So long and thanks for all the fish…!

These are the words that the Dolphins ‘uttered’ just before the end of the world in “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. It bears repeating now because I think we’re seeing the final signal in the end of Borland – the makers of tools like Delphi and JBuilder and the venerable Turbo Pascal. From the borland non-tech groups – as posted by Borland’s own David I:Today, Wednesday February 8, 2006 at 1am Pacific Time, Borland announced plans to seek a buyer for our IDE product lines that include Delphi, C++Builder, C#Builder, JBuilder (and Peloton), InterBase, JDataStore, nDataStore, Kylix, and our older Borland and Turbo language products and tools. The goal is to create a standalone business focused on advancing individual developer productivity using the people inside Borland who are focused on the success of these award winning products.

I was asked today by Daryl Taft of eWeek magazine, “As Borland’s longest term employee, how does the spin-off hit you?” I answered by saying, I am moving forward as part of the new company with a huge smile on my face and a
small tear in my eye.

Translation: “We are so freaking doomed….. But I can’t say that because I own stock in a publicly traded company”

Or:

“So long and thanks for all the fish…!”

Yes, Borland is selling the part of the company that MADE the company. The IDE/Tools group. For years Borland management has said, We are fully committed to the tools that made this company what it is. And for years I’ve quietly said “Bullshit”. Borland commitment to developer tools should have been questioned the moment someone at that company said; “Hey there’s this company called Ansa just north of us that’s selling this database product, Paradox – let’s check it out”. Or when they said; “Hey.. let’s buy this word processor called Sprint! It’ll be great!”

It should have been questioned again when Philippe Kahn said; “Today we have announced our intention to aquire Ashton Tate”.

And it was questioned… And every time the same thing was said; We are fully committed to the tools that made this company what it is.

A recent example:

CEO Tod Nielsen wants to return the company to a leadership position in the tools space.

Never trust a man who craps on his previous employer – especially when that employer is Microsoft:

Crossgain vs. Microsoft: ‘Mooning the Giant’

Well, this time I’m calling bullshit once and for all. Borland is commited to one thing – increasing shareholder value. And they think that inventing their own version of Rational Unified Process (RUP) will continue to do this. And they certainly have had some promising sales in this area. However I can say at least ONE of Borlard’s customers (who was one of my customers this past summer) thinks the Borland ALM software is counter-intuitive crap – which is pretty much what Rational Rose was before IBM bought that overengineered wad of tripe.

The problem is that I honestly don’t think anyone is interested. Borland has had huge amounts of schizophrenia with the C++ tools – and I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the minds behind that compiler technology are now at Microsoft. Kylix (what kind of name IS that anyway?) was a disaster and JBuilder was killed off (and with this announcement I doubt Peleton will EVER see the light of day). And unless a command-line version of the Delphi language compiler is made available for FREE to allow for a better sourced-based-components market that tool is going to continue to fade away as well.

So the bottom line is.. it’s over. The new Delphi release is selling well, but apparently not well enough to justify it’s continued existence within Borland. Java developers are moving to Eclipse in droves. And that’s sad because in the .NET space at least developers have VS.NET – and that’s a reasonably OK tool. Eclipse is crap – completely and totally. It’s an IDE with it’s own version of ‘DLL hell’ because of all the stupid libraries that you have to tack on to do Java development, visual GUI design, etc. I explain more of that another time. I think Delphi has a chance of continuing on but I think if you’re using JBuilder you best hope that IBM makes Eclipse work on the new Intel-based MacOS – or look at Netbeans or IntelliJ.

[ Borland to Acquire Software Quality Company, Segue Software;
Announces Plan to Divest IDE Product Lines
]

Spoofcard

This is interesting. Now you can get a calling card that allows you to change your caller ID display number to whatever you want, and even change what your voice sounds like when you speak to the caller. So all of the features put in place via the phone company and FCC to prevent crank and abusive calls are essentially rendered useless. Of course, spoofcard all puts this under the guise of “enhancing privacy”. Seriously tho, this is no different than a service providing a fake ID so you can get into a bar before your 21.

Nonsense like this is going to kill the VoIP industry – or get it so regulated that it’ll cost the same to have a VoIP line as a conventional line – which will still have the same effect of killing VoIP.

