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Thursday, 30 August 2007

The first full day of the NFJS Exchange Tour in London. Excellent conference, with the keynotes this evening particularly interesting. The key concept that all these experts - including, in particular, Neal Ford and Scott Davis - kept coming back to was that the more expressive, dynamic languages such as JRuby and Groovy are the future of the Java platform.

Historically, changing language meant changing platform - whether that's hardware, OS, third party libraries or in-house libraries etc. This is expensive, risky and confusing (sound familiar?). However, the legacy of Java won't be the Java language which, although better than its ancestors, still contains a lot of legacy cruft to initially attract C++ developers. A Groovy application can integrate seamlessly with your existing Java libraries. From a language point of view, it's almost perfect.

The problem in my eyes, though, is lack of tools. Eclipse's refactoring and code completion utilities make writing Java effortless - the tooling support for the dynamic languages just isn't there yet; and may never be because of the Halting Problem. The really strong advocates argue that the tools aren't quite as necessary, though, and they're there because of Java's flaws. I think this is disingenuous, and is more likely to be because no Groovy or (J)Ruby application has ever been written which is as big as the largest Java application.

I'm also unsure about losing a lot of type safety (by making it optional), although this isn't a real requirement of using Groovy it means writing a lot of noddy tests which in a statically-typed language can be considered as being done by the compiler. Again, tools could help here: from Source > Generate getters/setters... to Source > Generate base tests...?

I think Groovy could be the next biggest thing on the Java platform, once the RoR hype subsides slightly. But it needs to reach a critical mass. Both Neal and Mel have made the same point, though: the name sucks (personally I disagree). So, here we come EBXL.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Back to work after a lovely week off and finally got my hands on my Sony DR-BT10CX Bluetooth headphones. Being A2DP they'll work with both my W850i and N800. Being on a short wire with a dongle means they'll be comfortable with glasses.

The headphones themselves are the same as the ones which came with my W850i: very good, in-ear ones with rubber pieces to ensure the entire ear canal is filled; cutting down on background noise. The are directly attached, however, so there's no swapping them.

The dongle (i.e. the bit containing all the Bluetooth stuff and the control buttons) is bigger than I expected, but nowhere near too large. The charging dock is perfectly functional, unfortunately there's no way of charging them AFAICT without it: another charger to carry on trips.

The sound quality is good. Certainly not the excellent sound quality got from the same headphones directly wired into my W850i. The sound is a little thin, especially at the low-end. The low-end is the most disappointing: when there's a wall of sound, for example in the chorus of Green Day's Boulevard Of Broken Dreams the backing guitars are a little muddy.

This muddy bass works well, however, with classic soul and motown, adding to the delta-blues ambience on tracks like Percy Sledge's When A Man Loves A Woman and most Sam & Dave stuff.

All in, I'm very happy for seventeen quid!

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Started playing with open source CMSes to back The best regarded seems to be Joomla which, of course, is written in PHP.

Installation was painless, but the set of themes available is dire with loads of naff, fixed-width designs. Fortunately, it's relatively straight forward to produce your own theme. So I did. Perhaps I'll even publish it separately.

The internal structure is a little "organic" however it's a fully pluggable system, so things like Community Builder, Fireboard Forum, rsGallery2 and CaPoomla provide better profiles, forums, user galleries and CafePress integration.

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