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Monday, March 2nd, 2009
wow ...

Ok, that's an article for tech nerds, but I found it fascinating and well worth the time spent reading. I need to start browsing DDJ if that's the sort of content I can expect to see.

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Wednesday, February 25th, 2009
17:35 - JAX-RS web services
I've been taking a short break from my extensive PHP coding and working on a neat little Java service. I can't talk about what it does, but I can talk about one of the implementation technologies I'm checking out.

I decided to go with a REST-like API design because, frankly, SOAP doesn't impress me. That's an argument for another day, however. What I'm here to talk about now is one of the thousands of confusing little standards that seems to pop out of the JCP. It's called JAX-RS... or JSR-311, if you must. It stands for Java blah blah for REST-ful Services. It's actually pretty cool.

I've been playing around with it in the form of its "production quality references implementation", which is a piece of software called Jersey. The name is unfortunate, but the ideas are basically good.

The spec claims to allow you to export the functionality of POJOs (Plain Old Java Objects) as web services. That's only partly true. The objects you write aren't filled top to bottom with framework code like, say, a Servlet would be. They still contain plenty of Framework code in the form of annotations. It's those annotations that I love, though.

With only minimal effort, I got a web server (the Grizzly server included with Jersey) up and running and mapping URLs to method invocations in a fairly straightforward and understandable way. Here's the good part: these things are a lot easier to write than Servlets. In my simplified setting, I don't have to create any secondary artifacts (e.g. web.xml file). I create an object or a method, write a very simple annotation that describes how to map a URL to a method call, and that's that.

JAX-RS, from what I can tell, is mostly about the semantics of those annotations, and it works out very nicely. It also provides very useful tools for building URIs against your application. The URI builder can do handy things like class introspection to read your annotations at run time and build URIs against your app. For those who want to deploy inside a more traditional Java web app, there's a Servlet implementation of the JAX-RS standard, allowing you to mix and match Servlets, JSP, template engines or anything else you know how to deploy in a full-blown JEE setting.

I haven't yet looked at application security, so I can't answer those questions, yet. Overall, I'm very happy with my first day or two playing around with this technology.

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Thursday, February 19th, 2009
Since I'm on the topic of bitching about technical issues... I've got a Windows question...

Let's say I have about 8-10 applications open in Windows distributed over two displays. I'll go to the task bar, click on one to bring it to the front, and Windows will randomly choose one or more other apps to bring to front at the same time. In the worst case, it cane take me as many as four or five task bar clicks to get my screen back to the configuration I want, as Windows decides to muck up the stacking order of all these different windows.

The question, then, is how do I make Windows behave in a useful, rather than bizarrely obstructive, way. Useful is defined as doing only what I tell it to.

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Tuesday, February 17th, 2009
15:14 - SVN vs P4
I may be the only person on the whole Internet who feels this way, but...

The more I use and learn about Subversion, the more I miss Perforce.

EDIT: Hm... I suppose I'll add some content.

My latest gripe is with SVN branches and the merging of changes from one to another. While I can't say that the P4 way of doing things is necessarily far superior, it's pretty straightforward once you learn it. Make changes on branch, checkin, run p4 integrate, resolve conflicts, checkin.

The basic process is, I think, fairly similar in SVN except for the fact that, like all operations in SVN, every single one of these steps takes 18 years to complete, and the results are only moderately predictable. I'm currently struggling as I attempt to merge a bug fix from production to trunk. It literally takes six to seven minutes for my SVN client to come back and tell me it did nothing, even though there is clearly a relevant change to be merged for which I gave an explicit revision number.

EDIT 2: fixed a spelling errer.

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Tuesday, December 16th, 2008
13:20 - The Art of Persuasion

So I was puttering around on Slashdot today and ran into this. I stopped and read the article, the two followup posts, and a Wired article on the topic. I remember the quest very well, and I remember being distressed by it, for roughly the reasons stated in the original blog article. As usual, I'm late to the game, but I thought I'd post this and see what people think.

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Thursday, November 6th, 2008
13:12 - Random technical/legal question
Several years ago, I remember hearing a fun story, and I'm trying to find out if there's the slightest bit of truth to it. With the research I've done over my lunch hour so far, I'm leaning toward 'no', but I thought I'd ask people what they think. The story goes like this:

Back in the misty dawn of time, long before we had Internet-enabled toilets, a new concept was introduced in Microprocessor design called pipelining. In a sterling example of law attempting to trump technical progress, someone sued one of the earliest makers of these processors, attempting to either extract money or have them taken off the market. The legal argument, approximately, was that pipelining amounted to massive copyright violation - 1 unauthorized software copy for every pipeline stage. According to the story, the suit failed, as it should have.

