Saturday, June 24, 2006

Commuting in soccer world cup times

Late evening commuting (pre-launch time at ComBOTS) is quite
interesting during these soccer world cup times right now. Australians
accompanied by 1,5m plastic kangaroos, groups of Italians,
Spanish and Germans wildly debating and celebrating in a mixture of
English, German and Spanish, flocks of young Germans stylishly made up
with german colours for after-soccer parties, people wrapped in flags
everywhere, .... Actually the soccer influence in commuter space is far
nicer than expected and the party still goes on.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

vdr plug'n and play

When the power supply of our VDR failed 2 months ago that proved to be
the right oppurtunity to inject some hardware upgrades into our VDR
box. So I decided to add a second DVB-S card and a third harddisk
(SATA 250G). Having done a couple of vdr upgrades in the last 6 years
I expected some minor hassles to get it back into working state. But,
oh joy, none of these. Second DVB-S card: plugged it in, booted vdr
box, kernel detected it alright, vdr detected it, tried multiple
concurrent recordings, perfect. Ok, I've got to admit that I run a
relatively recent 2.6.12 kernel and Debian unstable which includes a recent
vdr version, but still. On to the SATA disk, this is a fairly old
mainboard so I added a cheapo SATA controller and recompiled the
kernel because my custom compiled kernel didn't include SATA
support. Plugged in the card, rebooted, kernel detected SATA disk,
created ext3, mounted filesystem and voila: done. Everything works
pretty smoothly since then. And I've got a family of very demanding
vdr users which provides first level support experiences along the
lines of: "Daddy, it doesn't work, please fix it _now_, I _need_ to
watch my daily SpongeBob.".
In the 12 years of using GNU/Linux we're finally getting really close
to plug'n play: not graphics-whiz-bang-wise but functionally-wise for sure ;-)

Friday, May 5, 2006

Dead Poets Society

Rewatched "Dead Poets Society" recently, another favourite of mine. Two quotes although pretty commonplace can't be mentioned too often ;-)

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion." Walden, Henry David Thoreau

"I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference."

The road not taken, Robert Frost

Still giggling

If you're into black humour you absolutely have got to watch this little french gem. The title ("Serial Lover") reminded me of "Serial Mom" but they are different styles. The story starts very slow, stylish and relaxed but it builds up momemtum pretty fast. Just when you think "ok, it can't get worse" the story will twist again. The camera and underlying soundtrack are _really_ cool and provide this great stylishness to the film. I still giggle about some scenes and probably will for a couple of days (hint: The special version of "Only You" from "The Platters").

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Agile Practise

You've probably seen "Agile Mythbusting" in one form or another but it can't be overrated ;-)

From the unsung hero department

David Nusinow, the current Xorg Debian maintainer, has put a tremendous amount of work in packaging the beast which is known as Xorg. He did the transition from XFree86 to Xorg and manages the transition to modular Xorg 7 now. There are currently some disturbances in the force but I fully agree with this post from Daniel Stone. Thank you David and the XSF, your hard work is greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


The real Web 2.0 definition.


Was baffled today when Tobias Geiger - a colleague at ComBOTS - casually cited from "Absolute Giganten". The movie seems to be even more popular than I thought ;-)

BTW Happy Birthday, Tobias - Da geht einiges.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The J2EE backlash continues ...

Now that RoR provided the valve to let the steam out of the Java web application pot we are seeing similar phenomena in the Java Enterprise pot.

WS-* is an easy target in this respect. I hardly know a (Java) developer who mastered the WS arena. Not because providing web services wouldn't be useful but because it's just so complex, confusing and certainly _not_ fun.

In my experience there's one magical turning point for enterprise architecture: the deadline. I've seen more than one project throwing corporate strategy overboard when faced with the decision: delay the deadline or use working code now but without the full might of the corporate architecture. And I'm not talking about flushing the entire design of an application. It was more along the line: company policy: "you've got to use J2EE application server xyz"; state at the deadline: "we've got a working version on this servlet container but deployment on J2EE container xyz shows a couple of obscure anomalies."; solution: "take the working version in production now, we'll abide the company policy later."; of course it was never deployed on the company J2EE container.

Right now the backlash is developer-driven but before too long it'll be customer-driven.

C# and Java comparison

This article is a bit dated (Aug 2000) and it particularly shows in the description of now current Java features (I'm pretty sure it's the same for the C# side). Nevertheless it's a nice and swift head start into C# for someone coming from a Java background like me ;-)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Integrating AJAX into JSF

AJAX and JSF doesn't seem to be such a perfect blend yet.

The logging saga

If you thought logging in Java is an easily solved and uncontroversial problem think again after reading these links.  Attila Szegedi hunts down a memory leak with commons-logging. Ceki Gülcü of log4j fame gives a comprehensive analysis of the commons-logging problems. Simon Kitching of commons-logging and commons-beanutils fame replies to the critics. One possibility implemented for 1.1 is e.g. to allow the disabling of the ThreadContextClassLoader (TCCL). Already confused ? Remember it next time a Java developer just brushes over the "trivial" logging part of your app.

