Watch Me Fail to Install IE9

I recently tweeted about some problems I was having installing the IE9 beta, and the irrepressible @delic8genius and developer evangelist Michael Kordahi asked me for more info. Since an accurate description of what had transpired couldn’t fit in 140 characters I decided to screen-cast the whole episode from go to woe. Here is a rough transcript for those who think watching someone else using a computer for 7+ minutes and failing might be rather dull. »

How Long Before Google Make a Web IDE?


Google make a lot of things for developers – GWT, App Engine, code hosting, APIs on top of many of their services and developer tools in Chrome, but (to the best of my knowledge) they don’t make an IDE for web development. Given the importance of open standards and HTML to their core business (search/advertising) and the rise of HTML5 as a platform for increasing rich web applications I’m surprised they haven’t made one already. How long will they continue to sit on the sidelines while Microsoft scrambles to re-target Blend as an HTML5 authoring tool (in addition to Visual Studio and frontpa…err…Expression Web), and Adobe continue to make noise and show the possibility of cross-compiling flash to HTML5 (as well as their continued improvements to Dreamweaver). Google are spending efforts evangelizing these open web standards – how long before they start selling or giving away the tools to build these apps? The only thing I’m wondering is will they build on Eclipse (as they have for Android development and GWT) or will they go for something in-browser like google docs? I’m guessing in-browser. Or am I overlooking something they already have that does this?


There have already been a few attempts. Mozilla’s Bespin (which is called SkyWriter now) has been in the works for a while. It’s a collaborative Cloud-based coding tool.


Remember, Remember–2010 Edition

The time here in eastern Australia is 10:01 AM which means it is now the 5th of November in London. As I have done since 2006 I plan to watch V for Vendetta tonight. This year I thought I’d do something a little different, so I’ve created a special ‘5th of November’ build of logEnvy which you can download now. England Prevails. »

logEnvy, reloaded

I just finished an update to the logEnvy site. I’m pretty happy with the results (although there are a few things that are still a bit rough).



Crazy Stuff From History – The Murder of Dostoyevsky’s Father

Fyodor Dostoyevsky was a Russian novelist famous for works such as ‘Crime and Punishment’, ‘The Idiot’ and ‘The Brothers Karamazov’. His father was a retired military surgeon who practiced at the Mariinsky Hospital in Moscow (an area that included such cheerful landmarks as a cemetery for criminals, a lunatic asylum and an orphanage) . His father was poor enough that Dostoyevsky’s family of eight was housed in three small rooms in the hospital. »

If you’re writing a software application, this is your biggest competitor


If you’re writing a piece of software chances are this might be your biggest competitor. Helping people stay in touch with their friends? There’s an app for that. Designing user interfaces (or anything else really)? Yeah, paper can do that. Helping someone take notes? Check. To-do list? Check. Bingo Cards? Check. Keeping track of client details? Check. Tabulating sales? Check. Keeping a journal? Check. Writing a novel? Check. Archiving? There are paper documents over 1000 years old that are still intact. Sure, it isn’t perfect. You can’t send it around the world with the click of a button, but it has some advantages too. It doesn’t need batteries or electricity. It’s cheap and flexible. It’s portable. It doesn’t make you feel like an idiot when you make a mistake. You don’t need to ‘install’ it, or keep it patched. It’s compatible with all the writing implements in the world. If you’re writing a piece of software you’d better make damn sure you have some compelling reasons why your app is better than paper.

In the enterprise, this is your second-biggest competitor (well, not this version…2003, but you get the idea).


LearnWPF, reloaded

Re-platforming my ‘technical blog’ has been on my list of things to do for some time, primarily because the amount of spam comments on there was out-of-control, and the blogging platform which it was based – singleuserblog –written by my friend Darren Neimke back in the heady days of 2005 and ASP.NET 2.0, wasn’t an ongoing concern for him. And then mid-last-week LearnWPF went down and stayed down because it couldn’t connect to its database. LearnWPF is hosted on webhost4life, which seem to have taken a turn for the worse recently service-wise. I opened a support ticket with them. And waited. 36 hours later I got the following rather glib response:

We have checked your issue and noticed that the databases are in <different server name>. Hence please use this as the database server to connect to the databases.

Noticed? Really? You just moved my database and wondered if anything would happen? My only other datapoint re: hosting is Orcsweb who are totally awesome (they  host logEnvy for me). If someone walks past their data centre and sneezes I get an email from those guys telling me about the mitigations they’re putting in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Anyway, over to recovery mode. I fired up a local backup of, extracted the contents to BlogML, wrote an XSLT transform to transform the extract into a newer dialect of BlogML, and imported it into Blogengine.NET (which also powers, if that’s the right word, Then I customized the Inove theme a bit with some damask wallpaper and wood textures that I edited in Inkscape and viola. LearnWPF is re-born.



Startups for the rest of us Episode 24 – featuring logEnvy

Rob ‘no niche to obscure’ Walling and Mike ‘this is how we roll in the enterprise’ Taber are two software entrepreneurs who produce a podcast called ‘startups for the rest of us’ which has the self-proclaimed mission to help developers be awesome at launching software products. I’ve been a listener since about episode 4. What I like about the show is that Mike and Rob are pragmatic, experienced serial entrepreneurs, but they manage to come across as pretty regular guys who haven’t let their success go to their heads. They have plenty of simple, actionable advice for devs looking to start a software business. Recently they changed the format of their show a little to focus more on listener questions, and never one to shy away from useful constructive criticism I asked them for some tips on marketing products while in beta (specifically logEnvy), which they answered in the most recent episode (#24). Marketing is definitely the ‘black art’ part to the startup process from my point-of-view so their advice was most welcome. In any case I recommend most of their back-catalogue of shows, as well as subscribing.