Monthly Archives: April 2001

Still Job Hunting

No new entries here since Monday because I’ve been concentrating on job finding. I did find time today to fix a few bugs in HotSheet so it will continue marching toward a state where I can be really proud of it and where it serves my daily news gathering needs. If you’ve already installed it, then you’ll get a notice telling you there is a new version when you run it and you will be automatically updated the next time you run. Java WebStart is a wonderful thing 🙂

HotSheet Debuts

Wow. Busy weekend, busy Monday.
I had family over for Easter weekend but I still managed to get HotSheet to a somewhat crude alpha state. If you look up at the top of the page you’ll see that there is now a projects page listed. If you go there you will see a link to the HotSheet project page. I’d love to get feedback from anyone who tries to install and use HotSheet. If everything goes the way it is supposed to then Java WebStart will make it as simple as clicking on a link for you to be able to use HS.
If you are sharp-eyed you might also notice that most all of the formerly static HTML pages have gone to JSP. I intended to do that anyway for many of the pages eventually but my hand was forced by how difficult it is to change things within Blogger. If I just wanted to add a new menu item to the top of all the pages I had to change two different templates within Blogger and then tell it to republish my main page and all of the archive pages. The other day when I tried to do that, it just timed out again and again without ever publishing anything. So now all of the JSP replacement pages import the page header so I can change it easily.

Added a Resources Section

Added a Resources link to the site menu. This is far from the only addition I hope you’ll see in the near future. I want the size of the Resources page to at least double or triple. One addition that will help expand the page will be a list of all the books that I just couldn’t live without when I’m developing software.
Next up will be the Projects link. I’ll use it to provide information on specific projects I’m working on like HotSheet. Since HotSheet is basically useful at this point the Projects page will go live when I add just a couple of last details onto HS and I put up the first alpha version.
Lastly, I would like to add a “worth reading” list of links to the front page. Often I sprinkle links inside the musings on the front page but I’d like to have a separate list of links that I don’t think need a lot of explanation. They are just articles that deserve reading.
Unfortunately, after typing in all of the text above late last night, Blogger told me that the database servers log was full when I attempted to post the new entry. When I went back a page to where I had been writing the page no longer had any text on it. I’m glad I hadn’t written something really long that I had to try and recreate. Grrrr…
It’s that kind of thing that shows me just how much end users need a tool that is as easy to use as Blogger, extremely easy to install (because that’s the one area that Blogger obviously benefits from being an application service provider; no installation), and is under their control. Maybe my Freenet projects will wait a little bit after the alpha HotSheet is out so that I can work on the weblogging tool instead.

JDK 1.4/Java Look & Feel/New Business Card

Want to know what is going to be in the Java SDK 1.4? Sun has posted a final draft of the JSR describing it: JSR-059
Lots of other Java news today including one item that should be near and dear to the hearts of Java programmers everywhere but all too often is obviously not. The Java Look & Feel Guidelines 2nd Edition is now available! You don’t even have to buy the thing folks, just go look at the HTML version online whenever you’ve got a UI question (i.e. which menu should this item should go on, what should I put in the title of this error message box, etc.) It takes only a few minutes to go look up one of these answers and people might actually know how to use your application if you tried to be at least a little bit consistent.
Here’s my new business card:

Rockelle and I designed it and I’m really really happy with it.

Job Hunt Continues – The Testing Phase

Job hunt continues. Had to take C++ and Java tests to prove that I really do know something about the languages. Apparently more than ten years of having people pay you to do something is no longer credible evidence. Sigh… I got a 92 on the Java test that TeckChek gives but I only took their C++ test yesterday so I don’t have scores yet on it. I’m expecting that they will be good.
On the plus side, I’ve learned that I’m much closer to Java certification than I realized. I was able to go through a certification book and get 80-90% on the self-test questions at the end of the chapters. Also, I can go over to the online tests at JavaRanch and do the same so I guess I’ll be looking into that sometime soon. Neither Don nor I think it makes sense to rush out and take the test this minute just to say we are certified though.
Moving on…
After about a week long hiatus, I’m back working on HotSheet. It now draws and doesn’t look so darn strange. Why? Because if you want a Java program to look like it really is all normal Swing then you want to make sure that you use Swing colors, borders, etc. wherever you have to do your own drawing (e.g. HotSheet has to use a custom ListCellRenderer for the list of items found). You use the Swing UIManager class to retrieve these borders, colors, etc. but you have to know what the names are for the items so you can retrieve them. I’ve never seen any list at all from Sun but I found a list on the web that gives them all and proved to be very useful.
Mark your calendars for the 25th. That’s when Sun will be having a webcast about JXTA, their peer-to-peer infrastructure that they are pushing for Java. Will it be cool? I have no idea. But Sun has given me enough cool stuff that I’m willing to at least listen to what they are planning to see if I could use it to build something individuals or businesses need.

Updated Resume

Looking for a job has got to be one of the least fun things on Earth.
P.S. Updated my resume based on numerous comments that said I didn’t highlight my many years of C++ experience enough in the old version. The new version says more about which tools were used to build different projects that I’ve worked on.

Breadline, Meet John

For the second time in less than nine months the “dot-com” I’ve been working for has run out of money and closed…
I know what you are saying, “How could you let that happen John? Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Right?” Yup, that’s what I thought when I took the job at Vast Solutions.

  • They were a spin-off of an existing large company (PageNet) and the spin-off itself didn’t occur until around the time I arrived. Who spins off a company in such a way that it can make it only four months before the board votes to shut it down?
  • They had money to start with. In fact, we asked repeatedly, “How much do you have? At your current burn rate, how long will it last?” We always heard, “…until the third or maybe the fourth quarter. Plenty of time to get some more money and have our products ready.”
  • In the January time frame they laid off around 30-40 employees and did cost cutting measures (nothing drastic, but sensible stuff) to make sure that the money would last until they said it would.
  • They weren’t giving off any of the alarm bell warning signs like offering lowball salaries but lots of “options”.

Then, in the end, when a planned merger failed to go through the board had the place shutdown faster than you could say startup/shutdown.