The July 2008 Blog
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Mac Laptop Opinions? (Wednesday, Jul 30)
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This is almost a silly question (because I know what the answer is going to be), but does anyone have an opinion on whether or not I should buy a Mac as my next work laptop?

I'm thinking that the 15" MacBook Pro looks nice, and would be a lot easier to travel with than the mammoth 17" MacBook Pro (I played with them both at the Apple store), but I guess I'm still not sure. I've heard that they run really hot. Is that true? That's kind of important to me because I actually use my laptop on my lap.

My other big question is whether or not I'm really gaining anything in productivity. I know Macs are pretty, and all the cool kids have 'em, but at the end of the day is it worth all the relearning and adjustment?

SIDENOTE: I'm not really considering going back to Linux either. I spent a year with Linux as my primary desktop, and as fun as it was it just ended up being too much tweaking and researching for my taste.

Snapped Up! (Monday, Jul 28)
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SNAPPS Logo Story by Mabel Syrup, InfoNetWhirled Magazine
28 July 2008

Lotus Notes developer Julian Robichaux has been hired by Strategic Network Applications (SNAPPS) Inc., with an expected start date of Friday, August 8. In this exclusive interview with Mr. Robichaux, InfoNetWhirled magazine gets the details.

InfoNetWhirled: Good morning Mr. Robichaux. How are you doing today?

Julian Robichaux: Fine, thank you. You did bring coffee, didn't you? That was part of the deal.

INW: Yes, here it is. Extra wide double-fat cappuccino with a shot of lantana.

JR: Hrm. I'll try it. Hand it over.

INW: Here you go. Can I ask you about your new job at Snapps?

JR: Yes, you may. And it's SNAPPS, not Snapps. Say it right.

INW: Okay. So, what will your position be at SNAPPS? What will you be doing there?

JR: I'll be a Senior Developer. Or Senior Consultant. Or Senior something-or-other. Something senior. I'm getting old, you know. In any case, I'll be a programmer working on high-end projects with the SNAPPS team. And it won't be just sitting in a corner typing on a keyboard. Like the rest of the SNAPPS team, I'll be working closely with their enterprise clients.

INW: What about your internationally loved website, Will nsftools go away? Please say “No”! PLEASE!

JR: Sit down, woman. It's fine. My website and the blog aren't going anywhere. If nothing else, I'll be getting back to my roots with a bit more technical content on the site (I've been pretty lazy about that in the past year or so). Rob Novak definitely encourages that sort of thing, as you've probably seen on his own blog as well as Viktor Krantz's blog. The TakingNotes podcast will continue as well. The only big change is that any work that was previously going through my nsftools corporation will now go through SNAPPS.

INW: So, if someone wants you to do some work for them...?

JR: Go ahead and contact me like you always have. All my work will now be done through SNAPPS, that's all. Now, keep in mind that SNAPPS does fixed-price project work rather than hourly jobs, but that actually ends up better for everyone in the end. I'll be talking to my existing clients this week about everything, although very little should change with them. This was very good timing as far as that goes.

INW: Speaking of timing, what's up with the funky start date? 08-08-08?

JR: I just liked the number, that's all. 08-08-08 is 2 cubed three times, and 8 is a lucky number. This coffee you brought me is terrible, by the way.

INW: Sorry about the coffee. When you mentioned projects before, what kind of projects will you be working on? Isn't SNAPPS just a Quickplace company?

JR: It's Quickr now, lady. Quickr. And no, they're not “just a Quickr company”. True, they created THE set of templates for the Quickr product and they do plenty of work with those templates and that product, but the SNAPPS programmers have a much deeper skillset than just Quickr, especially when you talk about developing web-based Domino applications. In fact, with the web and Dojo expertise they already have combined with the Notes client and Java experience I bring to the table, we're perfectly positioned for Notes 8.5 development in addition to working with all the shipping versions of the product. It's a good match, and we can take on virtually any Notes/Domino project.

