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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C# and mono: getting some feet wet…

Well, some of the readers of these pages will have noticed that, carefully speaking, my enthusiasm for Microsoft technology is pretty limited. “Limited” indeed is the right way of putting it: While I have a clear opinion about most of Microsofts monopoly regarding desktop and office software (which, in the end, makes me avoid both as good as I can, and thanks at the very least to Ubuntu GNU/Linux, right now I can do that pretty well… 😉 ), I then and now always considered Microsoft .NET, as a development and runtime platform, a pretty good thing, maybe the best technology the Redmond folks came up with to date, and definitely a technology that could have offer wholly new options to both Microsoft and the rest of the world if licensed and distributed a little more openly. Anyway, leaving licensing and personal considerations related to this aspect aside: These days I earn a living mainly off working with Java and overally am pleased with this as an environment. However, as “integration” is what I mostly deal with, I finally had the chance of dealing with Microsoft .NET and C#, and had a rather pleasant trip…

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“Python For Informatics”: programming tutorials for software developers and beyond

Ever wondered how to get your computer to do more than just clicking on an icon, leaving you to enter some data into some application window (browser, mail client, …) and be more or less pleased at its overall outcome? Ever wondered how on earth to get your computer actually processing your data, solving your problems in a way more suitable for your every-day work? Maybe even tried to, careful as could be, get closer to the idea of “writing programs” for your machine but so far hesitated, scared by the overall complexity and skills set required to get this done?

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proprietary systems, vendor lock-in, developer frustation

Sometimes you just end up frustrated beyond belief: Being into software development / architecture, reading and keeping yourself up-to-date is an essential part of your work. Likewise, you generally tend to be (maybe a little too) enthusiastic about new technologies, as in most cases, while stumbling across new technology, new approaches and concepts, you might … Read moreproprietary systems, vendor lock-in, developer frustation

Sun, Oracle and future perspectives

So, now it seems it’s done: oracle.com brightly announces the finalization of the Sun acquisition, the Oracle Java download section features a NetBeans logo (and, vice versa, netbeans.org comes with a “sponsored by Oracle” button), developers.sun.com is bright red as well, and there are numerous blog posts as well as official answers to questions asked … Read moreSun, Oracle and future perspectives

Sun, Oracle, visions achieved and points missed?

James Gosling, known at best as the father of the Java language, is giving his very kind of special “farewell” to Sun Microsystems, now that the European Commission has unconditionally approved Oracle to buy the company that once invented Java, the Solaris operating system and a couple of other great technologies. One will have to see what arises out of this, for it could be both for better or for worse for some of the product in the Sun portfolio.

At the moment, however, I don’t want to re-evaluate the various aspects of the Sun/Oracle merger again as this has been done extensively all over the ‘net before. I just, given the day, want to add two personal thoughts to that…

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