Sunday Nov 22, 2009

Slow context menu on Windows

Most people get a virus/cold during the winter since they spend more time indoors interacting with each other. One could validate this fact by doing a study where introverted folks are compared with the ones that are more social. Anyway, during the cold (relatively since I live in California) season I got a case "slow context menu" any time I right-mouse-click in a Windows folder. My computer has been socialized with a bunch of 3rd party software, in addition to its native Vista OS. The kind of software I've installed tends to be geeky: Visual Studio.NET, NetBeans, Eclipse, SmartSVN, cygwin, Filezilla, Java, Mercurial, SQL Server, RealVNC, etc. So which software has been causing me the ... ailment. 

At first I searched the registry for "contextmenu". I found lots of entries and gave up after inspecting about a dozen. The internet came to rescue, once again. I found a great utility from the folks at NirSoft. Their utility (ShellExView) helped me to rapidly analyze the shell extensions on my system and I started to turn off the ones which did not come from Microsoft. I rapidly found the cause: SmartSVN (I've been using SVN for zembly and the Java Store). Once I've disabled the extension name every started to work fine (pop-up menus are snappy once again). I'll have to default to the client that NetBeans installs.

Many thanks for the folks at Nir Sofer for making the software available for free.

Thursday Oct 01, 2009

G2 gets close but falls short

I just purchased a G2 phone from the local T-Mobile store. Naturally I am immediately inclined to compare with my 2nd gen iPhone. Since G2 is a also touch only phone, it gives my an opportunity to conduct a fare comparison. Here are my first impressions:

  • Craftsmanship - great; better than my iPhone as far as I can tell.
  • Screen is awesome (incredibly sharp). Resolution is 320x480, same as the iPhone
  • Lightweight, yet not slippery; advantage G2.
  • Intuitive to use, until you get to the browser functions, where you have to employ the "Menu" button to navigate to other URLs; advantage iPhone ... by a mile.
  • The software keyboard is giving me a hard time. I consistently fail to use space bar and backspace. I am not sure if this is an issue with the touch screen Perhaps in time I'll get better.
  • Finding and installing apps, was very easy and I was not asked to add any credentials. I downloaded a free demo Air Hockey application. Given that I have not spent a lot of time in this area yet, I'll call it even.
  • Dialer (this is a phone after all); not as sleek and integrated with visual voice mail as the iPhone.
  • Pleasant surprises:
    • Once I logged in during the setup, my contacts were populated with my gmail contacts data
ToDo: compare the two development environments, battery life, etc

Monday Mar 30, 2009

Clear mirror

I was looking to download Ubuntu so I can install it under Virtual Box on my fairly new MacBook Pro. I went through a few mirrors and found one that gave me flaming speed -

Download URL:

Friday May 30, 2008

Virtualization using Sun's solution

I recently played with Sun's Virtual Box. The score card is mixed. Here are the highlights.

First installation of Virtual Box (1.6.0) on Leopard failed. The installer pointed me to a log that did not exist. A bug. The bad part is that is crashed my MacBook Pro and Java no longer worked as expected until I un-installed Virtual Box. The bad part is that I did not realize that I had a problem with Java and it killed a presentation to some of the Sun folks in Korea. I almost gave up, however Steve encouraged me to try it again ... with feeling:-) I took the advise and I re-installed. This time everything worked well and I was able to install Ubuntu Hardy and OpenSolaris 2008.05. I installed off .iso images that I previously downloaded on my notebook. After the install, both systems behaved as expected (including networking on OpenSolaris, did I say that wireless worked as well - - I've been pleasantly surprised, Tim has now a fan :-)).

Quick note: installing software on OpenSolaris is easy and similar to what one does on Ubuntu. This document gives you a mapping, in case you are a Linux user

Monday May 19, 2008

NetBeans and in Korea

I recently arrived in Seoul, South Korea. I'll be presenting, to customers and the folks from the local office, on NetBeans, web 2.0 and SaaS/ I am yet to make some changes to some of the slides, however I don't have any appointments today and I should be able to customize the presentations with updates from Java One. The have demoed the storage service (Sun internal deployment so far), developer collaboration services and project Hydrazine looks very promising. I need to incorporate these new services and infrastructure that are starting to define Sun's SaaS offering.

The city's architecture is stunning. This is the first time I've been to Asia and the only footage of Korea that came to mind before the trip was from the Olympic stadium and History Channel documentaries from the early 1950's. What I've experience since my arrival last night was very different. The city is vibrant, the people courteous, the skyline reminds my of Chicago, the size of the metropolitan area is overwhelming. Sun's office is located in a highrise (ASEM Tower 15th Floor 159-1 Samseong-dong) next of a world famous shopping mall - COEX. I am looking forward to spending the week in Seoul - learning about the Asian marketplace, customer needs and perhaps visiting a few landmarks.

