Out of Hanwell

October 28, 2005

Advice on Blogging

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matthias Miller @ 7:41 am

Maryam Scoble wrote a letter to her step-son Patrick, offering some very good advice on blogging. Sure, Patrick’s blog will receive more public attention than most (he’s Scobleizer’s son), but I don’t think bloggers always realize how public their blogs are. I know several people who, because of the nature of their work, must maintain a fairly low profile. An acquaintance who is not careful when blogging about them could really trigger a very difficult situation.

Go read it.

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October 24, 2005

Introduction to Xcode

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matthias Miller @ 7:51 pm

I got my install CDs for OS X.3 today and upgraded my iBook this afternoon. It was a simple but lengthy process that allowed me (finally!) to install Xcode 1.5. Tonight I wrote (okay, created?) a simple “Hello World” Cocoa application using the resource builder. It’s the kind of work that leaves you exhausted. Click, drag, drop, edit. Build and run.

Give me several weeks and I can tell you how I like it.

October 20, 2005

Spot the Bug

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matthias Miller @ 9:48 pm

I was looking at MSDN’s documentation for _popen, which opens a program and reads its output from a pipe. I did a double-take when I saw the way the output was being processed:

char psBuffer[128];
FILE *pPipe;

/* Run DIR so that it writes its output to a pipe. Open this
* pipe with read text attribute so that we can read it
* like a text file.
*/

if( (pPipe = _popen( “dir *.c /on /p”, “rt” )) == NULL )
exit( 1 );

/* Read pipe until end of file. */
while( !feof( pPipe ) )
{
if( fgets( psBuffer, 128, pPipe ) != NULL )
printf( psBuffer );
}

/* Close pipe and print return value of pPipe. */
printf( “\nProcess returned %d\n”, _pclose( pPipe ) );

An experienced C programmer is likely to see the problem. That printf looks like an accident waiting to happen. Not that anyone would ever use a percent in a file name or that anybody would ever have any desire to compromise your system! You all deal carefully with your input, will you now?

October 19, 2005

Smarter Search Engines

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matthias Miller @ 8:28 pm

Robert Scoble recently pointed out that today’s search engines are very incomplete. Search engines merely use keywords to look up pages in an index and do very little to determine the context of the search. Tonight when I was looking for information on file sharing for my iBook, I opened Firefox and searched Google for access file share. The first result was a Microsoft support page describing how to set up file sharing in Windows. This was a stark contrast to the Firefox website, which when I had visited earlier in the evening, gave directions for downloading the Macintosh version, never even mentioning Windows. Why can’t Google do the same thing?

I Got My iBook

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matthias Miller @ 2:58 pm

My iBook came today. It’s nothing spectacular–an iBook 500, 12″ screen, 500MHz G3 processor, 128MB RAM, 15GB hard drive, running OS X–but it’s a great start. I have never before felt so incapable at using a computer. The setup was simple and straight-forward, and I had my wired network up from the get-go, but I spent a good five minutes trying to figure out how to eject my CD-ROM drive.

I am typing this post in Internet Explorer for Mac. When I downloaded and installed the Firefox beta, I got a message that the “application quit unexpectedly”. I will try 1.0.7, hopefully with better luck. After I’ve figured out how to get the wireless network up, I’ll download and install xCode.

I’ve got the feeling I’m in for a huge learning curve.

Update: I’m starting to feel a little less awkward now. I installed Firefox 1.0.7 without a problem. I also found the “wireless signal” icon in the upper-right corner of my screen. I selected the name of my wireless network, entered the key, and I had wireless web access–very simple. I’ve also downloaded the Remote Desktop Client for Mac; works great. The xCode installation is finishing up, and I still need to figure out how to access Windows network shares, but I’m starting to like this OS.

Who Bothers Checking Free Space, Anyway?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matthias Miller @ 10:19 am

I found an interesting Java bug report by way of Chris Adamson’s blog. It seems that for eight years, Java developers have been wanting a way to determine free space, and they’ve got it now.

