Martin @ Blog

software development and life.


Archive for the ‘English’ Category

Hello from Eindhoven!

‘Hello from Seattle’ is Microsoft’s alternative on the Zune to the ‘Designed by Apple in California’ that is printed on the packaging of Apple products. I think it is a bit of sad in a way an indicator that Microsoft is actually losing its leading position on the IT market. I don’t think it is a very good sign that you have to imitate (or react, depending on your view) this kind of gimmicks of the competitor.

Last weekend was quite busy. We went to the Efteling because the employer of my girlfriend was having a family day there. It was very nice, especially because the weather was exeptional good for this time of the year.

I also read today about a new mainbord from ASUS which incorporates a embedded Linux installation for configuring the system and also provides some functionality, such as Skype. I think it is a nice idea, but unfortunately, it is a little expensive with a price of 360 dollars. You can buy a complete system for that money.

Rikkert Koppes has created a library which enables some Web Forms 2.0 elements for existing browsers. Not all additions are implemented and some parts, like css pseudo classes, work a little different than in it will be in the ‘real’ WF2 implementtions, but it is a very nice start and I think it can definitely be useful in web applications (especially the various date controls).

Novell creates fork

It seems that Novell created a fork of The cause of this action is the fact that the Sun Microsystems currently controls the entire development process of and requires contributers to transfer code ownership to Sun. Some of them, for example the creator of a linear solver for OO.o Calc refuses to do so. Novell now provides a version of OO.o which incorporate these patches. I’m not sure if this will benefit the development of in a significant and positive way. It is a shame that Sun is making all key decisions with regard to the future of and as such preventing the developer community introducing novel ideas.
I still think that OO.o is missing an opportunity by effectively building an MS Office clone instead of a Office suite which implement the same functionality in a better (or at least different) way.

Microsoft winner of ‘Best campaigner against OOXML’

I think this post is rather funny. I think it is also noteworthy that Microsoft is also the owner of a ISO standard proposal with the largest number of comments…

Whieee!! A Wii

I noticed I did not mentioned yet that since a few weeks I own a Wii. My girlfriend gave me one for my graduation (which obviously made me very happy and was very sweet 🙂 ). Since I didn’t use a Wii before I got my own, I was eager to experience the machine. I had read about it on the internet, but my expectations were not very high, considering the fact that I saw some hypes before which where disappointing when I tried it my self. Howeve, Nintendo did a very good job with the Wii. Controlling the device using the Wii-mote (the wireless remote control) works very well. You can just point to your TV to control the cursor. Combined with the Nunchuk it enables innovative ways to play games, such as boxing by just do punch movements, and tennis by just make the movements one normally makes when trying to hit a tennis ball with a tennis racket.

Currently, I own four games:

Wii Sports
The game that ships by default with the Wii. It contains a number of small games, such as tennis, golf, baseball, bowling and boxing. It uses the possibilities of the Wii-mote to its full extend (of course) and is very entertaining. Especially with multiple players it is very nice
Extreme Truck
This is an arcade truck racing game. It was very cheap, but is nice to play. Controlling your car is done by using the Wii-mote like a steer. This makes it very natural to play, because most people have the tendency to move nonetheless to the direction the car should go to when playing it on another system. The Wii uses this motion to actual control the truck. The simulation is not very realistic, but that’s ok.
A very nice game, but doesn’t use the controllers to their full extend. However, the Nunchuk makes it easier to play these kind of games compared to other consoles, I think.
I didn’t play this game very much, but it seems nice.

I’m planning to buy some additional games. Resident Evil 4 should be very nice according to stories of other people. I also want to buy some Mario games, such as Mario Party 8 and Super Paper Mario. And of course the braintraining game Brain Academy Wii Edition.

ZDNet interview with Michael Meeks

ZDNet published an interview with Novell employee Michael Meeks, who is working on and Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10. Intersting read, though not much news.

Gnome 2.20, MySQL 6

Recently, I did some reading on new software releases. Last week, a new version of Gnome was released which was not unexpected, considering the fact that Gnome has the aim to release a new version every six months. Gnome 2.20 does not contain revolutionairy features, but has some nice improvements. One improvement I like is the notification that the e-mail client Evolutions give when it thinks the user forgets to add an attachement to an e-mail. When an e-mail contains words indicating that the mail should contain an attachment, the system gives an warning that the user possibly forgets to include the attachement.

Evolution warning

Another useful improvement (not mentioned in the release notes) is the drag-and-drop functionality between File-roller and Nautilus. I think this kind of features are very important to get Gnome accepted by the general public.

