Friday, September 14, 2007

Text Editors on Steroids

I have been working with text editors since the days of DOS. When I was introduced to UNIX and later Linux, text editors was the choice of development especially for web development. Of course a lot has changed since then but for programmers for a lot of tasks using a heavy development IDE is not the first choice.

I have been using Scite for a while now on Windows. Once I showed it to a friend of mine and his words were "this is like a Notepad for geeks". Today I came across a long list of powerful text editors available which I wanted to share with the rest of the world as well.

So why does a programmer use a text editor. A text editor is faster than an IDE, more responsive and the ones like Scite (window opens up within a second) are able to deal with multiple languages at the same time which is the norm in the world of web development. Of course its not able to give all the features that once gets in an IDE but then for tasks where only a small change is to be done in the code, waiting 20-30 seconds for the whole IDE to load can be cumbersome.

Scite has options for DOS batch files, ini files, conf files, Java, javascript, HTML, XML, C, C++, PHP, C#, vbscript, VB.NET, VB6 .... and the list goes on and on and on. The place I have found it to be the most handy is when I am parsing data or fixing data.

I have just read that Notepad++ also has a feature to save macros. Imagine a repetitive text editing routine all saved into a macro. So the next time you have to repeat that task, just run the macro.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Open Office - The Open Source Office Suite is a free open source replacement for Microsoft Office. For companies paying thousands of dollars for MS Office licenses it can prove to be a huge cost saver. It has a replacement for Word (Writer), Excel (Calc), Powerpoint (Impress) and Access (Base). It also comes with a basic drawing application (Draw).

One problem I have faced since the beginning of Open Office was that it comes with very few templates, especially for presentations. So instead of downloading Open Office you can download OxygenOffice Professional which is free a beefed up version of Open Office. You can also find a repository of free Macros for it at A very good article I found about making your Open Office installation even more powerful can be found here.

Various studies have been made by companies about the feasibility of shifting their workforce from MS Office to Open Office.
Results are mixed. No doubt it will be a relearning experience for the user which will require some training on the company's part. Then there is also the fact that the 2 are not 100% the same in terms of usability or in the way they save data. Although Open Office can read and write MS Office files, from experience I know that this process is not 100%. For example, sometimes images would not show up correctly or some formatting will be lost. Open Office's built in support for generating PDF files from any of its formats is a good workaround when you need to give a report to your client as there are no formatting issues there.

What it comes down to is to look at the company's goals in the long run.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Project Management Software

In December 2006 I went through training for Project Management Professional (PMP). It opened up my mind and made me see the possibilities of how a project should be managed. Now when I look back at the previous projects I have managed, I see how much better it would have been if I had known the techniques earlier. A couple of weeks ago I was doing some research on Project Management Software and came across a very good article on wikipedia. What I liked best was the section talking about the criticisms regarding using software for managing projects in certain scenerios where just a pen and paper would have sufficed.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

OpenBravo - Open Source ERP

I came across a very good open source ERP solution called OpenBravo. Its built using J2EE which is the same technology used by SAP, Oracle, IBM, BEA etc. The software seems to be mature and has all the features that are being currently provided by mySAP with the difference being that its free to use.

Of course once cannot claim that OpenBravo is a drop in replacement for mySAP. But then its also a fact that not all the features available in mySAP are used by all of SAP's customers. OpenBravo could probably be sufficient for more than 40% of mySAP users.

The fact that it is open source also means that anyone can change its source code to better reflect how things work in their organization.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Great Java Resource For Coders

Came across this really awesome website today:

It has categorized Open Source Java based frameworks and ready to use components like PDF libraries, Mail clients, XML GUI toolkits, blogs, network servers etc. What I like about this website is its ease of use, nice clean design and good categorization.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Your Website On A Mobile

I came across a very interesting website today. It has a Java applet based emulator that shows you what your website will look like when seen on a mobile. It is no secret that more and more people are browsing the internet using mobiles. It is getting important that developers make sure that their website is properly viewable on a mobile. Check out the site here.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Open Source For Enterprise Development

I came across a very good article for Java developers targeting the enterprise highlighting ten open source projects. Here is the link.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Free Voice Calls

I had written a short blog about SIP earlier as to free software available for setting up SIP servers and free SIP clients for almost any internet connected device you can think of.

I came across 2 new things today. SJ Labs is the creator of a couple of free SIP based voice call programs for Windows, Linux, Mac and Windows CE.

I also came across the Free World Dialup website which gives access to free SIP servers. This means that you can connect to these servers using any SIP client program and can talk to other SIP clients online for free.

