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Flotsam and Jetsam #67

By Nick at October 20, 2012 00:12
Filed Under: Flotsam and Jetsam, Delphi, Software Development
  • For those of you who still cling to the archaic notion that “Delphi Marketing Sucks”, you should know that I can’t go anywhere on the internet without seeing an add for RAD Studio XE3.  One of the things I appreciate about Google Adsense is that it knows the kinds of ads I want to see and what I am interested.  And it has very astutely determined that I like Delphi.  And Embarcadero marketing has very astutely provided ads to let me know that RAD Studio XE3 exists and that I can buy it.   That’s what marketing is all about.
  • How have I managed to miss this page of cool stuff all these years --  Delphi Inspiration? I’m particularly intrigued by the Delphi pre-processor.
  • Cool Thing Built With Delphi of the Week: dbConstructor
  • A bunch of you have ordered Delphi XE3 from me. I am very grateful. Thanks.  It's a great release -- I'm really enjoying using all the cool new language and RTL features, and I think you should too.

Flotsam and Jetsam #66

By Nick at October 11, 2012 23:42
Filed Under: Flotsam and Jetsam
  • I’ve talked about my Ooma.  I love it – I has cut my phone bill from $50 a month to $5 a month.  It works great, and I get unlimited calling in the US, and $0.01 a minute to Canada.  (That’s important to me, as my wife is from Saskatoon and calls her family there.) In fact, the phone bill is $0, and the $5 is just taxes.  It is paying for itself in four months.  And right now, you can save $40 on the unit, meaning it will pay for itself even faster.  And if you buy from this link, I get a commission.  It’s a win for everyone. 
  • Blog Sightings:   There’s been a bunch of activity on the Embarcadero Blog site:
  • The Embarcadero MVP program is “official” now in that there is a web page and everything.  I’m honored to be included among the list of amazing, skilled, and knowledgeable folks.  Know someone who should be on the list?  You can nominate them
  • One of the cool new features in Delphi Xe3 is helpers for intrinsic types.  The most noticeable one is TStringHelper which lets you do things like MyStringVar.Length and MyStringVar.ToUpper.  However, I find it curious that they didn’t include a “standard” helper for integers.  I supposed it is because there are so many different integer types, but I seems that they could solve that through some form of inheritance, right?  I don’t know.  I just know that I’d like to be able to go MyIntegerVar.ToStringSmile
  • Here’s a blog post after my own heart: Why you should use Delphi’s Unit Testing – DUNIT.  In fact, there is a bunch of great stuff on the India Delphi User Group blog
  • Is it just me, or is it weird that Send To|Clipboard as Name isn’t a default behavior for a file in Windows Explorer?  I must use that twenty times a day.  I have to add a plug-in to have that feature. 

Flotsam and Jetsam #65

By Nick at September 25, 2012 10:14
Filed Under: Flotsam and Jetsam, Delphi
  • Hey, here is something cool.  I am now an Embarcadero Affiliate.  This means that you can buy Delphi XE3 from me.     You can click on that link or any of the banner ads right now, buy, and get a great version of Delphi.  I’d really appreciate it. Definitely.  Go on, you know you want to.  Winking smile
  • The Call for Papers for CodeRage 7 is out.  I will definitely be submitting some presentations.  This year they are actually having two CodeRages, one for Delphi and one for C++Builder.  If you have never done so, but have always wanted to be a speaker, I’d suggest that you submit some presentations.  It’s really cool being a presenter at these events.  I’ve always enjoyed it.
  • One of the unsung heroes of the Delphi community is Uwe Schuster.  Uwe does a lot of things that benefit us all.  Most prominently, he basically wrote and continues to update the Version Insight feature in the IDE.  If you are storing your Delphi code using Subversion, Mercurial,  Git, or Jedi VCSm then you should be using the IDE integration that Uwe has provided.  It’s actually quite amazing.  The Live Blame feature alone is worth it.  But that isn’t all – Uwe has a bunch of really good IDE plugins, including a nice TStringList visualizer, an expert that enhances the Object Inspector, and for those of you who hate the new modeless search feature, a modal search dialog.  So here’s an official F&J ShoutOut to Uwe for all the cool stuff he does.
  • The Jedi VCL Library is now ready for XE3.  I for one am very appreciative of all the great work the Jedi team does for the community.
  • I don’t know if many of you know Joe Hendricks. He’s been a Delphi community member for a long time.  Both he and his wife Heidi have been battling cancer for many years, and his Facebook posts about their progress, adventures, and life were an inspiration to me and many.  Their faith in Jesus was evident throughout everything they did.  Heidi passed away early this week.  I’m saddened at the loss of a woman I never met, but who was in inspiration to me.  And I send my condolences to Joe, who was a fine example of what it means to be a man, a husband, and a Christian.

