As ‘user experience’ goes, I’m glad to see that ITunes finds the album I’m looking for, múm’s newest, when I type ‘m-u-m’ into the search box, even though ITunes lists the band name correctly as ‘m-ú-m’.

I hereby dub this feature “vowel-insensitive word search”.

Sometimes a dead-simple feature hides from me for exactly that reason, because the feature is so dead simple.

Such was the case of Eclipse being able to pop out various parts of its view into multiple separate windows, something I just recently learned from this Adrian Coyler posting from well over a year ago, the English original of this article he wrote for the German-language “Eclipse Magazin”.

To pop all or part of an Eclipse view into its own window, just DRAG the view outside of the main window. That’s it. See that ‘Problems’ tab? Drag it to its own window. The ‘Package Explorer’ tab? Another window. At last, my Eclipse can take advantage of my nice multi-monitor setup.

5150 likes Maggot Brain.

Funk Mob likes Maggot Brain.

The Jazz Mandolin Project likes Maggot Brain (flac download).

Pearl Jam likes Maggot Brain. Here, have seconds they say.  Santana likes Maggot Brain.

The Volebeats like Maggot Brain (Emusic download).

Widespread Panic likes Maggot Brain,
though it seems you often have to wait for the second set.

Mike Watt likes Maggot Brain enough to put it on his record. He even likes it enough to make J. Mascis let him play it at the show.

The band Maggot Brain likes Maggot Brain.
I like Maggot Brain, too. Yeah, Maggot Brain.

Some years ago, I purchased a ‘Unitiblue’ NES Controller->USB adapter from blackchopper.com for use under Linux. I don’t recall the exactly when I made the purchase, I think it was 2005 or so.

The device worked as advertised under kernel 2.4, and for a time I enjoyed playing emulated versions of Ninja Gaiden and the like under Linux.

Then, I moved apartments, upgraded my computer several times, and the company at blackchopper.com ceased to exist.

Recently, I wanted to use the device again, but without kernel 2.6 support and without a company to email for details, I would have to sort out myself how to get the thing working under kernel 2.6. Reading for a bit on-line, I discovered ‘fxload’ was the tool that should be able to load the firmware onto the device, and through trial and error found this set of options to work :

fxload -t an21 -D /dev/__device_name__ -I /home/user/unitiblue/cca-4-11-04.hex

Getting the device firmware to load automatically when the device was plugged in would be a whole other challenge. Udev rules might be clearly explained somewhere on the Internet, but I can’t find where. After much arguing and man-page reading, I found a similar set of rules in an existing udev rules file, and modified it to match the Unitiblue device :

> cat /etc/udev/rules.d/49-unitiblue.rules

BUS==”usb”, ACTION==”add”, SYSFS{idVendor}==”f666″, SYSFS{idProduct}==”aa01″, \
PROGRAM=”/bin/sh -c ‘K=%k; K=$${K#usbdev}; printf bus/usb/%%03i/%%03i $${K%%%%.*} $${K#*.}'” \
RUN+=”/bin/sh -c ‘/sbin/fxload -t an21 -D /dev/%c -I /home/mythuser/unitiblue/cca-4-11-04.hex'”

I’m still not sure just what the rule means, but it works and I like all the %’s and brackets and such.

After getting the device to load automatically when plugged in, I noticed it still behaved sort of flaky. I took it apart to discover several of the wires were bare for long enough to short out each other. Some electrical tape later and I’m back now, in emulator joy.

“The Pragmatic Programmer” : Andrew Hunt / David Thomas

The more I work as a mentor with junior developers, the more I quote parts of “The Pragmatic Programmer” to others.

The more I find myself quoting parts of the book to others, the more I find myself quoting it to myself as I maintain code and review project specifications.

Over time, for both myself and the people I mentor, I’ve noticed fewer of the book’s big no-nos creeping into projects as a result of such quoting and re-quoting. Very nice.

The books sub-title, “From journeyman to master”, is key to understanding its audience : the skilled, mid-level programmer who needs the occasional reminder of programming’s big don’ts, as in “The Evils of Duplication” (part of Chapter 2), or who needs a quick explanation of the strange “power of text” (chapter 4). The last part of the subtitle is important too, seasoned programmers do well to refresh themselves with a quick of read or re-read of a section.

The topics in the book cover (most) all the problems I’ve had myself while helping mentor junior programmers, and cover many of the problems I hear in stories of senior developer’s working with their teams. For a relatively short book, 300 pages of easy free-flowing prose, the book is surprisingly complete.