Some may ask "Why not just use Skype?". I guess at the end of the day it all depends on is hoe many users will be using SIP and how many will end up using Skype. Since SIP is an open voice call format, there are far more programs available for it on almost any device you can think of than what Skype can ever dream of supporting.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Database made using Pure PHP

I came across this a while ago but completely forgot about it. is an open source pure php database script which means that if you need to use a database in your PHP application but there is no database running on the server, using this script you will have no need for MySql, MS SQL or Oracle etc.

Below are its features (taken from the webpage):
  • creating and dropping database
  • creating, changing and dropping tables and sequences
  • selecting, inserting, updating and deleting data from tables
  • automatic locking of files, so simultanous changing the data is possible.
  • transaction processing, commiting or rolling back of made changes
  • default auto commiting mode
This is definitely pretty darn good.

powered by performancing firefox

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Networking Tools

Came across a very good list of networking tools which includes packet sniffers, port scanners and network monitors. Its hosted at

A more detailed list is available here.

Do check it out.

SAP Code Gallery

SAP has recently started a code gallery for programmers for the Netweaver Platform which is based on Java Enterprise Edition. SAP is one of the most widely used software in the Enterprise arena and is one of the most expensive software, owned by Siemens. You can access the code gallery here.

powered by performancing firefox

Thursday, March 1, 2007

PHP XML Tutorial

I found a very good PHP XML Tutorial today. Its made for PHP5. I recommend it for everyone who is programming in PHP. XML is everywhere and there is very little anyone to move into areas where it has still not reached. This tutorial will get you started with the basics of working with XML using PHP.

powered by performancing firefox

Thursday, January 25, 2007

VoIP - The Internet Telephone Era

I have been looking at VoIP (Voice over IP) for more than a year now. First came the open-sourcing of the Asterisk VoIP server (which uses the SIP protocol) then a boom started that has now taken over the world. Mobile handsets that use Wifi to connect to a SIP server, PDAs connecting to SIP servers, Mobile phones with WiFi (or Edge technology in the USA) and of course softphones on regular Windows/Mac/Linux PCs.

What does all this mean to the layman?? Cheaper international phone calls over an internet connection. A lot of us have good broadband internet connections at home and/or at the office. Using SIP devices/software, people can call you or you can call them at a very small price or in some cases for free. SIP gives you a local telephone number in the USA or UK which your clients/family can use to call you up. To them it will seem as if you are sitting in that country but you could be anywhere in the world, but of course near a broadband internet connection.

Its good for business, making the client feel that you are available locally.

What does all this require?? You need to get a SIP account on a server running in the country where you want to have a local number. Your SIP device/software will connect to that server over the internet. When your client/family dials the local number, they are actually dialing to the server in their local country. The server connects the call to your SIP device/software.

You will get charged for both incoming and outgoing calls in this scenerio to your country of choice but the rates are much much lower than the regular telephone rates. The same technology is being used by some mobile companies here in Pakistan at the moment.

A good Windows based program that can be used as a softphone is XTen. It is available as a free download on a lot of freeware websites although not on the company's website anymore. Just search for XTen SIP phone

This is a link on the CNet website with info about different VoIP servcies being offered.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

The Future Of Mobility Is Now

Heard about Ultra Mobile PCs (UMPC) yet? I first heard about them at the start of 2006 but I thought that they were just a concept and at most companies have just made prototypes, no real production. So last week while shopping around Dubai I find the Sony VAIO UX.


It blew my mind. It was like a dream. 4.5" screen, fingerprint recognition, eye motion detection, 550 grams and the best part of all it was running a complete Windows XP Professional; no cut down versions of operating systems anymore, run any software you want priced at 7000 UAE Dirhams. I have been using Palm OS since 1999 and have recently moved to Symbian OS on a Nokia Mobile. All this time whenever I wanted to something on my mobile device I would have to search the internet looking for a software which was available for Windows easily and most of the time for free.

So I come back from Dubai and I find out there are a whole bunch of UMPCs in production today. Two sites with the best info I found were:

Why do I say that this is the future of mobility? If you use your Laptop / Notebook to only check email, use an Office Package, browse the net or use software with little RAM/CPU requirements (ie. no 3D animation/modeling or 3D Gaming), a UMPC can do all thet for the same price as any high-end laptop, with less weight and a much much higher COOL factor. So what if the screen size is smaller. You can get a UMPC with a complete 1024*600 screen size with a zoom in and zoom out feature. The Sony VAIO UX also comes with a docking bay that has a regular video output that can connect to a monitor or projector. The ASUS R2H comes with built in GPS.

The top Windows XP based UMPCs as I see it are as follows:

ASUS R2H Samsung Q1 SSD
ASUS R2H                   Samsung Q1-SSD

But of course the best of the breed I think is still the Sony VAIO UX I got to play with in Dubai. But then it was a 4.5" screen whereas the above two are 7" screens. hmm....

Also found the following good comparison of a couple of UMPCs:

UMPC Chart