Monday, 31 May 2010

DB2 client on Windows 7

(Unfortunetly) I have been trying to install DB2 on my Windows 7 laptop as my recent assignment is very Websphere/DB2 centric. And even the unit test rely on a DB2 database.

For some reason v9.5 of DB2 Enterprise server does not like my laptop. :(

But we have standardised VM images of the DB2/Websphere set up that I could use, which is a very good practice. However as we use the type2 jdbc driver you still need a local DB2 Client installed, which again did not work...

But my solution did work: I installed the simpler Runtime Client.

Here is the steps I took.

  1. Installed our pre configured VM image

  2. Downloaded our ready made DB2 profile configuration txt file for the VM

  3. Modified my host file to alias the hostname used in txt file correctly to my VM's IP

  4. I read "Which DB2 9.5 client connectivity option is right for you?",

  5. downloaded the DB2 v9.5 Runtime Client and installed it

  6. and applied the tips on howto import the profile configuration by command line via db2cfimp file.txt

Hope this is of use to others with DB2 + Windows 7 grievances.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Pay IT people in gadgets! (Office perks)

I was talking to my collegue Rune regarding gadgets at work as an office perk as well as improving efficiency.

He was saying that IT staff (by which we mostly meant us and similar developers) love gadgets. And he would love to receive a new phone and/or pc every 6 months and thinks it actually would be benificiary to the company.

You may think that is an extraordinary unneccessary expense in hardware and install/configuration time but I think it may actually be cost effective or at least cost neutralised.

It would make staff happier and thus less likely to leave. Thus saving on reqruitement and training.

Perks are often used as a way to keep salaries down. It may reduce your salary expense which is the bulk of all company and projects costs, while still entice people to stay.

By leveraging more virtual machines the configuration costs would be reduced.

Basically we (maybe not everyone, but a large majority I think) love to tinker with new gadgets.

I know some people in my own team have left to work for companies that have an individual "gadget budget", not their only reason for leaving but a nice sweetner.

I think the cost of gadgets per year e.g £2,000 compared to salaries of £50,000 may be good retention reasons and probably can be off set against company tax etc.

Apart from job satisfaction and enjoyment, some people may be well organised or cynical to only consider salary as their only job incentive. With which they say they can join the gym they want if needed, pay for the cabin/flat/hotel for the holidays when needed, choose their own home pc etc. However I think most then just travel less, train less and have old gadgets etc and have a lesser life for it.

I love the perks I currently get with e.g. company cabins. I went 5 times this winter to skiing cabins. If I had to pay for them I may have gone only once, if that. When we had a large sports hall in our office building up until last year I played football, floorball and basketball there every week. Now since we moved office where we no longer have access to such facility I have not played floorball and basketball since, and rarely play footie as well.

Basically I am a sucker for perks, and I think most IT people would be alured by gadget perks.

Note: I have previously blogged about Why waste money with inferior equipment as so much time and therefore money is wasted due to inferiour hardware or outdated tools. Investing in new hardware and tools continously would keep those costs down, with some additional configuration cost, but savings in staff costs and the exponential maintenance cost of legacy tools and systems.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Recommended Android apps

This is a list of Android apps I use and/or recommend. As Android Market is quite a user unfriendly especially when it comes to actually find apps, distinguish quality from copycat rubbish, regional relevance etc so I hope it is of use to some people looking for tips or reviews.

All these apps are free as I live in Norway, and Google Market does not allow paid apps in Scandinavia or most of the world. Great policy.... :(

  1. Touiteur. My prefered Twitter client

  2. Locale Useful tool that changes settings on your phone depending on different conditions. I use it to lower my ringtone at work, change autolock to off at home, turn of volume during the night, switch on wifi at home, reduce brightness in evening.
    Note: Locale is no longer free so no longer recommended

  3. Wave Secure Security app that can remotely locate you lost/stolen phone and do various things such as play a ringtone to locate it, backup data or even wipe / disable the handset.
    I no longer use it as it is trialware and was worried about battery consumption.

  4. Remember the Milk I just would not function without my rmilk controlling my life

  5. Dolphin A browser. Quite useful. Not 100% switched to it from the stock one, but give it a try.

  6. Spotify Music streaming. Can't live without it.

  7. PlayNow by SonyEricsson. Music, games and app store by Sony. Quite a good selection of music. Included with my X10

  8. MediaScape by SonyEricsson. Media Photos/Music/Videos organiser and viewer. Works very well. Included with my X10

  9. TimeScape by SonyEricsson. Social and communication tool. Neat, but some scaling issue with social tools (Twitter/Facebook). Included with my X10

  10. 1881 Mobilsøk who is calling lookup tool in Norway. Works with all numbers so far.

