Don’t use null or -1 in your unwritten methods

Doesn’t feel quite this bad.

Tim Bray’s error in unit testing gives a great suggestion on a better way to test, rather than putting return null; and return -1; in your empty uncompleted methods. Instead, throw an exception: throw new RuntimeException ("Method not implemented");

I know this will be useful in the future, and possibly save some time when I realize after 2 hours that I forgot to actually finish those null & -1 methods.

I spoke too soon

Create collage images as desktop wallpapers.

I spoke a day too soon. Picasa released 2.0 of their photo management software and now I think this definitely edges out Adobe’s free Photoalbum SE offerings. Picasa has added some useful new features and a couple of fun ones too.

Useful features:

  • Order photos from online photo sites (shutterfly, ofoto, etc)
  • Improved renaming
  • Improved basic fixes (if you don’t want to use Photoshop all the time)
  • RGB histogram (great for adjusting levels)
  • Backup to CD or DVD (and an indicator for which haven’t been backed up yet so you don’t miss any)

Fun features:

  • Easy integration with Gmail for emailing photos quickly
  • Easy photo integration
  • Create slideshows with music from mp3s on your machine
  • Create a gift CD with photo slideshows
  • Create a video slideshow of your photos. Play as a movie or burn it to a DVD. Sure beats a slide projector.
  • Create a poster. Print one large image as multiple pages to combine as a large image.
  • Create a collage of images (like I did above and then reduced to show you). Great for desktop wallpaper.

I’ve changed my mind after this release. Skip Photoalbum and go with Picasa 2.

I met the author of DDOI today.

This morning I caught the streetcar into work and recognized a face but wasn’t sure if I was right. Sure enough, once we both got off the streetcar, I saw him pull out his camera and start taking pictures. I knew it had to be Sam from Daily Dose of Imagery. I view his daily photos first thing every morning. He takes amazing shots. I introduced myself and asked a few quick questions. I would have liked to chat a bit more, but it was a chilly -33deg with wind chill this morning. Not really small talk weather. It also made me realize I need to kick my butt in gear and start posting more photos on my photoblog. I haven’t posted anything since September and those need to be reposted since I redid my site design the photos all got squashed and resized. I’m guessing tomorrow’s photo is going to be of the Birganart storefront. Let’s see if I predict correctly.

Update: Here’s the shot Sam took after getting off the streetcar.

Adobe Photoshop Album 2.0 SE is now free.

Adobe’s Photoshop Album 2.0 SE is free for the download. I’m not at all surprised this happened. Adobe realized they need to jump on board this whole tagging thing to keep their market share. Apple’s iPhoto comes on new Macs (I believe it’s in iLife which you get on new machine purchases). Recently Picasa was bought by Google and once that happened, Picasa’s photoalbum product was given away free. Both Picasa and Photoalbum are great products and have a comparable featureset, but the Photoalbum SE version is somewhat crippled [see comparison between PhotoAlbum vs PhotoAlbum SE]

Check out both Photoshop Album SE and Picasa and decide for yourself which one you like best.

10 years to solve the browser bookmark problem?

Did it seriously take 10+ years to find a decent way to use browser bookmarks? has taken off in a huge way. Bookmarks were never useful to me and I always ended up abandoning them. Many techy folk have multiple computers they use and a bookmark on one machine is useless when you’re using a different machine. A central way of synchronizing them was needed. I do admit I had at one time considered making an online repository but it didn’t seem efficient enough. And I even forget that I’ve bookmarked things. Just last week I looked at my bookmarks, only to realize I had a bunch in there from a long time ago. Forgotten and unused. Get Foxylicious to add and update your bookmarks into your Firefox bookmarks.

If was just a place to dump your bookmarks, it probably wouldn’t be doing anywhere as well as it is. The social aspect of it is what has given it the buzz. Being able to see what other people are reading and bookmarking drives huge interest. I know when I bookmark something, I’m interested to see how many other people have bookmarked the same thing. And if so, what are those people reading? What have they bookmarked that I might like? A great addition to the service to be to see if you have multiple common bookmarks shared with other people. If you have a few common bookmarks with a person, there’s a good possibility you have common interests and each of our bookmarks would be useful to each other.

This is the same for tagging in Flickr. What will be the next big application to apply tagging? Is tagging and folksonomies the next killer app? Or maybe tagging is required to have a killer app? Google’s Gmail has been planning tagging for quite a while now. I think tagging would be a great addition for anything social. For example, online dating. I luckily don’t have any experience in online dating, but instead of writing a description of yourself and what you’re looking for, using a tagging system would be a more efficient system to find common interests. The dating service would then have a higher level of success when suggesting dating matches. Other ideas: HR, job searches.

The only lesson I can learn from this is to pay more attention when I have a problem with the way things are (or in this case – aren’t) working. Software to solve existing problems is the best to make – you just have to pay attention to what needs fixing.

Next significant purchase: Mac Mini

I’ve been wanting to get a Mac for a while now. I even almost bought an old used G3 back in the summer. Now that the Mac Mini has been released, this is the perfect price range for me to become a Mac user. I think it might become my primary-use machine with my Win-XP machine there as a backup for any of the stuff I can’t run on the Mac. I can see doing all my graphics, photography, programming, music work on there. Starting at $749 CDN for the faster 1.42GHz, better equipped machine this is a huge pile of cash away from what it used to cost to be a Mac user (~$3500 CDN). I’d upgrade the memory and Superdrive and could walk away with a great machine for $1100, taxes in. An 80GB drive isn’t very large these days and I know I could quickly fill it. Maybe the XP machine could become a file server. I think I’ll wait a couple months and by then the new Mac OS should be out and maybe they’ll squeeze a bigger drive in there as well. Now I just need to get that new Nikon D70 and iPod to complete the package.

Who needs furniture for the house? That can come later. 🙂

Hey Ya! in Toronto

Keep your eyes peeled for half of the dynamic duo Outkast. Andre 3000 is in town starting filming today. He’s filming “Four Brothers” with “Marky-Mark” Wahlberg and Tyrese. I’ve always been a huge Outkast fan. I’ve got all 6 or 7 of their albums. We even did our wedding entrance and last song to “Hey Ya”, so whenever I hear it I’ve got good thoughts.

Surfing massive waves

After the recent tsunami tragedy, there’s actually groups of surfers that are looking to surf a tsunami. Reading on this, I came across this big-wave surfing video. I can’t believe the swell of this wave and how huge it gets. Starting out, it looks almost flat. My heart was pounding just watching it grow – I thought it might be a camera trick. I think this is probably Laird Hamilton doing the surfing – he’s a big wave tow-in hero.

Video & image from