The Sourcerer's Apprentice

The adventures of David Heinemann in IT & software development

I Think I’m Addicted to Software

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I think I’m addicted to software. I love trying out and learning to use new programs just about as much as I do video games, and have a nasty habit of impulse-buying anything that looks really interesting. A few days ago I bought Just Great Software’s DeployMaster, an install builder. It has an unlimited and almost fully-functional trial version, but I shelled out $99 almost straight away because I wanted to have the real deal. Now I need to stop writing Perl scripts and find something I can really use with it. :D

Like all JGSoft’s apps, DeployMaster can be a little bit rough around the edges, but it really delivers. It has most of the features you would expect from an install builder, is easy to use, and produces great results. Installers can also be extended with a support DLL to add extra functionality.

Apart from RegexBuddy and EditPad, JGSoft’s applications seem to be a little overlooked, but they definitely shouldn’t be underestimated. Check them out.

Music to Code To

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Everybody has music they love to listen to while coding (with the possible exception of those who don’t code). I personally love alt rock, ’80s pop & metal, J/K-pop, and nearly anything that sounds loud, angry & obnoxious (but please, no screaming!). Here are some of my favourite bands and albums to write code to.

Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas everybody, but don’t forget the “reason for the season” - that 2,000 years ago, God provided the greatest Christmas gift of all - His own Son. Though we incessently rebel against God, and our rebellion mandates a punishment, He entered His own Creation to take that punishment on our behalf. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, was beaten and nailed to a cross for our sake. By turning from our sin & rebellion and trusting in Christ as Saviour, we can be saved from the punishment we deserve. If you have never heard of this before, you can learn more about this Gospel - this good news - here.

I’ve had a great time with my family today, and got quite a few cool gifts, including:

Introducing Sentinel

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This is something I’ve wanted to write for a while - a program to watch a directory for changes, and automatically execute a script when changes are detected. I was going to write it in Perl (and eventually will re-write it), but decided to put the VBScript I’ve been learning to good use. It’s designed mostly for web development, so that I can have files automatically copied to a server every time I update them, rather than having to either do it manually, or edit files remotely.

usage: Sentinel.vbs directory action

  directory: the directory to watch
  action:    the script or program to execute when changes are
             detected.

Sentinel is released under the New BSD License, and can be downloaded directly or visited on GitHub.

This Is Why Trackball Mice Rock

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Trackballs are great. They require very little desk space, since they are operated by scrolling a ball rather than the whole device. This means they can easily be used on your laptop. It will get in the way of typing, but this is a great way to surf the web when there’s limited space available, for example, while sitting in bed. After practice, you can even get away with playing an FPS like this.

Stop Unity From Interfering With Wine

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I just found this unpublished post from earlier this year. I’m not sure why I never got around to publishing it. Ubuntu 11.04 is getting a little old now, but maybe somebody will still find it useful. I’m not sure whether Ubuntu 11.10 suffers from these same issues.

After setting up Ubuntu 11.04, Wine and Warcraft III on my new ThinkPad, I ran across a couple of problems with Unity. First of all, the Unity launcher’s auto-hide feature prevented me from scrolling in-game with the mouse (or, at least, from scrolling left). Secondly, Unity’s use of the F10 key as a shortcut prevented the in-game menu (which also uses F10) from working. After a bit of Googling and playing around, I found solutions to both problems.

The ’90s Just Called

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A few days ago I switched back to Winamp. Back in the late ’90s, it was the MP3 player, but I haven’t heard anything about it in a long time. Its user base declined quite a bit after Nullsoft (its devteam) was acquired by AOL in 1999, and declined even further after the rise of the iPod forced Windows users onto iTunes. Winamp remained my faithful MP3 player until around 2007, when I joined the iPod crowd, but since I will soon have a Samsung Galaxy S, I thought it would be worth taking another look at Winamp for its Android app and Wi-Fi synchronisation feature.

Prevent Touchpad From Being Disabled by Keypresses

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Something that has been bothering me lately about my ThinkPad (well, only since I installed Windows 7 on it) is that by default it disables the touchpad temporarily while you use the keyboard. This is usually a feature, to prevent users from accidentally bumping the touchpad while typing, but when I looked to disable it, I couldn’t find any mention of such feature in the mouse/touchpad settings in Windows.

Happy Birthday, Vim!

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Today marks the 20th anniversary of Vim, my favourite text editor. Developed by Bram Moolenar since 1991, it was designed to improve on Bill Joy’s classical vi editor, which was already 15 years old at that time (and now 35).