My bad

Had a nasty hard coded path problem in the RubyUniversal package I created. Most things will probably have worked for most people, but badly 🙂 It’s fixed now – I blame the fact it was 3:30am when I posted it.

Also, I’ve removed RubyCocoa Universal as the RubyCocoa project has released its own binary. I think they might have been ashamed of mine, because of aforementioned broken link! Can I blame that one on the early morning hours also?

What Vista Did Wrong (IMO) and Right (IMO)

Okay, the biggest issue I have with Microsoft at the moment is probably that their Windows Vista web site doesn’t work well in Safari. I mean – with their lack of adherence to standards in IE, not making something that renders okay in a “supported platform” is just downright obnoxious. But I digress.

Windows Vista contains a lot of new features which we’re meant to get all hot and bothered about.

Ease of Use
In essence, things are pretty much the same as in XP with regards to the Start Menu.
The Start Menu aberration
The scroller will make it just as much of a pain in the butt to use and I simply cannot understand why everything has to be based around their start menu paradigm. It’s like they run with it and just don’t know how to stop. They describe the XP menu as “slow performing, cascading, All Programs” view. That wasn’t part of the marketing message back in 2001! (much like “Intel is twice as fast” wasn’t a marketing message of the PowerMac G5 a couple of years ago).

I’m a relatively proficient computer user but I find this shot of the “Document Explorer” to be a complete mess. It’s just all buttons and words and there’s no flow or context.
Document Explorer
This looks like it was designed by an engineer who liked the way Windows 2000 did things and then he was asked to iterate a version which was “consumer friendly”. Maybe if you ROT13 that message it comes out as “add button clutter”?

Windows Aero
This entry tells you that unless you have a DirectX 9 graphics card, you ain’t going to be seeing the swooshy effects and transparency shown in these screenshots. Thankfully, it’s now a cheap upgrade for your hardware.
The Close Box
Do you notice how the “close” box is now the most prominent of the window management buttons. In XP, it was the colour, now it’s the colour, the shape and the size. They really want you to close down those windows. (Funnily enough I get a warm feeling when closing down Windows too). My little joke. Ahem.

Taskbar thumbnails
Looks like a slightly higher definition version of the Dock and while I like it, I wonder how it will scale. What happens when you have lots of icons in that taskbar?
Windows Taskbar miniatures

I don’t think this will degrade half as nicely as some might hope!

Windows Flip and Windows Flip 3D
Sod Windows Flip. It’s the taskbar switcher now applied to open windows rather than open applications. Again that’s going to degrade poorly if you have 20 windows open. On the other hand, Flip 3D looks COOL.
Flip 3D!
I don’t honestly think it’s a patch on Exposé, but then there are lots of ways I can think of to improve on Exposé. This is a welcome development! It doesn’t suck! Or, maybe it does but til we use it, I’m going to say this is a bonus. Window management on Windows has always been a pain. Maybe now we’ll see some benefits.

I won’t say I’m not excited to see this and I also won’t declare that if they manage to get it running on Mac Intel hardware that I won’t probably have a spare hard disk with a copy of Vista on it.

A case of mistaken identity

Guy Kawasaki has a funny blog entry which mentions one case of mistaken identity.

A few years ago, I had organised a user group meeting at a local PC superstore and we’d gotten about 20 people milling around discussing computers. The PC superstore staff were happy because we all seemed to have our own teeth and hold credit cards. The users were happy because they got to hang with geeks on a Saturday afternoon. After a couple of hours, one of the attendees turned to me and said:

“When is this MJ guy going to show up?”

I wouldn’t have minded but I’d been running the UG for three years at that point. Was I a shy and retiring type or did they think that I looked like my picture on the web forum (a rather harried-looking Daffy Duck). It was a bizarre experience anyway. I don’t look like anyone famous except maybe this guy. You don’t think so?

YAML bug in Og 0.27.0

Dumping an Og::Collection using to_yaml or YAML::dump results in a hard to track error: TypeError: can't dump anonymous class Class. This is because Collection has an instance variable which contains a literal Class. This patch fixes the problem, by storing the member_class as a String, and converting as necessary in the code.

--- new_collection.rb      2006-01-30 10:06:47.000000000 +1100
+++ collection.rb       2006-01-30 10:06:53.000000000 +1100
@@ -55,7 +55,7 @@
       remove_proc = nil, find_proc = nil, 
       count_proc = nil, find_options = {})
     @owner = owner
-    @member_class = member_class.to_s
+    @member_class = member_class
     @insert_proc = insert_proc
     @remove_proc = remove_proc
     @find_proc = find_proc
@@ -217,8 +217,7 @@
   # Allows to perform a scoped query.
   def find(options = {})
-    klass = const_get(@member_class.to_sym)
-    klass.with_scope(options) do
+    @member_class.with_scope(options) do
       return @owner.send(@find_proc, @find_options)    
@@ -238,8 +237,7 @@
   def method_missing(symbol, *args, &block)
-    klass = const_get(@member_class.to_sym)
-    if klass.instance_methods.include? symbol.to_s
+    if @member_class.instance_methods.include? symbol.to_s
       @members.inject([]) { |a, x| a << x.send(symbol) }.flatten
       @members.send(symbol, *args, &block)  

Happy Chinese New Year.

