svn switch

We’re currently using Subversion at the office, and not surprisingly I love it. Even for Windows developers, it’s a very compelling replacement for either CVS or VSS, particularly with the wonderful TortoiseSVN client that integrates with Windows Explorer. I already knew I liked svn on Linux, but even hosted on a Windows server, it’s really the shit.

As a side note, if you happen to need to migrate your repository from one machine to another (say, in the event of a lightning strike that knocks out your source repository), and you change the repository URL, you need to play with the svn switch command. Specifically, the --relocate option, which won’t attempt to contact the nonexistent old URL.

It works like a charm.

Goodbye to The Connection

I was looking forward to the iTunes Music Store podcasts primarily for the NPR. I don’t spend much time in the car anymore, so I don’t listen to much NPR anymore (yes, apparently the car is the only place I am capable of listening to the radio, so go figure; I should listen online). Anyway, I grew very fond of The Connection while commuting in the RTP area, and was somewhat saddened when I discovered it wasn’t carried in the Charlotte area. I was further disappointed when I didn’t see the show among the podcasts originally offered through iTMS. Now, it seems, WBUR is completely getting rid of the show.

It must be my fault.

Konfabulator is now free

Yahoo! has acquired Konfabulator, as well as famous Mac and Eazel designer Arlo Rose. Konfabulator is a cross-platform (Windows and Mac, anyway) widget framework. What you really care about is that it’s a sexy little eye-candy app that shows little weather notification widgets, convenient to-do lists, and even a little ladybug that runs all around your desktop. I currently really only use the weather widget, though I hope to find others that will actually enhance the cramped Windows user experience.

What would I like to see?

  • I use the Windows quicklinks bar almost exclusively for application launching and folder navigation. Konfabulator comes with a big honking Trash widget, but I’d like a very generic shortcut widget that allows me to have a big honking shortcut to my workspace directory, to VS.NET, to Firefox. All of this would allow me to free up the task bar for active tasks and still have quick access to all of the links I want with a quick press of F8.
  • A nice note-taking widget. Of course, I won’t be happy with anything any less useful than Tomboy, so I’m not holding out much hope here.
  • A to-do list that displays a list from a persistent to-do store. A nice, generic RSS feed widget would probably work for this, assuming you can get the list published to begin with. The ability to add/manage the list from the widget would be a big, big plus.
  • A FogBugz widget. RSS is an obvious solution here.
  • A GAIM front-end, at least for the buddy list.

I guess, looking back at this first list of wants, that it’s the ability to F8 to common tasks at any time that is what I’m thinking will make Konfabulator most useful. I guess I can’t hide my affection for Apple’s Exposé. Sure, the F8 “Konspose” functionality is a rip-off of Exposé, but Apple did their own “rip-off” of Konfabulator, so whatever.

Office creature comforts

I work a lot, and I’ve recently been choosing to do most of this work at my workplace. To be honest, work is only a few hundred yards from my apartment, but still curious to some is the fact that I actually enjoy the freedom to stock my office with personal property.

I may eventually go so far as to buy my own chair. What? Well, Larry has an Aeron, so there is a jealousy thing going. Joel Spolsky also seems to agree on the true value of such “extravegance”. See? It’s efficient expenditure, in my opinion.

“It’s where I spend my days, so it better be nice.”

I’m the first to admit, I’m notoriously picky when it comes to audio and video. I’ve mentioned my excited satisfaction with Dell’s relatively low-priced 20.1″ widescreen LCD monitor, and I think it’s only fair to mention that it’s now a whopping 35% off it’s already decent price. If professionaly required to stare at the same thing for most of my waking hours, over many years, my eyes are worth at least as much as I spend on a month’s worth of lunches.

And I think it’s easily worth two or three months’ worth to not only be comfortable but really enjoy the experience.

I’ve also found some reasonably priced ($99) speakers that are actually listenable. Klipsch’s ProMedia 2.0 speakers have nicely clean highs (this is coming from someone who can tell the difference when speaker grilles are on or off, even after years of club-inflicted hearing loss), and while they won’t destroy cube walls they produce enough bass to hear all the warm frequencies I really need.

