August 29, 2008

What happened to chromoly frames?

Filed under: Cycling — joel.cass @ 8:43 am

Go into any bicycle store and you will be hard pressed to find a bicycle frame that is not made from aluminium or carbon fibre.

I find this real strange because when I bought my first real bike I was recommended chromoly over aluminium – the idea being that (for the price) chromoly was a stronger material than aluminium.

I don’t think things have changed much. Staff at the bike shops rarely tout the benefits of one material over the other, except that aluminium is what most customers want as they don’t know any better, and/or the Taiwanese/Chinese factories don’t manufacture steel frames anymore.

I cannot really see the benefits of any material over steel, in frames anyway, because the weight is latent – it does not affect acceleration or speed in the same way that having steel wheels would.

Furthermore, steel can be worked with if it ever failed due to fatigue or an accident. And take a look on eBay for a used downhill bike – and you will always find one or two that are being sold due to fatigue cracks in the aluminium frame. By the way, the seller does not actually have to inform the buyer of such things – so check it out first.

I don’t know why downhill bikes are made from aluminium anyway – it seems a little stupid given the abuse they get.

Perhaps the bicycle industry has gone the same way as many others – into disposable products. Sure, while aluminium or carbon fibre may be more expensive to produce, it gives the producers a source of income, and furthermore keeps many customers (who don’t know any better) satisfied.

August 28, 2008


Filed under: Random — joel.cass @ 5:13 pm

Here is Deniss. Some people at work think he is gay, but I don’t believe them.

He is one of the best actionscript developers I know and I think it’s a damn shame that he has to leave us to work elsewhere… Oh well, your crazy Latvian antics will be missed… By me, at least.

August 27, 2008

Finally: A good CMS!

Filed under: Programming — Tags: — joel.cass @ 7:59 pm

I had really low expectations of Sitecore, I must admit. I have worked with 4 different content management systems in the past, and frankly, while they did the job they were pretty sucky. Corners were always cut, things were never “finished”, at least in mind.

The truth is that anyone can write a CMS. They are the simplest of applications. Basically you load stuff from a database and chuck it on a page. Anyone can do this, even the most lazy and retarded if programmers. And, where they all fail is ironically, the most important parts – interface and performance.

Sitecore is the first CMS that does things right. Although the interface is pure overkill it is practical – each of the different stakeholders needs are catered for by different areas – a content editing application for editors, a development application for devs, and an onsite design/edit system for business people who like to play with shiny things.

On top of that, a desktop interface has been created which allows you to have all your interfaces open at the same time – f***ing brilliant!

Furthermore, it’s got enough of the latest features to give any developer a hard-on – native XSLT support for displaying content, component scaffolding, a plethora of methods to format and display data.

Tell you what, I’m bloody impressed. Goodbye dodgy CF world, hello new shiny .net land…

Goodbye melbourne.

Filed under: Musings — joel.cass @ 7:41 pm

What a short trip. I met the most interesting taxi driver on the way back to the airport. This guy was an international basketball coach from South Africa. He came over to Australia to escape the place and now he’s driving taxis for a living.

This guy tells me of how he had to catch a plane to the capital city and the engines cut out and the plane had to turn back to the airport. That same day, after he arrived back at the airport, the city was in lockdown, people being shot dead for no justifiable reason. He caught a taxi home, driving through desolate backstreets to avoid the military police. It took three hours.

He came to Australia on a sports scholarship and never turned back. And now he’s driving taxis.

Sometimes I think it’s grossly unfair for life to be like that – it seems bloody hard for some foreigners to get real jobs here in Australia. No one complains because it’s safer or more comfortable to live here, even if the work is menial.

Hmm. I may be wrong. I think I would do anything if it paid well and/or guaranteed some level of comfort or safety. Perhaps it ain’t so bad after all?

It was a great way to finish the trip. I had started to think that Melbourne was full of grumpy stuck up suit wearing corporate slaves after the number of frowns I saw on this trip. This guy had to be one of the happiest people I have ever met.

The sidebar is gay

Filed under: Web Development — Tags: — joel.cass @ 12:14 pm

The concept of a sidebar that contains descriptive content next to the main content in a HTML website is so gay. Sidebars are just stupid and they should have been banned from HTML. You see, no-one ever reads them. They violate the concept of flow in a document and pretty much just piss off all the people who have spent sleepless nights trying to get a 3 column fluid layout working in all browsers just because some selfishly naive designer thought it was a “good idea” at the time.

Once again, sidebars are so gay. No one ever reads them. They are a waste of time.

Edit: Interesting to note my site is now completely sidebar based. Oh how times change.

August 26, 2008


Filed under: Technology — Tags: — joel.cass @ 7:09 am

It was six months ago that I got fed up with the lousy unwired coverage I had on my area and settled for an ADSL connection.

