Archive for March, 2005

MiniMo Project

March 10th, 2005 No comments

The MiniMo project is a project to generate a small foot-print browser based on the Mozilla Project, and to also to allow developers to embed parts of the Mozilla codebase into embedded operating systems and applications.

I had no idea that this project existed. I can’t wait until they release a version compatible for Nokia Series 60 handsets – I’ll be able to browse with real style then. I’m guessing that Firefox extensions and tab-browsing aren’t supported though 😉

Quite wonderfully, they have also managed to port it (in a very early release phase) onto Pocket PC (pictures).

I wish the developers every piece of luck in order to get this project mature.

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Developers and Coding Standards

March 9th, 2005 1 comment

I found a post on one of the MSDN blogs the other day about Hungarian Notation being adopted by some of the Microsoft Development teams, and how they should go about using it.

Where I work, we don’t use Hungarian Notation, and so far we have managed to cope without it. Having said that, the language that we use (Progress 4GL) is meant for database access, and therefore relatively few types actually exist, and more complex types are created by creating database tables. The most that we really stretch to is “vVarName” for a variable, “ipParamName”/”opParamName”/”iopParamName” for input/output/input-output parameters (respectively). Some people do go further and may use “c” for a string, but that is about it. We also call procedures or functions defined in include-files “i_ProcName” to make it easier to identify their location, and sometimes people may name variables inside of procedures located in include files so that they do not run into “Multiple Variable Declaration” problems.. So far, in the extensive project that I work on, it’s not been a problem.

They also link to a page which describes an internal Microsoft layout format for programs/source code. Again, we don’t have a strict set of rules for this. We have rough guide lines (like “Line up all the equal signs”) but quite often these are broken in order to actually improve readability.

What this actually means though, is that (by knowing each person’s individual style), it can be quite easy to pin-point who did a piece of work where it is not already obvious who had done the work.

I doubt that my Project Managers will ever feel the need to develop a more rigorous standard, or enforce rules about layout and style, and for the most part I don’t think that we will need to either.

We’ll just have to see what happens with time…..

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Microsoft Virtual PC

March 9th, 2005 1 comment

Wow! Cool!

It contains an emulated Sound Blaster card. You even have to set it up using the autoexec.batIn fact – all you usually need is to have the following line in your AUTOEXEC.BAT file:

SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 H5 P330 T6God, that brings back some good memories. It was stuff like that, that kept computers for the initiated or intelligent, not for people who think that CD drivers are actually coffee cup holders. (I’m sure you’ve all heard the Urban Legend of that one).

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“Baby On Board”

March 9th, 2005 1 comment

I’ve been noticing something recently. Well, to be more precise, re-noticing something.

I’ve started to spot “Baby On Board” signs hanging from peoples’ cars. It’s not that they have gone away at all, it’s that I’ve just started to notice them again.

The interesting point is this. If I’ve just started to notice them again, then at some point, I must have stopped noticing them, and started ignoring them.

The must have been used so much, that my head go to saturation point and it got used to these things hanging in the back of cars. Therefore, I probably took no extra care in driving around these cars, and therefore defeating the purpose of carrying the sign in the first place.

Therefore, people should stop using them as they are a waste of money because nobody will pay attention to them.

To put this into another perspective, the other day whilst I was driving home from a Sunday morning rowing session, I noticed a car with a big white sticker on the back. I couldn’t read what the sticker said because I was keeping a safe distance and the writing was too small. Because the car was travelling slower than the legal limit and because I was on a dual carriage way and it was safe to overtake, I went around the car. It was only when I got very close I was able to read the sticker which said “Back Off! I drive at the legal limit” (or words to that effect).

Again, this sign is pointless because the writing was too small. Therefore I had to get closer to the sign to be able to read it, before being told to back off (even though it was their fault that I couldn’t read their sign). Seems a bit like it is missing the point – “Come on, drive closer, you’ll be able to read my sign then…. Go on!… Go on!…. NO! NO!, TOO CLOSE!”

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March 8th, 2005 1 comment

Having spent ages writing a post on Adaptive Path’s description of what AJAX is, I’ve discovered that my friend Richard is also in on the game, and has managed to write a back end for it using Lisp.

