Windows Media Player 11

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/player/11/default.aspx

WMP 11 is available in beta form. Guess what. Its faster than WMP 10. The interface is a much slicker looking black. The buttons, Now Playing, Rip, Sync, etc all have drop down menus to the most commonly needed functions. My favourite part is that within a couple of clicks you can bring up the equaliser, a feature I missed since WMP 9. When ripping tracks, you can specify the format and bitrate from these menus too.

The presentation of the play list is a bit better with animations and more fluid drag and dropping. The media library has improved with Album Art appearing next to the items allowing a more interactive browse. For things you dont have album art for yet, you can now right click and Find Album Info rather than jump into another area of the app and coaxing WMP to download it.

In my opinion, all thumbs up. I had just switched to WinAmp 5 for speed, I can consider changing back.

The Perl CD Bookshelf, Version 2.0

https://www.linuxnotes.net/perlcd/index.htm

Don’t you love free online books.

Contains:

Perl in a Nutshell, by Ellen Siever, Stephen Spainhour & Nathan Patwardhan
Programming Perl, 3rd Edition, by Larry Wall, Tom Christiansen & Jon Orwant
Advanced Perl Programming, by Sriram Srinivasan
Perl Cookbook, by Tom Christiansen and Nathan Torkington
Perl for System Administration, by David N. Blank-Edelman

Object-relation mapping without the container

http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/java/library/j-hibern/?ca=drs-

Right now, anything that detours EJB 2 in favour of another persistance mechanism is my friend. (ie EJB3 ;-), hibernate).

The linked IBM developerworks article focuses on Hibernate and this thing I didn’t know existed until a few days ago, Spring.

On another anti-EJB note, I was reading Beyond Java by Bruce Tate. From section 1.3

Keep in mind that I’m a cynic at heart. When it comes to technologies, it takes a whole lot of effort to get me excited. I still have never written a web service, at least with the massive IBM and Microsoft stacks, and I didn’t write my first EJB until 2003. I’ve never written an EJB entity bean unless it was to build a case against them, and never will. I’ve instead preferred simpler architectures, like REST, POJO programming, transparent persistence, and Spring. Even then, I was late to those parties.

Ah. Validation from a respected industry individual.

J2EE for you at home

A plethora of links (mainly tutorials) to get you through the path of J2EE learning. Personally I’d like to shoot EJB’s out of a cannon due to the troubles they have given, however with a little time and patience, (or the willingness to look at other persistance tech such as Hibernate), you too can be a J2EE master.

The Sun Java J2EE Tutorial (version 5)

I learnt using the previous Pointbase one, but this is just as good, if not better.  Very accessible and lots of samples/tutorials.

Eclipse Web Development Tools

Eclipse has a plugin to help develop beans out of the box. It offers things like jsp highlighting, deployment and integration with Tomcat, JBoss and others.

The community section offered some useful tutorials to make the most out of this environment, which looks promising for new and old J2EE developers alike.

O’Reilly Books
Enterprise Javabeans
JavaServer Pages

O’Reilly’s Java Developers Page
Lots of great articles and links to Java and J2EE info.

A great article on EJB3 found through the former link: Standardizing Java Persistence with the EJB3 Java Persistence API, talks about persistence and coming from EJB2.

Firefox, Star Downloader and Zip/Exe’s no longer downloading

After briefly trying Star Downloader and later uninstalling it, I found that Firefox would not download any exe or zip files. Instead, I would be greeted with a blank tab with the exe URL in the title bar. Everything else seemed ok.

To troubleshoot the issue I did as followed
1) Disabled all my fancy extensions to get as much of a pure firefox as possible.
2) Checked the file associations for application mime types and exe/zip associations opened in the current application. To access these options go to:
Tools->Options->Downloads->View & Edit Actions…
You will see the ‘Download Actions’ dialog. Look for anything that has Star Downloader / Opera plugin and change the Action to either save or use another program to open that kind of app.

3) On restarting firefox the problem was still there. In firefox, going to About:plugins in the address bar, showed me that the star downloader dll (npstar.dll) was still in firefoxs plugins directory. Even though the zip/exe associations were now cleared from the download actions dialog, they were still getting handled by the plugin.

4) Closed Firefox. Deleted npstar.dll from E:Program FilesMozilla Firefoxplugins. Restarted firefox.

The behaviour was now restored. I reactivated my extensions and enjoyed being able to download again.

Jude smells better than a Rose

http://jude.change-vision.com/jude-web/product/community.html

The guys at work started using a modelling tool known as Jude to help with their design of various projects and enhancements. Jude comes in a community (free) and professional version and the free version allows you to create the following UML diagrams:

  • Class (Object/Package/Robustness)
  • UseCase
  • Sequence
  • Collaboration
  • Statechart
  • Activity
  • Component
  • Deployment

It also has some Java code generation and importing although it didn’t seem to handle generics at all (claimed a syntax error) so I’m not sure about Java 5 support.

The application appears much more robust than Rational Rose ever did. I wish I knew about it for my System Design and Implementation subject this semester as one of our group members couldn’t get Rose to run on their home PC. The price of Jude community is more student friendly also ;-), as well as benefiting from the platform independence that Java provides.

Freemind taking off (sort of)

http://sourceforge.net/search/?type_of_search=soft&words=freemind

Another trip on sourceforge revealed that Freemind has a couple of wiki’s that support its format along with some tools to extend its functionality.

My favourites from the above search are:

LiveMind: AJAX MindMap editor – “this is an on-line, html (AJAX) based editor & browser for FreeMind (http://freemind.sourceforge.net/) mindmaps.”

Mapp.it – “A web-spider, based on the availability of URL APIs to most web based databases, mapping web pages to two dimensional FreeMind mind-maps. “

Topographica and the NIMH Human Brain Project

Topographica and the NIMH Human Brain Project

Something interesting on the sourceforge homepage today. I found an application known as Topographica which is used to help researchers identify the functions of the brain related to sensory and motor functions.

From the webpage:

Topographica instead focuses on the large-scale structure and function that is visible only when many thousands of such neurons are connected into topographic maps containing millions of connections.

While I touched on the ideas expressed only very briefly when I studied Computational Neuroscience, I’m sure the future of this app looks promising and is something I’ll come back to when I get more time.