Wednesday Jun 17, 2009

New iPhone software - now with podcast speedup

The new iPhone 3.0 software was released a little under an hour ago. The upgrade was trivial. I clicked the Check For Update a few minutes after the release, and it downloaded the new OS in around 3 minutes! I recently switched ISPs so I have really good bandwidth now - but I had expected a lot of traffic on Apple's servers to slow things down.

The update looks really good. I tested a few of the things I have been looking forward to -- I personally don't care about the feature highlights listed on most sites, such as MMS, Copy and Paste, etc.

The first feature I've been waiting for is the ability in the browser to open a link in another window. With tabbed browsing I'm used to just ctrl-clicking on links such that pages load in the background, and when I'm done with the current page I go read the other tabs which by then are fully loaded. On the iPhone on the other hand I haven't been able to do this, since there hasn't been a way to open a link without throwing away the page you're on. But in 3.0, it's there - just click and hold a link and you get the option to open the link in a new page. It's not as good as tabbed browsing - it instantly jumps to the new, not yet loaded page, but it's trivial to jump back and keep reading while the new page is loading.

The second feature I've been waiting for is improved iPod controls. The primary usage for my iPhone is as an iPod - while running, doing chores or driving - and I listen to a lot of podcasts. With 3.0, the scrubbing feature is improved - it's now a lot easier to jump to arbitrary points in the podcast. I like to listen to This Week in Technology for example, but I'm getting really, REALLY sick of the 5+ minutes of Audible commercials in each and every episode. This is the DVR generation -- if a commercial is longer than 30 seconds I'm going to start resenting you. In 2.0 it was difficult to either fast forward (too slow, then too fast) or jump to arbitrary points in the podcast. With 3.0 it works really well - I just place my thumb on the scrollbar and lean it to the right then left to tweak the final endpoint.

Another iPod improvement is the ability to play podcasts at a faster rate. For the Java Posse some volunteers (thank you!) set up a server which would download our podcasts, apply audio processing to speed up the podcast, and then release these as faster versions of our episodes - called the Tempo Posse. This is no longer necessary with 3.0 - there's a button you can click to cycle between half speed, full speed and double speed playback:

I don't think this will run the Tempo Posse out of "business", because I looked at our download stats the other day and nearly half of all episodes are downloaded outside of iTunes! Are there really that many Zune users? ;-)

Thursday Mar 12, 2009

Java Posse Roundup 2009

I just got back from the Java Posse Roundup 2009. It was our third year (blog entries from 2007, 2008), and therefore I can add "as usual" when I state that it was a wonderful time.

This year's topic was "developer productivity", which is obviously a passion of mine, so I found all the technical sessions thoroughly enjoyable. We recorded all of them so they will be released slowly through the regular podcast channel.

I was able to redeem myself from last year's skiing disaster but not falling doesn't make very compelling video...

Another highlight is the lightning talks. This year we had two hours of lightning talks every night. We'll be releasing those on a quicker schedule as YouTube videos in our
YouTube channel. I can recommend Barry Hawkins' talk as a starter. The nice thing about lightning talks are that they are short so go ahead, give it a try!

In order to enforce the 5 minute rule for lightning talks, we wrote a little timer app, as seen in this picture:

The laptop on the left is running our downcounter. It starts at 5 minutes, and when it gets down to 0 it plays a sound effect which politely asks the user to, ehm, stop. We wrote this app as a collaboration on the first day of the conference, during the language dojos. We had 3-4 sites where different people studied Scala, Groovy, Python, Fan and JavaFX, according to their interests. In the JavaFX group we played around with the language in the morning, and then decided to build something real - the countdown timer. We needed a sound effect to play when the timer expires, so we held up one of our conference audio recorders and all at once yelled "Shut Up!" into it. In the room next door Dick Wall had just started talking about Scala, and our brief recording session apparently caused some confusion...

P.S. There are a lot of pictures from the Roundup on flickr.
The below are by Joe Nuxoll.

