Information overload

It’s been a while since my last post (18/01/2014) … This year I made a new year’s resolution to blog more (like I did in the good old days).

My first post since the silent years will be a bit of reflecting on why I actually haven’t blogged much and what I did instead. There are off course a lot of reasons why but in essence it boils down to a very simple reason. You set yourself priorities and whenever you don’t have much time, the things that don’t have a high priority you abandon … so blogging was for me not as important as my family, my work, … (you get the picture).

But there is actually another ‘good’ reason: Information overload. I’m constantly reading, viewing presentations, doing small Proof Of Concepts, … and doing these things has taken over producing content myself … I hope I can do things better in 2017 … let’s see 🙂

So What did I do in those last couple of years on a technical side:

Webpack + React + Redux

People who know me, are aware that I’m sometimes complaining about the javascript eco-system. On a regular basis I need to decide which technologies we are going to use to build a system that needs to be maintained for many years. During the last 4 years I’ve done assessments of which frontend framework to use. At times it really felt like the well known blogpost.

I’m pretty glad the Javascript eco system is stabilising (or so it seems). I decided to take a deep dive into Webpack, React, Rexud, …

simple conclusion: I’m glad I took the time to learn all these technologies a bit more in depth.


I’ve done several small NodeJS projects, for bigger applications I’m still more a fan of the Java / JVM world as it still feels more mature for me. However the concept of Node is simple and elegant, so if you have a similar solution in your preferred eco-system, you need to do some investigations … right?

simple conclusion: I’m glad I took the time to learn all these technologies a bit more in depth.

Amazon Web Services

Using one of the online platforms I took a pretty long track on a lot of the features of the AWS platform. I’ve been a frequent user of their services, but they are constantly inventing new things and there were still some blind spots for myself. That’s now much better with guided training and experiments.

simple conclusion: I’m glad I took the time to learn all these technologies a bit more in depth.

Scala course

On Coursera I followed a course on Scala. I followed already some talks and presentations, but never programmed it myself. During this session I was obliged to write Scala code myself. The least I can say is that it was … interesting 🙂

simple conclusion: I’m glad I took it, but will have to look for a more hands-on track as this was a bit to much focused on the theory instead of building real world applications.

NoSQL Tracks

I’ve done courses on MongoDB and Elastic Search. Both very nice products with their own positive and negative points. I’m using these technologies in several of our production systems and things are stable. Like all technologies there is some adapting and learning how they work in a production environment, but they fill the gap needed filling. So I’m glad we took this road.

simple conclusion: I’m glad I took the time to learn all these technologies a bit more in depth.

Mobile Development

My company builds server side applications, frontend applications and also mobile applications. In the previous company I founded, I wasn’t “officially” allowed to build mobile apps, so I had to beef up on this … which I did. In the meantime, I’ve build applications using Xamarin, Native Android, Native iOS (objective C, Swift is on the Todo) and Ionic (React Native is on the todo).

Very simple conclusion: doing what you love without technological impediments is how every developers life should be …

I’ll keep some more for my next post, but I’ll also do some more real technical articles.

See you soon (or so I hope)

Intellij Builder Plugin

At our project we are using the builder pattern to create objects. However this was taking a lot of time and typing to generate the builder. Nico mentioned there was already an existing plugin for IntelliJ (IntelliJ is our default IDE for doing Java development). The naming convention of the plugin was just a bit different, so not ideal.

Nico said the plugin was opensource, so I had a look. It was true, so hence I forked, patched and made a pull request. I’ve read a lot about it, but actually never did it myself. I’ve done many clones to just build or patch things, but actually never came around to forking,patching and creating the pull request.

Hopefully it will get accepted and put in the official plugin for IntelliJ. This would then be my first contribution that could run inside IntelliJ 🙂

Anyway, I’m not sure that it gets accepted. Hence I’ll put the jar online here. You can download it and install it. Builder-Generator It should work. If not give me a shout and I’ll lower the minimum level of the IntelliJ version.

