The Blog of Maxim Porges

Archive for January, 2008

  • Wow

    Yep – this is hands-down the hottest Flex-based app I’ve seen yet.

    2008.01.31 / no responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • An Interesting UK-to-US Comparison

    I came across this article from a link on TUAW. I agree that Apple hired entirely the wrong acting pair for the UK commercial, given the actors’s popularity and previous roles. I disagree with just about everything else, although the article is well written and I laughed at many of the witty jabs at Mac users.

    Now I’ll be a pretentious, British, private-school-educated snob.

    Take a look at the comments at the bottom of the article. Notice anything? Compare the writing, grammar, verbiage, number of typos, and even the insults with that of your typical “Mac vs PC” debate on a US web site. Let me know if you see anything interesting.

    I’ll give you a hint: it took me years of reading emails from my US compadres before I got over the fact that the US just doesn’t give a sh** about the correctness of language. I still get embarrassed on their behalf when our senior management sends out company-wide emails with typos and grammatical errors. Don’t your admins use spell check, for Christ’s sake? It’s built in to every word processing program known to man.

    I read US ads that have spelling errors in them, see newspaper articles with terrible grammar – things that literally NEVER HAPPEN in England. If they do, it’s a huge deal. People are expected to know what the hell they are doing with their words, especially if they work in print.

    That being said, I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking this over (yes, my life is that boring) and come to the conclusion that correctness in the written word really doesn’t amount to much; people still know what you’re saying regardless of whether or not you conjugated your verbs properly. I don’t know why the Brits are so anal about language. And if you were to give English speakers another two hundred years, no doubt we’ll have moved on to a new dialect that’s sure to have little in common with the English spoken today. Perhaps like the movie Idiocracy we’ll have moved on to a mix of redneck, valley girl, and ebonics.

    And for the record, I’m no wonder when it comes to writing, so don’t take this post as me saying I’m better than everybody. I just found the cultural comparison interesting and thought you might, too.

    2008.01.29 / no responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • I Miss Writing Code

    There was a time when my job consisted mainly of coming in to work and cranking out code until I went home (usually late). That was six years ago. Since then (even while I was managing development teams), I still wrote a lot of code. It was fun.

    Unfortunately, over the last six years my job has consisted of writing less and less code. Instead, these days, most of my coding takes place outside of work. Most programmers will understand me when I say that programming is an addiction that must be fed constantly, much to the chagrin of friends, relatives, and especially girlfriends/spouses. Not being exempt from this rule, I have a deep-rooted need to write code that pervades my life (if not every minute of my workday).

    At the present time, my job consists mainly of coming in to work and making it possible for other people to crank out code until they go home (hopefully not too late, unless they really want to).

    Am I pissed off about this? No. I find my job satisfying for a number of reasons.

    1) I’ve been able to push our corporate IT environment pretty far toward being academic and putting the technology first. This has allowed others to come in and really take our code to the next level.

    2) Order is beginning to emerge from the chaos. It actually looks like there is hope of us getting our jumbled legacy systems in to a place where we can rocket them in to the future with cutting-edge practices and technologies.

    3) There is an expectation in my mind that one day (hopefully sooner than later) my job of bringing order from the chaos will subside, and I’ll be able to go back to spending more of my day cranking out code and less dealing with departmental management, strategy, and corporate politics. Honestly, if this expectation wasn’t there I’d already be out consulting independently or working for a small startup or large tech firm on the West-coast.

    Sometimes, I have wild fantasies about breaking off a chunk of our IT department and establishing a whole new breed of corporate IT response. Imagine a set of small, focused development groups working directly on specific business problems in close quarters with the people receiving the software, with minimal corporate drudgery/needless managerial involvement. I also imagine bonus programs for the development staff, tied to core business metrics based upon the initial success of the technology solution.

    I get shudders just thinking about it. Anybody with half a brain and even minimal experience in the world of corporate IT would see how the “startup” model would work in a wonderfully more efficient way than traditional “command and conquer” IT.

    Funnily enough, I’ve been having discussions along these lines with my boss and some other senior management at CFI. They are pie-in-the-sky “what if” discussions at present, but we have a few projects ticking along that work with some (not all) elements of the structure I’m imagining, and they are going swimmingly.

