Software

Google Chrome OS logoToday, Google released their Chrome OS. This “harddisk-less” approach of an operating system totally relies on storing your data “in the cloud”. Email, documents, pictures, movies: everything you create or participate in essentially lives online. Chrome OS is just a “window” to this cloud of information and applications, as is your mobile phone. And because all data and applications are stored online, they will always be up-to-date and accessible from everywhere where there’s internet.

Google released the OS in the form of Linux code. As I am not a Linux geek, I was happy to learn that the good folks over at gdgt.com compiled the raw code into a VMware virtual machine image. That’s cool, because if you own VMWare, you can now experience Chrome OS very easily.

However, I own Parallels Desktop for Mac. So I decided to try and see if I could convert the VMWare image into a working Parallels image. Guess what, you can. And it’s real easy too.


Follow these steps to reproduce:

Download the GDGT VMWare image (you’ll need to create an account at gdgt.com first)

Next, convert the VMWare image to a Parallels one with Parallels Transporter:

Converting the VMWare image

Next, open Parallels Desktop (I have only tested with version 5.0), choose “File” > “New…”. Skip the “Automatic OS Detection” and manually select Ubuntu Linux instead:

Choose Ubuntu

Select “Custom” virtual machine type:

Select custom VM

Select number of CPU’s and RAM:

Select CPU's and RAM

Choose “Existing image file”:

Choose the converted image file

Select the converted VMWare harddisk image:

Select the harddisk image

Set name and location and you’re done:

Set name and location and you're done

Chrome OS is now listed among the existing virtual machines:

Chrome OS is now listed among the existing virtual machines

Chrome OS booting under Parallels:

Chrome OS booting under Parallels

Success! Chrome OS login screen appears. Login with your Google.com account user “chronos” and leave the password field blank. Next, fill out your Google account credentials (click the white Chrome logo, top-left) and you’re all set.

By the way, there is no way to shut down the OS from inside Chrome. To turn off the VM nicely, just click the Parallels power button at the bottom left of the window and choose “Shut Down”.

Success! Chrome OS login screen appears

Published: 1747 days ago

At work, I switched from Windows to Mac about 4 months ago. So far, I’m very happy with that. The MacBook Pro I got from work is an Intel Core 2 Duo machine, the OS X interface is beautiful and virtually all software I need runs on Mac.

This weekend I was wondering if it would be possible to sync my “Nokia 6680″:http://europe.nokia.com/A4144349 with Microsoft Entourage. Back in my Windows days, I used to sync my phone with Microsoft Exchange using the “Nokia PC Suite”:http://europe.nokia.com/pcsuite. Unfortunately, that suite is Windows only. Now, it _is_ possible to “run Nokia PC Suite on a Mac”:http://thenokiablog.com/2006/11/05/how-to-use-nokia-pc-suite-on-a-mac/ using “Parallels”:http://www.parallels.com/en/products/desktop/, but I found that method too much of a workaround, there must be more elegant ways to do this.

Luckily, Apple equips OS X with a syncing tool called “iSync”:http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/isync/. This software “supports”:http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/isync/devices.html a lot of mobile phones and other handheld devices, including my Nokia 6680. That’s good news. Now, how to get appointments from Entourage on my phone? This requires a number of steps:

# Get appointments from Entourage into iCal
# Connect phone and computer using Bluetooth
# Do the actual syncing

Mac Calendar

Let’s start off with step number 1. This step is needed because in the end we will be using iSync to communicate to the phone. Events in iCal are in a format iSync understands, it has no native support for Entourage.

* In Entourage, enable ‘synchronise events and tasks’ with iCal (under prefs > sync services)
* A new calendar will be created in iCal called Entourage, which will contain all Entourage appointments. Note that I needed to restart both Entourage and iCal before iCal was actually updated.

We now have our appointments in iCal, which is a format iSync understands. Next, we need to make our computer aware of our phone. We will be using Bluetooth for this.

* First of all, make sure Bluetooth is on on your phone and it is set to de ‘discoverable’, otherwise your computer won’t be able to find it.
* We will also need to enable Bluetooth on our computer (click the Bluetooth icon under ‘System Preferences > ‘Hardware’ or directly in the system menubar).
* Next, you can either ‘pair’ your computer and phone using the Bluetooth preference panel, or by using iSync. I used the first option, by clicking ‘Set up Bluetooth Device…’.
* Add your phone to the known Bluetooth devices by following the on-screen instructions. somewhere in the process, you will be presented with a number you have to enter on your phone, which is required to enable future communication between the two devices.
* You can also add your computer to the ‘authorised’ devices on your phone, so you won’t have to click ‘yes’ on your phone each time a synchronisation is started. Consult your phone’s manual on how to do this.
* After communication has been set up, you probably have to install the iSync agent on your phone. This is simple ‘click-yes-and-next-a-few-times’ process.

Enabling Bluetooth on OSX

After these steps, a new ‘phone’ icon will be added to the list of devices iSync knows. Click this icon to see what and how will be synced between your phone and computer.

You should now have a working setup, where iSync connects to your phone and syncs the events from iCal to your phone and vice versa. You may need to click ‘allow’ when presented with a security dialog asking you if Entourage is allowed to update iCal.

