|« December 2002||February 2003 »|
I'm Ryan Lowe, a Software Engineering graduate living in Ottawa, Canada. I like agile software development and Ruby on Rails.
I write this blog in Canadian English and don't use a spell checker. Typos happen.
» Full-time Ruby on Rails freelancer
» Full-time with Rails since May 2005
» Former committer for RadRails (now Aptana)
» I also have a few Rails side-projects in development:
1. wheretogoinTO.com Toronto nightlife
2. Hey Heads Up! TODO list and sharing
3. Layered Genealogy family history research
4. foos for foosball scoring
5. fanconcert for music fans (on hold)
Hiring Rails developers? I can telecommute by the hour from Ottawa, Canada
»» Email: rails AT ryanlowe DOT ca
Now hosted on Hey! Heads Up -- check it out!
Derek Lowe's (Ryan's older brother) words at Ryan's funeral
email@example.com no more
Forging Email Headers: Good, Bad or Ugly?
Sarcastic Dictionary (Part 1 of Many)
Twisting Rails is Risky Business
Risky Business? My Take on Early Alphas
Whoa, it's August 2007
A Postscript to "Growth at the grassroots"
»» All Blog Posts
David Heinemeier Hansson
James Duncan Davidson
Signal vs. Noise
Amy Hoy: (24)slash7
Luis de la Rosa
# Mark's Home Office
Oh, and by the way people .... remind me never to get to that point.
I was going to talk about this one earlier, but it changed so quickly I decided to wait. Jim Speth created an iTunes plug-in to share music collections over a network called iCommune. Apple quickly shut him down.
No problem, he says, and now he's creating iCommune as a stand-alone application.
One problem though, noted in a Wired article, is that he'll be under fire just like Napster was because it also works over the whole Internet. He argues that iCommune falls under fair use, saying "making a copy of a CD that I own and giving it to you is not illegal. Sharing with friends is legal, as far as I know."
Ah, but it's not legal. It is very illegal. Before Napster became a great place to find albums, people were burning their friend's albums in their new CD burners. You don't even need the Internet to do it. The only hitch these days is that because no one buys CDs it's hard to find a friend that has an actual original CD to burn, making this method of copyright violation less popular than downloading.
The one argument that might hold water is the Xerox-analogy where iCommune has the ability to make copies but doesn't do anything illegal itself. iCommune differs itself from Napster-like services because it has no seach functionality (yet, it's going to be open source) and you need to be put on someone's buddy list to see their collection. I don't think a court will buy this distinction, especially since copying is illegal.
Good luck, Jim.
# Is My Hair Messed Up?
I sit in the SITE building in high traffic areas sometimes and I can't help but notice people looking in my direction and grinning. Is my hair messed up? No, they are noticing the glowing Apple logo on the back of my iBook's screen. Subtle, but ingenious .... it really catches the eye.
# Projects By Commitee
Softies softies everywhere and not a drop of management to drink. I guess the 4th year project is the point at which we as aspiring software engineers examine our own follies as collaberative software managers and aquire a deep appreciation for the art of management ...
Hmmm maybe. Or maybe one just wonders why people can't get along when they are aimed towards the same goal (presumably). The hardest part seems to be having the same vision.
Some managers may be in the unique position of not having any software experience and their vision is crystal clear. But a software person's vision is clouded by fear uncertainty and doubt simply because they happen to know too much or just enough ... so vision alignment is definitely key. The vision of the group supercedes any individual .... unless of course the group is wrong. ;) I will say this though - when you find yourself caught in a stampede it's best to follow the herd lest you get trampled.
When you have no hierarchy and no leader, you have problems. Every issue has to be resolved by concensus. I see parallels somewhat in the open-source world where enough public pressure can sway a project owner -- at least more public pressure than ever experienced in a cubicle. The cubicle jockeys have the luxury of leaving the hard decisions to the higher ups - that's why they get paid the big bucks, right? Ahhh, I can't wait to have that luxury back again. ;)
# A Month of the Mac
After a month of Mac use, I'm impressed overall. I have an iBook with Mac OS X 10.2.3.
It hasn't been an easy transition, however. I still can't send email while I'm on the road and I still can't play DivX video. SMB sharing isn't perfect either .... when I connect to a shared directory on my Windows XP machine and then add something to it, I can't see the new files on the Mac. That's pretty annoying because then I have to reconnect. There must be something I'm doing wrong. The GUI elements in Mac OS are a bit slow as well. I have 32 MB of video RAM, why can't I resize a window smoothly?
