Monthly Archives: June 2001

HotSheet Keeps Track of Viewed Items

HotSheet has been updated to mark items you have already viewed (they now appear ghosted) and menu options have been added to let you delete all viewed items or all selected items. That closes a couple of the wish list features for HotSheet, only 17 or so to go 🙂


Interesting Articles:

The Java Technologies Behind the New Developer Forums Part I
Deploying Forums on Your Site Using Jive
Two recent articles from Sun told not only that they had abandoned their pathetic old forum software but they had replaced it with the open source alternative Jive. I’ve gone to new forums and all I have to say is, “Hallelujah!”

The first article focuses on Sun’s needs with regard to forum software and what changes that necessitated in Jive and the second article is focused on how to use Jive forum software yourself. Note that the version of Jive that Sun says they are running is 2.0 and at the time of this writing the Jive site says that you do not actually have permission to deploy 2.0 because it’s not ready yet. I’m guessing that Sun gets special permissions the rest of us don’t 🙂

Tapestry: A centralized user management system
Not to be confused with the Tapestry: Java Web Components project, this Tapestry is a Java based system for keeping track of users in a system. Don and I had observed a long time ago that users and groups of users exist in many different systems. Our solution was a nifty set of database tables and stored procedures that Don created and we all refined over a several year period that has served us well for several web based applications and websites (though there is nothing web specific about any of it). Anniversary/Brian Gilstrap/HotSheet has celebrated its two year anniversary on the web. Cheers all around that it is stronger than ever and is sporting a new look thanks primarily to Dave Astle. The thing that was brought home to me when I thought about GDN celebrating its two year anniversary is that we put the website up just after Rockelle arrived in May of that year. My time with her is what has made these last two years the best of my life and I’m afraid that thinking about that anniversary completely overshadows the success of any website. “kisses to my wonderful wife”
I’ve gotten back in touch with Brian Gilstrap, he’s an old friend from when I attended Rice. Both of us were in the same residential college and both of us were Comp. Sci. majors. It’s nice to hear from somebody you haven’t heard from in more than a decade and it reminds me how important it is that I go back and get in contact with some of the other old friends I miss.
There’s lots of HotSheet related stuff. The most important thing is that I contacted the lead on the Headlines project. It’s another Java based news retriever and his project has managed to do what I haven’t, recruit people who want to work on it. He indicated that he liked what he saw on HotSheet and that he would be interested in working together going forward. Let’s hope that we can find ways to build some nifty stuff going forward from here.
I’m absolutely desparate to get HotSheet tested on Mac OS X. As far as I can tell Mac users don’t seem to have Java Web Start support on OS X yet. So the only way to run any program like HotSheet would be to install OpenJNLP. The JNLP file is what specifies how to download, install, run, and update Java software off the web and Java Web Start is actually Sun’s reference implementation of software to use it. OpenJNLP is an open source version of the same thing which claims to support OS X. I’m looking for a volunteer to get OpenJNLP installed and working and then get that same individual to try out HotSheet. It is very important to me that the software I write under Java be cross-platform and the three biggest platforms out there for end users are going to be Windows, Mac, and Linux for the forseeable future. I’ve been fighting with a Linux installation on a home machine for two days now just so I’ll have a test machine for my software on that platform.
There’s a new version of the BrowserLauncher class that Eric Albert wrote. I currently use it in HotSheet and I actually like it more than the browser launching capabilities that Java Web Start offers because JWS always launches a new browser for every link you give it and Eric’s class doesn’t. In the short term I’m just going to incorporate the new version. In the long term I’m going to set it up so that HotSheet users can select which implementation they use to launch a browser and make Eric’s the default.

Fixed a HotSheet Bug

Fixed a bug in HotSheet that was causing it to flip out on one of the default channels. Since I had the code open already while I was trying to add another feature, I had to hurry up and finish it so I could upload the fix. As a result, Windows users should now have mousewheel support. If the software suddenly stops working for Linux, Solaris, etc. users please email me. I can’t test platforms other than Windows so I may not know that I broke everybody’s software.
As always, the upgrade is an automatic one the next time you run HotSheet. Source code changes will be uploaded shortly to SourceForge for general availability.