The github repository fork can be found here:

Keep in mind this is a small patch, Michal did the heavy lifting. You can find the original repo here :

First days with fitbit

Yesterday was the first day I was wearing my fitbit. After the first day the results have come in. What can I say …? Well I pickup more calories than I burn. This means I’ll have to change a couple of things in my life. I’ll try to increase the number of steps per day. Yesterday was a pretty active day but I only reached 6000 steps. Still 4000 to go / day to reach the 10.000 you have to reach / day.

Tomorrow is the first workday again. Let’s see how many steps I take per day. In general I work behind a computer so it could be disappointing. Luckily I have to talk to a lot of people to get all the necessary information to let the team continue.

Let’s see how fast I can get my weight down again. It went up slowly but steadily the last couple of years. Goals is to lose some KG by the end of the year. The idea is to also put up some fitness material once we have moved to our new house.

I’ll post progress on regular basis. See it as a technological experiment to see if the fitbit actually helps me. Who knows I might even buy the scale.

ABUG 6 – Real World Git Workflows

bamboo 5

Tomorrow it’s ABUG-6. This time me and koen will be doing a short presentation on bamboo 5. I’m actually looking forward to it because I haven’t seen this user friendly deploy cycle in a build environment yet.

I’ve done my fear share of building pipelines in Jenkins and other CI environments. But I haven’t found a descent plugin / extension to do this.I have to say that the guys at Atlassian have taken an interesting approach. I for one like it. I still have to work some more with it.

However in other areas the competitors are still somewhat better, question off course is : Do you need those features or not.

My First ABUG

Last week I went to ABUG-4 , this was my first ABUG ever. As I’m a long time Atlassian user, it was long overdue but I finally made it.

I really liked the venue. I was a bit amazed by the number of people that showed up. 73 according to Stijn’s tweet.

The content was also good. As the company I work for is also an Atlassian partner, I didn’t see many new things regarding the stack. However there were a couple of interesting sessions by customers who explained how they used the tools in their day to day business. e.g. the guy from made a very nice presentation on how Confluence is really at the heart of their business. It’s nice to see all kinds of businesses are finding the openness of the Atlassian tool suite a good fit for being one of the cornerstones of their business. I for one use Confluence, Jira and GreenHopper pretty much every day (multiple times an hour). Off course the products are not a silver bullet (as nothing ever is), so I’m still skeptic about a lot of things.

After the venture we went to the bar of the hotel next door. We were there with almost all the Atlassian Experts from Belgium. The least you can say it was an interesting session with some heavy discussions but in the end I think it was very fruitful discussion.

Moved from Gnome to Mac

My last post was a follow up on Debian testing. This ran for a couple of months pretty smooth, but still it hang now and then. I had to use VMWare workstation with a Windows XP inside to run Outlook as still many of the features weren’t working using my Linux hacks.

When it crashed my VM crashed also. This had the consequence that now and then the VM got corrupted. So restoring backups was necessary. In the end it took me more time than I was willing to sacrifice.

As I didn’t want to switch back to Microsoft, there was not much left. Apple released their MacBook Pro with Retina display and this made me decide to finally switch (back). After almost 10 years of using a Linux desktops as my main environment, I abandoned it (now and then I had a secondary machine, one was Mac).

I’ve been using it for a couple of months now and it works pretty well. Okay it also crashes now and then, but I have yet to see this happen during a presentation.

The downside of Mac is off course that they try to hook you into each and every one of their products. I’m still using an Android phone and we still have a lot of Linux servers and other non Mac stuff running, so I won’t give in.

Switching from developing on Linux (and Windows) to Mac is also difficult in the beginning. As on Mac the keyboard layout is totally different from the regular LATIN-BE settings. However once you get used of it, it works pretty ok.

Like I mentioned I’m using a Retina display. The consequence is that not that much applications support the High Resolution, this gives a lot of applications a blurry look.

