Thursday, August 12, 2010

Comprarison of WSDL and XSD editors

I’ve been looking for the “perfect” WSDL and XML Schema editor for a while. My expectations were…

  • a visual editor, supporting a graphical view of the schema structure
  • support for annotations / documentation nodes
  • WSDL and XSD documentation generation feature (HTML, PDF, RTF, …)

Now let’s see how good the tools are:

Eclipse Web Tools Platform (WTP) 3.2.0 for HELIOS

pros:

  • free, open source
  • nice clean and feature rich GUI

cons:

  • annotations are not shown in the graph view
  • no documentation generation
  • it cannot display the complete type hierarchy, only two levels a time

Netbeans 6.9.1

pros:

  • free

cons:

  • very basic GUI
  • no documentation generation
  • no annotation support at all

<oXygen/> XML Editor 11.2

pros:

  • one of the most advanced XML editors around
  • very attractive visual schema editor
  • highly configurable schma documentation generation

cons:

  • no graphical WSDL editor, no support for embedded schema
  • WSDL documentation generation is incomplete (unfinished?)

Altova XMLSpy 2010

pros:

  • the big grand daddy of XML editors, it’s “THE XML EDITOR”
  • clean GUI
  • loads of features, invl. WSDL and schema documentation generation

cons:

  • I ‘d prefer the GUI and schema documentation generation style of oXygen, though.

And the winner is…

it’s a clear win for XMLSpy 2010, who would’ve guessed…

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Indie Pop Heaven

Now this is the Hall of Fame of the best alternative pop (or indie pop) bands. If you want to know how independence sounds here is the place to begin!

Blue Foundation
Stars
Chumbawamba
Saint Etienne
Tracey Thorn
Cocosuma
Morcheeba

The Ting Tings
Ladyhawke
La Roux
The Cardigans
Lilly Allen
Bat for Lashes
Regina Spector
Feist

Empire of the Sun
MGMT

Ladytron
Erlend Oye / Kings of Convenience
Sneaker Pimps

Editors
Doves
White Lies
Kings of Leon
Klaxxons
Muse

Mando Diao
Franz Ferdinans
Kaiser Chiefs

The Blow
I Monster
HK 119
Tegan and Sara
2raumwohnung
A Camp
Air France
Beck
Kent
Everything but the girl
Fantastic Plastic Machine
Goldfrapp
Natalie Imbruglia

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Comparison of Windows Mobile Touch Control Libraries

The title tells it all, this is a Comparison of finger optimized touch screen control kits (with kinetic scrolling) for Windows Mobile 6+

Product name: Mirabyte
Link: http://www.mirabyte. … -suite/features.html
Pros: Cheap, Visual editor support, Tech support, Docs, Community
Cons: Limited feature set, a bit buggy
1 Developer license: 69,95 EUR (binary), 199,95 EUR (source)
5 Developers license:
Enterprise license:

Product name: SlideUI
Link: http://www.devslide.com/products/slideui
Pros: Feature rich, Visual editor support, Docs, Tech support
Cons: Very Expensive
1 Developer license: 499 USD
5 Developers license: 899 USD
Enterprise license: 1499 USD

Product name: BeeMobile
Link: http://beemobile4.net/?mod=products
Pros: Visual editor support, Good touch list, Tech support, Docs
Cons: Expensive
1 Developer license: 259.95 €
5 Developers license: 519.95 €
Enterprise license: 779.95 €

Product name: Resco
Link: http://www.resco.net … oolkit/overview.aspx
Pros: Most feature rich, Tech support, Docs
Cons: Very expensive
1 Developer license: $749.95
4 Developers license: $1,499.95
Enterprise license: $2,999.95

Product name: Resco
Link: http://www.resco.net … oolkit/overview.aspx
Pros: Most feature rich, Tech support, Docs
Cons: Very expensive
1 Developer license: $749.95
4 Developers license: $1,499.95
Enterprise license: $2,999.95

Product name: Fluid
Link: http://fluid.codeplex.com/
Pros: Free, Many features
Cons: No tech support, No docs, No visual editor support?, Abandoned?
1 Developer license: Free
5 Developers license: Free
Enterprise license: Free

Product name: Silvermoon
Link: http://silvermoon.codeplex.com/
Pros: Free
Cons: Requires OpenGL, No tech support, No docs
1 Developer license: Free
5 Developers license: Free
Enterprise license: Free

Product name: ComponentOne
Link: http://www.component … oducts/StudioMobile/
Pros:
Cons: Very expensive
1 Developer license: 800-1100 $
5 Developers license:
Enterprise license:

Product name: inGear
Link: http://www.ingeardri … tspda/widgetspda.htm
Pros:
Cons: Strange and highly confusing non-informative website
1 Developer license: 299-999 $
5 Developers license:
Enterprise license:

A note about being cheap/expensive: surely it won’t hurt a company to pay 500 € for a toolkit it would have to develop on its own, probably consuming a lot more money. However, you’ll think twice and consider the benefits if you have limited to zero budget and you are developing for fun.