Cool 3D Solar Systems

How the heck did we live before the World Wide Web? Well, for one thing there was no way to know stuff like this existed:

  • OpenUniverse – I first saw Open Universe about nine months ago and was suitably impressed by what it can do (i.e. fly you around to every planet and moon in our solar system and show you what it would look like).
  • 3D Solar System Simulator – Then I ran across a new project to do the same sort of thing in a cross platform manner using Java. The installation interface isn’t great (it could really use Java Web Start so it wouldn’t have to download everything every time it is run) and it’s not yet as feature rich as Open Universe but you can definitely see the potential.
  • Celestia – Both of those prompted me to look around and I found yet another universe simulator out there. But unlike OpenUniverse and the 3D Solar System Simulator, this one actually allows you to go outside our solar system to other stars and outside the Milky Way Galaxy. Celestia can be a little bit jerky (i.e. it can skip frames as it tries to keep up with rendering complex images) but it has more features than OpenUniverse and I think it is a little more user friendly.

Here’s a picture of Celestia showing Jupiter and the nearby moon Io in the same frame:

Now, a still picture doesn’t even begin to do this justice. Keep in mind that this is a moving 3D simulation of the planets, moons, asteroids, etc. The moon is orbiting around Jupiter, your camera can move, you can see constellations, stars, and drawn orbits. Any of these programs is a toy that you can spend hours and hours playing with if you are like me. Note: All of the programs really require you to have some kind of fairly beefy 3D card (my GeForce 256 proved adequate).

GBA/Old Friend/HotSheet Alternative

Whoops, a few days ago I incorrectly stated that Gameboy Advance would be released July 13th when the correct date was of course June 13th. The premiere of the new Dr. Who audio episode will be on July 13th as stated.
Today was an odd “finding” day for me. First I found an old friend on the net. I spotted an article over on Java World which had a familiar name and when I pursued it I verified that it was a friend I had attended Rice with from ’83-’87.
Then a little later I found another Java project on SourceForge which is designed to download news off of sites around the web. Sound familiar? 🙂 It sure does, so I emailed one of the principals to see if there is any chance we can work together on one tool or at least find ways to share some of our work so we both end up with better software.

JavaHelp/Why Do Java Paint Programs Suck?

Could somebody please explain any of the following to me?

  • Why does Sun have the JavaHelp system if they aren’t even going to use it themselves? When you download documentation for the Sun JDK your available options are PostScript/PDF or HTML (nearly 7,000 files of HTML!). No JavaHelp option where we might have searchable documentation. Instead, Sun offers a link to a third party gizmo called DocFather that you are supposed to download if you want to be able to search the documentation?!? What the hell is that all about?
  • And why does every Java paint program on the web have to look like this? That’s not painting, that’s Etch-A-Sketch with color selection. Yet there are dozens of applets on the net exactly like that one.

    Java 2D has enough built in features to help you construct Adobe Photoshop if you are so inclined and anything it doesn’t have is contained in the new Image I/O API or the Java Advanced Imaging API. So why don’t we have a real Java paint program?


My big achievements of the last couple of days are: getting news up on and writing an FAQ for It’s hard to believe but is about to turn two years old and we have never put together an FAQ. But on the plus side all the mail that we’ve received over the last couple of years has burned into our brains what the frequently asked questions really are so we can put them into the new document. Don’t bother looking for it now, the website is undergoing a big makeover that is currently about halfway done. You’ll see the FAQ when the new site debuts.

New Dr. Who Radio Program

Whoops! How could I forget this item. Dr. Who will make his return to the airwaves, or at least the Internet on July 13th. That’s the same day as the U.S. release of the GameBoy Advance so it’s easy to remember. The return will be in the form of a series of audio adventures and will give people a chance to vote on the return of the Doctor. Given that Dr. Who is my favorite science fiction series of all time (yes, that means I preferred it over Star Wars and Star Trek both) you can bet I’ll be listening to the new adventure and voting.

Crouching Tiger, Moulin Rouge

Didn’t accomplish a lot this weekend. Kind of took it easy and did a few things that needed doing and got a little entertainment. My wife and I saw Moulin Rouge on Saturday and rented Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Sunday. To tell the truth, I really enjoyed Moulin Rouge a great deal more.
I did manage to add the twenty or so additional items to my resources page I’ve been saying I was going to add. Now I need to get regular newsfeeds on here and it will have most of the features I’ve been saying it would have. I’m going to start off by using the Meerkat feeds provided by O’Reilly and then segue to feeds generated using a tool of my own (the tool will be a slightly modified version of one of the examples provided with the source code for HotSheet).