Many Pies

Many Pies

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I downloaded a 30 day trial of Radio Userland the other day because a site they hosted some of my stuff on was no longer free.

I don't think I've had a worse experience with software that is mature and commercial. I expected the unintuitive interface (though having used its predecessor years ago, Frontier, and then used a Mac I could see how the outlining worked). I didn't expect it to keep on nagging me to register every time I ran it, even after I'd registered (several times because it didn't give feedback that it had worked). It was slow to do some things, and didn't change the cursor so I knew it was working on it. Other things (export to text) just didn't work at all without an error message. It crashed on me, but fortunately I'd got my data out of it in some sort of text form which I can use in future.

If I intended to purchase it I'd log these complaints through the support channels, but seeing as I'm not I thought I'd share my experiences here.

It is powerful, it was worked on by some high fliers (in some circles) like Dave Winer and Robert Scoble (he worked in the company, I'm not sure if he worked on the product and I'm too lazy to research), so it's probably worth a look at if you can get over these annoyances. Caveat emptor though.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

This really is the stuff of science fiction:
I want to know which version of SQL server I'm running. I type into Google
"find out sql server version"
and the top result tells me what to do.

You could imagine an SF novel:
"He opened his terminal to the global megabrain and typed in his question. The answer came back in a split second."

I've been doing some PHP coding and Google is my online documentation. Compared to when I last did some serious coding - 6 years ago, things have moved on so much.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I've dipped my toes into Google maps gplotter.

We've got a commercial product from AFD to do postcode to national grid mapping, but I also tried this hack, though it was slow.

I converted national grid to latitude and longitude as required by gplotter using a spreadsheet and a hand-written macro to do it on a list in a spreadsheet.

The results look good, but I can't show you them.

Edit: postcodes to grid reference data is now available for free. See my post about getting postcodes in a constituency for the source.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

I finally got my answer about versioning. Or at least an explanation as to why it doesn't just do it out of the box. It makes me realise that you can't "just" add version control to a product - what about staging, branching, diffs, etc. etc.
I have a simple question - Does Plone support version control of documents? I would have thought it does, as it's a pretty basic requirement of any CMS I would have thought. Can I find the answer quickly though? No. There's a project for Zope version control which hasn't got anywhere since 2001 it appears (though some page were changed this year). It says it's going to be in Zope3, yet Zope3 doesn't appear to support it.

So I'm still searching.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I've been dabbling with Macromedia Contribute as some of the people I work with update our website. It's very impressive for the non-technical user. It leads you through, locks down things you shouldn't be fiddling with and generally make life as easy as you can get. It runs entirely client side for basic tasks. You may need an administrator who knows a bit more than you to set up things, but they won't have much to do.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Crystal Reports is another not-blogged-about application. I suppose reports aren't leading edge like, say, XML. I've been using it since v2 I think, and now it's on v11.

Despite being great for paper layout, it's pretty poor at Excel output, which is where we need to use it. The trouble is it's stuck in a paper page metaphor, which doesn't work when you want to put reports out into a grid like Excel. They've tweaked the export capababilities over the various versions, but haven't overcome the shortcomings of the page metaphor.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Sage Line 100 is, according to someone in the know, a "screen-scrape" version of the DOS Line 100. Sage MMS is an all new rewrite (though the helpfile still calls it Line 100). Despite it being based on .NET the backend is still a (shock, horror) file database. No relational database engine, just files on a network drive.

The good news is that v3 will be based on SQL server. The system is full of functionality to save space - transactions can be purged or summarised - which I've not come across. Financial data isn't that huge, but if you're using file based methods to index it then I'm sure it must matter how big your data is getting.

Friday, July 22, 2005

OK, despite the cutting edge sounding title of this blog I'd like to talk about Sage MMS. Sage MMS is a mid-level Accounting system from Sage UK.

I can't find much on the internet about it from users. Maybe the type of people who use it or support it aren't the geeky types. It's a pretty bread and butter product, installed and set up by resellers, talking to the accountants, with the IT people just used to provide the PCs and servers.

However because we're a charity we have special requirements, and also because of some of the ways we do our accounting we have other requirements that stretch the product.

So there are some things to write about, but another time...

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Web Services Roundup, a good place to catch up if you've been away recently. is really gathering groundswell. (Is that a valid pair of words?)

Not strictly webservices, but still useful client/server stuff.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Ajax - more than a kitchen cleaner, a summary of the innovative stuff being done by Google amongst others.

Friday, January 21, 2005

The Amazon Web services conference has some fascinating talks.