Showing posts from July, 2004

Why it is OK for Republicans to vote for Kerry

Conservatives often correctly criticize Democrats for excess domestic spending programs - good ideas for helping people, but more than we can afford. Some undecided Republicans, while rightfully disappointed by the weak presidency of Bush, might be worried about voting for Kerry. I have a few simple points to make: 1. If Kerry is elected, it is unlikely that the Democrats will control both houses of Congress. When it comes to government spending, grid lock is a good thing. I believe that spending on social programs will be controlled and measured. 2. The US economy sometime (and when is impossible to predict) will suffer considerably when more countries start to get off of the US dollar standard for purchasing energy, hoarding cash, etc. The US Treasury has been printing a lot of money that is not really backed up by anything for a long time. Think of it as the whole country getting high on excess credit card spending. Think about it: when the Fed increases the money supp

PDF files should be offered in two formats for 'laptop viewing'

I would like the option of downloading PDF files in either "printer format" or "viewing on a laptop screen" landscape format. I distribute a few free web books (on as PDF files - I am making a note to myself to reformat them with a smaller number of lines per page, and in landscape format for easier reading on a landscape computer display. Really, how often do people print out PDF files to read? I probably print 5% (maximum) of the PDF files that I download - the rest I read online, making the font large so I only see part of a page at once.

I prefer writing server side web apps - that is why I like Java

I am an old Lisper, and recently I have been enjoying Squeak Smalltalk too much. So why do I enjoy (and use) Java so much? I used to write GUI apps (commercial products on Xerox 1108 Lisp Machine, Mac, Windows), but now, I most enjoy writing web apps for a variety of reasons: I like maintaining application data in one place. I like exposing application classes with both web interfaces (i.e., JSPs, struts, etc) and SOAP/XLM-RPC/REST interfaces. I like the ability to do live updates. I have dreams of selling software services for NLP and AI: writing complex software that 'lives' on a server under my complete control, yet usable by many people. Sure, with Java you give up late binding, continuations, etc. However, the awesome and free tools like Tomcat, Prevayler, SOAP/XML-RPC/REST libraries, incredible development tools like IntelliJ, etc. make using Java a slam dunk for some types of projects. There are alternatives. I once signed up for a year as a VisualWorks Small

Corporate owned news media has voted: Bush wins!

Some friends of mine who are Democrats (and are still unhappy with me for strongly supporting Bush in the last election) are pissed off by the obvious bias in the Corporate owned news media reporting of the Democratic Convention. I have to disagree: there is no conspiracy here, just good business decisions by large corporations: If you are a non-US based corporation (that is, all large corporations), or own over 3 or 4 million dollars worth of stock, supporting Bush for re-election is simply a slam dunk. Lots and lots of money involved - no conspiracy what so ever. I have switched from a strong Bush supporter to now wanting to vote for a centrist Democrat (who actually is closer to my idea of a Republican as far as core values than Bush who has showed his colors as a radical extremist). Really, I am so disappointed by the presidency of Bush: What's up with making John Ashcroft Attorney General? His lack of respect for civil liberties almost reminds me more of Nazi Ger

IntelliJ 4.5: tasty!

I have only been using the free upgrade from version 4.0.X to 4.5 for a short while, but my favorite new feature(s) is (are) tighter web app development integration. Configuring a web app module for a local tomcat instance is easy, and the new feature of auto launching a browser with the URL for the locally running web app is a good timesaver. In my opinion, IntelliJ is the best way to develop Java. I have given up running Emacs and JDE. And I am down to using Eclipse and NetBeans to **maybe** 5% of my Java development (probably less).

OpenOffice 1.1.2 available for Mac OS X

I have had to do a lot of work under Windows lately (my customer wanted to use a commercial library that only runs on Windows and Linux - and IntelliJ seems to run a little better under Windows), and one of the first things I did was to uninstall Microsoft Word and install OOo 1.1.2 for Windows - really, such a nicer word processor (I have written 2 out of my last 3 books using OOo). I have been using beta versions of OOo under OS X, so I am pleased to see new stable release.

