Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year!

We're preparing a nice dinner, watching some cartoons on the tv and enjoying the sounds coming from our children playing.

Just wanted to take the opportunity to wish everyone a happy new year. Hope that 2006 will bring good times and happy moments for you all!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Windows Presentation Layer

Just read an excellent article about the new Windows Presentation Layer in MSDN Magazine(read an introduction here) which was very interesting. I've seen some demonstrations of the tecnology earlier on, and read some blog postings about it without really becoming a believer. I even saw a demonstration of Sparkle on channel9 which impressed me a lot, especially in the UI departement.

The thing that got me started downloading the SDKs and development tools was the way you can focus on what the application should do and not how it should do it. While reading the article I could see that a lot of the problems and challenges I've met as a Windows developer in the past 15 years would easily be solved using WPF and the declarative model its using.

The ability to bind controls to objects, declare templates and styles coupled with the dynamic scaling of the user interfaces should be able to solve almost any problem I've been exposed to UI wise.

The only challenge left is to create a near-perfect model of the domain we're solving problems for :-)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Switching RSS reader

Just wanted to mention that I decied to try out the NewsGator web edition in favour of which I've been using for quite a while.

The reason for switching is mainly that I wanted to see if Scoble was right when saying that NewsGator was better than Bloglines.
These are my impressions so far:

  • Importing was easy, no points to NewsGator here, since I haven't tried it the other way around. (maybe a point to for making my feeds available as an OPML file)
  • I like the user interface in NewsGator
  • NewsGator seems to be slower than BlogLines. This might have something to do with the fact that while BlogLines uses frames NewsGator is refreshing both the feed-list and the contents while I'm reading (what about some AJAX-tech-tricks here?)
  • I miss the shortcut keys from bloglines. I keep on pressing 'r' to refresh the feed list.
  • Why doesn't the clipping function work? Some posts in the support forum suggests that this is a javascript problem on the uk site.

I'm still keeping my BlogLines account :-) The next weeks will show who won.

The Toshiba Tecra M4 Fan

I said that I would write some more about my Tablet PC experiences, and especially about the ones regarding my Toshiba M4.

I noticed today that Eric Mack is blogging about his fan, and even including a podcast to let others hear the noise it is making. I'm currently listening to his recording and although he is mentioning that his fan has started to make more noice in the recent months, I share his experiences with the fan:
  • When in battery-mode the fan is usually off untill I start watching a video or open up a website with lots of flash animations and/or scripts/images. Doing work in any office application or using my development tools also makes the fan start.
  • When reading my blogs online the fan is almost always off.
  • When working in the office, the fan revs up and is usually on.

The Toshiba also gets hot when working with it. Writing with the computer on your lap (as I do now), is not recommended when running on AC. Using batteries the heat is not a big problem.

I've spent a lot of time trying to minimize both the fan noise and the heat, and haven't been able to come up with anything noticeably better than what can be accomplished with the built-in Toshiba power management tools.

I have created a new profile where the cooling is set to "Optimized for battery". This makes the utility turn off the fan as often as possible.

In addition I've had some success using the Notebook Hardware Control. I've spent some time tweaking the voltage settings for the cpu, which seems to make it not running hotter than 58C. This also helps keeping the fan noise down.

I've also read some posts over at the forum suggesting that the video card has another fan that actually is the noisiest one. I didn't find these posts again, so this is not confirmed.

Regarding the heat: Contrary to my old Dell Inspiron, which could get so hot that it was almost impossible doing any work on it, the Toshiba warms my hands in a comfortable way - handy, since it's winter here and a bit cold in the office when I get there in the morning.

The Yes Men

Last night we saw a very good movie called The Yes Men. The movie is about two guys that isn't exactly on par with how the WTO (World Trade Organization) is working. As you might or might not be aware of, the WTO is an organization that works hard to keep the trade balance in the world as it is today (richer countries getting richer, and the poorer countries getting poorer).

This is of course not a very nice behaviour, since developing countries should be able to trade on the same principles and with the same agreements as rich countries in the west. This will of course lead to someone in the west not getting as rich as they are today, but hey, there's a limit to how much money you should spend each day.

So go along and rent - or buy - this movie, it's a good one.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas is over

Christmas is over, and It's back to work. I've had a fantastic christmas eve, got lots of nice presents and a delicious traditional Norwegian christmas meal.

The only tech-gift I got was a Tivoli Audio radio which is so much better than the old one we had (which didn't work very well, since it could only recieve a limited number of stations). It's not a DAB radio, but I really don't care. It plays very nice, and has a very clear and broad sound. I was very happy with this gift.

We also got some music. The new album from A-ha, Duets by Ane Brun and the latest from The Cardigans. Looking forward to get to know these albums.

In addition I got Seinfeld Season 4 on Dvd, which is hilarious. We've already wathed a few of them, and they're good!

