There’s been a great link to an article forwarded to me today to a Newsweek’s Apple PR division Technology columnist Steven Levy. Where he claimed that he has lost (although he is not sure (LOL) ) his MacBook Air. blogosphere is throwing their hands up in the Air ;), but really… it’s so funny on so many levels that people are all about the story (ironically so am I with this post). The article is such a great example of the Apple hype machine at its best. Let me elaborate

Let’s start with the heading to the article:

There will be a lot of desperate searches for lost MacBook Airs. And can you really blame a guy for losing something called Air?

Oh really? I have a newsflash for you Steven: 90% of everything is SMALLER than your Air. Over the years people have learned to get a hold of their credit cards, cell phones, money, keys. When was the last time someone made a stink about them loosing a PDA? All of them are by far smaller and lighter than the Air.

Read the rest of this article »

Posted in Apple, Blogging, Lifestyle, Mobile, Rants
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Silicon Valley says: Do what Cognifide does!

There is a really heartwarming article (if you’re from Poland) on Silicon Valley Watcher about the skills of Polish engineers, the low turnover and the general satisfaction from Polish employees by international companies something that UK as a country discovered and Cognifide in particular have noticed quite a while ago.

And I really can fully relate to that, I would bet any money to stand the competency of any person in my crew against any of the top professionals out there. It definitely is a good time to be in the IT business in here. A small excerpt – worth noting:

Common cultural ties

Polish engineers are also very familiar with Western culture. Common cultural understanding is very important for any company. Poland is now part of the European Union, which gives US firms great access to huge markets, and rapidly developing markets in Poland and in Eastern Europe.

Quality not price

Mr Slawek pointed out that Polish engineers are not chosen because they are cheaper, companies choose them because of the quality of their work. And Polish teams are very good at thinking on their feet, as is shown by their numerous accomplishments in programming competitions, which are won by quickly finding solutions to complex problems.

Posted in Lifestyle, Software, Software Development
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The Wiki Family

Writing user documents for our company, I ‘ve been using our corporate wiki a lot recently.

Confluence is incredible. I can honestly say I’ve not been impressed by a piece of software to that degree for quite a while.

I really like how it provides me with the possibility for creating small pages like “format specifications” and “installation info” which I can then assemble into e.g. “User’s manual” simple and seamless:

{include:InstallGuide}
{include:CommandLineInterface}

It’s so neat, it’s actually a pleasure to work with it. Need a document to provide to your customer? No problem – it will create a PDF file from that page so that the customer can even print it out conveniently. Bliss…

So I’ve decided that I want to get a wiki for myself. I want to create a wiki with some of my code sippets for the everyday use, some small text handling utility classes, simple solutions, with some coding standards for myself to use, and for my family… to be able to share the family annual stuff like birthdays or important dates, phones, addresses, some basic photos, some experiences and some simple facts, like which pizzerias we consider good, where do we plan to perform our next family meeting and so on and so forth. Accessible for all of us online.

The hosting provider however does not allow me for shell access and java, so Confluence is out of the question (it has a free private license for 2 users which would otherwise be just fine).

I’ve asked around and it looked like mediaWiki might be the answer, so our MediaWiki seems to be up and running. I am not sure though if it’s just me being a noob, but the administering of it seems to be a major pain in the rare. Need permissions changed? Edit php. Add new user without enabling public access to the wiki? looks like you’re facing the the grief of dealing with myPHPAdmin.

And the editing support is almost as good as notepad… *sigh*. There is no way my dad is going to use it in its current state. We’re definitely in need of some nicer theme for it that won’t leave him running form it, screaming. Perhaps I can equip it with some plugins as well to make it bareable?

Short of that, I think I’m still in the market for another wiki engine.

[update]
I’ve also setup TikiWiki for testing, although it seems a bit overwhelming for a casual user. I’ll see about customizing it for the family.

I’ll also be looking at Twiki in the following days.

I’m sure soon enough the kids or at least Martuska will want to have access to it. Boy, would it be nice to have a global family wikipedia, or what!?

There seems to be a plethorea of them to the degree that there are sites and huge matrices comparing them point by point.

Wikipedia comparison
WikiMatrix comparing some of the wikis I’m considering

[update 27-01-2007]
I think I’ll settle with media wiki after all. It’s really tedious to administer, but I can handle it. While tiki seems a bit too complicated and I think the family could have had troubles using it.

