John Topley’s Weblog


iPad Too

When Apple announced the original iPad back in January last year I must admit that I was underwhelmed. Watching the keynote presentation afterwards a lot of people present in the room seemed to feel the same way, so subdued was the audience reaction. I’m not quite sure what we were expecting from the long rumoured and awaited Apple tablet, but it was surely more than the outsize iPod touch that Apple had apparently delivered.

The Best Of Twitter 2010

With 2010 having finally flown the nest of time after spending far too long living off its parents, I once again wanted to record my favourite tweets of the year just passed.

The Best Of Twitter 2009

With 2009 receeding to a distant dot in the rear-view mirror of life, I wanted to take a moment to record my favourite tweets of the past year. I think it’s particularly important to preserve them for posterity, as I read somewhere that Twitter don’t store tweets indefinitely.

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.

The Power And Beauty Of Ruby

With the new year comes a new commitment from me to start practising Test-Driven Development (TDD) for my Rails’ projects. Up until this point I’ve usually put off writing tests until towards the end of my projects, which obviously doesn’t lead to some of the benefits that TDD brings, such as increased confidence during refactoring or a cleaner model API design.

Death Of An Ikon

The Ford Ka is about to be replaced after an incredible twelve years in production. Incredible because to my eyes it still looks as fresh as the day it launched.

How To Run A National Blood Service

Rightly or wrongly, the National Health Service in Britain receives a lot of criticism. My own family’s experiences of state provided healthcare have been mixed, to say the least. However, in my experience one area that we have got right is the National Blood Service.

Happy Birthday LEGO!

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the invention of the humble LEGO brick. Apparently there are 2,400 different LEGO brick shapes and did you know that LEGO are the world’s largest manufacturer of tyres? LEGO was definitely one of my favourite toys as a child, particularly LEGO Technic.

Happy iPhone Day

After nearly six months of waiting, the day is finally here. All across the United States people are getting ready to put down at least five hundred Dollars in an Apple or AT&T store for the privilege of owning an Apple iPhone.

So True

I absolutely love this spoof commercial from the Rails Envy guys, so I make no apologies for embedding it here in case you haven’t seen it yet!

Great Flickr Feature

I just noticed something that Flickr got exactly right—you don’t have to give photos a title.

Deal Of The Century

That got your attention, didn’t it? Maybe not deal of the century, but if you’re a UK-based Rails developer then you owe it to yourself to check out the PeepCode subscription packs.

Best Of Breed Web 2.0 App

I dislike using the term “Web 2.0″ because no-one really knows what it means, but nonetheless it has come to represent a certain type of Web application.

Going On The Rails

Regular readers of my blog may be aware that I started out programming using Borland Delphi. Actually, that’s not really true—I started out programming on the PC using Delphi.

Eye Of The Tiger

Having become something of an Apple convert, I decided it was high-time I made a pilgrimage to the Apple store in London, so last weekend that’s what I did. It was also a good excuse to see Star Wars Episode III on the digital screen in Leicester Square, but this is yet-another-OS X-Tiger-review, not yet-another-Revenge-of-the-Sith-review!


I’m writing this on my new personal computer. It’s a lot more personal then my old one, which I still have. Some would say that it’s more personable too. I’ve bought myself an Apple PowerBook G4 12-inch and it’s just astonishing.

Hello Goodbye

Hello 2005, goodbye Microsoft. Don’t worry, I haven’t taken leave of my senses and ditched Windows for Linux at home—it’s a fine server OS but I don’t want it on my desktop. What I have done is finally ditch Internet Explorer and Outlook Express in favour of Mozilla Firefox and Mozilla Thunderbird.

Living With The iPod

I’ve now had my iPod for three months and am therefore able to offer some further thoughts on the pros and cons of iPod ownership. I’ve bought a couple of accessories, these being the Apple carrying case with belt clip and an iPod Dock.

Six Degrees Of Separation

I try to avoid writing about things that I’ve stumbled across whilst browsing—preferring instead to concentrate on creating my own content—but via a six degrees of separation-like process, I’ve come across something so remarkable that I just have to tell you about it.

Golden Google

Google are golden at the moment. Their search engine has been number one for as long as anyone can remember, they’ve just successfully gone public and now they’re churning out innovative and useful software at a rate of knots.

A Bite Of Apple

I didn’t seriously consider anything else for a minute. Sure, I’d read comparative reviews and there are devices out there that offer more features for less money, but they’re just not the same. They don’t automatically switch on when you plug the headphones in, or gradually fade the backlight off. You can’t personalise them. They don’t come in packaging that has been as fastidiously designed as the device itself. They’re just not “Designed by Apple in California”.

Child’s Play

I recently had some software recommended to me by a six year old. Not directly, but via her Daddy, who casually mentioned to me this amazing software that his daughter was having a lot of fun with.

Open Source Treasure

One of the things that has struck me whilst learning J2EE is the fact that there's a symbiotic relationship between J2EE and the world of open-source software. There's a bewildering choice of open-source software available to the enterprise Java developer, encompassing everything from application servers to string libraries and anything you can think of in-between.

Doing It With Style

I'm working on prototypes at the moment of the user interface for the J2EE application we're developing at work. As it's going to be a browser-based interface, I decided it was high time I learned more about Cascading Style Sheets.

iPAQ Pocket PC h1910 Reviewed

This will be a review of two halves. First I'll tell you about the hardware and then I'll discuss the software. I'd been considering buying a PDA for a while and decided to buy the Hewlett Packard iPAQ Pocket PC h1910 (to give it its full title!) after playing with one in a shop at Stansted Airport whilst waiting to fly to Sardinia.

Happy Birthday Google!

Google celebrated its fifth birthday a few days ago. Google is the World Wide Web's killer application, just as the World Wide Web is the Internet's killer app.

Awesome Ant

The latest edition to my J2EE armoury is Apache Ant, which I've spent the past few days investigating. For those who don't know, Ant—which stands for Another Neat Tool—is a Java automated build tool.


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