Friday, May 30, 2008

Happy Birthday to me!

I'd like to use this medium to thank all friends and well-wishers who made my day today. I really so much appreciate your kind gestures. Calls started coming in, in the middle of the night till the close of the day. Text messages too were uncountable. Thanks to FaceBook too for their message.

The much awaited GWT 1.5

Thank God, a release candidate of Google Web Toolkit is now available. The most important thing I like about this release is the ability to program with Java 1.5. Download the release candidate and give it a spin to see what I'm saying. And if you don't know what GWT is, it's simply a tool that enables you to be able to develop your normal Web applications (CSS, Javascript and AJAX) with Java and have it compiled into optimized HTML and Javascript pages that works well in all the major browsers.

GMail Beta Love

Oh how I love GMail. Google, right from inception has been giving us great tools to enhance our productivity. But what really piques my interest is that besides the productivity, they kinda suck you in with excitement as you us their product. Is it the Google Search itself that we want to talk about, is it Google Docs, Is it the Google toolbar; name it, they have it. As I have read on quite a number of blogs and have come to believe that Google is one of the best companies to work for on earth.

What makes me to be giving all these praises to Google was the excitement I got when I was making use of GMail, which I use in my day to day running; though I also use Hotmail & Yahoo, I say it boldly that GMail is the best. The new Hotmail is crap (bad use of Web2.0 concepts), while the new Yahoo is a little better though too bloated I think. I started with a Lycos account back then because I didn't want to go the Yahoo way; I wanted my email address to be different because if you were to ask most Nigerians what their email address is, all you'd get is So most times when I meet Nigerians and I get to ask what their email address is, I finish it for them by adding once they tell me their username. Later Lycos somehow had issues and I lost the account, then I proceeded to Hotmail, and I was satisfied with their service then until GMail came out. I was dying then to get an invitation to use their service then because you could only have an account then with them if you got an invitation. Somehow one of my friends (pumba@cowblock) gave me an invitation. That was how GMail became my number one email provider. The yahoo account I created was created because one of my developer friends (Dabar) got irritated with me some years ago when he wanted to chat with me and he learnt that I didn't have a Yahoo account; so I had to create a Yahoo account, but I didn't want so I opted for i used the account for developmental purposes alone (to be specific, Yahoo UI development). I joined the YUI forum a few years back and the amount of mails I was getting from the forum was becoming a nightmare so I had to dedicate an account to it.

So back to what I was saying:
I closed work yesterday and just hibernated my laptop. On getting home, I resumed my PC and I was able to check quite a number of mails offline, as if I was online. I navigated back and forth from my inbox to personal mails without the display going blank and you know what? I felt good. I must also give kudos to the Firefox (FF) team because Mozilla kinda helped the experience; try doing this with our dear friend, Internet Explorer (IE), and see what happens; know what? The displaywill just go blank because the connectivity is lost. So GMail is able to cache my mailbox without hanging or spoiling the user experience. This is not to say GMail doesn't have it's flaws; one of which is that it freezes FF attimes because one of its scripts is performing an activity that is affecting FF's performance, and FF requests to stop the script in it's tracks, and if you do, the display is broken. But really, come to think of it, GMail is the outcome of the development done in an individual's spare time, and it's this good. Kudos to the GMail team and to Google themselves.

