Monthly Archives: November 2010

Reg asks: is Acer the new Apple?

In Acer: Alive, and thirsty for Apple juice, “El Reg” suggests that Acer could be an everyman’s Apple.

I’m not the only person to wonder who will rise up if/when Microsoft and/or Apple stumble. The way I see it, Microsoft has been the gorilla for a long time, and at least some people are trying hard to go elsewhere – where there are fewer 0-day virus vulnerabilities. Some people think Apple may lose Steve Jobs to retirement or “other” in the next few years, but he is only 55. He could be around, creative, and in charge at Apple for 20 more years.

Acer has a plan to reach out to the 70% of the world’s population that doesn’t have computers. They expect tablets to sell well there: “We’re used to the PC having a couple of different form-factors,” he said. “I think we will see in the future a variety of form-factor devices, satisfying different needs. It’s going to be a very exciting world. And this is the world where we want to play.” (El Reg quote)

Bloomberg Businessweek says: (quote) The new tablet computers may appeal to price-sensitive consumers, Angela Hsiang, an analyst with KGI Securities Co. in Taipei, said by telephone. “The debut highlights Acer’s official entry into the tablet computer market,” said Hsiang, who rates the stock “outperform.” (end quote)

Acer even has a non-Microsoft OS plan: GianFranco Lanci, CEO and President of Acer, promises “different operating systems – not only one operating system,” running on a range of different processors, including Qualcomm and the nVidia Tegra system-on-a-chip. (El Reg quote)

I never thought of Acer this way before. They are just the company that provides the cheap monitors I can afford. Thanks El Reg. This may be a fun company to watch. Watch Acer watch Apple. Run, Acer, run!

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Ottawa Android developer group

I added the Ottawa Android developer group to the “Ottawa Groups” page.

Thanks, Chris!

Like Alabama, I’m in a hurry

So I don’t publish song lists here. This one’s different, cause I’m pretending it’s about software development.

Alabama’s song “I’m in a hurry” (YouTube), speaks to software development: Agile control vs. the usual chaos we’ve all experienced, this week if you’re unlucky.

Stop picking on Emacs!

I’ll never make a good teacher: I’ve been trying to teach her for years and years and my six year old still doesn’t understand Emacs!

Redmine, please copy Bugzilla

And other projects with multiple dependencies that depend on other things, please copy Bugzilla.

Redmine, like Bugzilla, has this library installation problem. I installed Redmine yesterday, and installed it and installed it and installed it.

I had just installed Xubuntu, so I didn’t even have ruby on the system, and then I couldn’t install the gems, until I found out the package name for “gem” is “rubygems”. That was my second guess, so I didn’t even have to go to Google.

You might think that a place like Redmine would have the list of dependencies in order, but no, the installer page lists “gem install rake” and “gem install rails” before they list “Rubygems 1.3.1 is required”. It’s something you only notice when you are new to installing apps for a specific language. (Note to self: set up an account on their bug site and tell them directly. 🙂 )

Yup, I just said I found the answer on their web page, one inch below the question, or maybe 3 cm.

Solution

After only 10 years, Bugzilla finally solved this problem in version 3.2, with a little help from Perl and CPAN. When you install Bugzilla, or update it, it checks if all the requirements are in place. That’s where it used to stop, with a list of work for you. Now it installs them for you. Yup, it asks first, because it wants to know if you want them in the “global” site library for Perl, or the “local” one for the Bugzilla user.

And then it goes off and gets them, and their dependencies, and their dependencies dependencies, and compiles things that need to be compiled and generally works hard while you work on something else, checking for any questions it might have.

Redmine, and many other apps, could learn from this.

Maybe Ruby can go one better, as a community, and create a generic dependency tool that takes your list of dependencies, and calls “gem” for you, installing the rubygem package, if necessary. You could call it an obvious name like “gemcase” if it’s available or come up with something creative.

This may seem obvious, but I will say it anyway: This gem installer thing can’t be a gem. More obvious stuff: The gem installer thing needs to know how to install rubygem on several OSes or platforms, including Microsoft platforms, by whatever name or means necessary on that platform. You should have it available in your top level folder when you untar your new toy, kinda like configure, although hopefully not so slow.

And no, you don’t want me to scratch this itch, or you might end up with a shell script. Although, maybe that’s just what you need here? 😉 Nah, you can assume Ruby is installed.

Short URLs – Reduce the risk

Short URLs are valuable in instant messaging or other text length limited places. They are also a valuable method for marketers to track which marketing tool produced the best results. I actually didn’t know that second bit until I checked out http://bit.ly/pro/.

The risks

First
Short URLs mask the real URL from the user. When a bot or a stolen account inserts a link into an email to a list, or a comment on a web page, or anywhere else, users may follow the link to a dangerous web page or an unexpected porn site.
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Agile Ottawa Nov meeting – Steffan Surdek

I always enjoy going to the Agile Ottawa meetings.
I enjoyed the talk and got a lot out of it.

The presenter was Steffan Surdek. He is a co-author of the IBM Press
book “A Practical Guide to Distributed Scrum”, that we are reading at my workplace, Exar Ottawa.

Points I felt important to me:

  • Improve your conference calls by making sure everyone knows everyone’s voice.
    • “Rob here. I agree with …” – say your name each time you speak
  • Help staff get to know each other
    • Provide pictures and video of yourself on the internal web site
    • Use more voice calls
    • No, most companies can’t afford to bring teams together from China to Ottawa. One or two people in each direction is a realistic limit.
  • Share the pain of 12 hour time differences. Meet or phone in their work hours, not just yours.
  • Share information. Write down what happened, and what especially was decided, and wikify it.

It was great to have a chance to chat with Steffan after the meeting. Thanks for sticking around, Steffan!