Michael Maclean
Sunday, April 25, 2004
Macromedia Flex

On Thursday I was at a talk given by Steven Webster of iteration:two about Macromedia Flex, which is Macromedia's new server side system for creating rich internet applications (A rough description is apps which run in a browser but which are not limited to the standard HTML widgets). This system outputs to Flash, which as he pointed out is installed on 98% of the browsers in use today. Otherwise, it seemed to be very similar to the Mozilla platform's system: the user interface is described using MXML which is Macromedia's equivalent of XUL, logic is implemented using JavaScript, etc. The main difference is that the UI is compiled on the server into a .swf file which is then output to the browser rather than being rendered from the XML by the client.

It seems to be a neat system but there is nothing really groundbreaking about it that I could see. It's also very proprietary in a lot of respects: although it will allegedly run on anything with a servlet container such as Tomcat and uses open standards to do everything else, if you want to deploy it as a business it will cost £12000 for a licence. The main advantage that it does have is the fact that Flash is installed on most browsers in use at the moment, other than that it's nothing that can't be done just as well with Open Source software and one of the Gecko based browsers. If Apple for example had chosen to use Gecko as the rendering engine for Safari rather than KDE's KHTML, there would be a larger base of users able to use XUL applications. I still think that Gecko will become a lot more popular over the next year or so since MS have discontinued development of Internet Explorer as a standalone application meaning that most users are stuck with IE6. Hopefully the more technical users will realise that there is a far better browser out there and start using it instead.

The iBook

I've had my iBook for about a week now, and I'm very happy with it. It's a 12" version with an 800MHz G4, 256MB of RAM and a 40GB hard drive. My first problem with it was that it arrived a week last Friday, then on Monday Apple upped the specifications so that the lowest end iBook you could buy was a 1GHz machine and cheaper than the one I have: a quick call to Apple resulted in a £50 refund, which was nice.

I've got it to run most of the programs I was using on Linux, or at least their close equivalents. At the moment I use Safari or Firefox as the browser, depending on mood, Thunderbird for mail (I have something against Apple's Mail.app, though I can't really say exactly what), and Fire for IM. Apache, PHP, Tomcat and JBoss (which I've not used so far) are installed either by default or as part of the Developer Tools (now called XCode). I've also got into using iCal, which is something I didn't think I would use: I had tried before to use MS Outlook on Windows to do timetables and calendar type things but I got sick of it and didn't use it. I think the fact that iCal is a small, separate application rather than being integrated into a massive, bloated email überclient helps a lot, and also the fact that everything I wanted it to do was on the front page and didn't require too much fuss to get it to work.

The screen is really, really, nice compared to the DSTN one in my old laptop. The Airport Extreme card is also very handy, I can go into the Uni's library and sit down, unfold the screen and by the time I open a browser it has connected to the WiFi network. I know this doesn't really sound impressive, but it's a lot better than the Linux support for the ACX100 card I was trying to use with the old machine. I never shut it down either: it always lives on sleep so that it will wake up in about a second when I open the lid. Add to that the battery life of around 5 hours, and I'm very happy. The only things that annoy me are the fact that due to the way I type, my thumbs keep hitting the trackpad which makes the cursor disappear into another window and I end up typing about 10 characters into it before I realise what has happened. I also seem to hit a lot of double letters accidentally as well.

The Union

After the meeting on Thursday I went back to the Union to do the usual lighting type stuff that I do there. There were two bands on, as usual: the horrendously named Shaven Kocks and Rolla. I didn't care too much for the Shaven Kocks, their singer was not especially good in my opinion, but then there was the 5 minute drum solo in the middle of one of the songs. I will say no more. Rolla on the other hand were fantastic- they play a kind of fast funk-rock and were very good at it. They did however also have a 5 minute drum solo, but I think I'll let them off.
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
I'll get round to talking about the iBook which has now arrived soon, but in the mean time... Jeremy Zawodny has noticed something that drives me nuts as well: people with amusing notes instead of their names in IM clients. It might just be me being boring but trying to find someone you need to speak to in a long list of lyrics/film quotes/whatever is a pain. Apparently some people do it with MP3 playlists too... Here's the blog entry.
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Been reading up on which applications I use on Linux and Windows at the moment also work on MacOS X while I wait for my iBook to arrive. So far, I've discovered:
I'll update this as and when I come across new things, and of course when I get to play with them after my laptop arrives. I know it left Luxembourg on Friday...
Friday, April 02, 2004
Playing with a Mozilla FireFox extension called BlogThis, which means that you can right click on anything in the browser window and it pops up a new Blogger window so you can post about it with the link already there. Looks quite cool, and might mean that I actually start using Blogger. Also just installed the Tabbrowser Extensions plugin which means that any links which would be new windows open in new tabs, unless I do otherwise. Haven't seen a popup window in months...
I talked to the computer, it hates me

03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 / 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 / 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 / 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 / 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 / 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 / 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 / 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 / 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 / 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 / 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 /

Michael Maclean's photos More of Michael Maclean's photos

Powered by Blogger