Why hasn't here been an update lately?

Best laid plans and all that.... I had hoped to release the new 2.4 build this week but work is insane at present and so I haven’t had time to do the necessary testing. It’s a pain I know. I have promised people releases a lot lately but work just gets busier and busier and since I can really only do swingbench development in my spare time Im struggling to keep up.

Im hoping things will die down in the next few weeks and so I should be able to get it done then. So if I don’t reply to emails it’s not being rude its just that I don’t have time... I’ll make it up I promise.

Busy, Busy, Busy

Back again..... Hoping to get things moving again. Sadly I’ve been so busy at work (and at home) that I’ve had little or no time to update code. I’ve been answering a lot of questions lately so the good news is that people are still using swingbench, Thankyou.

I have come across one or two annoying features (read bugs if you wish Happy). The first of which appears to be that CPU monitoring on Windows (and solaris but Im fixing this) appears to be broken. Previously I had this working in conjunction with Cygwin but even this is now broken. Windows appears to process a piece of code (used for calling out) differently than any other platform. I’ll post some examples shortly so the Java heads amongst you can figure it out and I can get it working again. I can’t promise anything other than my gratitude.

I’ve also started to twitter (very occasionally) but for those that want to follow me you can do it here...

For those on a Mac and are looking for an alternative iWeb... try out RapidWeaver. Its getting better every release. Also use the Stacks plugin... it rounds it off brilliantly.

Back shortly with that darn Java problem....

New Comments Page

I’ve updated the comments page to add a little more security. I was being overrun by spam and so took advantage of the RapdWeaver’s plugin “FormLoom” to try and stop it. It also allows me to support attachment uploads which is a big improvement. Let me know what you think.

I’ll also be updating the website and adding some new screen casts.

Minor Change to the look and feel of the web site

I’ve taken the oppertunity to update the look and feel of the web site. Hopefully its made it a little cleaner and easier to navigate. Let me know if you think I should go back to the old style. I’ll slowly update some of the content too.

Happy Christmas to Everyone

As you've probably guessed things have been mad at work and home so I've had no chance to update the code or doc. I did update some of the online info (whilst having a coffee in Starbucks) which I'll carry on doing as time allows...

Just wanted to take the chance to wish every one, and their families, a Happy Christmas and a Fantastic New Year....

Website down

I had a few emails about the web site being down.

It turns out that I forgot to pay the bill... To be fair no one had told me that it was overdue.

Anyway apologies to anyone who had difficulties downloading software etc.

New iWork for Mac

So... Im not one to bang on about how easy to use Macs are simply because unless your using/used one its difficult to describe how trivial little things make doing stuff much easier. A good example of this is in the new Keynote 08 (powerpoint equivalent in iWork). It has an "Alpha" function which means that its trivial to remove the background from an imported image. I do a lot of powerpoint at work (yup I use a mac for work) and Im often forced to use icons or images that I've imported from the web... the problem with these is that they usually have a background in a color which is the complete opposite of the one Im using... so I either have to go with an ugly unprofessional looking slide or spend a few minutes in a "paint" package removing the background... In the new Keynote this takes seconds and is an example of Apple understanding the way that people do "stuff"...

There are hundreds of other examples in the new iLife and iWork packages that really make them stand out as examples of how people should do interfaces and work flows.... so if you get a chance take a look


Back again...

I wonder if anyone noticed that I haven't posted any new entries lately... no ahhh well. Anyway work has been crazy and I have to confess I've had little or no chance to update any of my projects. I have used them and spotted lots of things I'd like to get done.... I hoping to get some time next week to some testing and then documentation for 2.3.....

I'll be updating my blog of the next couple of days with the findings from a benchmark we did recently nothing overwhelming just things I'd like to remember and that might be useful to other people....

What have I been up to?

I know, I know I haven't released a new build of any of the three tools that currently make up my portfolio of software packages... However thats not to say I haven't been busy, currently Im working on

• Updates to the user interface of swingbench (exposing parameters hidden in the config file)
• Updating the doc (I know too late)
• Fixes to Trace Analyzer.

Im also helping out several groups who are putting swingbench through its paces and the output of this should make it a tighter code base.

Anyway I've big plans for 2007 and I hope you'll stick with me.


Donations Link

I've posted a donation link on the web site (downloads). I don't mean to offend anyone but the hosting and domain bill has just rolled in again. Thanks if you can help out.

Nokia E61

Ive just recently managed to acquire a Nokia E61 and its fair to say Im very impressed. For those that don't know the E61 is a cross between a PDA and a phone. Its a little like a Crackberry in design with a minature keyboard instead of a number pad and a larger (wider) than normal display. Those that know me will say its just a fad Dominic goes through gadgets faster than a scotsman goes through iron brew. Well the truth off the matter is it does everything I need it to do well.

At the moment there are four main players in the portable OS market. Symbain, Microsoft, Palm and just recently Linux. It appears that Microsoft is winning the day certainly in Northern America. Even Palm who I never thought would put Pocket PC on one of their devices has rolled over and given into Microsoft. Symbian is doing well thanks primarily to Nokia in Europe and Sony in the East. Palm OS still holds its own thanks to the superb Treo device but I think its days are numbered as Palm gets closer and closer to Microsoft.

I think most people would argue the point who cares what OS a phone or PDA runs as long as it lets me make calls or check my email. Well it matters to me, my phone is probably the device I use second after the PC in a working day and I have real issues with Microsofts mobile offerings. They like they are simply a port of a OS with mobile/phone functionality bolted on as an after thought. Using the phone feels foreign its not at the heart of the OS, it sits at the side like the black sheep of family. Its a bland uninspiring experience, simple things are made harder than necessary and require a knowledge of how similar tasks would be done on Windows XP.