I can't find anything about it, and it may just be something someone made up years ago, but the story has always stuck with me. I'll buy cookies for anyone who can point me to some form of documentation about the case. Similar arguments can be made with regard to virtually any layer of the storage hierarchy in a computer, so brownie points are awarded for related stories about caching, virtual memory, CPUs with multiple register banks, multi-level caching strategies etc.

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Friday, October 24th, 2008
Hmm... it's been about five months since my last post. I spent most of that time unemployed and depressed, and I don't like writing journal entries about the exciting new ways I developed for wasting time while I wasn't applying for jobs.

A (very) minor high point was not being on pager duty for my birthday this year, which would've made three years in a row, and the last time I checked the pager schedule, I was scheduled to be on-call on my birthday again.

Anyway, I now work for http://www.customcoder.net/, which is interesting, but has started off slow so far. Today is my first pay day, which makes me quite happy. I also have a dentist appointment soon, which doesn't make me nearly so happy, but it gave me an excuse to sleep in an extra hour, so I guess I can't complain too much.

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Tuesday, May 20th, 2008
It's been a while since I updated, and I suppose there are reasons for that. I'm currently job hunting. Have been since the end of April. I have one cornered and looking for escape routes, and I'll report back on that in due time.

In the interim, frankly, being unemployed was a nice little break. Costly, but... the first nice vacation I've had in a while. Sadly, my television broke within days of losing my job. It's still under warranty, but it's taken quite a while for anyone to come out and fix it. Parts on back order. Sad panda. In the time I don't use to look for jobs - which is a lot of it... I've been playing wow and occasionally cleaning or otherwise organizing the apartment. Life is measurably better in some ways than it was while I had a job. Go figure. Anyway, little else to report.

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Friday, April 11th, 2008
I don't know what this says about me or the Internet, but I did feel the need to verify that Squidpunk is a silly Internet meme, rather than an actual publication in the planning stages. My sense of the surreal is willing to accept that there's someone crazy enough to actually publish such a book and, moreover, I'd probably buy it.

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Thursday, April 10th, 2008
15:43 - Child Safety
I've spent a wee bit too much of my day reading up on an interesting vignette about children in New York. There are a few other articles floating around about this, but I'm curious to see what other folks think.

I'll post my opinions in comments later.

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Thursday, March 27th, 2008
13:24 - PS3 Initial Reactions
I'm posting something about a video game that isn't World of WarcraftCollapse )

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Tuesday, March 25th, 2008
13:34 - Zombie Jesus
I'm sure it wasn't the desired outcome, but sk4p had a post on his Journal about Zombie Jesus... and there was a long comment thread... and I made the mistake of reading them all. Mostly, this was just another rambling internet discussion in which no one was convinced of anything, but it has served the very useful purpose of introducing me to a stupid new meme which I happen to love... and will continue to love for 45 minutes or so until the novelty wears off. I've seen a few opinions expressed and wish to use this forum to gather more!

1) Zombie Jesus is stupid and if you think it's funny, you're stupid too.

2) Zombie Jesus is stupid and if you're offended by it, you're stupid too.

3) Zombie Jesus is yet another attack on Christian values, perpetuated by insensitive jerks on the Internet and people who have a chip on their shoulder. It has no place anywhere, because it is and ought to be offensive to all right-thinking people.

4) This would be less offensive if there were also zombie icons of other major religions. Zombie Buddha, Zombie Confucius and the Rabbi Zombie Corps at a bare minimum!

There's some overlap between these, and I'm sure I'm missing the finer nuances of the Zombie Jesus discourse. Share! Flame! Laugh! Do what you like, but I'm curious to hear responses.

Disclaimer: The research phase of this post required approximately 20 minutes of reading LJ comment spew, followed by 15 minutes of reading Uncyclopedia articles and Google references.

EDIT: In order to forestall the inevitable Zombie Feynmann reference, I'll make it up front. I'm aware of it, and approve highly.

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Friday, February 22nd, 2008
12:38 - Tidbits to entertain and enlighten
Planet Earth

ixx and I purchased and watched the Planet Earth documentary. At $70, this is well worth your time and effort as a piece of entertainment. It's impressive and wonderful and there are some amazing things in it. The first four discs are devoted to high definition footage of rare or interesting animals, plants and locations. This is television with an unusual distinction. Even our cats started watching this show. It was amazing.

The last disc is three episodes of environmental commentary, of which we have now watched two. They mix footage from the show in with lots (and I mean lots) of talking head shots of various people talking about environmentalism. Some have interesting things to say, some don't. Probably the one with the fewest interesting things to say is the narrator. These episodes fail completely as advocacy of any form, being as the narrator goes out of his way to be balanced and consistently undermines and contradicts the most interesting speakers. Mind, the first 11 episodes of the show constitute an impressive argument in favor of environmentalism simply because of what they are.

