Archive for November, 2006

Java, Rails and programming for fun
November 29, 2006

Despite its flaws, Java is the most practical language to use in the enterprise, mobility and telecoms stuff I do. Now that the Java core will be open source, it’s more useful now.

I’ve been looking at Java ESB, JBI and SOA. I’m now reading on EJB 3.0 again, and going through Joshua Bloch’s Java Puzzlers. But Java is no longer fun – though Bloch’s book helps.
I’ve been looking for the next thing for my personal projects. I need to keep my programming edge.
I think Ruby and Rails is become the tool to use for the web. I got Agile Web Development with Rails, Second Edition. Some of it is shocking, coming from a “rigid” Java background. I hope to deploy it for something, soon.

I expect that some clients might ask for Rails for work-for-hire jobs.

N70 Music Edition – Broken Camera
November 29, 2006

The N70 Music Edition developed a problem. The camera exits a few seconds after launching it, whether the front or back cameras are used. I brought it to the Nokia Store in Glorietta 3, run by Memo Express. They said it was a physical problem, which I thought it was odd. I decided to come back since I’d have to leave it.

I went back and they said that it was just the battery cover. They had no replacement at hand so I should check back in Memo Express Mall of Asia where I bought it. Fortunately I have a spare N70 housing replaced from the other unit. I’ll go back for the replacement some other time.
I noticed that the black camera slide is starting to discolor into deep purple.

N70 Music Edition Back

Picture saving is slow. Is it because it saves it to the RS-MMC card? Perhaps they should buffer it in memory first then save in the background.

I am not looking for a job
November 28, 2006

A recruiter called me at my employer’s number. My local isn’t well known so the call got transferred to another location and my colleague answered it.

Ms. Recruiter asked, I got your name through “Link In” website – realized after a while it was LinkedIn. Instead of contacting me through LinkedIn, she probably searched for my employer’s name and got their website, where the number was posted.

“Are you interested in technical architect positions in” … I forgot the company. I just kept answering with “no,” without specifics, since I didn’t want to say anything within earshot of my colleagues. “Could I refer someone?” I said no. Maybe I could think of someone, like people in my orgs, but since she interrupted me, I could not switch contexts easily and answer her question.

Her last question was, could she get my email? I told her it should be in the profile, but she said it was not. Oh yes, LinkedIn does not have email addresses of course. I figured it should be on my blog, so I said “just search for it.” She said she couldn’t. I said, sorry you didn’t search hard enough. I guess she got the idea I did not want to talk to her so she said bye.

I checked a google for my name. If you open the 3rd link my email is there. OK sorry if it was not in the first link you clicked. So much for SEO, I thought I knew it.

I hate to sound arrogant, but all the jobs I’ve had were through referrals and recommendations. I have no plans of changing that.

PC Upgrade Plans
November 27, 2006

I’m planning to upgrade my old PC which is now the “family computer.” This is already four years old, but still working well. However, the Duron 1.1 Ghz can’t keep up with multitasking office use and Azureus and other P2P programs running in the background.

The Conroe platform is too expensive and needs a discrete video card for decent 3D (Intel onboard graphics doesn’t count!) And since the original is AMD, the replacement should also be AMD… perhaps.

Athlon64 Socket 940 X2 3600+ 2 Ghz – 7xxx. X-Bit labs review says it’s worth it and energy efficient too – a winner for me.

PQI DDR2-667 1GB – 5xxx. I’ve been using PQI all the time, no problems so no need to go for the real “branded” ones.

One of the GeForce 6100/6150 + nForce 4xx Micro-ATX boards with onboard GeForce 6-class video – from 4xxx. to 5xxx. This is sufficient since we only do light gaming. With this, I should be able to play Company of Heroes on the LAN! These are analog video output only, which is fine since I won’t replace the analog monitor. (Sylvania L152 15″ LCD)

Micro ATX casing, PSU, cooling. 4,000 max.