Flotsam and Jetsam #64

By Nick at September 05, 2012 19:00
Filed Under: Flotsam and Jetsam, Tech Stuff, Delphi
  • Jim McKeeth was kind enough to interview me for the The Podcast at Delphi.org.   It was fun to do. 
  • In a previous Flotsam and Jetsam, I mentioned that I had received as gift an ASUS RT-N16 and loaded it with the TomatoUSB firmware.  So far, it’s been working great – I really like it.  The reason I did it was to be able to have better control over the Quality of Service so that I could install an Ooma Telo  Well I have done so, and am quite pleased. 
    • I paid the $40 to have my number changed over.  It took about ten days, and now I am running the Ooma as my house phone. 
    • I got the Ooma Telo from Amazon for $150 (a special price, apparently, as the price appears to have gone up), and paid $40 for the number transfer.  I have cancelled my phone service from Comcast, saving about $50 a month.  That means that the Ooma Telo will pay for itself in four months, and save me a pretty good chunk of change going forward.  
    • And here’s a fun thing about the Ooma – I can take my home phone with me.  If I say, take a trip to my folks house, I can bring the Ooma, plug it in, plug in a phone, and I have my “house”  phone there wherever I am.  I don’t know why I find that amusing. 
    • One concern I had was the fact that if the power goes out,  my phone goes out.  But that’s true for my Comcast phone as well, though it would take a while for the battery to wear out.  In addition, we live in a development with lots of neighbors, and we have cell phones.  And lots of people are starting to get rid of their house phones all together, so that turns out to be a minor concern for me anyway.
  • Alas – Barry Kelly has moved on from Embarcadero. His contributions to Delphi are many and lasting.  I don’t know if I’ve ever met a smarter person, frankly. He’s also just a very interesting guy generally.  Good luck to you, Barry.
  • I won’t be the first Delphi book on LeanPub.  Currently available is Parallel Programming with OmniThreadLibrary by Primož Gabrijelčič.  (You did catch that I am writing a book, right?)
  • There are some pretty cool goodies that you can get if you buy RAD Studio XE3 right now, including a FireMonkey grid from the excellent folks at TMS Software.  It’s called the RAD XE3 Bonus pack. 

Flotsam and Jetsam #63

By Nick at August 23, 2012 20:38
Filed Under: Delphi, Flotsam and Jetsam

Flotsam and Jetsam #62

By Nick at August 22, 2012 08:36
Filed Under: Flotsam and Jetsam, Software Development, Delphi
  • Okay, so it looks like the release of Delphi XE3 is imminent.  My friend Tim Del Chiaro (the Delphi Insider) has announce the World Tour for the release.  The official page is here.  Tim also mentions something about a new product “HTML5 Builder”.  That sounds interesting.
  • JT, the Product Manager for RAD Studio, has a blog post with more info. I’ve not dabbled much in mobile development yet, so the most interesting part was “by adding memory management features such as automatic reference counting” – that’s very intriguing.  This could add a whole new dimension to the great FreeAndNil debateWinking smile
  • I’m always looking to sell stuff on ebay – so when I put in my new ASUS RT-N16 router, I thought I’d sell the old one.  Apparently, I’m not the only one doing that, as the router that Comcast gave me is worth only about 15 dollars, if that.  They are $40 at Amazon. Oh well.  Winking smile  I was hoping it was worth a bit more.  But hey, $15 is a lot of money, right?
  • I think I’ve said at least 453 times how much I love FinalBuilder.  So I’m always happy to pass along good news about what the folks at VSoft are up to.  Their latest is a very intriguing product called Continua CI, recently released in beta.  It’s a follow on to their FinalBuilder Server product.  I say “follow on” and not “upgrade” because it looks to be something quite a bit different and improved. Robert Love has a good write-up on it as well.    We here at Gateway Ticketing currently use Jenkins in concert with FinalBuilder, but if the licensing for Continua is favorable, it might be something for us to consider.  In any event, I always recommend looking at anything at all from the fine folks at vSoft Technologies.

