why an open sourced .NET framework is huge

free

I was already excited about the recent ASP.NET vNext developments. Things like the fact that you can get the ASP.NET source code on Github, that it’s completely FOSS and that it’s disconnected from the rest of the .NET stack are just plain awesome.

A huge step for ASP.NET vNext is that you don’t need Visual Studio to write software with it. You can use your favourite text editor like Vim, Sublime, Emacs or whatever you like, together with a number of open source command line tools.

A second huge thing is that ASP.NET 5 can now run cross-platform using Mono on Linux and Mac. Not only can you use your development tools of choice to write and build your C# code, you can also do it on the OS of your choice. .NET everywhere. Think about it. *mind blown*

Yesterday however, things got even sweeter as Microsoft is now releasing more of the v5 .NET Framework as open source. This means more and easier cross-platform development and Mono compatibility (as the source can be easily integrated in Mono) for .NET code.

On top of that there is now a new Visual Studio Community edition of Visual Studio available for free. This is equal to the Pro version, so you can ditch those crippled free “Express” versions and write code in the tools you’re used to professionally. I love this one. I’ve messed around with SharpDevelop and the Express version, but if you’re used to the “real thing” it feels like having to work with your hands tied behind your back.

As if this wasn’t enough there’s a bunch of other cool improvements too, like getting only the .NET framework components you need for your project and pull them in using NuGet. Scott Hanselman sums them up nicely.

So if you’ve always wanted to check out .NET or C# but didn’t want to because you had to run it on Windows and in Visual Studio, there’s nothing holding you back any more. For .NET developers this is great. It gives us more freedom than ever without having to learn a new language and framework. For people hacking away on OS X and Ubuntu with Ruby, Python etc. because they want to use FOSS, this is an opportunity to dip into the wealth of .NET resources out there and try something new.

The strategy is clear. They want everyone to use the .NET framework, they want everybody to run that code on Azure (even if you’re not using .NET) and they see that making it open is the only way to get there. Great times are ahead.

the 10+ android apps I use the most

Smart Launcher 2 for Android makes your home screen look all nice and minimalWell look at that. It’s time for another of my most-frequently used and super useful Android apps roundup! I’ll be comparing to the list of 2010 (whooosh, where did time go) to see who’s still around and who dropped off.

  1. The browser. I’m using Chrome now, cause it’s faster and uses less memory than Firefox. Sorry foxy, but I still use you the most on the desktop! I stopped using the stock one because it doesn’t get updates and that’s just not safe any more.
  2. To get quick access to any power toggles I now use Power Toggles from Painless Apps. The best thing here is that it allows you to dock the power buttons you want in an extra notification bar, so it fits right in with the notification bar the OS provides by default. This also avoids clutter on your home screen, which I like.
  3. For note taking I’m not using a specific app any more. I resort to plain text files now because they are easy to sync with Dropsync and also edit with the Dropbox app (and more, see later).
  4. SimpleTask cloudless is my todo-list app. It uses the portable and future proof todo.txt format, which means my todo list is a mere text file synced to the cloud (see #3) and editable with any text editor. You can also use the SimpleTask app which automatically syncs with Dropbox, but I’m already using Dropsync for that.
  5. FBReader is still my eReader of choice, together with Instapaper app for any read-later articles collected online.
  6. The Tiny Tiny RSS app is my Android RSS reader client, but you need to host your own Tiny Tiny RSS RSS reader web app to be able to use that, so it’s probably not for everyone.
  7. Tweedle has become the twitter app of choice. It’s slick, it has tabs and it’s fast. Can’t remember exactly why I dropped Tweetdeck. I think it broke down or got really slow at some point.
  8. I like minimalism when it comes to launchers. Before I used Zeam Launcher (no longer under development unfortunately) or the stock one, but now I’m using  Smart Launcher 2 for a while and quite like it. It takes some getting used to, but it’s super minimal and original.
  9.  ES File Explorer is an extremely handy system tool. This “file manager” app is way more than just that. Next to exploring your internal and SD storage It allows editing of text files, open zip archives and has a music player and image viewer built-in. It gives you access to cloud services, FTP or network drivers if you want. You can even use it to share files over it’s built-in FTP server. Other features like a task manager and app cache cleaner makes this a must-have app on any Android phone.
  10. Bittorrent Sync just has to be in here as well. If there’s one tool that makes syncing large amounts of files between your phone and a PC a breeze without needing the cloud, it’s this one.
  11. AutomateIt Pro is my automation tool. Change sound levels when at home or work or late at night, start my music app when I connect headphones, turn on wifi & sync when I plug-in the charger. It takes care of all these little tasks for me.