INW: One last question. What about Collaboration University?

JR: What about it?

INW: Will you be speaking there?

JR: Hell, Rob will do anything to get out of giving sessions. I'm sure he's got plenty planned for me. That should also give me the ability to attend the UKLUG conference in September (which is just after CollabU), although I think Warren is full-up with speakers right now so I'll probably just be an attendee there. Why do you ask?

INW: Well, I might be in London in September, so maybe we could have coffee.

JR: You may leave now.

Ender's Comic, Dr. Horrible Alternate Languages (Sunday, Jul 27)
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I've been reading through my Dad's Entertainment Weekly magazines, thinking I need to get a subscription. I'm not a Hollywood kinda guy, but there are some good scoops here.

For example, the July 25th edition talks about Comic-Con and an upcoming comic book based on Orson Scott Card's most excellent book Ender's Game, along with some follow up stories.

Also, the August 1st edition (we're engaging in a bit of magazine time travel here, apparently) has a three page spread on Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, along with information from Whedon about the DVD version:

We want to have [language tracks]: French, Spanish, Japanese translated back very badly into English, classical Latin, and panther noises.

There will also be a commentary track sung to original music that runs the length of the show. Fantastic.

Bananas (Sunday, Jul 20)
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I was listening to a Scientific American podcast about bananas the other day, and it was fascinating. That may be true because I have a real soft spot for people who are completely obsessed with relatively obscure topics. But the guy who was being interviewed -- Dan Koeppel, author of the book Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World -- was just totally into bananas. Some things I learned:

There's plenty more, including a visit to a banana plantation. One more bit of trivia for you too: Tim Tripcony recently noticed that the dancing banana animated gif dances to the tune of the song "Your Star" by the All-American Rejects. How he noticed that I have no idea...

Programming Languages Are Not A Zero Sum Game (Friday, Jul 18)
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Catching up on old podcasts this week. There was an interesting "Is Java Dead" podcast on developerWorks in May that had an excellent quote from Scott Davis:

The notion that there's one true language to rule them all is an absolute fallacy. Programming languages are not a zero-sum game.

I'll let you stew on that one for a while to see what you think.

There are plenty of other good points and issues brought up in that show, like the difference between the Java language and the Java runtime, "polyglot" programmers, and Ted Neward saying: "for each language according to its abilities, to each project according to its needs". (You can apply that thinking to toolkits and technologies equally as well as languages)

UPDATE: Interesting follow-up by Nathan.

NotesDocuments to HTML Using Notes API (Tuesday, Jul 15)
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I remember hearing long ago that a few Notes API functions to convert Notes objects directly to HTML were going to be made public in 7.0.2. I then promptly forgot hearing about it, other than e-mails from random people every couple months asking if I knew anything about said API functions.

Today the subject popped into my head again for unknown reasons, and I spent an hour or so trying to figure out how it all works. Rather than trying to explain what I found to you, here's an example agent you can look at and play with and squeeze and whatever:

I have no idea how backwards-compatible this is for Notes versions prior to 7.0.2, but it does seem to work in Notes 8.0. A few items of note:

Also, this will not have nearly as good or flexible results as using something like the Midas Rich Text Tools, but if all you need is some quick and dirty HTML this might be something to look at.

Back Online: iPhones, X-Pages, and Plugins (Wednesday, Jul 9)
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I've been so incredibly busy with work over the past 6 weeks. It's been crazy, but I survived and I think everything turned out well. I'm finally taking a breather (of sorts) this week and scouting out new projects to work on.

I'm also trying to catch up on reading the blogs, only to find out that I've got over 2,000 unread entries in my "Lotus Notes" category on Bloglines. Lots of skimming to do there, although I definitely agree with John Roling that personal aggregators are much better than public ones for this very situation.

Anyway, my quick initial read over everything going on for the past month or so has produced such things as:

iPhone Stuff

XPages in Domino 8.5

Notes 8 Plugins

Okay, that's all for now. Back to catching up.