Sunday, November 19, 2006

Taming the IBM WebSphere beast

I'm preparing for a big installation round at a client's production site. It's going to be a hell of ride, I can tell you that.

As usual I have difficulties getting all sorts of doom scenario's out of my head, but than again deep down inside I feel pretty confident: during my 12+ year-career I've learned to rely on my instincts, and my "gut-feeling" is pretty accurate, most of the time. The problem is, of course, dealing with the unexpected.

I'll be setting up the foundation for a new online marketplace for fast-moving goods. In this clustered environment, the middleware is based on "classic" IBM offerings: WebSphere Portal , WebSphere Process Server, DB2, Tivoli Directory Server and HTTP Server.

So much for simplicity...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Doctor's advice: Use less SOAP and get more REST

People giggling behind your back? Conversations stop when you enter the room?
Maybe your fly is open. But chances are you're still using SOAP.

And SOAP is so yesterday. REST is yesterday too but looking at it is that time of the year again to make fun of SOAP.

If you're planning on doing BPEL though - and that's all about orchestrating business processes by linking web services with each other - you're in for a treat: if you don't speak SOAP (more generally speaking: WSDL) in that part of the world, you'll find yourself lost in translation.

Oh, and REST is around long enough to have its own antipatterns:

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Ahh, sweet procrastination (part I, many more to follow)

I'm in the midst of migrating to a new laptop and long working days (including looooong commutes are coming up) because of a consulting job I landed.

Not much time left for blogging.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Johnny Marr, new Modest Mouse guitarist

This made me go "What the...?!" and then it after a while it all made sense.

Johnny Marr, lead guitarist of The Smiths in days of yore, collaborated on the latest Modest Mouse album "We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank" (to be released next year - title not confirmed yet) and now also tours with the band.

Check out these blogs for more info, including live recordings of the new Modest Mouse line-up.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The kids want a Wii for Christmas (not me, honestly)

Apparently, Cartman can't wait for the Nintendo Wii launch to happen.

(This post made possible thanks to

Sending your Java application logging to a central syslog daemon

This is a placeholder for an upcoming post. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Sufjan Stevens concert flickr set

A talented photographer took pictures at the recent Sufjan Stevens gig in Ghent, Belgium.

We were there.

(as seen on Gentblogt)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Podcast entry grayed-out, yet downloaded.

This is new: in iTunes I have a couple of podcast entries that have been downloaded (I can see the corresponding mp3 files on the disk) and marked as un-played, but they are grayed-out and unchecked.
I can't play the tracks, I can't select them and they are not being synchronized to my iPod either!

(Update: restarting iTunes made the grayed-out files available again. Duh!)

Sufjan Stevens Concert Review

Naturally, Sj was excellent yesterday evening at the Vooruit in Ghent (B).

The concert was way too short: it started at 9pm and less than two and a half hours later I was asleep in my bed! (Fact: a few weeks ago at the Ryan Adams gig in Brussels I had to leave early because my car was parked in a lot that was closing for the night at 11pm. It was raining cats and dogs by then and since I had seen almost 1h40 the set, I thought I wouldn't have missed much by driving home. A day later, I read in the newspaper the concert lasted 3 hours. Bummer. OTOH, I wasn't too much impressed with the endless guitar solos, but still, it was a stupid thing to do)

I only had a quick glance at the set list but I'm pretty sure the it was pretty much the same as the live show at Town Hall NYC 2006-09:

  • Intro
  • Sister
  • The Man of Metropolis Steals Our
  • He Woke Me Up Again
  • The Transfiguration
  • Detroit, Lift Up Your Weary Head!
  • To Be Alone With You
  • The Predatory Wasp Of The Palisades
  • John Wayne Gacy, Jr.
  • That Was The Worst Xmas Ever
  • Dear Mr. Supercomputer
  • Jacksonville
  • Abraham
  • A Good Man Is Hard To Find
  • Majesty Snowbird
  • Chicago
  • They Are Night Zombies!! They Are
  • Casimir Pulaski Day (encore)
(At least one other song was played - "For the widows..." - replacing maybe "Abraham" in the set list above)

And yes, there were inflatable santas and supermen (and of course, they disappeared in the crowd as soon as they were set loose), there were butterfly wings and masks with feathers (a 10-piece band, BTW). When Sj plays on his banjo without singing, he rocks his upper body sligthly back and forth so that his birdwings tend to flap. I wonder if he does that on purpose?

