Category Archives: Rant

Rant About JavaFX Ecosystem

Feeling a bit frustrated today, so I thought I would just vent a bit.

I’ve been working on some personal tools. I see some things in other tools that I would like to include in my own. I keep finding that those features that I like are written in JavaScript with that whole mess of an ecosystem. When I look for something similar in Java/JavaFX I find next to nothing.

Why is that? Java is supposed to be the most popular programming language in the world. Tons of programmers working on it for many years. And yet it doesn’t seem to have as many flashy things written.

I don’t always want a web-based thing. Don’t want a half-gigabtye Electron app either.

Maybe there are more Java programmers, but more enthusiastic JavaScript programmers.

I often feel the same way when working in Lisp or Clojure. Working with a demonstrably better language but not getting as far as quickly as someone working with a crap language.

End of rant.

De-Activating My Evernote Account

It was very unpleasant for me. I’ve been a user of Evernote almost from the beginning, and a Premium user for almost as long. But today I erased all of my notes and deactivated my account. “Why?” you might ask. Let me tell you.

  1. The price increase. Earlier in the Autumn, Evernote announced a price increase. It was pretty substantial, at least for me. At about the same time, they announced that they were moving our data to Google’s infrastructure in order to take advantage of improved economies of scale among other reasons. So they are lowering their costs of doing business but still increasing prices for customers. That just doesn’t sit well with me.
  2. Change in Privacy Policy. The company has recently announced a change to their privacy policy effective 23 January 2017. Now they will have engineers “overseeing” simple AI that better personalizes the way the service works. Put another way, they will have people who read your notes. I just don’t want that. Even though I don’t have anything truly private in my Evernote account (I use SpiderOak for that kind of stuff — medical records, tax records, etc.) I just don’t want that.  My notes belong to me and no one else.

The Evernote approach highlights one of my big gripes about the way a lot of AI research is done these days. I don’t believe there is any real reason for requiring access to user data to “make sure things worked”. It’s a symptom that much current AI is being developed to work for the vendor, not the customer/user. The folks developing this technology are continuing on in the belief that our data somehow belongs to them, not us.

As for a replacement, I haven’t found one that can completely replace Evernote, but have looked at a few.

Getting Existing Notes out of Evernote

The first step in moving to another application was getting my existing notes out of Evernote. Evernote supports a nice export format called ENEX, which is a form of XML. If you have web clips, the exported data contains a bunch of indecipherable gobbledygook from the original web page. In the case of images, the exported notes can contain a lot of data relevant to the in-image search function. The files can be parsed with a relatively simple piece of software if you only want the simpler parts and don’t need to reproduce the original web page.

During the export process, I came across a few bugs. Evernote’s support group was very helpful at fixing the errors and I was able to export all of my notes successfully, even some as old as nine years.

Alternatives

I had used Microsoft’s OneNote in the past on a tablet with good handwriting recognition. When I tried to import my notes this time, it choked. It just couldn’t handle the organization of all those notes and produced something unusable.

Other programs (and there are tons of them) just don’t have the flexibility of Evernote. In the end, I settled on importing my notes into a wiki system. For the type of work I use my notes for, this seems to work fine.

The search goes on for a complete replacement, but I don’t feel crippled in the meantime.

JavaFX Still Not Ready?

Just a short rant about JavaFX because I’m pissed about it at the moment. I enjoy using it for the most part but it sometimes throws up surprising obstacles in otherwise routine work. The latest for me was an unexpected lack of a spinner control. There are alternatives in some open source projects, but, really? No spinners built in?

This is almost as gob-smacking weird as the lack of dialogs. (Ok, there are some dialogs, like for opening/saving files, but not much in the way of user-programmable dialogs built in.)

And don’t get me started about the odd placement of the run time library. It seems to change with every few releases. Always having to put in some kludgy version-dependent stuff to find the libraries.

Maybe it will all be fixed in version 8.

Paths with Spaces, I Give Up

I’ve wanted to look into the Pedestal framework for creating web-based applications in Clojure. However, one of the requirements is Leiningen 2.2.0 or greater. And, as I’ve written before, version 2.2 will not install on my system because of spaces in the path of the user home directory. (“C:\Users\David Clark” on my system.)

My user profile name is “david”. That’s what I use to sign on with. The fact that my home directory uses “David Clark” is an unfortunate result of how the computer was set up at the factory when I custom ordered it. This has been a periodic pain in the ass ever since I got the system because folks who develop tools primarily on other operating systems, just can’t seem to deal with spaces in file paths. Even after all these years. It’s a kind of snobbery that I just find annoying and trite. Windows exists. Get over it.

Rather than try to fix every program that screws this up, I decided to change my user account and profile to just use “C:\Users\david” as my home directory. Not so easy.

Continue reading

Twitter: A Lack of Communication

This is a rant that I just have to get off my chest.Twitter just doesn’t provide any meaningful communication and I can’t understand the appeal. Imagine a newspaper consisting of just the headlines or a magazine containing only the article titles — that is essentially Twitter.

Continue reading