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Ben Poole



Ben Poole: last 10 entries



Copyright: Copyright 1997 - 2016, Benedict Poole
 



New Macs, function key strips

Tue, 30 Aug 2016 08:26 +0100

By most measures, Apple is well overdue a refresh of its Mac and MacBook lines: 2016 has seen nothing on that score, and the latest press event announced for next week doesn’t really tell us any more. One of the more persistent rumours for the new machines, whenever they may turn up, states that the row of function keys on the new MacBooks will be replaced by some kind of context-sensitive “touch strip”

Sweet baby Moses, if this is true then I hope to all that is holy that Apple know what they’re doing. Anyone who uses Lenovo hardware will recall the (justified) screams that greeted the Carbon X1. Here’s a reminder:

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My goodness but that was an aberration.




VMWare Fusion tip: drag n drop

Thu, 21 Jul 2016 17:37 +0100

I have a recurring, not to mention infuriating, issue with Fusion which has existed since I started using the software in those heady beta days (2007?). To wit: drag n drop from the host to the guest OS just stops working for no apparent reason. Occasionally, this extends to copy and paste too. One way to address this is to restart the VM (bah!) or when it gets really bad, repair the VMWare Tools installation. Nasty.

When the problem happened again today, I decided to dig a little deeper, and found fragments of commands in various web pages / discussion fora. This pair of commands does the trick for me, so I’m posting here in the hope I find them again (this tip is for when using a Windows guest):

  1. Open the Windows command line as an administrator (important that) and issue this to blat VMWare Tools for now: taskkill /F /IM vmtoolsd.exe
  2. Now issue this command (doesn’t need to be as an administrator): "C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware Tools\vmtoolsd.exe" -n vmusr (you may need to adjust this for your VMWare Tools installation, although that is the default location).

And there you have it: basically a forced restart of the VMWare Tools layer.




The new post-fact age

Wed, 20 Jul 2016 14:20 +0100

It’s terrifying, especially hot on the heels of the brexit farce here in the UK. Consider this comment, made in a book four years ago and derided at the time:

The Republican Party has become an insurgent outlier in American politics — ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

We’re all going back in time.

Read more.




Fourteen years is forever...

Wed, 1 Jun 2016 17:25 +0100

You know a blog is pretty much dead when its author misses said blog’s fourteenth birthday by almost three weeks. Chortle! Oh well, happy birthday little website: you’ve done well!




Perspective on the loss of a Prince

Mon, 25 Apr 2016 17:27 +0100

Quite rightly, the world has gone nuts over the loss of Prince Nelson Rogers last week. Hell, I’m listening to some of his music right now, and I’ve had some insanely sad moments this weekend pondering his death, whilst also thinking about the other entertainers we’ve lost so far in 2016 (Alan Rickman, Victoria Wood, David Bowie, Ronnie Corbett, Paul Daniels and many, many more).

But this stuff happens. We need a little perspective as people lament the passing of genius. No, we won’t see the like of Prince again, but that doesn’t mean that the world is a poorer place. Consider: we have a massive backlog of superb music, and we have myriad other artists past and present to listen to. It salts my spuds when I hear people wail about there being a lack of decent music nowadays. It’s the myopia of nostalgia: just look around. The media won’t deliver the good stuff to you on a plate, but that doesn’t mean it’s not out there.

And if you won’t take my word for it, read a very splendid take on all of this from another musical giant, Steve Lawson:

There’s a shit ton of music out there, way more amazing music than you could ever imagine. So please stop trying to tell me that all the good stuff is dead. Try harder.

Read more: Steve Lawson, It’s 2016 And We’re Looking For Magic In All The Wrong Places.




Microsoft just got even more interesting

Mon, 18 Apr 2016 11:15 +0100

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Over the past few years, I’ve had cause to tinker with Visual Studio and its stable-mates more and more. Quite a few corporates have laid their eggs in the Microsoft basket, and the tooling is better than ever. .NET, Entity Framework, Web API, MVC .NET… some Good Things have been happening, all spurred on by intitiatives like “coding-by-convention”, the rise of node with its simple approach to the server runtime.

I was mildly interested when Microsoft announced Visual Studio Code, and the ability to build stuff on OS X, but the really good stuff is happening now:

Microsoft Graph
This is billed as One endpoint to rule them all, and is all about providing a single API endpoint for access to everything in the Microsoft cloud: data, business intelligence, organisational relationships, files, email, and so forth. Very cool (read more Microsoft Graph website).
Cortana & machine learning
The Cortana Analytics Suite looks interesting: Microsoft’s answer to Siri has now morphed into Microsoft’s answer to Watson, with support for myriad languages inclyding R and Python. Read more: Microsoft machine learning.
Ubuntu userspace on Windows
This is rather cool. A joint project between Microsoft and Canonical unveiled its secrets at the Build developer conference a couple of weeks back. Imagine running a bash shell natively on Windows 10: that’s what is coming. A kind of “Wine in reverse”, whereby Ubuntu binaries are running directly in Windows thanks to a syscall translation layer called “Windows Subsystem for Linux.” If you’re a Windows 10 Insider, you can start with this now: Dustin Kirkland, HOWTO: Ubuntu on Windows.

