Monthly Archives: October 2002

Release Of Log4J And Ant Tutorials

I’ve released two presentations I wrote to teach Log4J and Ant. They are available from the new Presentations project I added to my project list. Please, please, please, give me feedback if you use them, look at them but don’t use them or learn anything from them. I’d like to find out what worked and what didn’t and find ways to improve the teaching materials.

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Resources Go OPML + XSL

My resources page was always a severe pain in the buttocks because it became this huge HTML file that was very hard to edit without messing up. Large scale removals of links, reorderings, etc. were simply out of the question.
But a while back I took steps using JOE to reproduce all the links in an OPML file (an XML based outline format that JOE and Radio both use). Now I can use an XSL stylesheet to format that OPML file automatically and publish a new version of my resources page with ease. And under JOE, reordering, removing, adding, etc. are all very easy so my resources page won’t continue to slowly degrade over time.
P.S. For those of you who care, I’m going to start publishing the OPML file to the website as well as the HTML version of it (plus I’ll make available the XSL stylesheet I’m using for formatting). That way it will be just like the RSS file that gets published for all my weblog entries. Maybe if everybody did that for their link farm it could be another RSS.

Stellarium 0.4.9

I mentioned the Stellarium Astronomy Software once a long time ago and I thought I’d talk about it again in light of a new version coming out.
It’s astronomy software that is different than Celestia (which I’ve mentioned often) because Celestia is all about putting you at different places in the solar system or universe to observe things. Stellarium is more like having a planetarium in your computer that reflects what you will see outside as accurately as possible (including details like atmospheric haze). It is very cool to see that both continue to be updated.

Open Sourced PVR

I’m a big fan of the Tivo system. In fact I designed just such a system before Tivo or ReplayTV got started (I’m basing that on the invention dates listed on their patents). But both systems are getting a lot of flack from network TV because they make it easy to skip the commercials that pay for the programming on the major networks. So there is always the threat that they could push through legislation (bought and paid for through representatives like Fritz Hollings, Senator from Disney) that would make personal video recorders (PVR) like Tivo illegal.
That’s why it’s heartening to see open source alternatives like MythTV cruising along. They let me know that even if commercial alternatives get the screws applied to them (as the RIAA did with Napster) that there will always be something available for me to use. Plus, there are always lots of limitations on commercial boxes like the Tivo.
How’s this for an idea for a “convergence” box in the living room? It would have PVR capabilities, be able to burn shows to CD in DIVX format for later playback in the same box or to VCD for playback via any DVD player, be capable of sharing shows it has recorded with other PVRs it is networked with in the same house, rip CDs and act as a music server across networked PVR units, and play DVDs, VCDs, CDs with DIVX video on them. Heck, while you’re at it, why not stick MAME in there and give it the ability to play several thousand classic arcade games. The Tivo is already a pretty cool PVR but a box like that would kick its butt.

Pollo And JOE Updates

I’ve mentioned the Pollo XML editor before and I thought the project was basically dead. Fortunately, I was wrong. It has had two revisions since the last time I looked at it and the website for it has improved considerably.
Another update is to a tool I use all the time, the Java Outline Editor (JOE). I use this thing to organize all of my thoughts, my presentations, and basically anything I write that is longer than a page. If you like to work from easily changeable outlines rather than text in a conventional word processing document, this is a great tool.

What You Should Watch This Season

Let me say up front, I’ve never liked Buffy The Vampire Slayer. It’s not for lack of trying, I’ve probably watched four or more episodes now and it just never grabbed me. Yet Joss Whedon is worshiped as a near deity by many and I felt compelled to try multiple times to like it, it just never took.
So when I found out he was going to have a new science-fiction show on Fox I thought, “Hey, maybe I’ll like this better.” To say that I like it better is a big-assed understatement. Many shows struggle to get good, something just doesn’t gel in the first few episodes, or maybe even the first couple of seasons and they hit their stride later. On the strength of the first episode of Firefly all I can say is that you should be watching it and if it gets any better it’ll be another X-Files.
Second, and I can’t stress this enough, if you didn’t watch 24 last season watch it this season. This is a show that deserves to go on and on. The new season premieres Oct. 29th.