Flotsam and Jetsam #61

By Nick at August 11, 2012 06:54
Filed Under: Flotsam and Jetsam, Delphi, Tech Stuff
  • I’ve never been a hardware or network geek, but after I read this post by Jeff Atwood about how easy it was to set up custom firmware on a router a few notches above the “cheap one they basically give you when you sign up for cable internet”, I thought that I might try it some day.  I put the Atwood-recommended Asus RT-N16 on my Amazon wish list, and lo and behold, my parents kindly gave it to me for my birthday in July.  I actually left it sitting on the shelf for a few weeks, unsure if I really wanted to use it until a friend at work told me about Ooma.  Ooma is a phone service that works over your internet connection.  It’s not true VOIP, but similar.  Once you buy the device and get it set up, you basically get free phone service (I guess you pay some taxes or something each month, but only like $4 or something).  The Ooma should save me $50 a month.  Nice.  Anyway, if you have an Ooma, you really need a router that supports Quality of Service so that your phone calls don’t get aced out when your 13 year old starts downloading some huge game or something.  So today, I broke out the router, and used these instructions to flash the firmware on the Asus router, and now I’m up and running with TomatoUSB.  Very cool.   My next step is to buy the Ooma box and get that set up.  I’ll keep you all posted, as I know that you are eager to be updated on every single little thing I do.
  • You know, I just love all the stuff that the folks at DevJet are doing.  First, they are the impetus behind the Delphi Spring Framework, which as far as I am concerned you should treat like part of the Delphi RTL, as well as the really cool tool Documentation Insight.  Now they have release a new product that is the mirror to Documentation Insight – Documentation Generator.   You can pre-order it for 30% off, too.  What does it do?  Well, it takes all those great /// comments/documentation you wrote using Documentation Insight (which, by the way, is bundled with Delphi XE2) and turns it into online content.  For instance, here is the documentation for my HTMLWriter project.  And of course, all the documentation for the Spring4D project is online as well.  Nice.
  • There are some interesting Delphi book projects in the works:
  • Nick’s Opinion of the Week:  I think that if someone wants to open source their software, then they should do so.  And if they don’t want to open source their software, then they shouldn’t. And if you have a different opinion than the author of the software, then you should express it respectfully.  If your “advice” isn’t taken, then you should leave it be.  Just sayin’. 

Flotsam and Jetsam #60

By Nick at July 24, 2012 09:01
Filed Under: Flotsam and Jetsam, Delphi
  • Hey, Flotsam and Jetsam is back!  It’s been a while.  Sorry.
  • The folks at Helpinator are running a Absolutely Insane FireMonkey Demo contest.  I say you should give it a try.
  • Jason Southwell has an interesting project going over at KickStarterNakeyMonkey.  Cool idea.  I’ve heard about Kickstarter, but never really seen it in action. I love the idea – great way to spread the word about good ideas.  Not all good ideas need $15 million in venture capital.   Perhaps you want to get in on the ground floor of the project?
  • Okay, only like two real items, but we will take what we can get for the first Flotsam and Jetsam in quite a while, eh?

