December 27, 2006

What I'm doing:

  • Final Fantasy III
  • Crypto-Nomicon
  • Final Fantasy V
  • Mario Kart DS
  • Big Brain Academy/Brain Age
  • cleaning the garage (work-in-progress)
  • writing Java code

Until next time

December 21, 2006

It's a boy!

Until next time

December 18, 2006

Where did I put that...

Oh! Hi there. I didn't realize I hadn't posted about anything substantial
in a while. Well, after today that will still be the case...

Things of note:

a new version of Java was officially released. Doesn't really mean
much to the general populace, but if you let it auto update on your pc
then beware of strange things in your old apps (at least just be aware
that problems could occur
If you haven't played Gears of War and you get a chance you should.
Beware though, this game is not for the kiddies (which the rating on the
box will plainly show). As far as shooters go it is a very nice game,
took me a bit to get used to the controls and the view (it is a 3rd
person view), but once you get your sea legs it's a fun ride.
Looking to get a new vehicle, have to get rid of the pickup, it was
The company is moving us around again, playing leap frog cubicle style
is a pain, but we have an excuse for being unproductive and it's the
companies fault :-)

That's not much and it's not very important but it's a busy time of year
and I haven't got a lot of tech brainstorming going on right now.

Until next time

November 27, 2006

Tis the season.

The Sooners clinched the Big 12 South title this year and will face
Nebraska saturday for the Big 12 Championship. Could be a good game with
the history behind these 2 teams and their previous rivalries.

Thanksgiving has come and gone, but the pounds didn't do as much going as
the holiday did (holidays are just festivals for overeating). Now it's
time to get in official Christmas mode. Ready or not, here it comes.

Picked up 2 things for myself this week. The newest Splinter Cell novel
(Checkmate), and the latest release in the Final Fantasy handheld series,
but this time it's for the DS (Final Fantasy III). Haven't started playing
or reading either of them yet, but I will.

Until next time

November 25, 2006



Enough said.


Turkey day in the sticks

So you know that you've gone off the grid when you make it to a place where the state newspaper doesn't have a delivery route. Growing up in Battiest, OK I never realized this, but the Daily Oklahoman is delivered by mail. Thus, when it is a holiday, you don't get your paper. Well, the wife loves the Thanksgiving edition of the paper because it has all the adverts for all the stores with sales on black friday. So, being the take care of my family type alpha-male that I am (cough, cough), I made a trek to the nearest daily stocked newspaper box which was in Hochatown, about 20 minutes from Battiest.

After all that my wife was very dissappointed to find out that the Daily Oklahoman editions that were delivered to McCurtain county don't have the usual adverts. I believe they had sections for Atwoods and JC Penney. Considering that the nearest glimpse of a shopping mall to Battiest is 3 hours away in another state that shouldn't be too surprising.

Until next time

November 21, 2006

Holidays and Football Chances

Well, it is officially the holiday season. Turkeys are being prepared for
the ovens and fine china is being dusted (except for the smart folks who
use disposable dinnerware, don't forget to recycle...). Commercials are
all about the coming gift holiday (also known as Christmas). I really like
this time of year, the weather suits me and football is in full swing.

Speaking of football, the Sooners still have a chance (slight though it may
be) to make it to the Big 12 Champoinship game. They just have to hope
that Texas A&M has a little Sooner Magic on friday and upsets the
Longhorns, then they have to make a little magic of their own against their
in-state rival the cowboys (Sooners are only favored by 6 this year).

We'll see.

Until next time

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November 14, 2006


Once at work I was working with another developer and he was approached and addressed with the following question:

How long does it take to write a class?

The first thing that popped into my head was my high school senior English Lit class. We were assigned essays every week, and every week we would pose the same question to the teacher:

How long does it have to be?

Well, he would smile very crookedly (sort of devilish as was his way) and say:

How long is a piece of string?

That was how I would have answered the question were I the one being asked, how long to write a class. You can't really even tell me that that is a valid question. You can't time that. You may can break it down and say something like, "How long to write a basic POJO?" And then I might discuss how many fields? Obviously if I have 100 fields on a POJO it will take longer than if I just had 10, even with my super cool IDE (eclipse) that allows me to generate getters and setters, I still have to type out the types and names for my fields if I want them to represent my business object properly.

All this to say that you can't measure everything, and when you try to you end up wasting time. And then you'll have to come up with a way to measure that.

Until next time


powered by performancing firefox

November 8, 2006

Coffee anyone?

Which Caffeinated Beverage are You?
You are Rockstar. What can we say, you're a star.  You've got all the ingredients to be successful.  Don't blow it.

Typical survey thingy, gotta go get more coffee now.

Until next time,

October 30, 2006

When too much is TOO MUCH

I've just got back online at home today. My PC has been waiting on a new power supply until today, got it in and all is well. Updated to Firefox 2.0 and all is grand.

I've decided that the people who run the famous teeny site TheirSpace should really control the level of content their users can post on a page. I'm serious. People don't know when they've reached a level of I have enough content on this page. What's that? You want to add something new to your page? Well then, replace something that has been on their for a month or more, no one will miss it.

Why do I complain? I have super high speed cable internet. I can surf (with my handydandy Firefox browser) at the speed of type and I don't want to be slowed down by even the faint reminder of my old dial-up days. I've recently been to a couple of old friends sites at that space and it takes for-freakin'-ever to load.

I say we should petition to have the profiles squeezed for bandwidth or stop visiting those friends' sites until they figure out that they need to clean it up.

Oh and by the way, thank goodness for AdBlock in my Firefox, it helps cut out some of the trash in that space and other ad driven sites.

Until next time

Content is King

Revver puts money where its talent is: "YouTube was sold for $1.65 billion, and not a dime went to the content creators who helped make the site famous. While the founders of YouTube pocket perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars"

This article actually raises a valid point for any content provider out there. When can your creation make someone else lots of money and not get you a dime? Really makes me wonder how much money the blog authers at blogger were paid when Google bought Blogger from Pyra. Video, music, text, lyrics, and even custom recipes. There are places all over the net that offer ways to share this info freely, but since you get to use a free service you also get no financial return on that input. That's not that big of a deal, but something to think about anytime you put your baby out there for the world to see. You never know when you'll be the next Star Wars Kid.

