internal accounts. Snowed under? Very likely. So like I said, my to-do list contains the following item: Haunt Query come colleagues about their blogs by phone.

I’m hoping to hear some statements like: “Oh yeah I read that, I must have missed it because I get heaps of other messages.” You know what I mean, the lame sounding excuses for someone not running their inbox to the best of their abilities. Perhaps I should do a blog entry on that too sometime. (Like nobody else did that before.)

First steps with Ruby on Rails

Ruby on Rails project logoAs any self respecting software developer I jumped on the Rails bandwagon too. It will probably not be something I will be using a lot in the near future, but staying informed never hurts.

So of I went to a local bookstore to do some browsing and this resulted in purchasing a book called Agile Web Development with Rails: A Pragmatic Guide (Pragmatic Programmers) by Thomas and Hansson. The upper left corner says “The Pragmatic Programmers”, which resulted in me feeling good about buying this book, since I loved “The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master“.

Agile Web Development with Rails: A Pragmatic Guide (Pragmatic Programmers)The Rails book is very well written. I have not gone through it yet from cover to cover. Right now it’s the book I’m reading at home when I require some privacy. 😉 I find a toilet a place of serenity and quiet contemplation. Or an excellent place to focus one’s complete attention to the contents of a book.

I am running a PowerBook G4 here with OSX. And as the book stated, OSX comes with Ruby pre-installed but requires some tinkering. I opted for the latest Ruby version. So I went with a OpenDarwin Ruby/RubyGems/Rails install. No problem in that area.

The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to MasterNext up was a database. The Rails book says MySQL is good. So I go with that, although I think an in process DB like SQLite would do just as well for me. Let’s just say it’s been a while since I did a MySQL install. Although it isn’t really necessary as far as I am aware, but I couldn’t get network connectivity to work with MySQL 5. Turned out to be really stupid. Of-course I need to give a user the right on the MySQL instance to actually connect through the network.

Once I got MySQL sorted the fun could begin. Right now I just about finished building the web-shop cart. See, the book uses a simple e-shop as an example. Through the course of about 8 chapters you can build a basic shopping experience. I like this tutorial approach when taking my first steps with a new framework.

MySQL logoIn the end I guess I will get a pretty decent overview of Rails. And while I do get the feeling Rails can be a huge timesaver, it does still feel awkward to me that you should do it the Rails way or preferably not with Rails at all. The whole programming by sensible default is still a bit jarring. I guess because I am more used to rocket science style over-engineered Java systems. Not the most effective use of Java in my opinion. But hey, I’m no software architect yet, so why should anyone listen to my opinion. 😉 Also I can’t quite get that Ruby syntax in my fingers yet. Perhaps I should look into buying the pickaxe book too.

I am very curious about where Ruby on Rails will be in a few years. Although many people claim that it’s not ready for prime-time yet, that it’s still a technology too new for “enterprise implementations”. (That’s one term for your BS-bingo list.) I think that Ruby on Rails may actually be further along and actually quite capable and ready for prime-time. I guess time will tell. It is an interesting framework and takes some refreshing approaches, so even when you are not going to use it this or next year do take a peak at it. Most likely some of the concepts of Ruby on Rails will actually be useful for your regular dayjob.

Oh and about the book, yes it is an excellent read on Ruby on Rails if you like a tutorial style read.

Well, I’m glad that’s over again… for now.

My last blog post has been 7 days ago already. Now that’s not good. I have read a book that states a good blogger should post often.

Fortunatly I have an excuse. Since I was a little kid I always have had these terrible headaches every now and then. My physician diagnosed me with a form of migraine or tension headache. Basicly it involves sound and light sensitivity with a one sided pain in my head. Most of the times it’s the left side, but it can be my right side too.

Anyway, it was super fun again last week. Of all 7 days I had headaches on 5 days. With two of them inhibiting my ability to work. As you can guess I have been resting a lot last week.

My trigger apears to be stress. And this can come from the strangest sources. Usually it’s actually not directly work related. Like this week. There’s a heat wave going on here and the heat is preventing me from getting a good nights sleep. Shortage in sleep causes stress. I am talking about no more then 6 hours of sleep every night for a few days. I get really tired, and when I actually get some rest, 2 days later it’s bingo.

Anyway, I have tried these things sofar:

Most those have been met with partial succeses. Sometimes it works, but I can’t predict if and when. All I know is that the nasal spray made me get a bit loopy at times. That was really weird stuff so I decided to not use that stuff anymore. The glasses, sport and relaxation excersizes have improved my life a lot already when it comes to headaches. But there is still a lot of room for improvement.

My plan when headache strikes:

  1. Get something to eat before I start to feel sick. It helps me get over the headache when I actually eat something and get to keep it in.
  2. Take a really hot shower. And by hot I mean hot on the edge of painfull.
  3. Lie flat on my belly with the painfull side into the mattress without a pillow.

So, you see, I have an excuse for not posting last week. Also, suggestions are always very welcome…

Why won’t people use PGP/GPG?

GPG logoIt seems that in my web of trust everybody just trust each-other. I poked around a bit here and there, but it seems nobody is using a tool like Gnu Privacy Guard.

Everybody seems so concerned with data theft, yet nobody seems to act against it. Also, wouldn’t you like to be able to verify to some degree if someone is actually who they claiming to be when receiving an important e-mail? I would, but it just seems nobody cares. In fact today I’ve read a news bulletin stating that Dutch teenagers throw any reservations out the window when there’s a chance to have something for free. To me that is just shocking. Yes I am aware that certain information about me is readily available through this weblog. But that is a choice I have made while fully understanding the implications involved.

Not to mention this new beta system Google is about to release. Something involving a private storage space where you can store/backup your files. Of-course all linked into your GMail account. Sure the service Google provides is great, and I in fact wouldn’t really mind that Google indexes my some of my stuff. But the entire package where my e-mail, back-ups, search terms and what not are all indexed and possibly tied together. Now that sounds like power play to me.

Because of the above and other reasons, I’d like to ask people to start thinking about the “safety” of your data. No problem in not encrypting and signing your stuff. But make sure you do so after good deliberation. Also after you set things up, the pain is over. Your mail application can help you sign, decrypt, encrypt and validate messages with ease. Just look around a bit and most likely your favourite client can be extended with a plug-in of some sort with ease.

Ethical differences between Copyright and Patent

A few weeks back I finally finished my report on the ethics concerned with software copyright and software patents. The report was written in Dutch, but here is an English translation of my conclusion. Do note that perhaps some specifics do not apply to your legal zone. The report was written based on the current legislation in the Netherlands. But those details are not the point anyway, it’s about what software ownership is based on.
Continue reading “Ethical differences between Copyright and Patent”

Who wants Sudoku, come get some.

Eclipse sudoku projectsExcellent support by Wayne Beaton again. It probably already was available, I just didn’t know it was. The Sudoku game Wayne has been working on is available for download.

Just import this project set into your Eclipse install and you are ready to go. You will be asked for CVS credentials. Just enter anonymous as a user-name and leave the password field blank or enter your email address.

Now you’ve got a sweet little application to molest to your hearth’s content. Complex enough to feel real, but small enough to get into in a short time-span.