Holy Web Hits Batman!

I added my Java blog to java.blogs yesterday and I ended up getting over 200 hits yesterday. That doesn’t include RSS subscriptions to the page. I guess I better write some more worthwhile articles to keep people interested.

Added to Javablogs

I’ve added this blog to java.blogs. Subscribe if you’re a java enthusiast.

JDOM Beta 9 RC1 available

Get it here. I use JDOM as my XML parser of choice.

Oh my iPod!

I totally want this. Apple rules. I wish their powerbooks weren’t so expensive cause I would totally switch. Last summer I bought a Sony Minidisc player and I listen to it every day. So small, compact & totally useful. I considered the iPod, but there were disadvantages for non-Apple owners. And it cost a bit more than my MD. Now, the iPod holds even more, is smaller & lighter than ever, supports Windows out of the box(although I wish they’d port iTunes to the PC), comes with a docking station, and now it’s got some minor PDA capabilities.

And now that Apple has partnered up with some music companies, it looks like they’re providing a viable solution to paying for downloadable music. 99 cents for a song (not sure about a total album cost) and free 30 second previews of each song. I think that’s pretty decent. The price is still a bit high for my liking…especially if that converts to $1.50 CDN. Given the average CD has about a dozen songs, that works out to about $18 for a downloadable CD. If I’m going to pay that much, I’ll go to a store and purchase the CD so I get the case, liner notes, etc. I like having the physical things about music as much as the music itself. But the 99 cent/ song is a heck of a lot more affordable than buying a CD single in stores. Those aren’t cheap. If anyone can turn an industry around and figure this thing out, Steve Jobs is one of the smarter people to do it. Look how he’s brought Apple back over the past few years. I think I trust him to make it worthwhile for both the artists and the listeners.

Dancing with sticks!

I had a crazy time on the weekend. A friend of mine is getting married next weekend and this weekend we went to his Raas-Garba ceremony. It’s an Indian ceremony with lots of dancing, entertaining & food. And nobody is allowed to sit. To quote his mom, “if you can walk, you can dance”. The first dance was a large circle that you walked around, spin back and forth, clapping your hands. Then we learned another dance which involved sticks. I can see why they don’t serve alcohol at this event – it could get dangerous if so. You get 2 sticks (picture 2 sections of a broomstick about 1.5 feet long) and you create 2 circles. Each person faces another person, so there are 2 concentric circles. There’s a bunch of different moves where you hit sticks with the person across from you and then you move on to the next person. Great way to meet everyone. No major injuries, but I did see a girl get hit in the head from the guy next to her. If you ever get a chance to go to an Indian (from India, not Native Indian) wedding, you have to go. Gotta practice my technique for the wedding next weekend

I switched! Again. And again…

No, this isn’t an Apple “Switch” commercial. But close. I never thought I’d run Netscape (mozilla)browsers again. I used to hate IE back in the day and would only run Netscape. Then I think around IE4, I crossed over to IE and started to ease away from Netscape. The feel of Netscape became painful. When I had to test software browser applications, I cringed when having to use NS4.7. Uuugh. Hated it.

What made me switch? One thing I don’t like about IE is the fact that it’s all SDI. Strange isn’t it? In the Win3.1 timeframe, everything was MDI and then people started switching to the SDI. Office was one of the worst offenders I found. For example, If I’m editing 3 word documents, do I want 3 instances of MS Word to appear in the taskbar? When I’ve got browser windows, email clients, folder windows, cmd prompts and whatever else, my taskbar is FULL. I don’t need Word to add an additional 2 entries. One is fine, thanks. I’ll ctrl-tab between documents. Same with IE. I don’t know anyone who only has one browser going when working. I’ve usually got at least 4 at any time.

