Archive for January, 2008


It all comes together with Jaxer

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

The state of the art of web development has taken a leap forward recently with the announcement of Jaxer, Aptana‘s new Javascript-on-the-server environment which allows you to write a web app as a single item, without having to devote much time and brainpower towards most of the distinction between what is run at the server and what is run at the browser.

My application stack diagram from the Ajax Summit back in 2005 shows how early Ajax applications had to take it upon themselves to perform the drudgery of remote procedure call invocation, encoding and packaging, the transport layer, decoding, dispatch and then the encoding, packaging, sending, receiving, decoding and consumption of the response package.

Three years later, Aptana’s diagrams show how far they have brought us forward with their advanced client libraries and server technology that have abstracted away all of the remote procedure calls and data marshalling, making the gap between client and server much, much less of a chasm.

Jaxer is not some net new unknown – it’s built on the Mozilla Javascript and rendering engine. It’s open source licensed under the GPL. It’s backed by Aptana, whose eclipse-based IDE tool is a well known market leader, and whose Advisory Board is absolutely packed with the very top names in the Ajax sphere.

As John Resig points out in his coverage of Jaxer, this is an exciting piece of technology, and I would go as far as to say it has the potential to be a game-changing development.


My Home Workspace

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

I was at the TSOT Ruby/Rails Project Night last night. It was a great gathering, and I was treated very well by the hosts – they even brought in Guinness for me!

The soiree was at the new TSOT offices in downtown Toronto, on the 11th floor at 151 Bloor West, with a beeeautiful bird’s-eye view of the Royal Ontario Museum. Last time I was there, CEO Kris White showed me around the unfinished space, but now it’s finished and filled with staff and desks and computers and books and, well, you name it.

Inspired by my pal Joey’s Office Desk posts, I figure it’s time to give you a peek into my basement home office.

Here’s a panorama of the computerized half of my L-shaped desk. I control all of the computers on it from the Dell’s keyboard and mouse, using Synergy, which allows me to pan the mouse right across, from Linux to XP to Linux to Mac, transferring keyboard control as I go, even cutting and pasting text between any of the machines.

my home office computer setup

From left to right:

  • Dell B/W Laser Printer
  • Speaker Phone with Call Display
  • Toshiba Satellite Pro 4260 pIII 550 running Xubuntu
  • Dell 9200 Centrino Core Duo T2600/2.16GHz 1920×1200 running XP Media Center
  • ASUS Eee PC 2G Surf running Xandros Linux – on top of external USB2 DVD writer
  • 8-port switch
  • Mac Mini Core Duo running OSX10.4 just under left of monitor
  • Toshiba A10 P4 2GHz running XP Home – the display died, so I ripped it off completely
  • On the monitor you see the Mac desktop, with a VNC window into the Toshiba A10, and a TV window from the EyeTV USB tuner
  • A/B switch to switch between Mac and Toshiba A10.
  • Speakers either side of monitor (subwoofer at floor level)
  • Mac keyboard in sliding tray behind the chair
  • Epson Stylus Color Inkjet Printer

What you don’t see in the next room is my server pc, a Compaq EVO small form factor with three 250G drives, which is also hooked to my home theatre, which uses an Optoma projector and 7’x5′ screen hooked to HD PVR, DVD, 5.1 audio and the Wii (at that size, it’s like having a bowling alley in your basement!). My daughter’s desk has a Dell Optiplex P4 1.8GHz with XP Home and a scanner, the kitchen has a Toshiba P4 2.8 Laptop running XP Pro, there’s a 160G NAS device at the other end of the house, and the Router is a Linksys 54G running the Tomato firmware.

My newest machine is the Asus Eee. I got the lowest model – $299 for the Blush Pink 2G Surf, with 512M RAM, 2G solid-state flash disk, no camera. When I’m in the office, I use it as a handsfree phone using Skype – at 2 cents a minute for calls to landlines in North America and Europe, it’s a great deal.

The Eee is a fantastic computer, well designed, well implemented. Best out-of-box experience I’ve EVER had. I’m looking forward to using it as a road warrior machine, for hacking, and for presentations. Those guys with their little 13 inch Apples will have nothing on me – I’ll stun them with my sheer nerdliness. With that in mind, I’ve already done a case mod to fill them all with fear and envy.

My Killer Eee PC


Ajax Pub Nite Reminder

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

Just a reminder that next Monday, Jan 14, 2008 at 7pm, the first Toronto Ajax Pub Nite is happening. See for details.