Category Archives: Software

New To Android? Why Not Start Developing For It!

I am new to the Android platform, but a few weeks ago I bought a Samsung Galaxy S2 mobile phone running Android 2.3.3 (gingerbread) and I absolutely love it. It has gotten me really interested in developing applications for it and as I already have experience writing applications in Java from my university days the learning curve should be pretty small.

All that’s really needed to get started is:

  • A Java Integrated Development Environment (IDE) such as Eclipse
  • The JAVA Software Development Kit (SDK) – The latest version is JDK version 7
  • The Android SDK available here
Android itself is open source so there are heaps of great resources online to get started developing applications. Google themselves have a great developer resource at their website which has a lot of source code examples and tutorials. If I manage to build anything exciting I’ll be sure to post it up on here.

Wish me luck!

Firefox Personas

Firefox Personas is a great Firefox add-in that I only just discovered, but has been around for some time. It allows you to totally customize the look and feel of the Firefox GUI and is very simple to use and configure.


Personas are lightweight “skins” that change the look of your Firefox web browser. You can easily switch between Personas with just a few clicks. There are hundreds of Personas to choose from, with more added every day. You can even create your own and share it with others.

ffpersonaMenuAs you can see, I’ve “skinned” my Firefox browser to show one of the default skins available in Firefox personas, but there are heaps to choose from as soon as you’ve installed it!

My clicking the personas’ menu in the bottom left corner of the Firefox window once you’ve installed it, you gain access to the massive list of already available skins to choose from, and if you don’t like what’s on offer there, you can check out the personas gallery to see what else you might like.

You can even create your own “personas” by using images you already have on your computer. The personas how to create personas page has heaps of information you’ll need to do this such as the size the images should be, and a quick 4 step guide on how its done.

I did mine in about 2 minutes it was that easy.

Firefox personas even work with existing Firefox themes. You really have to check out personas, its not even my software and I keep raving about it as if it was my own. I haven’t been this excited about a browser customization pack before, but this really takes the cake!

Chris Pirillo – There’s Nothing Wrong With Windows Vista

For those of you who don’t know him, Chris Pirillo is the man behind the internet show lockernome which is a great technology oriented show primarily on YouTube. I was watching some old stuff of his show and came across a Windows Vista rant that I just had to share with you all.

From a software engineer’s point of view, I can empathise with him and Microsoft on this one. Check out the video.

IE 8: Faster, Better Than Anything Else?

While browsers like Firefox and Safari gain more and more momentum in the market still dominated by Internet Explorer, Microsoft have been completely going the other way loosing as much ground as they’ve managed to obtain over their 10 year browser reign.

Microsoft will be launching their new browser Internet Explorer 8 very soon, and they are trumpeting it to be faster and more powerful than their competitors browsers could ever be! Even if by some miracle Microsoft develop a browser that is faster and more powerful than Firefox, their image has become so tainted by poor performance that they will be hard pressed to convert loyal Mozilla fans.

Internet Explorer lost much of its ground to Mozilla as the browser didn’t provide functionality to extend the browsers usefulness as Firefox did with add-ins, IE didn’t do a good enough job at rendering web pages quickly enough and IE has always been too clunky and memory hungry for most users, over Firefox which is significantly less memory intensive (especially with their latest revision 5.05).

A big part of the performance leaps Firefox has over IE is its very effective JavaScript Engine. As more and more websites are utilizing JavaScript for their dynamic page content web sites have been taking longer and longer to load and to accommodate this many browsers have made significant revisions to the way they process Java code in their browser. Mozilla has always been refining this technology in their browser with each revision, but Microsoft haven’t made a significant update to their JavaScript engine in years.

Microsoft are hoping to change all that with IE 8 but as I mentioned before, by the time IE 8 ships mid year, Mozilla probably would have released yet another version of their popular browser sucking away more and more market share from Microsoft making it difficult for MS to keep whatever market share they currently have.

