Geeky Stuff

The world wisens up about OOXML


The world is finally realizing that Microsoft's OOXML "format" is the old dog's usual tricks - incomplete, relies heavily on undocumented tricks to work, which puts full control back in their hands. This week both Brazil and India have decided to vote "no" at the upcoming ISO meeting where OOXML's fate will be decided. Good to see that, despite Microsoft's attempts, some countries can't be bought off.

Windows compatibility on OSX just got better


Parallels Desktop, the app that lets you run a virtual copy of Windows or Linux on your Mac, has just gotten better with the announcement of the forthcoming version 3 which adds two really snazzy features:

  • You can now set software on one of the OSes (Windows on the virtual machine, or the host OSX) to run software on the other side when it is launched, e.g. if you're running Outlook on the virtual Windows you can launch attachments in OSX apps without any stupid fiddling. Awe-Shum!
  • 3D support for games and other uses; how well this works is left to be seen, but it will hopefully mean being able to run Diablo 1 at the very least :)

ColdFusion 8 public beta chews bubblegum, takes names


The world's first real server-side scripting language, which seemed to get quiet in its v5-v6 days, is back with a vengeance with the new ColdFusion version 8. Currently available as a public beta and due for public sale in a few months, the new release has a tonne of new features to get web developers in a tizzy. While version 7 IMHO felt like a minor upgrade for most of us (the most impressive new features were in the $6000 Enterprise edition), version 8 has lots of end-user features that really goes a great job of catching up & leapfrogging some of the competition. Here are some of the highlights:

  • AJAX interface with a huge amount of functionality: a data grid, an auto-suggest gadget, and tonnes more.
  • WYSIWYG editor replacement for textarea boxes, which uses FCKeditor.
  • Flash presentations generator to completely replace Powerpoint with something much better.
  • Built-in database. PHP 5 has SQLite, ColdFusion 8 has Derby.
  • RSS/Atom reader & generator, to make publishing or reading web feeds a non-issue.
  • PDF manipulation, everything from content modification to being able to secure documents.
  • Flex integration, for doing Flash-based applications without using Flash. Neat stuff.
  • Microsoft Exchange interface for accessing email, calendars, contacts, etc from Exchange - very useful for building intranets.
  • Image manipulation commands - after years and years of waiting, CF finally gets a command for manipulating images.
  • Really easy and powerful multi-threading - I'd like to see Ruby get multi-threading as easy as this.
  • Server improvements - not only can you more easily segregate your websites you can now also monitor how they are all performing.
  • A debugger! Has been missing since version 5.
  • Implicit struct and array creation, you don't have to manually create the variable and then assign data to it one item at a time, you can now just do <cfset months = ['January', 'February', 'March'] />.
  • Simple file commands, like finding a file's size without having to resort to Java, etc.

There's a whole bunch more, but those are some of the improvements that I'm really excited about. Go read the full What's New guide or watch the What's New videos, I think you'll be rather impressed, I know I am. I really can't wait for frameworks like Coldbox to upgrade to support some of the new features, now that would be niiiiice!

phpBB3 is almost here


phpBB, the open-source PHP forum application that seems to be responsible for more server security breaches than anything else, has hit a major milestone with the first release candidate of the forthcoming v3.0 release. In the v3 new features / improvements list it is good to see that security is highlighted as a core aspect of the improved version, so here's hoping it can get back its history as a running joke with web developers.

Microsoft drops key features from another product


In yet another astonishing move, Microsoft has just announced that it's upcoming virtualization system, Windows Server Virtualization, will be missing three of the key reasons businesses were anticipating it: live migrations of running virtual machines between servers, "hot" system resource upgrades (i.e. increase the amount of RAM designated to a VM while it is still running), and support for more than 16 CPU cores (spread over however many physical CPUs there happen to be). This comes just a few months after Microsoft released Windows Vista, which was missing most of the key features that had been hyped for over half a decade including a virtualized, database-driven file system (shelved completely), an improved command line interface (later shipped as a separate download), all of the Palladium security stuff (shelved completely), virtual folders (turned into a minor enhancement of the search system), a firmware/BIOS redesign, etc.


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