  11. Listen by Google. My Podcast listener. Use it all the time for my JavaPosse addiction

  12. Places by Google. Very usefull lookup of local info eg resturants etc.

  13. SayMyName text-to-speach announcer of who is calling. I like it even though it really can't pronounce my sister's name: Hege

  14. SMS Popup Handy SMS previewer

  15. Compass by Google. Does what it says on the tin.

  16. SkyMap by Google. Keep forgetting to actual try it in the dark...

  17. MyTrack by Google. Cycling/Hiking route tracker.

  18. MyCityBikes Quick usefull information on how many bikes / places available city bike stands around Oslo (and perhaps others)

  19. Delicous Usefull to bookmark e.g. twitter links to look at later.

  20. Facebook yup, does facebook.

  21. Opera Mini Nice browser, but I stil use the stock Androind browser or Dolphin.

  22. TrackId by SonyEricsson. Like Shazam identifies music tracks by listening to them. Never really used either in practice. Included with my X10

  23. CallFilter Enables ignoring unknown callers.

  24. Trafikanten Excellent tool which suggest bus/tram/tube/train travell in Oslo by position and real time data.

  25. Layar Ads information about the area in your vicinity / camera view

  26. AutoLock Customises when your Android handset is locked (require pattern thing to unlock)

  27. Moxier Mail Use it to read my work Mail via MicroSoft Exchange ActiveSync

  28. Moxier Calendar Use it to read my work calendar

  29. Moxier World handy little weather tool

  30. Shopper by Google. Nice for demos but too US centric to be useful

  31. Goggles by Google. Nice for demos but too US centric to be useful

  32. Gesture Search by Google. Neat but never really used it practice

  33. Maps by Google. Included with my X10 and probably all Android handsets?

  34. Navigation by Google. Does not work in Norway

  35. Gmail by Google. Included with my X10 and probably all Android handsets?

  36. Google Talk by Google. Included with my X10 and probably all Android handsets?

  37. FourSquare Works well, although hard to add new places.

  38. Apollo Task Killer My first task killer. I use this one as my continously running auto killer

  39. Advanced Task Killer My other task killer. Which I on demand kill tasks. If you only need one, I prefer this one over the first one.

  40. Quick settings (with lowercase s) by SonyEricsson. Very handy and pretty widget for toggling wifi, bluetooth, gps and sound. Included with my X10

  41. Quick Settings handy widget for changing brightness amongst others.

  42. Currency Converter Usefull with nice charts as well. Could do with quick left/right switch button.

  43. Autopilot for Locale. Uninstalled when Locale became unavailable.

  44. WisePilot Its trialware and expired before I really used it. Included with my X10

  45. Youtube by Google. Not really used much. Nice for demos but not in practice. Included with my X10 and probably all Android handsets?

  46. eBuddy Multi channel chat client. Not used too much since Google Talk is already included with Android.

  47. Scoreboard Not used too much yet.

  48. Ringdroid Not used too much yet.

  49. ConnectBot SSH tool.

  50. Astro File manager.

  51. ES File Explorer

  52. StopWatch

  53. Unit Converter

Apps I miss from my old iPhone:
  1. TV2 Live Norwegian TV station have an app for football score updates and commentery with live video higlights

  2. Skype No Android version.

  3. Weather app. The Android version is unstable.

  4. Kindle Think I could read some books on my 4" X10 screen

  5. Not an app, but a webpage of iPhone compatible web sites. An Android version would be good!

  6. Doodle Jump

  7. SMSBank Handy little tool to see the balances of my accounts

  8. Notes

  9. NRK Radio

  10. Twitter nae Tweetie Touiteur is pretty good though.

Apps/Features I miss:
  1. Google Voice Not available outside the US

  2. Data Roaming Toggle widget

  3. Better keyboard I switch languages a lot, which was easy on the iPhone, but too many clicks in Android

  4. BBC iPlayer Region restrictions

  5. More useful Google Latitude/Foursquare/Gowalla I am only interested whom I know in the neighbourhood, and not on demand; I want to be told.

  6. MultiSIM! Hardware, but would love to switch between my Norwegian and UK SIM cards on the fly

Apps/Features I think exist but havent had time or found yet or is a paid app:
  1. Amazon ec2 console

  2. Jira overview

  3. Google Earth

  1. Air Control Addictive!

  2. Android LightSaber Compulsary

  3. Blow Up (LITE) Fun, but limited levels

  4. Chess

  5. Labyrith Lite Once calibrated it worked well.

  6. Pinball

  7. Quadrapop by SonyEricsson. Included with my X10

  8. Sodoku Free Works well

  9. Trap Quite addictive

  10. Tux Rider

  11. ThrottleCopter Simple, hard, but good.

  12. R.Thunder Lite Looks nice.

  13. Armadillo Roll Looks nice.

  14. BreakTheBlock

  15. SpeedForge 3D

  16. Space STG Galactic...

  17. Defend Homeland....

  18. Play Curling

Need to distinguish somehow how much I recommended the various apps...

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 1 month review

I have had my Sony Ericsson Xperia X10i for about a month now, and thought I could have a more reflected review than perhaps the one I nearly wrote just after I received it.

My previous phone was an Apple iPhone 3GS, so I can compare the X10 to maybe its more glamorous competitor. I will also compare it to my previous phones, such as the Nokia N95 8GB and other Android based phones I know.

In brief, what is the Xperia X10?
It is Sony Ericsson's first Android based mobile phone.