And the winner is:
I would rather not bother trying a library without visual designer toolbar support. Otherwise, being a kinetic scrolling touch list the main feature it really does not matter which kit you take. If you need a more sophisticated grid or tree, you’ll probably choose BeeMobile or Resco. But for a simple list I’d take Mirabyte - it is well supported and is really affordable. And don’t blame me for not choosing open source - the free kits are simply not mature enough and hey, we talking about .NET after all…

The bottom line:
Test it before going into deep implementation of your project. Kitenic scrolling lists are cool in an iPhone or Android phone, but can be real painful to use on a Windows Mobile device because of poor touch pressure sensitivity. In some cases you have to use the stylus or you could break a finger…

Friday, May 29, 2009

Those Nordic Heroes

Now this is an taxonomy of the greatest Scandinavian metal bands. You might have been wondering why so many music acts come from this region (even mainstream like Abba, Ace of Base, Army of Lovers, Roxette, Europe, A-Ha, Bomfunk MC, Roysopp, HIM, Mando Diao, etc. etc.). Once a Swedish guy told me: “you know the Winter in Sweden is so f*cking cold and dark and depressing that one can either only get drunk constantly, or make music. Well, normally we do both…”.

So really, what is the sound of nordic metal like? Melancholic. Honest. Mystical. Epic. Beautiful. Put your prejudice to one side and enter the hall of fame!

Anathema (UK)

Ok, one exception, they are from the UK, thus not directly Scandinavian… but sound like if they were! Coming from the doom metal corner recently they have been playing beautiful athmospheric rock music, sort of easy listening with soul.

Recommended album: A Natural Disaster (2003)

Amorphis (FIN)

The supreme masters from Finland, been there for 20 years. Molten melodic death metal, progressive rock and folk together they have developed their unique style. One of the most melodic metal bands ever, a must hear!

Recommended album: Am Universum (2001)

Apocalyptica (FIN)

What happens, if you connect a cello to a guitar amplifier? A disaster. What happens if you connect three cellos to amplifiers and add a drummer? We get Apocalyptica. What started as a Metallica cover act ended as a brilliant thrash/symphonic metal band!

Recommended album: Amplified // A Decade of Reinventing the Cello (2006)

Charon (FIN)

Finland again, great gothic metal bad with a truly extraordinary vocalist!

Recommended album: The Dying Daylights

Clawfinger (SWE)

The well known Swedish rap-metal band with a friendly lead. Meaningful lyrics and ear-blasting riffs!

Recommended album: Clawfinger (1997)

Deathstars (SWE)

Funny band playing a very easily digestible industrial metal with ear-worm melodies! Rammstein meet The Sisters of Mercy, kind of mainstream, I’m afraid…

Recommended album: Termination Bliss (2006)

Ensiferum (FIN)

Now this is called “heroic metal”, a mix of medeival folk with epic storytelling and ultra fast “galloping” metal. You can’t help but imagine a medeival knight in shining full armor riding right into the battle when listening to this. Brilliant!

Recommended album: Iron (2004)

Finntroll (FIN)

Finnish guys singing Swedish just “because it sounds f*cking Trollish”! The music style is truly remarkable: it’s (yeah) polka-metal! A mix of folk and ultra high speed finnish polka (a.k.a. humppa). You can’t miss the song “Trollhammaren”, the greatest fun music ever heard!

Recommended album: Nattfödd (2004)

HIM (FIN)

Everyone knows HIM. They are one of those who made gothic metal fit for mainstream. But before doing so (and starting to repeat themselves) they released a quite excellent CD:

Recommended album: Greatest Love Songs Vol. 666 (1997)

Insomnium (FIN)

Finland once again! Insomnium is one of the coolest melodic death metal bands out there. Period.

Recommended album: Across the Dark (2009)

Katatonia (SWE)

Swedish guys playing a kind of unique sounding alternative doom metal (which can be slightly depressing on a dark winter afternoon) with excellent song stuctures and tranquil melodies. Must hear the song “My twin”!

