OpenLaszlo – Cool Flash for Clunky Java people

Flash is created by cool people who wear black and use Apple Macs. If you’re not sure as to what flash is, the chances are that if you’ve seen something on the web recently that made you go ‘wow’ for it’s coolness, then it was built using Adobe Flash.

To add substance to this froth Java people can use Flash (instead of normal web pages) to create cool pages that do useful stuff. For example Google Analytics uses Java and Flash to create a stunning User Interface. Even though Ajax and DHTML give you a lot of interactivity on your web pages, Flash goes one better at the small cost of not being as good for SEO and requiring a plugin (that most people already have installed).

So, what are you to do if you want to combine the coolness of Flash with the heavy lifting of Enterprise Java on the Server? The two main options are:

  1. Flex from Adobe is one way for Java people to create flash. The core toolkit is free, but the editor costs about $500 and that’s before you pay for using it on your servers. More details in the previous blogposts on Adobe Apollo and Adobe Flex.
  2. Open Laszlo Project is open source all the way, but does’t have a drag and drop editor (i.e. it’s more technical than graphical). Still , it allows you to create some cool effects , such as this Flash Clock.

Which framework will win out? I don’t know , and that’s before you even consider the Standard Java Web Frameworks such as Struts 2.

More (In progess) notes on Open Java and Flash are on the wiki. In an impulse buy , I bought the OpenLaszlo in Action yesterday. As an EBook , with rebate (coupon LZ35607 before the end of August) it costs about 10 Euro. Initial impressions are good (both for the book and Open Laszlo) , but I’m still working my way through it (so don’t quote me on it).

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Disclaimer: I get a rebate if you buy the book from Amazon, but not if you buy the (Cheaper) E-Book direct from Manning. I bought the E-Book this time, but have got free books from Manning in the past for having reviewed (as yet unpublished) JBoss items.

One-Hundred-Thousand (100,000) Visits on Google Analytics: New Look , Paul Loses the Tie

It’s been inching towards the milestone for the last month , but Google Analytics is finally reporting that this site has finally passed the one hundred thousand visitor mark. That’s visits (as in people) and not just page impressions.
Google100000

To celebrate, the site has got a little bit of a makeover – an evolution of the last theme, more whitespace and less orange. I’ve also followed Krishna De’s advice and lost the tie.

There have also been savage cuts to the blogroll (on the righthand side). To be fair, it was a bit mad at 212 entries.

Update: The 212 blogs have been cut back to 38.

If you blog about Ireland, Technology or Business and think you should be listed, then leave a comment, Drop me a line or use the standard FirstPartners.net net ‘contact us’ form to get in touch.

Dublin Java Conference Announced – November

Update: FirstPort has more information on the Dublin Java Conference.

From Jake, organiser of the Dublin Java User Group.

Subject: Conference Announcement – Call for Speakers

From: Jakub Korab Date: August 15, 2007 06:41 AM R

I am happy to announce what I hope will be the first in a series of major Java events here in Dublin. In conjunction with IrishDev the Dublin JUG will be hosting the Irish Java Technologies Conference in early November. This 2-3 day event aims to bring together the big names in Java right here in Dublin.

We are currently in the process of organizing speakers for the event. If you have any suggestions of technologies/topics that you would like to hear discussed, particular speakers you would like to hear, or would like to present on a topic, please email myself or .

Jake Dublin

JUG Organizer

More details on Jake’s Blog.

Danish Vikings Invade IFSC Dublin

No , nothing to do with recent financial turmoil in the IFSC , but the Vikings have arrived back in Dublin.

Viking Moored

More info on the route they took is here.

Viking Arrival

It’s strange having (by accident) seen the same ship before it left Denmark – that’s a 2 hour Direct flight, can’t imagine how long it took to sail it across the North Sea and around Scotland down to Dublin. I’m just glad we took the plane. This is the original – good condition considering it’s almost a thousand years old.

Viking Boat Original

SEO for Blogs – help Google find your older content

Richard Hearne writes (a bit) about Search Engine Optimisation for Bloggers. One point that he made in his review of Pat Phelan’s (Roam4Free) site was how to help Google find your older content. Taking this advice, I’ve installed the WordPress Page Navigation Plugin on this blog – it’s the widget giving the ‘Page 1..2..3..end’ at the top of this site.

Blog Page Views

Without this plugin , all wordpress gives you by default is a single ‘previous page’ link. A user (or Google) might have to follow 15 or so links to get all your articles. Now it is all linked from the home page of your blog.

