Praise to VLC
Now that I can be assured to have a windows system ready at hand should I need one, I'm more and more switching over to using Mac OS X for day-to-day productivity work - at least if it's not about doing delphi work.
Now this sounds crazy, but in the end it all boils down to (IMHO) better font rendering and a alpha-blended terminal.
Functionality-wise and productivity-wise, MacOS and Windows are on par. Both systems have little things that suck and both have advantages in other little things.
In the end, both are OSes.
They are using an .ogg-stream which I appreciate because of two things: For one it provides a better Bandwith:Quality ratio and furthermore ogg's a patent-free technology.
Problem: How to listen to a OGG-Stream on OS X?
Apples arrogance in regards of QuickTime is one of those things that bother me in OSX. Apple: There's more to the world of multimedia than just QuickTime and MP3, so make the infrastructure extendable in a sense so it actually works (Hint: DirectShow works quite well - despite being a Microsoft product).
There are some QT/Ogg-plugins available on the net, but none of them (not even one I compiled myself to be 100% sure to have an Intel build) actually worked.
Just when I thought that all was lost, I remembered VLC.
My experience with video already showed it to me: VLC just plays everything you can possibly throw at it. And yes: It managed (and still manages) to play the remixes stream.
And the UI is great on OS X (if you don't look at the awful preferences dialog).
VLC IMHO is a really nice example how a cross-platfrom UI should be done: It looks like it's perfectly at home on my OSX. And it ALSO looks like it's perfectly at home on Windows XP (a bit minimalistic, but it does it's job).
And with feeling at home I don't mean: "It looks the same on both platforms". No. It's perfectly adapting to the look & feel of the platform it's running on. No common theme, no quasi OS-look. It looks as much as your native Mac OS X application as, say, iTunes or TextMate does.
So: Thanks guys. This is great stuff!Read on →
XP on the MacBook Pro
As I've announced earlier, I've bought myself a MacBook Pro with the intention of running Windows XP on it (see that other post for the reasoning behind that), thought I changed my mind considering the multimedia capabilities: VLC (the preview for intel macs) plays whatever I throw at it, has a nice GUI and does NOT use 100% CPU time all the time.
One day after I made that blog post, I actually got my machine and immediately used the XOM EFI-Hack to actually install XP.
The process went quite smoothly despite it being quite a hack. The installation process actually was one of the fastest I've ever seen so far.
The problem with the XOM solution is the lack of drivers where it hurts the most: Power Management and Graphics
Having no graphics driver means: No acceleration, no DVI, no 2560 pixels resolution.
Useless for my purpose.
Yesterday, Apple announced Bootcamp, their solution for installing XP (or any other x86 OS for that matter) on the Intel Macs. Bootcamp requires a firmware update on the Macs which actually does nothing more but adding a real BIOS compatibility layer, allowing to install any non-EFI system.
Bootcamp itself is a graphical partitioning tool with the capability of resizing HFS+ paritions without data loss. And it comes fully packed with drivers for most of the integrated hardware (only iSight, the harddisk shock protection and the keyboard backlight don't work)
As installing that driver package on a XOM solution sounded risky to me (and does not work as I've learned afterwards), I've installed the whole thing from scratch, deleting the former two paritions and letting bootcamp create new ones.
Installing XP was fast as ever and installing the drivers was one of the most pleasant experiences: Just doubleclick that large MSI and let it do it's work. Reboot. Done.
Here's my desktop in full 2560x1600 resolution (warning: The linked full-size picture is large) of my 30-inch cinema display, showing some CPU specs, the resolution control panel applet and the tool for selecting the default OS which was installed by Apple'a driver package.
The OS you select there is booted by default, but you can hold the Alt-Key while booting to bring up a boot manager.
I'm very plesed by the speed and low noise of the machine. Now the only thing I'm still whishing for is a docking solution as I now have to plug in three (DVI, USB, Power) or four (if I want ethernet) cables each day.
Well done, Apple. And: Thanks!
Update: This is a screenshot of the same machine running OS X. The installation is quite fresh still, but the most important things are installed already: Textmate, X11 and SSHKeychain.
Read on →
Ruby on Rails
Today, our first project done in Ruby on Rails went live.
Christoph has done a wonderful job on it. The only thing I had to do was to fix up some CSS buglets in IE and install a deployment environement (developement was done using the Rails-integrated WEBRick server)
Personally, I think I'd have preferred using LightTPD with FastCGI instead of Apache, but the current setup pretty much prevented me from doing so.
Which is why I've installed mod_fastcgi on apache which was very, very easy on Gentoo (emerge mod_fastcgi - as usual).
Once I've corrected the interpreter path in dispatch.fcgi (which was set to the location of Christophs developement environment), the thing began working quite nicely.
Considering the incredible amount of magic rails does behind the scenes, those 73.15 requests per second I got are very, very impressive (ab -n 100 -c 5). And actually so much faster than a comparable PHP application running using mod_php on a little faster server (19.36 req/s, same ab call).
The results have to be taken with a grain of salt as it's different machines, different load and a different application.
But it's similar enough to be comparable for me: the PHP application is running on a framework somewhat similar to rails with lesser optimization but also with lesser complexity. Both benchmarks ran against the unauthenticated start page which comes pretty much down to including some files and rendering a template. No relevant database queries.
I wonder how much of this higher speed is caused by FastCGI (a very convincing technology) instead of running the code in the apache server itself and how much is just rails being faster.
I will set up a test environement which is better defined to actually allow an accurate performance comparison: Comparable application in mod_php, php-fastcgi and rails-fastcgi. And if I have time, I'm going to run the two fastcgi-tests on LightTPD aswell.
Benchmarking is fun. Time-consuming, but fun.
For now, I'm content with the knowledge that an application that took a very small effort to write (even considering that Christoph had to learn the rails environment first) is running fast enough for its intended purpose.
As Christoph said: Rails Rules
thanks, guysRead on →
Jabber: Even file transfers work
Transferring large amounts of data is a problem to overcome for all the IM networks.
You see: Usually you don't transfer files over the central IM server because it will use the IM providers bandwith which is better used sending out those small text messages. That's why files are usually transferred in a P2P fashion.
The problem here is that usually there's a NATing router or even a firewall working at one, or most of the time both ends of the communication. This usually forbids the making of a direct connection - at least without some serious trickery (warning: PDF link) going on
This is why I never expect a file transfer to work - even when using the native IM client.
And today, a guy sent me some image. Via Jabber. Via PyMSN-t.
Just when I wanted to write that it's never going to work, I watched the bytes flow in.
I'm still unable to belive it: Wildfire/PyAIM-t/Psi succeeded in making a direct P2P file transfer happen from a friend in MSN to my PC running a jabber client.
Read on →