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Showing posts from March, 2006

New Ruby on Rails minor bump

Ruby on Rails 1.1 was released earlier this week. Following the directions on the Rails blog, I upgraded my 1.0 installation to 1.1 and fired up a simple Ruby server. The update went without issues, and I was able to start up and display the opening simple web page. However, when I clicked on the link "About your application's environment" I get a routing error:

I thought it might be due to some conflict in upgrading Rails 1.0 to 1.1. So I uninstalled 1.8.4-16 and re-installed the latest Windows version, 1.8.4 RC1. I still get the same error.

Not a big deal at this point, but I'm moving up into more complex applications and testing other features. So far everything else seems to work.

An example of how MS Word is superior to Open Office Writer

There's been considerable debate of late over the use of Open Office in preference to Microsoft's Office suite. The general argument is that Open Office is 'good enough' for most work, and that documents are interchangeable for the most part. I'm about to provide two screen shots showing that for my work (and the work of a lot of other engineers) Open Office is inferior to supporting engineering, and in particular system engineering.

The issues I'm about to write about cropped up when I opened a large MS Word document in Open Office Writer under SuSE Linux. I then rebooted my notebook under Windows and created the much smaller sample document that captured two of the problems I found on the Linux side. To keep from having to boot back and forth, I installed the Windows version of Open Office, and found it had the same issues as the Linux version did.

This first image shows the example document opened in MS Word.

Note the comment block to the right. Also notice the…

Baby, I'm a rich man

I don't know what I'm going to do with all the money I've won over the last two days. I've received no less than four (four!) emails telling me I've won a combined $6,580,994!!! I can give up this life of grinding drudgery called work and go retire to a mansion next to the ocean (until the next Florida hurricane blows it away).

Once again the phishers are out plying their cons. This time it's official looking emails about winning jackpots in lotteries I've never heard of before. Three of the winnings were in Euros, and the forth was in British pounds. I just have to wonder if anybody even falls for this crap. I mean, this really rings the bells off the 'if it sounds too good to be true' alarm. But somebody somewhere must have responded. Why else this latest spate of bogus winning emails?

Microsoft may yet survive; OEMs will get their Vista fix after all

The Inquirer is reporting that Microsoft is set to ship Vista to its major OEM partners in time for Christmas. Imagine that. Earlier in the week we were entertained with stories about how 60% of Vistaneeds a rewrite, and how all the poor shivering OEMs were going to get nothing but lumps of coal in their stockings for Christmas 2006. I think what happened is that the retail version of Vista, which has to support upgrading, has problems upgrading all those various versions of Windows that are still out there. OEM partners burn clean installs, and corporate users pretty much do the same (or they should).

I think that many folks seem to forget that Microsoft is in a lot more than just operating systems for desktops. There's the other major money maker, Office, and it has shipped on time. Yes, Office was slipped to February 2007 to coincide with the retail release of Vista. Big deal. Oh. And a clue to the clowns who think Balmer should leave. Balmer's not going anywhere. But you ju…

In defense of Eclipse vs. NetBeans

There's a post over on EclipseZone titled "Too Many Cooks Spoil the IDE", wherein the author, Robert Thornton, takes Eclipse to task over his difficulties with the tool. In essence, his complaint is that the "incoherent complexity" of Eclipse makes it difficult to use efficiently and makes the tool fragile and unstable. As a former Eclipse user I can attest to some of the "incoherent complexity" if you stepped outside of the Java development environment. But I can also attest to the very high quality of the application as well.

My Eclipse experience began in earnest (starting with versions 2.x) when I used it on a large program I was a part of called WARSIM. The WARSIM team turned to Eclipse over two years ago in order to effectively handle the development of a very large Java-based application that we inherited from another development team. That team had used JBuilder version 5 for its IDE. When we were given all the existing application resources, w…

An annoyance using Firefox on Linux

Many of the Linux boosters point out how there is essentially no difference between Linux and Windows when it comes to essential tasks such as web browsing, email, and even basic office tasks when using Open Office. I have discovered over time that there are differences. In this post I'd like to point out an annoyance that occurs on web sites that use Javascript and Flash.

In this post I'm comparing Firefox on Windows XP SP2 and SuSE 10. The SuSE window manager being used is Gnome 2.12.0. The annoyance I'm about to describe manifests itself on the ATI site (, and is visible on any site that has a mix of Javascript menus and Flash. The problem is this: Javascript drop-down menus appear behind Flash objects on a web page in Firefox running on Linux, while they properly appear in front of Flash objects in Firefox on Windows. This is what makes working with equivalent applications on Linux so difficult at times. Applications and functionality are not the sam…

The ongoing stupidity of phishers

I now have four email accounts: Yahoo (the oldest since 1999), RoadRunner (nee Bright House), Google Mail (GMail), and my work email address. They make for interesting comparisons, specifically what kind and how much spam gets sent to each.

The Yahoo account, being the oldest, receives the largest quantity. It's not unusual to get over 50 spam emails/day. I use the Yahoo account as my 'trash' account when I'm signing up for technical information and when I'm placing orders on-line. I use my other accounts for various levels of personal communications with family, friends, and co-workers. I get various levels of spam email on the other two public accounts, and none (so far) on my work email.