Fake Caller ID, Change Your Voice, Record Calls Spoof Caller ID – SpoofCard.com

Cool Download – Reveal For Firefox

File this under “it doesn’t get more ‘cool eye-candy’ than this”. Reveal is a firefox extension that creates thumbnails of your tabbed pages. Since I’m always using Firefox in mutliple tab mode this is perfect for me. The one bug I’ve found in the current (1.0.4) version is that if Reveal and Google Safe Browsing are used together you will have crashes when ever GSB blocks a page as a forgery. I’ve already contacted the author and he’s looking at how to fix it.Using it is simple. Install it, have a few tabs up, and Press Alt-` (that’s Alt and the backquote key).

Now that is dead sexy. What makes Firefox a great browser is the fact that the Mozilla group managed to make a powerful and still very extensible browser. Reveal is a great example of just *how* extensible a browser Firefox is.

Note at the bottom of the brower window when Reveal is running is a search bar. If you need to find something across all of your pages, just type into that search bar and the pages will be narrowed by that search criteria as you type.

There are lots of neat features to Reveal. To find them, you really just need to try it yourself.

Reveal

Note to Alaska Airlines Critics

Most of the time the local CraigsList Rants and Raves board is drivel from extreme left-leaning wingnuts who think Bush should be impeached. Occassionaly there something really insightful and well-written there. Of course, those few entries are casting pearls before swine considering the apparent readership, but I thought *this* posting was worth passing along. It’s from someone who apparently is a pilot and has some insight into the current local news stories about Alaska Airlines and their outsourcing pains with Menzies Aviation (a huge outsource vendor). Since this is a “family and professional-oriented” blog I have edited out some of the stronger language – but you’ll get the idea.

For those of you who don’t know last year Alaska Airlines fired their entire (union based) luggage-handling group and replaced them with a well-established outside company – Menzies Aviation. There have been a couple of high-profile problems since then.

Alaska Airlines jet landed normally despite hole in fuselage

Now, I’m not trying to downplay this. This was a SERIOUS incident and someone’s head needed to roll for it. But since then the local (highly-union-biased) press has been up in arms about Menzies even if one of the workers so much as sneezes. Note that Menzies is an non-union shop. I personally think that the local media is participating – to some degree – in a smear campaign of non-union labor. For example, the local news mentioned that for 9 months out of 2004 to 2005 there were a HUGE increase in the number of safefy problems at Alaska air. Up from 13 in 2004 to over 50 in 2005. What the news FAILED to mention was that during that 9 month period the the UNION WORKERS were the ones committing the violations. Actually.. they were kicking out panels and vandalizing the planes because they new they were going to lose their contract. Talk about jackboot thugs….

I thought the following – posted to the Seattle section of Craigslist – was very insightful. It also shut a HUGE number of whiners up after it was posted.

You AAL bashers are a bunch of Chicken Little whiners. Obviously you know nothing about airplanes, aviation or airlines. You just sit there and bitch about what you perceive is an airline not giving a shit and at the same time about ticket prices being too high to take junior to Disneyland.

Most of the US airlines are in dire straights. I remember a statistic in the mid 1990’s that said US airlines have LOST more money in the previous 5 years than they had EVER MADE. Think about that. The first scheduled service started in 1918.

This came about through a series of bad decisions made by airlines, unions and government over the last 20 years. Now legacy airlines that have been straddled with debts stemming from Deregulation, Fare Wars, Frequent Flyer Programs, Union entitlement and an overly demanding passenger base are faced with competitors like JetBlue that have a minimal staff since most of their operations are automated and operate Union free.

So what can an airline do? Well they have to cut costs. American removed one olive from every salad to save a couple million dollars annually. Alaska saw an opportunity to save $13+ million with contracting Menzies and eliminating a problematic Union in baggage handling. The answer in the early 21st Century is streamlining and getting rid of the Unions. Those that don’t will go under. JetBlue, EasyJet and Southwest will see to that.

Now, Menzies is a successful company that serves over 500 airlines worldwide. They have been at Alaska for 7 or 8 months now. Are the recent series of events an indication that Alaska and Menzies are falling apart? No.

$500,000 Fine for 2 Exit lights
The FAA levies fines against airlines all the time. This one was stupid and avoidable, and the maintenance guy in charge should be fired. But, since he’s a highly skilled Union worker, no can do. Would it have killed anyone? Highly unlikely. Just an example of a stupid regulation.