    If only we could connect the rest of the dots, I think we’d be in great shape to revolutionize our business with technology – something it desperately requires. I’m hopeful, and the discussions are under way – so let’s see what happens.

    2008.01.26 / 6 responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • Bye Bye, CDs and Vinyl

    I remember once thinking that CDs were such an awesome medium for music: instantaneous random access, high sound quality, shiny and cool looking.

    Well, I just ripped my last CD in to iTunes. It’s taken me the best part of three weeks to get my entire catalog of 300+ CDs ripped in the highest AAC quality available, and the CDs and their jewel cases will be going in to the closet under the stairs – probably forever. Leopard has secured my digital collection to my Time Machine backup, and I can take my entire 40 GB collection on my iPod with room to spare for my favorite ripped DVDs and TV shows.

    I can’t remember the last time I bought a CD. I get most of my stuff either directly off of iTunes, only going to other sites when I can’t find the track I want on iTunes. I also hit up Play It Tonight and Juno pretty frequently for digital downloads and/or vinyl, but the vinyl only stays around long enough for me to rip it to digital with my iMic before it gets put away.

    Digital distribution has changed everything. I can’t wait until my TV shows and movies are all 100% digital on-demand and pay-per-view. Cable is such a waste of money, and the forced advertising model of TV is from a bygone era. I won’t miss it when it’s gone. Apple is almost there with the latest AppleTV, but I think it will take one or two more revisions (plus plenty more content) before the 100% digital distribution thing really takes off the way DVD and other consumer formats have.

    2008.01.24 / no responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • Family Guy Blue Harvest DVD

    I bought the collector’s edition set of the Family Guy Blue Harvest episode, and my lord is it funny as balls. I enjoyed this as much as the two seasons of Sunny that my sister got me for Xmas.

    The collector’s set comes with a bunch of special features, a t-shirt, a digital copy for iTunes/iPod, and trading cards. Highly recommended for all Family Guy fans.

    2008.01.24 / no responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • Adobe Flex 3/AIR Pre-Release Tour in Orlando, FL

    Wow, we had a great event this evening. I snapped a few photos – these are the best out of the bunch.

    Thanks to Ben, Adobe, and everybody who came out. We were the first event of the USA Flex 3/AIR preview tour, so hopefully we set it off with a bang. We had about 70 people in attendance from as far away as Jacksonville and Ft. Lauderdale.

    Dan won the Flex 3 license in the raffle. Bastard.

    We’re considering running a Flex Camp in May (around 75% of the attendees tonight said they would come if we set one up). Watch this space.

    2008.01.21 / no responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • Adogo/Adobe Flex 3/AIR Tour Tomorrow!

    Looking forward to the event tomorrow. The car is all packed up with PA equipment, extension cords, projector, and other goodies essential for pulling off the event.

    I checked in with some friends in the industry (Sean Corfield and Simeon Bateman) and they also hosted Flex 3/AIR events in their localities. Apparently, both of these informal events were over 100 people also, so interest in Flex must be on the rise.

    Hope to see you there tomorrow!

    2008.01.20 / no responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • Getting Things Done

    Of the two things I found at a reasonable price during my trip to a CompUSA closing down sale, David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done” was one of them (a steal at $6).

    I’m relatively well-organized (if it’s in iCal, it’ll get done usually), but since taking on more responsibility in the last year I have started to feel more “fragmented”. Hopefully between some insight in to David’s program for organizing one’s self and letting go mentally of all the stuff you have in your head by organizing it effectively, I will find myself feeling as together as a hard drive formatted in HFS+ on Leopard.

    I haven’t gotten far enough in to the books to get to David’s techniques, but so far I have done a few things based upon the direction I see him going in. Here are some of them.

    1) Ditched using Mail for personal email and Thunderbird for work. I’m now on OS X Mail completely, with multiple inboxes in al their glory. Cleaned them all out this weekend (took me three days). I’ve got smart mailboxes setup in Mail to automatically sort items based upon whether or not they are unread (i.e. organize now), flagged (i.e. deal with later), and flagged but older than one week (i.e. maybe I’ll never get to this or need to delegate it).

