Monday, 31 March 2008

The superficiality of Earth Hour

Some of you may know that Earth Hour happened this weekend.

Despite the claims about the amount of energy saved, and the amount of carbon emissions reduced, etc. I could not help but feel there was a certain superficiality to the whole event, as though it was a trendy, bandwagon-hopping thing to do.

Consider the following:
  • There are 24 x 365 = 8760 hours in a given year. 1 hour of energy savings in the grand scheme of things seems insignificant (assuming this will become a yearly event). Should we not try to work towards more permanent solution? (or to rephrase: Should we not be trying to make every hour like Earth Hour?)
  • As already mentioned, the event reeks of superficiality and tokenism. Call me cynical, but I doubt people will remember about Earth Hour in a month's time or two, and resume their normal energy wasting ways.
Earth Hour had great intentions, but there needs to be some solid plans of action to come out of this or it will be forgotten as some yearly special event, when it shouldn't. It should be something that we should be striving for on a more regular basis.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Speaking of rickrolls...

15 years ago, a dead hero had something relevant to say.

And for the record:

Rick Astley > Chuck Norris. Why?

Fact: Rick Astley is never gonna...
  1. Give you up
  2. Let you down
  3. Run around and desert you
  4. Make you cry
  5. Say goodbye
  6. Tell a lie, and hurt you
Can you say the same for Chuck?

Real life rickrolling?

On Thursday night, I decided to get out of my cave and go out with my colleagues and co-workers for a couple of rounds of bowling and karaoke. Being led into a false sense of expertise from extensively playing Wii Sports, I proceeded to comprehensively get my arse handed to me.

But that is not the purpose of this post for the fun part was the karaoke.

After gaining some liquid courage and belting out a couple of tunes myself from a mediocre list of songs (no metal or rock, boooo! I would've loved to belt out some AC/DC), I subversively added to the playlist, and consequently had to endure the most satanic rendition of Rick Astley's "Never gonna give you up". A real-life rickroll, if you will.

Now if only that was captured on video instead of me singing a duet of "The Bad Touch" by the bloodhound gang, it would've made for epic rickrolling material =)

Friday, 28 March 2008

Perception of Time (or: The holy grail of productivity?)

Disclaimer: This post is not based on scientific fact. I am not a neurologist ;-)

There is something that has been on the back of my mind for some time now...

Ever had days at the office, where you keep watching the clock tick over to 5pm so you can then knock off?

Ever had days at the office, where you are totally in the zone and before you know it, the day has already finished.

I have this personal theory...

There (is | has to be) some part of our brain that can alter our perception of time. If there was a (legal ;-) ) drug or technique to control and master this perception of time, then we can truly be the master of our domain; To be able to be "in the zone" while at the same time telling yourself "geez, it's still not 5pm yet?" in the most constructive way possible ;-)

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Introduction to Fusion Pt 1: What is it?

One of the new features of the recently released MapGuide Open Source 2.0.0 is the Fusion Framework (hereby known as Fusion). Anyone who has worked with the existing AJAX viewer would know about some of the following limitations:
  • The user interface is not very customisable. You are stuck with the 3 column layout.
  • There is a 1:1 relationship between the Web Layout (that defines the AJAX viewer interface) and the Map Definition. What this means is that you don't have the ability to switch between maps within the same AJAX viewer, without some server-side hackery with dynamically created Web Layouts.
  • You cannot programmatically manipulate the state of user interface elements (eg. Enabling/Disabling toolbar buttons)
  • It is hard to interface with the AJAX viewer from JavaScript. For example, to listen to a selection event in the AJAX viewer, you currently have to use ugly hacks, such as overriding the AJAX viewer methods with your own.
  • It uses frames, which are absolutely evil
Fusion effectively addresses all these problems by allowing:
  • Discrete separation of functionality and style.
  • Flexible, free-form layout of user interface elements.
  • Componentisation of application behaviour (via widgets)
  • Styling of user interface elements via CSS.
With Fusion, you can create some compelling web mapping applications both in terms of functionality and visual style (case in point: compare the existing AJAX viewer with the sample Fusion Templates that come with the MapGuide Open Source installation).

Also, the widget-based approach allows a non-developer to quickly assemble a mapping application by choosing a Fusion template, and adding in the desired functionality via widgets. Fusion already comes bundled with lots of widgets covering many common functionalities and tasks (zoom, pan, buffer, measure, map switching, attribute browsing, and much more)

The architecture of the framework lends itself to clean separation of roles. Designers can focus on the design (templates), and developers can focus on the behaviour (widgets).

One of the (small) problems now with Fusion is the reliance on PHP to provide the required server-side behaviour for some of the Fusion widgets. Hopefully in the future, there will be complementary and java versions available.

As the title indicates, this will be the first of many posts I'll be writing about the Fusion Framework. Stay tuned.

Console.WriteLine("Hello World");

One of the first things you get introduced to in programming is learning how to write a program to say Hello World, so in the true fashion of a beginner programmer:

Hello World

This blog will mostly be technology based, with primary focus on a piece of software I work with regularly on a day-to-day basis: Autodesk MapGuide and MapGuide Open Source

So watch this space. Hope to see you around.