iPod DJ

One of the neat features of the iPod is using the disc wheel to move around within a song. Click the wheel, scroll the marker to a point in the song and it plays from there. I was playing by moving back and forth to different areas in the song and realized this was similar to a dj scratching a song, in really large scratches. It’s not possible to do as it reads & plays back way too slow from one point to another, but it would be really cool if Apple could speed things up and allow you to freely move throughout a song and continue playing. You could scratch within points of your song, making your iPod the smallest turntable around. This would go great with Numark’s new iPod DJ Mixer.

Segway & Spaghetti?

I saw my first Segway scooter a couple weeks ago and saw them again today. The first time, I was sitting at a restaurant, looking out a window when all of a sudden on the sidewalk in front of me, 2 people smoothly floated past. It really confused my brain for a second. Through the window, I could only see slightly higher than the waist up. And usually when you see people travel by, you’re used to seeing the natural rise & fall of a person’s body as they’re stepping. Yet this was eerily smooth and alien-like as the person quickly jetted past the window without any bouncing motion. In milliseconds, my brain must have been thinking : “walking? nope. no bounce. bike? nope, no pedalling. skateboard? rollerblades? nope, nope. how the hell did is that person moving?”. When you see one, you’ll think the same thing…it’s wierd to just see someone lean and be propelled in a direction.

After my brain woke up and saw the segway and clued in to what I saw, I started thinking about why these people on scooters had shirts for The Old Spaghetti Factory restaurant. I assumed they’re trying to draw people to the restaurant. Today when I saw them again, they were human billboards for the restaurant. There didn’t seem to be a purpose to riding around on the scooters..erm…segway human transporters (sorry Dean) other than getting people to turn their heads. They weren’t stopping, weren’t talking to people, weren’t handing out coupons for discounted meals. But honestly, if you were on one of these things, would you want to stop and bribe people to eat at the restaurant? Hell no, you’d hit the road and have as much fun as possible while you still had the chance to play. I was so tempted to offer them $20 for 5 minutes to try it out.

I’m not sure if the Spaghetti Factory is getting their advertising moneys worth by – but maybe they are – I don’t think I would have written in my blog about them if someone had just handed me a flyer for free garlic bread.

File Chaos becomes Organization – tag your files for searches

I’m still on the GTD fever and I’ve been doing well with clearing out my inbox. I’m also trying to find a way of keeping all my files structured and organized. I’ve still never been able to find a way to properly organize my files off my desktop and still remember some of the stuff I want to read at a later time. I’d posted earlier about waiting for google to build in tagging to the filesystem so I can search on tags I’d given to files such as “readlater”.

I just now found a solution to my problem – if I can’t tag the file with a name, just include it in the name. So a pdf article “java-AppFuse-Tutorials.pdf” gets renamed to “java-AppFuse-Tutorials-@READLATER.pdf” and I can file it away knowing I’ll later find it using google’s desktop search.

I’ve also come up with a good structure for file organization for personal files, articles, clippings, development work, etc. I’m in the process of setting the structure up across my machines, and sorting the files into each. I’m also using Unison for file synchronization between machines so the files will be mirrored across my machines. This is great for backup purposes, as well as for when I’m travelling with my laptop and I wish I had that file I desperately need from my desktop.

This latest bit of organization has made things a lot easier and saved me a great deal of time…I now know where everything is. It’s great not having to remember where something might be on one machine and it might be somewhere else on another machine. I’d even have 2 or 3 spots for everything on my desktop machine. Consolidation is key.

I’ve even ordered the GTD book from Amazon.ca (arrived in less than 12 hours! – talk about efficient).

Which Java MVC Framework to use?

I’ve got an idea for a web application I want to prototype and I was originally going to try to whip it up in Ruby on Rails (oh no! another convert!) but then I remembered I don’t know RoR yet and I think my time right now would be better spent actually coding something instead of diving into yet another thing to learn. I’ve been reading Ruby tutorials but it would probably take me a while to grok the switch and then implement my idea in Ruby. So, I’m sticking with Java. But I want to keep it lightweight. It doesn’t need a full J2EE backend. I’ve used Hibernate on a few projects, so I’ll probably stick with that for persistence. I’m looking for something lightweight on the front-end, comparable to Rails. Struts has always seemed too complex for what it needs to do, so I think that’s out of the question. I stumbled upon Rife the other day when reading a comparison on Java vs Ruby & the TadaList implementation.
Ideally what I’m looking for in a framework:

  • quick to learn
  • low configuration
  • not trying to do more than I really need it to do
  • view shouldn’t contain much/any code

What do you suggest? Leave me some comments.

Update: WebWork has been getting lots of positive feedback. I think I’m going to go ahead with Matt Raible’s Appfuse. I’ve done some investigation into it and it looks quite solid and I really like the ability to get up and going quickly. I don’t know Struts, but I’ve investigated Spring in the past and the combination of Struts + Spring + Hibernate looks pretty solid and well-proven. I also like the flexibility to pick & choose different components.

Getting Things Done

I’ve been reading a lot about David Allen’s Getting Things Done techniques for better organization and acheiving more structure for working. Merlin Mann writes a great blog, 43 folders with lots of tips for organizing your life. Check the del.icio.us tag gtd for other articles people have found. For computer “nerds”, read this article in particular for how computer users are harnessing the gtd system.

For me, I’ve created a series of text files (@_nextactions.txt, @work.txt, @home.txt, etc) to track all my items and they open in my text editor by default and I try to keep them open most of the time. For quick access, in WinXp I have a folder as a toolbar in my start launcher. Right-click toolbar >Toolbars> New Toolbar…> and add the folder with all your text files. This keeps you from losing focus and context switching too much.

Also, for when I’m mobile and don’t want to lug my laptop around I use Documents To Go software to synchronize my text files to my palm. When I add, delete items on the go, the updates go directly to my main files. It would be great it I could rsync those files to a webserver as well and then use the data in the files as the basis for a wiki page for editing from even more locations.

I have folders in my email to sort @read-later, @response, @waiting, etc. I’m trying to empty my inbox as much as possible and not “live in it” all day.

I hope I keep using the system for a while. So far, I’ve got some good lists going…I just have to make sure I work on the items I put in it.

What makes the iPod so successful?

As I was driving in the car this weekend, I realized what makes the iPod so superior to other portable music players – the software solution. I chose my 5-star rated playlist and realized this was a huge advantage over other players. Whenever I’m listening to my music I try to put ratings of 1-5 on as many of my songs as possible. This way I can listen to my favorites whenever I want. Quickly and easily. If I’m listening at my computer, or on my iPod, the ratings are synchronized the next time my iPod is in the dock. The fact that the software matches the controls of the iPod make it much more useful than other players.
Before this, I had a Sony miniDisc player. The software was terrible. I mean terrible. Slow, crashed a lot and I had to use 3 different programs just to load the music on the player. Too much effort to actually put music on the player. I don’t have experience with other players, but I believe they’re most likely folder/file based systems to organize your music. By either copying files directly onto the player or onto a memory card and putting that in the player, you load your music. Most owners of flash based players likely rely on MusicMatch, Windows Media Player or even iTunes to organize their library. But they can’t harness the power that iPod+iTunes has. Smart playlists, rating systems, music metrics (last played, most played, last time played, etc).
I think if anyone wants to seriously challenge Apple’s iPod market share, they need to develop a great piece of software to go with the hardware.