Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I would have commented but I can't (Joel Spolsky comparing Gmail to Lotus 1-2-3)

Joel Spolski at the end of a long and interesting article eventually gets to a point where he compares Gmail to Lotus 1-2-3

He claims that AJAX optimized applications are doomed to fail if they don't start working off a known SDK, as Lotus failed because it wasn't ready to win the spreadsheet war due to too much focus on optimization.

Well... His point would have been a valid point if you were to ignore the existence of such SDKs and the fact that Gmail is in fact rumored to be using (and in fact the force behind) one of the major ones.

Currently we have the following SDKs:
Dojo sdk - one of the first and a very good one
Google is pushing GWT
Microsoft with their own ASP.NET Ajax (and affiliates)

They are all quite good, each with its own approach to the issue - personally I used two of the three, and "got" Dojo the best (That doesn't necessarily mean anything)...

Also unnoticed in the article is the fact that most AJAX applications are already in fact sort of standardized (at least on the data side) as they all (most) work with JSON or XML + HTTP as the transfer layer. AND a single defacto language of choice (JavaScript).

Obviously IE and Firefox (and Opera and the rest of them) aren't going to agree on anything soon, but these SDK/Libraries are doing a fine job of solving these issues for all AJAX Developers and including useful additions (Google Gears, Dojo Offline) to take AJAX applications to the next level (the Desktop). The future looks good for web developers.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Google Webmaster tools gets a (small) facelift


I might be the first one blogging about this, but probably not...
In the last few months I've started using the Google Web Master tool suite to see how my new website http://www.nagaroot.com (a website about woodworking in Hebrew) was doing in the crawler.

It is a ver nice tool with a range of options to see what's hapening with your website.
Today when viewing some things I noticed there was a slightly different look to the site, so here is a screen shot for your pleasure, there doesn't seem any functionality change just looks

UPDATE: just noticed that someone published way before me, and also noticed that they indeed did add somefunctionality (track google application subscription to your feeds). I guess it's not my fault since I haven't been connected for the last 72+ hours due to the Jewish New Year. Shana Tova to all...

Sunday, September 9, 2007

beware: quechup.com

Hi all,

this time I'm writing so you can avoid a very anoying website. I'll start by saying that I am not working for any of their competition, I'm just a poor fellow who got an invite and decided to try out a new social network.

I'm usually a carefull man, I try to read the little letters of the contract, especialy if I'm a little worried.

A few days ago, I joined this service quechup.com (don't want them to get to much google juice), through a incousous invitiation recieved from a friend.

After I joined a standard screen for getting my contacts appeared (at least standard in social network sites). I again filled the details, understanding that this is just to provide me with an easy way to invite friends to join - which is fine.

The list arrived after a few seconds, and I chose to invite only one person that was already on the website (not the one that invited me). and submitted. I then explored a little and like many new such sites - I understood that there was nothing new or interesting, so I left, thinking well, it's just going to be another dormant account like many I have, with the occasional email reminding me it's there and waiting.

A few days pass, and suddenly I get in my work email an invite from me (my other account) to join the service. I certainly didn't invite myself... A few more hours pass by and suddenly my inbox is filled with messages from friends, family and auto-responders + support addresss - all saying we recieved an email from you about this service... is it good? SHIT!!!! I realized they used that address book to send to everybody.

Now I don't care if it's a bug, or on purpose, or whatever... I think it is just rude and hurtful to do such a thing. Some of the entries in my address book are business contacts or other contacts that I would never dream of inviting to my network, not because I don't like them or something like that, but because it's just not the type of relationship we have, or maybe I just wrote them once to comment on their blog and gmail put them in my contact list - but I never would be considered by them as a friend - and such a mail would just be SPAM...

Now I don't know on how many blacklists this has put me, I apologize for being to trustfull of a shady company. I don't really know how to fix this - another email from me (since the website put my name as the sender and reply to address) - would probably be even more trouble...

Just after being hit, I finally googled and cam up with these (top ten after the company url)
http://mashable.com/2007/09/02/quechup/
http://www.boingboing.net/2007/09/04/quechup-is-rotten-do.html
http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,2179181,00.asp
http://blogs.nmss.com/communications/2007/08/no-quechup-plea.html
http://blogcritics.org/archives/2007/09/03/185547.php
http://blogs.chron.com/techblog/archives/2007/09/spam_alert_just_say_no_to_quechup_1.html
http://www.nickstarr.com/2007/09/03/quechup/

And this is just the begining.

To all my friends and contacts, I apologize for this un-solicited email, I hope something can be done about these disgusting spammers!

Shana Tova!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Feeling stupid... actually anxious

Just now, I opened my feed reader (Google Reader) which I haven't done for the longest time...

One of the first messages on the home page was one from the Google Reader blog - "We Found It"
The message talks about the new Search feature in Google Reader - long awaited by me...

The post shows a screenshot with a search box - I was anxious to try it out AND the new fix they also announced in the same post (ability to minimize the side-pane). Being the fact that I was using Google Reader at the same instant to read the post - I raised my eyes looking for the search box - nothing.
Tried to click the separator to minimize the side-pane - nothing...

Tried to refresh the whole browser window, nothing, tried browsing to different views in reader - nothing.

Last change - going to settings, looked for a setting to turn this on perhaps - nada!

Deep down I know this is one of the slow release things google does from time to time (usualy Israel is one of the last) but they tend to anounce that sort of thing...

Well I'll be waiting for it to apear later on...

See ya!

Quick Update: it came on 5 minutes later, guess the anouncment was just a little premature... Yay! Also the feature is working quite nicely - I love the ability to hide the side-pane - now I can read the sunday Dilbert comic in ease without guessing what is at the right side end of the strip :-)

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Great Google Gears Ideas by Nathan

Reading through my daily blogroll, read another of nathan's excellent posts (if you don't know Nathan already go now to his excellent InsideGoogle blog - a very good resource on all things Google).

To the point, he mentiones that there is a neat proof of concept web site called GearPad (guess, guess, ahhh you'll never guess what this is replacing... :-)) Obviously a little underbaked, but that is what you do POCs for - a prerun for implementing Gears on Google docs... but still a pretty useful and lite utility.

Anyways... What really caught my I are Nathan's ideas for a Gear console/control panel - these are great ideas, and the more spread Gear is gonna get - more usefull and NEEDED. I'd like to think someone at Google is already working on Hacking something out...

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Microsoft Surface: wow, and then again WOW!!!

I've been blown away by this video, it's not this often that I see a new products that I'm this impressed with, but lately MS has been releasing these very impressive demos. I like new stuff :-) This isn't a really new thing, it's been around (Microsoft doesn't like to admit that, but it has) - but the ideas are fascinating - a lot of imagination and effort have been put into this.

I definitely see myself owning this device (not at the price mentioned, but when it is a lot cheaper) what a useful toy, even more if say I have this device and it supports dual (or more monitors) where I can control what is displayed on each using the main unit as the control surface for the different monitors/sound systems around the house, a neat house control center.

Obviously this is not a developer oriented OS, but would definitely work for my home, or alternatively for professionals who work with arranging data (think magazine editors and graphic designers) visually.

Well enough of my babble, Enjoy!



Also see:
http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/05/31/much-ado-about-microsofts-surface-computer/

And you can also you can check out:
http://www.microsoft.com/surface/
http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/129
http://labs.live.com/photosynth/video.html

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sql Server Reporting Services Woes...

I'm just starting out with this, so these are beginner pains. But know that whoever I asked about configuring Reporting Services gave a shudder and tried to get out of the room as fast as possible...

I was tasked with taking over my company's reporting services development (still have to understand blogging policy here, the last company I worked for disallowed it, which is why I was quiet for so long - I have a feeling that the new company is a bit more open), And I have spent more than a day trying to get the Reporting services to work on my development machine. I'm still not there...

You'd think it is a straightforward process, there is a very "usable" configuration wizard etc... But the truth is that so much is hidden from the user that it becomes too much. I'm now at a point where everything seems to be working except for viewing a report on the local web site (Designing, Previewing, Building, Deploying and browsing the reports are working OK, but when trying to view a report I get weird error messages (no help from Google, tried all the tips found there).

It all started with trying to work it out, I had the default installation from installing SQL Server and Visual Studio. When I run the deploy on the report I made (very simple nothing complicated there) I got an error saying that the Application failed (the entire reporting services web server/(service)) because it was missing some namespace... Now I know it wasn't supposed to be using that namespace, because that's our main applications namespace - which has nothing at all to do with the reporting server.... WTF?!