Until next time

October 25, 2006

Signs of World Series

Ok, fans are fans and sometimes they can make a fool of their team, but sometimes they really pull through and make you realize just how much you wish you were there instead of at home watching.

Here's a couple of signs from fans at World Series Game 3 (won by the Cardinals 5-0), [images are AP photos compliments of Yahoo!]:

Now if you have to ask then you obviously missed Game 2 and live under a rock. It was noted during the first inning that the Tigers' hot pitcher Mr. gambler (Kenny Rogers) had a bit of a dirty hand. After being asked by the home plate ump he cleaned it up before inning 2 and went on to pitch well the rest of the game.

I'm not going to belly ache about the game, he pitched well after the cleaning, but I will say I don't believe his hand was just dirty.

Until next time

October 16, 2006

Feeding the Machine Part 2: agile or nimble?

Some people have heard me come down on xp (eXtreme Programming) and assume that I am also anti-agile. At first glance that may be true, but that's just because I'm not a big fan of any method that takes more than one book and 2 seminars to grasp (I already have a degree, unless you plan on giving me a Masters I'm done with the seminars). But overall I'd say I'm a fan of Agile practices. I'm a big fan of doing things the easiest way, even if that means for now it's a pain in the neck but I know that next year I won't have a problem working with it. I believe people should make themselves better, but most of all I wish they'd just do a good job.

I'm not going to sit here and go over the agile manifesto with pros and cons and my 3 cents on them. I will say though that it wouldn't be a bad thing to go over from time to time and see if you can apply to known problem areas you have. But don't let it be your only compass, far be it from any sane, logical person to think that that little list of suggestions is the only resource that can be used to improve your daily work routine.

I'd say that overall I'm a very agile developer, but don't try and weigh me against the text book, it won't add up. I do like test-driven-development and think that all code written for any framework should have a living contract in the form of a unit-test that proves it does what you expected it to do. I even think that if you can you should use test-first development, but I can't presently go into my thoughts on how that isn't always the best thing to do (in other words that's too many words for an aside in this post). I like iterative development; but seriously, it only works if you have iterative testing going on in tandem with integration, otherwise you have an iterative waterfall that may as well have been waterfall but upper-level management prefers the buzz words so iterative development it is (with waterfall testing).

Don't get me wrong, I know I'm relatively young and new to the programming world, but in my brief stint between college and my current job I did some web development with a small company (small being the guy who started the company and me, and .... oh right, that was it). I did several small business web sites/apps that I was lucky enough to have time to start and finish there. They were pretty much all attacked from a waterfall standpoint, but I tried to get iterative use from the clients when I could. One app in particular that was a very prime cut for a young coder such as myself was almost more than I could handle, but one of the best teachers I could have had in my young career. It was a billing application for a ... well, no details please.

Needless to say it was a way for this company to manage clients and to allow their clients to log in and submit their clients for billing. It had a reporting function that printed out these neat little mail outs that I was so proud... right, I said no details. Well, on the technical side it was an ASP (classic, none of that dotnet stuff) app with VBScript talking to a MS SQL Server in the background. Starting the development process we had to right idea: meet with the clients, go over the way their system currently works (all paper and fax machine), get base requirements and client direction, fill them in on what our abilities and vision were and get the thing started.

Well, upon meeting with the clients we found that they had less time and interest in sharing their app features with us than they needed to have. It seemed all they really wanted was for us to write their app and they would use it, end of story. So we mostly had email correspondence and the occasional phone conference, but really these people didn't want to be reached. Why didn't we drop the project at this point? Well, for a 2 man company, 1 guy straight outta college and the other teaching college courses on the side, we couldn't let the project price we had all agreed on slip away (which looking back was way too cheap for what we did, 'doh!).

So what we had was a shabby set of here's what we do and a goal (the good news was no real deadline). So I took off, designed the database wrote screens, tied it all together with VBScript and I was rolling.

We got a working product going, we knew it wasn't finished, but we thought we'd accomplished a ton. Finally setup a meeting with the ever elusive clients and show off their new rig.

They're not pleased. It doesn't do this, and this isn't supposed to work like that, and why can't we see this? Being young and broke and stupid I didn't realize devastating that meeting was. So I went back to the drawing board. Re-worked the database to make all the relational data more relational and tore my app to pieces and used what was left to code what our latest meeting went over.

Again, working product. Present to clients. Go over why it's not what they wanted.

You see the pattern. It was a waterfall going dry and if I hadn't been so young in the business I would've talked the partner into giving them what we had and taking what little money we could and shake the dust off. But I worked it until it was finished and acceptable. But really, should it be that hard? No. Although, I think that with those clients I could have tried to enforce more methodologiesand tighter contracts but I don't think we would've landed the contract either. So we did what we had to.

Looking back on that I do have to say that I love a handful of agile practices and think that we could all use a refresher on how to make ourselves better programmers. But we can't forget that at the end of the day it isn't about how well we followed the process, but "how well did we write the program?".

Until next time,

October 15, 2006

Feeding the Maching: buzz words and tech speak

Watch out! You've recently been swept into a post Cobol tech job and you find yourself being bombarded by catch phrases and buzz words that are supposed to make your job easier and healtier. When in fact the main people being supported by such sensationalistic terminology are the very same people asking you to pay out the {explitive here} at thier latest and greatest seminars and conventions. Yes you guessed it, I'm referring to consultants, but as a disclaimer I'd like to say here I don't think this applies to all consultants, but there are those out there that have made a bad name for themselves and alas the good ones as well.

Before getting all up in arms about what I've said, let's dig a little into the logic (in my mind) behind what i've just penned. Sensational tech speak is an easy thing to get caught up in. Heck, I've been there myself. Throwing out the buzz words from the latest technology/framework like I was serving up franks at the world series. But lets face it. Who has the most to gain from such sensationalism in the tech world? Is it your job/framework/daily routine? Or is it the companies and authors who have made it their money maker to sell such ideas? I would say the latter.

Come on, in the long run does a pass and go consultant really care how successful your framework will be 3-4 years down the road? I understand the good ones will since they're probably in that line of work for the long run and hope that word or mouth will get out that they've done a stand up job. But really, how many books and seminars about the latest craze (which will always be everchaning) can you attend before you finally start doing a good job at writing software? And honestly, who's to say that some other way isn't just as productive? Come on, there's more than one way to make a meat loaf.

