Archive for May, 2006

Java Layout Managers and Google Notebook

May 31, 2006

First of all,lack of updates recently … I have about 3 weeks left before end of semester and lots of assignments due so havn't had as much time for anything other than study at the moment. I'm handing another in soon and quite on track with the rest so will be able to update more frequently again, and on with the post….

Anyone that has made a GUI application in Java I'm sure will agree that it is extremely hard to get a nice layout. If you are using a text editor it involves heavy use of the GridBagLayout as well as mixing layouts within panels etc. And if you are using an IDE they are often cumbersome, generate awkward or propitiatory code and do not export to other IDE's easily.  I came across the Zone-Layout Manager which appears to address these issues and provides a good open source code based alternative. Definitely worth checking out if yor are a Java programmer. You can see a well written and detailed comparison here

I have installed Google Notebook and have found it useful already. Google Notebook allows a block of text to be selected and instead of copying you can choose the left mouse click option of 'Note this' which adds the selection to the notebook with the URL of the website. The notebook can be opened and viewed/edited at any time by clicking its icon in the bottom right hand corner of FireFox's status bar. A highly recommended plug-in for FireFox.

Picasa for Linux

May 28, 2006

Finally! Google have released their photo organisation software for the Linux platform. Picasa is a very good application and one I recommend for organising a large collection of images. Read more here on the official site. While browsing the google sites I also saw they have a Google Notebook firefox extension. I think I’ll use this alot.

I can’t remember what blog I found this image on so if anyone can provide me with a link that’d be great , FireFox on a bus in India 😀

Java Java Java

May 26, 2006

I have spent all day trying to get my java application (just a test application) to connect to MS SQL server 2003 from a Linux box. My code compiles and I am using the jTDS JDBC driver which allows me to connect to the server without having to use the ODBC-JDBC driver which is buggy and not recomended for production use, although it is fine for the prototype I am doing. I am getting ClassNotFound exceptions so I'm obviously setting up the driver wrong.

Among my travels I did come across The DocBook Project. Looks like it would be very useful for documentation I plan to start using this soon.

I was also going to add a music page to my blog today with some of my personaly picked essential albums and artists to look out for. I'll proberly end up doing it tomorow now as the Java stuff took much longer than expected!

I really should update my about me page too! 

JavaOne Cool Stuff

May 25, 2006

Among the topics in the cool stuff section of the recent JavaOne conference was the  High Performance: Writing a Sony PlayStation Emulator in Java™ Technology session. In this session a PlayStation emulator was demonstrated that had been written completely in Java (a few native calls were used for harddisk reading). I havn't seen any screen shots or any write ups on this so I'll have to keep an eye out. I did come across the blog Distributed Reflections of the Third Kind which briefly mentioned the session and also had posts on other JavaOne topics, I'll be keeping an eye on this blog for sure.

Yesterday I spend most of the day catching up on a systems analysis assignment which is due soon, as well as finishing my project brief for my proposed industry project. This must be approved by the head of department and board etc ,I don't think there will be any problems 🙂

I did find some good dance music mixes though:

And today I'm off rock climbing as a team buliding excercise so better go grab some lunch! 


May 24, 2006

I have been working on my projects (assignments) adding some much needed functionality to the templates I have made in XHTML and CSS. The XHTML will need a few tweaks to actually validate though but that is not a requirement of the assignment; more a good habit for me to get into, so that can wait!

So far I am really liking PHP, there are many resources available and common taks are simplified. Not having to compile the files is also quite handy when making many changes. JSP I am also enjoying, I really like the Java syntax and structure of the language and the JSP/Servlet framework in general. Tasks in JSP are more involved than similiar ones in PHP however.

I am using mySQL for the database in the PHP application and am hoping to use Microsoft Server 2003 for the JSP application. Hopefuly I can find a JDBC driver easy enough, I’m 99% sure there is a generic driver that will work though which will be fine for this assignment.

The JSPs also have to compile as well as any Java classes if you are using Java Beans etc. The Build.XML file with Tomcat makes this a very straightforward process though.

I don’t think I could comment on my perfered server side programming language as I do not have enough experience in either, all I can really say is that I am happy to develop server side applications in both.

Just a tip: When using JSP/Java beans and Get/Set methods for form data, follow naming conventions! I spent about 3 hours yesterday wondering what could be wrong with my application before realising I had named a function incorrectly! setUserName should have been setUername 🙂

Social networking and SPAM

May 21, 2006

Lately I have been getting a lot of emails from people on my contact list asking me to join <insert service name here> to view <insert contact name here>'s photos. While this would be ok for say one person to one service, as they are all interlinked (you must sign up to view x persons page) its like a never ending loop with the same person asking me to join something new each week.

