Friday, December 30, 2005


This year's Christmas present

Forget about iPod and all that other high tech stuff. I got a turntable this year for Christmas! You know the things that played those records? It is kind of suprsing that they sell these things still.

Plugged into a good amplifier and speakers those old records really sound good. It is hard to descibe but there is a difference between digital and analog. For some reason the analog records have a better feel but maybe it is nostalga for my ears.

However, the ironic thing is that probably one of the first things I will do is convert those records to MP3's! It is kind of hard to take a record with you during a workout or a drive in the car!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Hard Drive in the Freezer - No Urban Legend

Pretended to be Myth Busters today and tried the put a clicking dead hard drive that wouldn't even boot up in freezer. It actually worked!

Sunday, December 18, 2005


Favorite new feature in OpenSolaris b28

Although ZFS got all the press in build 28 of OpenSolaris there is one feature I really appreciate. Now you can shut down Solaris by just pressing the power button. No more su to root or logging out to shut down the Vaio. May not be a useful feature for servers but is great on a sub-notebook!


VPC and OS/2 to the rescue!

I wanted to play an old game of mine "Task Force 1942". The problem is that is really old, 1992 and DOS based. I don't have an old machine with DOS around anymore. (OK I do have my old Omnibook 430 but it isn't good for games). So I turned to Virtual PC. Lucky for me one of the PM's on the VPC team at Microsoft also likes old games.

First I had read errors on the disks. The 3.5 inch disk has got to be the most unreliable type data storage that I can think of. Fixed that with an old version of PC Tools. I tried to install with a DOS image on VPC but the game wouldn't even start locked up the VPC. I remember that the game ran well under OS/2 back in the day so I gave it a try on my OS/2 image and it worked perfectly! Amazing.

Sometimes it takes some strange combinations to get the job done...

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Used a switch statement

Today I used a switch statement for the first time in a very long time, I had no choice. OK I had a choice but a long list of else if's is worse. Switch statements never seemed like the "right" thing do in Java. Why I felt it was cool in C but wrong in Java is interesting. I guess that with the object oriented mindset there is a better way. But since I have bigger fish to fry, like dealing with the transaction manager in this code, I moved on let the swtich be.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Windows Key = Meta Key

Just found this out by accident on Emacs in OpenSolaris: The Windows key isn't wasted but is setup as the Meta key. This will now be the first time I ever used this key!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005



I am a recent Emacs convert. I was suprised to see the Slashdot article today about the "new" features in Emacs 22. I have been running Emacs 22 for quite awhile now and didn't even realize how "new" the features I rely on really were. Emacs has become one of my essential tools. More on why in later posts.

Monday, December 12, 2005



Every once in a while I come across something and wonder why it took so long for me to come around to using it. I just found one of those. Over the weekend I was changing my home mail server from Linux to OpenSolaris. (Nothing wrong with Linux just a hardware usage. I am making use of my Sun Blade 100.) Well after an installation of Solaris there a few tools that I need that don't come with it, namely imap and pine. In the past I would just slap in the Software Companion and install the whole thing and be done with it. But this time I tried, it is a much better way to go. It works like Fink from OS X. It will download install the package you want along with its dependancies. So far I like it and I think it soon be my replacement for the Software Companion on Solaris.

Before I would use Slackware over Solaris for my home mail server because it was so much easier to setup the way I like. Now they are both the same with a slight edge to Solaris in ease of getting the server to how I like it. Very suprsing.

Friday, December 09, 2005


Desktop of choice: JDS

I spend most of my waking hours in front of a computer so the tools I use are very important to me. I spend time or have spent time recently with Solaris, Mac OS X, and Windows. I have come to the conclusion that the Java Desktop System (JDS), i.e. Sun's take on Gnome is my favorite. Not that the others aren't good it is just that JDS fits me better. It is simple and gets the job done. Some have complained that it too much like Windows but I really don't see that as a really a bad thing. However it isn't perfect, one important piece is missing: a good media player. The one it comes with really stinks. Since I am really a command line type, the GNOME terminal is the most important to me.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Die silently, part II

Ever have one of those weeks were you have a bug you just can't figure out? Well this was one. I couldn't figure out why data was not being saved in the database and there were no errors. It seemed that the code died silently in one of those cases that was never supposed to happen! (not my code but I have done the exact same thing in the anyway.) Here the problem was actually that I had the transaction type but I never knew it! I was looking everywhere else for the problem.

I will feel a little less stupid next time I code for something that should never happen...

Monday, December 05, 2005



After doing some work today in our DAO (Data Access Objects) I was reminded why so many people are trying to create that perfect persistence solution. Coding JDBC-SQL by hand just seems so barbaric. Every other class is clean and easy to read and then you look at DAO and it is huge. We have it to the point with reuse it isn't so bad to add to it but still, I know that some day a better persistence solution should be implemented. So on my long term to-do list is to experiment with some things like hibernate and CMP.

Friday, December 02, 2005


Don't die sliently

Most good developers know, if you have a faliure tell report it. I am not really a fan of Struts and here is one reason: Today while I was wokring on something my code sometimes forget to set the ActionMapping. Instead of blowing up with NullPointer or something all I got was a blank html doc with absolutley nothing in the log.

I also have the same problem with wificonfig in the OpenSolaris project and it annoys me too. So the moral of the story, if something fails, tell someone.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Kill with extreme prejudice

Sometime programs freak out and go around like a crazed robot in a sci-fi movie. I just had this happen on me today with JBoss. Normally I start it with in a terminal tab and I have the log scrolling by just in case an exception is thrown. One really cool feature of JBoss is that a ctrl-c brings down the serer nice and clean. Well not today. Unix has a special way of dealing with such misbehaving apps. Since ctrl-c wasn't working I did ctrl-z. This suspended it into the background. Then with this utterance:

kill -9 %1

This Jboss instance was dead.

Why did it crash? I don't know but this is the first time in over 6 months in dev and production.

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