Oops almost forgot: 250 GB Seagate SATA¬† 4,xxx. The 40GB on the old machine is already full. At 4 years old it’s still going strong,¬† whew!
What do you think?

First Pinoy Hacker and College Stories
November 25, 2006

Was I the first Pinoy Hacker, in the Internet sense. In fourth year, we had a bit of a scandal. Some colleagues and I were accused of hacking. The Internet was very new. My classmate did it. He gave himself credits in the time accounting system. I showed him how. One fateful night he stayed overnight. I logged into the school system using my 2400bps modem, and found that the time accounting shell script was setuid root but did not check the PATH. Scripting was still very new.

I started my Ateneo life in Chemistry/Computer Engineering (Chem CE). I figured that by that time, I had enough of computers and should try a physical science. After all, in my youth, I thought I’d be a “scientist” of the traditional type. This changed when I failed Fr. Schmitt’s class. He gave the name to the Chem building, and was probably the oldest x86 machine language programmer for lab control. He was my quantitative chemistry teacher in the hot summer of 1992.

I moved to Computer Science. My first class was CS 21a, and Turbo Pascal was the teaching language at that time. I hated it because of its inconsistencies. (Like: why does writeln work even when it’s not defined as a function?) For my first sem, the teacher (whose name I forgot), allowed me to pass the course without attending. I just needed to submit a final project, a blackjack simulation called CaSino 21. (What a coincidence in the name.) I made this with ASCII art graphics and PC speaker drumbeats. When I rejoined the mainstream CS, I was with the class of ’96 for most of my major subjects.

At some point I joined the Ateneo Virus Research Group, when viruses were all the rage. (I have some recollections in my previous post.) I implemented my code in C. C was heaven compared to Pascal. I used Turbo C, and then later Borland C/C++. For Christmas in 1993 or 1994, I made a “brick game” in Borland C++ and its proprietary VGA graphics module, as a gift. One of our senior projects was also in C or C++ – networking class. We made a multiplayer LAN shooting game – inspired by the CROBOTS fighting robots perhaps? It did not use IP, just layer 2 broadcasts.

I did not get over my old favorite BASIC so quickly. 1991-1992, I picked up Visual Basic 1.0 after it got rave reviews in PC Digest. It was not used in the CS curriculum at all, but I used it for a class project in psychology (of all things! it was a quiz called “EnviroPsych” when environmentalism became hot.) I also made a sliding puzzle game called “PushOver” which I have planned to remake many times.

All this time I was on DOS and Windows. I only moved to Linux/Windows in my senior year, 1994-1995. We had a Unix programming class where we had to implement a multiuser chat style app. This was when the Internet was new, and people used “finger,” “talk,” telnet BBS’s and IRC to communicate with other PHnet universities and the world at large. One of my friends was probably the first to get into online romance during this period, and she eventually moved to Florida and married.

I got introduced to Linux care of Doc Mana, during the days of Slackware and its numerous diskettes. I took the plunge and installed Linux in my computer (486DX33, 8 MB RAM, and 120 MB hard drive I think?) so that the Doc could present at an event in UA&P. I got involved in that event care of CompSAt, but UA&P (CRC at that time?) was the host. I got involved more in Linux as I did some work in making plans for the Internet (in what would lead to IPhil Communications), as well as my participation in the BBS community which was making moves towards the Net.

Those were historic times.

N70 Yahoo! Go and Flickr Integration
November 24, 2006

Yahoo! Go is an app made by FastMobile. They outsourced the development, unlike Google’s in-house GMail Java ME app. I tried it on my N70.

Yahoo! Messenger would be the most useful, but I had trouble logging in until earlier today. It looks pretty much like the familiar desktop Y!M. The response on Smart’s 3G network was snappy. I was surprised when I pressed the “Send” key to send an IM, and it recorded a voice IM instead. A strange side effect is that the Y!M contacts got added to my phonebook.