Cleaning out my closet

Long time since the last post so I'll put out some links to the more interesting stuff which I read lately in the following entries.

Just a short summary status:
Work at ComBOTS is picking up pace. Debian-wise packaging aegis 4.22 is on my agenda. I'm in the process of injecting new hardware in my vdr: adding a third harddisk and a second DVB-S card and replacing the defunct power supply. Commons Resources was demoted to the sandbox but I hope that I get around soonish to work on the open issues: it's just too useful to let it linger in current in-between state. I started following the django mailing lists: lots of momentum and activity. That's all I can think of for now ;-)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Movie nostalgia

Had a nostalgic evening and watched two of my favourite movies again.

Eat Drink Man Woman conveys this beautiful calmness in the light of the evolution of a taiwanese family. The scenes of the diligent preparation of chinese food are just marvellous and it's intricately intertwined with great storytelling. One of the movies I get that special peaceful feeling afterwards.

And secondly the movie I dedicated this domain too: Absolute Giganten.

"Freundschaften sind wie Sehnsüchte. Toll, groß, absolut gigantisch. Und wenn sie dich erstmal gepackt haben, lassen sie dich nicht mehr los. Manchmal niemals." [Friendships are like yearnings. Tremendous, great, absolutely gigantic. And if they got you they won't let you go. Sometimes never.]
"Es müsste immer Musik da sein, bei allem, was du machst. Wenn es so richtig Scheiße ist, ist wenigstens noch die Musik da. Und an der Stelle, wo es am allerschönsten ist, da müsste die Platte springen und du hörst immer nur diesen einen Moment." [There should be always music no matter what you do. And if everything is fucked up at least the music would still be there. And at the point when everything is perfect the record should skip and you always hear this moment.]

This movie always leaves with me with this absolutely gigantic feeling.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Favourite SnakesAndRubies quotes

These are my favourite quotes from the SnakesAndRubies event. All errors, omissions and misinterpretations are entirely mine ;-)

About i18n support
David gives a lenghty explanation why RubyOnRails doesn't integrate a i18n framework in the core, yet there are a couple of plugins, he just isn't sure if one is beautiful enough yet or if it's necessary at all to put i18n in the RubyOnRails core.
Adrian: "We've got welsh."

On Javascript
David: "Javascript is - what's the word - horrible. Javascript by hand is pain. Javascript: for some people it fits their brain and they don't mind testing in 15 different browser every time they change a comma and that's cool. But for most programmers they have like an expectation of cause and effect and that expectation jives very badly with Javascript by hand."

How do you envision the world coming to an end ?
David: "I'll scope world meaning software development. I dare say that: If we let sedimentation keep at the rate it's going now. That is do we just build on top of decisions made for too long ago and expect to save the world that way. In other words: if people keep creating new Java applications the world is going to come to an end. We moved on. It was fine for a period and it served a purpose and everything serves a purpose and Ruby will see this day too. The only difference is the day today is for Java and it's not today for neither Python nor Ruby."

The story behind the names:
Adrian: "You could argue that using Django you could do a website with just two fingers." [Refering to Django Reinhardt who could only use two fingers of his left hand.]
David: "Rails sounded cool. You could go really fast if you follow the rails. It didn't have a story, sorry."

On using "not mainstream" languages:
Adrian: "Our response was: With PHP people learn that because they want to get jobs. With Java they learn that because they take computer science courses. With Python you learn it because you love it. Because you want to experience the beauty. I'm sure it's the same way for Ruby. If I'm hiring a Python programmer the chances are that the person is good."
David: "I totally agree."

How do you find people who actually use your framework ?
David: "Well, making a stir. Taking a big target and picking on it. I really recommend Java. It works great. There are so many Java programmers out there. You just have to poke them a little bit and they go like bananas and they link to you like mad. And if you poke them in the eyes they go even better bananas. And that works pretty well breaking through the early awareness wall. Then you probably want to switch horses at some point in the game if you want the Java programmers to come over."

On promoting Python and Ruby:
David: "If people started out doing Python and Ruby they would certainly never ever tolerate what is PHP and Java. It seems like incompatible ways. People usually come in through PHP and Java and then they come to Python or Ruby."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Project Management

If you are doing any kind of software project management this is a must read.

Playing with Django and RoR

Started watching the SnakesAndRubies video. Having read quite a couple of articles and blogs about these two frameworks I finally started playing around with Django. Cool stuff ! And it's actually really exactly as easy as described in the articles ;-)

Having done five years of Java/JSP/Struts/OJB (a rather lightweight stack in Java terms) web applications the difference is mindboggling. If Ruby and Python just wouldn't be such a hard management sell. Using Websphere for a simple web application should be a hard sell too. Now I've seen quite a few simple web applications on Websphere so these hard sells can be done. We just need to educate the marketing people to come over from the dark side.

Now onto a lesson in beauty by David.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Hula again

Got around to revisiting the Debian hula package. Sent an email to Alex asking for his assessment on including a more recent svn snapshot. Alex has already done all the hard work dealing with the new mono dependencies so I guess it boils down to a stability question.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Longer than expected

Finally I arrived in blog space. For some people it just takes longer.