18 June 2007

Bringing Sexy Back to Amsterdam

This Saturday I went to Justin Timberlake's performance in the Amsterdam Arena which was part of his Future Sex/Love Sound European tour. In the morning I heard on the radio that the Amsterdam Arena was not sold out yet, so I went to buy some tickets for Soraya and myself to catch this performance.

Too bad Soraya got held up at work, because otherwise we would have also seen Esmee Denters perform. Esmee had the honor of opening the show. Esmee has been getting a lot of media attention lately, especially after she got signed as the first artist on Justin Timberlake's record label. For those who do not know her: Esmee became famous through YouTube, where she posted movies of herself singing her own version of songs by famous artists behind her webcam. Over the past year Esmee's movies have had more then 26 million views on YouTube. She really has an amazing voice and I think it's really funny, but for the best, that she got rejected for the dutch version of Idols in the first round. Be sure to check this video clip by Esmee where she does a cover of Alicia Keys "How come you don't call me anymore?".

Justin is a real performer. This guy can really sing and dance at the same time. With a 3 hour show it was amazing to see how he moved the entire Amsterdam Arena, which held around 50.000 people at that time. It appeared Timbaland also flew to Amsterdam to do a couple of songs together with Justin and a small but excellent performance of his own. I have to say that this concert was really great! I'm not a fan, but I might have to reconsider ;-)

13 June 2007

First impression: Safari 3 beta on Windows

Yesterday Apple introduced Safari 3 beta for the Windows platform. Of course as a developer I had to check it out and see what it gave me.

The installation was a success, so I had a positive start and my first page impression was very good. I like what Safari does with the font and page rendering. The page looks just a bit smoother then for instance in FireFox and Internet Explorer.

After having worked with Safari for a day I can say that most websites work like a charm under Safari, but this morning I noticed some strange behavior from this beta version. One of the problems I noticed was that when I minimize or maximize the browser on my dual screen desktop, the browser disappears somewhere on the right side of my screen. I'm then unable to get the browser back and I have to close it from the Windows task manager and relaunch the browser.

While trying to write a blogpost this morning I also noticed some strange behavior with the clipboard and with submitting forms from Safari. Somehow only a part of my blogpost got posted and ended up in the database.

I'm not sure if Apple should have released this beta version yet, since it has some weird behavior in very basic functionalities. I've also heard that for some people the browser crashes occasionally. For now Safari will not be able to start a new browser war. Let's see what the next update will bring us!

Hippo website revamped

The old Hippo website was created a while ago and it badly needed a redesign. Now it's finally there! If you've not been to the Hippo website over the past week, you will probably not have noticed that the entire website has been redesigned.

I think the old website was really outdated and I'm very happy with my employers new website! Of course it's powered by two products I really care about: Hippo CMS and Apache Cocoon.

05 June 2007

Pidgin: Combining multiple IM's into one

Today I switched from having multiple IM (Instant Messaging) clients open at the same time to only one on my Windows XP desktop. Pidgin (formerly known as Gaim) has all the IM protocols I need to talk with my friends and co-workers. It's an open source application that runs on multiple platforms. The past 2 years I was very happy with Trillian Basic, but when Google introduced it's GoogleTalk I was back at having multiple clients. Pidgin has now solved this for me.

Adium has been able to do this for a while, but I was not able to find a suitable Windows client untill now.

I've been working with it for a full day now and I'm very happy with it. It saves me system resources, runs on multiple platforms and the great things is that you can even combine multiple accounts of the same protocol. If you're looking for a new IM client that combines multiple protocols, be sure to take a look at Pidgin.

01 June 2007

links for 2007-06-01

Combining Cocoon and Solr

It's been quiet here this month. I've been extremely busy (what else is new) with finishing up old and starting up new projects. One of the exciting new things is that I've been asked to help out with a new project that embraces the power of Cocoon (hurrah!).

It's a very nice project with a lot of interesting features. The team is very skilled and they are very enthusiastic about the project. My job for now is to support them in their daily Cocoon development and help them out with solutions for parts of their system.

I'm currently looking at how we can implement faceted navigation and fast searching. The first thing that came to mind was Lucene and Solr. I've heard Bertrand talking about Solr so many time that I had to take a look at it. Solr seems to be very powerful,flexible and easy to use. Even for people new to Solr it's easy to setup and play with.

So yesterday I gave Solr a try, to see what we could use it for and it seems to be almost exactly what we need. Cocoon and Solr are in my opinion made for each other since you can do all sorts of XML operations with Cocoon and send and receive these to/from Solr.

While playing around with Solr, I wanted to give it a try from a Cocoon application to see how they would interact. Since you can get results back from Solr by doing an http request it's very easy to integrate this in your Cocoon sitemap. Digging a bit deeper, I stumbled upon a Solr SearchGenerator for Cocoon. Of course that sounded very interesting and I tried it at once. The SearchGenerator is actually very simple and is just a wrapper around an http PostMethod that sends a query to Solr and generates the XML response into the pipeline. Now I had all I needed.

I've even written a small faceted webapp based on the sample content provided in the default Solr checkout. It was fun to write and did not even take me that long. I'll write some more documentation about this and put it online, so other people could also try this out.

So far I really like Solr. Can't wait to spend more time on using it!

Some good links on Solr: