Sunday, July 15, 2007

Vista IS quite a change, not just a new interface.

I'm a bit tired of hearing about how Windows Vista is no good, it's just a bloated new version with a new useless graphical user interface with a lot of bling bling. I'm far from a Microsoft "fanboy" but come on. It's a great upgrade. As far as "cool" effects go, well it is behind MacOS X , and basically Linux too, in some of those areas...

Wikipedia lists a couple of sections with the new and improved features, first the obvious ones like the late but very improved security, and to the right there are further links to descriptions of things such as the the totally rewritten network stack etc.

For some more interesting technical details about what has happened with the actual kernel:
Inside the Windows Vista Kernel: Part 1
Thread priority and scheduling
File-based symbolic links
Canceling I/O operations

Inside the Windows Vista Kernel: Part 2
Memory management
Startup and shutdown
Power management

Inside the Windows Vista Kernel: Part 3

A part from the kernel we have the much improved network stack (better performance and wireless connections are now actually not just emulated wired connections among other things), new and better driver model, and for gamers of course DirectX 10. Shadow copy ("previous versions") is another really cool feature, and it really works and has saved me at least once from a couple of hours of frustration.

For me Vista's instant search for everything you do (with a simple win-key activation, an important detail), snappier interface (thanks to various system improvements), quick startup-times and improved security, quite a few small improved details in the interface (like the address bar's breadcrumbs feature) etc are most welcome.

Having said all that, there is one thing that annoys me a bit in Vista. The focus handling in the file explorer. It is not always totally clear where exactly the focus is and in one instance it switches focus from the right pane to the left (tree) pane. The concept of inactive focus (the focus in the non-focused pane) can be confusing if you are not paying attention. A number of times I've accidently deleted the wrong folder with my usual shift-delete key combination (no confirmation). For example: If you select a folder in the tree, and then select files from inside that folder in the right pane and press delete to delete just those files, it is possible that it could delete the entire folder as it never actually switched focus to the right pane. Instead it just highlights them with the secondary/grey focus color.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Tools and nice software for Windows, mostly Vista

Some current favourite tools, utilities and programs I'm using with Windows Vista. Some might be useful for other OSes or older Windows versions too. In general these are small efficient tools. In no particular order:

vista codec pack - thin and slim codec pack, that does just exactly what I want and nothing more and is customizable, easy to install and uninstall correctly.
quicktime alternate -non-bloated quicktime player (the above contained codecs play quicktime too though)

putty, pscp -ssh, scp/sftp clients
winscp -scp/sftp program with a friendly interface
daemon tools -mount disk images as real cd/dvds etc
notepad2 -replace notepad, still quick 'n easy but a lot more powerful
imgburn -burning cd & dvds
powershell -Microsoft's new powerful command shell
7-zip -program for all de-/compression needs
synctoy -an excellent small program that just works and works well. Part of Microsofts powertoy suite and synchronizes files across folders/drives/shares/etc.
jdiskreport -find out what is taking up all that disk space on your drives

azureus -bittorrent client

Live Messenger -actually quite nice, especially when cleaned up with the following program:
a-patch -modifying live messenger, remove ads etc
miranda -slim multi im-client

yod'm 3d -desktop manager, 3D cube spinning to switch.
start++ -improve the Vista built-in search even further, useful!
atimobility modder -driverheaven, fix ati catalyst drivers to run on all notebooks
switcher -exposé or similar for Vista

wireshark -the sniffing tool
nmap -port scanner
backtrack -linux live cd for security stuff

Current start page for web browsing

Organizer client
Private: GMail, Google Calendar
Work: MS Outlook 2007, actually quite nice

I'm too lazy to provide links but they should not be hard to find with google.

Anyone have any tools and utilities tips they would like to share?

Update: Niclas reminded me of synctoy, an excellent small program that just works and works well. Part of Microsofts powertoy suite and synchronizes files across folders/drives/shares/etc.

Update 2 (July 15th): Yesterday I came across another thin and slim codec pack, Vista codec pack, that does exactly what I want and nothing more and is customizable and easy to install and uninstall correctly. It actually played some 1080p hd files better than the friendly CCCP so after some testing I'm definately switching over to this one now. Other minor tweaks to the list as well

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Black Belt in Java?