Almost as important as the number of visitors to the site, is what they do when they get there. You can see from the Google Analytics above , that the average visitor reads one and half pages on this site. (Is this Good? Is this Bad? – let me know) This could be multiple articles (there are about 20 per page), but the number isn’t really moving over time. I’m hoping the plugin can shift these numbers (up) even a little bit.

(Almost) Related Update and links (via Damien) : If you want to know more about SEO optimisation for WordPress, Matt Cutts of Google had a very interesting talk. A transcript of the video and a summary are also available.

How long could you go without Microsoft Office?

I’ve recently got a new laptop (more on that in another post) and have to install the usual selection of software to get productive with it.

As an experiment / not having enough time I’ve decided to go without installing Microsoft Office. I do , however have the excellent (and free) OpenOffice installed, and use Google Documents and Spreadsheets on a regular basis.

Why would I do this?

  • It’s not about the money (as I have a copy of the Office disks paid for).
  • It’s not about the money (2) as I’ll also happily pay for something that gives me value over the free version (e.g. my subscription to LinkedIn).
  • It’s not really about getting locked into one supplier who can manipulate me at will (see the Microsoft Word 2007 File Format Conversion post) however annoying that may be.

No, it’s more about the features; with OpenOffice, I can save Word documents as a PDF , which (in my option) looks far more professional when sending to a (prospective) client.

Another reason is that as an (IT) consultant, I tend to ‘deploy’ on client sites on a regular basis, often with a bare machine to start with. Open software means that I have a ‘toolbox’ I can use to get up and running quickly , no fuss needed to raise purchase orders to buy software.

OS as alternative Logo

If you’re interested in this approach, the Open Source Alternative site is worth checking out. It’s not dogmatic; in fact it’s pretty even handed, listing commercial and open software for pretty much everything that you might need to do with a PC or Mac (business ,communications, graphics, security etc). That’s on top of the alternatives to Word, Excel , Powerpoint and Outlook.

It’s all about choice. Some are better , some or worse ; It’s up to you to decide which one works best for you. You’re a mug if you don’t know what the choice is.

Update 26th August: I lasted just over two weeks without installing Microsoft Office. Nothing bad with Open Office, just Microsoft playing around with Office 2007 file format. I have an important client that sent me something in Word 2007. The sort of client that I can’t (yet) ask to save in a different format and resend. Open Office does not (yet) open Office 2007 files, so I had to drop back to the Microsoft version (and install some filters) to be able to read it.

Blog Name Change – Technology and People

From the ‘If-Tom-Raftery-can-do-it-so-can-I‘ school of marketing, the name of this blog has changed from Technology in Plain English to Technology and People. Justin has also done a name change, so maybe it’s something in the water (or is going to happen to everybody once they’ve been blogging long enough). On the other hand, Grandad’s Name change ended up getting voted down.

Reason for the change is that the new name explains better/shorter what I’ve tended to write about. Not just the technology (go to the wiki for a real dose of that) , but how people use the technology. It’s still all shameless self-publicity.

Url and feed address remain unchanged.

How to make your Nokia 770 think it's a Nokia 800 (OS 2007 upgrade)

If you read the comments on the Nokia 770 Review – mobile internet without holding a PDA brick to your ear, you’ll see that the following themes pop out:

– The need for a full browser : the default one (Opera mobile) doesn’t play well with Ajax, so you’re hoping that there is a functional HTML only website version available (e.g. there is for Google mail , but for a lot of other websites you’re sunk). Big problem for James.

– Skype rather than just plain VOIP for free telephone calls. Yes , I know it’s feeding the corporate monster, but it’s the one that I happen to use.

– A general feeling of being slow /being left in a Cul de Sac: Not a problem for me , but Ken is reporting that it has been discontinued.

Nokia Internet Tablet n800

Upgrading to the latest version of software (Nokia OS 2007) should solve the problems to a greater or lesser degree. It gives you a Skype client. It allows you to run a Firefox based browser. It gives you more choice of programs , both commercial and open source. Problem is that it isn’t officially possible.

Some details of how to do the upgrade are at http://nokia770.com/370 . Remember , it’s called hacker edition for a reason. While I don’t think you’ll lose the information on your flashcard, don’t quote me on that. Basically, you download the unsuported version from http://tablets-dev.nokia.com/ then use the standard PC based installer to transfer it to your Nokia 770. Et Voila! It thinks it’s an Nokia 800. I’m still playing with it , so don’t be surprised if there is another post in 10 mins cursing it …. initial impression is that it runs (noticably) faster.

Best option is to be like Elly and marry your Linux tech support.