Monthly Archives: February 2004

Ah, Serendipity…

For a long time I’ve wondered why people didn’t seem to be recording the works of Shakespeare and other works long out of copyright to create a kind of audio Project Gutenberg. Telltale Weekly appears to be heading in that direction, with audio books, short stories, etc.
The funny thing about it was that they were able to price some of the short pieces very low (as low as $0.25 US). Why were they able to price things that low? I mean, transaction costs for credit cards, echecks, or PayPal would eat you alive at that price point. The answer is again, BitPass. This kind of thing is possible because there is a (I think) viable micropayment system available now. Awesome!

IronGrid’s IronTrack SQL Performance Monitoring


IronGrid has a couple of different SQL tools for Java work. I don’t have much use for their cache software at this time but I tried out IronTrack SQL today. It’s their tool for monitoring SQL queries from a running application. It has a nice GUI which shows you the queries made, time spent on each, the number of times each call was made, etc.
A handy item for finding SQL performance problems when you optimize your applications.

Whoa… MovableType Gets Serious Competition

I’ve long been of the opinion that MovableType is the best blogging software out there (unless of course you are fortunate enough to be using TypePad, which is run by the authors of MT). LiveJournal, Blogger, etc. just don’t seem as feature rich, nor do they have as nice an interface. But Textpattern looks like it could give MT a run for its money. It’s written in PHP which has never been a favorite of mine, but on the other hand MT is written in Perl and you really don’t want to know my opinion of Perl.
The thing I’ve seen so far that seems really nice is how it has CSS as a fundamental type to be edited (rather than just a block of text like MT treats it). They also seem to elevate the blocks of text that make up entries as well. You can write text using a simplified formatting called Textile (if you’ve ever edited text on a wiki it’ll be very familiar to you) or go directly to HTML. The tabbed interface they used throughout the UI also seems very clear.
Maybe soon I can get PHP setup somewhere to give it a try.

A Replacement For Sun’s Java Date Handling

If you’ve ever had to deal with Sun’s date handling in Java you know that the design can be a head scratcher at times. Things that are simple should be easy; but they aren’t. And things that should at least be possible, you may end up having to implement yourself. Joda Time is a new open source library designed to give new classes to handle dates and times. The next time I have to do some date and time work I’ll definitely give them a try.
One thing does give me pause though and that’s that the Maven website for the project doesn’t show any JUnit tests. For something as fundamental as a date/time library a good suite of tests is an absolute must have so hopefully the tests exist but are just not hooked up to the Maven reporting yet.

Yes, It Is Pretty Damn Ugly

I know the redo of the website leaves a lot to be desired. It’s ugly and its inconsistent on top of being ugly. And it’s unfinished on top of being ugly and inconsistent. Bleh…
Nevertheless, this is my start on a redo of the website. How is it better or going to be better than the old version? Well, for one thing you can now search all of my blog entries for specific info using the search in the sidebar of the homepage. Two, the look and feel of the site is now based on CSS so I should be able to radically redo the appearance of all the pages on the website (more than 300 at present) just by altering the one stylesheet file. And three, there is now direct links to the archives, recent postings and a posting calendar (showing when I’ve updated the weblog recently) on the front page.
As I mentioned above, there are more than 300 individual HTML files which make up the website now. Because of that, it is really difficult to make improvements. Getting MovableType to update all of the pages it maintains takes a long time now (several minutes) and some other pages like the Resources and Projects page aren’t generated automaticallly by MovableType and upgrading them to automatically adjust to the changing look and feel of the website is going to take a while. In the meantime they still look like the old verion of the webpage. When I fix them I’ll probably also create an Articles webpage for links to the articles I write as well.

Early Look At Fedora Core 2

While “preview” might be a better word than “review” this look at Fedora Core 2 is the first one I’ve seen: LXer: Review of Fedora Core 2 test 1
Here’s yet another: Fedora Core 2-test1: A Good Start Down a Long Road
One of the things that Fedora Core 2 will get us that version 1 didn’t is a move from the 2.4 Linux kernel to 2.6. 2.6 has both speed and memory improvements and that’s cool. But what really has me jazzed is that the schedule for Gnome (the default interface that Fedora uses) shows that 2.6 of that will be released at the end of March so it might make it into the Fedora Core 2. The double improvement of a new kernel and Gnome improvements will make for a really nice OS upgrade.

A New Kind Of Science?

I read much of Stephen Wolfram’s book A New Kind of Science when I borrowed it from someone who received it as a gift but wasn’t particularly interested in the dictionary sized tome.
I can’t claim to have read it from cover to cover, nor did I attempt to code up Java versions of the various cellular automata to see how they all worked. What I did glean from it though left me feeling like I got half of what was promised. What I got from it was that what we perceive as “extreme complexity” can often be produced from a very simple set of rules acting in concert. From this Wolfram hypothesizes that things we see in chemistry, physics, biology, etc. may all be driven by very simple sets of rules. Unfortunately, what he never does, at least as far as I could determine, was work out how you could tell when it is a simple set of rules driving apparent complexity. How can you tell, and how can you discern the rules? Without that information what you’ve got is some interesting mathematical exercises and a whole lot of theories.
Wolfram has just put his book online at the link above so you don’t have to plunk down $45 (or more) to come to your own conclusions about it.

Reading .CBZ And .CBR Files On Linux

.CBR and .CBZ files are RARed and ZIPed image files (usually .JPG files) containing the pages of a comic book. In order to not have to take apart the file and look at the images with an image viewer, custom viewers have been written to make it easy to read a comic directly from the .CBZ or .CBR file. I mentioned that CDisplay is the popular program for Windows and that I had written my own reader in Java so I would have something for Linux because there wasn’t anything a few months back. That has changed now though as there is apparently a new reader for Linux and Mac OS X named Comical.
I haven’t had a chance to try it out myself yet because on Linux you have to download the source and build it, there apparently aren’t pre-built packages available for Fedora Core yet. But this might provide another source of a reader other than my quick and crude attempt to create a reader. Maybe soon I can take the time to figure out how to build it or it will go into the usual package and building cycle that so many other applications are already on that makes them an easy install using Synaptic on Fedora.


You might notice right away that I’ve made one change in the website if you have been here before. There are now ads showing up on most of the pages from Google’s AdSense. It offers me a way to make money on click-throughs where the ads are targeted on a page by page basis. I’ve looked at a lot of the ads they provide and they actually make some logical sense (e.g. ads for collectible card games on the pages related to UberCard).
I don’t yet know if this will make any money but I’ve read some interesting reports from someone else so I thought I’d give it a try for a month or two and see how it does.
It’s all part of a big makeover you should see in the site as I approach the third anniversary of this weblog. I started this thing back on February 21st, 2001 using Blogger and it’s about time that the look and feel were updated, the front page started to take advantage of some of the MovableType innovations which came after I started using it (i.e. searching, a posting calendar on the front page, and direct links to recent archives and to recent stories). Also on the burners, an update to the Fedora Core Getting Started Guide (already partially completed), source code for a simple comic book reader I wrote to use on Linux since I don’t have CDisplay, a couple of longer format items about Java, quite a bit of code I hope to contribute to the Prevayler project, and perhaps a new presentation like Prevayler or JUnit in 30 Minutes or Less.
In addition to putting the Google ads up to try and make some money I hope to record audio of my existing Ant and Log4J presentations (and any new ones I do). The audio would be an MP3 download you could purchase via BitPass for a couple of bucks to go with the slides (which will continue to remain free). Obviously I would go over all the material on the slides themselves but I think I could do a much better job of explaining everything than just trying to read a somewhat terse set of bullet points.