Firefox Love

One of the things that makes Firefox the best browser is the abundance of addons out there that u can plug straight into your browser and be more productive. In one of my previous post, I made mention of PicLens, but there are lots of options out there that can make you more productive. I'd just mention a few that I use in my daily life and also in development.
  1. CoolIris: This addon is also from the developers of PicLens. It enables you to preview a link/page before you open it.
  2. Flash Switcher: As a good developer, you should cater for all kind of users when developing applications. Don't just build a website or an application that works only in the version of the browser that you have on your computer; you need to make provisions for everybody. When I'm building websites that involve including a flash movie, I try to cater for those that don't have the flash player installed on their system; either i provide a way for them to download the flash player and install, or I provide an alternate content to the flash movie. It's a poor practice to just include the embed & object tag alone on your website, which is what some developers do. Don't just generate HTML & SWF from within the Flash IDE, and then copy the embed section and then paste in your target document; this is going to turn out bad, either for you or for your users. Right from Flash 7, it seems Macromedia had started providing the option of injecting the flash movie into your page with javascript, and they still do in the current version. And if you don't want their option, SWFObject has a much reader and user friendly flash injection script that you can use. Back to what I was saying, before digressing, Flash Switcher frees me from the hassle of having to uninstall the flash player and then reinstall after I'm done just to make flash unavailable in the browser. One of the things that can make a developer unproductive is to waste time on an action that has an easier way of being carried out. That's where Flash Switcher comes to the rescue; you can switch between various versions of the Flash player, right there from within your browser, and you completely make Flash unavailable in your browser.
  3. FireBug: This tool is just like Google. Why did I say this? Can you imagine life without Google's search engine? Though their are other search engines, Google Search is the only search engine. Anytime I need to do a lookup, what only comes to mind is Google and when I need a better elaboration, I think of Wikipedia. In the same manner, I can't imagine life as a web developer without Firebug. Firebug is a great tool. Lots of amazing features that makes the life of a web developer interesting: From inline CSS editing(you edit any website's CSS inline and immediately see the results instantly without refreshing), style analysis (view the CSS code that makes a particular element on a page beautiful), Javascript editing and viewing, elements measurement (see the sizes of the various elements on your page), XHR (see the sizes of the various resources being put to use on your site, and also ow long it takes to load each one, view HEAD, POST and GET requests) and a host of more lovely features. Some people go to the extent of using this tool as an hacker's arsenal in downloading resources from sites like (YouTube, MySpace and some other sites like that); I wouldn't elaborate on how to go about doing this, but you can google it to find out more if you are interested.
  4. YSlow: Another good plugin that integrates with Firebug, enabling you to find out what makes your website slow. It grades your website based on some conventions adopted by Yahoo.
  5. Better GMail 2: I came across this addon a few weeks ago. Installed it but never put it to use. I just had a swell experience with it last night while I was about leaving the office and my Firefox browser asked if I wanted to upgrade to the latest version, of which I accepted. After installing the upgrade, I didn't feel the experience yet because I rarely log out of my account bacause I try to avoid having to type my username and password everytime I launch my browser and point it to GMail. Anyway, I did logout of my GMail account because I had one other GMail account I use for developmental purposes, that I wanted to checkout. God, I was completely sucked in with what I saw as regards the GMail interface that I saw. I first thought Google had revamped their site, but I remembered I just upgraded this addon. It was really beautiful (see screenshots above) Beautiful Interfaces wet my appetite, that's why Veerle is the one of the best women illustrators I have come to fall in love with her designs on the web. She's just too good.
  6. I'm used to the habit of bookmarking some of the websites that I use every now and then on paper, because I might at that time be using a public computer that wouldn't be accessible when next I have to browse. But I just decided to put the service to use, and having to navigate to their site every time I browse is a pain which they also know and have provided an addon that you can use within Firefox to bookmark or tag any link you want. So I can access my bookmarks on the web anytime without having to carry out my notebook or diary.
  7. IE Switcher: This addon is just like Flash Switcher too. It saves you time and makes your users or customers happy on the long run. It enables you to be able to view your sites in Internet Explorer, directly from within Firefox itself. What this means is that Internet Explorer is embedded right within Firefox, so you don't have to waste time launching a separate browser instance externally; you have it right there within Firefox. It's a little disheartening for me when I hear some developers say they develop on Firefox alone or on IE alone. One of my great pals once told me while we were working together on one website sometimes ago that we can enforce it on our users to use Firefox alone; this was because the site he designed was misbehaving greatly within Internet Explorer. I do debug for IE, but debugging that particular website was pain. The problem started from the habit that IE has, in ignoring transparency of PNGs, to some float issues I found very difficult fixing. So my pal was just like - we tell our users to use Firefox whenever they want to access the service, which I told him there and then that it was absurd. Eventually, we had to redo a new design that works perfectly well in both browsers.
  8. Clear Cache Button: There are times when caching helps you site load faster while developing, but at other times, it's just pain. This is because you don't get to see the recent changes you just made to a particular page because the browser has cached the old version and is not reloading the new one. In some cases, while developing with PHP, I've had to disable caching in the browser by sending an header request that expires the page immediately, so that on a reload, the browser has t o refetch a new page; though I heard that browsers often ignore this attimes. Anyway, I had to do a manually clear the myself, which is also a waste of time; having to click through several menus, checkboxes, and buttons just to clear the cache is a waste of time for me; I'm very conscious of my time and I don't want to watse it at all if I can help it. It's a pain to clear the cache in Firefox becuase I have to go to Tools -> Clear Private Data, then uncheck some checkboxes so that FF doesn't clear saved passwords, sessions and some other settings that I wouldn't want it to clear. Internet Explorer also makes this difficult because when you try to clear the cache, the browser freezes for a few seconds most of the time. The thought just crossed my mind last week while developing that there ought to be a FF plugin that will just allow me to click a single button and it will clear the cache. I did some Googling and there it was. My life is now easier with that addon.
  9. Tab Effect: This is not a productivity tool, but like one of my developer friends (Java personified, Dejjy); he so much likes those nifty effects you can find on desktops or in applications. There was a time his computer was sort of a toy because there was always something animated moving around. This addon takes your browser to 3D dimension with its 2D effects faked as 3D. You'd love it if you also fascinated by having some animated stuffs around you. The browser flips pages in 3D mode when you close or open new tabs.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Lots of cool applications

Sometimes ago I read about FeedDemon on a fellow blogger's site, with it's ability to enable you to view feeds offline. I'm a sort of guy that loves to keep abreast technology so I'm always reading up most of the good things I come across both offline and online. I did take out FeedDemon for a spin and was really won over with it's slick interface and efficiency of operation. You can also check it out too.

There has been so much noise about Adobe Media Player on various blogs and on their site. I wasn't disappointed when I gave it a shot. Keep it up Adobe.

With these kind of apps, you cannot but be productive.

