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Monday, November 15, 2010

Minecraft at Lanified!

A friend and associate, Tristan Marler runs Lanified LAN Parties here in Calgary, Alberta and during the last event we got into the deliciously fun game of Minecraft.

These days, Lanified is running a Minecraft server at and people are welcome to drop in and play with us.

Here is the mountain I am currently working on:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dell 700m on Windows 7

I own and regularly use a Dell 700m laptop which I purchased in the first quarter of 2005. From the factory the machine came with:
  • 512MB of PC2100
  • 1.6 GHz Pentium M
  • 5400 RPM 80GB hard disk
  • DVD-ROM/CDRW drive
My then girlfriend borrowed the machine for a year and installed 2GB of RAM to assist with performance of a variety of applications. This more than anything else has contributed to the machines longevity, and in fact I have now had the laptop for longer than that particular relationship lasted.

In anycase, earlier this year I came into a license for Windows Vista and figured that perhaps I would see how it faired on the laptop. And, for the most part it worked pretty well. There are some graphical performance problems given that the 855GM driver does not support much beyond mode setting, and as a result the graphical capabilities are less than what is available on Windows XP or pretty much any other operating system. However the machine has worked well for me all this time, although booting the machine took a fair amount of time

Earlier this month I experienced a hard disk malfunction and was in the position of replacing the drive, replacing the laptop or going without. After a goodly amount of humming and hawing over what to do, I decided that I would replace the hard disk. However, I got carried away and bought myself a 64GB IDE SSD from Transcend.

Yes, I am completely aware that investing the $200 that I paid for the drive into a new laptop would have been a vastly more economical use of my money, however, I am sentimental and a tinkerer at heart and I want to be able to show off my old machine booting faster than many peoples brand new computers.

So I purchased the SSD and installed it a couple days ago, and while I was at it I installed a copy of Windows 7 Ultimate that I got stuck with after one of my customers waffled on me.

Low and behold, the OS installed just fine and recognized the Broadcom network adapter out of the box, from which I was able to run Windows Update and install the wireless network driver for the allegedly unsupported Intel 2915 802.11g wireless card.

Then this morning I wrestled the video driver into place and achieved proper mode-setting.

So what does this all mean?

Well I can testify that I am running Windows 7 Ultimate on a Dell 700m with only one outstanding driver problem which applies to my never used SD card reader.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

CoApp Summit May 2010

As you may or may not know, I attended the CoApp Design & Development Summit in Bellevue, Washington. Garrett Serack, the Microsoft project lead saw fit to call upon the skill set of myself and a dozen professional developers from around the world to discuss and design what it will take to bring Open Source Software to Windows.

It wasn't all fun and games, although I hardly suffered throughout.

Indeed we had a productive conversation about the current situation, and what we, as a global community of developers can do to have the enormous mountain of open source software build, work and fit into the Windows Universe.

I was astonished by the variety of perspectives at the discussion. We had PERL, Python and PHP committers along with library developers, GUI specialists, Driver writers, web people, and systems developers from a wide variety of specialties including myself with my platform porting focus.

And what was great was that we came to a common ground on where to go from here.

The greatest feat that was accomplished over the weekend has been the creation of a plan that will give everyone at the table at least a couple years of work and an entirely new world of software installation on windows.

For more information about CoApp, please visit

Thursday, April 15, 2010

CoApp and Visual Studio

I have begun work on the Common Opensource Application Publishing Platform or CoApp.

Before I get too carried away, I'll say a few words about CoApp and why it is important. First, there is a figurative mountain of Open Source Software out there in the world. On a day to day basis we interact with some of it in applications like Firefox, Thunderbird, Google Chrome. In many situations, the OSS is hidden underneath a commercial application. For instance, WinAmp, Lotus Symphony and others certainly fit into this category.

So many of us are already using open source software on a regular basis and many times we aren't even aware of it.

However, if you ever take the moment to use a Linux desktop computer or a recent version of Solaris, you will know that there is much more os software "out there" than is currently available on the typical windows desktop computer.

There are number of reasons for this, and Elizabeth Marie Smith gave a couple not too long ago

Projects who don't care.
Projects who don't have the developers who know Windows.
Projects who don't have the tools to develop for Windows.
Or don't want to learn the windows API - who expect windows to work exactly like unix or linux

I would personally like to add one more to this list

It's really hard

When it comes down to it, bringing an the typical OSS application to windows requires an enormous amount of cajoling and sometimes magic. For instance, if you want a headache, look at what it takes to bring something a straight forward as the gedit text editor to windows.

The library dependencies are where we fall down. Much of the software was written for the linux environment, and although it has been somewhat ported to work on windows, there is an awful long way to go. Most of the libraries do not compile under Visual Studio C++ (the Windows native compiler for C/C++ ) without significant effort.

This is where CoApp will step in; the project intends to produce tools which greatly ease the porting process, and to provide a software repository and package management system to install the dependencies as needed.

Most importantly is the developer end of the story.

CoApp will develop an extension to Visual Studio which which will allow developers to choose which open source dependencies they want to link to. On build time, these will be downloaded, and installed on the developers machine in a common reliable location and linked against the developers binary in a safe and redistributable fashion.

Friday, March 12, 2010

On Managing Email

I run a small computer and communications company, and most of my interactions with the world seem to go through email. I arrange meetings, send documents, plan schedules, and sometimes even do some work.

Well, today I took a serious look at my inbox. At 10:30 this morning I had 730 threads, many of which are just simple questions like "When can we meet?" to much more complicated conversations. In those 730 threads were a total of 4,271 distinct emails. Of those 4,271 emails were 306 unread emails that I simply never got to over the past 6 months, most of which I was not a direct participant in anyways.

For some reason I decided that today was the day that I would deal with, read and otherwise handle everything that was left incomplete in my inbox, and by midnight I would have nothing left in it.

Many emails, although they aren't exactly junk, are no longer relevant. For instance, a schedule someone sent me for November doesn't have a lot of relevance to my life today. So delete it.

Delete it?

Yes. Delete it.

I know all about the wonders of archiving and the palaver about keeping things around "just in case". Well... my inbox is not a storage location.

So I took anything with attachments that I felt I might need and saved the attachments to appropriate locations, and deleted the emails.

Anything with "When will you be here", "I'll be there at 8:30" style of content got wiped.

And anything that I have decided to just never handle also landed in the bin.

And I wasn't gentle, everything in the trash has been permanently shredded.

And yes yes, I archived a couple things in out of the way places.

So here we are, as I type this the clock just clicked past midnight and after a full day of managing my email I now have the following: 61 emails in 37 threads.

Those 37 are the only things that I couldn't just ignore, and I am now waiting for the other ends of those messages to get back to me. ahhhh

What a day, I feel like my eyes are bleeding.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Family, Ojibwa Art and story telling

As an Ojibwa elder in her own right, my mother maintains a website relating to native art in Canada and the Ojibwa/Anishnabe culture. As an adept story teller, her website is a well crafted series of stories and histories so I suggest that you read what she has to say about herself and her life and the culture of our (hers and mine) mutual ancestors.