Monthly Archives: July 2004

Make A Hologram Of An Object That Doesn’t Exist

MedCosm CGHMaker (computer generated hologram construction kit) is software that will calculate what the interference pattern would look like for a given object and then allow you to print that interference pattern onto a cheap overhead transparency to make your own hologram. Said hologram can then be projected with a cheap laser pointer for viewing.
Knowing how difficult it can be to produce a hologram (huge sand tables to prevent vibration and other setup are not unusual), this looks like an easy way to play with something fun.

Tonic Look And Feel

Here’s a kind of nice replacement look and feel you can use in a Java application instead of Metal, it’s called Tonic and there are lots of screenshots on the site to let you know what it looks like in action as well as the ubiquitous demo you can launch via Java Web Start to see it in action.

My (Wiki) Toolbox

Michael Gloegl has taken my toolbox entry from a few weeks ago and turned it into a big wiki page. I’ll be adding a permanent link to it from my resources page and updating the wiki with my own additions and changes rather than continuing to keep an outline that is only of use to me.

Show Me Your Skeleton And I’ll Show You Mine

Normally when I’m about to start a new Java project I go and get my skeleton project and make a copy of that to the correct directory name to get started. Maybe you call your skeleton something else, a template, a prototype, whatever but I’m curious if you have one. Mine consists of an already created directory structure, a build.xml file that serves as a good starting point, a handful of libraries that appear in 100% of all my apps (logging, unit testing, etc.), the shell of a ReadMe.html, etc..
Personally I don’t think this is much of a solution. What I wish I had was something that was like what the old Visual Studio did. It had a wizard that you could step through and it would ask you a set of questions before producing what was largely the same application skeleton every single time :) Why don’t we have something better than that for eclipse, NetBeans, etc. It wouldn’t have to be proprietary to any one particular vendor because the core code would be agnostic to any IDE. It would be a set of instructions to ask some questions and generate files.
You could have templates for a web app, a Swing app, an SWT app, and a console app. Each one would be responsible for creating directories, writing out a build script, asking you the name of the application, the packages where the files would be put, features for that particular kind of application, etc. Where is this feature? It’s not complicated, most of it could be done by scanning through some XML that told you which directories to create, some Velocity templates that created all of the files you needed, etc. and yet the two IDEs I’ve worked with the most (eclipse and NetBeans) seem more focused on helping you create individual files but not starting points for entire applications. NetBeans did have the ability to create a simple Swing app but all it created was a file or two of Java, no build structure, place to put documentation, etc.
I do know about AppFuse and Equinox and I think they are really cool. However, correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe that even those offer a wizard to tailor anything in their skeletons. Where there are choices mentioned in the documentation (e.g. iBATIS and Spring for AppFuse) they are just more documentation on what you can change, not a checkbox that you check and the change is made for you. The closest they seem to come is changing some names via ant when you create a new instance.
I can anticipate one of the biggest objections likely to be raised to this. If we do this, then how many developers are going to become dependent upon the crutch of wizards creating the shell of an application for them and they won’t understand the very IOC container or persistence framework, etc. they are using because they didn’t have to set it up. If that is your objection then I agree, but I’m not sure it makes sense to deprive the more skilled developers of the tools because others might abuse them. I’m betting with a little collaboration we could come up with some killer starting points that would be tailor made to cut time off the front of a new application.

Coming Up in Firefox 1.0

Firefox 1.0 is not available yet, the latest is still 0.9.2. Neil’s World – More on new Firefox features gives an overview on some of what you can expect to see coming in the next version.
I was initially lukewarm on Firefox but I have to say that as time has gone on I’ve become a big fan. It’s small, it’s to the point. It makes an ideal replacement for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer for those who do not need the Usenet newsreader, email, or HTML editing capabilities of the full-blown Mozilla app.

Dancing Bears And Macs

There’s an old saying that goes, “We do not applaud because the dancing bear dances well, we applaud because the dancing bear dances at all.” Every once in a while though, you encounter a dancing bear who also dances well. PearPC – PowerPC Architecture Emulator is just such a bear. I had read about it on Slashdot a few weeks ago as no doubt many of you had, but I was keen to try it out for myself to see if I could get it to work at all and if I could then how well would it perform on a machine that I built more than three years ago.
The answers were that it was actually quite easy to get working, the most difficult part was digging up a copy of Mac OS X to make use on it (as that is really the only OS I would have any interest in running though the PearPC software supports others) and though I had expected glacial performance, it was actually quite acceptable on an AMD 1600+. Below I’ve included a screenshot of the OS X installation procedure informing me of its system requirements. It says that I must have a PowerPC G3, G4, or G5 but I beg to differ :)

BTW, one other site not to be missed is Their step by step guide to getting it running had me going in no time.