So, we have to understand that these people don't always care so much about offering a good product, but they do care about making money. So as long as it is profitable to write books and hold seminars and teach people how they should carry out daily tasks and emphasize how important it is to stand up during daily status meetings, the someone will be there to sell it. Whether or not it is a good product.

Today's rant is brought to you by me and the thoughts and expressions expressed here are the sole oppinions of me, myself, and I and can be shared as so.

I'm working on some more stuff along these lines if anyone is interested, I'm not yet sure if it will make it to press, but really who reads this blog anyway?

Until next time

October 2, 2006

My Nintendo Top 10 minus 5

At work I started trying to put together a Top 10 of the most popular Nintendo Characters of all time. I really wanted to find characters that had begun on the Classic NES and continued to be successes on each Nintendo platform. What we found when trying to do a top 10 was that it began looking like a Who’s Who for the Super Mario franchise, so after some thoughtful consideration I trimmed it down to a Top 5 and left it at that. It’s a pretty easy list, but for what it’s worth:

5) Donkey Kong
One of the classics, I’d say the only reason old DK is not higher on the list is that this was a popularity contest, and kids these days just ain’t what they used to be.

4) Samus Aran
If you don’t recognize the name it’s probably because you’ve referred to our heroine only by her franchise name, Metroid. Since it’s inception on the classic NES there has been a popular Metroid game on all (or most all) Nintendo platforms. Samus is that female bounty hunter you get to play.

3) Link
Again, you may only know this character by franchise. But, altogether the Zelda name has made this little guy one of the most welcome character on any Nintendo screen. One of the most demanded names in all video-game-dom (sorta opinionated, but I still just put him at 3 since our next 2 are probably way more popular as far as house-hold names go).

2) Pikachu
To my surprise those little “Gotta Catch ‘em All” Pokémon were the brain-child of our good friends at Nintendo. And with the popularity of the franchise as a whole I’d say you could walk into any K-8 public/private school in the US, maybe even the world, and have at least half of the students who are very friendly with our mild mannered little yellow pocket monster.

And without further ado…..

1) You guessed it: Mario
It was the game that came with the console that helped save the video game world from the biggest draught it ever experienced. Super Mario Brothers. And I’d say that not only is it popular among the populace, but I’d say that since this is Nintendo’s very own mascot that they definitely go out of their way to insure that this funny little Italian plumber gets front row on every platform they work on.

Well, that’s that, let me know if you have any differences. And if you can make a top 10 (from Nintendo created characters) without it being a list of Super Mario friends, then lets have it.

Until next time

September 28, 2006

Just one more view on Agile Development

I really found this article interesting and I love the quote:

~Stevey's Blog Rants: Good Agile, Bad Agile: "Up until maybe a year ago, I had a pretty one-dimensional view of so-called 'Agile' programming, namely that it's an idiotic fad-diet of a marketing scam making the rounds as yet another technological virus implanting itself in naive programmers who've never read 'No Silver Bullet', the kinds of programmers who buy extended warranties and self-help books and believe their bosses genuinely care about them as people, the kinds of programmers who attend conferences to make friends and who don't know how to avoid eye contact with leaflet-waving fanatics in airports and who believe writing shit on index cards will suddenly make software development easier."~

Until next time

September 26, 2006

34% White and Nerdy

Gave this survey a whirl, found out a little more about myself. You know the drill.

You are 34% white and nerdy.
How White and Nerdy Are You?

Until next time

September 25, 2006

My first Nintendo WFC experience.

To those not yet privy to the info, I now have a DS (the Onyx DS Lite I mentioned a few posts back). For now I've only picked up one DS game (I still have the option to play all my GBA games on the DS), Metroid Prime Hunters, which is not a bad game (albeit getting used to the handheld/touchscreen controls was hard at first, but once you get used to it it's a breeze). I've mostly been playing the adventure mode, but today, being home sick I decided to try and connect to my wireless internet connection and find some challengers out on the interweb to face.

Connecting wasn't hard at all. I have WEP enabled on my router (I know, it isn't very secure, but it gives me that warm feeling inside) so I have to configure my WEP key in along with my wireless SSID (if those don't make sense to you don't worry, obviously you don't have to mess with them). Once that was accomplished it was a snap to get the game to find challengers (just a few moments of time while it went off to search).

Game-play wasn't that much different from any first person shooter you might have played multiplayer with before (any of the Bond games or Perfect Dark are comparable). But I will say that not knowing your opponent does make for an unsocial environment. I told the DS to find players along my same ranking, figured since I haven't played multi-player mode before it would see me as a novice and find some novice for me to play. WRONG! Maybe I'm the only novice out there, but needless to say every opponent I found was ready and willing to kill me on sight (I understand that is the way it is played, I even had the same aspirations, but I couldn't execute as well as they did).

After playing several matches with 3 groups and getting slaughtered mercilessly I took a break. Not a bad experience, I just have to learn how to cheat. :-)

Until next time

September 16, 2006

Deja Vu?

Wow! Was that Texas Tech all over again? What a nightmare of a game. It makes me feel all gloomy, but I know as a sane person that it isn't the end of the world and it isn't even the end of the Sooner season. We still have conference play to get to (and I am still optimistic).

Don't worry, I won't be going around saying that the officials cheated us out of the game. No, I'll say the same thing I said when we lost to the Red Raiders (Texas Tech) last year:

If the Sooners had played 100% the entire game and not made so many stupid mistakes with the penalties (senseless penalties) then the officials couldn't have cheated us out of the game by making 2 or 3 bad calls.

It's true that we were cheated out of those two questionable calls within the last moments of the game. But had we earned the win from the beginning it would have been Boomer Sooner resonating after the last second ticked off the clock.

So there, I said it.
Until next time

September 9, 2006

Fall is at the door

Okay, OU pulls out another win (2-0) after a shaky first half. And if you watched the first few seconds you were probably wondering when the Sooners would decide to go forward (I know I was). But going into the half tied they came back after the break and dominated, not allowing another Washington point until close to the end of the 4th.

So far my NFL fantasy team is favored by 3 going into week one, but after my defense only got 5 pts for me I don't know if that will pan out (I went with the Dolphins since they were going up against the Steelers minus 1 Big Ben, big mistake). We'll see how my first ever fantasy team does.

