Posts categorized “General”.

Thanks Mike Chambers, and Merry Christmas to one and all!

Thanks to Mike Chambers, Christmas has come early as I’ve just received a nice envelope in the post! :-)


It’s an updated RIA Guide, eboy stickers and Adobe AIR 1.0 Launch postcard. Thanks Mike, the guide is very handy, and the stickers and postcard are cool.

So, it just leaves me to wish you, the reader of my humble blog a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Here’s hoping you have a healthy and prosperous 2009.


For over a year now I’ve been routinely typing the word mnemonic as part of my development work for a client.

Isn’t it ironic that I still stumble over this word when trying to remember how it’s spelt?

Also, wasn’t the Johnny Mnemonic film a complete let-down if you’d already read the story in Burning Chrome?

Just a thought.

What's going on with the Joneses then?

So, what’s going on with the Joneses then?

Abi With Two HandsWell, as of today Abi is 1 month and 1 day old, and boy has she grown already. She’s gone from 7 pounds 3 and a half ounces at birth to 9 pounds and 2 and a half ounces, and out-grown a number of clothes already. Apparently this is very good growth, especially as she weighed even less when she left hospital, Mummy is obviously eating the right kind of stuff (which is a real surprise, believe me)!

We’re not getting a lot of sleep at the moment, which impacts the rest of the day. Mummy often gets a nap for an hour or two during the day or late afternoon (when Daddy gets home) that she desperately needs, but Daddy catches up by having a night in the spare room every now and then. Although Abi has started to go about 5 hours through the night in the last couple of days, which makes a big difference.

I’m starting to get into the swing of going to work a lot earlier than I have been until now. Before, I used to leave home between 09:15 and 09:30 to get into work for 10:00, but am now leaving just before 07:00 to get in for around 08:00 (traffic is much worse at this time of day). This means I get to leave work approx 2 hours earlier now, leaving at 16:30 rather than 18:30, which of course means I get a bit more time in the evening with the family. The idea being that because Abi is generally waking up for a feed between 05:00 and 06:00, I might as well get up and into work and therefore have more time in the evening for Abi, Mandy and then some work. I’m getting the Abi and Mandy bit in mostly, but work hasn’t really clicked back in yet, I’m way too tired most evenings.

On the subject of work, development of CaseDetective hasn’t moved forward for some time, as you might imagine, but there are a couple of bug fixes I now know how to implement thanks to some great feedback from customers. It sure does help when you get a good debug log and a customer who’s keen to find a fix to their problem. I hope to get a bug fix version of CaseDetective out soon.

There are developments afoot in the world of FogBugz, there’s rumours of a new “service” that some “MicroISVs” might know about, I can say no more, and if you look in the right places you can see snippets of information that alludes to some of the new features in FogBugz 6.0 and it’s pending public beta release. Again, I can say no more, mainly because I have no more info, I have no more info than has leaked, I’m not privileged to any data that isn’t publicly available. But anyway, it’s exciting, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s coming out of Fog Creek.

Oh, and it seems like I might actually get to meet Joel Spolsky (co-founder of Fog Creek) next month in Edinburgh. I don’t suppose I’ll have much time with him as there’s 50+ people already signed up to the meet up, but still, should be nice to meet Joel.

Love the new route map feature at

I’ve just reset some goals at, having not been running for a few weeks while my treadmill was guffed, and not being motivated enough to hit the very hard tarmac. has had a bit of a face lift, the previously US only map functionality is now available for us UK peeps too.

Although I’m not ready to run it just yet (my knees just can’t take the punishment yet, so I’m sticking to the springy treadmill), I’ve just mapped out the route I’ll probably take once the good weather is here to stay.

My route is called “Around the block, Duloch Park, Dunfermline.”, it’s just shy of 5.5km (3.4 miles), and I’ve shared it for other nikeplus users.


Copilot for Mac!

Hey, good news for us Mac based peeps that help out peeps on remote machines now and then, Fog Creek’s Copilot service is now Mac compatible!

