Monthly Archives: October 2004

Simple But Clever Java Server Trick

i-Technology Viewpoint: Laziness Sometimes Pays (SYS-CON) As the author of this piece says, it is very very common for server applications to write out the same file over and over again. If a given page already exists in exactly the form you are about to write then why write it again, end up changing the date on the file, and then cause the user to download it again? So he substitutes a specialized version of the OutputStream that compares the data you are writing to the file that already exists if there is one there. As soon as it notices a difference it begins to change the file, but should it never change, then it leaves the file untouched so the browsers on remote machines may skip downloading it if they have a copy cached.
Simple, but clever.

Easier Development Environment Setup

Back in April 2003 I mentioned a piece of software then called Out-of-the-Box. It installed a wide variety of open source development software with a particular emphasis on Java tools like Ant, JBoss, etc. The name has changed but OpenLogic is still selling updated versions of Out-of-the-Box, now rechristened BlueGlue for $200(US)/year. You can get a one month trial for free to see if it appeals to your company.
I still think it’s neat software, but I find the price tag is going to put me off using it personally nor would I be likely to recommend it for most, not all, but most companies looking for easy ways to quickly build development environments and keep them up to date.
There is a new competitor though. MyJavaPack Home is open source software trying to fill basically the same niche. It does installation of lots of Java development tools and a few common open source tools that aren’t just for Java (e.g. MySQL). It doesn’t have as many different tools it can install nor does it offer to install example projects which use subsets of the other tools to confirm that installed everything correctly or to give you a quick starting point for your own work. But even without those, its $0 price tag and open source could make it a popular choice for people who want a quick and dirty solution to setting up a development environment (and it’s more IT people and team leads than you may think).
I hope future versions of both packages emphasize installation of groups of software based on common sets you see in work. Ant, Log4J, etc. would always be installed but there could be a group for web applications that would include Tomcat and/or JBoss plus Spring, a web service group could have Axis and/or Apache XML-RPC in it, a graphical UI one could install the JGoodies Forms and’s Common Components. Toss in some sample apps or even better, some templates for applications using Megg and you’ve got a hell of a starter kit.

A Better Way To Store Your Bookmarks is a web based way to store your bookmarks that works better than the folders that your browser supports.
Instead of a simple folders method of storing things, asks you to type in keywords as you add the bookmark to your list. Those tags give you lots of ways to get back to the same bookmark so you are much more likely to find it again when you need it. Those same tags also give you a way to look into what others have chosen to bookmark. Add searching and a way to see all recently added bookmarks and you’ve got an excellent service that you should start using right away.

Serious Question About iPodder

The idea of syndicating audio weblog entries rather than text entries has a certain appeal. Some people simply cannot write well, I unfortunately am one of them, so trying to talk to people via a broadcast is tempting.
But here’s the thing I don’t get. Lately there has been a lot of rending of clothes and lamenting over the load imposed by and amount of data transferred by a popular RSS channel feed. After all, people keep coming back over and over again and asking for all your new stuff even if the end user never even bothers to look at it (or in this case listen to it). So when you run iPodder for the first time it downloads a sample MP3 for the sample channel. It’s only 38 seconds long but almost 600K. Now, compare that to a typical RSS text channel which may run in the neigborhood of 10-20K. While I haven’t been worrying about the load put on my servers by people downloading my RSS text channels even I have to give some thought to the impact of huge numbers of downloads of large files every time I feel like saying something.
There are some mitigating factors here, the sample file was digitized at 128kbits and was in stereo. Taking it to mono and dropping the quality significantly would not be very noticable for human speech but then the length of a given audio weblog entry is likely to be significantly longer than 38 seconds too. So it may all even out.