Silverlight session

A while ago, I went to a Silverlight session. For those who don’t know, Silverlight is a new product from Microsoft. You can compare it with Flash, difference is that the new version let’s you write your code in dotnet ๐Ÿ™‚

As they explained it, they told us the Silverlight runtime actually downloads the managed dll (assembly) and runs it. My first impression that I also tried to explain was that in a corporate environment, many firewalls will block exe,dll,… files. So how where they gonna solve this. I got the feeling nobody actually found this important. Am i the only one who finds it strange that my browser will try to download an run dll files ??? If I were Microsoft I would at least rename the extension to sli or something. Maybe you can do this yourself, haven’t looked into detail in the software.

Fedora 8

I just upgraded my Fedora 7 to Fedora 8. I didn’t notice to much difference. Okay the login screen looks much better ๐Ÿ™‚

However I did install Compiz-fusion. This is really amazing, MS and Apple still have a lot of catching up todo if you look at this. I followed the tutorial on the Howto site but I still have to run Compizmanager as a separate process. I really like the new features (flatten your desktop, group applications on a virtual plane,…)

My girlfriend is doing here internship at some schools. She demoed Ubuntu and Beryl. The day after she had to bring Ubuntu cd’s for all the kids in here class. My little saleswoman is doing great, don’t you agree?

Xml Xsl FOP

One of the ‘new’ features that was requested in our app was the forwarding of screens to email addresses. We discussed this and adding a simple pdf version of the screen as attachment to the mail was ok.
As at the moment our application isn’t xml based (just Html with custom Javascript,Dojo and DWR) I suggested to first ‘xmlize’ our messages and then convert this xml to a pdf. At previous customers I used Velocity for performing the Xml serialization. But before I suggested this solution I read up on Groovy as I had read somewhere that it has first class support for Xml. And indeed after checking it out. You have a simple MarkupBuilder object that handles a lot for you.

import groovy.xml.MarkupBuilder

def writer = new StringWriter()
def xml = new MarkupBuilder(writer)


output = writer.toString()

This small piece of code will generate the following Xml:

Just some content

As I installed the Groovy plugin in Eclipse I get errors when my Xml is false. Not bad at all.
The really nice thing about this is that you just initialize your Groovy engine in Java. You add your Java object (in my example blog) and you can use it as if it was a Groovy object. Then I return the output to my Java code.


As this generates Xml I used a simple Xsl stylesheet to generate an intermediate Xml. So all objects get transformed into this intermediate Xml. This xml gets transformed in to FOP xml and with the nice Apache FOP library I generate a simple pdf.

Another added value is that for changing my pdf or Xml I don’t have to restart my application, so no downtime!!

Dojo 1.0 + OCR

This week Dojo 1.0 was released. I already took a quick look at it, and it looks really nice. Big changes since the last version I used (0.4). The new grid is awesome, I really hope it will be easy to use but I’m pretty sure it will be. The guys from the Dojo community are really good programmers. I spent some timing digging through the code for a fix, I saw several things I didn’t even know were possible with Javascript ๐Ÿ™‚
I’ll come back on Dojo once I’ve got some real first hand experience with it, but it looks promising (and also much faster than previous releases)
I already found out that if you pass in a JSON store to your grid, your identifier better be unique or it won’t work (took me some time to figure that one out ๐Ÿ™‚ )

A couple of weeks ago We bought a All in one (scanner,fax,printer,copier). The nice thing about this device it let’s you scan 50 pages (document feeder) without having to put every page on the scanner window. That combined with the ability to scan to a networkdrive,email or ftp server makes this device the perfect solution for my administrative problem. My goal is to go to a paperless office but it will take some time until we get there.
Problem is the device scans the images straight to PDF. So text actually becomes an image, you can’t select it, search for text,… it’s not yet what I want. In my Ubuntu I searched for OCR and got some results witch I installed. Almost all of the tools let me scan for text in the PDF, when I saved the document I suddenly could search for text in the document. Still the selecting of text wasn’t possible. Philip told me that Google had a solution that let’s you convert these kind of documents to XHtml. I knew they were developing an OCR tool but didn’t know it would be able to do this kind of stuff. I tried to install it but I’m still missing some dependecies, I’ll try it later again.

Am I a trader ?

I’m an IT geek with a real affection for FLOSS, but I’m not anti not-FLOSS (hmmm, weird sentence ๐Ÿ™‚ ). I also use Microsoft on a daily base, Mac on a weekly base because my customers use it. At my company nearly all software is opensource, +90% of our operating systems are Linux.
I always try to push my customers to FLOSS software but in the end they decide what happens. I understand that some people see it black and white, but in my daily business live I’ve seen a lot of cases where opensource isn’t the best choice (yet). I would love to bring a product up to speed with the closed source competitors, but most of my customers don’t want to wait on that, so they choose a closed source product. We as IT people see that this is a bad choice in the ultimate end, but in the near future they need a solution and then the closed source is a better option.

So am I a trader? Hmm in my eyes not, but then again in some people there eyes I maybe am. Like the saying goes:
The truth is in the eye of the beholder ๐Ÿ™‚

the friendlyness of belgium banks

Yesterday my girlfriend and I went to the bank. We wanted to know how much we could loan to buy a house. In the weekends we are always in my birth-town and during the week we are in Leuven. So because it was weekend we scheduled an appointment with the bank in my birt-town. The day started badly as we couldn’t find a parking space, I had to drive 3 rounds before finding one. I already dropped my girlfriend off at the bank. When I entered the first thing the lady said was that our bank account wasn’t attached to the their office but to the office in Leuven. She mentioned this several times during the conversation.

She started explaining all kinds of stuff, things we actually didn’t need to know. We just wanted some figures to know in what kind of categoy we could start looking for houses. After an hour here next appointment showed up and we still didn’t have an answer, so I bluntly said, could you please just give us figure. At the moment we still don’t have one and that was the purpose of this meeting. So she made one for us. When she did, she saw that there was a lot of information missing on our bank account to give us an accurate figure. So she had to improvise a bit.

During the whole conversation she was unfriendly, simply because we weren’t attached to their office. I understand that they probably get funding according to the bank accounts attached, but you don’t have to be unfriendly. What I don’t understand is why she did this. Doesn’t she understand that it is thanks to people like us, who want to loan from there company that she gets paid? I go into a bank and want to get a loan, I’ll be paying 100.000 รขโ€šยฌ interests part of this money is here paycheck. Okay probably the bank in Leuven will get slightly more but then again thanks to here we won’t loan it at the bank we visited so neither will get the money. I really hate it that most flemish banks think they are almighty, because they are not. If I want I can close all my bank accounts and move to another bank. It’s a free market, remember?

In the end,my girlfriend and I decided we are going to move all our money from our current banks to another bank (maybe even a not Belgium bank).