Until next time,

August 25, 2006

DS Lite gets Colored

Nintendo Onyx DS Lite

The DS Lite has two new colors (being released 9/11), onyx (my fave since it matches my GBA) and of course for the female DSer(and I guess certain types of male) coral pink.

Until next time

August 22, 2006


I'll admit, when it comes to using the web I'm picky. But honestly with so many solutions for each problem out there that isn't necessarily a bad thing. One of the areas I'm most picky is my online mail account. I'm currently a GMail fanatic. I love the layout (actually it's more of the lack of banner ads that I get all warm and fuzzy about), clean and simple. I've had a Yahoo! account since I was in highschool (I graduated in '99 if you're keeping score). I actually used it for a while, even into my freshman year of college. I originally used Hotmail, but it didn't keep me (I can't even remember my address with them).

I still use my Yahoo! account for junk, you know, things that require email confirmation and you just know they're giving out your email to their marketing departments. Yahoo! has always been too cluttered for me though. The majority of the pages you see are ads, and not just text ads, banners and flash movies are all the rave with Yahoo!. Which brings me to a side point. Everyone is marketing to someone. Yahoo! just happens to be marketing to a young audience that loves the flashy movies and the 'meet your perfect mate' opportunities that Yahoo! offers.

One thing about Yahoo! mail that is a nice change (although they still haven't gotten rid of the banners) is thier new beta (does that word even mean anything on the web anymore?) mail interface. It's all ajaxified and desktop-app-like. But again, it isn't marketing to me. For instance, if you've used the new Yahoo! Mail Beta you may have noticed this little bouncing guy when waiting for your mail to load:

Link to Bouncing Liam

Now don't get me wrong, I'm a sucker for an animated Gif (I pronounce it with a 'g' like good unless I don't) just like the next person. But really, what does this little guy (they call him Liam in the file name) have to do with checking my email? Not a freakin' thing. This is just another example that they are marketing to the kiddies. A young audience is all about little images moving on the screen, it stimulates their young minds I guess. But for me, it's just annoying. I want functionality, even above aesthetics.

Until next time

August 19, 2006

SysAdmin Song

Pretty funny (although I'll admit that it isn't the funniest thing I've seen).

The Sysadmin Song (Google Video)

Until next time

August 17, 2006


As if they couldn’t find something better to do.  Now someone is out there trying to rid us of the accursed caps lock key.  They are coming to our rescue, but do we need rescuing?
Is it time to permanently retire the Caps Lock key? Pieter Hintjens thinks so.,71606-0.html?tw=rss.index - Hintjens, the CEO of iMatix, has launched the Capsoff organization in a campaign urging hardware manufacturers to ditch the oft-abused and misused key. Hintjens' plan is to build the entire infrastructure for the movement using only freely available tools from Google. He's already set up a Blogger Capsoff blog and a forum at Google Groups.
"The Caps key is an abomination," Hintjens writes on his blog. "It's a huge key, stuck right there where the Ctrl used to be, and as far as I know, it's only used by 419 scammers and Fortran programmers."
Zealous net newbies have also subjected the Caps Lock key to overuse, composing e-mails and newsgroup posts entirely in capital letters, an ugly and inelegant style of communication akin to screaming. In fact, the Capsoff organization's slogan is "STOP SHOUTING!"

Until next timeLes

August 14, 2006

My Way News - Surviving Teen Describes ID Mix-Up

This is why they wore 2 sets of dog tags in Vietnam, one around the neck and another on your foot. If your head got lost your foot would identify you. On a tech note, this may end up being a footnote for an RFID case.

My Way News - Surviving Teen Describes ID Mix-Up: "It was 'strange to find out my family and friends had a funeral for me,' says Whitney Cerak, the young woman who was wrongly identified as a dead college classmate after a van crash."

Until next time

August 10, 2006

One writers views on the History of Modern PC-dom

I found the following to be interesting enough to share here.

The great PC 'what-if' CNET "In 1981, IBM executives made either a brilliant or a boneheaded decision: They allowed a little company providing the operating system for their new PC to sell that software to other companies. "

Until next time

August 8, 2006

Prolog anyone?

Took one of those online quizzes that know so much about you. Turns out I'm a language I've never used:

You are Prolog. You enjoy looking for different ways to solve a problem.  You take longer to solve them, but usually come up with more than one solution.
Which Programming Language are You?

Until next time

July 29, 2006

Smart Mouse - sorta

Thought this was interesting. I always wondered when I should let go of the mouse:

Until next time

July 27, 2006

Code is not the problem

When most people think about software engineering/computer programming they think mainly of long, encrypted pieces of sequences of numbers and letters that make up code.  But honestly, that mysterious code that is written throughout the lifecycle of an application is one of the more simple aspects of what software engineers do.  So what’s it really about?  Problem solving.

For a while now the signature for my personal email has had the quote, “learn to code if you must, but first learn to solve problems”.  I’m not sure where that came from.  I don’t remember reading it anywhere, or hearing anyone say it.  But I don’t think I can take credit for it completely because I’m sure I heard/saw something very similar that inspired me.  Since college I’ve felt that I would have benefited from that statement a lot during my education.  I always seemed to approach assignments as tasks in learning to write code.  And if that is all I got out of it then all I could say on my resumé that college taught me to write C++ code.  Though to the inexperienced ear that may sound like a hirable trait, it doesn’t get you very far in the real world.

Writing code is no different than writing a simple paragraph.  Typically a well defined language is used.  All that’s needed is a little knowledge (heavy emphasis on little) of the syntax and reserved commands/words and voila; you’ve got code.  Why should I play down such a big part of software engineering?  Is what I do not that important?  If all I do is sit and write code then I’m not really doing my job.  Trust me I’ve seen some code out there that looks like it was written just so someone would have something to do.

What am I getting at?  Oh yeah, problem solving is the point.  Typically people approach coding as the puzzle.  And that leads to bad code.  Coding should just be a task, but a task that can’t be carried out until the problems at hand have been properly addressed.  

There are many approaches to good problem solving, so I won’t go into that here.  But proper problem solving techniques are what help the software engineer make coding a simple task.  And remember, coders are a dime a dozen, problem solvers are the ones who get it right.  Coders are the people you work with who are afraid to even look at a different language/tool.  Problem solvers will address the need and figure out what language/tool should be used when the planning is finished.