So this led me recently to search for a browser that offered me the same thing. I tried Netscape 6 briefly as well as Opera a while back, but didn’t give them much time. The past 4 months or so, I’ve been using Slimbrowser which does a really good job with the MDI interface. And it has some really neat extra features. Even when I found a bug, I emailed it in and immediately had a response and it was fixed promptly in the next release. Then, this week I installed Mozilla on my Linux machine and was impressed with the way you can open multiple tabs via middle button click and force them to the background while they’re still loading. And I’d been looking for better features from a mail client as well. When I tried to switch back from Outlook Express to Outlook XP at work, I couldn’t stand some of the limitations on Outlook when trying to use multiple email accounts and even the mail filtering rules. After about 10 minutes I switched back to OEX again. So when I installed Mozilla on my work machine for the browser, I tried out the mail client as well. So far so good, lets hope it stays that way. I don’t want to be switching anymore. Although if Slimbrowser puts in some of the features I like in Mozilla, I might switch again. 🙂

‘Porting apps on App Servers’ and ‘IDE opinions”

Phew…I’ve been working on porting a J2EE app from WebLogic 7 backwards to WebLogic 6.1. Made some good headway and it looks like it’s working now. Some wrangling with deployment descriptor formats, but not too painful. Next up is WebLogic 6.0 and then the dreaded WebSphere 4.0.x.

I’m envisioning a lot of pain there. Mostly because I stay as far away from WebSphere as possible. The installation was painful even with a full set of instructions. I don’t know why IBM can’t make things easier. I’ve never seen decent software (from a useability standpoint) created by IBM, and I think they’re such a great company. They could really use some decent people to redesign their interfaces. I think there must be some of the OS/2 designers trying to keep their legacy of look and feel around.

At one point a couple years ago I tried to use IBM’s VisualAge. Now, I think I’m pretty good at using software without reading any instructions. If software is well designed, it should work as the user would expect it to. Dialogs should be where you would think they should be. Preferences/Options configuration is usually under one of three different menu headings (File/Edit/Tools). And if I right click somewhere I know what I expect to see appear. If I try to use the software and have to really think about how everything is supposed to work, then it isn’t doing its job. Software should enable you to work smarter, not harder. VisualAge was not like this. I could never adjust to their methodology of Workbenches (or whatever it was…didn’t give it enough time to soak in). It just didn’t make sense to me. And I love trying out all sorts of tools even if it takes more work up front. Sometimes just because it isn’t run of the mill, I’ll give it a shot. VA just couldn’t cut it.

I also tried NetBeans/Forte for a bit. It’s about 80% useful. Not to mention that it was really only useable if you had 512M of ram. Hopefully that’s improved recently, but there was some really neat stuff NB had going for it. Ultimately there were a few things which drove me nuts. I think adding jars to a project and even just creating a new project frustrated me. Luckily, the company had JBuilder and then was really useful. I used JBuilder7 for the remainder of my time at that company.

When I went to my next company around Sept 2001, I switched to IDEA (2.0 or 2.5?) and will never switch away. IDEA rules, without a doubt. It does so much to make coding easy for you. It’s no coincidence their motto is “Develop with pleasure.” One of my favorite features is that it “precompiles” the code as you’re editing and lets you know if there are errors and you can fix them immediately before running a compile cycle. And it is able to tell you exactly what is wrong. The feature list is massive and there’s a ton of features you don’t even know exist until you need them or until you accidentaly stumble across them. We’ve actually got an internal mailing list at work called “Idea-tips” to share our tips with each other. If you’ve never tried it, give it a testdrive.

Last week I installed Eclipse 2.1 to see what all the hype is about. It’s pretty decent. Closer to IDEA than many other IDEs. Then I got messing around trying to use it on one of my existing projects. After trying many different things, I asked a guy I know has used it about my problem. I couldn’t get it to recognize my CVS project. I already setup my CVS project, but you have to check everything out from CVS when first starting a project. This frustrated me to no end. You should be able to point an IDE at a directory and start using it with CVS without having to check a fresh copy out. If someone from Eclipse ever reads this, please get working on a fix for this.

Then there are the pure text editor coders I see around my company. You’ve gotta give them respect…just for being so stubborn and sticking with it. That takes persistence (and I’m not talking about a database layer – geek joke). And you can be certain they know how to code syntax well. They must laugh at code completion in IDEs.

It would be interesting to see a study on productivity levels of 2 equal strength coders – one using IDEA and one using vi. I’d be rooting for the IDE coder, but I’m afraid to see the results – the vi coder might actually win.

I guess in the end, the important thing is that you use whatever you need to make you most productive. If that’s vi,emacs, a full powered IDE, a WYSIWYG GUI designer or a combination of all of these, just make sure you’re always productive.

Speaking of which, I guess I should stop my blogging break now.