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Visual Studio 2010: Screenshots February 25, 2009

Posted by baldricman in News, Tech.
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Not much to say here, except check out the new look VS 2010, built on .Net 4.0 and WPF – Its always great when Microsoft adopts one of their own tools or technologies; its always a good sign for developers and implementers, as it builds confidence that the item in question is a) good enough, and b) probably not going to be shelved anytime soon.

 

UI, in my opinion, looks quite cool, though I don’t see (at first glance) any major changes…. but its early days I guess. Perhaps one of the more important additions to 2010 is the built in support for Oracle, which has been long-awaited by many.

 

This is all going to be available in Beta 1, when its released… (no date yet, be patient). 
See this VS magazine post for more info.

Grand old days of the ZX Spectrum February 24, 2009

Posted by baldricman in General, Tech.
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I was bumming around on the interwebs a little last night and this morning, and stumbled across yet another site selling old-school computer game-inspired t-shirts… one of which alluded to the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. (I forget the site now, apologies)

ZX-Spectrum

ZX-Spectrum

Anyway, I started following the thread, as it were, and came across a few great sites that really got the memories flowing. I think I was about 6 or 7 (my brother can probably confirm) when my Dad brought home the amazing gift from his parents (the Spectrum had been released in ’82). Some of you may remember the beast: a small black keyboard with rubber buttons (which was actually the computer), a natty, totally non-gay rainbow over the corner, it plugged in to a portable TV set for its display and made use of a standard tape-recorder for storage (plain old RCA 3.5mm audio jacks nogal). The ZX Spectrum was the first in its range to boast colour-capable display (7 colours, x2 levels of brightness each, plus black, made it a “15-shade” machine!) Later on, the ZX had a contender in the Commodore 64.

(For some of the details on the Spectrum, check out this wikipedia page on it)

The ZX was where I first started playing with ‘puters, making use of it’s BASIC language (built into the 16K ROM) to write those silly adventure games (“You are in a room…etc…. Type ‘N’ to go North, ‘E’ to go East…….”) But of course the best were the truly inspiring games that we used to get on tape, such as 3d Tanks, Formula 1, and the memorable Jet Set Willy. 

Jet Set Willy - casette cover

Jet Set Willy - casette cover

So anyway, after not much effort at all, I came across THIS, which has got to be the coolest site on the nets today. Its basically an online emulator for pretty much every ZX Spectrum game ever! So cool. I found actually using the old key setups to be quite tiring – remembering that most old games, pre-mouse era, were designed to use both hands on the keyboard. Therefore you didn’t always get the old “AWSD” setup for your 4 directions (partly because there usually weren’t that many directions) but instead you would have had something like “A”and “Z” for up/down and “O” and “P” for left/right.

 

Anyway, check it out, and let me know if you remember this fine old relic!

My Wife, the Somnambulist February 23, 2009

Posted by baldricman in Baldric-Man, General.
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So there I was, sleeping peacefully at home with my wife, Philippa. We’d only been married a few weeks, so I was still getting used to the whole deal. We had just returned from honeymoon, a few days ago, part of which included a stint at the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve in KZN (forget about Kruger people…). Allow me to replay a 5 minute portion of that night for you:

 

Suddenly, I am awoken by the urgent whisper from my lovely bride, “Kevin! Kevin!”

I’m instantly on red-alert, at action stations, and the adrenaline is pumping. What could it be? What foul beast has dared enter my domain!?

I whisper back “What is it?”

“Sshhhh!” she impatiently whispers, as I’ve clearly just alerted the enemy to our awareness of him.

I whisper back, quieter this time “What is it?”, all the while trying to imagine what kind of damage can be done with a glass of water, the only weapon at hand.

“Over there….” She says, pointing above her head to the window.

My blood runs cold, as I debate whether to revert back to my very successful 6-year old strategy of hiding under the covers and not breathing. But no, I am now the man of the house, and I need to stand up and defend the damsel. So I look, slowly, and with one eye, over to the window. Not seeing anything, I ask again, a little more panicky this time,

“What? I don’t see anything?”

“There! It’s right there!” she says in obvious frustration at my ineptitude.

“What? Where??” I reply, my voice steadily rising in pitch.

“There, just look!” she says out loud now, all caution to the wind, and rather impatiently.
“It’s a rhinoceros!”

Realising that my wife is actually asleep still, and in one of her “sleep-walking” modes I’ve heard so much about from her family, I’m just about to reply with something soothing when she interrupts with

“Wait, sorry love, it’s not one…”

Realising she has woken herself, I smile, and wait expectantly to capitalize on her embarrassment.

Alas, her very next words are

“IT’S TWO RHINOS!”

I roll over and go back to sleep.

Microsoft’s “Baking Security In” February 19, 2009

Posted by baldricman in Tech.
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Well if ever you feel guilty about reading comics at work (pffft!), then today you can rest easy… Microsoft, having a rather colourful history in all things security-related, have in reality made good progress over the years (in typical MS fashion of course: release the worst Product X known to man, copying all others…. but eventually, eventually, they reach the top of their game and have a fantastic product X (albeit 8 years and 15 versions later…). Anyway, I digress:

They have created an innovative narrative to sell their “Baking Security In” concept or methodology, which is really what they call the “Security Development Lifecycle”, which is a series of 14 steps or processes tightly interwoven in their 6-step Software Development Lifecycle. What is interesting about it is that they’ve taken the route of creating characters and accompanying comic strips to tell the story of a software dev team etc. I recommend checking out the following link to Baking Security In

Don’t be fooled into thinking its all ground-breaking stuff (when last did THAT happen in IT anyway?), but I think its a good thing to go over for any dev team, even if it is just to raise awareness of the concepts, and not to actually implement. I’ll be taking a closer look at the details as soon as I can (Non-cartoony SDL can be found here), but so far, it seems to have some great principles and tips described…

Kevvlar

Kevvlar

Atom Bonk February 18, 2009

Posted by baldricman in News.
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Don’t panic, Nuclear subs collide all the time!

After the recent story about the French and British nuclear subs colliding in the Atlantic, and the inevitable ensuing noise and hype around it….

…that one expert called the gravest in nearly a decade. (Nuclear Sub Collision)

…I found the following article in The Register quite refreshing:

There’s widespread media panic at moment over the news that French and British nuclear-missile submarines collided beneath the Atlantic earlier this month. But in fact atomic-powered and -armed submarines have been bumping into each other – and sometimes sinking – for decades with no significant effects…

For the full article, see sub-prang panic 

The Atom Bonk

The Atom Bonk

Hello world! February 18, 2009

Posted by baldricman in General.
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At long last, after years of procrastination (unsurprisingly), I have finally started a blog. I mention at the outset that I have created at least 3 other blog accounts in the past 2 years, but never posted to them or enabled them even (I won’t mention which blogs 🙂 ) 

Well, what can I say in a first blog post?

My only suggestion is to check out the /whois Baldric page, to get a metaphorical feel for me. Over the next few days I’m hoping to get a few posts up on a variety of topics, in part so that I can see what direction this will take.

It is very likely to be a combination of my discoveries of irony in everyday life, soap-box rants, “technical-interest” stories, and of course the standard quota of linked jokes/images/clips etc. that you’ve all seen on numerous other blogs. Whatever it is though, I sincerely hope you find it amusing, interesting, or thought provoking (read as “infuriating”); and I hope you leave a comment to let me know someone is out there…

 

be back soon!