Anyway, after trying to find the bad configuration and wasting time doing that, I decided to quit trying... no sense in trying to fix a bad configuration (our application also runs on the web server, but no amount of tweaking seemed to fix this). So I created an additional web site on my IIS, using a different port, and changed the report project configuration and the reporting server configuration to point there... This seemed to do the trick (except viewing the reports themselves - which is still not working).

Anyway, I'm down to this... No more time to debug the application which I didn't write... I'm now developing on the VS.NET only (using Preview only). Once I get some help I'm going to try again. Until then I'm developing in the hope that the report will work OK on the staging environment, but there is still some time before that.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Giving up on Microsoft?

Jeff Atwood @ Coding Horror is frustrated by Mike Gunderloy's attitude, which is a complete break from Microsoft tools for development. He claims that it makes Mike fall into the category of Microsoft hater. I don't think that is true.

Breaking up with Microsoft tools doesn't mean you don't like Microsoft and certainly doesn't mean you hate them.

I'm talking from personal experience, I did an experiment like Mike a few months ago, I left the company I used to work for (with Microsoft technology and tools) and moved to a company that uses Open Source software (mostly Java based). I did it mostly for the challenge and the opportunity to learn a new tool set. The other side of the "great rift". Since then out of reasons which are unconnected to this reason I left that company and am now working in a different company once again based on Microsoft technology and tools (and it is a StartUp...).

Still I don't think of any of the sides as an enemy, I learned a few things, which I knew before intuitively and now for a fact:
1. You can accomplish most any programming task in any of the environments without any serious handicap (nowadays the modern languages and libraries are very much parallel in capabilities) and for every lack that exists, there is always some pretty simple workaround.
2. To be an effective programmer today you need good tools, again the larger environments have good/comparable tools.
3. To develop complex applications, no matter in which environment the tool subset you need becomes quite large (the list Jeff has on his post doesn't seem to be longer than a comparable list for developing a database driven website using the "Java" way)

To follow the end of his post, I do know people on "the other side" and have an understanding of the differences as they are, I also make it a point to keep track of what is happening, and though today I'm mainly a Microsoft Developer, I can easily see myself using Ruby on Rails to develop my personal website (although I'd probably prefer using MS SQL Server for the DB). My Point is you have to choose a side at one point simply because there is so much to learn to become good at one of them, if you try to be good at both you will end being mediocre at best at both (unless of course you are a really smart and fast person), and that is doing yourself a disservice on the professional side.

I agree that there should be no hate and that there should be co-operation, but eventually a company (small/startup size) can only hire that many people, and they have to focus and be as professional as possible, and that usually entails deciding on a single platform to use. It might be any platform that they feel would be the best for their product, but they would rarely use two different ones.

Here is a long rant that basically agrees with the post I'm supposed to criticize... Why did I even write this?

Mike, you are doing a brave thing, the thought of risking so much just to try out new things, when everything is fine where you already experienced - makes me shiver. I'm sure you will succeed, good luck!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

New Start - leaving the past behind...

Not really though, I'm just leaving behind all my half baked blogs and focusing on a single one to contain my grouchiness. Old blogs will probably be deleted soon, maybe I'll save some data.

To start a grouchy blog with a positive thing might be a little counter-intuitive but I write it as it happens, and it happened so I have no choice ;-)

I've been thinking about using "Google Apps for Your Domain" for a long time, ever since they first opened the beta, I applied and after quite some time was accepted. The service was then for gmail only, and my Registrar back then (DirectNic) didn't provide MX control, so I couldn't use the service. About a month ago I got the renewal notification for my domain (you can guess what it is from the URL at the top), and decided to go shopping, I've never really did that before. Found out that GoDaddy will transfer my domain and give me two years of subscription all for the price of a single year in DirectNic - I was sold. Went through the process which was surprisingly easy and painless. The only complaint I have is that when the process was complete - they never sent me a notification... So my original web site was down for sometime, no biggie since nobody ever visits it anyway.
Cruising through the control panels at GoDaddy I found out that I have complete control over my domain, so I decided to find that email where I got my confirmation from Google.
I found it a few minutes later (gmail does have nice search).

From then on everything was even easier than transferring the domain... it was so easy to set up my domain on the Google servers it almost felt like sin. Google now hosts my website (through google pages), my mail server and web-mail (through Gmail), my Calendar (which never existed before...) and also all my blogs (through blogger and the custom domain feature). And all of this is for free (for now). Unbelievable! I can only say "Thank you Google!"