Not only does the quantity vary between accounts, but the type of spam varies as well. The Yahoo accounts get a little of everything, including pr0n. The RoadRunner accounts seems to get a large percentage of penny stock investment scams, while the GMail account seems to get a lar…

Everybody loves to hate Microsoft

There's no love lost between partisans of Linux and Microsoft. The war between the two has been going on for as long as Linux has been in existence. The war was fanned to a fever pitch with the 2003 SCOX vs. IBM lawsuit, and it's stayed at that level ever since.

It's totally unsurprising, therefore, that Microsoft's delayed release of Vista would have the anti-Microsoft forces watching gleefully for any signs of stress, internal or external, at Microsoft. Schadenfreude is alive and well and practiced with raucous enthusiasm by many Linux partisans.

Microsoft has no-one to blame for this but itself. Since it's inception 30 years ago, Microsoft has played a brutal game of hardball with competitor and partner alike. The ultimate example of this was Microsoft's treatment of IBM during the initial development of OS/2. IBM and Microsoft were partners until it became obvious that Windows would suite Microsoft's purposes better than OS/2. Microsoft developed and mark…

NetBeans overwhelms Eclipse

I never thought I'd see this happen. Not like this. But MyEclipse, the company that cleans up, then bundles up, all the good Eclipse IDE extensions, has now created a developer preview for ... wait for it ... NetBeans Matisse visual UI developer as a plugin for the Eclipse IDE. That's right. MyEclipse essentially ported a NetBeans module to run on the Eclipse IDE environment.

Eclipse fan boys and girls will point to this as an example of how extensible the Eclipse IDE can host anything. I see it as a failure of a major subcomponent of Eclipse. And I have to ask: Why not just use NetBeans? Or I'll ask as soon as I stop laughing so hard. Oh, how my sides hurt!

It's a Fud Fud Fud Fud World

Today I did something I knew was going to cause me no end of trouble. I put my twoblog entries regarding my experiences with the Nokia 770 on a public forum; OSNews. Reading some of the comments you'd have thought I was in league with the Great Satan Microsoft. In particular I was accused of spreading FUD: Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.

What is FUD anyway, and does it apply to my "rants"? Well, according to Eric Raymond, it is "any kind of disinformation used as a competitive weapon." Wikipedia defines it as "a sales or marketing strategy of disseminating negative and vague or inaccurate information on a competitor's product." Many of my comments are certainly negative. They were meant to be. After all, I purchased the device with my own funds (as opposed to having a demo device delivered). As such I have a very strong motivation in reviewing the device; my hard-earned cash is tied up in it. But are my comments delivered because I compete with Nokia…


We had an interesting guest at our house earlier this week. She was a greyhound/basset hound mix we named Honey Bee.

Honey came barreling into our lives while I was out walking Max. We started to pick her up around mid-January as we were walking down our main street. Honey, who was actually named Larry at the time by her current owner, would escape from her yard and go visiting around the neighborhood because she was bored and lonely. When she spotted us she'd come flying up the street and literally shoot under Max. It later turned out that her owner would just tie her up out in back of his house when Honey wanted to go out. Honey would then throw her collar and take off.

This kept up all through February and on through March. I'd be out with Max and then Honey would show up, and then they'd play together. Then Max would get back on task (walking) and Honey would follow along right next to him. And that was a lot of following. Max and I would walk (and run) three to five mil…

Using the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet - Part 2

It's been almost a month since I received the 770, and I've come to better understand its ways. Not that I appreciate it any better, but I do understand it better.

First, the power on issue I talked about the last time. You can leave the 770 on indefinitely if you flip the cover over the LCD face so that it goes into sleep mode. When you pull the cover off, the 770 immediately turns back on. This is infinitely faster than physically powering up the 770 when you want to use it. Operated in this manner, battery power will pretty much last all day, even if I use it to continuously read news on the web or view some of the simple trailers I've managed to collect. The problem seems to be the power indicator on the screen. I've had the tablet die twice on me, even though right before I closed it up the power indicator showed a full or 3/4's full charge on the battery. Either the software is flawed or the hardware is flawed, or some combination thereof. The best thing to d…

Using the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet

It's been over nine days since I received my own Nokia 770 internet tablet. I purchased it for it's 'geek' factor more than it's practical value. And I suppose that's a good thing, considering that I paid $385 total for the device. The price may seem a bit steep, but it's in line with other devices in its class, such as PDAs. I own two other PDAs, a Handspring Visor Prism and a Dell Axim X5 Entry. I paid $400 for the Handspring in 2000, and I won the Axim as a prize in a contest in 2002. The Handspring has a 180 x 180 color display, a 33MHz 68K-based processor, and 8MB of flash. The Axim comes with a 230 x 240 color display, a 300MHz ARM-based processor, and 32MB of flash. I've upgraded the Axim to Mobile Windows 2003.

Ordering the 770 was not a positive experience. I had been checking back on the Nokia site for the 770 so that I could order one when they were back in stock. I ordered mine February 4th. They didn't actually ship until the 16th, and i…