Friday Jan 09, 2009

I Didn't Realize How Much I Missed My Smartphone


Yesterday I received my new phone in the mail. It's a Palm Centro. This wasn't my first choice since I believe Palm to be a dead platform (it was great for a while, but it has not evolved), however, my service provider wants to require me to pay for a data plan for every other smartphone in which I'm interested (but not the Centro)...and a data plan is something I'm not interested in...at least not yet. So the Centro it is. I actually wanted the RIM Blackberry Curve 8330 as the Blackberry platform has good market share and is growing. I require a decent platform mainly so I can get applications for it. I want to do more with my phone then just make phone calls.

I've had Palm devices for a while now, so I'm already familiar with the platform. The Centro is smaller then the Treo 700p it replaced, which I don't like as I have big hands and fingers. My service provider does offer some of the larger Palm phones, but they run Windows, and I'm not going there. Other then that...it's just like my old phone.

The biggest surprise for me, was just how much I missed having a more capable phone. I was using a really old Audiovox flip phone, with just the basic features and no QWERTY keyboard (which mean texting was a \*real\* pain) because I didn't want to fork out full price to replace my broken phone and I wasn't due for a phone upgrade from my provider for several months. The basic phone had no real scheduler with alarms, no memos, no ability to run decent apps, little memory (I had to delete SMS messages constantly to keep under the 99 message limitation for inbox and outbox), a crappy UI, poor battery life, and many other issues. Man, am I happy to have a smartphone again.

Thursday Dec 11, 2008

I Just Installed OpenSolaris 2008.11


I just installed OpenSolaris 2008.11 on Sun's Virtual Box v2.0.6. I think this has been the easiest OS install I've done so far. First, the Live CD launches and runs the OS. From there, you can click on the 'Install OpenSolaris' icon to install OpenSolaris. It installs complete with a ZFS filesystem as the default. Very cool.

Wednesday Jul 18, 2007

The NetBeans Visual Web Pack...Wow

Not long ago I needed to create some web pages which were tied to a database. Not being an expert in creating Web applications, I decided to take a stab at using NetBeans and the Visual Web Pack to create some web pages. All I have to say is Wow. I created a new Visual Web application, created a few web pages, created a database connection, added a bunch of design elements including connecting some fields to database columns, added some page navigation, and built and ran the application (NetBeans automatically deployed the application to one of the included servers), all within minutes and all graphically. While this is no customer-facing Internet-ready application, I don't think it's too far off. It amazes me how much functionality can be created so easily in such a short amount of time.

Tuesday Jul 03, 2007

Wrapping your head around Mercurial

I've recently had a chance to take Mercurial for a test drive. For those of you who haven't tried it yet, get ready for a mind-shift. The biggest difference between Mercurial and other Source Code Control Systems (SCCS's) is that most other SCCS's enforce a master-child relationship between the master repository and "child" repositories. You typically create a master repository which is used by everyone as the place into which changes will be put. This is a good thing. Everyone must commit to the master repository and everyone must make sure their commit is correct and doesn't break the build. Everyone gets the latest updates from the master repository. It's a central "meeting" place for code. One problem with this is you don't have a full, complete copy of the repository from which to work. This may cause a problem when you're taking your code mobile.

Mercurial is different in that it is a distributed peer-to-peer system. If you create a repository on a server in your group, there is nothing special about that repository from Mercurial's perspective. You pull the code from the repository on that server and now you have a copy of the code on your local machine which is equivalent to the one on the server...commit comments and all. Need to take the code on the road? Pull the code from either your local copy or the server's copy to your laptop...both are the same. Need to commit changes? Commit from your laptop to your local copy or the server's. If you commit from your laptop to the server, you'll need to pull the committed changes from either your laptop or the server to your local copy...again, both are the same.

In Mercurial, the "master" repository on the server is a convention only. You and your group decide you want to have a "master" repository on the server and so you treat it as such. Mercurial doesn't care. I think this model works better in our increasingly distributed, increasingly mobile work force.

Thursday Feb 15, 2007

JavaOne Session Preview Online

The JavaOne Session Preview is now available online. What is cool about this is that Sun's Eco group has calculated these statistics in providing this document online rather then sending out a paper hard-copy:

By producing this piece virtually, the Eco group has calculated the savings Sun has made:
  • Assuming (based on last year) the document is equivalent to 2.5 pages of 0% recycled copy paper
  • Total paper saved = 4.63 tons
  • Greenhouse Gases reduced (CO2 equivalents) = 13 tons (26,297 lbs)
  • Reduction in wood use = 13 tons
  • # of trees saved (assuming 1 tree makes 16.67 reams of copy paper or 8,333.3 sheets) = 111
  • Reduction in wastewater (and associated water pollution) = 78,616 gallons \*(equivalent to 838K cans of soda)\*
  • Reduction in solid waste (stuff sent to landfills) = 5.1 tons

Regardless of how it's delivered, this is your first chance to see what's happening at this year's JavaOne.

