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Archive for the ‘English’ Category

Devoxx 2008: JavaFX, Java 7 and dynamic languages

Each year during the middle of December, the European Java community gathers at Antwerp to get updated on the latest developments in their profession. This year, Devoxx was organised for the first time from 8 until 12 December. The event was sold out for the second time in a row. This contradiction is caused by the fact that Devoxx until this year was known under the name JavaPolis, but due to a dispute with regards to the Java brand, the name was changed into Javox and finally to Devoxx. In this post I will give my impressions of two days of this event. A Dutch version of this post is available at the weblog of my employer. (more…)

NetBeans 6.5: first experiences

Last week, Sun Microsystems introduced a new version of their Integrated Development Envorinment NetBeans. Version 6.5 introduces a lot of intresting new features and got a lot of attention in the media. Since the rise of Eclipse, NetBeans was somewhat ignored by many developers or at least by the ones I know (including myself). In order to get more knowledge about it, I decided to try it and test if it was suitable for a project I am currently working on. (more…)

Domain specific languages are hot!

Tonight, I attended a lecture of Markus Völter (also founder of Software Engineering Radio, which I can recommend to listen to) about Domain Specific Languages. The lecture, organized by Sioux in ther ‘hot-or-not’ series, was quite interesting. He started with an introduction on what DSL’s are and what they are not (fluent API’s or ontologies are not DSL’s according to Völter). He continued with discussing various ways to implement DSL’s including using Ruby by implementing a DSL using the dynamic features of this language and Scala using a similar technique. In the second part he gave a demonstration with XText in Eclipse, which was very impressive. In only five minutes, he developed a text DSL for describing the states of a microwave, and generated a plugin for Eclipse for this DSL, including syntax highlighting and code completion.
Another demonstration involved JetBrains MPS.
All in all it was a interesting lecture, but sometimes it was a bit difficult to follow, especially since I’m not very experienced with DSL’s.

Broken MacBook and Timemachine

Last week, the screen of my MacBook started to behave strange. Just to the left of the center was a band of approximately 5 centimeters wide with a distorted image. First it was only for a minute or so, but over the week it stayed longer until it eventually didn’t disappear anymore. So, my MacBook had to be repaired. Because the computer is owned by my employer and I use the system every day for my work, I got a temporarily replacement MacBook with similar specs, only a white one with a 2GHz processor (my MacBook is black with a 2,16GHz proc.).
Since about 4 months, I make regular backups of my MacBook using Time Machine with a 2,5″ 250GB external USB hard disk, but I never tried to restore a backup. This time, I thought, was an excellent opportunity to try if it works as expected. Since I had some difficulties for Time Machine (at least, I thought I had), like applications in the /usr/local directory and quite a lot Macports applications in /opt/local, and modified versions of some configuration files, I was curious if Time Machine would restore everything in its original state.

iPhone 3G and iPod Touch banned from European market?

According to a post on the Dutch site, the Dutch government and Apple are discussing a new European regulation which forbids manufacturers to sell products with non-removable batteries. Since 26th of September, this new regulation applies in the Netherlands, but manufacturers were informed in advanced according to the article. In fact, earlier rumours were that since that date Apple wasn’t allowed to import new stock and therefore the iPhone and iPod Touch shouldn’t be available in our lovely country. However, there are some exceptions possible including medical devices, children toys and also devices which rely on the battery for data consistency. I think Apple will try to prove that this latter point applies to the iPhone and iPod Touch.
I think it is an intresting point, since the build-in battery was one of the major complaints when the iPhone 3G was introduced. But I don’t think Apple will introduced a modified iPhone which has a replacable battery just for some European countries which think it is better for the envorinment…

Running… and finishing the half marathon

Today was the half marathon of Eindhoven. About three four months ago, the company I work for launched the idea to run the marathon of New York next year. While I’m not a runner (the only serious running I did until then, was an 8km for the Batavierenrace, a estafette run from Nijmegen to Enschede). But the oppertunity to run the marathon of New York sounds challenging, so I decided to give it a try. Starting in June, I did some running until I could run 10km relatively easily.
Toghether with a friend, we got the idea to run the half marathon of Eindhoven which happened today (12th of October 2008). Since we’re both pretty fanatic, we didn’t just wanted to finish, but also run a decent time. So in July we started to train seriously, I ran about three times a week then and we ran one time a week toghether. We thought we were prepared for today, so fit and in the best condition ever, we appeared at the start of the half marathon this morning.
We planned to run at least the first ten kilometres toghether and after than we would see what happened. I expected that Maikel (my fellow runner) would be a little faster; his goal was 1:40 and I tried that as well. Unfortunately, just before the start, the sun started shining, making it pretty hot for an Sunday in October (approx. 19 degrees Centigrade).
The first ten kilometres, we ran exactly according to plan, and we crossed the 10km sign after 50 minutes (perfectly on target for a 1:40 finish). After about 12 kilometres, I had to run a little bit slower because my hearth rate was pretty high. Maikel kept its pace, so we lost eachother at that point. After 14km, I thought I would not going to get to the finish, but kept running. After the refreshing point at 15km, I reduced my speed, drank a lot and poured some water over me and continued running. After that break, the running was a little easier, and at the Dommelstraat (about 3km before the finish) I really got some new energy. Fortunately, at that point most of my supporters were standing and they thought I was doing very well. Eventually I managed to finish in 1:48:04; a time I was very happy with consedering I’m only running for four months now. Maikel finished in 1:42, you can see him finishing on a video at the Omroep Brabant site.
Up to the next challenge.. and maybe we will run in Eindhoven next year!

