Julian Wraith

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All change @ me

Sonia the Hippo enjoys the mud of the lake at Longleat

Sonia the Hippo enjoys the mud of the lake at Longleat

In the recent past I have been watching a program on the BBC called “All Change at LongLeat“. Longleat is engrained in Britishness being the home to Lord Bath and his safari park. Lord Bath’s son and his wife have moved in to take over the day to day running of the house and park and the change is not without some problems. The estate needs to change if it is to remain viable and there is a constant friction of the old versus the new.  Ceawlin, Lord Bath’s son, seemed to know what was needed but those who heavily influenced the situation, like Lord Bath, made transforming the estate a challenge. I got an appreciation for the way Ceawlin dealt with things; drawing lines and borders, sometimes harshly, he manage to get things changed. I think most of those borders he drew to keep his sanity whilst keeping his eyes on the end goal.

2015 had to be my “Annus horribilis“. If it could go wrong, it did and even when you thought there was no surprise left, there was something waiting around the corner. However, its now 2016 and I have drawn borders and lines under things and am making this a year of change. Since 2003 I have worked for SDL (I started when it was just the Dutch company Tridion) and I have enjoyed an awesome 11.5 years and have traveled the world. I have had a wealth of good times, worked with truly great people, learnt a lot and have grown as a person hugely. There were good times and bad times but the good out weighed the bad. But sometimes, things have to change.

In early March, I started as a Solution Architect for Amazon Web Services. Since then I have been overwhelmed by the freight train of new things and new people. I am sad to miss the awesome people I have worked with over the past years, some of which I count friends but I am enjoying the change of scene and the new technology.

Retro Computing: HTML 2.0

To read this article in HTML 2.0, click here. To read it in HTML 4.0, click here.

There is allot of talk at the moment about HTML 5 and far be it from me to jump on the blog post band wagon and post something about HTML 5. For instance, I did not post anything about Day being purchased by Adobe and my feelings about the impending doom to Day customers who fell in love with Day’s great technical marketing and Open Source strategy. My feeling is just that, a feeling, and Adobe and Day tell us this is not the case so I probably should not worry. Anyway, I digress. I have been looking at HTML 5 and it looks to be the best thing to happen to the web since… well since ever.

Since it become geek cool to have a web page, I have had one. That is not to say I was cool, but at least I tried. I have had many, many websites; some successful, others not. In all of those sites there was probably millions of lines of code, some written in beautiful HTML and others written in the crappiest hacked code you have ever seen.

Way back when I started, there was no HTML standard. HTML 2.0 (November 1995) was the first standard and was versioned as 2.0 to separate it from the many informal HTML versions that were around since 1990. Building out pre 2.0 websites using VI, Netscape Navigator browser on our HP-UX terminals seemed like the cutting edge (it was) but now is somewhat laughable when I think about my current development environment and my browser on my phone. By the year 2000, HTML 2.0 was obsolete…

HTML 2.0 defined many features, that we now take for granted, for the first time; HTML, HEAD and BODY all made an official appearance as well as LINK and TITLE. But missing from 2.0 would be things like STYLE (HTML 3.2), DIV (HTML 3.2) and even CENTER (HTML 3.2 and already deprecated) – they might have been available but they were not standard and only available to some browsers. LINK allowed links to style sheets but there was no standard for style sheets and few browsers could even implement the CSS1 standard when it was released a year later (IE 5 was the first to a have full (99%) support for CSS and that was in 2000). To my surprise the trusted BLINK and MARQUEE have never been in a standard, it seems that someone at W3C had some good taste.

Without STYLE and DIV elements, modern web designer would be unable to make any modern design look even passable. But with my trustee P tag at hand and a TABLE or two we can get something like a nice design and get it validated against the 2.0 standard. Oh wait, there is no TABLE element in 2.0 as that was introduced in 3.2. I shall put away the single pixel gif, I have in case of emergencies, for another day.

Other resources:

Experimenting with mobile

So I decided to add a mobile plug-in on this site so that the site is a little bit more readable on a mobile device. It says it looks nice on the iPhone and it does. I have no idea how it looks on any other device. Information would be appreciated!