Until next time

July 20, 2006

Dog days...

Well, it is official. The dog days of summer are here. Not saying that it is as hot as it is going to get, but if we hit the zenith and headed down from here I promise I won't complain.

Well, the company is notifiying people at work that internal audits have shown that we are running Firefox and we need to uninstall it to meet company standards. Yes you heard me correctly. We are not allowed to use Firefox at work, we have to use the inferior Internet Exploder with all it's glorious security risks and lack of usability. Oh well, no use crying over it.

Caught Superman Returns last weekend. Not a bad show, although it didn't turn me into a Superman fan, he's just not my style of fictional hero.

Java is keeping me busy. Whether it be in my cup or on my screen I keep it flowing (I'm not going to comment on quality :-p ).

Until next time

July 18, 2006


Can't believe it has been over a year now being with Hertz. It was a great journey and experience to have come this far. We started out as the "Gang of Ten". Now, we are only the "Gang of Nine". What other surprises will we see...

July 8, 2006

One Year!

Happy one year, gang!


July 6, 2006

Gang of 10?

Many (all 2 of you that read) may wonder why this blog is titled Gang of 10 when it seems that there is mostly only one author (yours truly). Well, if you haven't gone back to the original posts then here is a bit of a trip to 1 year ago.

One year ago this Saturday (08 June 2006) I began working for my first salary job. I was hired along with 9 other up and coming cohorts to write software for an international rental car company. We went through seven weeks of intensive Java Enterprise training in Dallas, TX. During our time in training I thought that a good way to show each other and people back home and at the company what we were learning was to start a blog that we could all contribute to. Thinking of things to call the group was the usaul: something cool, something trendy, something catchy. At first it was a name that was oriented around the company that hired us, then a brainstorm hit. We studied so many software development patterns over this seven weeks that we were patterned out. Many of the patterns we discussed were known as the famous Gang of 4 Patterns (popular software development book by 4 renown software authors). So, since 9 plus myself equals ten I figured a copy-cat handle was appropriate.

So it stuck, we are the Gang of 10. At first it started with more contributors than myself, but alas, I am pretty much the author of the blog now. Albeit, there is the occasional word from a couple of the others.

For what it's worth.
Until next time

June 30, 2006

Enter Sandman, Venom is coming, and your friendly neighberhood Spiderman

Spider-Man 3

So I had heard rumors that Venom may make it into the newest addition to the Spiderman movie franchise and now I know it's official (albeit I may be behind the curve here, but there is so much other stuff going on to stay on top of the early news about a movie that is still almost a year away). Check out the teaser trailer if you haven't yet, it made me want to go see this movie.

Topher Grace is going to be in this one. I know what your thinking (because I thought it too). How can they put another scrawny geeky actor in this franchise, isn't Macguire enough? But from what I've seen ol' Tophy has bulked up a bit for this role (maybe even had a little facial reconstruction if that turns you on.... er, uh, we won't go there) so you may not eve recognize him in the trailer.

Definitely on my theatre hit-list for next year.

Until next time

June 29, 2006

Watch out Paypal, this ain't no beta

Google Checkout checks in: "unlike most new Google products, it is not a beta test version. 'No. For once, we are not releasing a beta product,' said Salar Kamangar, vice president of product management at Google."

More web wizardry from Google. Not a beta? They've been testing on a small group and say it's ready to go. One step at a time Google continues to make the World Wide Web a smaller place...

Until next time

June 27, 2006

In my opinion...

  • Led Zeppelin will always be better than Elvis
  • the Spaghetti Westerns (Dollars Trilogy) will always be the greatest westerns
  • Java and C# could be considered the same language (syntax, structure)
  • the internet will not make the world a better place to live
  • the Zelda franchise is superior to any other gaming franchise
  • most people take things way too seriously
  • the internet will not make the world a bad place to live
  • (waxing philosophical) the hardest life-concept to understand at times is that life is never too long and life is never too short.
  • Some greenery in my cube would be nice
  • programming is fun (most of the time)
  • video games are way too addicting
  • there's never enough time in a busy day
  • slow days are way too long
  • this list is mostly useless

Until next time

June 13, 2006

A laptop that thinks it is a desktop

Dell Home Systems XPS M2010

My fantasy laptop has finally arrived, what a monster notebook. I would gladly accept one of these from anyone wanting to gift me with one :-)

Until next time

June 1, 2006

I love the smell of critics on a monday...

Okay, so nearly a week has passed since I stood in line approximately an hour to see the 3rd installment of the x-men franchise so I guess if you were wondering what I thought you can stop holding your breath because I'm divulging now (divulging? is that a word?).... anyway... don't worry, no spoilers here.

I find it particularly humorous that this film has found itself on the sharp end of many a fine critic's back-stabbing. I myself happened to enjoy the film and found it to be a nice addition to the series, and if it must end there I won't lose any sleep. Yes, you heard it here folks. In my lowly moviegoingnotaprofessionalcriticness I came away from the flick satisfied. Besides, it was a huge first week success so I guess the early-preview critics didn't sway as many folks as they would have liked.

Was it the best of the three? No, I don't think that. I think it falls somewhere in between being better than the first and not as captivating as the second. So now I guess you know which one I think is the best...

Please don't mentally tar-and-feather me (literally either), I'm only a lowly fan.

Until next time

May 26, 2006

[print version] Theories see path to invisibility | CNET

[print version] Theories see path to invisibility CNET "science-fiction portrayals of invisibility, such as the cloaking devices used to hide space ships in Star Trek, might be truly possible."

I find this interesting yet I have to wonder who is funding this kind of research? Cure for cancer? Nah, but we can makes things harder to find.

Until next time,

Movie season

Okay, we're going to watch X-Men: The Last Stand tonight at the Cine Capri. Looking forward to that. This is always the best time of year to catch movies in the theatre. On a related note I recently found out that some hollywood middle management dope has allowed a third (as if 1 sequal wasn't bad enough) Fast and Furious movie (Tokyo Drift). I guess he can always fall back on the excuse that when the script was handed to him the cover sheet touted the title "The Lord of the Rings 4" and so he approved it without question.

Until next time

May 9, 2006

Yes there is a framework for that.