    2) Offloaded all my software downloads, music, and photos to my Quicksilver G4 tower. It’s got the Time Machine backup, and I need less crud on my MacBook Pro so I can stay focused. I’ll be continuing to prune my laptop over the coming weeks.

    3) Centralized iCal as my “what to work on next” organizer. I used to use a combination tactic of reminders of leaving important emails as “unread” in Thunderbird as well as creating “to dos” in iCal. Now I’m just using iCal for all reminders, with flagged items in Mail pertaining to those items.

    4) Didn’t get to clear off my MacBook Pro’s desktop yet, but I will this week. Two things contribute to my messy desktop: Thunderbird is too stupid to save files that need opening in to a temp directory (i.e. Word and Excel files that are set to open in their respective programs get saved to the desktop regardless where you tell Thunderbird to save attachments), and as I get busy my desktop seems to get cluttered. Moving to Mail should help a little, since it saves all attachments and opened files to a temp directory. I’m also considering upgrading the MBP to Leopard soon since CheckPoint just released their early access version of their VPN client for Leopard; assuming it works passably on my Quicksilver, I’ll be making the jump to Leopard on the MBP. Leopard has the nice Downloads folder that works in conjunction with Stacks, which should make my desktop of the future even cleaner.

    I already feel a little better, and look forward to getting in to the details of David’s program. I’ll post anything interesting that I find, as well as reviews of any GTD software for the Mac (of which there are several options) that I decide are viable.

    2008.01.20 / 2 responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • The Total Lack of Affordable Computer Peripheral Patchbays

    If there is one thing I really hate about having so many computers and so many hard drives, it’s that I have to keep plugging and unplugging them.

    This is a similar problem faced by many recording studios with audio gear, in that you have lots of kit that can all talk to each other (i.e. they all produce and consume audio) but often need to wire it up in new and unforeseen ways.

    The solution to this problem is the patchbay. Hook all your gear up to the back of the patchbay, and the connections are presented to you on the front of the patchbay as unterminated connections. You can then use small leads on the front of the unit to terminate the output of one device to the input of another, and vice versa.

    So, there had to be a product on the market that did a similar thing for USB and FireWire. After all, there are so many hubs available.

    Turns out there’s nothing – at least outside the pro video realm. Sure, you can drop $140 odd on an 8 in, 8 out FireWire patchbay that fits in a 1U chassis. What I want fits on a desktop on top of my USB/FireWire hard drives and offers a set of both USB and FireWire ports. That product simply doesn’t exist.

    So, I started looking at making my own. All a patchbay really is is a box with a bunch of female-to-female cables (one port on the back, passing through to a corresponding port on the front). Even an electronics dunce like myself could stitch that together given a free Saturday and a soldering iron. Of course, FireWire ports are horribly expensive (about $5-$10 a piece), so by the time I ordered all the components I’d need, I might as well have bought the $140 one that doesn’t meet my needs.

    So, I’m still on the search for affordable FireWire components. Maybe I’ll just build one myself for the fun of it. I just find myself disappointed in the marketplace of available options for a device I was sure already existed.

    2008.01.20 / no responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • No, I Just Disagree

    IMO, this is not the way the MBA is going to be perceived nor affect its success.

    If I were in the market for a new laptop for work, the MBA would definitely be on my list as a replacement for my MacBook Pro. I don’t want a sub-notebook’s toy screen, and I don’t need a massively capable video card to write code. Nobody using Photoshop professionally is doing any serious work on a laptop, and the only time I use an optical drive is when I install new software (rarely, and usually all at once), watch DVDs on my Mac (almost never), or back up files in bulk (probably once a quarter, since most of my work is document based and can be “backed up” via email). A single USB 2.0 port is clearly not an issue from either a portability or expandability perspective.

    As I stated earlier I’ll be closer to buying as the performance ratio increases. For now, I’ll look forward to the early adopters making that possible for me.

    I agree mostly with Shipley (thanks to Sica for the link).

    2008.01.20 / no responses / Category: Uncategorized