When I rang to cancel my account I was informed that the $30 or so owing to me could not be refunded. This was ok so I cancelled. A few days later I got a call from some guy at unwired saying that they did not want me to go so they offered me six months of free email.


Why? Well, 6 months later MY ORIGINAL PLAN THAT I NO LONGER USE was reinstated and my bank account was charged. I rang to attest this, and was informed that my money would not be refunded as I should have been aware that this would happen.

To me, this is a scam and is not ethical nor good customer service.

Only the rich can afford to fly?

Filed under: Musings — Tags: — joel.cass @ 6:50 am

It’s a bit strange to think that I am in the category of people that furnish their lives with expensive consumer goods and status symbols, but it may seem to be that way, at least according to the people that publish virgin blue’s inflight magazine.

Today I am travelling on a flight to Melbourne, in economy, using tickets I did not pay for. The people around me are a mixed bunch, including concrete faced suits to scruffy road worker types and all in between.

I don’t actually see any fashionista types smocked in the latest designer jewellery or clothing. So I wonder, why are they trying to sell this crap to us?

Perhaps they did the research and found that people who pick up and read the inflight magazine are pretentious, insecure and image conscious. Perhaps virgin want to be seen as being this way – but wait, aren’t they a budget airline?

Not only does the magazine feature overpriced crap on each page, but it also features articles that confirm that it is ok to be into overpriced crap.

I could understand the latest in luggage fashion or perhaps the latest noise canceling earphones being advertised in the magazine, but designer jewellery that costs the same as 10 return trips to Melbourne? No, I don’t understand that…

August 18, 2008

Is ColdFusion Dead?

Filed under: ColdFusion, Web Development — Tags: — joel.cass @ 7:32 am

I have been a long term developer and supporter of the ColdFusion cause. I have been developing in the language for more than 10 years and have come to appreciate it as a convenient and reliable way to build web applications.

What is ColdFusion, may you ask? Well it is an application server language. In it’s day, people paid for this kind of thing, but these days application server languages are mainly free and/or cheap to install. However, Cold Fusion is not free, and it’s not that cheap. Anyway, that is beside the point.

The thing is, ColdFusion has not changed much in the last 5 years, well not in my mind, at least. When ColdFusion MX came out in 2004 it was groundbreaking, extraordinary. The whole thing was re-written in Java. While it was not as fast as it’s predecessors it became reliable, and so many new things were added on – component support, web services, native Java support – it was such a breakthrough that it made any later release seem like a bugfix more than anything else.

And in my mind that is exactly what CF7 was – a better working version of ColdFusion MX. Sure, it had some fluffy cfdocument tags thrown in and some minor syntax improvements but nothing revolutionary. CF8 introduced .net support and image manipulation, as well as better performance, but let’s face it, most people were using .net via web services (which is more standardised albeit less efficient) and using tools like CFC_Image to manipulate images. Furthermore, developers had started to adapt their practices to match the performance limitations of CF7, which, involved implementation of best practices anyway. So, CF8 wasn’t of any big help, to me at least.

It leads me to consider that Adobe has effectively “shelved” ColdFusion – some people are baffled by this concept but let me explain. Consider that Adobe sells 1000 copies of ColdFusion every year – lets face it that even this figure is ambitious considering that most people don’t need to buy a copy of CF every year and that many new projects are looking to start in Java or .net these days. Anyway, 1000 copies equals around 4 million dollars, given that all copies are the enterprise version.

However, Adobe would only receive half of this due to retail markup and distribution costs. Out of this comes marketing, admin, and support costs, which might leave around a million dollars for Adobe to play with. Consider that the average developer costs 100K per year and say that they have 5 or 6. Then there might be a manager or two, or even a tech lead who gets a little more – after all this Adobe might get a little profit – then there’s taxes… Which leads me on.

Adobe ask for around 25K for an enterprise license of LiveCycle, which, like ColdFusion is a Java based app that generates business documents (no, really) – Yet they can only ask around 4K for a ColdFusion license – why would this be so if Adobe hadn’t realised that about 4K is all they are going to get before they start scaring developers off? So it leaves them between a rock and a hard place.

Given that ColdFusion is pretty well established as an app server, in that it is relatively bug free and reasonably reliable – do they even need to continue development, or just shelve it and use it to push their *other* front end products? I would be leaning toward the second option.

Which leads me to the next point. In my mind, ColdFusion is “old hat” – while it was excellent in the 90’s and pretty good for the first half of this century, it’s becoming out-competed by the likes of .net and Java – not due to ease of development nor performance, but simply because more people out there know Java and .net – these languages are taught widely and are more trusted, simply due to the reputation of their respective vendors.

As said earlier, Adobe are between a rock and a hard place – and this is supply and demand in action – if they made it cheaper, more people would use it. However, then they would need to increase support and invest in their reputation as an application services vendor and for that they would need money, hence they would need to increase prices and effectively kill demand.