Posted in Lifestyle, Rants, Software, Web applications
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Skype GeoLocation Tool

Download source files – 103 Kb
Download the Skype Geo Location tool – 52 Kb

Application GUI

Introduction

It’s a real joy to work in a international company, the problem we face are hardly ever matched by some locally based endeavours…

As some of our friends here at work, you may choose to reveal your current location to your skype buddies. This is nice and easy since you can just put it in your name or description and everyone will see where you are.This poses a problem should you really travel frequently, it is more likely than not, that your location tag will be out of sync.

As this is a something that happens for them once in a while I found it an interesting concept, fun enough to be worth solving it :)

So how does one establish his location? Short of installing a GPS on your machine, I would suggest checking your IP address and translating it based on one of the available databases.

The thought process goes as follows… [Read about the technical guts of the application in my article at Code Project]

The Convergence – The Application

The application helps you maintain your location tag in your name so that whenever you travel to a different town your skype name/description will reflect it.

Disclaimer: The application uses GeoIPTool as its source of IP and geo-location. Visit GeoIPTool for a wide variety of web based geo-location tools.

It does not contain either any kind of tracking abilities other than it letting you to maintain your location tag. The application will not even change your location tag by itself but rather it will notify you that your location has changed and will allow you to change your tag with a simple press of a button.

Usage
In your skype account set your name or description so that it has [] in it or press “Add location tab to…” in the application. Whenever the application will find those it will check if the text in the parenthesis matches your current location., if it does not it will suggest a new one and will highlight the relevant field red. You may set for this operation to be performed on every boot, you will however only be notified when/if your location actually changed.

Jingle Bells…

Just so you know… when you’ll notice a Father Christmas sitting on a chair
in the local mall, it might have never crossed your mind that is’t a hard and
dangerous job of many people that leads to these short moments of joy and
happiness that you and your children experience.



Fortunately the Woodpecker Film has taken
the risk and the courage to document the process for you. But beware!
Precautions must be taken…


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New week, new toy

I’ve just found this cool app that allows you to post to blogs, including our own one.

http://windowslivewriter.spaces.live.com/

go ahead and try it! I’m writing this article in it! As cool as WordPress is, it’s writing editor sucks. I don’t tend to write often, but when I start, my articles usually take more than a page and if in the process I accidentally press the shortcut for the browser go-back… I’m crying! I also wonder if you’ve ran into the 1000 miles long line bug in the WordPress editor? It seems to sometimes make all spaces in the line non breakable, there is a solution to this, which is to press enter and then go back to the line again and delete and re-insert all the spaces again… which makes me cry some more! I am also just not a big fan of Web interfaces for something so interactive as creating documents or calculations (hint, hint Google). I think Web is more suited for presentation whereas desktop is for creation.

It has a spell checker and all the cool stuff the app that I’m writing has, and it’s free. It’s in beta but seems to work pretty well so far.

As a side note… It’s written in .Net, which is soooo… expected (but nice).

ok so if you want to use it in our blog use this:

http://blogs.cognifide.com/adam/xmlrpc.php

as your blog URL, naturally, replace adam with your blog name, fill in the user name and password and enjoy!

Last final test – let’s see how does it deal with images from disk…


(c) Mother Goose and Grimm by MIKE PETERS

Posted in Blogging, Lifestyle, Software, Web applications
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Those that met me more than once know what a geek I am, my eyes basically glow on a sight of a cool new gadget. My wife on the other hand, couldn’t care less, she is as far from a geek as it gets. An email? Something needs to be found on The Web? Why learn anything when you have a guy next to you doing it all for you when you need it, and being hapy about it too!

That’s probably the essence of the presence of an Xbox in our house. This little toy (ok it’s not quite little, in fact it’s huge when you compare it to any other console on the market) is basically a fully featured computer connected to a TV. But you won’t see us gaming on it, nor enjoying any Xbox live action. With a little help of google and some creative hacking you can turn your Xbox into a fully fledged media center for the family. Why should I juggle the DVD’s when I can have them conveniently stored on the Xbox (it’s got its tine 8GB hard disk replaced with a 120GB one) when you can conveniently lay on a couch with a remote in your hand and enjoy your whole DVD and music collection being just a remote control click away?

Check out the cool things they’ve done with the old Xbox.
And a review on Tom’s Hardware.
It’s got my music, it stores all my digital photos and I even ripped a few movies to it. And the most important thing that was actually the key for the purchase of it is – it’s completely maintainable by all of my girls! Heck even the youngest (2.5 year) play cartoons on it.

The key was to make the XBMC the dashboard (meaning it’s the app that’s shown when you start your Xbox).

And although the original Xbox was protected against using third party code by means of only running an MS signed code, this protection was quickly removed and there seems to be a galore of semi-legal apps being available for it.