A nice addition to the list of applications that are available for Gnome is Cheese, which is a clone of the Mac OS X application PhotoBooth.


Earlier this month, MySQL AB, the company behind the open source database MySQL, has released the second alpha version of MySQL 6. This upcoming version of the database system contains a new storage engine, called Falcon. This engine’s aim is to replace InnoDB as default storage engine. The company which developed InnoDB was bought by Oracle in 2005 and I think MySQL don’t like the idea that its main product is based on a storage engine developed by one of its competitors. Falcon is developed by Jim Starkey which became an employee of MySQL when it bought Starkey’s company Netfrastructure.

Starkey has researched some important technologies for database engines. While he was working for DEC, he was the first to implement multi versioning concurrency control (MVCC) and triggers. These technologies were integrated in InterBase which later became the basis for the open source database engine Firebird.

Falcon has some nice features, such as an advanced caching system, support for ACID-transactions, and row-level replication. It would definately give MySQL a enterprise ready storage engine, but they first have to finish it. Currently, according to preliminary benchmarks, the performance of Falcon is worse compared to InnoDB when storing and retrieving BLOB-data. But the potention is definately there, considering the fact that Falcon is still under development. However, MySQL has the target to release the final version in 2008, which may be a little optimistic.

I wrote an article of Falcon for (Dutch).

SCO almost bankrupt

SCO has applied for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which means the company can reorganize without having to fear from its creditors. It is very intersting to read that Darl McBride, SCO’s CEO, now blames Linux for the bad financial position the company is in. As many Slashdot readers already points out, SCO – formarly known as Caldera, was a Linux distributer. But it stopped selling its Linux solutions when it decided to accuses Linux developers from ‘stealing’ code from Unix and use it in the Linux kernel. Until know, this claim is never proven. According to SCO, Linux distributors were aggressively targeting Unix vendors and as a result SCO is now almost bankrupt. I think this company gets what it deserves.

New Apple products

Since I now own a Macbook for work, I’m a little bit more an Apple fan than before. While I still like Linux as a desktop operating system, Mac OS X is also really nice and the systems of Apple ‘just work’ and are nice to look at. Today, Apple introduced a new iMac, and I think I will buy such an iMac in the near future. They are thinner than before and have an aluminium enclosure which looks really nice in my opinion.

New iMac

Apple introduced also a new version of iWorks, which now also contains a spreadsheet application. I think Apple did what open source developers could have done in order to gain market share and ‘beat’ Microsoft in the Office market. The usability of iWorks is far better than Microsoft’s Office Suite and of course also better than (because that’s more a MS Office-clone than a innovative product). AbiWord was doing a good job as an alternative word processor, but lacked on innovation (I think). Apple did some thinking before implementing a new office suite, which lead to another interface than the traditionial office suite interface. I don’t use it however, because it is not open source and it is another vendor lock-in, but I really could use it if I had a large pile of money and wasn’t a supporter of the open source movement (but I shouldn’t use an Apple to begin with, but appearantly I’m not that fundamental).

Minimal number of buttons at Apple

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article on the battle against buttons at Apple which is lead by CEO Steve Jobs. The article explains why he thinks buttons are evil and how various important people in the history of Apple think about this issue. For example Bruce Tognazzini, who worked with Norman and Nielsen, mentions in the article that Jobs did not want arrow keys on the keyboard for the Apple II computer in order to stimulate software developers to support the Apple mouse instead of relying on keyboard navigation. Other obvious examples of the ‘battle against buttons’ designs are obviously the iPod and the recently introduced iPhone. Very intresting article, and I think this ‘vision’ is one of the key factors for the user friendliness of the Apple products. Although some people do not agree with this statement…

Already halfway the second week

Currently, I’m already working for one and a half week at my new job at Finalist. Thus far, it has been a pleasant experience. Obviously, I met a large number of new people. Last week, there was a quarterly meeting of the company which included a wild water raft experience which was very nice.

Mieke, still in China, is now halfway her internship, so only six and a half week to go before she returns to the Netherlands. I’m very looking forward to this, because it is quite lonely without her. The trip to China, from which I returned one and a half week ago, was very nice. I will write about this (probably in Dutch) later and put the photos online. Mieke has already uploaded some pictures to her gallery.

In my free time, I’m renovating my bicycle. Currently, the bike is completly stripped and I’m planning to paint the frame this weekend if the weather allows it. Then I can put the bike toghether again and replace the parts which can not be refurbished, such as the breaks and the rear mudguard.

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