Stay tuned for pics.

Monday Mar 24, 2008

AMP developement on the Mac

If you want to do any AMP development on your Mac and have Leopard you'll be pleasantly surprised by the out of the box experience.

First of all you the system comes bundled with Apache 2.0 and PHP 5.2.5. To configure the stack is quite simple:

  • "Turn on" Apache - go to System Preferences | Sharing | Web Sharing and check this option
  • Test the installation the web server installation
  • Find the main configuration file of the Apache web server /private/etc/apache2/httpd.conf
  • Enable PHP - edit httpd.conf (remember to use sudo) and uncomment this line:
    • #LoadModule php5_module        libexec/apache2/
  • Test again by creating some file in the document root: /Library/WebServer/Documents and add the following code snippet
    • <?php phpinfo(); ?>
    • bring up the browser again and invoke the test file ( - you should see a table that gives you the details of the php version that you are running

Sunday Mar 09, 2008

Performance analysis and diagnostic aid for Java applications

I just tried the latest iteration of the VisualVM tool, which just released a beta. Very impressive, especially the GlassFish related capabilities. I wonder if there is comparable tooling for other application servers. Here is the functionality in a nutshell:

  • Monitoring and performance analysis for Java SE and EE
  • Integrates the features of several JDK tools
    • jps, jinfo, jstack, jmap, and more
  • Provides lightweight memory and CPU profiling
    • Designed for both development and production
  • Can observe JDK 1.4.2 or higher
  • Provides APIs for writing add-on plugins
Nota bene: If you want to monitor GlassFish apps you'll have to get the plugin from the tool's update center: Tools | Plugin and also some minimal GlassFish configuration is required: In the admin console go to Application Server | Monitor | Runtime | Configure Monitoring and set Web Container to "High". You can also try and use this http://localhost:4848/configuration/monitoringService.jsf?configName=server-config  to open the configuration

Wednesday Aug 22, 2007

One more time ... with feeling (Solaris on my Mac)

The reader may be familiar with my previous efforts to install Solaris on my MacBook Pro. The results have been mixed: I've succeded, however the experience was somewhat painful. I had decided to give the eng team some feedback, time and try it again. Thanks to Ludo for inspiring me. A few month later I gave it another shot: installing the latest iteration of the Solaris Express Developer Edition (SXDE) on my MacBook Pro. Nota bene - I already have Vista and Ubuntu Feisty running under Parallels on my precious MacBook Pro.

This time I've tried using Nevada build 70a and the results have been impressive. Eureka! I have a fully functional Solaris (Nevada)  install, running virtually via Parallels. Hey, is not Ubuntu easy yet, but a huge improvement. Thanks Don and Jeff for not giving up.

Here is some tips if you want to give Solaris a chance (I believe you should):

  • Download this version of SXDE. Folks keep in mind that this is work in progress and some of the builds have serious bugs
  • Prepare yourself to spend a while (120 minutes) installing, so go through installation while plugged in to a power source
  • Accept defaults
  • Solaris seems to like for you to be networked while rebooting after the install
  • Extra credit - change the resolution to the native one on a 15" MacBook Pro (1440x900)
    • login and become root
    • cd /etc/X11
    • cp .xargs.conf xargs.conf
    • edit xargs.conf as follows (at the end)
      • Section "Monitor"
                Identifier   "Monitor0"
                VendorName   "Monitor Vendor"
                ModelName    "Monitor Model"
                HorizSync    31.5 - 100.0
                VertRefresh  59.0 - 75.0
                Option      "dpms"
                Modeline "1440x900" 108.84 1440 1472 1800 1912 900 918 927 946

        Section "Device"
                ### Available Driver options are:-
                ### Values: <i>: integer, <f>: float, <bool>: "True"/"False",
                ### <string>: "String", <freq>: "<f> Hz/kHz/MHz"
                ### [arg]: arg optional
                #Option     "ShadowFB"                  # [<bool>]
                #Option     "DefaultRefresh"            # [<bool>]
                #Option     "ModeSetClearScreen"        # [<bool>]
                Identifier  "Card0"
                Driver      "vesa"
                BusID       "ISA"

        Section "Screen"
                Identifier "Screen0"
                Device     "Card0"
                Monitor    "Monitor0"
                DefaultDepth     24
                SubSection "Display"
                        Viewport   0 0
                        Depth     24
                        Modes     "1440x900"

What you get (in addition to a solid, feature reach OS): compiler, tools (for both native and Java dev), middleware components - application server, web server; productivity tools - StarOffice/Firefox/Thunderbird, etc. The complete list of details can be found here.

