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Happy Birthday Windows

Microsoft Windows is a quarter of a century old today. It seems hard to believe that Windows 1.0 was finally released in November 1985 after being formally announced as a product named “Windows” (when the project started it had the less inspired name “Interface Manager”) two years previously.

My Vim Vocabulary

At the end of March I started to learn the Vim text editor and four months into my journey I thought it would be a useful experience for me to document the commands I have committed to memory so far. Please note that this isn’t particularly intended as an introduction to Vim or a tutorial, but if that’s what you’re looking for then there are many fine ones out there as well as some good screencasts. I’m writing this so that I have a record of what I know at this point.

Software Craftsmanship And Apprenticeship Patterns

One of the aspects of the world of software development that I find interesting is that as a group we seem to be constantly searching for the perfect metaphor or analogy to explain to non-software developers what it is we actually do. Some have said that writing software is like building a house, but others disagree and claim that it’s a more organic process akin to something like gardening.

Thirty Years Of The Fairlight

When you think of places associated with high-tech, you likely think of Silicon Valley, Japan or maybe Korea. If you subscribe to national stereotypes then let’s be honest here, you probably don’t think of Australia as being a hotbed of technological innovation. Yet thirty years ago the land of searing desert heat, koalas, kangaroos and really blokey blokes guzzling Fosters introduced to the world an electronic musical instrument that would change music and the music industry forever.

My Computer Book Addiction

My name’s John Topley and I have a little secret that I want to share with you today. No, not that one. The fact is that I’m addicted to buying computer books, to the extent that I often buy them but never finish them. I could spend days in the Computing section of one of the big bookshops in Charing Cross Road.

Three Java Idioms You Ain’t Gonna Need

I've been writing Java code on and off for about nine years now. I started out writing simple Java applications as part of an Open University course and for the past few years I've been employed professionally to write user interface code using Apache Struts for an internal enterprise Java application that weighs in with about one million lines of code.

RailsConf Europe 2008 Day 1

I’m in Berlin attending RailsConf Europe 2008. Today was the first day of the conference proper, following an optional day of tutorials yesterday. Following a welcome by Ruby guru David A. Black, the conference started with an hour-long keynote from Ruby on Rails creator David Heinemeier Hansson (DHH).

Bad Apple

One of the toughest tests of an operating system is how well it copes when disaster strikes and you have to somehow get your data back. Last weekend I found myself in this situation for the first time since I switched to using Mac OS X.

FogBugz World Tour

I went to a great gig in London last Friday with my good buddy John Conners. In a bizarre twist on the traditional format for these things, it was actually a presentation on project management software for software teams, rather than a music gig.

Learning Lisp

The title of this post is misleading because I’m not actually learning the programming language Lisp. Not directly, anyway. I have come across some of the more exotic and esoteric aspects of programming during the past year or so, some of which originated in Lisp.

Still Learning

I learned something new about Windows today. “So what?” you may ask, but I thought it was slightly interesting because if I had to categorise what sort of Windows user I was then I’d probably plump for the expert category. And that means that learning something I didn’t know about using Windows is noteworthy for me.

No Pal Of Mine

This morning. 7:15 a.m. Bleary-eyed and reading my e-mails. An e-mail from PayPal asking me to verify my account.

What Do I Do?

I don’t know what I do for a living. I’m deadly serious, I don’t know what occupation to put against my name on forms, or precisely what to say when people ask me what I do. I want to say something that captures the creativity of programming or the unique thrill when the computer does something that I made it do.

The Truth About Real Programmers

Most organisations of any size that practise software development usually have a Real Programmer. I’m sure you know the type—they have a brain the size of a planet and are undoubtedly masters of their field.

JDeveloper, Apache And MIME Types

I've just got to the bottom of a fairly obscure problem that occurs when using Mozilla Firefox to access a web application developed using Oracle JDeveloper. The JSPs in my application link to an external stylesheet, but the pages weren't styled when viewed using a Gecko-based browser, such as Firefox. However, they were fine when using Internet Explorer or Opera.

Santorini Snaps

I've just spent a week on holiday on the Greek island of Santorini, which is the southern most island in the Cyclades group. We stayed in the excellent El Greco hotel apartments in the capital, Fira.

Software Review: VisiCalc For The IBM PC

VisiCalc for the IBM PC was first released in 1981. I thought it would be interesting and instructive to take a look at a piece of software that is not only twenty three years old, but that also defined a market. If you're not familiar with VisiCalc then you should know that it was the world's first electronic spreadsheet.

The Enemy Within

My partner asked me recently why people hate Microsoft so much and it's a question I've been pondering for a while, as well as thinking about my own attitude towards the world's largest software company. I consider myself to be in an unusual position in that I'm a Java developer who does actually like Microsoft.

Is This For Real?

I've just received an e-mail that has totally baffled me. Upon first reading I thought that it was spam and this article was going to be a name and shame exercise, as I did previously. However, now I'm not so sure that it is spam but I don't really know what it is.

No More Heroes Any More?

It's the end of an era. Concorde, that magnificent feat of engineering and disastrous example of economic planning, has retired. There is no longer a supersonic civilian airliner. In the not too distant future, there will be no one alive who has walked on the surface of the moon.


I've just returned from a week's holiday in the beautiful town of Alghero in Sardinia. Alghero is in the north west of the island and dates back to the twelfth century.

The Joy Of Programming

I visited the Design Museum in London recently because there were two exhibitions that I wanted to see, both of which subsequently reminded me of why I enjoy computer programming.

Strutting My Stuff

I've just returned from a week-long RAD workshop where I was involved in the initial development of a Java framework for internal use within the organisation I work for. The workshop was a first for me and a first for my employer.

Get Your Back Up

I read a theory once that said that data doesn't exist unless it is stored in at least three locations at once. Another theory, Murphy's Law, would say that the first theory would be proved true on the night before an important meeting and whilst finishing a report, when your computer dies and you don't have a backup!

Instant Gratification

To my surprise, I've been programming in Visual Basic 6.0 again recently. I'm still writing Java code in my day job but I had occasion to create a demo VB application.

How Soon We Forget

I first started programming for the PC in about 1996. I'd seen some screen shots of Visual Basic 4.0 in a computer magazine and thought that it looked pretty good and quite different from the boring programming in BASIC that I'd done at school.

When Is A Nerd Not A Nerd?

When is a nerd not a nerd? It depends on the subject that the person is nerdish about. about, it would seem.

Knowing Where To Look

I've been surprised recently. Everyone knows about Google right? I think it's the best general–purpose search engine out there and use it all the time.


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