Thursday, August 28, 2008

Do the hundred?

Can you do 100 press-ups? If not then follow this program one hundred push ups and you will be able to after 6 weeks.

I start tomorrow and managed a feeble 17 on my initial test...

Is there a more diverse field than software development?

I've been on the Stack Overflow for a couple of weeks. If you've been under a rock and don't know, Stack Overflow is a Q+A website for programmers, developed as a joint venture between industry luminaries Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky.

From the questions that fellow developers have asked, it highlights that a lot of people are doing a lot of vastly different things. Everything from tracing the inner exception of a soap message in ASP.NET through to rendering a tree structure in Django through to wondering the performance implications of case insensitivity in Regular Expressions.

This is why I love software development. There are so many fields to get into, and so many languages to learn and so many ways to do the same thing. If you get stale, you can just learn a new language or technology in your current language.

So my question is - is there any other industry that is as diverse?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sorting a List using delegates

I have to sort Lists of Custom classes relatively frequently. Everytime I am about to write the Sort code, I always forget how to do it for a breif second. So as a reminder, I thought I would put a post on how to do it.

Say you have a List of Customer classes.

List customerList = new List();
customerList.PopulateList();

Now if you want to sort by a property in the list (for example BusinessName) you can do the following:

customerList.Sort( delegate( Customer x, Customer y)
{
return x.BusinessName.CompareTo(y.BusinessName);
}

Done.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Jingoistic reporting of the truth?

Olympic medal table from the BBC:









RankCountryGoldSilverBronzeTOTAL
1China46152283
2USA30 353499
3Great Britain181211 41
4Russia 16 16 20 52
5Germany 13 8 12 33
6Australia 11 14 16 41
As reported by NBC.com








RankCountryGoldSilverBronzeTOTAL
1China46152283
2USA30 353499
4Russia 16 16 20 52
3Great Britain181211 41
6Australia 11 14 16 41
5Germany 13 8 12 33

Which one is correct?

Well to me it is a MEDAL table, not a gold medal table. Either rename the table or repot the truth people!

Just a bit of tongue in cheek fun, but it has been hard work being a Kiwi in the UK over the Olympics. The Brits are worse winners than the Australians. For what it's worth, the per capita table is the real indication of success...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

iPhone 2.0.2 Update - admitting a problem?

I've had my iPhone now for a few weeks and as far as the device itself is concerned I'm really impressed. I've got another post queued up to add to the noise bascially discussing how I've found it and "good bits", "bad bits" etc. but the main issue I've had since it arrived is the really, really crappy reception.

In the UK we are on O2, a company not renowned for having the best coverage (although I think they would dissagree.) On their website, they have a tool which lets you put in a postcode or town, and it shows a (crappy) map coloured to show what sort of service you should expect in that area. For my local area, the entire map is coloured to indicate full HSDPA. This means I should be getting a reasonably good 3G signal in most places. The sad reality has been that even in the MAIN street of the villiage of Bishop's Cleeve, where I should get max sig, all I see is "No Service".

It's a bit lame, but I haven't bothered (read: summoned the patience) to talk to O2 about it yet, although that call is imminent. But what surprised me the other day was a friend of mine has an LG on O2 and both phones sat next to each other on a table, one was showing strong signal and 3G while my iPhone was a single bar with no data but more often "No Service" this leads me to suspect that it is more a problem with the phone itself.

When the update came out the other day to 2.0.2 I dutifully upgraded and since then the behaviour of the phone has been... odd! Some stuff I can't really put my finger on, but the main one is that whereas in the past, when the phone was in range of a wireless network, it would be constantly connected (or rather would show itself to be.) But now, the wireless connection symbol only ever appears when the phone is actually trying to fetch data. This would be fine but on some occasions the connection isn't coming up quickly enough for Safari or Twinkle and I'm getting error messages about connection problems. This even happened in the mail app once which is quite worrying.