Now that your phone and computer know each other, you can set Bluetooth on your phone to be ‘non-discoverable’ (but not ‘off’).

If you want to sync Entourage and your phone, launch iSync and click ‘Sync Devices’, making sure Bluetooth on your computer is on.

Dock icon

You can use AppleScript to further simplify this task. There’s a nice script that does just that on “macosxhints”:http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=2006041922142626 – don’t just use the one mentioned at the top of the page, but scroll down a little to find a script that utilises a simple utility to enable Bluetooth first if needed, then launches iSync, automatically starts the syncing process and quits iSync afterwards.

Save this Applescript as an application and put a link to it in your dock. Now, syncing your computer and phone is just a single click of the mouse.

Published: 2732 days ago

Exciting news! I just received word from “Edwin”:http://www.vanrijkom.org/ that he and “Nicolas”:http://ncannasse.free.fr/ have released version 1.0 of their collaborative project: “Screenweaver HX”:http://www.haxe.org/swhx.

From the official announcement:

bq. Screenweaver HX is fully OS-X/Windows cross-platform and works with both Flash 8 and 9. On OS-X, it runs native on both PPC and Intel Macs. Apart from regular windowing features, SWHX currently supports:
* full-screen windows
* handling file drops
* custom right click handling

…and a lot more! I highly encourage you to head over to the “Screenweaver HX homepage”:http://www.haxe.org/swhx and give haXe and Screenweaver a try. I’ll keep you posted on my own experiments.

Published: 2924 days ago

Screenweaver logoThis is awesome: Edwin van Rijkom and Lennart Kats have “released a plugin”:http://www.vanrijkom.org/archives/2006/01/screenweaver_eclipse_alpha.html today which allows you to create and build Screenweaver project from within Eclipse!

This means that you will no longer have to start a seperate application to convert your SWF to a Windows app, it can all be done from the Eclipse environment. Another nice addition is the new SWX(Screenweaver XML) file format used by the commandline compiler. This file format is in plain XML, so other apps will also be able to read and write Screenweaver project files.

It basically comes down to this:

* Install the commandline compiler (and some more)
* Install the Eclipse plugin
* Tell the plugin where to look for the compiler
* Done!

Head over to “this page”:http://www.screenweaver.org/update/ for detailed instructions.

Published: 3136 days ago

I’ve recently started exploring Nicolas Cannasse’s latest innovation: haXe. You can work with this new programming language in Eclipse using the HXDT(haXe Development Tool) plugin. I’ve been working on some basic build settings to enable easy compilation of haXe projects from within Eclipse.

If you’re new to haXe, I recommend you check out the “official website”:http://www.haxe.org/ first.

Next, what software do you need to get to know haXe using Eclipse?

* “haXE”:http://www.haxe.org/download (the haXe compiler)
* “Eclipse”:http://www.eclipse.org/downloads/ (the editor we all love)
* “HXDT”:http://hxdt.sourceforge.net/wordpress/ (haXe plugin for Eclipse)

After installing these apps (I’m not going into the details in this article, it’s all pretty straightforward), the first thing that came to my attention was the fact that the HXDT plugin doesn’t (yet) support haXe compiler integration. That means that you cannot click ‘Run’ or ‘Debug’ and have HXDT instruct haXe to compile your project and run it for you.

You will need to make a seperate @External Tools > Program@ profile in Eclipse for each haXe project you will be creating with HXDT to get this to work. I will share my settings here, perhaps they come in handy when you start playing around with haXe. Click the thumbnail on the left to see the settings I’m using.

I have included the last line (the ‘Arguments line’) for easy copy-paste below. Note that the @-main Hello@ part refers to my main class file, you have to change that setting to reflect your project.

-cp "${project_loc}" -swf ${project_loc}binhello.swf -fplayer 8 -main Hello

There’s one thing I haven’t done yet: automatically launch the .swf file that is generated with this task. Perhaps it would be possible to do that using ANT, but I haven’t had time to figue that part out yet.

By the way, the guys working on HXDT recently posted a nice “list of improvements”:http://hxdt.sourceforge.net/wordpress/?p=6 for HXDT version 0.2.0, including compiler integration, making this solution obsolete. Until then, this solution may streamline your workflow with haXe a bit.

Published: 3151 days ago

MeasureMap logo About a week ago I was invited to participate in test-driving the preview version of “Measure Map”:http://www.measuremap.com/, a supposedly clean and comprehensive way of gathering blog visitor statistics. I’ve been playing around with Measure map for about a week now and I’m impressed.

MeasureMap screenshot 1

Measure map is a nice mix of smart Flash based RIA’s and AJAX technology to make access to visitor statistics as easy as possible. Various kinds of data are available, the most important stuff like visitors, the comments they left and the posts they visited are already implemented, but the Measure Map people promise that more functionality may be added in the near future.

MeasureMap screenshot 2

I like both the design and the clear way in which the data is presented. Keep in mind that Measure Map is not meant as a replacement for tools like “Urchin”:http://www.urchinstats.ca/ or “AWStats”:http://www.awstats.org/ though, it is targeted towards blog owners, so you find detailed info on transferred bytes and the like, but the software does give you good insight in how frequently your blog is visited and what people are doing on your blog.