The clever and talented PJHolden says Happy Chinese New Year and also links to his Chinese Horoscope. While I’m not sure of the source (US Bridal Guide Dot Com), it’s a fun thing to look up. I’m a Water Rat, Aidan a Fire Dragon.

Rats make good: Writers, Broadcasters, Actors, Advisors, Counselors, Lawyers, Politicians, Designers, Engineers, Managers, Directors, Administrators, Entrepreneurs, Musicians, Stand-up Comedians, Researchers, Historians, Race Car Drivers

Dragons make good: Computer analysts, Inventors, Engineers, Architects, Lawyers, Philosophers, Psychoanalysts, Brokers, Managers, Salespeople, PR People, Advertising agents, Officers in the armed forces, Campaigners, Politicians

It’s all a load of nonsense, but aren’t you just the least bit curious about you and your partner (business or otherwise?). Isn’t it fun to see how compatible you are? Or shake your head sadly knowing how wrong it is (or is it).

I find horoscopes a fun diversion. Makes me think there’d be some fun setting one up for businesses.

“Ahh, your business was set up in the ear of the rooster. It will be a long hard slog and eventually you will be a millionaire”

That’d the kinda horoscope we’d all like to read. Just for fun eh?

Anyway, I celebrated last night with a seafood medley and tonight I’m going to have some sort of sweet’n’sour concoction.

Missing key IM conversation

8:15 AM
aidan: hi
mj: hey
aidan: Fintan (my son) managed to pull the left apple key off my keyboard without me realising
aidan: busy trying to get it back in again
mj: ouch
aidan: I’ve forgotten the technique
mj: I just place it in the right place and press firmly
aidan: do you attach the white bit to the computer or the key?
mj: place the wee white splines into the keyboard
aidan: x ≈≈≈≈≈≈≈   m xxxxxxxx Ω≈≈≈≈≈≈xxx
aidan: the keys I pressed as I fixed it

On User Interfaces

You know, sometimes the user interface is the easy bit. The user interface of when you’re using a piece of software is easy. The user interface of GETTING TO the the bit where you can use it every day is a lot harder. It’s got to be REALLY simple, the instructions (if there are any) have to be incredibly well written and there has to be no room for error.

So it’s got me thinking. It’s the HOW rather than the WHY.

Going to load up Interface Builder and have a wee play.


Rumour has it that Toy Story 3, as made by Disney, has been cancelled. That’s entirely not surprising now that Lasseter and Catmull are now the big fromages at Disney Animation. Who knows what’s going to happen now?

The Pixar/Disney deal is so reminiscent of the NeXT/Apple deal. There’s an acquisition and suddenly the company heads are all belonging to the company that was acquired! Of course Steve is getting better at it. NeXT was acquired for $400 million ($350 million of cash and stock, $50 million in paid off debt). This Pixar deal has ballooned to over 7 BILLION. He’s learned a bit, that Jobs bloke.

Anyway – back to Toy Story 3. It’s not clear to me whether TS3 has been actually canned or just going to be remade by the Pixar team. If the former then I guess the decision is made to not create a sequel for the sake of it. If the latter then I guess they just want their baby back.

Dragging this topic to business and, separately, software.

The idea of ephemeral businesses, most often short lived microbusinesses, is intriguing. A business opportunity that opens for a short while and the founders get in quick, make their buck and then get out. The company doesn’t fail – it just lives it’s life and expires gracefully – it’s role fully fulfilled. It’s not the usual way that we view businesses, but then these days what exactly does tradition have to do with business? An example was the enterprising chap who would automatically track XBox 360 deliveries and provide you with the info for a fee. Sure, he can repeat the experiment with the PS3 and with other devices but as supply begins to meet demand, the need for the tracker business expires.

On the software front, are there software products (other than an automatic XBox 360 tracker) which have a finite lifespan? As movies start to emulate/repackage/are replaced by video games, will we see the same phenomenon with software? Will there be a time when software just completes it’s life cycle? Is this when the next big thing comes along? Or is this when the need for the software dies? Or is this when the software has become “perfect”? Again, Guy Kawasaki has a theory that when your first product ships (thus becoming your cash cow), then you should immediately get started in creating your cowslayer. Cash is not going to roll in ad infinitum from your first product. You need to have a new product that will become the new cash cow for the company. And in assuming it’s role, your older software will be allowed to retire gracefully.

I’ve rambled a bit this evening, but it’s just thoughts crystallising. My friend Simon seemed somewhat interested in some of the ideas I had for the software by Infurious, mostly because they served to address some of the itches he would like to scratch.


Ruby and RubyCocoa Universal

There was a post to the RubyCocoa mailing list about two weeks ago, talking about how to compile RubyCocoa for Universal usage. I noticed that one of the committers on the project added a configuration switch to do this about two days ago, so here is a combined installer for the latest versions of both Ruby and RubyCocoa (1.8.4 and 0.4.2 (+ extras)) for running on both PowerPC and Intel based Macs.

Please let me know if you run into any trouble using this package.