Friday Jul 27, 2007

Get Started with JavaFX Script

JavaFX Script made it debut in May '07 during the Java One conference. The excitement of the developer community is obvious and the project became the most popular project on

Here are a few easy steps that could help any developer get started with JavaFX Script.

Of course folks can use an IDE to learn the language, so in this case I would recommend this tutorial. It will call for the use of NetBeans (which is now available in a small - "basic profile" ~ 23 MB) and one will have to use the update center and download the FX plugin

Saturday Jul 07, 2007

Public calendar

To migrate your events from Apple iCal to Google Calendar, follow these steps:

  1. In Apple iCal, select the calendar from the list of calendars in the iCal window.
  2. Select "File" > "Export."
  3. Name the calendar, then save it.
  4. In Google Calendar, ensure that you've created the calendar that you'd like to migrate events to. Then, at the top of the calendar list on the left, click the "Add" down-arrow button and select "Import Calendar."
  5. Click "Browse" and select the appropriate file, then select "Open."
  6. From the drop-down menu, select the calendar to which you'd like to import events.
  7. Click "Import" to complete the import.
One should be careful when exporting the calendar to make sure internal information is protected and not exposed externally. The export operation will include the details of the events as well.

Tuesday Apr 17, 2007

Search matters

You build the bits, you create content to support the engineering effort, you market the product/technology, etc. Nowadays, most of the people use to search for their areas on interest, so one of the issues that is key is how you represent your product on the web. One can take some simple steps to make their content (web pages) easier to find and more relevant. Here is some tips on how to implement the Search Engine Optimization

  • Add ALT tags to images
  • Page title improvements
    • Uniques
    • Add contextual relevance
      • Branding
      • Version/release number

Most users focus on the TITLE of the search result. An example of good search result has a TITLE that has actionable user goals, such as how to build, migrate, buy, download; a TITLE that tells the user what the page is about, contains product version, and most importantly is UNIQUE across you web properties.

Most of the above info was taken from a preso (one of the better ones I've attended lately) by Anne Bluntschli at a forum that has funny name: "Square Pants".

Monday Jan 29, 2007

Five things about myself

Marina Sum recently tagged me to write five things about myself. Sounds easy, however depending on when you ask me to come up with something interesting, I may come up with different things :-) For instance I am currently in Prague, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, so one of the things that come to mind is traveling (even though many time travel ~ jet lag).

I just finished reading the news and I realized that I love to watch football. I grew up in Romania idolizing soccer, however after immigrating to the US in early 1990, I became a huge football fan. 

As a child I started reading WW II books and soon I became a history buff. I love history and I just wish more people would take the time to understand history and historical events, that many times have repercussions many years later (e.g. the Balkan's, Middle East).

Most of the people that know me would tell you that I love the outdoors, even though many times I don't find much time, I still try to run once or twice a week in the beautiful environment of the San Mateo County hills. 

The most influential person in my life has been my grandmother. Without her relentless support and constant encouragement I would not be the person that I am today. Grandma Dorina has passed away, however she is always in my thoughts.

Now it is my turn to tag five people: John Treacy, Todd Fast, Valeriu Bajenaru, Tor Norbye, Alexandru Seibulescu

Saturday Dec 02, 2006


MacBuntu - A word describing making something easy, humane towards others.

Starting again with a picture for the folks that like shinny objects :-)  


In installed parallels with a trial key (I was not going to pay just in case my manager alter ego kicks in and I am not able finish the project), I downloaded Ubuntu 6.10 and started on the journey of making my MacBook Pro even more powerful.

  1.  I burned the Ubuntu image on a DVD and tried the install. Oops, parallels won't recognize the media :-(. OK, perhaps I have a coaster, let me burn another iso. Nope, the VM would choke and would ask me to insert the media. OK, let me google this ...
  2. It turns out that you can boot from a local image of the guest OS. I further use Parallels to configure for Ubuntu to use 1024 MB of memory and 16GB of hard drive. Once I do that, happiness! So short lived :-(
  3. Ubuntu loads a live image of the desktop and you seem to be one click away of the installation. The installer hangs after 15% progress. I am agitated. I pull Anger Management and watch a short segment to relax :-)
  4. It turns out that on MacBook Pro hardware the installer chokes if the memory is set to anything higher than 512 MB. Once I change the setting of the VM I am able to install without any problems

