fun with broken tools

I think I have been ranting about that before, already, and… for whatever it’s worth, then and now again I stumble across the same things that keep bugging me in an unbelievable way. Dealing with proprietary programming languages, most notably the one used in the document management software we used to buy a couple of years ago, is one of these “funny” experiences, in several dimensions…

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a better mouse trap #1: persistence, document storage and couchdb

Ever considered building a better mouse trap? Well. I do, actually, each and every day anew. I will leave out most of the more in-depth considerations related to this, as for now they don’t matter – the only thing worth knowing, initially, is that the process of “migrating”, “updating”, “rebuilding”, … an existing, fairly complex application system is something that is painful beyond all imagination, and this even while “just” considering the mere technical effects and aspects of this procedure…

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Locked in?

Es dürfte dem einen oder anderen nicht verborgen geblieben sein, daß ich das Gros meiner Tage damit verbringe, Software in einer In-House – Umgebung gleichermaßen zu betreiben, zu entwickeln und auch, irgendwie, in ihrer langfristigen Ausrichtung und Entwicklung zu planen. Ich bin seit ehedem Anhänger der Idee “Freier Software” (mit großem “F”, wie in “Freie Rede”, nicht wie in “Freibier”…) oder, wenn pragmatischer, technischer, zumindest des Ansatzes von Open-Source-Software-Entwicklung, im Wesentlichen aus denselben Gründen (offener Umgang mit “gemeinschaftlichem” Wissen, Respektieren der Rechte und Interessen aller Beteiligten, Lösen von einem starren und meist falschen “Produzent”/”Konsument”-Verhältnis und so weiter und so fort). Im Alltag indes zeigt sich, bisweilen, daß diese Frage zwar interessant und relevant ist, aber letztlich nicht weit genug springt, um gewisse Probleme zu lösen, und auch nicht in jedem Fall allein geeignet ist, um “Lock-In”-Effekte, die übermäßige und faktisch nur extrem schwer lösbare Bindung an bestimmte Produkte oder Hersteller, von vornherein zu minimieren.

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Why HP/Palm webOS should be open(-sourc)ed…

Those who have been reading this blog for a little longer eventually might know I’m pretty enthusiastic about Open Source both due to pragmatic and to “philosophic” reasons of this approach, and eventually I tend to “demand” software to be released as open source eventually a little more often than necessary or appropriate. However, in case of webOS, the cell / smart phone application platform initially invented by Palm and now, along with all the remainder of Palm, owned by HP, this seems an approach pretty much reasonable and logical for several reasons…

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digging into the Palm Pre…

After being with my K800i for more than three years, indeed I wonder why actually get a new cell phone, why bother dealing with syncing contacts, configurations, … between two devices again? Well, while being a good, reliable, stable device, there are some things about the K800i that have come to bother me, recently, and subsequently are the features I’d like to see in a successor. Some of them, in no particular order:

  • The e-mail functionality that comes with the K800i is next to unusable. Most of the mails I tried to read didn’t get rendered correctly due to “unsupported character set” which seems a known problem / limitation of this device. To compensate for that, I’ve been using the open source, Java ME based mujmail for a while, which worked more or less stable but is in no whatsoever way integrated with the rest of the cell phone, so neither you can open embedded HTTP links in the K800i browser, nor you can dial any phone number right out of an e-mail rendered in mujmail. There are ways to compensate for that, but it’s sort of annoying.
  • More than just once or twice, the last couple of weeks, I felt the ability to open PDF e-mail attachments a feature rather useful even for a mobile device. Been searching for some tool to fill this gap for quite a while, but failed to find a feasible Java ME / native K800i PDF renderer…
  • While being decently fast, the K800i embedded browser is pretty limited in terms of functionality, especially when it comes to displaying some sites I regularly use (java.dzone.com). There, too, aren’t really any options how to improve this situation.
  • The K800i doesn’t know about WLAN, which is painful as once in a while I end up being in a situation in which there’s no cell link and some sort of wireless LAN is the only way to connect with any piece of the world, and be that textual / for the purpose of sending and reading mails.
  • Using my Internet Pack M, I then and now used Google Maps for navigation purposes, which however proved difficult as the K800i is not capable of recieving GPS signals, so you basically have no location-based services at hand.
  • Doing remote access to our servers, so far I used K800i + dial-up + netbook, mostly for small operations (restarting a service, looking at some log file, …). Though this works rather well, it always requires you to have two devices at hand, two devices sufficiently charged, and you need a, though fairly small, place to operate the both of these devices. For most operations, simply having an SSH client installed on the cell phone will perfectly do, so I was looking for a phone to allow for doing right this, as well.

After comparing a few devices, also (of course) taking monetary aspects into consideration, I ended up ordering a Palm Pre, which is distributed by o2 in Germany exclusively it seems, recieved it the very next day (wow, that’s fast…), and by now already spent a few days with the device, learnt a couple of things, played around a lot, did come to some preliminary conclusions…

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