Now it’s essential to mention that MS really seemed to have little incentive to let us do it. The Xbox division has been a total money sink for them since day 1. They literally lost billions on the deal. The model was to make money on licensing the platform to game developers and take a cut out of any game that’s being sold for it. Obviously it didn’t work. The division had only a single quarter profitable (when they shipped the highly succesful Halo2).

Now it turns out that they no longer intend to go with that model (at least for the moment) as reported in those articles:
XNA game development platform will be free for Windows, $99 for Xbox (Tom’s Hardware)
Microsoft Opens Up Xbox 360 Game Development to Everyone (Paul Thurot)
Play your own Xbox game (ZDNet)

Tom’s hardware says:

Microsoft developers report the first beta of XNA Game Studio Express will be made available on 30 August, with a final edition released – still for free download – before the holidays. The product requires Visual C# Express, but that’s also free.

Now how cool is THAT!?

Microsoft is no longer going to limit the development of the games to the few chosen but rather will open it to anyone. Is is bad for giants like EA or Vivendi? Not likely, the indies don’t really have the capital to give them any serious competition in the supper production games like halo2 or NBA stuff. It is however great for the wide range of developers that used to make PC games. The PC games marked has been on decline for quite a while. While console games sell in hundrets of copies, a PC game is lucky to sell a few thousand. If Microsoft will not charge them a hefty price for distribution, this may be a great move for XboX 360 since they can still make a lot by the volume of sales for the platform and it’s good for the platform since it will make lots of new titles made available for it.

Let’s see whom else does it benefit… how about the other most succesful to date gaming platform from Microsoft? Yes – Windows. I think one of the not so many true platform locks for Windows users are games. while people buy computers for their home to work and browse and send emails they definitely want to be able for their kids to be able to play on them, or actually, since the target audience for the majority of games seems to actually be people in their 30’s, they buy them to game themselves. Let’s see… how many big game titles got released for linux last year? Anyone? If any you would probably be able to count them on the fingers of one hand. That definitely locks quite a few people in the Windows platform. And if that’s going to be a platform majority owns at home, they will actually demand them at work, so the circle closes.

But whom is it targeted against? I would say the whole push has been engineered to hurt Playstation 3.

There is no way Sony can pull a stunt like this. They have absolutely nothing to gain from opening their APIS and even if they did… Xbox OS is basically a fork off of Windows 2000, while PS3 is a totally different infrastructure, if it was even possible, it surely would not be fun. Add to that the stupid things Sony does with their DRM and the patent they filed on tieing a game you bought to a specific console and you’ve got the picture. The Playstation series is dead. DEAD!

So, up till today it was hard (and not-quite-legal) to make any unauthorized software for the Xbox, and as far as I know impossible to make it on Xbox 360. This is going to change, and soon enough we will have things like XBMS available for the x360

I guess what I wanted to say in the end is – I cannot wait to replace the old and clunky Xbox with a new shiny 360 one… and there are rumours that for only an additional $200 I can get a HD-DVD for it soon enough!

Posted in .Net Framework, C#, Lifestyle, Software Development
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Spying upon myself

I’ve not been to the site for a while, so I figured I’ll check if I have not written anything new in the mean time…

Nope, it does not look like I did.

Nothing to see here… Move along…

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Birthday cake for a geek

How to make a nerd happy for his birthday.

Originally posted on Wincustomize.com

So Saturday was my birthday. I’d rather not think about which one (it was round). And today I’ve gotten a little late email from my sister with 2 photo’s of a neat hardware she’s found on the Internet … (I think she actually got them through email)


I was tempted to post it in “Gadgets & Electronics” category, but finally decided against… I think they actually pre-date their era and may be too revolutionary for our times. We all know what happens to products like that developed by some unknown startups… they become absorbed by the market leaders and disappear in their bowels without any trace.


So first is an ultra slim notebook. Made of fully biodegradable materials. Dear sis knows how I despise touch-pads so she grabbed a nice mouse with it :)


Hewlett-Packard Notebook


And another piece of hardware… Fully equipped ITX form factor computer… I just need to find a case for it. Just to cut off the speculations about the cards. The first one from the left is a network card, then we have a video card, and the right most in the AGP slot is the sound card… that’s quite innovative approach. All components are the state of the art, top models available in the confectionery industry. Equipped with a whole KG of Ginger2RAM for your gaming pleasure. And Menthos-the-fresh-maker cooling system with a sugar-pipe for better heat transmission. I’ll have to examine if it won’t have to be water-cooled, but unless I use some other materials it may become a bit muddy.


Bare bone

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