Why speakers when I’m already happy with my headphones? Ambient noise is good at night; when wearing my headphones, I tend to get more than a slight bit disturbed when I suddenly! discover that I’m not the only one in the office.

Dorm-sized refrigerators have gotten a lot cheaper since I was in college. Why get one of the iffy Peltier coolers when you can keep two cases of Coke Zero cold in a real environmentally hazardous fridge for under $50?

A little work update

I’ve been quite bummed lately about Larry not working for us anymore, but I think it will make best sense for everyone in the long run. Everyone has to follow their own gut; I’ve never regretted following mine, so how can I fault others for doing the same thing? Good things will continue for all of us.

Even with the unexpected recent events, I continue to love my new job. It’s both exhilerating and exhausting, just like I like it. I’m currently in the middle of a pretty serious rush, though a lull came last night when a storm knocked out most of the power on my block. I didn’t get a photo, but there was a dramatic downed power line. Huge white sparks, flames, even a fire truck. As it got dark, I just decided to go to sleep, and probably slept ten hours.

Over the past two days I’ve finally gotten a feel for Adobe Illustrator as I’ve been designing some interface mock-ups. Looking forward to actually being proficient with vector-based tools. I’ll likely give Inkscape a go when I have some more time at home.

My new first rule of writing a networked server application is that the following piece of client pseudocode, when implemented, should not crash your server:

  1. Open socket to server’s IP address and port
  2. Close socket
  3. Repeat

Remember, don’t crash. Thank you.

Artistic and development opportunities abound!

The company I work for is looking for an artist to own some 3D modelling responsibilities, and generally be a complete creative bad-ass. You’ll need to work closely with a few talented Direct3D programmers, helping push them along toward completing a spine-tinglingly incredible entertainment experience. Of course, 2D content creation will also necessary. Yes, it’s likely a permanent employement opportunity, and it involves living in the Charlotte, NC, area.

(Thanks to Dave for some advice on how to look for technical artists.)

We’re also looking to grow the technical team. You shouldn’t be afraid to get up to your neck in C# (yes, on Windows; I know, it can’t be helped), and a suicidal work ethic wouldn’t hurt. Car-washing and lunch-getting skills are a must, as well as a bunch of other stuff you can find out about if you get in touch with me.

I throw toilets!

I’m not a big computer game player, but every now and then I get a wild hair and have to get some gaming done. So, I borrowed a capable video card from work (ATI X800) a few weeks back so I could finally play Doom 3, which I bought almost a year ago, and Half-Life 2. I even took home my awesome work monitor (which I actually own, thank-you) to play.

To get to the point, Doom 3 is too dark. Everything hinges around the game being so freaking dark that you can’t see where you’re going, and then crap jumping you from behind. Not very original. I must admit, however, that it was repeatedly scaring the living crap out of me, so I can’t properly pass judgement. I’d like to be more critical; it’s a very single-dimensional game, but one that was single-dimensionally making me squeal like a little girl.

Half-Life 2 was really, really great. And I really mean “great”, not “mind-blowingly orgasmically compelling”. It’s a much better game than Doom 3, and that doesn’t even include the graphics (which are almost fucking-a amazing, and that’s pretty good). I actually finished it. The last game I finished was the first Halo, but that was only because I had just bought an Xbox and I really wanted to like it, and then because I hated the middle of the game so much that I felt it was my personal duty to declare it finished, dead, and to be able to never touch it again. So, it is significant that I finished HL2, for a completely different reason than Halo. It’s almost dramatic. It’s almost cinematic. It almost makes you care about some of the characters. It’s almost an amazing entertainment experience. A couple of monkeys could have written a better story? Throwing toilets at enemies (with realistic crunch!) was easily worth the price.

In the middle of finishing Half-Life 2 my shoulder went to sleep, and it’s still messed up many weeks later.