Extensions For Windows: Great Free Software

There is some really great free software available online these days, some of it more useful than others, but great nonetheless. Extensoft have put together some really great (free) applications that are simple and easy to use. Many of which extend the functionality of windows such as an enhanced task manager and screen capture software I’ve personally been using and love.


The best one is easily the free screen capture software. I’ve been using it to put together documentation videos on computer systems at work but it can be used for many other things.

Some great tools here that can really come in handy.

Which Programming Language Is Right For Me?

So you’re new to software development, or you’ve been writing software for a while but curious as to what else is out there for your line of business? I believe there are 5 key fields software developers work in, and I’ll list my favourite and best suited programming languages to meet the needs of that field.

Enterprise: Java

As more and more businesses are moving many software systems typically run on workstation machines to an intranet environment, Java can play a big part in helping to migrate your software across. If the software you’ve written is already written in java, modifying it slightly to work in a web environment should be a piece of cake thanks to applets and JavaScript.

Windows Application Development: VB.NET / C#

Arguably the two best modern programming languages out there right now on the .NET framework Visual Basic.NET and C# on the .NET Framework. With high extensibility and interoperability these two languages can do pretty much what the other can do with a lot of flexibility.

Web Development Server Side: PHP, ASP.NET

PHP is a very easy to learn server side web scripting language that can do a lot and doesn’t take a lot of code to do even the most complicated tasks. ASP.NET on the other hand is another kettle of fish, and although ASP.NET isn’t a programming language as such (more a web technology) using either VB.NET or C#/++ with this technology can see you getting a lot done quick. It lets you build very well structured and stable web applications with any external data connection you want very easily.

Web Development Client Side: HTML, JavaScript

For any web developer, you’ll most likely be writing a combination of client side and server side code so having JavaScript in your programming arsenal is highly advantageous.

Database Programming: SQL

Whether it be desktop applications development, web development or applications for mobile devices having a sound knowledge of SQL (Structured Query Language) is highly regarded. Making sure you can write well formed and efficient queries may mean the difference of a few seconds or a few minutes of query time saved if you write your queries properly.

So those are just my thoughts anyway and you’ll see that most of these languages are very ‘windows centric’ (I’m personally a windows programmer after all so I may be a little biased) I think its a good idea if you know at least some of these different languages for whatever you do.

Obviously writing software for a Unix/Linux environment you’re choices may differ slightly (C, pearl, python, etc) but this should be used as a guide only and can be augmented for whichever environment you’re developing for.

Five Tips for Smarter Playlists


iTunes has a really great feature which allows you to ‘smartly’ list your songs by genre, artist, rating (favor), etc into a seperate ‘smart playlist’ which can then be syncronized with your iPod. This makes going through thousands of songs a breeze and makes sure you’re always listening to your most favorite songs, and not “We wish you a merry christmas” in July.

I came across a really great article which discusses just this topic, How to make your iTunes playlist ‘smarter’ – Five Tips for Smarter Playlists by David Gagne. Its a great article and helped me get my music sorted out. I already had my music organized in some kind of fashion (I am kinda a control freak with my music collection) but this article made me realize the myriad of features in iTunes which I had totally forgotten about and were underutilized in my playlists.

Check out the article above or find it here, its a great read for any iTunes user.

Gnome dock with physics engine

Akamaru is a simple, but fun, physics engine prototype. It is amazing to use, and easy to install. One more reason to forget Windows Vista, embrace Open Source, and use Ubuntu or Fedora.


The dock at the moment kinda works just like the MacOSX dock at the bottom of the screen, and tests the functionality of the Akamaru physics engine nicely.

This looks really great, adds some nice eye candy to the Linux desktop.

Windows Vista system sounds

When Robert Fripp worked his magic on Windows Vista, everyone knew Vista is going to sound different and hopefully better. Now that Vista is literally peeking around the corner, not that it’s possible for a software to peek or even exist in the physical world, but if it were able to peek, what would it sound like?

This article is a great read and includes a really interesting video clip at some of the comparisons in the System Sounds between both Windows XP and Vista. I quite like Vista’s system sounds, a far greater improvement over Windows XP.