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Showing posts from February, 2011

The rise of plug computers?

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A while ago I invited an old classmate over to give a talk on campus. He is working on a new project called Amahi. It is a Linux-based server software. But instead of aiming at the regular PC --maybe the old computer you might have at home-- they are focussing a relatively new breed of computer that some have called "plug computer". But ... what is a plug computer? They are small low-power headless computers that are built inside a power supply. Usual connections are USB ports (to enable external storage or other peripherals) and Ethernet network. These computers do not have a hard-disk drive but a small flash-based storage on board.
What these plug-in computers really shine for is as home servers. They need a really small amount of power, usually less than 10 watts, so keeping them on 24/7 is not going to have an impact on your utilities bill. The compact size and silent operation open up many interesting applications (ie. media server, download server, personal website serv…

Annoying Java behavior

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A recent class exercise required students to create a program that handle a list of scheduled events. While I was not suggesting a specific approach, I used java.util.Date for handling the time.
Events happening in the future can be scheduled by adding a certain value to the current time. System.getCurrentMilis() gives you the value of milliseconds since January 1, 1970 00:00:00 GMT.
When creating a new Date object, the default value is the current time, but any number of milliseconds could be used to create any time into the past or the future. I was using this approach for scheduling future events. Later, I was checking, every second, if any of the future events on my list was already due. Unfortunately, I was using .equals() function for that but only a few times worked as expected.
The problem was that .equals() function works on a millisecond time base. If the two values compared are not exactly the same number of milliseconds since January 1, 1970 00:00:00 GMT then the answer will …

It is the Android year!

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Well, I might be wrong but apparently Android shipments just overtook Symbian platform during the year 2010. I have been using for quite a while a Nokia E71, which I can wholehearted recommend, but I was told by my carrier that it was time for a change.

Of course the question to iphone or not to iphone was raised. Owning five different Apple computers over the years plus an iPad seemed to make me the obvious iPhone customer. Did I tell you we have our own share of ipods, including a couple of iPod touch? However, after buying our iPad it became clear that the way Apple wants customers to behave and use their expensive devices was not very customer friendly. I really hate to have to use iTunes to just add a file to my iPad (thanks Dropbox to make my life a bit easier here). And I find despicable that once I have sync my iPad to a music library I have to lose everything if I ever dare to try to sync with another of my computers at home. I am sure that Apple can make a long case about how…