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November 30, 2005

Whosa Whatsa Car PC?

Every once in a while Car PC stories pop up and then they just die. This cycles stories are about a Buick [ehomeupgrade.com] and a Ford [mp3car.com]. Yes, they look professionally installed and the shots of the screens show some great eye-candy but, how much do they cost? I'm guessing the Ford was well over $1k while the Buick was probably more around $600-$700.

For most people this is quite cost prohibitive considering the capabilities you get in return. For most end-users it boild down to a DVD/CD player, possibly digital media file player and possibly GPS display. Because of the flexible nature of these systems they are capable of so much more than anyone is probably using them for. maybe in the future we'll see systems similar to these living up to their full potential, until then we have to settle for the geek status.

Posted by Guy at 9:51 PM | Permalink

November 29, 2005

Portlets: The Sequel

Thank God it finally happened [theserverside.com]! The Portlet specification 2.0 is under a 2 week review in the Java Community Process (JCP) and if nothing else it includes some new features that were sorely lacking in 1.0. First off, we'll now have inter-portlet communication. What, you say? There wasn't any communications supported in specification 1.0? No and it really frustrated me when I first started doing Portlet stuff. I didn't think it would be a problem for two portlets to communicate a current object under inspection with each other. It seemed with specification 1.0 we took a step backward into the stovepiped world of the past, it's very refreshing to see bleeding edge specifications correct mistakes of the past.

Posted by Guy at 8:09 PM | Permalink

November 28, 2005

Quotes for the Sake of Quotes

A very thought provocative article [computerweekly.com] appeared in my inbox today. Now, it's unfortunate that the article I'm about to pick on has to do with women in IT, but I just thought of this when reading it. My opinions have nothing to do with the topic of the article, just some of the content. In particular, the last quote of the article.

Margaret Moran MP, a member of the Parliamentary backbench committee for women and the information technology group, said, “We need to grow the number of women in IT, otherwise the UK's leading position in the IT world will be severely threatened.��?

Um, okay, how exactly does having a lack of one gender in a specific field threaten a country's position in that field? That's like saying a shortage of straight (i.e. not homosexual) designers in the fashion industry will threaten Paris' position in that industry. It sounds kind of ludacris when put like that, huh?

Sometimes I think that people (ahem, people with an agenda or ignorant people) make quotes just to hear themselves talk. It's quite unfortunate that the female sector of the UK's IT industry is being represented by this quote-spouting woman.

Update: Oh, sorry, she's a politician. I get it now.

Posted by Guy at 6:06 PM | Permalink

November 27, 2005

Professional Organizations

When I was in college my professors told us that one of the most important things we could do would be to join professional organizations. They claimed that these organizations provided a fraternity of sorts and possible discounts on things like insurance, etc. Well I finally broke down and joined the ACM [acm.org], the Association for Computing Machinery.

Now the funny thing about these organizations is that there doesn't seem to professional requirements except the yearly fee. I'm sure that there are some sort of standards (I hope!), but I wasn't asked to provide any credentials or anything like that. Anyways, getting to the point of this entry...

One of the cool things that I get with my membership are free memberships in the Safari Bookshelf [oreilly.com] and Books 24x7 [books24x7.com]. I'm pretty sure that memberships in both of these programs would cost much more that my yearly dues. So, I think that there are some definite immediate benefits to joining these organizations, but I'll hold judgement on the long-term benefits.

Posted by Guy at 8:29 PM | Permalink

November 26, 2005

Netgear: Refurbed

After a very filling dinner at Famous Dave's we went for a walk around CompUSA [compusa.com] tonight. Besides some of the great post-Tanksgiving sales they had going on I noticed an entire wire rack of refurbished Netgear stuff. Strangley enough it was on the exact opposite side of the store from the normal networking gear. Funny that, huh?

One of the cool things I noticed they were selling were WGT634's [netgear.com], which is a really cool idea for routers. It provides some dual-usage that some average users might find useful, but without the headaches of setting up a server. Refurbished it sold for $49.99 and the cheapest I saw it for on Pricewatch [pricewatch.com] was about $79 shipped, seems like a bargain to me.

Posted by Guy at 9:24 PM | Permalink

November 25, 2005

What Is Wrong With Me?

I don't quite understand it, but I have this obsession with Windows CE [microsoft.com]. Is it the clean architecure, the cross-platform capabilities, the clean (and at times cumbersome) UI? I just don't know. I bring this up today because I read Windows: A Family History [zdnet.co.uk] today that eventually brought me to Microsoft's Windows Products History [microsoft.com], which reminded me of an older article I read on The History of Microsoft Windows CE [hpcfactor.com] on HPC Factor.

The article on the history of Windows CE was a real testament to what exactly was put into Windows CE and all the hardware behind it. A truly fascinating story for computer geeks like me. When thinking about the history and the whole embedded nature of things I get quite enthusiastic about any development I have to do. Like I said, I just don't know what is wrong with me. I guess I'm just a geek through and through.

Posted by Guy at 3:09 PM | Permalink

New Website

When trying to grow a new business [hazelnutcafe.net] it's important to get you name out there so people can see what you can do and what you have done. In the spirit of growing I've released some tutorials [hazelnutcafe.net] on OpenMap stuff that were previously hosted here and I also provide some utilities and free software [hazelnutcafe.net] for developers.

That being said, I've also developed (pro bono) a site for one side of my family, The Cook's Place.net. It gave me a chance to test out some new stuff and the best ways to integrate this stuff. Namely, drupal [drupal.org] and Gallery. I think that the combination of these two products offers a kick-ass site that is super easy to maintain.