SAMP (Solaris +Apache + MySQL + Perl + PHP + Python)

Sun recently announced the release of a SAMP stack optimized for Solaris 10, also known as the CoolStack. For those familiar with the AMP stack on other platforms, there is a 'recipe for success' which has step-by-step instructions to get up and running quickly. If you're interested in running an AMP stack on a really fast, robust platform, you owe it to yourself to try this out.

Thursday Nov 02, 2006

NetBeans 5.5 Has Been Released

In case you haven't had a chance to look at the NetBeans website lately, NetBeans 5.5 has been released. This release includes not only an improved NetBeans product, but also the Mobility Pack for CDC (Beta 2), the Mobility Pack for CLDC, the C/C++ Toolkit Beta 3, Subversion support, the Visual Web Pack (Creator) Technology Preview , the Enterprise Pack (with UML modeling), and more. For those interested, the website has been completely re-designed as well.


Tuesday Jul 18, 2006

Splitting Windows in NetBeans

I've found from talking to many people that it isn't common knowledge that you can split a window in NetBeans. That is, displaying multiple editor windows at a time by dividing up the display. You can split windows horizontally and vertically, just like any good editor or IDE. This is very easy to do in NetBeans.

To split a window horizontally, you simply click and hold the mouse button on a tab at the top of the editor and drag it to the bottom (or top) area of the editor. As you do this, you'll see an outline of where the window will be placed. Let go of the mouse button and the window will split and display at the bottom. You can then click and drag the area between the bottom window's tab area and the top window's status bar area to resize the window.

To split the window vertically, do the same thing as above, except drag to the right (or left) side of the editor window and let go. Again, you'll see an outline letting you know where the window will be placed.

You can continue to do this and keep splitting windows as you like. Of course, with the amount of space the window takes up (tab area, toolbar area, status bar area, etc.), your real estate diminishes quickly. BTW, you can get rid of the toolbar to free up more space (right-mouse click on the area to the left of the edit window and de-select 'Show toolbar').

You can add multiple files to the split window as well. Just make your first split, then drag and drop a second tab into the middle of the target split area. The file will be added.

To get rid of a split, drag a tab from the split area back to the middle of the main area. The file will be moved to the main area. If the file is the last one in the split area, the split will disappear.

You can also view different sections of a file at the same time. Simply right-mouse click on the tab of the file and choose 'Clone Document'. You'll see another tab show up with the same name. Then use the cloned window to split the window. You now have the same document displayed side by side. You can scroll both windows independently.

Wednesday Oct 19, 2005

Quick Typing (Code Templates) in NetBeans

A good programming editor will help you get your code written faster. There are many ways editors do this. One way it to make it easier to write often written and long, hard to type code. NetBeans helps you write your code faster in several ways. In particular, NetBeans's code templates feature helps you write hard to type, lengthy code faster.

Code templates are short menmonics which can be expanded to code. For example, if you open a Java file in NetBeans, go to an empty line, and type 'sout', then hit Ctrl-Space, NetBeans will expand this to 'System.out.println("");' and place the cursor between the two double quotes. System.out.println is an often-used line of code and typing 'sout Ctrl-Space' is much easier then reaching for the () and " keys. 'fori', for a for loop, and 'En' for Enumeration are also useful. You can also create your own code templates for lengthy code you may be using in your project. This may include classes, method calls, exceptions, and comments.

To modify code templates in NetBeans 5.0, go to Tools->Options->Editor->Code Templates. There you'll see the list of code templates for each language supported in NetBeans. You can add, modify, and remove code templates to suit your needs

Wednesday Sep 28, 2005

NetBeans 5.0 Beta has been released!

NetBeans 5.0 beta is now available. The new features in this version are great, they really increase programmer productivity. This new version is also fast. I'll give you more details on it in the coming days, especially some of the new cool features. Congratulations NetBeans team!

Tuesday Sep 27, 2005

My Last Palm Device?