And, what’s more, the Copilot 2.0 day pass price has been cut in half from $10 to a very attractive $5, that’s nearly free!

 I also like the new “direct connection” feature whereby after an initial connection mediated through Fog Creek’s servers, if it can get a direct connection between the two helper and helpee machines, it will. I doubt this feature will actually be used all that often by casual users who have the ports closed on their firewalls, but for those that use Copilot a lot I expect this feature will further speed up an already pretty fast service.

But, probably the top feature for current users will be the ability to transfer files directly to the remote desktop, this’ll make it so much easier if you’ve got a file you want to use, such as a new build of your software or the remote debugging stub.

That’s a great update, me likes.

Managing Media

Merlin Mann pointed out a great article on TechDigs that addresses a lot of the problems people have with managing their ever increasing volume of media data, and how to back it up. I’ve been thinking about getting a ReadyNAS+ for a while, now I have some better information on how to use it more efficiently.

In the article Amazon’s S3 service is used for the off-site backup, but I wonder if something like CrashPlan wouldn’t be much better. With services like CrashPlan you backup over the internet to your own external disk that you’ve given to a friend to connect to their computer/network. It doesn’t incur any service charges, just a software purchase for the party wanting to backup, the friend doesn’t even need a license to be able to act as your backup target (just a pint every now and then to say thanks for the electricity).

What I really like is that you can do the initial (huge) backup locally, and then give the disk to your friend for the daily incremental backup offsite. I’m thinking about setting this up with a friend of mine, it’d backup early every morning while my ADSL bandwidth is free. If things were to go terribly wrong at home, I can pop around to my friends place to pick up the backup drive ready to do a local restore, much better than spending days downloading data from a server somewhere off in the cloud. Oh, and just in case someone nicks the device you’ve given to your friend, the data is compressed and encrypted before being sent, and saved encrypted too, which is nice to know.

I’m seriously considering CrashPlan and wonder if anyone out there has any experience of it or similar software?

Under The Wire

Oops, nearly had a month with no posts, better correct that!

So, umm, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Better late than never eh? ;-)

The last time I spoke about stuff going on in my life, I mentioned that I’d slowed things down and wasn’t going to get too uptight about lack of progress with CaseDetective. Well, although I’m still not rushing things, after a little rest I did start getting things done on CaseDetective again, and there’s a small release forming at the moment. There’s a couple of things I want to fix up before I finish testing and release unto the World, but it’s not too many weeks away. The latest release of REALbasic is working well for me, finally I’ll be able to get a Universal version of CaseDetective out for the Mac.

I’ve recently updated my IMiJ Software and CaseDetective websites with a new look. I’ve decided to stop bamboozling people with a myriad of menu options listed down the right hand side, using a much reduced horizontal menu at the top instead.

As well as looking more “business like”, it’s allowed me to add nice big “Free Download”, “Buy Now” and “Only $69″ buttons in the sidebar of the CaseDetective website. I’m hoping this will make these options even more obvious than before and encourage people to try it out.

I’ll admit I’m not the biggest fan of drop-down menus, but this new design uses them. I’ve been very careful to make sure nothing has actually moved in the website layouts, all the paths should be the same for now, but the actual menu options have moved around a little. I doubt anyone will notice though.

The design is Blueball Design’s Pro Colors 3.5 Theme for RapidWeaver, which I’ve actually had for quite some time, and may be the first theme I bought for RapidWeaver. I’ve made a few tweaks though; I took the Platinum version and changed the header and sidebar backgrounds to be white rather than grey as I wanted a lighter feel and think icons and logos always look better on a white backdrop. I also moved the header logo to the left and removed the header text so that it wouldn’t interfere, as well as making sure the page title has the website name included rather than just the page name. I personally think it looks rather good, nothing spectacular and pretty boring compared to some, but it works well on Windows and Mac and I believe it won’t turn anyone away.