Finally, I'm working on a new product in the same vein as Portable CE, as mentioned in this post [lunaflare.net]. Sooner or later I will have some news on this.

Posted by Guy at 9:52 AM | Permalink

November 24, 2005

The @Home Revolution

It seems that almost everybody has some sort of spare computing cycles program available today. They range from finding aliens [berkeley.edu] to finding a cure for AIDS [scripps.edu] with everything in between. I've done the SETI@Home thing since college using their "classic" client, but recently they've decided they're going to go with the BOINC [berkeley.edu] architecture, which I guess is better, but when I made the switch I think I lost all my stats. It's not like I'm doing it for stats, but it still sucks. I felt like I made some sort of difference when I saw all the computing time I donated, but now I'm back at 0. I guess shit happens.

I think that these programs are so useful I don't know why everyone doesn't do it. Seriously, our computers just sit idle for so much time that these programs can benefit from so much. I think most people just don't realize how often their computers sit idle when they could be doing things, great things.

Posted by Guy at 11:14 AM | Permalink

November 23, 2005

Client/Server Display Drivers

In an earlier post I made mention of a client/server display architecture based on various remoting protocols, such as .Net Remoting and Java RMI. I ran across wiser: WidgetServer today and immediately thought of my post.

wiser basically allows someone to run an application with a thin Swing client. What this means is that a wiser thin application is deployed to a client, which is basically a shell that connects to a server process that handles all the business logic and gui construction commands. So you have a dumb (aka thin) client that connects to a server in order to obtain all the run-time information defining the application.

Sounds juicy, yum!

Posted by Guy at 9:48 PM | Permalink

The Business

I've blogged in the past about starting a small business for various reasons and I actually went through with it. Of course, my paperwork went through sometime in September, but I'm just now getting around to blogging about it. The business is a software services business called Hazelnut Cafe.

I think the hardest decisions I had to make were (1) what type of business and (2) what the name the business. Once you compare all the different types of businesses picking the type of business for yourself kind of falls out. Of course this can be swayed by how much money you want to pay and how much paperwork you want to file. I went with the easiest form of business, a sole-proprietership (I think that's the spelling) in order to be up and running with as little overhead as possible.

Posted by Guy at 6:22 PM | Permalink

November 21, 2005

Google Web Accelerator (Again)

Well, it looks like the Google Web Accelerator [google.com] is back in business. Previously I bloged on GWA here and here and decided that it just wasn't for me at the time. I guess I'll try it out again to see if they've made the improvements they should have. Also, hopefully this time there won't be the backlash that there was in the past.

Posted by Guy at 4:41 PM | Permalink

Owning the Container: Addendum

After reading some fine content on one of my favorite blogs [gadgetopia.com], I thought I would add my two cents (or is it sense?) to this entry [gadgetopia.com].

First off, we've been inundated with HTML applications from Microsoft since the early days of XP (circa 2002), maybe even before in Windows 2000. Of course, these weren't full up applications like Word or Photoshop, but more like applets. Take a look at some of the control panels in XP, especially the Add/Remove programs applet. I'm pretty sure this is an HTML application in a specialized container based on the way things are rendered and the iconology that's presented during pauses in execution.

Deane also mentions that some of this (web applications) could be done in XUL. Absolutely correct. I've seen some XUL applications before and they reach back to the interweb for rendering their interfaces and business logic. In fact, a lot of applications can take advantage of this type of architecture. For example, using .Net Remoting or any slew of Java client/server apis such as RMI or JMS, we can pull back an interface to render, send commands and actions to the server and recieve psuedo-asynchronous events back from the server. Hmm, sounds a lot like an non-binary X Server.

Then there's the whole notion of stateless remote applications that I've been toying around with. These apps act more like servers where the front end is simply a VNC client. What this boils down to is an app directly serving VNC frames (or tiles, whatever) forming an image that is rendered on the same (or remote) machine. The client machine then sends simple input (mouse movements/clicks and keyboard) to the VNC server/application for processing. This architecture opens a whole slew of new and innovative architectures that loosely mimic Windows Terminal Services.

Well, I've talked enough.

Posted by Guy at 9:39 AM | Permalink

November 17, 2005

How many times indeed?

This blog entry [typepad.com] really got me thinking, how many times do we pay for the same thing indeed? I've bought things in the past that then showed up in something I bought afterwards and I thought to myself, shouldn't I be getting a discount? Sometimes, especially in regards to the Farscape series of DVDs, a second set of DVDs is released which has the same exact content, but with extended scenes. Well, that's what I wanted to buy in the first place, but they weren't released. I wish there was a way for me to trade in my old DVDs for the new ones with some minuscule payment (~$3) to cover any expenses.

Shelly's got some good points and media companies really piss me off!

Posted by Guy at 9:21 PM | Permalink

November 13, 2005

New Graphics

Check out the new graphics! I got a new favicon too, so if you have some bookmarks try to update your icons.

Oh yeah, hi Leif!

Posted by Guy at 4:13 PM | Permalink

November 10, 2005

Gen X/Y Workers

My weekly ACM [acm.org] career newsletter pointed me at a very interesting article [usatoday.com] on Generation Y workers. I had always considered myself right at the very end of Generation X (born in 1979), but this article tells me that I'm right at the beginning of Generation Y. Stop the insanity! I hate being pigeon-holed! Either I'm a grunger turned yuppie or I'm some sort of hyper-nerd. Personally I like to think I'm both, thank you very much.

Posted by Guy at 10:14 PM | Permalink