Recommended album: The Great Cold Distance (2006)

Lake of Tears (SWE)

An excellent Swedish band involved with gothic and doom metal with psychedelic and progressive elements!

Recommended album: A Crimson Cosmos (1997)

Lordi (FIN)

A kind of cuckoo’s egg in this list, yes, they won the Eurovision Song Contest a few years ago… still a fine band playing ordinary, but very enjoyable hard rock. They look worse than they sound!

Recommended album: The Monster Show (2005)

Nightwish (FIN)

The flagship of symphonic metal (or power metal? or opera metal?), featuring masterful string arrangements with heavy guitar riffs and a female opera voice. Top notch, no doubt! (desperately copied by Within Temptation…)

Recommended album: Once (2004)

Opeth (SWE)

These Swedish masters are known for their extraordinarily complex overlength songs, mainly progressive rock with a blend of death metal, but also some blues, folk and jazz… Playful and athospheric, a class of its own!

Recommended albums: Damnation (2003), Watershed (2008)

Scar Symmetry (SWE)

One of the neatest melodic death metal bands out there! Perfect singing voice, cool growls and a very fresh sound. Ear-worm alert!

Recommended album: Holographic Universe (2008)

Sentenced (FIN)

They were a perfect melodic death metal band with a great lead voice that delivered several several highlights throughout their existence. Smooth as silk!

Recommended album: Cold White Light (2002)

The Gathering (HOL)

Dutch band playing something between death metal, progressive rock and easy-listening trip rock… A fine combination, featuring some quite hard-to-follow female vocal melodies as a trade mark.

Recommended album: Nighttime Birds (2000)

Theatre of Tragedy (NOR)

This excellent Norwegian band featuring both male (grunt) and female (soprano) voices has played a number of styles from melodic death metal over gothic to industrial pop-metal and back again. Real multitalents!

Recommended albums: Aégis (1998), Assembly (2002)

Therion (SWE)

A one of a kind Swedish symphonic metal band, most memorable for orchestral elements and using a complete choir in their songs!

Recommended album: Crowning of Atlantis (1999)

Tiamat (SWE)

A true highlight from Sweden, embracing elements from black metal, gothic, progressive rock with athmospheric and psychedelic patterns, an absolute must hear!

Recommended albums: Skeleton Skeletron (1999), Prey (2003)

Tristania (NOR)

Tristania used to be an excellent Norwegian gothic metal band. Their music merged gothic with melodic death metal, symphonic and electronic elements, creating an ocean of musical variety which is a real pleasure to listen to. It’s a pity that they ran out of inspiration at the dawn of the new century.

Recommended album: Beyond the Veil (1999)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Guitar amplifier VST selection

I own a Behringer iAXE 629 MetAlien electric guitar with an USB interface. This should save some space in the room since I don’t need a guitar combo, amplifier, effects and all the cables: it’s all software on my PC. By the way, USB adapters are also available even if you have an “ordinary” e-guitar.

Sadly enough the iAXE is shipped with a rather poor selection of software, so sooner or later one will look for better alternatives. I was focused on VST plugins because they come most handy for mixing / recording in a virtual studio environment.

The list of features I expected:

  • VST compatible
  • support for several amp models
  • includes most common guitar effects such as reverb, wah, phaser, flanger, etc…
  • built in guitar tuner
  • reasonable CPU consume
  • should be able to product a phat metal sound…

This is a list of software I tried and compared:

  • Native Instruments Guitar Combo I/II/III this is shipped with the guitar, some nice presets, but no VST or any other integration, a rather entry level product
  • Native Instruments Guitar Rig Series: the professional guitar product line, millions of settings, very cool sound
  • IK Multimedia Amplitube: maybe THE big competitor to Guitar Rig, a very mature product
  • Cockos / Reaper amp modeling effects: these are part of Reaper, a powerful VST sequencer platform, and they produce an acceptable sound if one takes enough time to set up the correct filter chains (not really straightforward).
  • The SimulAnalog Research Project: provides a couple of free VST plugins which - if chained in a right way - sound quite fair
  • FreeAMP SE: a very professional VST plugin with lots of effects and a very convincing set of presets (eats up some CPU, though).

The bottom line: sure enough, there are still loads of other guitar amp VST’s around, just do a short google research to see. But one thing is quite clear: you don’t have to spend several hundred euros/dollars if you can get free amps that sound almost as good as their heavyweight brothers. And before you ask: my personal favourite is FreeAMP.

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