Anything awesome I should be checking out? The comment box is awaiting your wise words.

here’s some ambient and other electronic music

Checking some emails containing news beats and sounds lately I came across some nice finds. The brothers of Somatic Responses are pumping out electronic music albums like the things grow on trees judging from their bandcamp page. Some stuff is great, some stuff is less to my taste but it’s always on the edge, dark and breakcory and glitchy.

Their last album Obscure the Future however has nice, chill ambient tunes on it instead of the usual hectic beats and harsh sounds. So if you are looking for something more easy-going yet deliciously electronic, this might be just it. Perfect value for your money as you can name your own price for most of their albums. Nice.

Another great find comes from Kaometry records, pushing interesting and quality electronica/breakcore/drum’n’bass/experimental stuff for quite a while now. They publish across the full electronic spectrum (or at least the interesting more beat-driven part of it) so it’s worth checking out.

Came across this particular drum’n’bass gem in one of their more recent albums Méta-Féeries

They have some free downloads on their website (see downloads), a shop on bandcamp and a lot of streamable music on soundcloud.
Check em out if you’re up for some new beats.

free dj hidden and limewax download

music

Free tracks are always nice, and especially if they are from hardcore drum’n’bass artists like DJ HIdden & Limewax.

To celebrate 30k fans on Facebook the lads at PRSPCT recordings have a free download up on Bandcamp with DJ Hidden’s The Resonators, Limewax’s Pain and a Resonators VIP remix by the Outside Agency. Nice.

Go get em, and don’t be a cheap ass. ;)

Photo by Craig Cloutier, cc-licensed.

setting up vim on windows

So you want to make the plunge and check out what that awesome Vim editor is all about on a Windows machine? I did about a year ago, and this time I actually stuck with it. I tried it 2 times before already, but I gave up every time after a few hours or days because of the steep learning curve and the fact that nothing seemed to work the way I’m used to.

The goal here is to get Vim set up on a Windows box, make it work like a Windows app and make it look like something you aren’t afraid of being seen with (that default layout, euhm, seriously…).

installing Vim on Windows

The easiest way to install gVim (the non-console version) on Windows is by using the KicksassVim Chocolatey package. It installs the Cream Windows flavored Vim for you from Sourceforge, sets up some handy shortcut batch-files and gives you a handy “Open in Vim” explorer shortcut.

Chocolatey itself is like apt-get for Windows. It’s a NuGet based software package manager and if you’re a software developer or have to install systems a lot, I’m sure you’ll love it.

To install using Chocolatey, type this from a command shell (run in administrator mode):

    cinst kickassvim

Easy isn’t it?
If you really don’t want to setup Chocolatey (but you should really) you can also get the Windows binaries from vim.org, or the Cream ones. You’ll get the Cream editor with that based on Vim, but I didn’t want that cause it’s not quite pure Vim anymore (not modal for example).

first steps

Before you start configuring Vim you should start with getting to know it. Whatever comes next will be a lot easier once you know how to move around, save files etc. You know, those typical things you do in a text editor anyway.
So basically you have to RTFM. Or at least, the short version of it.

Find the Vim tutor in your start menu and run it. Once you’ve completed that, you know enough to get around in Vim and find out how to get help for other stuff. Also, don’t bother with doing it the hardcore way. Just learn Vim at your own pace, use the cursor keys and the mouse if you want. You’ll pick up more advanced stuff as you go along.
Just like this guy said.

configuring Vim

Vim uses vimrc configuration files to store settings. There is a default vimrc file in your Vim installation folder, but you shouldn’t touch that one because it can be overwritten when you install a Vim update. Your own settings go into a new _vimrc file containing only the things you want. You can “source” or include other vimrc files, to avoid duplication or organize your configuration.

On a Windows machine this goes into your user folder (c:\users\username\_vimrc).

To see and edit your current vimrc (the one use by vim when it starts) type:

    :edit $MYVIMRC

Once you’ve created your own config file, the above command will automatically open it. So let’s do just that, like this. “e” is short for “edit” btw:

    :e ~\_vimrc

That tilde character (~) stands for the path to you home folder, which on Windows is normally set to c:\users\<username>.

On Windows the folder  ~\vimfiles is used to store custom plugins. I put my vimrc in ~\vimfiles and source it from the ~\_vimrc file. That way I easily sync my whole setup to another machine by simply copying the whole vimfiles folder. So my ~\vimrc file contains only this line.

source ~\vimfiles\nj-vimrc.vim

You can keep everything in _vimrc of course if you want.