On the positive side Mail is a great simple little application. iTunes is also better than anything I've used on Windows. iCal is absolutely fantastic for school - the same calendar for weekly and monthly views, colour coding - a true killer app for students using a Mac. I rarely use any of the Office applications, so that area isn't an issue. When I write something it's usually in HTML. The community around Apple is positive, and that's something I'm not used to. Communities in software definitely shouldn't be underestimated.
The negatives obvously glare out in comparison to the positives and I didn't expect it to be easy. In fact I belive it's harder for someone entrenched in Windows for 7 years to break out of it and get open minded again. So what is to come? Here's what I have planned:
Set up an SMTP server to send my own outgoing mail from anywhere.
... and then finally:
Get a new motherboard for my AMD box and some quieter case fans.
# Joel on Murphy
# Top Ten
A cool feature of iTunes, the Mac digital music organizer/player is that it counts the number of times you play a song (Windows Media Player also apparently does this though I don't use it). So I'm going to *try* to regularly post a list of the top 10 songs I listen to ... say every time the top song goes over 10 plays. Then I'll reset the counts.
Here's this installment:
1. Hot Hot Heat - No, Not Now
If you wondered why the artists are grouped together it's because I listen to songs an album at a time sometimes. Though, because iTunes does such a good job organizing my collection I'm finding I use the random feature often as well, skipping the songs I don't want to hear. I went to 11 because of a tie.
Wow, setting up an SMTP server in Mac OS X is a real pain in the butt. All I want to be able to do is send email from my notebook no matter where I am. I can't use my ISPs SMTP server because it only works while I'm at home.
Also saw Revolution OS. It's interesting to see those guys being half humble (except of course for Eric Raymond, who is anything but). It was a good mainstream movie about free and open source software and the difference between them - a good introduction, but also full of stuff to please the geeks.
Hey folks, not much going on. Working on a school project, but we still have to decide how much of it will be public. It looks like we'll do a general release for everyone to try out ...
... and now that I've piqued your curiosity ... that is all. :)
# Wired on Downloading
Wired magazine has come great coverage of music downloading in February's issue (which will be online soon). However, after reading most of the articles I have a gripe. Most of the writers forget that burning is perfectly legal -- it's fair use. Take 10 different CDs you own and make a mix. Legal. Rip, Mix, Burn, Legal. Yes, CD ripping is also fair use and legal. Rip to mp3, ogg, wav, txt. Doesn't matter.
The big 5 labels have to realise they can only skin a sheep once but shear it many times. If you give people something they want and the freedom to do what they want with it at a reasonable price they will buy it and come back to buy again. Seems like a big "dUh!", but you'd be surprised.
# Java and Microsoft
# In Rotation
# Browser Wars
When Apple released Safari, they started a landslide of talk about browsers. It made me realise, I have 4 browsers on my iBook already! Dang, what do I need them all for?
Internet Explorer 5.5 came with the iBook and as far as I know it was the only browser pre-installed. I use it when all else fails.
Next, I installed Mozilla, my old stand-by. Regular Moz gets dumped on by Apple purists because it doesn't use a Mac standard UI. I liked the familiarity at first, but now I just find it a bit clunky in comparison to other browsers I've downloaded since.
Chimera caught my attention next. It's pretty much Mozilla with a OS X native GUI. It's only in version 0.6 and I'm expecting many good things from this project.
Safari, silly name and all, arrived on the Mac scene and literally stole the show. 300k downloads in the first day. I'm keeping up with it and applaud Apple for their contributions to the open source KHTML engine BUT until it has tabs, especially given how crowded my dock gets, it's not much good to me.
# Why, Fuy!
Wow, Wi-Fi works at the library. It took a bit of playing with, but I finally got the server and password right. Sweetness.
The bad news is that I have a class on the second floor of the library. I went up to the second floor with my notebook and *still* had access. I haven't checked the room itself though ..... that could be a very bad thing. :)
# Why Fuy?
I got a voice mail from one of the tech guys at Morisset and he says he's going to give me all of the info I need to know to hook into the wireless network and it should work. Sweetness. Now I have wired in the SITE building and wireless on the other end of campus. Close enough to full coverage for me! I will post how the hookups go.
I'm not really big on birthdays, but thanks to everyone that remembered. I'm trying to convince people I was born in the 80's. It's not working out too well ...
# MacWorld Review
Hilarious Macworld Review. Some insider Mac jokes of course. Favourite quote:
They would have been in the running for Coolest Product Screwed by an Apple version, but I can't pronounce the damn name, and that is not cool.