Apart from my treadmill dying last week, my attempts at getting healthier in body and mind are coming along. I’ve lost a pound of weight every week this month, and am eating much healthier. I’ve also started to get back into reading before hitting the sack, so I might even start making a dent in that huge pile of books and magazines sitting beside the bed waiting to be read. There’s other little bits and bobs I’m doing or looking into that all add up, but I’ll not bore you with them.

Mandy’s at the “very uncomfortable” stage in pregnancy, she can’t seem to find any kind of sitting or sleeping position that stops her from getting sore in a few minutes, she’s soooo looking forward to getting her body back all to herself in approx 2 months time.

It’s an exciting and nerve-wracking time all round. We’ve been buying lots of bits and pieces for the baby, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what pops out, but also very aware that life isn’t ever going to be the same again and just hope that it all goes OK when the time comes. Tick, tock goes the clock!


OK, Joel Spolsky is stirring up a link storm again, as only Joel can, and this time I’m going to join in.

I don’t need to write 900+ words over 9 paragraphs to say what Joel said, it all boils down to…

 As simple as can be == As complex as need be

It’s that simple really, everyone wants products that are as simple to use as possible, but they must still have enough features to be able to get the job done, otherwise they’re useless.

 The problem of perceived over-complexity comes from a product being used for many different jobs by many different groups, if the product has a large user base then catering for all users will undoubtedly confuse some users as the path to using the features they need is made more difficult due to interface limitations.

That’s why “simple” products get created, they seek to fill that niche where some users have been using a product that has grown arms and legs in a bid to please all the users most of the time. The simple product aims to please only some of the complex product’s users, but all the time. And this is a valid proposition, but those users of the “simple” product will want ever more competing features as the user base matures and develops, eventually causing a split in the user base with some perceiving the product as too complex. It’s inevitable, just ask Darwin!

It’s a simple and well understood market dynamic, and nothing to get hot under the collar about, go with the flow and enjoy the ride!

Getting fitter step by step.

Getting fitter step by step.

I find I’m much much more likely to achieve something if I set a goal and actively monitor it step by step.

For example, for the last three or four years I’ve kept a spreadsheet of my weight as measured every Monday morning. The spreadsheet has a tab for each year with columns such as date, goal weight (in pounds), actual weight and the difference between the goal and actual weight. The goal starts off at the same weight I was on the first Monday of the year and decreases by a pound per week until it hits my goal weight, the idea being that if I look after myself I should be able to average a pound a week’s loss until I get to where I want to be. It’s a simple matter to then plot a graph alongside the data that shows the goal vs. actual readings. If the “Actual Weight” line roughly follows the “Goal Weight” line, then things are going in the right direction and I’m a happy camper.

I know, you might be thinking this is pretty anal, and I won’t pretend I’ve lost tonnes of weight by doing this either, but what I have been able to do is shame myself into maintaining a weight that although higher than I want it to be, isn’t morbidly over what it should be. Whenever I “slip” (usually when family visits from “Down South” for the weekend or there’s some sort of blow-out on a special occasion) I can instantly see a blip in the graph when those extra two or three pounds exert their force on our poor old scales. It’s usually enough to stop me from having that bacon roll or Double Decker (one of my fav chocolate bars) at work for a week or two.

But, as mentioned above, I’ve not really been achieving my goal. Sure I’m half a stone or more lighter than my heaviest over the last few years, and sometimes my weight doesn’t even change by so much as an ounce for weeks on end which is better than gaining, but I need to start burning more calories than I consume to get that graph heading back in the right direction. My actuals are pretty flat these days.

I’ve talked before about trying to keep an appointment with myself to exercise at least three times a week, but frankly I always start off really well and then slowly find reasons to not do the session, basically because I find it pretty tedious and have no concrete result after each session, except tiredness and a sweat soaked t-shirt that is.

So, as part of my drive to get a little fitter I put a Nike+iPod on my wishlist for my Birthday, and was lucky enough to receive one*.