Crested Butte, Colorado by night:

The first day of the Open Conference we held a languages-on-the-JVM dojo. This is a picture of those of us playing with JavaFX:

The lightning talks schedule for the Tuesday night:

On Thursday we had a progressive dinner where each household served one course for the other participants. Carl made Indian Style chicken wings and Ido is getting ready to serve:

Dick and Dianne talking during the progressive dinner.

Friday Mar 07, 2008

Roundup Roundup

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It's Friday morning and I've spent whole the week in beautiful Crested Butte in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado. Today is the last day of the
Java Posse Roundup 2008, the second time we're hosting this open space conference. It has been a blast!

The format is 4 hours of open-space discussions every morning, then skiing in the afternoon, and then we have "lightning talks" in the evenings - 5 minute quick presentations that are short enough that the speaker is forced to be concise so the presentations are always interesting.

Last night we also passed around the microphone and recorded conference impressions. Dick has already mixed it and uploaded it as the latest episode -
Episode 168. We've obviously
recorded all the technical sessions as well and those will be posted to the normal Java Posse podcast feed over the next couple of months. I believe Joe and Dianne also recorded the lightning talks with a little video camera and those will be posted to our new
YouTube channel.

Just like last year, a huge part of the success is due to the great set of participants. With so many different points of view and insights, every single session I've attended this week have been stimulating. While most of the participants came from the US, we even had 4-5 people attending from Europe! Stephan Janssen from the Belgian JUG has posted his pictures
here - the following picture is his. Notice the amount of snow we had!

The following photo (by Matt Zimmer) is from one of the lightning talks:

Again notice the snow outside the windows. The lightning talks might be my favorite - 15-20 quick presentations back to back on subjects ranging from techy things like
literate programming plugins for OpenOffice, Scala refactoring and JavaFX and Flex demos, Quantom Gravity and quantum cryptography, to Anime,
to Stephan showing us the Java Polis artwork (which I've talked about
before), and not just the ones that made it -- the ones that were rejected as well!

Some other coverage from O'Reilly's Chris Adamson
and here,
Ido Green
Joe Nuxoll, and
Chris Maki.

Friday Sep 07, 2007

Hello World!

The "Java Posse Hello World Tour 2007" is about to kick off :-) Carl, Dick and I are heading to Norway next week for JavaZone, where we'll do a live session as well as hopefully get some great interviews and just have fun. I'm also doing a talk on Ruby Tooling.

Joe can't make it - he works on the web store at Apple, and apparently they're busy selling stuff! We're also going to JavaPolis in Belgium in December. I'm not sure if I'll be able to go yet, but the other three guys are confirmed.

If any of you will be at JavaZone next week, please say hi!

Here's our world tour poster, courtesy of Oliver Widder:

Saturday Mar 24, 2007

Posse Roundup Pictures

Here's a few photos from the Java Posse Roundup 2007.

Here's some of the posters we had on the wall - one for each day, segmented by the different rooms and timeslots. People could convene talks by writing a topic on a post-it; some of these would get shuffled around.

We had "Lightning Talks" in the evenings - a topic of your choice, limited to 5 minutes.

Here are some photos from the lightning talks.

Joel Neely is talking about the different algorithms used to spacing between letters in typography, using "Java Posse" as an example.

Here's Joe and Carl. At one point the powerstrip next to my feet had 8 identical Mac power adapters plugged into it...

In the afternoons, we'd go up to the world class skiing slopes in Crested Butte.

Finally, if you listened to episode 10x, you might be curious why Carl and Dick couldn't keep a straight face while listening to Joe - because they suddenly found a jackalope starting down at them:

Thursday Jan 25, 2007


First, the video from the 100th JavaPosse episode is available. "Crazy" Bob Lee has some photos as does Peter Moore.

Second, the JRuby Serial Interview #4 episode is available, where I talk about the NetBeans+Ruby work. There are two more new screenshots in there...


Tor Norbye


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