Coding Horror

There are a lot of interesting articles on slashdot.org, at least for the nerds that read it. For those who do not, get started with it.
Today, there has been a new post about coding style and general misunderstandings. One that could not possibly fit any better with reality. At least the reality over here at vware, nicely illustrated in this picture. Someone obviously took a lesson at this very project and the webpage.

Project Conversion

Microsoft has recently released Visual Studio 2008 to MSDN subscribers. The revised IDE makes a better impression than its predecessor, and the new compilers have some useful new features. When loading up a project created with a previous version, it needs to be converted. If you have your source code under version control, such as Subversion, you are going to notice a few changes to the files, other than just new file headers, for instance: 2.0. When looking at that, one question comes to mind immediately: why in the world would you ever want to store the previous tool version in the project metadata?

Back to the Roots

Like a phoenix from the ashes, Ralf Steines has reappeared on the Internet after a long break. Along with him, back 2 the ROOTS (bttr) has seen a glorious revival. For years, this has been the place to go, the definitive archive for content related to Amigas, and it still is. If you have never heard of bttr, and do have just the slightest interest in the history of computers: go there now. Needless to say, this is awesome news for the whole community, and everyone keeping the Amiga alive.
As a side effect, bttr is also back in its role of providing hosting for the online version of the WinUAE emulator help file. winuaehelp.back2roots.org sports the same content as the official help files for WinUAE, but is kept up to date as evolution of the file goes on.

WinUAE Help 2.1.1

A new helpfile for the premier Amiga emulator out there has been released a few days ago. Please note that this is still heavily being worked on as far as the presentation is concerned, switching over to a more modern style. You can get the file in the Downloads -> Emulation section.

WallChanger 2.0

Yet another release of an old VB6-based project in new .NET glory! This little tool was inspired by a special friend of mine some time ago, so if you want to change your wallpapers periodically, give this little tool a try. As always, it can be found in our Downloads -> Miscellaneous section.
As a side note, the now obsolete tools have been moved to the Nostalgia section. This affects the legacy version of WallChanger, as well as the preliminary and now obsolete KeyLogger project. Both are now merely kept for reference, together with the GFA Basic projects.

Damn Spam!

Not only is spam omnipresent in everyone’s email inbox these days, even this very site is target of hundreds of spambots which try posting thousands of comments on our news entries. To prevent this, comments have been disabled for a while. Now, we are using Akismet in the hopes to get rid of spam, whilst allowing our users to comment on entries.

Free Software

In modern computing, you are likely to be using GPL or MIT licensed programs, especially as a developer. While huge companies are propagating digital rights management, software patents, and are inforcing copyrights, free software represents the spirit of the early days in computing: sharing information free of charge and royalties.
Free Software gives everyone the right to look at program source code, to use and modify it, for as long as the “rights” are retained. It is an extremely intimidating concept, especially for developers wanting to add content to already available programs, without the need to request features and go through a long line of support lines. This enables hundreds of developers to work together, share and modify each others ideas, and create applications for all major operating systems.

Sounds like a coders’ dream come true. There is just one major drawback: ease of use. Not the ease of use for the end user, but of the development tools.

On Windows, Microsoft’s own Visual Studio is one of the major development platforms, or integrated development environments (IDE). Nowadays, C# or Visual Basic are available for rapid application development (RAD) with the .NET Framework. This is where Visual Studio truly lives up to the marketing fuzz: hardly any development environment is so comfortable to use and yet powerful in features. Dead easy visual designers for data sets and dialogs along with templates. Comfortable text editing, indenting and formatting inclusive. Even Stop-Edit-Run debugging in the case of Visual Basic, without the need to recompile the whole project. A invaluable time saver for the average developer.

The popular development environment for software created with “free” tools which are portable mostly consists of a whole bunch of tools: vi/vim/emacs for editing, gcc for compiling, gdb for debugging. This so called toolchain is then complemented by a host of libraries, such as zlib, and a toolkit such as GTK+, wxWidgets, etc. Each one of them is highly configurable and highly flexible, cross-compiling and other features not even mentioned. But they are incredibly difficult to get started with! vi probably has more keyboard commands and shortcuts than the average human brain can store, gcc compilers ship without any infrastructure to actually create a program (libraries, headers, examples), and gdb is very difficult to set up and use.
This is not to speak of the wealth of libraries and dependencies one needs to create something meaningful, all of which have to be gathered seperately. Different versions of libraries may not work with different versions of executables, patching headers to make specific versions work with new compilers or recent code bases is common practice.

In my humble opinion, a lot of users would love to support the Free Software movement. Everyone involved with this very project here at vware would love to give back to the community. If it was not for all the time you lose getting into it, where you could do something meaningful (like actually developing an application).

10th Anniversary

10 years ago, the first code I wrote on PCs was published on the Internet. Sadly moving away from the dead Amiga platform, GFA-BASIC helped to find the way to Windows 16/32 programming. Some geeks were just about starting with the internet about a year before that, and so was I, finding a small but very active and helpful community for GFA. What a nice time it was when companies such as Google were not yet founded and the term “spam” did not even exist. Nobody had to worry about DRM or other so-called improvements to using computers back then…
Long live the past, although we need to take care of the future… for now.

NetInventory 1.0.1

A new update 1.0.1 to NetInventory is now available on the NetInventory download page. This is mainly a bugfix and stability release, with the most changes shipping in the vware Libraries, which have undergone a lot of code hardening. Nevertheless, the database has seen a very slight modification, which will force you to refresh your database schema if you are running a database server backend instead of the supplied Access file.

Egoism

“One ought to look a good deal at oneself before thinking of condemning others.” – this quote of Molière may also apply to computer users. While NetInventory served people well in terms of auditing hundreds of machines and evaluating the results based on database queries, it is still rather inefficient for viewing details of one single machine.
The next major version of NetInventory will include Egoist, a new tool designed for querying and displaying information of a single machine in a more user friendly way than the database approach for large networks. While still in early stages, the basic design is now completed and development is shifting over to fine tuning and bug fixing, as well as improving the usability.

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