I really wanted a Nike+iPod so that I could set myself goals and monitor how much running** I’m doing session by session. OK, I could have simply logged each run in a spreadsheet just like I’m logging my weight, but it’s a bit tedious and I often forget to log for a day or two (make that week or two). Having my iPod automatically record my run, distance and time and upload it to my computer whenever I plug it in is the bee’s knees! Now I don’t have to think about recording my run, it’s all done for me.

The Nike+ website where all the data ends up is great, as well as showing a neat graph of your runs with stats you can set goals that are automatically monitored. I’ve already set myself a goal of running 10 times in 4 weeks and am eager to meet or beat it, currently I’m one run ahead of goal.

And what’s super nice is that both Lance Armstrong and Paula Radcliff have taken time out of their busy schedules to magically squeeze themselves into my iPod nano and congratulate me at the end of my run when I’ve recorded a personal best for the mile.

But do you think it’s really mean of me to have thoughts of not plugging in my iPod after the session just so they can’t escape? ;-)

The big present I got for my Birthday from my wife was a set of Golf clubs, so that I get out in the fresh air, get some exercise, spend time having some fun with friends and more importantly to Mandy, get away from the ‘puter!

I started off with a couple of trips to the driving range, which was fun except for when my shots went sideways rather than forward and slammed into the wall of the bay with a resounding crack. I’m soooo grateful to those people at the driving range who haven’t even turned a head in my direction at the sound of a very hard ball slamming against a wooden wall at speed, maybe they remember what it was like when they first tried this daft game?

And then yesterday I had my first proper round of golf, which although very long and frustrating was great fun, even if I did loose a couple of balls***.

I think I’m going to enjoy playing golf and hope it’ll also contribute as another step towards getting fitter, especially if I continue to take as many steps as I did yesterday as I zigzagged my way down the course!

Here’s to getting fitter, step by step!


* Ironically I got the Nike+iPod from my Mum and Dad when they visited for the weekend after my Birthday, guess what happened to my weight graph on the following Monday morning after a couple of nice meals out and a few bottles of wine while they were up?!

** I use the term “running” very loosely, it’s more like walk for fifteen minutes, run for a minute or two and then walk for the rest of the session. It’s all part of a slow ramp up plan to avoid damaging my knees etc, honestly, nothing to do with being extremely crap at aerobic exercise!

*** My very first drive was the mother of all slices off into the woods, graciously chalked up as a practice hit by my fellow golfers, luckily all fairly new to the game, out of practice or hung-over and therefore very understanding!

Slow Progress / Big News / Time Out

Last month was very slow, development wise. I guess I’ve just been a bit burnt out from the frenetic pace I maintained when developing CaseDetective 1.2.

There have also been quite a few outside influences on my time, and some things have tended to play on my mind about the future, which held me back as I wondered how I’m going to have the time to fit everything in, and generally procrastinated.

The biggest thing in my life just now, and that is very much changing the way I see the future, is that Mandy and I have some fantastic news to share, we are going to have a baby, “due” April 4th.

As you might imagine, even though this has been planned and looked forward to for quite a while, and we’ve know about it for a couple of months now, when you sit down and start to think about how to fit everything in when you already don’t have enough hours in the day, it’s kind of over-whelming.

Some very good friends of ours have recently had a gorgeous bundle of joy (called Karis) drop into their lives (about 8 weeks early), it’s been a right eye-opener on just how much work a newborn can be. They are totally smitten and love her to bits, but I’m sure the sleepless nights and general constant attention that a newborn requires is very hard on the body and mind, and may just affect how much development I can get in on an evening come next spring! :-)

I’ve decided to just “go with the flow” at present, I feel like time spent catching up with friends and family, getting ready for the new arrival, acting on those self improvement ideas, getting a bit fitter, learning a few new skills and generally having a bit more fun is very much called for. I’m not going to beat myself up about not getting much development done just now.

I’m sure my brain will switch back into “work like crazy” mode at some point, when it’s ready, hopefully before I have no time to act on it!