The latest gadgets, gizmos, and golden masters

Travel backwards in (application) time, make a Mugshot, and put Apache in your pocket.

Debugging Back to the Future

Raise your hand if you’ve ever driven yourself to the brink of insanity hunting down a bug. OK. You can put your hands down! Been there, done that. Debugging can be one of the trickiest, most time consuming tasks of any developer’s job. To track down a defect, you must be able to reproduce the error on demand, reconstruct the chain of events that led to the error, and backtrack along that path to find and fix the bug’s root cause. Some programming languages make this process easy. For example, if you’re working in an “archaic” language such as C or C++, you may be jealous of some of the tools available to Java developers.
But that’s old news now, thanks to Undo Software’s (http://undo-software.com/) UndoDB, a bidirectional debugger for Linux. UndoDB allows you to step both forward and backward through an application, a previously difficult undertaking for compiled languages. According to its man page, “undodb is a wrapper for gdb that allows[ the GNU Dbugger] to interface with the UndoDB reverse-execution engine. It adds some user-defined commands to gdb that allow a program to be stepped backwards as well as forwards.”
Using UndoDB, you can find a bug quickly, repeat it several times without rerunning the application from scratch, and fix it, all in record time.
UndoDB is available on most popular Linux distributions and costs $495 for commercial use. UndoDB is free for non-commercial use. Delorean and Michael J. Fox sold seperately.

Is That a Raccoon in Your Pocket?

Nokia recently announced the Raccoon project (http://research.nokia.com/research/projects/mobile-web-server/), a port of the Apache HTTP Server to its Symbian mobile operating system. While something of a novelty at the moment, Nokia ultimately plans to build the Web server into all of its handset products.
So what can you do with a pocket-sized Apache? One sample application snaps pictures from the phone when a request is received, generating location-based content on demand. Raccoon can also run Python scripts, so real-time blogs, personal area networking, and customized synchronization between desktop, Web, and cell phone are all very practical possibilities.
Raccoon is open source and sure would look cool on the forthcoming Nokia E61 series that has phone geeks in a tizzy. Go mobile, young man!

A Big Old Unix Database

Groklaw has announced the creation of the Unix Methods and Concepts Database, or in lay terms, a big searchable pile of Unix-related stuff. (See http://kerb.kiix.com: 8080/dashboard.)
Recognizing that its growing collection of Unix documents was becoming unmanageable, Groklaw, the popular Unix litigation news and information Web site founded by Pamela Jones, teamed with open source company Anteil to better organize and manage allof the material. The result is a growing database, containing searchable documents, books, legal filings, articles, whitepapers, and more.
Think of the Database as a Wikipedia for Unix literature. Read and contribute.

Open Source Mugshots

Relax, no one’s getting arrested. Instead, the friendly folks over at Red Hat have a team working on an interesting project called Mugshot (http://mugshot.org/). It’s intriguing in many ways.

Conceptually, Mugshot is a social networking site focused on video and music, akin to community sites MySpace and Friendster. No, nothing new there, but the Mugshot project page reveals the hook. The client and server code, as well as the project itself, are 100% open source. (Accept no substitutes.) Red Hat is running this much like a traditional open source application, except the end-product is a Web site instead of lines and lines of code.
Mugshot represents one of the first open source Web destinations (it’s a project, code, and community all-in-one) and opens an entirely new frontier. And with mounting concerns of commercial sites controlling too much personal data, this project arrives just in time.

Send new product announcements and product news to class="emailaddress">tanase@qaddisin.com.

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