Monday, May 27, 2013

The Great Xojo/Real Studio Name Contraversy of 2013

I've been using a software development tool called Real Studio for the last few years as my primary cross-platform development tool. While there have been frustrations, overall, RS has saved me tons of time and made developing apps across the three major platforms a breeze. Best of all, every six or so months, I get an update that delivers all sorts of new goodies that make me more productive or allow me to craft better, more user-friendly, more advanced applications.

A few weeks ago, Real Software, the company behind Real Studio, announced some major changes coming to the IDE. They're developing a new framework, adding more support for Cocoa on Mac, moving closer towards iOS as a build target, and changing the tool and languages name from Real Studio and RealBasic to Xojo.

Of all the announced changes, the name change is what generated the most controversy and I think it's absolutely stupid for it to have done so. I understand the reasons Real Software chose to change the name. From a language standpoint, telling someone you program in 'Realbasic' has detriments. Even though Realbasic is closer to Java than it is BASIC, the stigma of the name still exists. Good programmers who are developing good software are often ashamed to admit they use a tool attached to the BASIC name.

From a marketing and trademark standpoint, a name change makes sense too. If you go to Google and search for "Real Studio" you'll get thousands of hits, hardly any of which have anything to do with the tool from Real Software. It's very hard to protect their intellectual property when it has such a general name so choosing a unique, catchy, name makes sense there too.

Overall, the name change is going to be a net positive for the company and the developers who use their tools. As it always does, the controversy will die down soon enough and people will love the new tool.  Arguing over the new name is ridiculous and is completely missing the point of why Real Software chose to do it in the first place and how the name change will benefit not only the company but every single developer who uses their tools.

Xojo from Real Software is scheduled to be released in June 2013.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Making Monitoring Your Diabetes Easier

As a diabetic, I'm constantly juggling information, trying to find a good balance of the right foods, the right exercises, and just the right amount of medicine to keep my illness under control. Little things like added stress or a slight change in activity or diet can have huge impacts on how well my sugar is under control.

I believe information is power. The more information you have and the easier it is to visualize, the better you can make truly informed decisions. That's why I created GlucoTrak, a simple program that runs on your Windows, Mac, or Linux desktop, your mobile phone, and the web, and helps you keep track of all the things you do that impact your blood sugar.

Moreover, GlucoTrak allows you to visualize how activity or food intake impact your sugar by allowing you to create graphical reports that plot the data from various categories against your blood sugar readings. Using these reports, you and your doctor can have a solid visual record of exactly what is impacting your sugar and how.

GlucoTrak will be released in early June for Windows, Mac, and Linux with the mobile app following shortly thereafter. The web application should be released sometimes later this summer.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Why I left Ubuntu and went to Fedora

This post may come as a surprise to those of you who remember my gushing praises of Ubuntu from a few short years ago. I really love Ubuntu and I think it's a fantastic operating system. It's easy to use, it's fast, and it's developed by an aggressive company that I believe will actually be around in 10 years. I don't think Ubuntu will be going anywhere soon.

That said, last week, I switched my main machine from Ubuntu 13.04 to Fedora 18.  I didn't do it because I hate Ubuntu. I did it because I, like many others, feel more and more abandoned by the Ubuntu project. I don't feel like they really listen to users anymore and I think the project has become so large that, unless you're a heavyweight in the community, it's become very hard to actually make a contribution to the distro.

Fedora is different.

While Fedora is now 10 years old and backed by a major company (Redhat), it still has that scrappy, new project, feel about it. It's welcoming, surprisingly less corporate, and I feel like the project actually listens to people when they try to contribute. Both developers and users have a say in the direction of Fedora and that's pretty refreshing. Oh, and Fedora is rock solid and pretty. I love the GNOME3 desktop, even though I've opted to continue to use XFCE for the most part.

Another thing that really surprised me is how much Fedora just worked. In Ubuntu, I had some trouble getting an ordinary stick mike plugged into the computer to work, my webcam simply didn't work, and I would occasionally have system freezes when I tried to record sound using Audacity. In Fedora, all of that just worked with no problem. I was shocked but in a very pleasant way.

Now, don't get me wrong, I know Fedora gets a lot of hate. I was on that bandwagon too and expected horrible things to happen to my machine the minute I installed it. But you know what? It's been fantastic. I find really enjoying using my machine again and I'm remembering why I fell in love with Redhat-like systems over a decade ago.  The FUD surrounding Fedora is, I can say without a doubt, highly undeserved.

Have I completely abandoned Ubuntu? No. Ubuntu will always have a special place in my heart and I will continue to watch it and contribute the it whenever I can. I believe the success of one distro means the success of all distros so I'm not even close to giving up on Ubuntu. But, at least for the foreseeable future, Fedora will be my system of choice.

I think I've made a pretty damn good choice too.