The result is stunning:

  • desktop is beautiful
  • (wireless) networking works like a charm - this blew me away, since I was expecting all kind of driver issues
  • OpenOffice, Firefox, Evolution
  • bash as the default shell
  • JDK 1.4.2 (we have to fix that)

One of the things you'll have to do is edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf and add the native resolution of the you Mac. In my case I had to add 1440x900 and tweak HorizSync and VertRefresh.
HorizSync 30-82
VertRefresh 40-12

SubSection "Display"
Depth 24
Modes "1440x900" "1280x800" "800x600" "640x480"

Thursday Nov 30, 2006

IT boy never dies

The experiment with a multi boot of Solaris 10, OSX and Windows on the loaner MacBook did not go so well after all. The only way I was successful in installing Solaris was by blowing away the OSX install. The workarounds suggested by a couple of blogs did not fully work for me and I can allocate only very little time to the system administration hobby ;-)

I've been experimenting with a Parallels to see if I can install, Solaris 10, Ubuntu 6.10 and Vista on my new 17" MacBook Pro (2.33 GHz, 2 GB RAM, 100 GB 7200 rpm hard drive). I'll allocate 15 GB for each the hosted OSs and keep the rest for OSX. On the new notebook, I also switched to Apple Mail after a few years on Thunderbird. Among the software that I rapidly installed: NeoOffice (with Aqua support - a beauty), Stuffit, Cisco VPN client, Firefox (2), Window Media Player (9), NetBeans and the supporting cast.


Saturday Nov 18, 2006

Q.E.D. (almost)

This is the second installment on the blog which looks at Solaris as viable platform for 21st century developers. I'll start with the picture worth a thousands words:


In a nutshell, it turned out that using bootcamp with Solaris was bad idea. I won't get into details, however it turns out that the installer can't deal with a partition created by this utility.

What I wanted to do is get the Solaris software (DVD) from Sun, insert the media and install the new OS by preserving the incumbant.

What I had to do:

  • I found the software here
  • Assembling a bootable DVD is no rocket since (download the 5 files, unzip, cat file1 file2 file3 file4 file5 > file.iso
  • Burn a DVD (the first one was a coaster, but made me loose some time, since I tried booting from it and it wasn't really working)
  • I ignored a quite useful blog and I partitioned the 100 GB MacBook Pro hard drive
  • The next step was booting from the DVD iso (one way to achieve this is to restart the machine and hold the "c" key, or "Option | Shift | Delete")
  • At this point GRUB took over and I was ready to go to the next step

What I wanted to do is use the utilities bundled with the OS to partition the hard drive during the installation (I've done this in the past numerous times on dual boot machines using RedHat or SuSE) and proceed to install the OS

 What I had to do (we are getting to the part that ain't pretty):

  • Disclaimer: I am not an OS expert, nor did I spend a lot of time investigating all the possible options, so perhaps there are better ways to go through the installation
  • I chose a couple of defaults
  • I was not able to partition the hard drive :-(, fdisk did not like my prepared partition and I had to blow away OSX in order to continue the installation
  • I could not change the default size of the swap partition :-(
  • Oh well, I'll live with this if I am able to install the rest ...
    • I now have the option of installing "Solaris Extra Value Software", hmm ... I wish the description would be more consistent; I check the option, but have no idea what it will do
    • The other option is to install "Java Enterprise System", I know about this, and the description is better (I just wish it would give me an option to install only certain components - again I can live with that)
  • Now I get to the point where I can choose a specific OS bundle or so. I choose "Developer Group", hoping for the best
  • Installation finishes successfully; I reboot and I am pleasantly surprised to see the Java Desktop System login user interface; I login as root (default) and voila I am done. Almost ...

What I wanted to do is to see if I can start software development (editor, compiler, Java, a deployment container and the usual office productivity software)

What I found:

  • Java (1.6.0-rc) - check
  • Office productivity software: StarOffice (spreadsheet, presentation, editor) - check
  • Browser: Firefox ( - check
  • Email client: Thunderbird - check
  • compiler - nope (it seems that I have not installed this package, however I  remember choosing the  "developer group"
  • code editors: vi/ed (I wonder how many people still use them) - check; no emacs
  • IDE - nope (I was hoping for NetBeans :-), I guess we'll have to fix that and make sure it part of the standard distribution
  • Media software
    • CD Ripper - check
    • Real Player (10) - check
    • MP3 player: Music Player - check
Anyway, I have a long way to go. I am still running as root and I need to figure out how to useradd (perhaps something like useradd -d /export/home/octav -m -s /bin/bash -c "Octavian Tanase" octav; also if I recall I'll have to use the passwd command to assign a password before I can use the account), since it does not seem that I can find an admintool menu. I have not configured my path yet and this could be one of the reasons I am not finding some of the utilities I was expecting. I am still running at 1152 x 864 (the native resolution is 1440 x 900). I also not networked yet. The track pad is not working, so I am using a USB mouse to navigate. I bet many of these issues have workarounds, however the weekend requires time sharing with family :-).