You can test Vim statements from the command bar before you put them in your vimrc file. A handy way to test and see if it really does what you want it to without having to restart Vim and reload your configuration.

making Vim behave like a Windows editor

If you install the Windows gVim version this will normally be setup in your vimrc configuration file automatically, but it’s always handy to know what settings are making the magic happen.
Vim doesn’t use the typical Windows key binding like CTRL-S to save, CTRL-C,V,X to copy, paste and cut. As a hardcore Windows user you expect these to work for all applications, no matter how geeky they are. If you check out the original vimrc in the Vim installation folder you’ll see the same statements as below.
You can copy these into your own vimrc file.

" Activate all the handy Windows key-bindings we're used to.
source $VIMRUNTIME/mswin.vim

behave mswin

Or you can source the original config in yours:

source $VIM/_vimrc

Now your Vim should (still) behave pretty much like a regular Windows editor, making things a lot easier to use it for all your basic editing.

making it look good

gvim_fugly

Man, it does look ugly doesn’t it? All white and with that terrible font? Now let’s make it look pretty so you don’t have to be ashamed of all those hipsters sporting their fancy Sublime.

This depends on your personal preference of course, but I like it when my editor doesn’t look like it’s from the 80’s. I pasted some of my esthetic config changes below. Each has some comments on it explaining what they do. Use the help feature (:h ) if you want to find out more, and remember to only put things in your vimrc that you understand.

" Display line and column number in bottom ruler.
set ruler

" Display the line numbers.
set number

" Activate syntax highlighting.
syntax enable

" Set a nice theme.
color slate

Check out all the themes you have installed by using CTRL-D (auto-complete) after you typed in :color on the command bar.

if has("gui_running")
  " Set a nicer font.
  set guifont=Consolas:h11:cDEFAULT
  " Hide the toolbar.
  set guioptions-=T
endif

gvim looking pretty

You can exclude hiding the toolbar, but I just find it ugly and never use those buttons anyway. This is very minimal, and there are plenty of other themes and plugins available to change Vim’s appearance, but that’ll be for another post.

Hopefully this gets you going in the wonderful world of the Vim editor on Windows. Just keep at it I’d say and feel free to drop any questions or remarks in the comments.

new droon album, because fuck it

Droon Because Fuck It

The press release is hilarious so I’ll just copy this here. Droon stands for Belgian breakcore (think Breakcore Gives Me Wood parties baby) and he just releases 27 of his best tracks in one big album. Check it out and certainly the Cripplefight tune cause it’s fucking awesome.

Droon!
Your favourite Belgian B-list Breakcore Live Act! (That you might not have heard of until now)
Fighterjet helmet? Beard? Makeshift plywood ASCII keytar that looks like a post apocalyptic flying V ? That’s the one.
Still not ringing a bell?
Droon serves improvised mashup gabber breakcore
topped up with ample chipmunk bastard pop sprinkles, country nuggets & speedmetal shards.
He’s been flown out to Osaka, Moscow, Sydney, London, New York, LA, Sao Paulo, Tel Aviv, Beirut and Beijing to crack eardrums.
But also Handzame and Maldegem and Aalbeke and Tubize and Buizingen and countless youth houses and cow stables in Belgium.
So. Hundreds of gigs all over the world in the last decade. Great. Over 30 huge Breakcore Gives Me Wood parties? Brilliant.
But that’s just it. Droon was primarily an organiser and a live act. He neglected his releases.
Poor songs never got the love they deserved from their daddy. Snif.
No more!
Droon collected all the tracks he’s ever made, picked the 27 best ones and put them all in one big album.
He was gonna call it “B-list Breakcore Bargain Bin Bonanza”,
but then thought .. Fuck it.
-=-
It’s every track he ever made that’s any good, really.
Over the last 12 years, these were only released on beer stain encrusted limited vinyl EP’s .
Or cracked-on-arrival compilation cdr’s. Or never at all.
This is and will be the only Droon compendium/greatest hits/best of/anthology thingamajig ever.
There’s never been any other albums or LP’s. This is it, the only time he’ll be “widely availeable”
So it’s kind of a big deal.

how to update chocolatey

I use Chocolatey all the time to quickly install software on Windows machines. At some point Chocolatey itself also gets an upgrade, which just happened recently and then I can never remember how to get Chocolatey itself upgraded.

It’s in the documentation somewhere I’m sure, but since Chocolatey is about easily installing and upgrading Windows software, it was bound to work “recursively”.

So here’s how you do that from a Windows shell prompt, for (my) future reference:

    c:\> chocolatey update chocolatey