The most annoying part is that these services simply load a complete contact list from a provider such as hotmail, gmail or yahoo; the people sending them do not put any thought what-so-ever into who the invites are sent to, just next > next >  next. What I'd like to see is ONE service that offers all the social networking benefits without all the spam, network issues, and privacy concerns that plague these sites, then sure I'll sign up and view/ comment on your photos and entries.

I know my friend Tom agrees on this and has posted on the topic before: see For the record @ Toms Blog.

Perhaps I could start making my own over the holidays? Perhaps a good one exists that I'm not aware of? The question to ask is why do they feel the need to keep changing? What would keep people at one community? A questioner might be in order! 

Until then I will continue to mark as spam and delete. 

JavaOne 2006

May 20, 2006

I've always wanted to go to the JavaOne Java developers conference and hope to make it within the next couple of years. This years JavaOne came to an end a few days ago and from what I have been reading there is no doubt it was a huge success. I havn't been following the conference as much as I would have liked over the week so have a bit of catching up to do on the topics and key speakers. There were quite a few topics that gained my interest, and the biggest one at the moment I think is the talk of open sourcing java! What this means to the community I am unsure of though? What did interest me was the talk of better distribution of the JDK , this is something that has annoyed me for a while. What this will mean is that Linux distros will be able to come with the JDK and Java runtime preinstalled, a very good thing 😀

The topics of XML and Java in terms of integration are what I am quite interested in at the moment because it is an area I would like to learn more about. In the past working with XML in Java is not a straight forward as it could be. Many imporvements have been made in this area and I am looking forward to trying them out.

Lately I have been busy working on assignments due in a few weeks, I am developing a content management system for a website using server side java technology as well as a promotional music website in PHP. Both of these a database driven websites and the content management system has no static data, all pages are generated on the fly when called which I think its quite cool. I will continue to develop both of these after I have handed them in as examples of my work. I would like to add features to the content management system that will make it usable for blogging (at the moment it has no commenting ability). I would like to add RSS feed support as well. I'm trying to make them both generate XHTML compliant code too. I'll be posting some screen shots up soon I think , Although I am not a designer! So they could look a bit better!

Web2.0, another web revolution

May 18, 2006

My first experience of the internet when I was 12 years old or so; Hotmail had recently been released, Geocities/ Tripod pages were very popular, and Xoom were offering huge storage space. From then on the web went through a boom with page designs becoming very creative, automation, scripting becoming popular and e-commerce taking off.

I enjoy looking back on how the web has progressed since then and am very excitied about what the web2 services are enabling. Tagging and social networking are the key aspects being introduced with web2.0. I found this image on Flickr and thought I'd share it as is a very clever image of a "tag cloud" with tags representing what web2.0 is about. I understand this image is extremely popular and many readers may have seen it already 🙂

Java Applets, What went wrong?

May 17, 2006

When the web was in its early days Java applets were the first introduction of real interaction for web pages, allowing animated images, calculators etc. With newer technologies such as JavaScript and Flash the humble Java applet is seen less and less. I see the reason for this partly to newer technologies being more lightweight and partly to Sun simply not marketing/ integrating their technology better. The newer technologies offer much of the common functionality without the overhead Java applets provide, and with the ease of use Flash brings, as well as its ability to make very nice interfaces you can see how it grew so popular. Meanwhile Java applets didn't appear to make much progress?

Everyone will be aware of the horrible grey box that is displayed when an applet fails to load, no nice message, no prompt to upgrade your runtime, just an ugly grey box. Add this to the lack of user feedback when an applet is loading (ugly grey box until it's finally loaded), compared to the nice progress indicators common with flash files and you have what now seems like old, ugly and slow technology.

And let’s not forget the awful Java plug-in, good idea, but in my opinion badly implemented. The Java plug-in should not need to add it self to the control panel, nor should it need to add it self to the system tray when an applet is loaded! A better updating interface would be nice too, those popup boxes are very annoying. All this must be especially confusing to non technical users! This is another area Flash has succeeded.

As a Java programmer and big fan of the technology/ language I see this as a bit of a shame, especially as Java as so much to offer (security was never an issue compared to active x). Although I am much more of a fan of Java on the server side 🙂

New Layout

May 16, 2006

I have changed my layout to what is actually the default wordpress theme. The reason for this is that I feel it is much easier on the eye and offers better presentation of the content, the most important bit :). This is the layout I actually want but with some subtle changes (black side bar, different background colour, different header image to name a few) but for now it suits quite fine! I think in the mean time I will also register a domain name to point to this address. I'm thinking of a name based on my full name.

I also have a couple of links I'd like to mention:

Yahoo! UI Library Grids CSS