Friday, September 25, 2009

Apple and Java

Sigh. Just when you think Apple might be getting their act together with regards to keeping Java on OS X up to date, you install the Snow Leopard upgrade to OS X and find yourself in the following situation:
Apple appear to have upgraded Java to 1.6.0_15, but removed the features from 1.6.0_10, namely the next generation plugin features for applets.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


The much anticipated (by me at least) Swedish translation of Maureen O'Brien's 'Close-up on death' is finally out, and the reason I'm so interesting in it is that it uses a photo of mine for the front cover.

My copy arrived yesterday and I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out - I doubt this is the start of a new career but it's a nice bit of exposure for one of my favourite shots.

I'm currently planning a bike trip through Sweden and Norway next year...let's hope the international fame that results from this book cover doesn't make it difficult for me to travel without being mobbed :-)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My Grand Tour

At the start of July I went off for a 2 week motorbike trip around Europe on my new bike, a BMW F800GS.

The route was dictated by having to end up in Cannes for the Bastille Day weekend to meet up with my brother for a few days, and dropping in on Zurich to meet a friend - apart from that I just wanted to see lots of mountains and get used to the new bike on lots of fun roads.

I ended up doing 2,250 miles, door-to-door. My final route is below:

View Larger Map

Highlights were the second day I spent in the Alps, riding from Susa,Italy down to Cannes. A little dirt-road detour to Pontis and the rest of the trip on the N85 were all good fun on the bike.

The Pyrenees were also fantastic - I did a little bit of research before I left and found that the N260 was a good biking road, so I spent about 3 days riding west through the Pyrenees mostly on the N260 - joining at the 44km marker and leaving just after the 500km point. That road varied from 2 lane highways to single lane mountain roads with 30km/h hairpin bends and back again - great sightseeing and biking.

The bike was great - aside from the seat, which after about 45mins becomes the most uncomfortable seat in the world. Apart from that it is an ideal bike for long trips - it does feel a little unsettled sometimes at high-speed on motorways, or in strong crosswinds, but otherwise it handled everything without any fuss and is ridiculously economical too, returning 70MPG+ for several tanks, giving it a range of nearly 240 miles, although I was only brave enough to take it up to 213 miles before filling up.

Instead of the £1000+ for the BMW luggage I went with a £130 Wunderlich tank bag and a bungeed on rollbag of clothes. The tank bag is designed for the F800GS and it shows: it was essential for stuffing credit cards and toll tickets, as well as holding a map, GPS etc. It's a shame it wasn't secure enough to leave on the bike, but it's so easy to take off and put on that wasn't a big deal.

Haven't quite finished going through all the photos yet, but they will all be in the Flickr set in the next few days.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Finally, draggable applets on OS X

Apple have a pre-release Java update available on the ADC that updates Java to 1.60_13 on 64-bit platforms, so Mac users can finally take advantage of the new generation applet technology that's been available on Windows and Linux for months now.

I just installed it and tried it with the PDF Viewer applet that we upgraded to take advantage of Update 10 features, and it worked fine - I could drag the applet out and create a desktop shortcut with no problems.

You'll need OS 10.5.6, Leopard, and Safari 4.0 beta or the latest Firefox 3.1 if you want to try this out.

Friday, March 13, 2009


Rather obviously, there are a lot of JavaFX technical sessions at JavaOne this year. A couple seem to deal with integrating JavaFX and Swing, and TS-5574 looks particularly interesting, according to the abstract

"The presentation goes into the more technical details of the advantages and limitations of mixing JavaFX technology and Swing. It also explains the correct (supported) way of mixing these, because several people have discussed this in blogs and are not doing it the right way."

Haven't decided whether I'm attending or not this year, but that session would be on my schedule.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A zero-install* cross-platform PDF Viewer

After the recent updates to the BFO PDF Viewer applet to take advantage of the Java 6 Update 10 features we have also changed the applet hosting page so that it accepts parameters and passes them onto the applet.

The applet already had functionality to open PDF documents passed to it as parameters, but this provides the ability to open a PDF file in a specified viewer, on any operating system, with a single URL.

For example:

What would be more useful is if this was integrated into your browser so that you can open any links to PDF documents directly in the PDF Viewer - which is what the Firefox extension that I have written does: any link on a page that ends in .pdf will have an extra "Open link in PDF Viewer" context menu option.

Choosing this menu option will open the PDF document in a separate browser window that contains the PDF Viewer applet. You can install the Firefox extension from here:

Obviously having Java 6 Update 10 or later makes the applet experience better, although we are specifying that each applet instance runs in its own JVM instance, which might slow down the applet startup a little, but is important for coping with larger PDF documents.

* I know Java requires a JVM installation - but I picked up this bit of marketing bollocks from the early days of Altio and figure desktop Java needs all the help it can get these days :-)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Java 6 Update 12 available

Go get it today - all you people with 64-bit browsers will be pleased with the 64-bit plugin.

Friday, January 09, 2009

PDF Viewer applet and Java 6 Update 10

I've spent the last few days finally getting round to updating BFO's PDF Viewer applet to take advantage of the new Java 6 Update 10 features.

It was mostly straightforward, with most of the time taken up with making the applet look and behave exactly like an application when its dragged out of the browser. We did run into a Sun bug along the way, which means that desktop icons created when you drag an applet out of the browser look crap on Vista and Ubuntu because Java takes a 32 x 32 icon and scales it up to 48 x 48, even when you provide a 48 x 48 icon.

I also used another very cool applet to create a video of the applet in action: - a JavaPosse applet of the week - provides a quick and free way to create screencast videos and host them so that anyone can watch them. Highly recommended. My screencast is here:

So, if you have Java 6 Update 10 or later installed then nip along to and try it out. If you want more information on how to update an applet to take advantage of the new Update 10 features then there's a blog post over at BFO detailing exactly what was involved: