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# The Sims Online

An interesting article on Maxis' new game, The Sims Online. Besides the technical aspects, the article also has a moral angle to it. Creator Will Wright ponders the effects of a completely immersive online world on real people.

posted at November 29, 2002 at 01:09 PM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# Bugzilla + Linux kernel

It's very interesting seeing how the Linux kernel team is dealing with integrating Bugzilla into their process.

It will also be interesting to see how Bugzilla changes in response to more people using the tool with many new different types of projects. It should (in theory) make it more robust.

posted at November 26, 2002 at 08:31 AM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# The WhatI'mDoing Update

I stopped looking at Mozilla development for now. I'm still reading about it a bit, but I don't think the maturity is there. The things I want to do are file I/O intensive and Mozilla's support for that right now is iffy on at least the Windows platform ...

I'm going to start on a different angle of 001: complete automation from the command line. I'm writing it in plain-vanilla Java in Eclipse, so it should be cross-platform if all goes well. That project is in my bugzilla as "001".

Now that I have Bugzilla going, I want to get a remote CVS repository set up. Just my luck, my hosting service has CVS and SSH installed already.

Also interesting is the Subversion project, a self-proclaimed "next version of CVS". More reading necessary here.

posted at November 26, 2002 at 05:03 AM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# Ballmer

An interesting article on Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO.

Maybe it's just me, but reading between the lines I see a company in a bit of trouble in the coming years ...

posted at November 25, 2002 at 01:19 PM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# Wayback Machine

Having some fun with the Wayback Machine, which has archives of some of my old sites. I'll download them and post them on this site this weekend, because the WM site is pretty slow. Should be fun looking back 5 years. :)

I also found my old ICQ number (1952879) but apparently the account has been deactivated. An ICQ number that low can get you some serious street cred. heh

posted at November 22, 2002 at 03:32 PM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# Go Sens Go

Saw my first Senators game tonight and they beat Montreal 3-2.

posted at November 21, 2002 at 09:48 PM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# Bugzillyh00!

I got Bugzilla working!

posted at November 21, 2002 at 05:07 PM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# To Move or Not to Move

Let's see. I could move back downtown on my own or crash at my Dad's for another 4 months. Moving out on my own would be about $1000 CAN more expensive PER MONTH!. Which begs the question: why bother?

Living downtown PROS
1. No commute to school in rush hour (1hour+ in the morning, gas cost) - just wake up and go to class
2. Don't have to buy a school parking pass (see 1.)
3. The FREE gym is close (but it's also close to the parking lot and the SITE building)
4. Bars/downtown/shopping/some friends are close
5. Freedom

Living downtown CONS
1. Cost (rent, food, utilities, parking) - I could buy an iBook with this money!
2. Finding a parking spot in Sandy Hill in the winter
3. Living alone
4. Moving furniture in January

posted at November 21, 2002 at 03:52 AM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# McCusker's ip

David McCusker has an interesting take on his intellectual property and work.

posted at November 20, 2002 at 05:09 PM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# CM Tools

Doing a little reading on change management (CM) and ran into The Power of Unified Change Management (UCM). UCM is incorporated into Rational ClearCase. Other CM options include CVS and BitKeeper.

posted at November 20, 2002 at 04:15 PM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# LOTR DVDv2

Has anyone seen the extended version of Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring yet? I want to know if it's worth buying ...

posted at November 20, 2002 at 12:01 AM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# Dancing Elephants

I just finished reading Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? by ex-IBM CEO Lou Gerstner Jr.. He did a great job boiling it down into a readable account of the whats and whys. It's almost blog-like in style and formality in some parts. It provides useful insights on executive management as well as an insider look at IBM (through the eyes of an admitted outsider). Highly recommended.

posted at November 18, 2002 at 03:24 AM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# Four Kinds of People

THERE ARE FOUR KINDS OF PEOPLE:

THOSE WHO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN.
THOSE TO WHOM THINGS HAPPEN.
THOSE WHO WATCH THINGS HAPPEN.
THOSE WHO DON'T EVEN KNOW THINGS ARE HAPPENING.

posted at November 18, 2002 at 03:16 AM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# Piracy is not About Ethics

Paul Boutin says"Music piracy is not about ethics. It just seems that way, because the RIAA and the free music mafia have framed it in those terms. On planet Earth, however, song-swappers aren�t looking to strike a blow against the evil record industry. At least, I�m not � I�m just sick of high album prices and limited availability, which defy sense in the Internet age." Amen brother.

posted at November 16, 2002 at 10:23 PM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# A Server for Every Occasion

HRDC's $16M computer bungle: "Ms. Milne explains that, between 1993 and 1998, when the rapidly expanding department bought 'a lot of UNIX servers,' the machines could only run one program each, so HRDC had to buy a new server for every program.