 Now that I have a good bootable Solaris image DVD, I'll reinstall Mac OSX, I'll properly partition the hard drive and will give another try to installing Solaris. This time with feeling :-)


Friday Nov 17, 2006

Will developers adopt Solaris?

To answer that question I picked a cool MacBook Pro (on loan from Prakash) and armed with Google I want to figure out if I can install Solaris x86 and configure it with the necessary tools to be effective as a software engineer. Developers want a stable work environment and tools to be productive. Many look for multi-media features such as mp3 players or gaming capabilities, however I believe that most developers look for productivity tools (spreadsheet, browser, mail, presentation builder, etc.) and in some cases a capable IDE that brings ease of use to software development.

The company (Sun) is definitely serious about Solaris (Jonathan made this very clear this during his leadership conference), now it is my turn to try it (the way an early adopter would) and provide constructive feedback on the direction and opportunities.

Within a couple of minutes, Google pointed me at:
\* bootcamp - the software used to partition the Mac's disk
\* "the blog" - , a blog of a Sun guy that seems to have the instructions of how to get the next version of Solaris installed on a Mac; it sounds simple however the devil is always in the details.

I'll try it and blog about the results.

Monday May 22, 2006

Bay to Breakers Trip Report

After a busy Java One, I decided to attend the 95th Bay to Breakers ( It is my 3rd. Here is an account of the "performance". This is the abridged version. "Within the law", I hope.

Start - I am little behind schedule and I arrive with only 5 min before the start. There are a gazillion people crowding Howard St. so I decide to cheat (I had to look this up in the Dictionary, since there is no equivalent in Romanian :-)) and attack from Main St. My plan is simple. Tackle the first 3 runners and win by intimidating the rest :-) I am 220 lb and I can arm wrestle most of the people in the crowd. Someone asks me "Howyoudoin'". I reply "beautiful"! I am \*very\* excited.

200 hundred yards into the race - I notice on the right side of the road the people holding yellow balloons. Initially I just see the balloons, but on second look all they are wearing are the balloons!  Some of them are joining the race. Lovely.

Moscone - This reminds of last week. It has been a great Java One. I'll blog more about this later, but in a nutshell thinking of the conference gave me an energy boost. I am flying until we turn right on 9th.

Hayes St (part one) - We are now running up the hill, but I still have some momentum and I doing OK. Short lived. After a block or so a midget passes me.  Oh nooo! I am looking for ways to kill myself. Fortunately all traffic is stopped and there is no Muni bus I can jump in front of.

Hayes St (part two) - I pass a couple of AARP members. Way to go big guy! Now this is what I call winning:-) Now if I can only outrace Jim Davidson. I am nervously looking over my shoulder

Hayes St (part three) - Almost at the top. I am still running ... any slower I would start going backwards. One word comes to mind: 220lb :-(

Fell St. - That's exactly how I feel! Lot's of bands on this street, but I am running at the tunes played by my own iPod Nano which I managed to drop. It tumbles 29,000 times, before I can pick it up. I am furious, but it still works. Thanks Apple for making these devices idiot proof. Lots of people on the sideline are providing water. I appreciate that.

Golden Gate Park (part one) - Finally the park, which means that we are more than half way done. A lot of people on the sideline cheering.

Golden Gate Park (part two) - I am tired, but a little more encouraged since I am starting to pass some people. I guess they call this a second wind. Bottom line I can't keep up with any of the people I care for ... I notice some big Buffalo on the right side. Cool. I make a mental note to take Alexis to see them.

Golden Gate Park (part three) - I am starting to see more first aid stations. Good. I may need one any second. Left calf is cramping :-( It's picture time. Some guy with a bullhorn is telling us to raise our hands and smile for the camera. What a stupid idea! How about taking a picture at the beginning of the race when I am chipper and not dragging a foot behind :-( I am starting to get a bad attitude, but the instincts take over ... "marche ou meurt".

Finish - 1 hour, 12 minutes (just behind the first 2000 people racing). Somewhat underwhelming, but I finished the race and the car is not that far. I only hope I ran faster than Jim Davidson.



« July 2016