In the software development world one thing that will never change is the constant flow of new and updated frameworks. Our architectures are flooded with extensions and 3rd party code to the point of over saturation. Just when we think we've sanded down rough surface in our latest next generation code addition they release an update. Why update when you're current version is finally on the level? The promise of previous complaints being put to rest of course. Forget the fact that we've worked around the things that bother us, now the code we've strapped together to allow the *cough*unobtrusive*cough* integration of our favorite framework, we can now consider that code (which was billed to the project by the way) expendable for the sake of moving forward into the use of our favorite framework with the latest update. But wait, we're not promising that all the pieces of the previous version are going to work with the update, so you may have to do some damage control. And on it goes...

Maybe we should consider this:

What can I do for my current framework,
not what can the next framework fad do for me.
With all that being said, I'm not a software shut-in. I'm just as giddy to get into the next big thing as the next developer, I just believe we should adopt technology with caution especially when future maintainability and upgrade are a concern. And remember, you're probably not the only developer that is going to be working with the app.
If you feel like this thought is unfinished, you're not alone.
Until next time

May 5, 2006

Simply Spring

So you've heard of The Spring Framework, just one of another list of meaningless addons for your development pleasure. Or is this one really worth the hype? Well, honestly, I'm not here to advocate or obliterate the use of Spring in your Java apps, but I am going to give you an example of how I've been using it. I approach this article from a problem/solution angle, and I leave a lot to be desired in setup and configuration. If you really want to get into Spring you will need more than this article, but maybe this will show you a simple usage of Spring as an example of the framework's implementation.

Our Java app like many others has a Data Access Layer. In this layer of our app we use Data Access Objects (DAOs - pronounced dow) to access/manipulate our backend data. One issue that is always prevalent when accessing backend data is this:

Will we always be using the same backend?

This is an important question. If we change backends (i.e. switch database clients such as going from MySQL to Oracle) how much of our code is going to need to change? This is the purpose of a DAO, a single point of exit/entry for our data connections. We need to make sure and implement an architecture (pattern if you will) that will make this switch as easy as possible.

Many people are probably thinking one step ahead of me here. An easy solution to this problem would be to create a common DAO Interface that we will implement in all of our concrete DAO classes. Then in our client code (the code that needs to call on our DAO) we simply pass around the interface. But a small problem is still there. We have to instantiate our concrete DAO in our code:

InterfaceDAO dao = new ConcreteMysqlDAO();

So now every time we change our concrete DAO we have to find the code that creates an instance of ConcreteMysqlDAO and change it, keeping with switching from MySQL to Oracle now our dao instantiation looks like this;

InterfaceDAO dao = new ConcreteOracleDAO();

So now we have to update our code and recompile and redeploy, all because we changed our concrete implementation.

Ah, but many will break out their Gang of 4 Patterns book and call me a dunce. You see there is a little pattern called the Factory Pattern that can help us take care of this. We simply create a Factory object that will pass us an instance of our concrete class and now all we have to do is call to the factory to recieve our implementation:

InterfaceDAO dao = DaoFactory.getDaoInstance("concreteDao");

So now, as long as we us the same String key (concreteDao) in our Factory we won't have to change our instantiation code, but now we have to update the code in our factory. I admit this is cleaner, but it still involves updating code that shouldn't really need to be touched. The more code that has to be modified the more likely it is that you will introduce bugs into your system. That is overhead, and really un-needed overhead.

What if there is a way we can use a configuration file that references our concrete DAO? All we would have to do is update the config file any time we needed to change our concrete class. This means less code editing and fewer chances to have deployment issues. Afterall, we already deployed working code, why should we have to redeploy just because we introduce a new DAO?

So if we use Spring's handy XML configuration capabilities we can define a Spring Bean that will be an instance of our concrete DAO. A Spring Bean can be accessed via Spring's Bean Factory, which is very much an implemention of the Factory Pattern we've already talked about, the only difference is that if we use the XML configuration file to define our concrete DAO then when we need to change our DAO we don't have to make changes to any Java code that we know already works, we just change the XML reference to our DAO.

So we first define our DAO bean in the Spring XML configuration file:

<bean name="concreteDao" class="com.yourapp.dataacceess.dao.ConcreteMysqlDAO"/>

So now our Spring container will hold a reference to our MySQL DAO. We can reference it like so:

InterfaceDAO dao = (InterfaceDAO)beanFactory.getBean("concreteDao");

So now when we want our concrete DAO we just fetch if from Spring, if our concrete changes then we change the XML bean like so:

<bean name="concreteDao" class="com.yourapp.dataacceess.dao.ConcreteOracleDAO"/>

This means that we don't have to modify Java code that we know is already working, so we don't take the chance of introducing new bugs into our working code.

Until next time

May 2, 2006

New home, new class.

Well, tomorrow marks one week of owning my own home. I'm glad the paperwork is finalized, now we just have to finish cleaning out the rent house and turn it back over to the landlords by the end of May. Also, this week I've been taking a 3 day course in the Spring Framework at work. Not a bad course. I did find it annoying that the first day was basically just a Java primer getting you ready to look at Spring, but other than that it's ok.

Not much else to report, basically it goes like this:
new hard-drive
new house
new class
new day (tomorrow)

Until next time,

April 25, 2006

Surf's Up!

Came across this while surfing the web (in down time) at work:


Until next time

April 19, 2006

Time to use your mind

G'day! Something I was asked to do today was pretty neat. Not too complicated, just a little something to make you use the old noggin a bit.

First off you need this:

now the rules:
Using the numbers 1 through 8 populate the boxes above, each with one number using each number only once. No number can touch (diagonally as well as adjacent) any number that is concecutive to it in the count (4 cannot touch 3 and 5).

Like I said, not too hard, just get the old mind going.

Those of you still interested in the countdown:
1 week until I close on my new home.... ooohhh boy!

Until next time

April 13, 2006

Summer is here!

Well, not technically, but the weather could argue for it.

Busy times call for short posts. I've upgraded to my new hard drive. So far so good, all scans seem to be running green. I'll still be leary about my system for a while though (keeping fingers crossed).