# Sun Developer Day
The Sun Developer Day today was strangely not what was in the itenerary. It was more of a rushed hour and a half of mixed technical and marketing materials about web services. I guess the other presentation was at Carleton (they have the same itinerary at the same time).
They started with an overview of J2EE and Web Services. Mostly technical, and very sparse on details. Mainly just a look at what is being used today (SOAP, UDDI, WSDL, Jini) and mentioed what might be used tomorrow (JXTA). Some stuff about e-business, ebXML and how web services will help B2B.
Then we dove into the Sun ONE Platform. Application Server 7 was demo'd a bit. Mostly geared towards portals using web services accessible by different platforms/devices. Also talked about the open source Sun ONE Studio and Liberty (a MS Passport-like system Sun developed) was mentioned.
Overall it was a skim - a good intro. It would have been nice to see more examples or demos of real products, say in a 3 hour lecture with a break. I thought it was worthwhile going to overall.
# First Post!!
First post from the SITE building. For better or worse, I can now post to my blog while at school all day. I guess I could at work too, now that I think about it, but looking over your back constantly isn't too much fun.
I'm going to try to get into this Sun Developer Day here at the school today at 11:30am. If I get in I'll write a summary here.
# SITE, We Have Liftoff
Yes, my iBook works in the SITE building! Excellent. Thanks Jim, for the instructions on hooking it up.
# Lingua Franca
Wow, there are a lot of women in my Introduction to Language (Linguistics) class. This is something an engineering student isn't used to! :)
# No WiFi for MiMi
Looks like the wireless access at the university I attend (that was touted in the newspaper) is for "IBM-compatible" notebooks only so far. In fact, the project just got out of the trial stages. Ah well, hopefully the techs can hook me up. I tried detecting the WiFi network myself (sitting at a dest 10 feet from the access point) but it wasn't visible. I suppose secured WiFi networks aren't publicly visible? Hmmm, I don't know enough about them ...
I forgot my network cable at home today and couldn't try the wired connections in the SITE building. Geez, I hope THEY at least work. I know at least one prof with a Mac, so hopefully he paved the way.
# Used to a UI
There's something to be said for familiarity. This Mac trial has taught me one valuable lesson so far and it's that a consistent UI can save users a boatload of time in relearning. It also tells me that old habits die hard. Anyway, here are a few criticisms of the Mac UI:
One mouse button is annoying annoying annoying. I should be able to do all of my mouse stuff with one hand, but now I need a second to hit the Ctrl key whenever I need a context menu (ie. right click in Windows). However, if I use my eight-million button MS Intellimouse I get the context menu on right click. But who wants to carry a mouse around with them?
Windows on a Mac are rendered semi-transparent if they are out of focus (not the window being used at the moment). While this may be a great visual cue, it reduces the visibility of onfocused windows. For example, if I am typing in an MSN Messenger message window, it is very difficult to see my user list window (nevermind the fact that the list uses bright colours and the contrast is poor - way to go MS). At the very least you should be able to disable semi-transparency. Not only for the visual reasons but also because rendering semi-transparent windows is probably graphics card intensive.
Resizing windows is a PITA. When you chose to maximize a window, it maximizes its height and not width. If you want to resize a window the only place you can do this is at the bottom right hand corner. In MS Windows you can resize a window from any edge or corner.
That's all for now, but I haven't used my Mac much yet. There are some other issues that are things I'll have to get used to, like the dock and my home directories and using Unix. More criticism, no doubt, is on the way. :)
# Mac Update
Those of you looking for inciteful comments about a newbie using a Mac are going to be sorely disappointed for now. I couldn't manage to get Internet access at work, so I couldn't use it there. Instead I'll have to wait until I get back to school.
The only thing I'm worried about is that I won't be able to use the network there either -- and that could be a big problem. I figure there will be enough Unix geeks in the building that those problems have already been addressed.
What I'm really looking forward to is being able to go to the libary and use the wireless access. There's nothing worse than going to the library ready to study for a few hours and discovering you're missing something you could easily get off the 'net. True it will be a distraction, but only if I let it.
# old school
That's right, it's January and it's back to school time. Co-op turns a regular student into a manic depressive. First you hate school and can't wait to get to work, then you can't wait to get back to school again. Then you rinse and repeat.
Would you believe this is my 11th school semester? ... and I still have one more this fall. No wonder I feel old. :)
# Dave Barry's YIR
Dave Barry's Year in Review. Too funny.
# New Year Entry
I knew I'd have another problem in the new year with the script I use to "find" the last entry. It doesn't go back past the beginning of a year ... so here's an entry for it to find.