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Showing posts from May, 2007

Trolltech's Qt 4.3.0 really begins to dazzle

It's not hard to impress me with new visual software. I love eye candy, the flashier the better. So it should come as no surprise that I'm awfully impressed with the latest version of the Qt framework, 4.3.0. I installed it on three systems for a quick and dirty evaluation; algol (my XP Core Duo notebook), europa (my OpenSuse 10.2 Athlon XP system), and my daughter's Toshiba Satellite A135 notebook running Vista Home Premium. I've got screen shots from XP and Suse, but I didn't bother to do a Vista capture. I'll explain why later.

Installing Qt Windows Open Source Edition is dead simple. Download and click on the installation binary. It will install the complete Qt set of tools and examples, and if you don't have it installed already, it will also install a copy of MinGW to compile applications with Qt. Note that the Windows version of the Qt framework does not have to be compiled. Everything is pre-built and ready to use. The screen shot below is the applic…

An Update to "I Am Not A Lawyer"

I wrote an opinion piece in which I flamed Thomas R. Nicely's assertion that Microsoft, through nefarious means, was forcing everyone to use nothing but Microsoft development tools under Vista. Nicely was using an obsolete version of gcc and djgpp to build applications, and Nicely had found a bug in that combination that kept him from allocating more than 32MiB under Vista. His sample code did indeed fail under Vista (and Windows Server 2003 as I discovered) when built with his tool chain. Lewis Metler (lamlaw) picked it up and used it to bolster his case against Microsoft, wondering if this was yet another attempt by Microsoft to further their monopolistic lock. Metler's done a lot of good writing about Microsoft's abuses and showcasing excellent examples, but Nicely's page is not one of them.

At the time of my original post I stated that Nicely's problems were operator error and feet dragging on his part. In his original post, Nicely stated he was using gcc 3.0.2 …

NetBeans Notes from the Field

I got my very own copy of Rich Client Programming at a local Barnes and Noble bookstore today. I purchased it for two reasons; to learn more about the NetBean's internals, especially with regard to reusing it as a foundation (or platform) for my own applications, and to help fund the effort and hopefully make it successful enough for more books like this in the future. Many will look at dead tree documentation as a complete waste. But the effort to gather and organize information for publication produces the most focused collection of accurate information you're going to read anywhere.

Over the years I've discovered that a bad book is far better than a 'good' collection of on-line documentation, especially if it's a computer book. There are thousands of years of refinements in how to publish books. The books we take for granted trace directly back to the fifteenth century and Gutenberg's invention of movable type. I can sit and read a book far more easily th…

Kicking the tires on Nexenta

I can never leave anything alone, especially if it's an OS I've not played with before. I ordered a free copy of Sun's Open Solaris Starter Kit mid-May, and took some time this evening to boot its three included distributions; Nexenta, Belenix, and Schillix. There are better reviews of these distributions if you google for them (especially Nexenta), so there's nothing special or new I can disclose. I can, however, provide an additional perspective you may find useful.

The three distributions come on a single DVD, and when the DVD boots you're presented with a GRUB screen that allows you to pick between the three distributions, as well as variations within each. For example, there are six different ways to boot Nexenta. I chose the 32-bit version. I tried to boot all three, sticking with Nexenta for further reviewing because it operated the best of the three.

The system Nexenta booted on was europa. This is the machine that runs Open Suse 10.2. It took quite some time…

Beryl Benchmark with a Gigabyte 7600 GS

There's an interesting article on Phoronix titled "GPUs & Beryl: What is Needed?" The article covers the video cards and associated driver combinations they've tested with Beryl, and it's quite the read. I wish it'd been available when I was working with Beryl and Compiz under Ubuntu 7.04. One feature brought out in the article was the Beryl Benchmark indicator, which the authors describe as "not an incredibly accurate benchmark." Nevertheless, it can provide a reasonable figure of merit when attempting to compare different hardware platforms and combinations with the same software. And I'm also posting this because they didn't test with any 7x generation video cards.


One minor note: to enable the benchmarking capability, bring up the Beryl Settings Manager, go to the Extras tab at the top, and enable the Benchmark plugin on the left side. Exit the Beryl Settings Manager. You then display the benchmark widget on the desktop with the key …

They're Here. And They're Nothing to Write Home About.

Remember that iconic scene from the start of Poltergeist, with Carol-Anne sitting in front of a T.V. screen full of static and making that announcement in her high, sweet voice? That odd little feeling of dread? You don't know why, but the warning flags are going up in your mind. That's the way I feel with the official arrival of Dell's Ubuntu systems.

