somewhat daily mutterings

/Music The King of France

I was turned on to this group by a "celebrity playlist" on iTunes Music Store. The celebrity was Edward Norton, and his theme was to push the work of relatively unknown NY artists that he likes a lot. Well, thanks Ed, they're great. His description of them as an odd combination of Ziggy-era Bowie and the Velvet Underground, and yet unique, is apt. Personally, I hear a bit of Porcupine-era Echo and the Bunnymen in the tune White Confection.

Anyway, I ended up buying both their first album Salad Days, and their eponymous (and incomplete) new album, and have been digging them both mightily.

Posted: Thu Nov 25 07:23:25 -0800 2004

/Books The Right Nation : Conservative Power in America
Micklethwaite, Wooldridge

Finally, after months of drinking this book through a very thin straw, I'm done. The fact that I read it so slowly is no reflection on the readability of the book, but more on the amount of time I chose to spend on it, for whatever reason. It was well worth the read, but a bad side effect of reading it so slowly is that I've now lost track of what the book specifically had to say on many topics - the content is now installed in my brain as is any other general "knowledge". So, all I can offer here is the impression the book left on me. The book is an effective chronicle of the rise of the right in America over the past twenty years or so (though it digs much further back for the seeds of the rise). As a somewhat left-leaning centrist, I considered it to be pretty even-handed in its treatment of conservatives and liberals, which seems to be a rare thing these days.

Posted: Thu Nov 25 07:12:39 -0800 2004

/Programming/Java Fall 2004 RMSS Report

First, a link for those who may be looking for the updated slides to my Strangling Legacy Code session. The presentation went smoothly (from my side, anyway), and I appreciated the attendance and comments. I averaged a 3.9/5.0 in overall rating, which ain't bad for a first time presentation of this content.

As an attendee, I enjoyed all the sessions that I attended:

  • First, Erik Hatcher's Ant 1.6 Hacks was a great (re)introduction to many of the features I'm not using on my project, even though we're using Ant 1.6. I have a renewed interest in upgrading our buildfiles now.
  • Stu Halloway's Design Patterns Revisited was a great two part talk on using reflection and AOP to simplify (or factor out altogether) some common design patterns. I especially appreciated his treatment of Iterator and iteration in general. His generic iteration helper class has me reconsidering my project's use of Commons Collections (although we're quite happy with CC in general). Stu has made a nice niche for himself in this area. I finally got around to buying his book Component Development for the Java Platform at the RMSS bookstore.
  • Another Erik Hatcher session, Tapestry by Example held my interest a bit less than the other stuff. This isn't Erik's fault, it's just that web frameworks don't really hold my interest very well. I did feel that the overview was important for me to see, and that's what I got, and more.
  • Ted Neward's two-part Effective Enterprise Java talk was entertaining and informative. One of the more effective and amusing bits was when he used two audience members to demonstrate the concept of a two-phase commit. What was so effective was that he mapped 2PC onto a common human transaction -- a marriage ceremony (yours truly being one of the "transactional resources" in the demonstration).
    There were times however, where I have to admit that the enterprise development issues Ted brought up were so various and many and intertwined that it got a bit overwhelming. Still, the issues that he brought up must be considered when developing enterprise systems, and Ted is obviously encyclopedic in his knowledge.
  • Next up was back-to-back SOA talks by Justin Gehtland: SOA Explained and SOA with Axis and WS-I. Fabulous job in both cases. SOA Explained did a good job convincing me that I already had a pretty good handle on the 30k-foot level of SOA (especially the part where nothing much has really changed, diagram-wise, since I was a Vitria BusinessWare consultant in '99). SOA with Axis and WS-I was much more about code, and Justin did a great job of demonstrating just how easy it is to create web services with Axis and also of describing and demonstrating the implementation of WS-I standards implementations via Axis' layered request-handling architecture.
  • I also went to this great talk with the provocative title of Strangling Legacy Code. Well mainly I went because I had to present it :-).
  • After my session, I stuck around for Nick Lesiecki's AOP Applied talk, which was very organized and informative. I definitely left with a better understanding of AOP, both conceptually and in practice, but I have to admit I've not quite come to grips with moving it into center stage on my current project. Thanks to Nick also for being very gracious when my talk butted right up against his due to a scheduling SNAFU (and my somewhat lacking time management skills).

I really enjoyed this particular RMSS, and I appreciate Jay giving me the chance to speak. I now have the bug, or at least the beginnings of the bug. I'm considering developing another session on speculation of getting to present it somewhere. As a teaser, I'll say that it has to do with a couple of my favorite things: visualization and code.

Posted: Tue Nov 16 04:39:50 -0800 2004

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