Note to self…

Wow, it’s been a while since I wrote anything and my head is brimming with ideas on things to blog about. Now, I could come up with an army of excuses why I did not blog… such as, “I have moved house” or “I spent time today cleaning next doors cat’s vomit from my path”. But all in all they are just good excuses not to post rather than actual reasons. All of these things have also even stopped me opening Twitter each day. Today I found all sorts of information in there, including the fact that the company I work for, SDL, has taken over Language Weaver. Moments later I found this news in my email inbox; maybe I should work bottom to top on my emails?

Anyway, I wanted to share two things that I wanted to write about but did not get the chance so far (blah, blah). First up is Clone Detective. My current project is undergoing some re-factoring both in approach and content. A natural progression of a project running this long, things change and thus we must change also. One of the things being addressed is the code that has been written and how good it is. In my part of the work on this I came across Clone Detective for Visual Studio; this neat tool discovers how much of your code is duplicated allowing you to see what methods you can merge and how you can restructure the code. In this particular case, 25% of the code was duplicated which is way more than you would have ever spotted with the naked eye. Even if you write great code, I think this is well worth downloading.

Next, for the new house (did I mention that?) I had to install a new wifi network. I opted for a N class wifi network hoping that even poor connectivity would give me a decent connection. The curse of any wifi network is that, unless you are sitting next to the access point, your connection is bound to be suspect. Whilst annoying, a long Ethernet cable is usually allot faster. To make this all happen, I needed to purchase a new wifi adapter and grabbed a Sweex wifi adapter from MediaMarkt. I chose it mainly because the price was right (read: cheap) and I figured it would work just as well as any of the others. Well good news it did! But this tale is not of the adapter itself but what was in the box.

In the box was a note from the founder of Sweex, Leon. It reads:

“I had a dream

Some time ago I had a dream in my sleep.

I dreamt that I was shipping millions of boxes around the world

(which is exactly what my company Sweex is doing).

And inspite of useful products in them,

I experienced an empty feeling in myself.

I sat with the dream for a while and pondered over it.

Then I realized – I needed to fill the boxes with my wish for you.

Here is the content:

“Dear receiver of the box, from the bottom of my heart I wish you a life full of happiness, peace and wellbeing”

Now the boxes are full.

Leon

founder and owner of Sweex”

WOW. As a result, I will buy more Sweex products because, unlike all the other companies out there, it seems this guy cares about me. OK, maybe not really, but at least I was made to feel this way and he also made this more personal than any website could ever do, because after all I had a piece of paper, in my hand, in front of me now, even when the website was closed.

As a result I have made a mental promise to write more notes to people to say something to them, but first I will write a note to myself to write more blog posts!

Crockford on Javascript

Last week (just to show how long it takes me to think about posting) I had the pleasure to drop into Yahoo’s Sunnyvale offices to see Douglas Crockford lecture on JavaScript. This was part two in a series of lectures by Yahoo’s senior JavaScript Architect and author.

The lecture was very good (and quite detailed) and free pizza was supplied by Yahoo (hey, I have to have a motivator!). I find it good to watch leaders of (any) industry speak. It helps me understand how I should present in the future when I guest speak (next guest presentation is a few months away). I liked the style, content and even the jokes.

I personally am not a JavaScript developer, although I hacked a few things together in the past. As Crockford remarks, we rarely sit down and learn JavaScript, it is something we just often do because we have to. However, it seems there is much to gain from actually knowing what you are doing (this should not really be a surprise).

You can watch the lecture and the previous one on Yahoo! Theater:

An Incomplete Directory of Open Standards

Just in case you do not think it is complete, Jon Marks has published the
Incomplete Directory of Open Standards“. Awesome stuff…

Copying files to VMWare Server

Andreas has a nice tip on how to copy files to and from VMWare Server (as drag and drop does not work) Check it here

How I fell into the trap…

Laurence Hart started another meme, how we all started in the CMS business and it seems to have got popular. I tweeted that I would do something, but my Friday went a bit wrong. Meetings in two different places in the country and allot of driving put pay to writing any posts.