Back to the E61. The thing you notice about this device is its dimuntive size weight and thickness. Most devices that pack the same level of the functionality are usually brick size in terms of weight and size. The E61 has bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G support and a hold raft of additonal connectivity funtionality. The interface works well and benefits from bright and clear display. The small keyboard works as well as any other Ive tried, so well in fact this whole blog (and the one before) was written on it. The battery life of the device is surprisingly good, about 4 days between charges. The reason for this easy to find when you take the back off the cover... Its mostly the battery which takes up the space but this begs the question where do they put all of the over "stuff".

I had the choice of the Treo 650 and the E61 and I think I made right choice. Sure it dosent have a camera but then I dont need a low res camera and infact some of the places I have to work it means I dont have to hand my phone in at their reception. One area I had some concerns is software, Palm OS has a huge library of high quality well thought through applications and to be honest with you Symbian doesn't. However the default applications that ship with the Nokia E61 pretty much leave you with the question "what else would I need?". Well theres one piece of software I do need and thats a decent GPS package.

After looking around I decide on Route 66 it had reasonable reviews and it worked with the Nokia GPS reciever Id purchased. As a package it worked out much cheaper than the TomTom alternative. Installing Route 66 on the E61 has to rate as one of the most unpleasant experiences Ive had with a mobile device. After insisting on formating my mini SD card in the phone it then told me I needed at least 16MB of free space... I tried other storage devices with same result, clearly Route 66 need to do some work on the installer. Theres no excuse for this level of software quality. The solution was to manually copy the software onto the SD card and even then a hard restart was required. However once the software was installed it worked like a dream and demonstrates the power of the E61s processor.

With the GPS software installed I have about all I need from a single device. I recomend the E61 to anyone thinking of upgrading their phone and PDA.

Linux distro choice

So I've given up on the hope that I could stick with Red Hat 4 AS on my notebook. No matter how many tweaks I make I can't get away from the fact that I need a kernel (and associated infrastructure) to make best use of the technologies like ACPI and my nice hi-res screen. I've stuck it out as long as I can... I've tried to keep my notebook patched up to latest updates so as to provide as close as possible a working environment used by the customers I'm asked to help out with. But it makes no sense. My notebook is clearly not a server, never will be. It has a single processor, uses a SATA drive only has 2GB of memory and no 64 bit capabilities. So on the odd ocasion I've tried to debug a complicated problem that a customer has encountered I've failed. No surprises, I really need a proper disk array, a lot more memory and at least a dual core CPU. So I've made the decision to upgrade to a bleeding edge distro either Fedora core 5 or Ubuntu with a 2.6.16 kernel (OCFS as part of the kernel build). I'll use VMware to provide a RHEL 4/SLES 9 environment....

If Im honest the primary reason Im even considering this is notebook suspend/hibernate. I used to love this functionality in my old notebook (APM). I don't think I rebooted it in about 6 months on one occasion, no need close the lid it hibernated, opened it up it resumed, Oracle was up for most of this 6 month stint (in a suspended form). I've feel that the introduction of ACPI has set back the Linux notebook world a long way... Not thats it not an improvment, its just Linux has struggled to provide a meaningful out of the box experience... Its getting there, every kernel release moves it forward but its still away to go. Im not expecting an Apple like experience... just something close.

Comments in blog

You should now be able to leave comments in my blog... be nice.

About Windows and Mac OSX

Don't get me wrong I don't dislike windows but I think it lacks a soul... The trouble is that most people think they simply need a OS that does the job : Read email, Browse the web, Store their family snaps on... And for the most part its true. The sad thing is if your forced to sit in front of something for 8 hours a day that lacks a soul it will slowly crush yours. But its not all bad, Windows has the best driver support bar none... no one touches it. The remarkable thing is that it works at all with the myriad of expansion cards, motherboards, graphics cards, monitors. Its an engineering tour de force. I'd never thought I'd say this but perhaps there's something to Apple's approach of keeping a tight control on the central hardware platform... sure allow third parties to create the printers, tablets and other peripherals but keep the heart of the system proprietary...

I think Windows biggest problem is the huge release gaps between releases... 3 years. Thats a life time in development. By the time they've laid out their plans and set to work the market place has changed. Since XP has been released the web experience has become richer and more interactive and the need for a huge bloated OS stuffed with functionality that few will find seems slightly dated. I guess Microsoft will argue that they have a huge customer base to migrate and its a hellishly hard job... well thats true to a degree and I would have agreed with them 8 years ago but now... Now Im not so sure. Seemingly the required PC spec for a project Longhorn would pretty much eliminate the need for any migration at all... Only the latest generation machines will provide the necessary horsepower to drive its rich 3d UI.

I don't think the open-source has it quite right either.., sure their release cycles come every 6 months and they can change and innovate at a much higher rate than Windows but sadly it lacks some of the cohesion of the markets main players... Also they have to sort out the memory bloat thats occurred in the last few years... some of the apps are massive and I don't mean in terms of functionality. But having said that for all of if its piece meal delivery KDE, Gnome, XFe and Enlightenment definitely have soul. More importantly they flexibility and customizability allow them to reflect the personality of the person using them.

I've come late to Apple and thats a regret... It has feel of an OS that someone genuinely cares about. Things are intuitive, well designed and pleasant to look at without going overboard. It feels rock solid and dependable and most import for an Unix head like myself at its heart beats a Mach micro kernel. If you've not tried the experience give it ago.