Flotsam and Jetsam #59

By Nick at April 23, 2012 05:39
Filed Under: Flotsam and Jetsam
  • The comments are working again.  My apologies go out to those folks who were kind enough to try to comment but weren’t able to.  I don’t know what the problem was – it went away when I deleted my “Little boxes” box in the sidebar.  When I rebuilt it using pretty much the same code, it all kept on working.  Gremlins, I guess.  In any event, all should be well, and thank you to those of you who took the time to let me know about the problem.
  • More on Delphi Marketing:  I wrote about Delphi marketing a little while back, and here’s more proof that they are busy and really doing a great job.  Tim Del Chiaro has the list of online webinar and events that happened just in the first quarter of this year alone. That is a very long and interesting list of webinars you can view to learn about Embarcadero products, what they can do, and why you might want to buy them.  That’s what marketing folks do – let you know that the product exists, what it does and why you need it.  More good stuff continues to come out of the folks in Scotts Valley, and you should be giving credit where credit is due if you aren’t.
  • I’m a big fan of Documentation Insight by DevJet, and they have recently released version 2.0 of this great IDE tool. I heartily recommend that you buy it and start writing /// comments for your library code – and any code at all, for that matter.  Visit the What’s New page for information about this excellent tool. 
  • Jeff Duntemann pointed to these really cool pictures of the interior of the Hindenburg.  Now, of course, the name “Hindenburg” is synonymous with “horrible, flaming disaster”, but one would assume that had the thing not been filled with hopelessly flammable hydrogen, that blimp travel might have become popular.  I don’t know about you, but I think that a trip on such a ship would be really, really cool.  Blimps are a common site today – no big sporting event happens without the famous overhead shots from the Goodyear Blimp – and I for one would love to take a trip across the United States in a blimp at a reasonable altitude for seeing the sites.  I’m surprised such a service isn’t available – I can’t imagine that I’d be alone in such a desire.
  • Dennis Landi – long time Delphi guy – is looking for a Delphi developer in the Washington, DC area.  

Flotsam and Jetsam #58

By Nick at March 24, 2012 11:59
Filed Under: Delphi, Flotsam and Jetsam
  • The annual RAD Studio survey is out. (UPDATE:  Apparently the link I gave was unique to me, so I've removed it.) I strongly recommend you take it if you are a Delphi/C++Builder/Prism kind of guy.  I can assure you from first hand experience that the results of this survey are very valuable and are used by Embarcadero to make decisions.  So please fill it out and let Embarcadero know what you think.
  • Awesome Quote by Nick of the Week: “The real cool part of it is that proper unit testing is a "virtuous circle". The more you write unit tests, the more you see how to write testable code. The more you write testable code, the more you tend to remove dependencies. The more you remove dependencies, the more decoupled your code is. The more decoupled your code is, the easier it is to test, and thus you write more unit tests, and start it all over again.”   I wrote that in a conversation about unit testing in the Delphi newsgroups.
  • Awesome Follow-up Quote by Dalija Prasnikar of the Week: After someone claims that unit testing can become “wheel-spinning”:  "Exactly opposite. It is quite hard to start the process rolling at the beginning. But once you get going it gets easier and easier, and you write new code faster and with less bugs and when you do write bugs, you find them in matter of seconds instead hours. And you end up with code that is easy to maintain and change. What more could you want?"
  • Sure enough, the denizens of Wikipedia have determined that this blog is “not notable”.   “Notability” is the magic word for Wikipedians, though often I think the definition that they use for it “Stuff I’m not interested in” or “a word I can use to control my little fifedom of the web’.  I will note, though, that my entry has appeared to prompt a complete reworking of the disambiguation page for “Flotsam and Jetsam”, so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.  I can understand the need for Wikipedia to maintain a level of neutrality and objectivity, but I do think that it can get out of hand, with small-minded people enjoying their power a bit too much.  In any event, I do love Wikipedia, and use it probably more than any other site on the web.  One could even make the argument that it is mankind’s greatest achievement.  Perhaps I will in a future blog post.  Winking smile

Flotsam and Jetsam #57

By Nick at March 16, 2012 09:23
Filed Under: Flotsam and Jetsam, Delphi

Flotsam and Jetsam #56

By Nick at February 24, 2012 17:24
Filed Under: Delphi, Flotsam and Jetsam, Personal