All good stuff. However, if the last two weeks have taught me anything, getting into the Microsoft cloud (i.e. Azure) and developing stuff is a massive pain in the arse thanks to their byzantine web sites, myriad sign-up screens with lack of SSO and the ridiculously complex MSDN / Azure set-up that Microsoft have (it’s up there with IBM Partnerworld). Still a lot of work to do.




The death of blogging

Mon, 20 Jul 2015 08:34 +0100

Charles Miller has just written a neat take on why blogging isn’t the thing any more. Writing on a standard platform would probably help too: I must move this site off of my home-grown Domino template some day!

It takes a lot of time and inspiration to write a long-form article, so most blogs filled the gaps between with links, funny pictures they had found around the Internet, short pithy commentary, snippets of conversation, interesting quotes, jokes […] With Twitter you could do that on your phone, have it pushed to your friends/subscribers in real time, and have the same done back to you with equal ease. It wasn’t even a competition.

Read more: Charles Miller, The Death of Blogging.




More Steven Wilson

Sat, 21 Mar 2015 12:59 +0100

Long time readers of the site will know that I adore Steven Wilson’s music, whether with Porcupine Tree, Storm Corrosion or as has been the case for the past few years, his solo material. I’ve attended gigs on all of his tours to date, sometimes twice—this time around being no exception: Woowar and I attended both the London and Wolverhampton shows.

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As ever, fantastic stuff with spell-binding lighting and visual elements. On his current Hand.Cannot.Erase. tour, Wilson has made use once again of the talents of Jess Cope and co. at Owl House Studios to produce a beautiful animated film as backdrop for one of the centre-pieces of the new album, a track called “Routine” (which features a choirboy by the time of Leo Blair… yes, from that Blair family!)

The tour has moved to Europe now: if any of my continental chums can make a show (lots are sold-out) I recommend you do so. Wonderful.




Trying to sum up IBM ConnectED 2015

Sat, 31 Jan 2015 16:11 +0100

Just been sitting here pondering the mess that is my desk and wondering where to start—both with the desk…

… and with how to summarise the past week. Was it a swansong? No idea. All I know is, I’m so glad I came to Florida this year (I’m a part-time Sphereian), and yes I’m feeling those delicious post-conference blues on a grey wet Saturday :-)

We at LDC Via missed our terrific friend and colleague Matt White a hell of lot, but we tried to push on through. I reprised my role as “big spoon” in the room sharing arrangements with woowar and all was well. Let us see if I can summarise (in no particular order)…

#ClosedTheDolphinBar, #BJs, #MallAtMillenia, #HolderBros, #BoughtASonosForAPrize, #MaiTais, #PenumbraDinner, #LameParty, #CarrotSticksWTF, #FultonsCrabHouse, #Marmalade, #CrossWordComp, #LDCViaTees, #Beavis, #BeyondTheEveryDay, #DuskyPink, #DepravedMonkey, #25Years, #PenumbraChampagne, #IBMChampions, #Kimonos, #BigSpoon, #CaughtTheSun, #ESPN, #BigRiver, #BoughtClothes, #FilthyBrunch, #DrinksOutside, #GreatAngularSession, #BaumanRobertsApocalypse, #WookieeSession, #JavaWithMinimalCode, #GabAndTims, #JellyRolls, #Mooney, #BLT, #LouisRichardson, #Pollack, #Litton, #JonVon, #Susan, #VirginNotlantic, #EyeOfTheStorm, #AskTheIBMers, #PretzelCookieGate, #NerdGirlsSparks, #ArtBenjamin, #Mathemagics, #HadABlast

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A change of IDEs

Tue, 11 Nov 2014 20:03 +0100

For more years than I care to remember, Eclipse has been my Java IDE of choice. I’ve been known to branch out to things like MyEclipse as required, but in recent years, just base Eclipse.

As Indigo, Juno, Kepler and company came and went, tweaks were made, user interfaces polished: fair enough. But of late, Eclipse has become more and more sluggish, and downright Domino Designer-ish on occasion (which is clearly intolerable!) The last straw for me was when both Kepler and Luna decided to periodically “forget” that they had integrated JUnit test-runners: a re-start was required to render test-running functional once more.

Time to change.

At a number of clients I noticed other Java developers crowing about IntelliJ IDEA. I’ve had good experiences with other JetBrains products (TeamCity and ReSharper, specifically), so figured I’d give it a go. I’m glad I did! Of course, one cannot simply forget years of Eclipse-focussed muscle memory, but I have found IntelliJ to be fast, responsive, logical, and chock-full of good features. Compared with Eclipse, IDEA makes good use of space, and an ability to quickly tuck away individual panes / windows / views / call-them-what-you-will is useful too. The JUnit shizzle is integrated well, and tests run very quickly. IDEA has extensive refactoring support too… in short, it’s all there, and I’m converted.

If I have piqued your interest, be sure to check out what’s coming in version 14, the next major release. There are some splendid things coming, like an integrated decompiler, scratch files and in-line operator expressions evaluation.

What’s new in IntelliJ IDEA 14.