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Scribe Options Format
Date: 25/10/2006
I've spent the last 10 hours of coding time converting Scribe's internal settings format across to a new thread safe XML format. The old system used a non-thread safe property list and associated UI serialization code. And rather than try and hack thread safety onto that I decided to move Scribe over to XML at the same time. I underestimated the amount of work involved to a large degree. The code base has been converted over and is kinda running, but there is a lot of clean up work and testing still to go.

Apart from thread safety, one of the reasons I wanted to do this now is that I couldn't tack on extra meta data to the information about messages still on the server. With XML this will be easy and extensible. So features like "leave mail on server for [5 ] days" should be far easier. Not to mention that it'll open up the options format for inspection by users. I expect that I'll feel happier about adding "hidden" options in the XML for users that need some obscure behaviour modification.

I expect that even with a lot of testing there will be some amount of regression bugs in the next release. With that number of code changes there is simply no way that nothing will break. But it'll mean better stability, feature depth and flexibility in the future. Sometimes it's two steps forward, one back.

Update: Core functionality is back online, I'm receiving email using the new code base. SSL is still dead and there is no way to import settings from an old Scribe.r file. Which people will no doubt need right?

Update2: SSL now works and I've fixed Bug #118 as well.
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Oldest Scribe Bug Fixed
Date: 16/10/2006
A very old, but rare Scribe bug got fixed today. Actually it's a general bug in Lgi. But only Scribe users reported it, and it was entered in Bugzilla against Scribe... anyway it should be all good in the next release.
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What happened to all those BeOS ports of Memecode apps?
Date: 14/10/2006
Well basically they still all compile/run on BeOS except that shortly after running they hang and don't recover. I've spend a long time analysing this issue and I've posted the specifics here. So if you'd like to see Lgi apps running on BeOS/Zeta again feel free to help nail this one bug.

I expect that if valgrind ran on BeOS it'd be a matter of minutes to fix but it doesn't so here we are years later, no closer to solving this. This time around I got a lot closer to the code having problems. I've mostly isolated which calls in my code create the problems. But they seem perfectly normal and sane.

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Recuring Calendar UI
Date: 3/10/2006
This is the draft layout for recuring events in the Calendar window:

The combo boxes contain "Days", "Weeks", "Months" and "Years". The other "End Date" drop down is a calendar month view selector like in the Appointment tab.

Any comments?
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Wheres me freshly baked Scribe?
Date: 22/9/2006
Well. Yeah I'm tracking down a crash in the filtering that happens a lot at the moment for me. Some pointer in a list gets corrupted after much filtering. Initially I thought that valgrind would sort this out pretty quick smart. So I fired that up and ran it through. Found lots of "other" bugs that I fixed but not the filtering crash.


Also I havn't had a chance to find some straight SSL (not STARTTLS) email servers to test the new SSL code in Scribe. So that feature is not ready yet.

Which means there is little point making a release right now.

To top it off my RSI is verging on getting nasty again. So I'm really limiting my time on the keyboard to avoid a meltdown. Which is just so frustrating, the mind is willing but the body is just not able.
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Motorola V3x Review
Date: 19/9/2006
Recently three ditched the CDMA network that we were on and made us upgrade to new handsets. So after a bit more research than I intended to do I settled on the Motorola V3x as a compromise between all the things I wanted, all for a measly $4aud more per month.

My main requirements are:
  • Works as a USB mass storage device
  • Upgradable memory
  • SyncML support
  • Some music playing support

Well so far things are going fairly well. Initially my experience has been that the phone works well in it's core function as a phone, call quality is reasonable and the buttons/hardware is all still solid after a few months of use. So thumbs up there. Text messaging is alright as well, in that it works mostly as expected although occasionally it'll suggest the rest of the (wrong) word and I can't accept the letters I've already typed without accepting all the wrong suggested characters after the cursor. This might be just my misunderstanding of the UI and it doesn't happen often enough to bug me.

The menus are a little slower than I'd like and sometimes show up partially for a frame or so. I notice this more because I know to look for it being a software developer, it's classic lack of double buffering. The layout of menus is generally OK, I expected worse to be honest, as Motorola has a bit of a reputation for lack of usability. But it's better than my old Nokia 3105 in that respect.