Back from holiday…

Ok, this was probably the longest period I did not update this site. The main reason for this is because I had a busy time. I am still working on my house. I painted most of the walls and doors, finished the floors and now have to finish some small projects like buying furniture. Apart from that, I did a lot of sport (I’m going to write on this more in a future post). On the professional side, I did some interesting projects and some less interesting ones. I also studied for my Sun Certified Java Programmer certificate, which I hopefully will get in the very near future.
More recently, I had two very nice holidays: one to the south of France were we did a lot of bicycling (approx. 400km) and another one to Malmedy in Belgium. The latter one was with a group of friends and very nice with kanoing and mountainbiking.

On a technical level, this site is moved to another host which is (hopefully) a lot faster and more reliable. It is easier for me to do updates and less work to keep it running, so that’s good. There were some problems with DNS, but I think these are resolved now. My gallery ( isn’t updated for a while, but I’m planning to move that one also to this host. The netwerk connection to the gallery is much faster now at least, so that’s also good.

Concluding: this site is going to be alive again!

Dutch Flex User Group

Yesterday, at the J-Spring 2008 event at Bussum in the Netherlands, the Flex User Group was officially launched. This group, called FLUGR, aims to support developers using Adobe Flex and AIR and promote the technology and inspire developers.

Coincidentally, today I had a one-day training in Adobe Flex. This training introduced a group of developers of Finalist to the Flex technology and especially focussed on integrating Flex with a JEE application using LifeCycle ES (or BlazeDS for that matter). The training, given by Mark van Hedel of the company Prisma-IT was pretty intense, but at the same time very educational. I didn’t have any experience with Flex or Flash, but have the feeling that now I know a little about the technology, and will definitely invest some more time to experiment with Flex.
Rich Internet Applications are a rather hot topic in the IT-industry nowadays, and I suspect it will be relevant for a developer to have at least some understanding of the technologies involved. However, I’m not sure what the best technology is for these kind of webapplications. Flex has the benefit of a large number of users that can run applications right away, because the Flash-player is installed on a large number of systems. On the other hand, you are stuck to (at this moment) one supplier (Adobe) and the Flash-player is not open source, which means that support on more exotic platforms, such as Linux and mobile phones is dependent on the mood of Adobe. Alternatives are Silverlight, which has the problems of Flash, but lacks the wide spread availability of the player, JavaFX, which is not really available yet and finally the HTML/JavaScript combinatilon. In my opinion, the battle will go between HTML/JavaScript and Flex, but maybe I’m very wrong at this.

Adobe is trying very hard to convince Java developers to use Flex, by being present at conferences (J-Spring was a good example of this) and by providing the source of the Flex compiler and BlazeDS. A usergroup like Flugr can be good to increase awareness of Flex. But I think the site of Flugr is a really bad example of how Flex should be used. The site is completely made in Flex, but I really don’t understand why they choose for this technology. The site could be exactly identical when developed in plain HTML with a bit of JavaScript. Using Flex for this site doesn’t really add any value to it, but does restrict a large number of users to view this site (because a Flash-player is required) and the usual drawbacks of Flash apply to this site. I thought Flash-only sites was a thing of the past, because they are not indexed by Google, lack the usual accessibility features provided by modern browsers, and the mouse wheel doesn’t work (at least on a Mac using Firefox 3 beta). The decision to create this site this way does more harm than good to the image of Flex.

The Next Web

Today started The Next Web, a conference about Internet-related startups. There are presentations of new companies and presentations from people who created succesful companies, like Digg.
A live videostream is available on the site of the event. It is interesting to see the new ideas people come up with. I particulary liked Zilok and find the nearest drill hammer which people offer. A really good idea I think, because it is obvious but has not been done yet. They seem to use Google Maps (or something very similar to it) for locating the stuff that is offered. You have to meet to deliver the stuff you offer for rent, but that is, I think, the power of this concept. However, before it really works, more items should be offered, because most of it is now offered in Belgium, which is a bit far for most people in The Netherlands.

Like all current events, there is a lot of coverage on weblogs and so on. Slandr has an overview of Twitter entries on the event. Erwin Blom has live coverage of the event on his weblog using Cover It Live (which is a nice tool…).

Irrelevant quoting at Groklaw

Last week, PJ from Groklaw wrote an article on the voting process for the OOXML format as a ISO-standard. For an unknown reason, she thought is was necessary to refer to a post on my weblog on a speech held by Raul Pesch of Microsoft in March 2005. On that post, also a reaction of Pesch was posted, and specifically this comment was the think PJ was referring to:

Microsoft Nederland’s Pesch gave a speech in 2005 at the University of Technology in Eindhoven, and there’s a blog entry on it by a student there, Martin Sturm. The funny part, to me, is that Pesch responded to the blog article in a comment, and he obviously used Microsoft software to copy and paste his comment in, because it’s almost unreadable in spots, due to Microsoft’s habit of extending standards.

It completely puzzled my why this comment was relevant to the post, because I think it is kind of pathetic to use these things to make your point. She pointed out that there are broken characters in the post, which she assumes is caused by copy/pasting the text from Word (or something). First, assumptions are the mother of al fuckups, but more importantly, it’s very likely that the problems in the post are caused by something else – for example, an incorrect character set used by my blog (I don’t know if that’s the case, but it is possible) or by an upgrade of WordPress which caused the problems.
Anyway, I think it not relevant to the whole issue the Groklaw article is about.

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