"Peter Choynowski, manager of technical operations at Carleton University's School of Computer Science, bursts out laughing when told of this explanation."

The servers in question aren't cheap, either. They range in price from $20k to $1M.

posted at November 16, 2002 at 05:43 PM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# My xUnit Wishlist

Some things I'd like to see integrated into a RAD programming unit test framework (ie. JUnit) for doing XP:

1. Automatic unit tests.

For example, if one or more (in) parameters passed to a function is null, what does the function do? This check should be automatic in unit testing and should not have to be written explicitly save for the result. If a test isn't written at all, the unit tester should complain.

2. Tests for specific defects.

A defect is opened. To close it, you need to write a test that replicates the defect and make sure it fails with the current code. Then you change (refactor/repair) the program code until it passes. Now you have a regression test for this defect and if the test fails you know the defect is back.

3. Built-in code coverage analysis

If you are truly doing test-driven development, at any given time all lines in the program code should be executed by all tests. If this is not true, develop tests to exercise these lines or, even better, get rid of the superfluous lines.

4. A user-interface library that supports verification.

How can I be sure that the user interface is correct at any given time without manually verifying it? The UI library should be written so that any element in the UI can be programmatically checked for properties such as visibility, position, etc. To see how involved this task can be, check out Liar Views.

5. User-interface can be controlled programmatically

Any defect replicated in the field must be able to be replicated programmatically for a unit test.

posted at November 16, 2002 at 12:26 AM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# Abstractulate Yourself

Know your limits and abstractulate (abstract/encapsulate) yourself from security problems. Read The Peon's Guide to Secure System Development. Just to be clear, I don't agree with many of his points, but it does add to the discussion.

posted at November 15, 2002 at 08:44 PM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# Objecting to Objects

Joel talks about the Law of Leaky Abstractions. I don't think anything new is in this, but the organization of all of it into one article is a Good Thing.

It's true that you have to have some balance between flexbility and encapsulation/abstraction. The more you abstract, the more you tie yourself down. Object-zealots used to preach that you could go infinitely into the object universe abstracting layer by layer, but this does you no good if something breaks on a lower layer and you don't know how to fix it, let alone recognize it is broken.

Maybe what is really needed are some reliable abstraction layers. Many of these already exist for Internet communication protocols. What if there was a single abstraction for a buffer? Couldn't we guarantee that software using this buffer wouldn't have buffer overflow errors?

Of course there's the issue of languages, and performance. Sometimes fast performance trumps explicit checking. But we could be getting into an age of software development now where performance takes a back seat to security and reliablility for once. Not for games or graphics obviously, but mainstream software development could benefit from it.

posted at November 15, 2002 at 05:51 PM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# I C UR IM

Tools for monitoring instant messaging (IM) have been around for a while, but now AOL itself is selling the AIM Enterprise Gateway to completely control and record incoming IMs.

IM protocols are fairly easy to read so this is a relatively easy thing to develop, especially by the company that wrote the protocol. They are planning on releasing an IM client with encryption next year. Probably for a price.

What's next, an AIM Enterprise Gateway that can decrypt messages from the encrypted clients? *shudder* A pretty good business model though, I must admit.

posted at November 11, 2002 at 04:18 PM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# XRE

Here it is, the XUL Runtime Environment (XRE), used to create regular standalone applications with the XPFE (Cross-Platform Front-End which is XUL, JavaScript and CSS). Now XPFE apps won't require Mozilla, just the XRE. Nice. Saw this on MozillaZine.

Here's the XRE project page.

To see what direction this might be heading in, check out the the work already done on the Gecko Runtime Environment (GRE).

posted at November 10, 2002 at 06:08 PM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# Five Worlds

Joel Spolsky talks about the five worlds of software development.

posted at November 10, 2002 at 03:22 PM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# supastylin'

Found some client-side style switching code. IE is a bit wonky with it though. Maybe I'll file a bug. :|

posted at November 09, 2002 at 09:12 PM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# In Rotation

What's new in rotation ...

Albums:
Our Lady Peace - Gravity
Foo Fighters - One By One
Underworld - A Hundred Days Off

Singles:
The White Stripes - Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground
Heiroglyphics - Soweto
Paul Oakenfold - Starry Eyed Surprise
Swizz Beatz - Bigger Business

Retro:
Beastie Boys - Hey Ladies

posted at November 09, 2002 at 04:33 PM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# Office Paradigm

Do personal computers need a new paradigm?** The "office" paradigm is a bit dated and redone over and over again. Data is organized in files, files are in folders. Everything starts at the desktop. Programs are "windows" that are layered, opened and closed.