Flotsam and Jetsam #55

By Nick at February 08, 2012 09:02
Filed Under: Flotsam and Jetsam, Delphi
  • Marco notes that Embarcadero has put out a press release announcing a 54% increase in revenue in 2011 over 2010.  This is unequivocal, clear, unassailable good news.  No amount of Chicken Little whining will take away from the fact that this is very, very good news.  (It didn’t take long for Marco’s commenters and the Nattering Nabobs of Negativity in the non-tech newsgroups to try to find a way to make this something other than great news.)  The most important thing that the EMBT Executives care about is the bottom line – and that is how it should be.  And the bottom line for Delphi apparently looks pretty darn good – good enough for them to brag about it.  When the bottom line of Delphi looks good, that is good for Delphi developers. 
  • Hey, I noticed that I’ve gone over 1000 comments here on my blog (actually it’s more like 3000  if you count spam that I’ve deleted.….).  Thanks to everyone who posts comments.  I appreciate you reading this stuff I write, especially when you go to the trouble of writing something up and adding to the conversation.  Lately some of the discussions on my technical posts have been really good – I’m grateful.
  • I am not myself able to go this year, but I’m quite happy that three of my team here at Gateway Ticketing will be attending Delphi Developer Days this April in Baltimore/Washington, DC.  I was there last year, and I can tell you that it was a really valuable experience, and I recommend that you attend this year if you can.
  • Jason Southwell’s ApeSuite for FireMonkey has a new beta out with a bunch of new features.
  • More FireMonkey components are now coming from TMS Software as well – they have a cool set of instrumentation components as well as a TableView control that will be popular for folks writing mobile apps in particular.
  • And Even More FireMonkey: As previously noted, I haven’t played with FireMonkey  much, but I have to confess, it is cool to think that this demo app – as described by Anders Ohlsson in his EDN article – is written in Delphi and will run on the Mac (and even iOS I guess…?) as well as on Windows.  Pretty slick.  And while you are at it, check this one out as well.

Flotsam and Jetsam #54

By Nick at January 28, 2012 01:06
Filed Under: Delphi, Flotsam and Jetsam
  • I like FireMonkey.  Actually, I confess that I don’t know much at all about FireMonkey, but I like that it exists.  I don’t use it, but I like that it is there, broadening the appeal of Delphi and generally advancing the cause of the tool we all love so well.  So I was pleased to see that the nascent market for third-party FireMonkey controls continues to grow.  The latest offering is from Jason Southwell’s Arcana with the cleverly named “ApeSuite”.  ApeSuite is in beta, but you can get in early at a special price.  Jason has been updating the library pretty regularly. I’m glad to see people getting a good start on what will hopefully be a thriving marketplace, and I tip my cap to Jason for jumping in.
  • Alex Ciobanu – formerly of the Delphi RTL/VCL team – has made a few changes to his outstanding open source offerings.  First, his DeHL project has been discontinued.  I’m sorry to hear that – there are some really interesting things in there.   But second, he has done a brilliant job with a new project that is, to a certain degree,  a replacement, Delphi Collections.    He says it is “on hold” but it appears that he is actively working on moving it forward.  Alex is a really, really good programmer, so I keep a close eye on what he is up to.  His contributions to the Delphi community are very large, and I’m very appreciative of what he does.  Lots to learn there.
  • How to Get Your Comments Deleted:  This is my blog, and what ends up on on it is up to me.  I’ve noticed that some of you have been trying really hard, though, to get your comments deleted with a modicum of success – and I’ve been helping to make sure that you succeed in this endeavor when appropriate.  I thought that you all might want to know for sure how to get your comments deleted.  The best way is to be a jerk and write a content free but insulting comment that adds no value whatsoever.  Do that, and you’ll get your comment deleted.  Hope that helps.
  • Eric Grange pointed out that there has been a marked uptick in activity on open source projects involving Pascal.  It’s nice to see numbers attached to something that I’ve kind of felt to be the case.  The addition of generics and anonymous methods to Delphi really opened the language up to some really cool and really powerful frameworks, and things like Alex’s code above, the Spring Framework, Delphi Mocks, and all kinds of other frameworks.  It’s a really good time to be a Delphi developer.  (And Ohloh is a pretty interesting site – worth poking around.)
  • What and how things are named in our code is a really important part of being a good developer. That’s why I thought this post was interesting – “Interface naming: prefix 'Can-' vs suffix '-Able'”    We tend to create interface names with –able (ISerializable, IDisposable, IEatable, whatever….) and maybe that isn’t always the best convention?

Flotsam and Jetsam #53

By Nick at January 18, 2012 00:20
Filed Under: Flotsam and Jetsam

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