Watched a video yesterday showcasing JXTA. I was impressed with the kind of communication that can be created between various ubiquitous devices with it. Check out the technology to find out more. Also saw a version of Aerith running on a set-up box (kind of TV set) last night. It was really a great sight to behold. Java is doing great on various devices now from cars, to PS3, to TVs and a host of all others. James Gosling and Bill Joy have really been doing us great. I'd also like to give big kudos to everyone that has been making Java a success ever since it's inception.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

God bless Adobe

I have been having challenges having to code MXML by hand-coding it in Flashdevelop. I had Flex Builder 3 but it was a beta version and also a 30-days trial version. I was lucky to find out that Adobe gives students free license to use Flex Builder 3 and showcase their applications at Flex Showcase. Though I'm not longer a student, - now a graduate - I sent a copy of my scanned school ID to the team in charge of giving free licenses to students. I was excited when a few days later, I got the license. You can also sign up for the license if you are a student or a graduate at Flex Registration. If you are not a student, you have to go and buy the license.

PicLens is absolutely immersive

I downloaded some firefox plugins a few weeks back, one of which was PicLens. I installed it, but didn't get to see it work because I didnt read their how-to before installing it in my Firefox browser. I must have been fascinated by what I read online that it can do, which must have made me download it. Anyway, I inquisitively clicked on the play icon I saw appear on the photos within facebook when I saw PicLens take over the screen, in full screen mode, and pull all the pictures within the gallery I clicked on into a 3-dimensional immersive experience. I was really dazed. The experience was undescribable. Immediately I went to the devloper's site to see what was really possible with the tool and to find out more. I discovered that quite a number of sites are already supported by them like Flickr, Bebo, Myspace, YouTube and a host of all others. There's even the ability to add your own website to their collection. This is a must-experience plugin. Go to to find out more. Please try to play around with it and let me know what you feel about it.

JavaFX surely has a future

I wasn't able to attend JavaOne conference this year (May 5-9) - not that I've attended one before -, but I've been up to pace reading blogs, viewing JavaOne Pictures online and watching Videos related to JavaOne. From the various blogs I've read, people had this to say about this year's JavaOne conference; that it was more of JavaFX than anything else. try looking up for some of the write-ups.

Everyone has been making efforts to be a major player in the Rich Internet Application (RIA) space; talk of Microsoft with Silverlight/Windows Presentation Foundation(WPF), Adobe with Flex & AIR, Sun Microsystems with JavaFX. So far I've been very impressed with what has been done so far in the RIA space with Flex & AIR; bears me witness to this. I'm currently working for Quanteq Technologies Services Limited (, a consulting firm that solves ICT related performance problems for companies and organizations through IT Advisory, IT Project Management... One of the objectives I was supposed to meet up with was to embrace and develop with some new technologies and also recommend or research new and emerging technologies that would move the organization forward to realizing its Vision Statement. One of my team members suggested I try out Silverlight too since I was developing with C# (I just started when I resumed here; I've always been a Java guy), but I needed to see mouth-watering/amazing stuffs that people have done with Silverlight before taking the RED PILL. I didn't really see anything that would make me go crazy over Silverlight, but I eventually did see Lee Brilow's demos at, which were more than I bargained for. Silverlight is surely coming up, but it's still a kid beside its parent - Flash, but it surely has great capabilities for us in the near future which shows that Microsoft is also doing good in the RIA space.

Though I've been more of a Java guy in my development life, I've always been very skeptical about JavaFX. I've been following up with the technology just as its form was following function, since its inception when it was still F3, developed by Chris oliver then. I played around with it for some weeks, but eventually had to leave it because it was just too slow to startup. Even though Chris Oliver demoed some cute stuffs with it, I wasn't still impressed to take the plunge with it again.

I always joked with my Java friends that JavaFX was a dead technology. My perception has been that Sun was just trying to be a voice in the RIA space when they were not up to the task. Why don't they concentrate on the spaces where Java is a big force to reckon with rather than struggle in the RIA space that has almost been completely taken over by Adobe & Microsoft. Java has been doing really great in other spaces I must say, examples are Android (Google's new mobile platform), Adobe Flex Builder 3 (Built on Eclipse), BlazeDS (from Adobe too) and a host of all others.

But I was eventually proven wrong with the JavaOne video of 'Experimentating with JDK7 Features' which I saw. Men, there is really a great deal that Java is going to do in the RIA space. From On2's video capability been infused into JavaFX, Parley's website ( being developed completely with JavaFX with amazing features and to hear about the future direction Parleys website is going to be taken to, to Joshua Marinacci's (One of my inspirers) demo, and then to the killer demo of Using Photoshop and Illustrator to pimp up a UI, export it as JavaFX code, then add more code to it with any JavaFX IDE like Netbeans or Eclipse to produce an amazing application. I was more than impressed to see this. What this simply means is that Designers can do their stuff in their tools of choice (Tools that they are conversant with), export it as JavaFX code and have Developers continue from there, which is more than enough. The JavaFX team has created a plugin for Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator for exporting your comps as JavaFX code.

I boldly say it not that Sun is really doing great by providing the community with great tools to use. JavaFX is set to rock the world.