Good book. High recommended.

A Mock’s Not A Stub

February 5, 2007

I read Martin Fowler’s site pretty regularly, and while I typically enjoy the writing there, this article really stood out for me when I read it this week.

It explains the differences between mocks, stubs, and other testing lingo, and it cleared a lot of things up for me that have been muddied for a good time now.

I was asked for Eclipse plugin recommendations last month, by someone who’d just started doing Java development again after quite a bit of time doing .Net development. I wrote down a short list of the common settings, plugins, ans so forth I recommend to the developers I work with.

While writing the list, I realized I can babble about Eclipse setup for far longer than anyone cares to listen, so I’ve pared things down to five initial setup recommendations:

  1. Download an Eclipse milestone. Their usually stable enough for day-to-day use.
  2. Edit the Java compiler settings, turning all the warnings on. Turn off the ones that completely bug you after a few hours.
  3. Set up an extension location to install any plugins into. You’ll be glad you did. Lots of sites discuss this idea; I often point folks here for details.
  4. Install some plugins. I recommend the Web Tools Platform for web developers, PMD for developers who need to review more other’s projects, and the Freemarker plugin for anyone working with Freemarker templates.
  5. Look around on the web any time you wish Eclipse did something it doesn’t. There are plugins and setup options to match all sorts of situation.

Dear Ipod,

I see you sitting there, all shiny and black and superior, and I’m ok with that. You could be just a little bit better, though. Here’s a picture I took of you earlier :

Ipod showing 3 versions of all my trials

Look at the picture. See the problem? There are three songs called ‘All My Trials‘ on there. No, my problem isn’t that I listen to too much folk music; my problem is that I want to listen to the Pete Seeger version, and not one of the two Nick Drake bootleg versions I have. But can I can pick the Pete Seeger version from the list? NO, because all three entries look the same.

So please, dear Ipod, in the future, could you maybe notice that there are several song titles that are the same and give me a visual clue as to which song is which? Maybe you could put the performer and artist info after the title for the duplicate songs. You could set it off from the song title with italics or a light grey font or something. Whichever choice you feel best.

Thanks in advance,

joe

I’ve been a subscriber to Emusic for a while now, and when I started I was subscribing as a way to save cash spent on new records. For my money, I was pretty happy.

Last week though, a friend and I were discussing the audio quality differences between the 190kbs vbr that Emusic sells and the stuff that was on the original CD. He’s an mp3 doubter, slowly filling his house with audiophile quality equipment; me, I’d like audiophile gear and lossless digital music, but I’ve compromised for now.

During the conversation, we conducted, separately, a quick A/B test that showed me the pop I’m missing from Emusic downloads, and showed him the significant improvement that 320kbs constant vs. 190kbs vbr makes.

The immediate result of the conversation was that I searched and listed out a number of online music stores, especially looking for sites selling lossless quality audio, and especially skipping sites selling DRM crippled audio. The list and some brief site commentary is below, add any others you can think of in the coments.

  • Emusic.com : The site I purcahse from now.
  • Bleep.com : Electronic music. Autechre, Aphex Twin, beepity beep boop bid-eep. Some lossless audio, including the entire Autechre back catalog. I’ll be purchasing here later, I think.
  • Fastatmosphere.com : The list of artists is short, but they sell flac versions of the albums they sell. They do the personalized music stores for Jay Farrar and Gillian Welch, which is nice.
  • Backofficemusic.com : They do the online stores for Primus and related projects, They Might Be Giants, and others.
  • Musictoday.com : The offer a lot of CDs and traditional merchandise, but also sell digital downloads of some of their bands.
  • Zunior.com : Offers FLAC and MP3 downloads of a lot of really small labels. Nettwerk is there, and I see the Constantines and The New Pornograhers on the bestsellers list, so there’s music I like there.
  • Magnatune.com : Offers two tiers of MP3 downloads from a lot of bands I’ve never heard of. They have a close relationship with Amarok, my player of choice at home, and they seem like an unusual store. I’ll be visiting them again, though I’m really not sure which bands I like there.

I’m excited that newer, open media players are coming around to integrating music stores into the player, ala iTunes. Kudos to Amarok and Songbird, though I’ll talk more about them later.

Possible Topics

November 17, 2005

Well, I have the technology.

 

What will I write about?  Likely I’ll write about work / noodling with the computer / guitar / art supplies.

 

We shall see.