Last night I managed to catch up with my list of feeds, and today I hope to finish up some work that has been waiting for me.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Music, Media & Technology

Since I like music, play in a band, and love technology, I've been thinking of getting some technology to help me making my mp3-collection more accessible.

My biggest wish has been to be able to listen to my music through my hi-fi equipment. In addition, I want to be able to hear the music (and enjoy the silence inbetween listening to music) without the hum of my computer in the background. I have also been thinking of converting my home to an area free of desktop computers.

These needs doesn't go well with HTPCs, since they all need a computer that takes time to boot, makes noice, and requires maintenance. Ok, I admit that being able to record tv-shows and watch dvds is cool, but that's not what I wanted (review last section again if you forgot it).

After some searching and blog-reading I finally decided to buy three small boxes:

After picking up these items from my local post office I unpacked the boxes and connected the cables. After verifying that everything was working as expected, I started to modify the NSLU to better suit my needs.

Since the NSLU is running Linux, a community has emerged that collects information about the hardware and the operating system, and even builds a new version of the software. This is what I did to my NSLU:

  • Upgrading the operating system to a version called The Unslung Firmware, which is now in version 5. The upgrade was easy, uploading the new image from the device's web interface.
  • Next task is called unslinging the NSLU, and is mainly an operation where you move the startup files from the internal memory to an external disk.
  • The last task was a daunting task, cause it involed opening the NSLU and removing a small transistor from the mainboard. Yes, it's all about overclocking (or de-underclocking) the device.

The next thing I did was to buy and install a piece of software called TwonkyMedia - a small UPnP-based media server available for the NSLU running the Unslung Firmware. This was also an easy step-by-step process that only took a few minutes.

After moving my media collection to the external disk, I've enjoyed my mp3-collection played over my excellent speakers and browsed from my television set (with an easy interface accessible by anyone old enough to hold and operate a remote control). My kids has also enjoyed watching our collection of digital images on the tv, so this project has definetly been a success - a more silent, faster-to-boot, and - last but not least - a cheap one.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Did I Become a YABHTU?

First of all, what's this YABHTU thing? The acronym is short for Yet Another Blissfully Happy Tabletpc User, and was invented by famous TabletPC blogger Eric Mack. It's now added to the Urban Dictionary for later generations :-)

So, did I become a YABHTU? Yes I did! Read on to find out more.

Why am I a YABHTU? I'm a YABHTU because I have a computer that lets me do everything from reading interesting articles on the net to create software programs in a most convinient way. It let's me do this laying on my sofa, sitting on my desk or sitting in the office. In addition, it let's me work holding my computer with one hand while writing with a pen with the other, or typing directly on a very good keyboard. It lets my do my coding, my reading and even pay my bills wherever I am.

Aren't you unhappy with anything, I hear? Yes of course! And you bet I'll write about it here as well. First and foremost, the Tablet PC operating system does not have any built-in handwriting reckognizer for the Norwegian language! This really is a show-stopper, but it's easy to fix.

I bought a wordlist with throusands of norwegian words and imported them into the english wordlist (thanks to Fritz at for helping me getting them into the list). Each time I want to write with the pen, I just change the input language to english. I've become so used to doing this, that it doesn't bother me at all (although other Norwegian users might think this is more anoying than I do, so MS, please provide us all with a Norwegian reckognizer, or at least with a generic one that can be used with unknown languages.).

The next thing that anoyed me was the battery, then the fan. I'll write some more about these issues later, but as you've already guessed, they don't make me unhappy anymore!

Got myself a Tablet PC

Since I've obviously haven't done anything interesting for past five months, it's time to tell you all that I've got myself a Tablet PC. Yes, I was in the market for a new laptop, and having read about this new and interesting technology called Tablet PCs for a couple of years, I started searching for some knowledge that could help me decide which computer to select.

The first (and still very interesting) blog I read was Eric Mack's blog. He had just purchased a new Toshiba Tecra M4, and had written so much about the process of buying, getting and owning (in addition to a story about Toshiba support which was fun to read) that I kept on comming back to his blog when struggling to make a desicion.

This was also at the same time as the Lenovo X41 was released, and I was of course tempted to try it out. The main problem with it is it's screen resolution (since I'm a developer using screen-demanding tools), something that the Toshiba solves nicely with it's large screen. I'm also enjoying about Warner Crocker's experiences with Tablets, and especially his focus on how to efficiently use your Tablet in a special environment like his theatre.

Finally I found out that what I needed was a Desktop Replacement Computer with Tablet PC Functionality (DRCTPF? another acronym?) I went back to read more about Eric's experiences, and finally ordered my own Toshiba Tecra M4. Thanks everyone in the TabletPC community for sharing your knowledge so that I was able to make a very good choice!