**BTW, don't be confused by the title. The author of the article is proposing a new UI not ditching the underlying OS, which is required to interface hardware.

posted at November 09, 2002 at 02:55 PM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# The Moving Platform

I mentioned before that Mozilla development is difficult because of the fact that it is constantly under development. What I have to do is choose a static release version and develop for that version only (ie. Mozilla 1.0 or 1.1). They keep different trees for each 1.x version, so it's not too difficult to do this.

posted at November 09, 2002 at 02:34 PM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# Aggregators

The WWW has always been about establishing links. Now there are people that do that full time with their blogs. Dave's site is a good example of this. I just have one question: where do they find the time?

posted at November 09, 2002 at 02:29 PM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# MQNM screenshot

Picture of the Mozilla QNM as a separate app. I can launch it from a shortcut (it's just a command line option on the mozilla EXE).

posted at November 06, 2002 at 11:40 PM EST
last updated December 5-, 2005 at 05: 1 PM EST

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# 001

The inaugural ryanlowe.ca project: 001.

posted at November 06, 2002 at 05:36 PM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# <iBook status="drool" />

Apple just knocked off $200 CAN from their cheap iBook. Tempting.

posted at November 06, 2002 at 12:44 PM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# I am slowly ...

... going crazy. 1 2 3 4 5 6 ...

posted at November 06, 2002 at 12:42 PM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# Mozilla Integration

Three words on Mozilla application integration: what a pain. I don't know who's idea it was to use these contents.rdf files, but there must be something easier. I ended up having to put everything in one directory (/content) for it to work.

... but it did, finally. I didn't check the RAM numbers, but it loads on its own without Mozilla (I'll post a screenshot). There's probably quite a bit of overhead for such a small app.

My opinion of Mozilla as an application platform? Current Mozilla development has very weak language support. You can only write the UI scripts in Javascript and the backend in C++/XPCOM. Other languages (notably Python on both the UI and backend sides) are in the works. The Java to COM bridge that was in development by Sun seems to have been abandoned.

Another disadvantage, and this applies to web browsing as well, is that Mozilla is a moving target. You never know what a user is going to have installed. It's fine to develop for Mozilla 1.0, but if the user has 1.2, can the two versions co-exist or will your code work on both? I had some problems using examples (especially the RDF files and integration) out of the book (published in Sept, 2002) because they were already outdated. Unless you are in the thick of things, you never know how your application can break. This is not a good thing.

So for a spike, this was a pretty good one. I found out that Mozilla platform development isn't all that great yet. It has potential though, especially XPFE (the XUL, Javascript and CSS combination), which made the UI so much easier to layout (granted I have experience with DHTML). I would really like to see a way to use XPFE with Java in the near future. That seems like a great cross platform RAD solution.

Like HTML, a WYSIWYG XUL editor might be more of a hinderance than a convenience, but it's likely one will be developed anyway. One integrated into an IDE would be pretty nice.

posted at November 05, 2002 at 02:50 PM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# OQNM5

Ok, so I redid that old project with XPFE (XUL, Javascript, CSS). This will be version 5.0, with at least the same functionality of the 4 series. It's a lot smoother and intuitive than its web page ancestor. Download it. Unzip it somewhere and open the XUL file in Mozilla.

If you're wondering what all of this Quake name business is, here goes an attempt at explaining it. Every player in a game of Quake has a maximum 15 character ASCII name which usually entered in the menu of the game. When you use the menu you can only enter characters on the keyboard (less than half of the 256 in ASCII).

You can also set your player's name in a startup script, where you can use all 256 ASCII characters. This small app generates those whacked out characters for this script. Fun eh?

The next step is getting it integrated into Mozilla itself like the mail and chat clients. From what I've been reading, it shouldn't be too bad. </famousLastWords>

posted at November 02, 2002 at 03:04 AM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# The Big V

That big building with the V on it west of Terry Fox Drive in Kanata isn't a movie theatre, it's Volex. When did that get there?

posted at November 01, 2002 at 06:01 PM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# mad skillz

Updated the layout of my resume. Mostly the Skills section.

posted at November 01, 2002 at 02:36 PM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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# index schmindex

The code for my index page borked this morning for a very simple reason: I had no posts in November. Now that I have one, it should work.

update 11:38 AM Nope, it didn't. The "1" was zero-padded and the script missed it.

What the script does is start at the current day and checks to see if a post exists. If not, it goes back day by day until it finds one. The main problem with my old code is that once it hit the start of the month on its way back, it didn't go to the end of the previous month. The same thing will happen if it reaches the start of a year (maybe I should put that code in now?).

posted at November 01, 2002 at 11:19 AM EST
last updated December 4-, 2005 at 15: 1 PM EST

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