Jon-Erling this last fall suggested that there really should be a similar way to grade when it comes to programming as in martial arts. We agreed and discussed it some more but as many other things we forgot about it and went on with life even though Jon obviously was thinking about starting something like that. The other day I found this though: It's free and seems great.

Perfect, and look at some of the names that can be found there: Martin Fowler, Joshua Bloch, Marc Fleury as guests, and also noticed that Brian Goetz provided some feedback to the concurrency stuff.

I wonder what I will get first (if at all!), a black belt in martial arts or in java....

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Doing any GUI development? Don't like Java's Swing or SWT? Or maybe you do like them (I like Swing for example) but think they could be even better (as in easier and cooler)?

Sun has just released something that seems rather cool, JavaFX. Something unexpected but most welcome as many has seen the GUI development as being powerful but lacking in the nice tool support and nice looks and effects AND not expecting much to happen about it.

Apart from making it easier to write GUIs and making them look cool a first look found the following items of special interest: The bindings stuff, Animation stuff (dur with ease-in and ease-out is so simple and automatic) but the special JavaFX script language itself is rather interesting as well!

Check the JavaFX link for demos, tutorials and more information.

Plugins available for Netbeans AND Eclipse!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Great summary of possible Java 7 features

This is a great summary including source code examples of ideas for Java 7 (now in development): Java 7 and Beyond

There are a lot of nice suggested features for the future, but as always hard to pick among them. There is wisdom in delaying some things until they mature for example, however boring that might be. Other things are sort of nice, but are they really that valuable? Then again some things would be great to have (the small Swing application framework will be nice).

Array collection syntax might not be needed that much but it is a nice touch I think and makes for less/easier typing with just some compiler magic. Type inference looks nice, but lock you to the concrete class (in the example given there it will be typed as a HashMap and not a Map), still seems worth it to me.

Annotations on Java Types seem rather useful, but ouch it looks ugly with all those annotations
all over the place. Hmm have to think about that one. Validation, JSR 303, also looks like a great idea, maybe combine it with the properties stuff, but xml-based... hmm. Maybe annotations instead. Oh, even more annotations. Hmm.

Closures, as long as they pick a version which is easy and intuitive to read (you only write once, but it is read often) I'm all for it, perfect for some things. A new time and date API, well it IS needed, third time is the charm? A Unit API certainly looks great and appeals to me as an engineer, but is it really needed? Filesystems API stuff, sure, that stuff is really needed in a modern programming language.

Invoke dynamic? Absolutely! One of the most valuble things with java is not the language but the virtual machine. Sun's Hotspot for example is really amazing. Should really try hard to be able to use it to its full extent in other related projects, such as JRuby.

A very non-sexy thing is the jar-versioning/packet management stuff but as more and more programming is about changing or extending current programs, this is really needed.

I reserve the right to change my opinions on this stuff at any time :)

Thanks Ralph and Expo-C!

Just wanted to say thank you to Ralph Johnson (yes that Ralph, of the Gang of Four) for coming to Göteborg, Sweden at Expo-C and tell us about: "Enterprise Application Architecture " +" The 'Adaptive Object Model' Architectural Style, last Wednesday. He was there on Tuesday as well but I was unable to attend that day.
Meeting Jimmy Nilsson again was nice and Niclas Nilsson as usual of course, but that happens about every week :)

I'm afraid I missed Rickard Öberg, Dan North and James O. Coplien, the other famous names at Expo-C (monday-Wednesday) in Gothenburg last week, but at least I had a nice dinner with Niclas and Ralph on Wednesday evening. Niclas tried to talk Ralph into writing a follow-up or 2nd edition to the Design patterns book using Ruby, instead of the expected Java (which just might be something that will happen!)

Ralph had one interesting part of his presentation, a play with participants from the audience. Now it might be hard to get volunteers to particpate in a play when the potential volunteers are all geeky programming nerds, but then also make them all come from Sweden! ;-) Ah well, in an out-of-character move I was the first volunteer to step up and Jimmy also joined in along with two others. Phew, could have been embarassing for Sweden! The play was great and really did add something to the points he was trying to make.