If the only OS going into Palm's new phones is Microsoft Windows, then I currently own my last Palm device, and I've been a Palm user from day one. I've owned the original Palm Pilot, the Palm III, the Palm Vx, the Kyocera 6135 Smartphone, the Kyocera 7135 Smartphone, and now the Treo 600. I was looking forward to a Linux version of the Palm phone. I think there is still hope, but now that Palm is shipping a Windows device, possibly because they're late with their Linux-based OS replacement to the PalmOS, I think the chance for a Linux-based Palm phone is diminishing. I plan use more applications with a "back-end" component with my upcoming phone and security is a \*big\* concern of mine. I just don't think Windows delivers as a secure platform. Security on mobile devices is even a bigger issue then on the desktop, especially considering the upcoming pay features coming to mobile devices. If Palm doesn't ship a Linux phone by the time I'm ready to upgrade, then I'll be looking for a Linux phone from another manufacturer. How disappointing.

Wednesday Aug 31, 2005

NetBeans 4.1's Text Limit Line

It is often the little things that can really make a difference. For those of you who may not have noticed (because it is very subtle), when you're editing a Java file (actually, any supported file) in NetBeans, a vertical text limit line displays in the edit window. I thought it was an artifact of a bad monitor. It's a faint pink line which shows you where your text limit is based on your editor settings. Maybe it's because I come from Emacs, but I continually look at the column number my cursor is on to make sure I don't go over this line. I hate it when you bring up an 80 column editor and you have line breaks all over the place. It makes the code more difficult to read. You can change your text limit and the color (I changed mine to a darker shade of pink...it stands out more) of the text limit line in NetBeans by going to 'Tools', 'Options'. The Options dialog displays. Navigate to the 'Editing', 'Editor Settings' and highlight the 'Java Editor' section. At the bottom of the options, you can change the line color, select if it is displayed, and change the number of characters which is your text limit.

Friday Aug 26, 2005

QuickSearch in NetBeans

It's amazing what you can learn while doing the wrong thing. I was working on my project today in NetBeans 4.1. I \*thought\* my edit window had the focus, so I started typing. Lo and behold, I see this small 'Quick Search' window popup in my Projects window (the window which really had the focus). Intrigued, I entered a filename and hit the 'Enter' key. NetBeans did a search in the Projects window and took me to the file. Cool! I don't know all of the windows in which this works, but it works in the Favorites, Projects, Versioning, Runtime, and Navigator windows.

Friday Aug 19, 2005

Black Shark for J2ME

Hero Craft has launched a game for your J2ME phone named Black Shark. The premise of the game is a Russian special forces officer is mining uranium on a remote island to develop weapons of mass destruction. It is your job to steal a KA-50 "Black Shark" helicopter to stop him.

Friday Aug 12, 2005

NetBeans and FIXME's (and other notes to self)

We recently went through the process of scrubbing our code, that is looking for comments in the code which shouldn't be in a released product. The comments generally start off with FIXME, TODO, and XXX, although they can include anything (I usually start mine with my login id. That way I know its my comment). NetBeans has a couple of tools you can use to easily find all of the 'notes to self' in your source code. The first is the 'To Do' window. If you go to the Window menu, you can select the 'To Do' window (Ctrl-6 for you keyboarders). Once selected, you'll see a window display at the bottom of the NetBeans window which takes the entire width of the window. You'll see 'Current File', 'Opened Files', and 'Selected Folder' tabs. If you have any notes in the file which currently has focus, you'll see them listed. You can select the 'Opened Files' tab to see a list of all of the notes in all of the files which you have open. You can also select the 'Selected Folders' tab and specify a folder. Doing so will give you a list of all the files in and beneath that directory which contain notes. Double-clicking on any line will take you to the line in the correct file. BTW, you can also specify custom text as being 'notes'.

Another tool is the Error Stripe. I recently installed this cool tool by updating my NetBeans 4.1 installation. This displays a vertical bar along the right side of the text editor. If all is well with the current file your displaying, you'll see a small green square at the top of the Error Stripe indicating everything is OK. If you see a red square, you have errors in your file . You can hover the mouse over the square and a popup indicating the number of errors is displayed. If you have errors (e.g. cannot find symbol), you'll see red horizontal stripes in the Error Stripe. If you see a blue horizontal stripe, this indicates you have a note to yourself. The Error Stripe displays these dispersed up and down the Error Stripe to give you and indication of how far down the error is. If you move the mouse over a stripe, the cursor will change to a pointer. You can single click on the stripe and NetBeans will take you to the issue. The Error Stripe gives you a good visual indication of issues with your file.
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Darryl Mocek

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