Some interesting comments:

bcuocci:
If I wanted to muck around writing system-dependent code to check something this basic, I’d still be using C++.

gbishop:
HOORAY!!!!
Happy belated Birthday To You!
Dear 4057701, I am sorry I missed your birthday.
4057701 is 8 YEARS OLD today!

Plan your features carefully and deliberately. You might introduce bugs if you act too quickly.

October 15, 2005

Windows Services for UNIX

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matthias Miller @ 8:48 am

This weekend I’ve been playing around with Windows Services for Unix “SFU” (see Wikipedia), a Microsoft toolset based on Interix and designed for Unix/Windows interoperability. The 200MB download contains 350 Unix utilities (including gcc), and additional packages such as bash, glib, GTK+, OpenSSL, and GIMP can be downloaded from the Interop Systems Tool Warehouse.

It’s a great experiment, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to build many dependencies on this tool since Microsoft will not continue developing SFU. Microsoft is instead making Windows Server 2003 interoperable with Unix. It’s a strategic move that makes migration to Windows a lot more appealing (and feasible!) to many companies, and it provides a sense of familiarity for Unix-centric IT professionals.

Obviously, I won’t be buying Windows Server 2003 just for these tools. And for that matter, SFU will still be supported for a number of years. But I find this level of interoperability interesting, and I find it convenient to be able to use Unix command line utilities in Windows.

It’s not that SFU or Windows Server 2003 are the only tools that offer these benefits. I already have Cygwin installed on my computer, if I’d only take the time to put it to use. I’ve also just downloaded the public beta of Microsoft Command Shell, which is a huge improvement over the command prompt. I do think, however, that the high level of integration between Windows and Unix environment in SFU and Windows Server 2003 make it unusually powerful.

I find this all very odd since Microsoft tends to be fairly silent on the Unix front. But obviously somebody at Microsoft is taking it fairly seriously. It will be interesting to see where Microsoft will go with this in the future.

October 12, 2005

Syntax Checking Your JavaScript

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matthias Miller @ 1:42 pm

Eric Lippert has demonstrated how you can use the Microsoft Scripting Engine to check the syntax of your JavaScript or Visual Basic code. The point is not to create a sophisticated JavaScript validator but to demonstrate how easily the syntax can be checked with the Microsoft Scripting Engine.

There’s a post on the microsoft.public.scripting.jscript newsgroup demonstrating how to do this in a JScript:

var SC = new ActiveXObject("ScriptControl");
SC.Language = "JScript";
SC.AddCode("function Wrapper() { /*code here*/ }");

If you want in-depth error checking, you’ll probably need access to the scripting engine itself, much in the same way that JavaScript Lint uses the Firefox scripting engine. But it’s actually pretty easy to check the syntax of your scripts without running them.

October 11, 2005

iBook

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matthias Miller @ 6:29 pm

I’m trying to convince myself not to buy an low-end iBook (used or refurbished). I would enjoy experimenting with the operating system now that I’ve gotten started on Linux, and it would be interesting to see what it would take to port JavaScript Lint. (I wonder how many Mac web developers are out there?)

I can’t justify the investment right now, but if someone gives me an iBook so that I can start releasing JavaScript Lint for the Mac, I doubt that I’ll turn down the offer.

October 7, 2005

Further Development of Drip?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matthias Miller @ 9:03 am

I received an e-mail this morning from a JavaScript/DHTML developer who was grateful for the Internet Explorer memory leak detector and hoped that its development would continue. Apparently other people have also been finding this tool to be useful. In the past two months, there have been nearly 400 downloads of the Drip executable and over a 100 downloads of the source code.

I have two questions for my readers:

  1. Are any of you MFC developers interested in contributing?
  2. What features do you need the most?

The feature that is almost certainly in highest demand is the support for popup windows. Secondarily, it would be good to capture calls to the cloneNode function for better leak detection. Joel Webber had also mentioned on his blog that Drip sometimes reported leaks as originating from about:blank.

I don’t have time to personally develop this tool in the immediate future, but if there are developers who are interested in going ahead with some of these changes, I want to talk with you.

If you prefer to correspond via e-mail, you can write to the address displayed in the image below:

Blog Address

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