Another minor thing just occurred to me - whenever someone makes an interesting pro-environmentalist statement, the narrator undermines them. Whenever someone talks about how we need to exploit the environment for all it's worth, the narrator doesn't say a thing.


I just saw a meter maid on a Segway. This strikes me as somehow brilliant.

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Thursday, February 21st, 2008
Thank you ixx for at least a good evening after such a lousy day at work yesterday. Today got off on the right foot with a building-wide alarm going off while I was still in bed. Truly, a wonderful week.

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Wednesday, February 20th, 2008
This has turned out to be a less-than-wonderful day....

I started it out by giving myself a painful cut on my right middle finger.

It continued after I got into work and discovered my linux desktop machine was severely borked.

So severely that it took me an hour just to figure out how badly.

Hours later, after the re-install completed, I also discovered that my automatic backups stopped working last March.

So... my finger hurts, and I lost not just all my work time today, but most of my work time this week.

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Thursday, January 31st, 2008
I am no longer a home owner. That is all.

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Thursday, January 24th, 2008
I got a bunch of house stuff done today. The scheduled closing date is soon, and there's no reason to believe, at this point, that it won't happen.

A short summary for those who haven't been kept up to date: we got an offer on the house. A real one that we could take without killing ourselves. We're still losing money, but we won't complain too hard. Home inspection got de-railed because... some fucker stole our pipes!. Replaced the pipes. Fixed the furnace. Fixed the broken pipes. Fixed the drywall that was damaged while fixing the pipes. Home inspection completed. Bad news, but no deal breakers - get a bit less money back from the house.

Today, I scheduled shutdown for all the utilities and mailed all the legal documents back to Pittsburgh. Soon, the place will stop being mine, and I won't have to pay rent + mortgage anymore. Assuming nothing catastrophic happens in the immediate future, this makes me a very happy camper.

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Wednesday, January 16th, 2008
16:24 - A public service : your bad idea for the day
People drone on and on about protecting children on (or from) the Internet. I mean... it's a dangerous place. There are predators and bad people and advertisers with candy and pornography out there. At least forty eight different classifiable kinds of evil, every one of which will turn your child into a hardened criminal within 5-10 minutes.

It's very rare, however, that I hear people worrying about protecting the Internet from their children. I mean... here's your 15 year old idiot kid. He has just enough knowledge to be dangerous. Oh so dangerous, and not a clue in the world that anything he does affects other people. The rest of us want an enjoyable Internet. We want to watch our porn, exchange dirty jokes, be atheist or, Divine-Entity-of-Choice (e.g. Allah, Eris, Johnny Depp) forbid, be some other religion. Your kids spew onto our forums and mailing lists in ALL CAPS and tell us how awesome they are and they waste our time. Protect the Internet from Children. Keep your spawn off the web for the good of us all!

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Friday, January 11th, 2008
23:29 - final words on my bluetooth keyboard
Well, one final note on my adventures with Bluetooth - which are now definitively over. Yesterday, I got home from work, started using my keyboard and discovered that, apparently, my Bluetooth adapter doesn't come with software. It only pretends to. It comes with 'Evaluation' software. So, I didn't buy a functioning product from D-Link, I bought a time-limited version of the product and have to pay more money for the real thing. This is pretty much the last straw. Every aspect of this experience has been filled with pain and frustration. I can't fully express how disappointed I am with Bluetooth in general and D-Link in particular over this mess.

I will never again purchase another Bluetooth peripheral, and I recommend against anyone else doing so either. It may work ok for phones, but it's absolute junk for input devices.

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Thursday, January 10th, 2008
9:57 - day 8
You wouldn't think it would take me until the age of 32 to figure this out. It's my 8th straight day of going to bed on time and waking up when the alarm goes off. I'm pretty sure I've literally not done this since before college. And even then, I always had my mother kicking me out of bed as I resisted every step of the way.

I'm starting to adjust, too. I now have trouble staying up past bed time. I want to sleep at the same time every night. I still have trouble waking up, and it's not really getting easier, but I'm doing it.

I'm getting a lot more done at work than I had been, which is very nice. I still won't do well in my performance review, but I'll see what happens when the time comes. My supervisor is also sending me mixed signals. "Don't kill yourself, make your life livable, but I need you to work twice as hard as your co-workers to really pull this off at review time". That kind of thing. It sounds like "put in lots of extra hours" to me, since I can't really get significantly more work done in the time I'm putting in now.

The schedule is also helping personally. I have time for my raid without having to leave work early.

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