So what's going on? I know Apple are shitty when it comes to revealing what is being fixed by an update, but I am wondering if this is some kind of attempt at a quick fix for what seems to be an emerging flaw in either the software or hardware on the phone. If it is, is this an admission however subtle that there is a real issue? And if it is, it's failed, and it has also damaged the useability of the phone.

Maybe the Aussies aren't stupid after all

It appears that Australians are switching to Mac faster than anyone else in the world.

Article here

Macs are still a little pricey in New Zealand I think personally. It doesn't help having a distributor in between Apple and the consumer. When I was an ISV a few years ago, I looked at selling a few Macs to some customers. The distributor would only talk to you if you signed a guarantee saying you would sell at least $50k worth of Apple products per year.

Which I guess is why only the major retailers sell Apple stuff, although Harvey Norman for example, make no money from the sales of Apple computer equipment - the distributor buys shelf space. That is why in most stores, the Apple stuff is tucked away in a corner - and a commision based sales person is going to show you a PC first, because they don't get a bean from the Apple sale.

That needs to change, and the sooner the better. A low to mid range price point would help too - say a mac mini bundled with Screen and keyboard etc for around $1500.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Final thoughts on the UK

We have a couple of hectic weeks left in the UK. I finish on 29th Aug and we fly out 31st and I start in my new job on the 8th. Nothing like a fast turn around.

We have enjoyed our time in the UK. We have had the opportunity to meet a lot of nice people, some officious prats and at least one Xenophobe!

We have seen some awesome, awesome things and had plenty of great experiences.

I would have to say my favourite place in England is Stonehenge without a doubt, and really enjoyed Easter in York. Paris is by far and away our favourite place to visit, but had good times in Slovenia, Holland, Ireland and Italy as well.

Our daughter speaks with a (posh) Uk accent now, and has spent more time in the UK than NZ. It will be a regret to us and her in the future, that she probably won't remember too much if anything from her 19 months in the Northern Hemisphere, except the 6000+ pics we have taken!

I thought I would list some pros and cons of life in the UK, as much as a future reference for myself as anything else.

PROS:
- ability to see and do things in UK and Europe is fantastic and relatively cheap
- much maligned but generally good public transport system
- excellent roading system
- high quality of living - things like free healthcare, competition in utilities and cheap broadband and access to multimedia
- excellent employment opportunities

CONS:
- Weather
- Weather
- Weather
- cramming 60+ million people into a little island means things get crammed - sick of people everywhere
- stupid little houses because of above
- stupid narrow roads
- red tape everywhere - "but we've always done it this way"
- did I mention the weather?
- tax - taxation in the UK is out of control - I feel for people trying to get ahead and the Govt cutting them down at every opportunity
- oh yeah, the weather is rubbish

There are a lot of things we will miss I suspect, and only realise once we are home. There are equally many things we won't miss. I can't wait to get back to the clean, crisp, open, friendly and spacious atmosphere of New Zealand.

I will miss not getting Top Gear and Dr Who before everyone else and the good people we have met.

Kia Ora UK, we wish you well, but it's time to go home...

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Newsgator RSS reader

I had previously been using Google Reader for web-based RSS reading. I don't run a desktop client because I am on far too many different computers to keep a desktop client in sync. I am also a contractor (for about another month) so don't want to have to install applications to keep track of the blogs I read.

Google reader is ok. It's pretty fast, but there was one thing that really, REALLY, annoyed me about it. It kept loosing posts, or more correctly, marking old posts as read, even if I hadn't.

Also, I have recently purchased an iPod Touch, and wasn't a fan of the GReader touch application. So looking for something better reader, Simone put me on to Newsgator. I've been using it a week and have become a bit of a fan. The web reader is a little slower than GReader, but has nicer features, such as the ability to tag posts, more powerful "Mark As" features and nicer rendering of blogs being read.

The major winning point is that is seemlessly syncs to the desktop client and the free iPhone application, which is very good too.

So, if you are looking for a replacement to GReader, then give Newsgator a try.