Since I started my Computer Science degree at university I have been building websites. Apart from the mandatory project websites I had “Jules’ f1 Garage” which had the news and results of the F1 races. It was kind of popular and the most popular daily site at the university. From that it led me to F1Rogues.com which essentially ran an alternative fantasy league for F1 fans where the dirty tricks and misfortunes of drivers were rewarded with copious amounts of points. The site still runs as a blog, but I have not posted there in a while. It is hard to maintain so many online presences at the same time but I would hate to stop it completely. This site got me started with Content Management. Originally the site, which I ran together with a friend, was built out of plain HTML files. Working from two different countries, the change and upload method did not really work out and there were too many mistakes and confusions. So I installed and setup Mambo Server. This ran for a while until I got annoyed at the inflexibility of the whole thing so wrote my own CMS. From my own CMS we were able to link in our page management as well as our fantasy league management. It worked for a long time and is still working just fine.

When I started working, I worked for a Interactive Software who sold data warehousing solutions to BAAN customers. Taken over and sold as ASG Safari the software apparently was Content Management or so the marketers would have you believe. From there I went to an e-Logistic company, called LogiGo.com, in the good old days of the dot com. With LogiGo.com I managed the infrastructure messing around with Oracle, Weblogic and allot of other web related things. After that I moved to Oracle and worked with 9iAS and 9iAS Portal server, Oracle’s idea of a Content Management system before they purchased Stellent (still misguided by the way).

Once I had managed to get bored enough implementing websites for bus companies and petrol cards I moved to SDL Tridion. I have worked for SDL Tridion for 7 years and started as an Infrastructure Consultant, implementing CMS environments for all SDL Tridion’s customers. I am now a Technical Account Manager looking at every part of the implementation and trying to get the best technical ROI for our customers.

Is Firefox the holy grail of web browsers?

Recently I posted about SDL Tridion’s new release, 2009. Now I work for SDL Tridion, so I will not say much about it suffice to say it has lots of new features and a much more “suite feel” than previous releases.

When I posted a screenshot and a link to the new release information I did not expect everyone to fall of their chairs but the comments I did get surprised me. It is true, SDL Tridion 2009 does not support Firefox for its management interface and 2009 is not a product and SDL Tridion is not a vendor that is unique is this; so why the reaction? Is Firefox the holy grail of web browsers?

I thought about this and I thought how I use Firefox. I use Firefox for 90% of my browser usage but of course I have IE 8 or IE 7 (depending on the computer) installed. There are indeed some applications or even websites that just won’t work correctly in one or the other browsers but these days both browsers are about the same with regard to basic functionality. Firefox leads on extensions and this is why I use it most, not because it is not a Microsoft product, but because I need gadgets.
How do I compare with other users?

According to Market Share, 66% of people use IE and this sounds like allot. This says that 66% of people either choose to use IE, are forced to or they don’t know how to change their browser because it came on the operating system. Looking at my own website I see that a coincidental percentage of users are using Firefox. With 66% of users using Firefox I can conclude the visitors to my site are probably more educated in browser types and they are.

So, I am comparable to visitors to my website?  I am educated in browsers and I have a choice so it looks like I am. IE is left to the rest, which is the majority of users (66% to be exact). So what if you work for a corporate giant? Are you in the masses? Even more so…

A bit of Googling will reveal that IE still rules the roost with the corporate giants, IE is easy to deploy, comes with the operating system and everyone will understand it as a result. Maybe Firefox is better but, for instance, it does not have an administration kit, tends to cause issues like security popups and application integration issues that do not affect IE. In short, it is harder to deploy.

Figure suggest that 80% of users in enterprises use IE and that means that applying an 80/20 rule, the browser any enterprise application should support first is IE. Within that 80% I would suspect the majority of users are perfectly happy with their browser and those who are not happy at the educated amongst us who like Firefox. But do we actually _know_ it is better or are we stuck in our ways? Are we just wanting Firefox support for everything because we think we have to? I personally do not think either browser is really that different and searching for the answer brings no conclusions .

So what is it? Is Firefox is king? Is 42 the answer? I just don’t see the need of why all applications should support all flavours, is it not making our lives difficult? I am not saying that I don’t think that applications should not be cross browser, but is it that much of an issue to only remark on that point?
Thoughts and flames are welcome below…

Ian Truscott responds to evil genius Kas Thomas

Ian Truscott has responded to evil genius Kas Thomas‘ ways of making us waste time by revealing damaging information about ourselves… 🙂

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