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Pretzel Logic

Posted by editor on November 21, 2005 at 8:36 AM PST

Prelude to a slow week?

To our international readers: this might be a slow week in terms of developments from the U.S. Let me explain how I think this came about. Thursday is Thanksgiving, a national holiday. Nearly everyone also gets or takes Friday off, making it a four day holiday (Friday is particularly infamous as a shopping day for the various winter holidays).

Given that this is now a four-day holiday, people start travelling. That makes for some brutal jams on the highways and at the airports (this was the premise of the memorable 1987 film comedy Planes, Trains, and Automobiles). So, if you can't get a flight or don't want to be on the roads at a "bad time", maybe you leave a little earlier. Like Wednesday morning.

Or maybe Tuesday? When I was a grad student 15 years ago, and I TA'ed a section of the media production class, I found that about a third of the class had bailed on Tuesday night. Of course, they missed out on learning how to use the audio board, so they screwed up their projects later in the semester. Note to media production TA's: trick your students by fading down the master volume (or panic black on a video switcher). See how many students methodically look at the controls to diagnose what's really wrong, and how many throw up their hands and insist it's broken. Explain to the latter group that the reason it doesn't work is because "volcano gods are angry."

So as of 1991, everyone's counting Tuesday as part of Thanksgiving vacation... and remember, this started as a single day off. You can figure where things have gotten by now. Our local school district is taking the whole week off. Even a certain university of some repute is trying out a one-week break. For a holiday based around a single meal! Seriously. I think it may just be payback for the fact that commercial interests trying to get everyone into the stores have turned the holiday into a prelude to the December shopping season: the combined hordes of Christmas and Hanukkah have overrun Thanksgiving and they're marching on Halloween!

At any rate, the front page will be with updated content through the week. Even if Friday's does get posted from Fry's Electronics' early-morning "door-buster" sale across town. My family needs DVD players, video games, and iPods.

In today's Weblogs, Daniel Brookshier has

An interview with Brian Koontz, creator of the Open Source Technology program at North Lake College:

Open Source for college credit? Yes, it's true! Daniel interviews Brian Koontz, Computer Science program coordinator and OSS zealot at North Lake College. Brian created a certificate program for Open Source Technology at North Lake College in Texas. Daniel Brookshier interviews Brian about the certificate and the open source impact of open source.

James Gosling wants you to know that
ZFS Rules!
"I have to admit that I hadn't been paying as much attention to the ZFS filesystem as I should have. I finally read through the slides and some of the other documentation, and I really got jazzed. In past lives I have been a Unix SysAdmin, and fussing with filesystems was the #1 pain in the ass (remember ncheck, dcheck and fsdb?). I couldn't believe that ZFS could be as easy and powerful as the documentation said it was, so yesterday I scrounged up a couple of extra drives, slapped them in my Opteron box, and took it out for a spin. Wow. It is that easy."

What are your favorite public REST endpoints? Eduardo Pelegri-Llopart asks this because
"One of the new features of JAX-WS 2.0 is its support for REST endpoints. We want to test the implementation and write some demos. What are your favorite public REST endpoints?"

In this week's Spotlight,
There are only a few days to go for the JavaOne 2006 Call for Papers, which closes on November 30. The CFP page offers guidance in what attendees want -- specifically "talks that deepen their practical knowledge" -- speaker selection criteria, and policies that proposals need to adhere to. Potential JavaOne attendees can voice their opinion on what kinds of sessions they'd like to see on the Planning JavaOne 2006 Forum.

In Projects and
the OpenSymphony project TestNG "is a testing framework inspired from JUnit and NUnit but introducing some new functionalities that make it more powerful and easier to use." Its advantages include support for JSR 175 annotations, flexible test configuration, default JDK functions for runtime and logging (meaning it has no dependencies), and a powerful execution model.

Dan Hushon's blog entry Sun Grid Eco-system Development offers an introduction to Sun Grid's core environment, and lists a series of potential services that could be built atop the grid. "Please join us in the Sun Grid Community, sign up a new project, get some free grid time, and let's move this vision forward."

In today's Forums,
chris_clark has some questions
Re: Migration to the Type Checking Verifier:
"Sun has said that it will 'help' tool vendors to get their products to comply with the new bytecode verifier spec, as outlined in JRS202 and appearing soon in Mustang. But as far as I know, it hasn't yet said what form this help will take. My own view is that if Sun could provide a tool to generate (or regenerate) the StackMapTable attributes from a classfile's bytecode, it would be extraordinarily useful."

The Beyond Java bookclub discussion notes author Bruce Tate's rhetorical question
Why Not Just Fix Java? "You might argue that we need to fix Java, not scrap it. That would be easy if you could pinpoint the problems. If you thought the problems were in the language itself, you could just do some major surgery and offer a new version of Java. That's easier said than done. Sun has been very careful to preserve backward compatibility at all costs. If you look at the lack of commercial acceptance for Visual Basic .NET, it's easier to respect Sun's point of view. Microsoft made some radical changes to the language and libraries , and they weren't well received. Regardless of whether it's a good idea, Sun will continue to be conservative to protect customers."

In Also in
Java Today
the Java platform's Java Foundation Classes/Swing (JFC/Swing) components are a complete package of graphical user interface (GUI) widgets. By using Swing components, you can create rich, easy-to-use GUIs in your applications. Using these components can greatly improve your application's user-friendliness. The article Customize Your JList Display focuses on one component, the javax.swing.JList object, and shows you how to customize what it displays to the user.

If you've read Bruce Tate's "Beyond Java," or his article Technologies to Watch: A Look at Four That May Challenge Java’s Development Dominance, you're probably aware that he considers Ruby to be of particular interest to Java developers. And he's not the only one. He cites several early Java luminaries who are now loudly extolling their positive experiences with Ruby. But what is it? Ruby the Rival, brings together Tate and a collection of prominent Java authors, bloggers, and developers to see what's behind the surge of interest in Ruby, and how it relates to Java. Is Ruby doing things that Java really can't, and what does Java need to do or be in order to remain on top? James Duncan Davidson, Robert Cooper, and Bill Venners weigh in with their opinions on Ruby and Java, and whether or not they're really rivals.

In today's
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Prelude to a slow week?