ScribeFire

I’ve been investigating the options for updating my blog offline, and as ever, much of the available software is only for the PC. I’ve decided to try out ScribeFire, an add-on for Firefox. My hope is that whilst I’m in Antarctica I can prepare blog entries and publish them on my return home, rather than trying to play catch-up.

At first glance it seems to do what I need – providing the option to create new posts, edit old posts and assign categories and posting date to entries. If you can see this post, then it would appear to work.

Vegetables

Before I went to Canada, I planted the first set of vegetable seeds: rucola, beetroots, fennel, runner beans, potatoes (in a pot) and onions. The potatoes, onions and beans are already making good progress:

SpringSource dmServer Training

After following the CoreSpring training course a couple weeks ago, I’m back in the training room this week for a follow up training on the SpringSource dmServer. This training is being given by the same company, and indeed, even the same trainer. Nonetheless, there are a few practical differences – this time we’re based in in an old Herenhuis in the city centre of Amsterdam, a far cry from the tower blocks of Sloterdijk two weeks ago. Amongst the 8 course participants I am the exception to the all the rules – both the only girl, and the only non-native Dutch speaker. As a result, the trainer was able to give the presentations in Dutch – such an unusual occurrence for him that he occasionally forgot and lapsed back into English.

Like the previous course, this was a good mixture of theory and practice – beginning with introductions to OSGi and the dmServer, and then on the second day going into greater details in how to develop OSGi-enabled applications for the dmServer. Whilst the dmServer is still fairly young, and there are some important improvements & extensions planned for the upcoming releases, it looks like an interesting product to keep an eye on, especially given our own experiences at trying to deploy OSGi-enabled applications within the office without any additional tooling or application support.

RSCM North West Europe

Amongst cat chaos, open university assignments, and of course, work, I’ve been busy over the last couple of months with another project – building a new website for the Royal School of Church Music in North West Europe.

After much discussion, and some pauses in the process along the way, I’ve just uploaded the new site, at http://www.rscm-nw-europe.net/.

The new site has been built using a content management system – Joomla 1.5 – which allows the contributors to update the site without having to worry about all the technical details. It’s been an interesting learning process – dabbling a little in PHP and CSS, which are not technologies that I use on a day to day basis.

CoreSpring (2)

Another interesting day on the course, covering the principles of Spring annotations, and then digging into the additional libraries supporting JDBC and transaction management. Depending on the approach we take at work in the future, this could become very interesting for us.

Generally one of the advantages of using Spring is that it tries to reduce the usage of boilerplate code (i.e. copy/paste) and enforce separation of concerns. I very much appreciate that the course materials so far have not only covered the details of Spring, but also discussions on application archicture. Whilst many of these principles seem like common sense, in my experience many developers do not follow them… I think this training would be beneficial to many developers, not only for gaining experience with the API, but in changing the way that they develop.

We have a group of 17 people on the course. Of these, 4 of us are female. Compared to the gender balance I normally experience in the Java development world, this is surprisingly high. There isn’t a single blonde amongst us…. coincidence? or are all those stereotypes true? 🙂

CoreSpring

For the rest of this week, I’m following the CoreSpring training course in Amsterdam on the Spring Framework.

My day didn’t get off to a particularly good start as the queue at the train station meant that I had to catch my train without first getting myself any breakfast, as I’d originally planned. Thanks to the office’s policy of travelling first class, though, I was at least able to find myself a seat on the crowded train and do some work on my laptop in relative peace. I arrived at Amsterdam Sloterdijk 45 minutes before the course was due to start, but thanks to getting myself disoriented and stuck on the wrong side of the train tracks, I made into the course room with 5 minutes to spare.

Ready then for the next panic…. found myself a laptop to use, and then the instructor mentioned that the laptops were only for those who had pre-ordered them. Had I pre-ordered one? Well, I have no idea, as the training was booked by our training department and no-one communicated anything to me about it. As luck would have it, no-one claimed the laptop, so perhaps it did have my name on it after all.

I’ve been using Spring for a couple of years now, and whilst I’m fairly familiar with the basic concepts and usage, I’m also aware of some gaps in my knowledge, especially concerning all the additional functionality that Spring can provide. Whilst I got off to an easy start this morning, which covered the basics, I still picked up some useful tips and tricks, both about Spring and the Spring IDE (an Eclipse plugin).

The course is split into 50% theory and 50% lab work, giving everyone a chance to practice the concepts for themselves. In addition to the core labs, there are some additional optional labs provided – perfect if like me you are a quick worker. Something I liked very much about the labs was that they were set up so that all the functionality is demonstrated using JUnit tests. A great way of introducing people to test driven development, without them necessarily realizing it.

3 more days to go on the course, and I’m looking forward to them!

Bamboo Graphics Tablet

I bought myself graphics tablet a month or so ago, but due to other commitments, I hadn’t got much further than installing it.

Since my latest OU assignment involves writing an illustrated essay, I’ve been trying it out this weekend, and am slowly getting the hang of using it (although I do still surprise myself by sending the cursor to unexpected places when I have the mouse in one hand, and the pen in the other).

Here is my first drawing, created using Inkscape.

Toodledo

Being frequently frustrated by the fact that jobs for my personal todo list pop in to my mind at work, and that work items occur to me at home, I’ve been searching for a more convenient method of capturing them than my current solution of scraps of paper, most of which end up screwed up in the bin before I ever take action on them.

The solution, I hope, is a web-based tool called Toodledo, which, in addition to providing a nice web interface, has an iPhone app (meaning I can check and update my list from my iPod in bed!), a Firefox plugin (making it easy to quickly add tasks at work, without logging into the toodledo site) and the possibility to export to iCal and Google Calendar, amongst others.

I’ve bee using it for a couple weeks now, and so far I’m finding it very useful. Whilst my list of tasks is still growing, I have at least managed to complete a few as well.

(If you want to try it, using this link will indicate that I have referred you)