Saturday, November 19, 2005

Where did my pixels go (tales of Java IDEs)

My typical work-day consists of writing/manipulating/running Java code. I've been using Eclipse, but spending a few days working off my PowerBook left me frustrated with how slow it was. I'm currently running a trial install of IntelliJ, which is definitely faster. I had a NetBeans install a few months back (which I have not reinstalled since upgrading the hard-drive) and I remember it feeling similar to Eclipse. I used to be a emacs junky, but I'm a total intellisense addict now (blame too many years spending most of my time as management overhead). Also, the live error feedback in Eclipse and IntelliJ (I don't remember about NetBeans) is amazingly useful when redesigning existing code.

So I was working on my laptop, tracking down an obscure bug in some code I had rewritten, and was marveling at how little text was on my screen. I had all this great UI which leveraged color coding, provided amazing code navigation tools, and let me view objects in the debugger with the greatest of ease. Yet I had less actual code displayed than I would have had back when I used emacs on an 800x600 screen! Back then (~1997) I had a laptop as my primary development machine (a very unusual state of affairs back then) running Linux. I had X set up so that most of my regular apps ran w/o title-bars, thus emacs really did have all 800x600 pixels. Modern UIs waste an amazing amount of pixels. I was amazed at how thick the spacers are in IntelliJ. For a true developer's IDE, there should be as few pixels wasted as possible! More importantly, basic editing and navigation must be fast. I should not need my 4GHz P4 desktop machine just to make the IDE usable.

Why isn't there a good, modern (intellisense, incremental error, etc) IDE? Actually, there probably are, but since I'm limiting myself to platforms which support both OS X & Windows, I'm not even looking at a majority of the offerings, since they are Windows only. I've tried JDE, the emacs Java Development Environment, but it seemed less than obvious how to get intellisense working. Part of my issue is that I typically rotate between 2-4 active projects, often where at least 2 of those are different branches of the same basic code-base. I like how classic IDEs (Eclipse/etc) make the solution pretty easy... Each app instance is working with one 'project', and projects are independent. Creating a similar effect in Emacs really seems like a hack.

I'd really like to see someone build a good, fast IDE with an efficient UI. Obviously part of the problem is that cross platform UI is a nightmare. I've almost never seen this done well. Little thinks like the menu bar differences between Mac and everyone-else are just the tip of the iceberg. Java helps, but Java IDEs always seem slow. I'm curious if anyone has profiled Eclipse. Where does it actually spend it's time? What accounts for the large memory usage? Basically... what would benefit most from being written in C/C++ rather than Java?

Enough griping. Back to work

Friday, November 18, 2005

Snow Sliding

I am one happy boy.

I spent the day snowboarding at Steven's Pass. The snow was better than last January's best at Snoqualmie before it rained! It was a bit crunchy and sparse with bits of green poking through. Still, for pre-Thanksgiving, it rocked. The slopes were almost empty, with zero waiting at the lifts. Damn fine way to spend the day. It was good to see that my muscles still remember how to ride. The person I was there with recommended waxing our boards... I've had my board for 2 seasons and never waxed it. What a difference! Corners where definitely easier.

Kudos to Steven for convincing me to drag my lazy behinding up to the pass with him!

[update] One day later and many, many muscles sorer. That just means I need to go back up to the mountains ASAP and keep up the work-out, right?

Monday, November 14, 2005

What is thaty I spy with mine eye?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Mac Audio issues

I installed the latest XCode, and it looks like it totally horked the audio on my poor PowerBook. iTunes doesn't make a peep. Video has no sound. VLC sometimes produces audio, but in random bursts. sigh. Mostly sound is just DOA. There isn't even any sound when rebooting.

Any one have any suggestions? I guess I could try uninstalling XCode...

[Update] I rebooted off the Tiger boot disc but didn't actually reinstall. Sounds now works again. I have no idea what changed but at least I have music again!

Front242 and Rollins

Last night Henry Rollins was in town doing his spoken word thing. That man can talk. He talked from 7pm straight till 10-something. No breaks, typical Rollins intensity, and funny as hell. It feels strange to see him up there with grey hair though. Am I really old enough that the icons of my youth are going grey? Not that it matters when you have that much energy on stage.

Which brings me back to last week... Front 242. Another rocking show. Last I saw them was 6-7 years ago. I'm no longer in the pit, flailing away, but the music was just as good. I've been listening to some of their albums recently, and they sound weak by more modern standards, but live it was as good as I remember it. The best part was watching the 2 guys, looking 40-something, having the times of their lives on stage. They were obviously enjoying themselves. How can you not love a concert where the band is just having that much fun? It was amusing to see these old-timers (ha!) rock out harder than the 20-somethings in the band before.