Key features:

  • 4" touch screen with no keyboard

  • 8.1 mp camera with LED light and face recognition

  • 1GB memory, includes an 8GB SD card

  • Sony Ericsson's own Rachael GUI on top of Android 1.6

  • Includes Sony Ericsson's TimeScape app for social network and communication overview

  • Includes Sony Ericsson's MediaScape, PlayNow and TrackID apps

Its Good points (Pros)

It is Android based. So you are much more in control of your own phone compared to e.g. the iPhone. Background apps are no problem etc.

The looks.
It is a very good looking phone. It also feels good for such a large screen. Its not bulky in your pocket. Unlike my N95! The screen is also very clear and bright.

The camera is excellent.
The iPhone camera was quite rubbish in comparison.
The X10's photos are very clear.

The N95 5MB and good lens was good, but the X10 is better.

The camera button which N95 did also have which iPhone does not have is a significant benefit. No more fidling around trying to take photos while trying to find the button on the screen with your other hand.

MediaScape is really usefull.
Android stock software has no proper media apps. But being a Sony derivative company, the X10 shines in this department. Not quite the full iPhone/iTunes interaction but Im not complaining, The PlayNow store works well. MediaScape integrates well with Picasa's online photo storage, but not flickr. Some improvements can be made, but media wise the X10 is excellent.

The GUI interface that SE has on top of Android code named Rachael works really well. It is only a thin layer on top of Android but is more slick and consistant. It integrates well with menu options and contact list etc. So well you are not really aware it is there, but makes the X10 stand out compared to a stock Android system.

The MW600 bluetooth stereo headset that comes with the phone (as well as a good pair of wired headsets) is really good. It has built in FM radio as well.

Its bad points (Cons)

TimeScape does not scale well.
It is a really good demo app. But once you start using it in real life it fails miserably. It just is not designed for people on Facebook or Twitter with more than a couple of friends (ie most people). Im no stalker, I perhaps follow 100-200 on both Twitter and Facebook which is less than most, but that already makes the TimeScape interface unusuable, just a big motion blurred scroll list. Some future updates could fix this. Such as limiting to certain Twitter lists, and facebook groups of friends for example.

The Android market, the app store on these devices is not great compared to the Apple app store.

You can't buy any apps if you live in Scandinavia which is ridicoulous. So we are limited to free ones only.

I am not sure about the quality or security of many of these, most seem like raw copies of others. There is no regional information, so the list is e.g. italian metro system info or loads of US bank apps for example, which is of no interest to me. There is few ways to find apps of interest to me, or new apps that is well liked etc.

There are some good apps though, and Ill list some in another post.

Android 1.6
The phone ships with Android 1.6 which is an outdated Android version. SE have shot themselves a little in the foot with this error and have been laughed at in the press regarding this. However I don't think it is big issue. If you are not aware of the improvements in 2.0, 2.1 etc then it is not a problem.

However they do need to roll out an upgrade. SE have announced upgrades later on this year. Which seems very slow to me. If this is how they will delay future updates as well then I slightly concerned about their policy.

No multitouch
Partly because old Android version, but apparently also because of hardware issues.
Not that big a deal for me. I don't like pinch and zoom, and tend to use my phone with one hand anyway. However I can see this is a big issue for other people.

Call quality
Call quality is fine, but some of the people say they can here themselves. Solved by lowering my volume slightly but should have been cancelled out by the microphone instead.

Battery life

The biggest minus of the X10 is the battery life.
In brief it sucks.
From a large screened touch smart phone I was not expecting miracles. But it is rubbish even compared to the iPhone.

With e.g. my N95 I charged it every 2 or 3 days.

With my iPhone I charged it every day, but even if I didn't it was still alive in the morning. Not great but acceptable.

With my Xperia X10 I have to charge it twice a day otherwise it is a dead brick in the morning.

Which is attrioucious. Initial exuberance and overuse will result in more battery drain, but now I am in a normal usage pattern and this should not be acceptable. Disabling all auto syncing, auto killing processes etc should make it last a long time, but does not.

Android does come with a nice battery analyses app. And on most large screened smartphones it is the display that kills the battery. But on the X10 the display is 3-4%, while "Phone idle" takes ~50% and "Cell standby" taks 45%!! Two processes I would not expect to kill my phone. (Maybe cell standby if I was in a bad reception area, but Im not.)


If the battery problem gets sorted I would recommmend it to everyone. I do love the phone, but it just frustrating that it is often dead or dying.

If you are of a technology background or gadget fan then it is better than an iPhone.

However if all you want is a swish looking touch smart phone then iPhone's consistent well polished interface and apps are better.

If you still have a Nokia or similar, upgrade now!

Monday, 10 May 2010

IntelliJ IDEA on Ubuntu (with Maven , Jetty and JRebel)

I have written an howto on Ubuntu+IntelliJ+Maven+Jetty+JRebel, basically a quick quide to get IntelliJ IDEA working on Ubuntu, with Maven, the Jetty plugin for Maven and with JRebel (JavaRebel).

It assumes a clean basic Ubuntu install, and is quite terse for now. I may extend it with more example work flows etc in the future.

Comments are welcome.