Google has officially released the long awaited much anticipated Google Calendar
13 days from the closing on our new home
work is work (but not bad work)

Additional Update:

If you hadn't been keeping up with the Firefox Flicks Campaign, you should check it out. It's user submitted commercials promoting the popular open source browser. So far my favorite it titled Wheee! Here is a link:

Until next time

April 10, 2006

Spring Cleaning

Well, it seems that it is time to give yé Olde blog a new look. I can't take credit for the look though, thanks to blogger templates for the design.

The weather in OKC is taking a turn to warm and windy. Well, it's always windy. It was a good weekend for yard work though.

Right now I'm waiting on a new hard drive to arrive via UPS. Seems my current drive is about to kick yé Olde bucket. I may share my ventures in that when I'm finished. We'll see how it goes.

Until next time

April 4, 2006

Children of the Spam

Ok, if like me you find maniacal children congregating for a common evil purpose (Children of the Corn) completely horrifying then maybe you find the new Spam Singles commercial a bit disturbing. That is one of the scariest things to me, but I'm a little skiddish.

Upcoming Events:
  • new episode of LOST tomorrow
  • less than two weeks to tax day
  • about 3 weeks to my wife's birthday
  • less than one month to close on buying a new house

until next time

March 28, 2006

Java Technology Is Pretty new to me

I have to admit that as a Java EE developer I came in pretty late in the game. Considering that I wrote my first line of Java code less than 1 year ago on my home computer that I had been using to develop small business web-apps. I'd been trying to get a job writing C# for companies around Oklahoma City, but was coming up empty handed and noticed that there were a lot of Java jobs that I wasn't applying for (mainly because the closest I ever came to Java was a paper I wrote in college comparing Java to C++). So one day I decided to buy a Java book (Java 2 Complete, Sybex) and wrote my first "Hello World!" program in Java.

I can't say I got started writing code in my bedroom as a young lad. No, admittedly I actually tried convincing myself that writing code wasn't for me and I wanted to be a wire monkey and do some networking. But one day in my last semester I was taking Software Engineering at SOSU and something just clicked in my head. We had one major project to complete over the course of the semester. An online candy machine. Real basic. A catalog of 6 choices of candy, shopping cart functionality, you know typical simple online app. Well, everything we did in the way of actual locical, business programming was C++ since the professor didn't have time to introduce any other language and C++ was the only language really covered. I decided after a little research and talking with a friend that C++ wasn't really a good language to use when writing a simple web app. So I decided to do a little research in a language called PHP and I was hooked. I wrote my candy store in PHP with a MySQL database. At that point I decided that writing software was a good path for me.

So I started writing web apps in PHP. Then I started dabbling in ASP and from there I got into C# by way of ASP.NET and I thought I wanted to write C# software, but since the job market was pretty tapped in this area.... and here we are full circle.

So now I've immersed myself in Java and Java related technologies. Now maybe someday I'll be a programmer.

Until next time.

March 10, 2006

More on Google

Perhaps you have noticed that Google seems to be a bit of a favorite topic on this blog. Thanks to Les, our handy tech news watcher, you learned about Gmail's new group contacts feature, their integration of Google Talk with Gmail, and various other cool new snippets of web beauty coming out of the Silicon Valley giant. The thing you might not have noticed, however, is that it's no small coincidence that their name keeps coming up so many times on so many different sites. They are actively working on enough different Ajax-enabled web technologies right now that I'm really not sure how Misters Brin and Page are keeping up with their company.

There were vicious rumors a few months ago about Google planning to enter into the productivity software market. Rumors which were promptly swatted down by Google itself. But Sunday, the Official Google Blog told us the news that Writely, a web-based word processer, was absorbed by the software company. Then there's also the new CL2 calendaring application that is now in a limited Beta, but will more than like likely be a part of Gmail soon. And the list goes on: Google Page Creator, Google Base, Google Buy, Goobuntu (a potential future Linux distribution), and even more nasty rumors of Google offering a free online storage database. Needless to say, they are on the move.

It is going to be interesting to see the things that will stream out of that place in the near future. Despite their bouts of legal trouble, Google seems to keeping their developers happy and motivated (I know I dream of a job where 20% of my time could be spent on personal software projects). In the meantime, I will continue to love my Gmail account and the ease with which I can find information using their stuff. We'll see if their "Don't be evil" motto is something they stick with, and that they truly can turn out to be "A different kind of company."


Break for a smile.

I'm not really sure where this originated but I received via email from friend/colleague. Enjoy:
If Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were alive today, their infamous sketch,
"Who's on First?" might have turned out something like this:

ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: Thanks. I'm setting up an office in my den and I'm thinking about
buying a computer.


COSTELLO: No, the name's Lou.

ABBOTT: Your computer?

COSTELLO: I don't own a computer. I want to buy one.


COSTELLO: I told you, my name's Lou.

ABBOTT: What about Windows?

COSTELLO: Why? Will it get stuffy in here?

ABBOTT: Do you want a computer with Windows?

COSTELLO: I don't know. What will I see when I look at the windows?

ABBOTT: Wallpaper.

COSTELLO: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.

ABBOTT: Software for Windows?

COSTELLO: No. On the computer! I need something I can use to write
proposals, track expenses and run my business.? What do you have?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?

ABBOTT: I just did.

COSTELLO: You just did what?

ABBOTT: Recommend something.

COSTELLO: You recommended something?


COSTELLO: For my office?


COSTELLO: OK, what did you recommend for my office?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yes, for my office!

ABBOTT: I recommend Office with Windows.

COSTELLO: I already have an office with windows! OK, let's just say I'm sitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal.? What do I need?


COSTELLO: What word?

ABBOTT: Word in Office.

COSTELLO: The only word in office is office.

ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: Which word in office for windows?

ABBOTT: The Word you get when you click the blue "W".

COSTELLO: I'm going to click your blue "w" if you don't start with some straight answers.? What about financial bookkeeping? You have anything I can track my money with?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: That's right. What do you have?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: I need money to track my money?

ABBOTT: It comes bundled with your computer.

COSTELLO: What's bundled with my computer?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: Money comes with my computer?

ABBOTT: Yes. No extra charge.

COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much?

ABBOTT: One copy.

COSTELLO: Isn't it illegal to copy money?

ABBOTT: Microsoft gave us a license to copy Money.

COSTELLO: They can give you a license to copy money?


???????? (A few days later)

ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: How do I turn my computer off?

ABBOTT: Click on "START".............

March 8, 2006

Do you Wiki?

