Alvin Alexander | Java, Scala, Unix, Perl, Mac OS X

Going after Windows and Office

In the business world I prefer being aggressive, and if someone is coming after me, I in turn am going to go after them -- but only if I think I can win the battle. So that becomes the question, can Google win this battle?

MS: The ultimate guard dog

Throughout their history MS has always acted like the ultimate guard dog. Not only do they protect their own territory (operating systems, applications, development tools), they also protect anything in their neighborhood. They're a little like this:

Aren't the Google Apps enough?

Next question: Why should Google create an operating system? Isn't it enough for them to create their own suite of Office applications (Google Apps) as a replacement for MS Office? Why get into the operating system battle?

Introduction

After reading this article by John C. Dvorak, I can start buying into the need for Google to create their own operating system, aka, the GoogleOS. More specifically, the OS should be a binary-compatible replacement for Microsoft (MS) Windows.

Kudos to the Boston Red Sox for winning the 2007 World Series (and Colorado Rockies for getting there), and major poop on the classless acts of Scott Boras and Alex ("I make every team worse just by showing up") Rodriguez. "Announcing" that Rodriguez is going to be a free agent during Game 4 of the World Series is inexcusable and a terrible distraction from the game, and I hope MLB fines the crap out of them.

VoodooPad is a really interesting application for Mac OS X users. As stand-alone applications go I don't know any good comparisons. But when you compare it to web applications it's easy to say, "Oh, it's a wiki." But really, it's a personal, one-user wiki, written as a fat client instead of a web application, with a few extra features thrown in for good measure.

After all these years -- and despite some of the bad things I've written about Microsoft and Windows in the past -- and all the people that laugh at me for using it, FrontPage is still my favorite HTML WYSIWYG editor.

As I mentioned in a review of the Easy Task Manager for Mac OS X, I've come to prefer an application named TaskPaper.

TaskPaper takes an interesting approach of letting you work on a plain-text file with custom tags. Possibly the best features about TaskPaper is that it looks like the normal paper lists I normally make, and also lets you cross completed tasks off the list, giving you that good old feeling of accomplishment.

I don't offer normal product reviews on this site, and this one is no different. My review of the Easy Task Manager is this: As task managers go, I like the TaskPaper application better.

For more detail ...

I took a little time today to review two applications from hog bay software, and so far I like them. TaskPaper is a very simple to-do list "getting things done" application. It seems like a very minimalist application, and in some ways I want it to do more -- especially for the price -- but I do like scratching items off my list, the fact that it stores the data as plain old text, and a simple tag approach. It looks like it offers printing and archiving of tasks, but I haven't tried those yet.

ted.com is my favorite website of the moment. I love the idea of essentially unrelated people -- arguably experts in their fields -- sharing ideas. In a lot of ways the more diverse the topics the more I like it.

I bought a Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard a few days ago to try to help with some carpal-tunnel issues. I do like the way it positions my hands and wrists, but why do they have to make the keys so hard to press???

I just read this quote from Steve Jobs:

"People don't understand that we've invented a new class of interface," he said ... "there are no 'verbs' in the iPhone interface", he said, alluding to the way a standard mouse or stylus system works.

"In those systems, users select an object, like a photo, and then separately select an action, or 'verb', to do something to it."

As general-purpose text editors go, TextMate on Mac OS X is probably one of the best I've ever used. Favorite features are the built-in spell-checking, solid macro support, and a clean UI that stays out of the way. It also offers syntax highlighting for many different languages out of the box, which is nice when because I work in HTML, Java, and Ruby a lot. Smart tabs generally work very well also.

Looks like a fun day in the tech world. First, there's a robot that cleans the gutters. Next, Gateway (I thought they were dead) comes out with a new iMac competitor. That's a cool jump from the old cow boxes to a new PC leader in industrial design.

I was going to write a little tutorial on how to use the Jar Bundler Ant task for Mac OS X, but I don't have the time to do that right now.

So, I'll just share my Mac OS X Java Ant build script, which includes the JarBundler task. You should be able to use this Ant build script to build a Java application so it appears to the user to be a native Mac OS X application, even though it's really a Java application under the covers.

If you ever get the following error message in an AppleScript program (at least while editing the program in the ScriptEditor):

Can't make (handler) into type string

fear not, it seems to be pretty simple to cure. In my case I got this more-specific error message:

Can't make (handler getDayOfWeek) into type string

This error just means that I tried to call a function like this:

To sort a Unix / Linux directory listing by file size, you just need to add one or more options to the base ls. On Mac OS X (which runs a form of Unix) this command works for me:

ls -alS

That lists the files in order, from largest to smallest. To reverse the listing so it shows smallest to largest, just add the 'r' option to that command:

ls -alSr

 

Question: In a Java Swing application I open a JFrame that displays some contents in a JTextArea, and has a Close button (a JButton) at the bottom of the JFrame. I've tried a lot of things, but I can't get initial focus on that JButton component. This is happening on a Mac OS X system, but I'll assume it has the same problem on Windows. Any suggestions?

If you need to create icons for an application on a Mac OS X system, Apple provides a small application named "Icon Composer". If you have the Xcode tools installed, this application is in the /Developer/Applications/Utilites/Icon Composer folder on your system. (Choose Macintosh HD, then Developer, Applications, Utilities, and then the Icon Composer application.) More to the point, this utility program helps you create icons in Apple's "icns" format from icon images in other formats.