Why should I feel dread? After all, this is what I've been waiting for for quite some time; a big official vendor to sell systems with Linux installed. Even my mixed experience with Ubuntu doesn't really bias me from not recommending the purchase of systems with Ubuntu installed, if the Ubuntu distribution has been properly installed and the hardware is fully supported.

Now that I've had a chance to look at Dell's initial offerings, I've come to the conclusion that two major assumptions of mine will go unfulfilled by Dell; wide hardware support and a rich Linux experience. Dell has chosen to sell three ver…

Atul666

There's a nice little blog called "SCO News Roundup" hosted (like mine) on Google/Blogspot. The author, atul666, does a right fine job running the place. His latest post (5/22) is about a new SCO' 'opinion piece' disguised as fact (as so many of SCO's latest submissions seem to be) about what Novell really intended to do when it signed the APA deal with Santa Cruz Operation (i.e. OldSCO). It's a hoot. The author of this legal fan fiction, G. Gervaise Davis III, seems to have a long and tangled history with prior versions of SCO stretching back to CP/M and Dr DOS. Head on over and read atul666's blog. You'll be glad you did.

Lies, damn lies, and statistics

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.
Mark Twain attribution to Benjamin DisraeliI don't normally head over to Groklaw, but I did recently based on some other links and came across an article about a study conducted by Microsoft on how developers don't want the GPL, version 3, to "police patents." If you dig a little deeper into the study, the following facts about the study are exposed:
It was conducted by email.354 emails were sent out between Feb 28 and April 4 2007.332 reached their destination.34, or slightly more than 10%, responded.Now, PJ chose a particularly inflammatory (some might even go so far as to say trolling) title: "Only 11% of OS Targeted Programmers Willing to Help MS-Funded Study." And that's because Microsoft did indeed fund yet another study seeking to bolster their position with regards to the GPLv3. I don't see it quite that way. I see that only 10% of the targeted group (according to my simple math…

Desktop Linux for general use will never succeed

There's a post on OSNews titled "Five Things the Linux Community Doesn't Get About Joe User", which is itself a link to another blog post "Five crucial things the Linux community doesn’t understand about the average computer user". I find it illuminating to read the comments from the OSNews link first, then go and read the original post.

Most of the comments divide into two camps; the "spot on" camp and the "we don't want no stinkin' Window's users" camp. The commenter's that don't want the unwashed Windows users are poorly written; I've discovered over time that the really vociferous Linux defenders are functionally illiterate and can barely communicate a defense (logical or otherwise) of their One True Love.

I'm now watching Dell getting ready to ship some of their machines with Ubuntu 7.04. The Dell blog entry has two bullet points at the tail end that are worth repeating here:
Software and Hardware Not Offere…

Playing with Nasa's Java WorldWind on Suse

Geertjan has a really good first article on using Nasa's latest Java WorldWind client software wrapped up in a NetBean's project. Note that the client is a preview, but it's still quite usable to get started with. Geertjan looks to have used NetBeans 5.5. My project uses the following tools and environment:
NetBeans 6 Milestone 9Java 1.6.0 Update 1Suse 10.2Latest ATI drivers (8.35.5 or later)When I created my project I elected to start with the Java Desktop Application (New Project > General > Java Desktop Application). Most of what Geertjan specifies that you do is still correct under NB9, but there are some subtle differences which are easy to figure out. There is one (minor) issue to be aware of. When you want to drag and drop the WorldWindGLCanvas Bean onto the DemoFrame, you need to delete the central canvas that's already there. Once deleted, you then drag the WorldWind bean into its place.


This looks to be a really interesting tutorial series.

Suse is back

Well, that lasted what, a whole two weeks? I went completely over to Ubuntu 7.04 on europa and discovered that there are still enough rough edges and sharp corners that I missed Suse's capabilities and stability.

The final straw for me was DVD playback. I have no idea what happened, but both Totem and VLC started to refuse to play certain DVDs correctly. For example, Totem would not play the menu in "Madagascar" but would instead immediately play the first title it found. VLC wouldn't even see it. And then there was K3B having problems ripping DVDs. I never had any of those problems under Suse 10.2, and certainly not when Ubuntu was first installed. So, out came the openSUSE 10.2 installation DVD and into the machine it went. In in less than an hour I had openSUSE 10.2 re-installed. I'm really disappointed in VLC under Ubuntu, but I despise Totem under any Gnome-based distribution. Thank goodness for Kaffeine (and a properly working K3B).