Yahoo Search worked the first time. The integration with browsing isn’t seamless – clicking on a search result goes to the N70 mobile web browser, but going “back” from there doesn’t return to the search app.

Yahoo! Finance just opens the built in mobile browser, no client side code there. The to-do list is completely in the app, no network integration.

I haven’t tried the Yahoo! Go Flickr uploader. I did try the “Web upload” feature in the N70, which seems to be related to the Lifeblog product. The app connects to Flickr on a separate POST URL, and apparently uses the Atom Publishing Protocol API. To use this, you need to configure a separate login at the Nokia + Flickr page. I tried this with a 300+ KB 2MP picture. It had a timeout error. I guess the Smart 3G network can’t handle large uploads?

The Story of My Work Life
November 23, 2006

I updated my resume on LinkedIn and added a badge to this blog, linking to Miguel Paraz’s profile in LinkedIn.

I was asked at work to update my resume. LinkedIn makes it easier. I had one earlier, but it was not complete. Now I filled in the details of my 11 years at work. (Compared to some of the people I work with, I am really old!)

I’ll try to write about these work experiences here in my autobiography. Where would you like me to begin?

In the Company of Heroes
November 22, 2006

Even with my lowly (by gamer standards) GeForce FX5500, I am able to play Company of Heroes! I have to lower the settings to the minimum, and the first campaign on the beach is terrible. My Celeron D 320 with 2×512 DDR400 is adequate.
I’m back to RTS gaming, my favorite genre. That is not saying much since I am not a serious gamer.
If I really get hooked, I am tempted to upgrade to a GeForce 7300GT. But why spend money on obsolete AGP? On the other hand, it would be too expensive to upgrade to a PCI-E platform – it could be as high as going Core Duo 2 + discrete graphics, or as low as a GeForce 6100/nForce 4x1x on AMD64 Socket AM2. However, the latter option only provides for an analog VGA output. My monitor (AOC LM725) sucks on analog.
I’ll wait until I reach a mission that can’t be played with my hardware. I’m not looking at multiplayer anyway – the other PC here has no chance of running CoH.

Photography? Only phonecams for me.
November 22, 2006

I came from Noemi’s Canon Powershot A710 IS post, where I noted that camera phones were good enough for me. She pointed out the big advantage when just using even a “point and shoot cam.” But the big disadvantage for me is that I only take pics for spur of the moment things. I can’t be carrying a camera around. And I don’t have the skills.

I could probably develop the skills if I had the interest. But I don’t have the interest right now – I’m happy looking at pretty pics. And even if I had the interest, I don’t have the time and the budget to pursue it.

The N70 I’m using now is the second most popular on the new Flickr Camera Finder. The K750i is on top – I think this was the first phone developed and marketed for photography. The N73 is catching up. It’s marketed for Flickr support but Nokia left out WiFi support which should help with Flickr. My N70 has Flickr support too – Send/Web Upload after taking a shot. It can’t upload at full size, probably due to 3G network timeouts? I need to investigate further.
It’s a good thing I’m still accepted in the tech blogging crowd, even if I don’t fit Jayvee’s band of blogging criteria: the top probloggers such as Abe, Connie and Markku are photographers too.

Media Temple GridServer Outage
November 20, 2006

So much for their claims and the hype… My GridServer was down – connection refused on this server.
Even the “account center” control panel was down – TCP connection to port 443 timed out. Then, TCP is up but no SSL connection. Port 80 is OK. Server load or switch issue?

Could it be because my account is one month old? I haven’t received an email bill or receipt.

This is really an experimental web hosting system. “The storage system did it.” According to the advisory (which can’t be viewed outside of the Account Center):

Customers on the Grid Server may be experiencing problems with accessing their websites, mail, FTP and their Account Center. Our systems engineers are currently working with Blue Arc to resolve this issue as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

When I was able to login, I found I had a pending bill in the Account Center but it was not emailed. I’ll pay it now, but I’ll see another month if this is worth $20.