Sunday, 20 May 2012

New Site and more soon

Well this is more of an update than a rambling. I have just finished putting together a new site for a client. It was fun to do although due to distance and for both of us this being an in between other work type of job, the site took longer than I am usually happy with.

The site is available at and as you can probably tell it is for a herbal clinic. The owners are friends of mine and their clinic is really nicely set out and they have all sorts of cool decorations and more importantly a deep knowledge of their craft.

The main tasks with the site were to get past my lack of horticultural knowledge. We chose a CMS so that the owners could blog for themselves and also change the content themselves, and this helped me to not have to blag as if I knew anything about herbal medicine.

The logo was done by an independant party, and excellent designer Chloe Miller. The choice of green  as the main color was partly chosen by the logo design but more by the nature of herbal medicine. In actual fact there were several logos done in numerous colors.

We have some more sites in the pipeline and underway. Look out for a builder's site, Jaqal couture and more...

Finally, a note as to why there have been fewer blog posts of late. We are house sitting and so I have had to use a laptop to do my work, which is HORRIBLE! I know that a lot of people use laptops and do great amounts of work on them, however, I am old-fashioned in my computer use and I find that the mouse tracker thingy is no where near sufficient for my comfort. On top of that, I am sharing the laptop with my wife who likes to spend money using it!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Ubuntu 12.04 First Thoughts and synergy fix.

As I am rather an impulsive sort of person I thought that I would give an opinion on Ubuntu 12.04 only a few days after upgrading my server machine. (Server as in I keep my important files that I share with other machines, not as in I server apache websites!)

So my first thought? Well I was really excited by the idea of the HUD - not just because it seems like a term from a gaming interface, but also because the idea means we can escape EVER bringing a space hogging ribbon bar over to ubuntu (result!!). However, to note that Libre office (a default Ubuntu app) does not support this beast makes me want to cry in my cornflakes. ;-( However, the dream is there for future releases.

So the next thing I looked at was the black background that it gave me? Why? I had used one of the default wallpapers in the previous release of Ubuntu. A lovely autumnal walkway reminiscent of a parisienne path. However, on the new update, my favorite wallpaper has sadly been extinguished! With no real replacement amongst the defaults (and the fear of losing it again next release) I decided to use a picture. At least that is easy in Ubuntu!

Now today, and the reason for sharing this article, I'd had enough of clicking ctrl, stopping synergy, starting synergy and then going through the whole process next time i need the ctrl, shift or alt keys. Apparently the latest version of Ubuntu is incompatible with the stable release of synergy.

Google to the rescue and it appears that the Beta is fine. So I installed direct from the website on the Linux machine. At this point it must be noted that I am a moron, especially as when I tried to run it I nearly threw the cat across the room (a plan foiled due only to a lack of feline in the flat) when it still did not work. Then the moment of eureka when I remembered that the Windows machine would most probably need updating too.

Now as updates to beta versions of products go, I am yet to find anything that I do not like and particularly on the Windows version of Synergy. User interface is easier than going deaf in a night club and I was back up and running in no time. What's more, the ctrl button works!!!

So, what do I think of Ubuntu 12.04? For me it has caused numerous, small headaches. However, I LOVE Ubuntu. I was talking to collegue in the office the other day who said that he could not wait to get home to work on Ubuntu again (the office is nearly all Windows 7/XP). He could not stop thinking about it! Whilst he might just be the saddest person I know, I share his sentiments about using Linux in general and the rush that it gives you. Furthermore, the user base and community (aside from bearded zealots) are superb and what's more, IT'S FREE!

So the big question is, will I ever do all of my work on Ubuntu? hmmmn, probably not anytime soon, C# is still mainly a Visual Studio beast, despite the advancements of Mono. Although, given time and incentive (this mainly means when Windows 8 is released and I can't take any more metro, ribbon bar in the explorer, which is by the way a complete break of Microsoft's own usage terms for the Ribbon bar and HUGE BUTTONS that are useless not on a mobile device after being hit with a hammer on the fingers.......) I might just move over to the lovely Linux for good. Here's to the future!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Android Programming - Yes I know it's Java!!

So this week has lead to me getting to that point in my interminable list of projects to do where I finally bit the bullet and started doing some development for Android.

The first thing that struck me with Android development is Java. I could not believe that I was being forced in to such an unusually bloated language for such a small device. However, I instinctively feel that the guys behind it must have a much better undestanding than me so, let them get on with it. The interesting thing is that it is not a standard JVM but rather runs on the Dalvik VM.

So I decided to go for the new kid on the block Intellij Idea as an IDE. I looked into the Eclipse, and didn't much like it. I installed and almost immediately went with Intellij and haven't looked back. I realize this is subjective, however, I don't care! ;-)

The second thing I learnt was that you need to have a kettle handy for the first time you run the emulator. Closely related is the fact that you never want to close the emulator until you are sure that you are done debugging. This is somewhat due to the fact that the time it takes for the emulator to load the first time is comparable to my grandmother crossing the road, walking up the stairs and putting a brew on for me!

But when you get past all of that, I was really impressed with the layout tools, the xml resources and how easy they were to use, the simple differences between activities, services and broadcast receivers and how they all fit together with the Java language. (it nearly turned me to Java for desktop apps but not quite!) Everything by default is well layed out in the various folders and I feel that I automatically know where I should look for changes to be made after only a day looking into it, and I am no master by any stretch.

A few more interesting features took my eye (and it is possible that these are IDE specific):

[1] Awesome debugging and logging in the Android tab
[2] Git support  (oh yes!!!!)
[3] The DDBM (Dalvik Debug Monitor) has Emulator control where you can call the phone. Great for the app I am writing and also for feeling that you have friends without having to talk to them on the phone!!
[4] Good support network. I can't belive that in the relatively short time that Android has been about, I can find someone else somewhere who has done, is trying to do, will do something that I am trying to do and documented it online (go to love Google for that). This is something that even Python and C# have not yet managed despite the slightly longer life they have led.

So all in all, I really like programming for the Android and would recommend it to anyone! Programming is fun again!! Actually it was always fun but now we have an emulator which means that debugging is more interesting for my long-suffering wife :-)