So what about all that bul…

The AI revolution has been canceled due to lack of reality

(WARNING: Somewhere in the following chaotic post is a really good thesis struggling to be free. It may change drastically as I sort it all out.)

There's an interesting interview with Vernor Vinge on Computerworld about AI and how it will surpass human intelligence by 2020 ("AI will surpass human intelligence after 2020"). I certainly don't have Dr. Vinge's credentials. I have a lowly undergraduate degree in electrical engineering, having been damn glad to get it and to get out into the working world. But I do have nearly 40 years of hands-on experience with IT, and I can assure Dr. Vinge that as long as IT works as it does then we've got nothing to worry about with AI intelligence exceeding our own.

This isn't to cast aspersions on what's currently out there. Quite the contrary. There's a lot of very good systems and software, and some of it looks nearly miraculous and seems close to validating Clark's Third Law. But the bottom line is that it&…

No more Suse

Why did I install Ubuntu over Suse? The short answer is Novell's cross-licensing deal with Microsoft. The longer answer is watching Novell's behavior in the marketplace over the last two years with Suse. The much longer answer is that Ubuntu, and to a lesser extent Fedora Core (with RHEL), are what I can use and depend on in the future as an alternative to Microsoft. I don't need or want Suse any more. Novell has ruined Suse for me.

I want a free machine; free to do what I want with it, not free-as-in-beer. Hardware costs, and so does good software at times. If it means giving up 'consuming content' because a free OS won't support tomorrows DRM, then so be it. I have what I want in the form of MP3's I've ripped from my CD collection, and I've started to rip all my favorite movies, especially the ones I find in the Walmart $5 bin. If it ever reaches the point where it's all out on HD-DVD or BlueRay and I can't see it on a free-as-in-speech OS,…

Spider-Man 3

So I waited until today (Sunday) to head on over to the theater, and I hit the 9:45 A.M. (yes, that early in the morning) to be one of about a dozen movie-goers to see the latest Spider-Man. When I got to the theater I was literally the only one in line that early. The lone guy selling tickets told me that the big crowds had hit Friday ("It was a mad house"). He said that it was that empty Saturday as well as this morning. I don't think that bodes well for continuing ticket sales. I think sales are going to crash pretty hard by next weekend, with our without another blockbuster release.

So I got in and picked one of the best locations in the theater, with lots of elbow room. I looked around and counted 11 other people scattered around an area capable of seating 400. I pulled out my cell phone and played Snakes while the ads and previews played, then put it away to watch the movie. I hate wasting 15-20 minutes sitting through that crap.

I have to say that the movie was qui…

NetBeans and Eclipse release new milestones

Friday was an interesting day. NetBeans released NetBeans 6 Milestone 9 (NB6M9), and Eclipse released Eclipse 3.3 Milestone 7 (E3.3M7). It should be noted that NB6M9 is now considered a general preview release, just in time for Java One. I downloaded and installed both. The changes provided in NB6M9 are somewhat more significant than in E3.3M7. What follows are some notes and impressions from initially installing NB6M9.

There are now three packages (or bundles) for NB6; Basic, Standard, and Full. With Basic you get just the IDE (Java SE development, GUI Builder, and the Profiler). With Full you get Basic plus JavaEE, Mobility, UML, SOA, Ruby, and Sun's Application Server. This is a fundamental change (and a break) with earlier versions, where you downloaded the equivalent of Basic and then used the Update Center (Tools | Update Center) to pick up other functionality, such as UML or Ruby support, or you went to one of the supporting projects and downloaded that package (such as the…

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Dear AACS,

Fsck you. And yes, I do know how to use this.

Sincerely

Update

New AACS cracks cannot be revoked, says hacker

Only a few days after Corel issued a WinDVD update to close the hole opened by AACS hackers, the folks at the Doom9 forums sent word that they have found yet another way around the copy protection for high definition discs. This time, the method involved the Xbox 360's HD DVD add-on drive to capture the "Volume Unique Keys" as they were being read by the drive itself. Rather than just point out the crack, we're going to take a closer look at how this crack was accomplished, because one of the hackers involved in the crack says that it's more or less unstoppable.

The latest attack vector bypasses the encryption performed by the Device Keys—the same keys that were revoked by the WinDVD update—and the so-called "Host Private Key," which as yet has not been found. This was accomplished by de-soldering the HD DVD drive's firmware chip, readi…