As a media player the device is not in it's element but it does manage to get by. I've been using the music player for weeks now and it's doing the job. I miss a shuffle mode and repeat but maybe thats buried in a menu somewhere. The earbuds are not great (both comfort and audio) but you can buy a USB -> 3.5" adapter on ebay for $6aud so I'll probably do that and just use real headphones. I'm enjoying finally having a solid state music player to take with me. I've resisted being sucked into the ipod universe simply because I don't want to carry 2 devices around with me. I'm sure ipods are great but I got the phone for hardly anything on a 12 month plan and it's saving me a bunch of cash and hassle over getting an ipod. I have upgraded the phone with 1gb of MicroSD for music/video and that has allowed me to put full length movies on it. I know the official specs for the phone state that 512mb is the max but 1gb is working fine for me. This was entirely unexpected but comes as a nice surprise. I knew I could store movies (divx) on it as a file, but I discovered that if you re-encode to 3gp with the right settings you can play the movie on the phone itself instead of just storing it. The 3gp files work out at a bit less than 100mb / hr, so for a normal movie you're looking at about 200mb. So I could theoretically have 4 full movies on there. It's good for watched while stuck someplace or travelling around. Sorry but I don't know what watching movies does to battery life yet :)

The built in camera has been great. It sports 2mp (1600x1200) and the quality in good lighting is just supurb. My friends ooo and ahhh when they see the photos and are a bit skeptical that they came from a phone. The normal caveats of low light and high motion scenes apply, shots in those conditions degrade quickly. The pictures turn out to be around the 120 to 150kb mark, but compress better with PC software. It's been great for collecting impromptu photos for my new SydneyBand Places webpage and various capture the moment family shots. This means that I'm going to have less of a reason to dive in a get a Canon S3 IS. I've taken a few videos and for the most part high motion scenes turn into slide shows at 1 frame/sec. Low motion shots (talking head etc) do much better. I really don't care for the video recording function, I just tried it cause I could.

Battery life has been good for me, with 2+ days of standby time. I don't make a lot of calls so standby is more the norm. The battery indicator is not very linear, once a bar goes, you've got only a few hours left. But I can live with that. That said the phone will charge off any standard USB cable, no custom proprietry cable needed. This is awesome, I mean I cannot emphasise enough how much I hate propreitry standards, and when I saw that the phone takes a normal USB cable I was grinning ear to ear.

My experience with the bundled PC software is that it works as advertised for syncing to Outlook but it's dog slow. I'm not sure if thats the phone or the software but it seems to take forever. For looking at the photos on the phone it's a joke, don't even try doing that it'll make you puke. Everytime you select a photo on the phone it sucks it over the USB cable with a progress dialog. Which means that to do anything you have to select photos one by one and then action them (i.e. delete / copy). But fortunately there is a better way! With a MicroSD card installed it automatically saves photos straight to the MicroSD card, and so you don't need the slow (crap) Motorola software to access the photos you just browse to the removable disk in Explorer and in "\phone\photos" there is a bunch of JPEG's that you can view/delete/copy with no weird previewing progress bar messing up the process.

With a little getting used to it it's a great phone. Thumbs up from me.

  • Does core functions without any major issues.
  • Cheap (for me).
  • Watching a feature length movie on your phone! Fast forwarding through long movies works really well.
  • Looks great.
  • No build quality issues (for me at least).
  • Camera quality a nice surprise.
  • Taking a call while listening to music is painless.
  • Charges off any standard USB cable.
  • Earbuds not comfortable and tend to sit in the ear such that you lose all the bass they generate.
  • The contacts sync function is very slow and loses the email address in the process.
  • The rest of the bundled PC software is so bad I stopped using it before it scarred me for life.
  • No bookmarks for audio/video. If you need to stop playing a long movie, it's a pain trying to find your place again.
  • No shuffle/repeat mode for the audio player.
  • Data in the phones onboard memory is not available via USB mass storage. This is particularly annoying when there appears to be no API to get at the contacts on the phone for 3rd party applications to sync with.
  • Only USB1.1 is supported, which makes large file transfers an exercise in patience.
  • Little blip of static in the ear phones when audio starts/stops.
  • Keeps losing the desktop background setting.
  • The "show date" option doesn't put the date on the desktop. It does show up on the outside mini LCD so it's not a complete joke but still. I'd like the date on the main display.
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