I’m still not convinced that it is the be-all and end-all of the Web, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. To illustrate what I mean, you have to look at some of the things that I was working on today. Somebody had introduced a bug into our system because they had not considered what happened when an incorrect value would be entered by the user. This causes a load of fields to appear, which shouldn’t have appeared (they should have appeared based on the properties of an item they entered into a different field). It then took me the best part of an hour and a half to rectify this simple slip up.

OK, you’re going to get issues with this in “real” programming (I’m talking native stuff here), but never the less, the chances of it happening are increased using this method.

Interestingly, there is already an Open Source package to do a lot of this interaction for you, in the shape of “SAJAX

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Some amazing stuff!

March 8th, 2005 No comments

I’ve found some amazing stuff on the Internet in the past couple of days!

The Amazing Chicken Vacuum. Awesome. Check out the video on the product page. (Via Gizmodo)

Homemade Laser Tag. Also pretty amazing. (Also via Gizmodo)

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March 7th, 2005 No comments

I’m really excited about this. I saw a teaser advert on BBC One last night for a 2 part mini series, which is a dramatisation of Robert Harris’s excellent “Archangel”.

There’s no details as of yet (the trailer simply said “Coming Soon” and that it was a 2 part series), but they’ve called some clips from the series, and the only major change that I can see is that the journalist is English and not American.

For more info, check out the IMDB, where there is already a page for the tv series.

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March 6th, 2005 No comments

Well, it was bound to happen at some point. Having suffered through much worse conditions in previous weeks, and an absolutely disasterous session a couple of weeks OK, I hit new heights this morning when I capsized a rowing boat, for the first time ever.

Unfortunately, it was not just me in the boat (it was a double, for those in the know), but one of the others from my crew, and to make matters worse, the water was absolutely freezing (I’m not kidding about that, it probably was below zero).

Fortunately, our coach Mostyn was on the ball and was able to drag us out before we got any colder, which would have made things much worse.

Another fortunate point was that I was trained for this eventuality, having done a capsize drill last summer. Now I know why these kind of things are important.

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Good Little Moveable Type Plugin!

March 5th, 2005 No comments

I don’t use Moveable Type, but this looks like a good plugin, none-the-less.

When somebody posts a trackback or comment to your site, this little do-hicky of a plugin will go and read the “Favicon” of that site to present in your pages. Not a bad little idea I think!

I’m already getting ideas as to how I can integrate this into my blog!

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New CDs

March 5th, 2005 No comments

When I was out shopping earlier, I bought a couple of CDs (as well as the Comic Relief Little Britain DVD, which I’m yet to watch).

The first CD I bought was “Start Something” by the Lost Prophets. I’d heard a couple of their songs which I thought were brilliant (Last Train Home, and Summertime), and expected the album to be a more metal sound and less commercial than the tracks that I had heard. I wasn’t expecting it to be as metal as it is, so I’m still undecided if I like it or not.

The other CD I bought was “The Invitation” by Thirteen Senses. Wow! Fantastic album. I’d heard “Thru The Glass“, and that became my first paid for download for my iPod and has been played on it pretty much constantly since; therefore I decided to take a gamble and buy the whole album. I love it, it’s a wonderful mix of Snow Patrol, Coldplay and maybe even Radiohead. I suggest you go and buy this one.

As a side note, on the Thirteen Senses album, there is a deftly hidden track – and it’s a good way of hiding it too. It’s not stuck on the end of the last track 10 minutes and 15 seconds after the song ended, like most other CDs. It’s actually at the start of Track 7. If you listen to track 6 right to the end, Track 7 will start with a time of -1:30 which is the hidden track, or you can start track 7, and press your “Rewind” button to get to it. It’s worth the hassle, trust me!

Anyway, this will probably be my next purchase. I’m absolutely loving Dakota at the moment, so can’t wait for the rest of the album. I must say that I don’t think that the ‘Phonics have beaten “Word Gets Around”, which is a bit of shame, so here’s hoping that this is a turn-around for them!

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