MeasureMap screenshot 3

The icing on this (free) cake is the easy installation. After you subscribe to measure map, you’re asked what kind of blog software you are using. Most popular blog systems, like MovableType, Typepad, Blogger and WordPress are supported. Pick your blog system and simple instructions tell you where to place a piece of Javascript in your templates to enable Measure Map tracking on your blog.

Got curious? Head over to Measure Map and “sign up for an invitation”:http://www.measuremap.com/.

Published: 3198 days ago

I know, I’m a bit late to blog this, due to my very relaxing holiday in “Crete, Greece”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/crete/, but I’d like to express my excitement about Screenweaver going open source nevertheless.

Screenweaver logo As some of you may know I was, together with “Edwin van Rijkom”:http://www.vanrijkom.org/ and “Thomas Wester”:http:///www.thomaswester.com, one of the founders of Rubberduck, the company that created Screenweaver 3, the successor of Screenweaver II that originally was created by Grooveware.

p. SW3 was received very well by Flash developers and was praised for both its innovative ActionScript API (until then, all other SWF2EXE tools relied on cumbersome fscommands) and the Flash based GUI.

p. For various reasons, the Rubberduck team split up along the way (we still like to have beers together, though :-) and Screenweaver development came to a halt.

Fortunately, Edwin now has “decided”:http://www.vanrijkom.org/archives/2005/08/screenweaver_go.html to go open source with Screenweaver and Screenweaver Core! He and “Darron Schall”:http://www.darronschall.com/weblog/ have been working hard to put a project page online at “osflash.org”:http://www.osflash.org/doku.php?id=screenweaver&DokuWiki=9af6ae136f4058f5026ea8186f0b6fda and Edwin has been converting the original C++ 6 source files to C++ 7.

This is awesome news! I hope to contribute by working on a new Flash based GUI for Screenweaver OS.

Published: 3288 days ago

FDT logo The PowerFlasher team, creators of the “FDT”:http://www.powerflasher.com/fdt, an ActionScript 2.0 plugin for Eclipse just posted details at the “osflash.org”:http://www.osflash.org/ mailinglist on their planned release date and pricing. Some of the stuff they mention in the osflash.org post:

* *199 Euro’s* (about 250 US$)
* released: *August 22nd*
* Type Hierarchy
* Quick Outline
* Editable TopLevel Functions supporting TRACE and ASSERT
* Code Hints for Arguments
* More Navigation Features
* Autocompletion of Event Metadata Tags
* Selectable Core/Std Libraries
* Better MTASC support

Published: 3308 days ago

I recently stumbled upon a project called Sequoiaview. As I always had a fascination for data visualization, this program immediately drew my attention. Sequoiaview generates organic-like views of the files and folders on your hard drives using cushion treemaps.

The program was created by the technical university of Eindhoven, The Netherlands and can be downloaded for free from their website. I’ve been toying with Sequoiaview for a few hours and I really like it so far.

You can zoom into regions (folders) by double-clicking them Once zoomed in, the program will generate another cushion treemap just for that folder. Gives you interesting insights in how drive-space is divided among different files and folders.

I added a couple of screenshots of some maps I generated below (click an image for full size version):

Sequoiaview screenshot 1

My C: drive, “Program Files” consumes almost half my drive.

Sequoiaview screenshot 2

My D: drive, green blocks represent .mp3 files… :-)

Sequoiaview screenshot 3

Our company (Lost Boys) projects server.

Published: 3581 days ago

FLEX logo Just to add to the noise: Macromedia FLEX has been released. Use FLEX to generate (server-side) Flash applications. FLEX revolves around MXML, an XML dialect developed by Macromedia to describe Flash components that form an application.

The “FLEX homepage”:http://www.macromedia.com/software/flex/ offers a ton of documents on how to use the technology.

My personal favourite is the Samples Explorer. An application created with FLEX that enables you to browse through dozens of FLEX applications and view the MXML code used to create the sample app.

To give you an idea of what a typical MXML file looks like, the code below is used to create a datagrid displaying the contents of an XML file:


	
	

The sample code above would result in the following Flash application:

FLEX sample grid

FLEX has been in development for some time now and that process has no doubt been closely monitored by Laszlo Systems, a company that already offers a product similar to FLEX, namely the Laszlo Presentation Server. Interestingly, as Owen van Dijk already mentioned, Laszlo has recently released a Non-Commercial version of their Presentation Server. It looks like they’re trying to get a stronger foothold for their product, now that Macromedia is entering the market with FLEX.

It is hard to say which one these products is better. FLEX features, not surprisingly, close integration with the MX product line using the (to be released) Brady MXML editor and relies heavily on the Flash MX 2004 Component framework. But FLEX also has some *serious* pricing, making larger companies its primary target. Laszlo on the other hand seems to be attempting to persuade smaller companies to adopt their software by offering non-commercial, low-cost and enterprise editions.

This is going to be an interesting to market to keep an eye on.

Published: 3620 days ago