Building gcc-3.4.1 from source: Java gcj

On a Linux box, I am building the GNU comiplers and libraries from source (I need to use a third party library, and I am running a couple of year old SuSE Linux distro). I have played with the GNU gcj Java native compiler before, but (when I get time) I will enjoy experimenting with an up to date version of gcj and the CLASSPATH libraires -- certainly is taking a while to build all of the Java libraries!

IntelliJ 4.0

I upgraded to IntelliJ 4 a few days ago. Actually, I always considered IntelliJ 3 to be just about perfect, but version 4 has a slightly nicer UI and many small improvements. I am now using the Tomcat integration for JSP/struts development. When I start a Tomcat 5 instance in a command shell with my web app, it takes about 20 seconds to start up. When I start the same Tomcat instance in IntelliJ, it starts up in 6 seconds - I am guessing that this speedup comes both from not having to start a new JVM, and running Tomcat in embedded mode. Anyway, combined with a symbolic debugger for JSPs, the faster code/run cycle is great for my general work process. Most of my work involves either web applications or web services, so small improvements add up. I like Eclipse and NetBeans, but I think that IntelliJ beats them, hands down: I find myself much more productive using IntelliJ. For a few years, I used Borland's JBuilder (Borland gave me a free Enterprise JBuilder license

I am back from Alaska

I was in Alaska for a week with my wife, parents, brother, and sister in law. I had been in Alaska twice on business (during the winter, but still fun), but this was the first time I had been there on vacation. A whole week without touching a computer! Nice vacation :-)


I covered SOAP, XML-RPC, and REST in my last book ("Java 10-Minute Solutions") - really, I like all three schemes for implementing data transfer over HTTP (I only use HTTP transport for SOAP, although other transport mechanisms like SMTP are also possible). Mostly because of the wealth of free infrastructure software, I just about always do server side development using Java. However, I am also a huge Lisp enthusiast (I wrote 2 Springer-Verlag Lisp books a long while ago, and have enjoyed Lisp since the late 1970s). Although Smalltalk (for me) comes in a close second, I just prefer Common Lisp over other programming languages for algorithm development and research programming. Usually, once I have figured out how to solve a problem, it is easy to re-write in Java. Generally, this is a good solution because like it or not, Java is becoming a universal language. However, sometimes I just like to leave research code in Lisp. Enter my thoughts on SOAP, XML-RPC, and RE

Fahrenheit 9/11: skillfully done: I recommend it to both Democrats and Republicans

Politically, I did not think that the movie was such a big deal: people who dislike Bush will agree with the movie and people who love Bush will think that the movie is unfair. However, I must say: Michael Moore is a very, very skillfull film maker. I recommend the movie for both people who dislike Bush and for strong supporters of Bush: interesting intellectually, for sure! I think that the quality of this move is so good that it sets new standards. Anyway, do not go see this movie for political reasons - go see it because it is a well done film. I think that this movie is now part of our culture; for my Republican friends: do not miss out on seeing this movie just because it tries to make Bush look bad. BTW, profits for the movie go to charity (deal between Disney and the Weinstein brothers to get the movie distributed).

Outsourcing time zone advantages, reverse outsourcing

I am working for a company in India -- not as an employee, but on a full time (and long term) "retainer" basis - I remotely do whatever design and development work that they want me to do. The time zone difference is sometimes useful: any problems that they find, or improvements that they want to the Java based web application that I designed and wrote for their business processes can be done (by me) during the day, during my customers' overnight work break. This gives me a more leisurely feeling about making changes and doing local testing. I also start work very early in the morning (because I sometimes like to hike during the day), so we do have some overlap working time. While historically most of my work is for U.S. organizations, in the last 5 years, I have also had the pleasure of (remotely) working with people in India, Brazil, Russia, Romania, Chile, England, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, and probably other places that have slipped my mind. Lots of