Baggage Ramp Airplane Collision
The biggest issue here was the moron that didn’t report that he made contact with the airplane. He broke Menzies’ rules, Alaska’s rules, SeaTac’s rules and FAA Regulations. Is it Alaska’s or Menzies’ fault? No, it’s that putz’s fault. He should be fired and charged Federally with busting regs. He screwed up, he hit the plane. He should have stood up like a man and said something. Instead, like a fool, he tried to hide it. And like the sheeple you are, you focus on the local media exagerated headlines on how 200+ people almost died instead of how the training and skill of the flight crew handled a small emergency professionally and safely.

Dog Tossing
This is not a safety of flight issue. This is a newer common Seattle problem. Total lack of basic customer service and not considering the impact of your actions on anyone else. The moron didn’t break any rules. He was just stupid and over zealous in getting the dog on board. Should he have done it that way? No. He didn’t use his head. He’s just used what is now the typical Seattle SNAFU customer service. The woman ended up taking both her dogs to Florida on a later flight and Alaska paid for her rental van. So she came out alright.

These last two incidents are more indicative of a piss poor pool of people to hire from here in Seattle than from company mismanagement. In both cases it was a breakdown of common sense.

Airplane Tug Incident
This is something that happens ALL the time. And what I find is interesting, less than a week after this incident; I saw the same thing on the homepage of NWCN.com that it happened to a United airplane in Spokane, Boise or someplace else East of the Mountains. Are you twerps up in arms over that? Nope, and that was a highly skilled Union employee.

Today’s Gear Door Incident
Now here we go. Here’s one of the highly skilled Union employees of Alaska fucking up again. That’s what checklists are for, stupid! Now the big difference here is that, unlike the Menzies employee, this yahoo can’t be fired cause he’s Union. Similar screw up, but he’ll continue to work on your planes. What’s worse? But once again headline read ‘Disaster at Alaska’ as opposed to focusing on the abilities of the flight crews to handle minor emergencies. And you sheeple eat it up.

All of the events are a result of people messing up. Not a company that doesn’t care. Just individuals that don’t give a sh*t about quality or customer service.

The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter if the service personnel are Union or not or airline employees or contractors. All demographics have screwups. Since Alaska is local to Seattle, the media is holding them under a microscope. If the CEO has a zit on his backside, it’ll be front page news. But none of the above is out of the ordinary for airlines these days.

Legacy airlines have a long road ahead of them. Streamline or die. Cut expenditures or die. But remember, US airlines are among the safest in the World. If you only knew what happens to airplanes in Second and Third World countries…

So quit yer bitching and go on vacation.

Food for thought, all of the below pics were caused by ground crew. So Alaska is just par for the course

Oh, and no, I don’t work for AAL or any other airline. In fact I bought my own plane for business and pleasure travel so I can avoid the airlines. Why? Because of all you fat, smelly and whiny passengers. And the TSA, they suck too.


So much for Netbeans 5…

Talk about a letdown. Netbeans 5 is now *finally* where JBuilder Foundation has been for the last 4 versions. I can’t believe I actually used a Java toolset that made a case for sticking with Eclipse or even encouraging people to spend the 3000 bucks for JBuilder Enterprise 2006!

So why am I doing all of this? When I recently tried Eclipse on a non-Windows environment and quite bluntly – it was crap. The SWT has terrible performance under X. By comparsion, JBuilder 2006 is extremely light and snappy in the same environment.

So my choices for IDEs are still JBuilder and Eclipse (in that order).

No Struts in JSC 2

So I’m tinkering away with the Sun Java Studio Creator 2 Early Access when I realize that while there is an excellent and robust visual designer for Faces there seems to be nothing for Struts. Now I’m not a Struts bigot, but I have found it easier to make visually robust applications using Struts than using JSF. Also there’s still a lot of legacy code at customer sites thats all written in Struts.

Sadly my posting to the Sun Software Forums confirmed my fears…

Hi,

JSC 2 does not have support for Struts at this point in time. An RFE has been filed on your behalf for the same. We thank you for your valuable feedback.

Cheers

Nothing ‘cheer’ful about THAT news. So Java Studio Creator is being removed from my system as I type this. Whatever other neat tools it might have I need a tool that takes care of *all* of my developer needs. Eclipse is painful enough to configure for the different things I need (tho the MyEclipse Workbench does take a lot of the sting out).

Another reply piqued my interest tho:

If you need Struts support, you might check out NetBeans 5 which is currently in Beta.

Sure enough, Netbeans 5 claims to do Struts and support JBoss 4 (among other servers). Looks like it’s time to take another look at Netbeans…