If you've never witnessed the incredible power of Wiki, honestly, you're missing out. Wikis are most well known for their use as a collaborative tool, but many are discovering that the ability to easily write complicated html markup coupled with the ability to organize information in a non-linear way is extremely effective for personal use. I must confess, I'm one of them. I recently discovered TiddlyWiki, a robust Wiki implementation that requires no setup or installation. You simply download a single html file and open it with your favorite web browser. You can get started with it immediately by clicking the hyperlink above. When you navigate to that page, a copy will be downloaded to your browser's temporary folder just like any other web page. There's also a nice tutorial on how to effectively use TiddlyWiki. Give it a try. It's really useful for keeping notes, keeping track of your bookmarks in a central location, writing a journal, or just organizing your thoughts. You can even keep the file on a USB stick and take it anywhere you go.


March 5, 2006

Not much to report

Well, not a lot going on right now. Although the past week I have found time to read again. Decided to get back into Tom Clancy (the "apostrophe" books anyway). I like the quickness of the serial novels at times. Most recently I grabbed the second Splinter Cell novel off the shelf at Books a Million; Operation Barracuda. Not a bad little read, I finished it and decided to read the first one. I haven't played any of the video games that these books were based on, but I think I may get the first one for PC. Sam Fisher is definitely b.a. I look forward to seeing new books in the series (and there is supposedly a movie in the works).

I've been doing a lot of front-end work (web stuff: JSP, Struts, the works) lately and things are getting a bit monotonous. We are about to start a new use case so things will get a little more interesting.

Not much else to report, Lost is definitely keeping me coming back week to week, I just wish they'd stop breaking for reruns ;-).

Until next time.

February 23, 2006

Guilty as charged

Ok, I admit it. I'm a living advertisement. More than 3 times a day you can probably catch the phrase, "just google that..." come out of my mouth. Someone will ask me how to spell a word, "just google it." What's the definition of...? "just google it." What's a good programming solution to use for...? "just google that..."

Also, whenever I need information from someone I just say, "just send that to my gmail." Need to know the local weather? Let me pull up my Google Home Page. When chatting about the latest news I've read I don't mention the site the content came from, I say "...I got this off my google page".

Need directions? Let me pull up Google Maps. I'm even writing this blog entry in a Google owned bloggin service. And how can I forget, what was the final score for last nights big game? Let me just pull up good ol' Google Search since that is what got them started anyway.

So you can plainly see, I use a lot of Google services. But it's not really that I have a contract with them or anything, they're just there and I like them enough. I guess the point really is that I use a lot of web services period. It is funny how technology changes us as it changes. We live in an era where information is but a few mouse-clicks, key-strokes, and hyper-text hand-shakes away. Growing up in the middle of no where with less than expendable income my biggest resource as a child was our dusty old family set of Encyclopedia Britannica [before it was available in digital format ;-) ]. Now I don't even own an encyclopedia, but I have a high-speed internet connection, so it works out.

Until next time,

February 13, 2006

Google Chat in GMail

Ok, so I just used Googles new integrated chat/gmail function. Pretty impressive.

here is the Google tidbit about it:

until next time,

February 12, 2006

Try IE7 without losing IE6

Ok, if you want to try IE7 just for kicks and grins but you're worried about losing IE6 here is a work around I've used (provided by Alex Walker of Sitepoint in Sitepoint Design View #18).

There are reported bugs and problems with this workaround,
as such understand that using any hacks/workarounds such
as this are at your own risk. If you don't want to take a chance
then this isn't for you.

if you have used this hack/workaround and find yourself
having trouble with IE6 or anything else wierd you
might find this link helpful:

So, let's say you're curious and you'd like to take IE7 for a spin, but you're not ready to let it oust IE6 as your IE of choice -- can this be done?

I'm no expert on the interplay of Microsoft components, but I did manage to get it going, and I'm happy to run you through the process I used to get it running on my XP system.

  1. Download and save the beta EXE but don't run it. It's a self-extracting, self-installing ZIP file; we want to do this manually.
  2. Create a new folder called 'IE7'.
  3. Right-click on the EXE and scroll down to 'Extract to...' for Winzip. If you don't use Winzip, this process should work in your decompression software of choice.
  4. Extract everything to your 'IE7' folder, making sure you keep the folder structure intact by keeping 'Use folder names' checked.
  5. Open your 'IE7' folder, right-click inside the folder and scroll to 'New/Text Document.
  6. Rename that file to 'iexplore.exe.local'. Make sure you're changing the file's format, not just renaming your text document to 'iexplore.exe.local.txt'.
  7. That's it. Run 'iexplore.exe' in that folder -- do not run 'iesetup.exe', which will initiate the full install
Note that Microsoft says it won't provide support for this kind of setup, so if you think you may want help, this option probably isn't for you.

Until next time,

February 2, 2006

Field User Group: testing and bug finding for free

Apple has just been sued for hearing loss. This just occuring after
several articles with hearing experts talking about the dangers of
the device related to hearing.

I wonder it it's too late to file my case against Sony for their Walkman
and Discman music players?

Well, many people flooded the IE (Internet Exploder) web site this week hungry for the newest beta release of IE 7. Being the biggest update to the browser in what seems like forever and the first update that really changes the usability of the app, many IE advocates were starving for this latest serving. Already the blogosphere has erupted with praise, complaints, and bugs. So MS (Microsoft) gets to use the frenzy of the general public as free labor for finishing their app.

Don't get me wrong, I understand this is the test platform for many apps, and it occurs abundantly in the open source arena. Now MS is getting in on the action. But really this isn't even new for them. If you look back over the years at major MS releases you will see the same thing, although this time they actually released under the beta label. Is this a turn for the better? This time they're at least being honest with the public, maybe they're finally learning from Windows 98 (Windows 98se anyone?).

I haven't given the browser a test run yet, but that isn't saying I don't want to. I'm just too busy to work for free testing an app that I know is incomplete to begin with.

Until next time,
Les Martin

January 26, 2006

More AJAX hype.

Well, if you've been keeping up with the growing popularity/use of AJAX in the modern web then you might find this article from CNet's

AJAX sets off tools race.

I for one will like to see some plugins for Eclipse. No rush though, it's not like we'll be implementing AJAX at work any time soon, but the future holds many twists and turns so who knows.

Until next time.
Les Martin