There is one thing I really love and that is the fact that switching from my Dell to my Mac, I suddenly got multi touch support on my trackpad. 2 finger scrolling and 3 finger gestures for switching between virtual desktops and calling expose to get an overview of all my apps and screens is just sweet. I know the reason I didn’t have this on my Dell is because Dell didn’t put the right hardware in, but that’s always the issue with all those vendors. They seem to always have som flaws in their configurations. This one I really have to hand to Apple. When they put together all the components, they seem to have figured out pretty well what are must haves and what are nice to haves. e.g. I don’t have a cd/dvd station in my system. During these months I still have to find the need to use it. Everything is online, you don’t really need this. If needed I still have a usb CD/DVD station from installing servers  that didn’t have CD/DVD stations.

As I also spent a lot of time talking to customers figuring out what is a must have and nice to have, it’s nice they manage to do this quite well.

Any way, enjoy your 2013. I hope to post some more stuff regarding the things I’ve been doing lately.

Debian Testing Follow Up

In one of my last posts I said I upgraded my laptop from Ubuntu to Debian Testing (after tried Fedora 16 for a couple of weeks). It’s been running for almost one week now. I crashed once (when I hooked up the beamer for doing my presentation.) Not the best moment.

However to be fair. It’s much faster, more stable, more usable,… I’ve seen a lot of people complain about Gnome 3. I for one like it. I’ve been a Linux desktop user since somewhere around the year 2000. I’ve tried almost everything. This for me is a good release because it makes my daily routines faster. To be honest I had to install a couple of gnome-shell-extensions but that was why they build the system as it is.

Finally being able to reply to mails coming from Exchange without the need to fire up a vmware image feels really good and off course also improves the experience a lot. (Or starting Davmail first and starting the email client.)

As I also have to do presentations on a regular basis, I do miss a tool that comes close to what keynote can do. However I’ve seen a couple of people doing some nice presentations in the cloud that look much nicer than the Libreoffice presentation but I still need to look at that. Any suggestions are always welcome! (Google Docs also seemed descent) Off course something that would be as good as Keynote would be even better 🙂

Finally able to send and receive mails from inside Linux without fuss

After I installed Debian 6 testing I thought “Lets search for exchange support again”. I do this on a regular basis I still have to face Exchange a lot. (unfortunately)

I found evolution-ews (exchange web services). So I tried installing it, no problems.I added a new account using EWS. I put in the link to our exchange server and withint a couple of minutes my mail was synced with my laptop. I can now send receive mails within my Gnome 3 desktop without the need for booting a vmware with Windows and Outlook.

Ok I still don’t see my calendar, but I do see my my mail coming and I can send,reply,attach,… without fuss.

Thanks guys behind Evolution.This will save a lot of time on my end.

Upgraded Laptop to Fedora but switched back 2 debian

A couple of weeks Ago I decided to change the distro on my laptop. I was running Ubuntu 10 LTS. I wanted to switch to a newer distro as this was already running a couple of years and it started showing.

I experimented a bit with Debian Stable, Fedora 16, Ubuntu 12, Linux Mint. In the end I chose Fedora 16 as Debian Stable was still Gnome 2, Linux Mint was ok but not really my thing. Ubuntu 12 was not stable. So finally I chose Fedora 16. After some tweaking and patching of VMWare (Linux Kernel 3 and VMWare aren’t really good friends.) I got everything up and running. I was pretty satisfied but gnome crashed now and then when I wanted see all open appz on my desktop.

This weekend I switched again to Debian 6 testing as this is also Gnome 3. I had to do the same stuff as for Fedora but I noticed already that it’s much more stable and it is also much faster than Fedora. Boot is really a difference of +30 seconds.

I already investigated Gnome 3 a bit and I have to say I really like it. It now combines really the things I was missing on Mac with the things I loved on Linux.

Appearantly not so well known option on Linux

I was talking to some colleagues about some features I used on a regular basis. I was amazed that not many knew the @reboot option.

If you want to run a process as a certain user after your system reboots you can easily use this @reboot option. When you put this in your crontab as a user, the script that follows will be performed after reboot. For production systems I would off course use other tools but for many of the pet projects I run and internal systems that are not mission critical using this option works perfectly for booting my Java app server. (In most cases this is either GlassFish or Tomcat).

Just wanted to share this for people who read my blog and who wanted to perform the same things that took a while to setup.