There was the funny story on his buddy Franko from summer camp ("People called him Franko because he looked like Frank Sinatra." - at age 8 or 9! Yikes!)

After the show Sufjan Cd's were on sale for 10 EUR (that's at least a 33% discount), so I bought the extended version of A Sun Came and the weirdo Enjoy your Rabbit. Unfortunately, Seven Swans was sold out by the time it was my turn. Oh well.

I also bought the mini EP by support act St. Vincent. Annie Clark (the only band-member) has quite a track record: she's a talented guitar player (according to her bio she played together with avant-garde composer Glenn Branca, very influential to Sonic Youth), is a member of The Polyphonic Spree and on stage with Sufjan Stevens she's his personal side-kick playing keyboards and guitar and doing most of the backing vocals. She's definitely someone to keep an eye on.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Gmail and Google Reader on One Page

There's a Greasemonkey script out there which offers you an integrated view of your Gmail inbox and Google Reader subscriptions.

Pretty nifty

Friday, November 03, 2006

One Sufjan Gig Coming Up!

I'm going to the Sufjan Stevens concert this weekend. Yay!!

Peter and the Wolf

I stumbled upon this interesting band called Peter and the Wolf from Austin, TX.

You can download the title song from the new "Lightness" album on You Aint No Picasso.

The lead voice reminds me of Brendan Perry of Dead can Dance, although the music has nothing medieval. Instead, you hear a typical lo-fi folky songs, rather moody. Really nice.

Also check out the bands record label Whiskey and Apples for more audio, video and a couple amazing hi-res pictures.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

(really!) convert podcast to music file in itunes

Not being very happy with my solution to convert podcast mp3's to regular music file, I found an alternative method which works for me for the moment.

Apparently iTunes podcast entries are marked with the ITUNESPODCAST tag. Deleting this tag makes it possible to import podcast mp3s as regular music files.

Steps to take:

  1. Move the podcast mp3's out of the /podcasts/ folder to a temporary folder.
  2. In iTunes, delete these mp3's
  3. Using the Mp3tag utility (if your on Windows), remove the ITUNESPODCAST tag from the mp3s in the temporary folder (select all the files, right-click, select Extended tags, highlight the tag and click the delete icon, apply) and while you're there, fix all the other id3 tags as well.
  4. In iTunes, import the mp3's from the temporary folder.
OK, it would be nice to be able to do this from iTunes, but it's a start and it beats converting the podcast mp3's to AAC. It should be possible by scripting iTunes.

Mp3tag works like a charm and is very fast. You can rename your mp3 files by using the information in the id3 tags (e.g. "%artist% - %album% - %title%) and you can automatically update the id3 tags by extracting the information from the mp3 file name.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

convert podcast to music file in itunes

(Look at the update at the end of this post!)

Maybe it's just me, but I had a hard time trying to move a couple of Sufjan Stevens mp3 files that came with my Hype Machine/Popular Blog Tracks podcast subscription in iTunes 7.0.1 to my "normal" music library.

Browsing to the mp3 files on my hard drive and then importing them in iTunes did not work. Although in my iTunes Music Library.xml file all references to the original podcast mp3's where gone, the imported files would re-appear as podcast mp3's (complete with podcast description et al).

Maybe the mp3 files contained an id3 tag that signaled their original source to iTunes? Maybe there were still some metadata lingering in my iTunes Library.itl file (a cleanup of the library index did not help either).

What worked for me was this:

  1. iTunes: in the Podcast library make the necessary corrections to the attributes (Artist, Album...) of the podcast mp3's you want to convert to plain music files
  2. iTunes: select all relevant mp3 files in the Podcast library - right-click + "Convert Selection to AAC" - wait for the processing to finish
  3. Windows Explorer (or similar): move the new AAC file(s) out of the directory structure which contains your iTunes Media Library.
  4. iTunes: delete the original podcast mp3 files
  5. iTunes: import (via "File" + "Add Folder to Library" or via drag-and-drop) the new AAC file(s). They will be added to your main music library and no longer appear as podcast entries.
Hope this helps.

(Update at 8pm - Oh dear... This just came up on my radar: a less time-consuming way to do the conversion because there's no AAC conversion: There's one caveat, though: when converting id3 tags to v1.0, the max. length of attributes (album title, artist name...) is a lot shorter than what we're used to. This way of converting is no option for me.)