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Carried from the field

Posted by editor on December 6, 2004 at 11:47 AM PST

Can you train for unsustainable pace?

I hope our international readers will permit me an American football
analogy as I fill in for Daniel. Don't worry, it will come around to
Java after a paragraph or two.

The date is January 2, 1982. The San Diego Chargers are in a playoff
game against the Miami Dolphins, in a game that will go down as href="http://www.chargers-stats.com/Miami.html">one of the greatest
ever, tagged with the nickname "The Game No One Deserved to Lose".
The Chargers jump ahead to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, on their
way to a seeming blowout. But somehow the Dolphins recover and tie the
game at 24-24. Then the game emerges as a shootout, with the teams
swapping touchdowns back and forth until it's 38-38. The players are
ravaged by the effort, some losing over ten pounds over the course of
four hours, with Chargers player Kellen Winslow repeatedly treated for a
pinched nerve, cramps, dehydration, and more, later saying "I never felt
so close to death before." Yet he manages to get himself back on field
to block a potential game-winning field goal by the Dolphins, which puts
the game into overtime, with the teams again marching up and down the
field, alternately missing and blocking field goals. Finally, the
Chargers kick a field goal and win 41-38. Players are too tired to
celebrate or mourn and Winslow is not even able to walk off the field -
he's carried off by two teammates.

For their troubles, the Chargers win a trip to Cincinnati the next
week, where they play in a wind-chill of -59 degrees Farenheit (-51 C)
and get blown away 27-7, ending their season.

All of which is meant to illustrate that you can survive the
short-term crunch, but without recovery time, you collapse in the long
run.

This sort of athletic analogy is offered by Erik Meade in his weblog
Fartlek - Increasing your Sustainable Pace. He
applies it to the "crunches" that are all too familiar in software
development, noting " typically business misses two things in this
process, starting from a sustainable pace and recovering. So they take
teams, which are already working at an unsustainable pace, and slowly,
continually turn up the pressure." He suggests the idea of the
"fartlek", a running technique in which you introduce bursts of speed in
the middle of a long-distance jog, allowing you to train for different
levels of exertion and to handle the rapid acceleration and subsequent
recovery. Unfortunately, what's often missing in the software world is
adequate recovery, which makes the fast pace unsustainable.

Also in today's Weblogs, Eitan
Suez's href="http://weblogs.java.net/blog/eitan/archive/2004/12/jdnc_the_gap_be
.html">JDNC: "The Gap" .. between Swing and Business Application
GUIs discusses where Swing's virtues end and where its problems
emerge, and how the JDesktop Native Components (JDNC) address Swing's
weaknesses: "this blog was originally going to be about JDNC but in the
course of writing, I've discovered that JDNC is more of a derivative, a
consequence of a more fundamental issue regarding most developers'
love/hate affair with Swing."

In href="http://weblogs.java.net/blog/wwake/archive/2004/12/scrum_gathering
.html">Scrum Gathering Oct '04 William C. Wake writes about a recent
gathering for those interested in the Scrum agile process. "We spent a
lot of our time trying out a variety of simulations and other means to
help teams understand what it means to do Scrum. I contributed two
exercises: Push Line/Pull Line (a demonstration of lean manufacturing),
and Second Agenda (a role-play of a standup meeting)."


Note: today's daily blog was written by Chris Adamson
(invalidname), Associate Online Editor for java.net


In Also in
Java Today
, the Core Java Tech Tip href="http://java.sun.com/developer/JDCTechTips/2004/tt1116.html#1">
Converting Images to BMP/WBMP explains J2SE 5.0 support for working
with the bitmap and wireless bitmap image formats. The tip also provides
example of using different "compression types that are specified in the
BMPImageWriteParam class by the type strings: BI_RGB, BI_RLE8, BI_RLE4,
and BI_BITFIELDS. "

Mapping relational database tables to Java objects usually involves
a lot of code, configuration, and a fair amount of trouble. The
problem, according to Jim Paterson, is one of "impedence mismatch": "the
object model is based on software engineering principles and models the
objects in the problem domain, while the relational model is based on
mathematical principles and organizes data for efficient storage and
retrieval." But for small applications with more modest needs, dropping
relational performance for object-orientation may be a good choice. In
Simple
Object Persistence with the db4o Object Database
he introduces db4o,
a small, embeddable, object-oriented database with a particularly
Java-friendly API.


In Projects and
Communities
, Hans Mueller of the href="http://community.java.net/javadesktop/">JavaDesktop community,
has followed up his compendium of href="http://weblogs.java.net/blog/hansmuller/archive/2004/10/
and_then_there.html">50 Swing component libraries with an equivalent
list for markup languages. His blog href="http://weblogs.java.net/blog/hansmuller/archive/2004/12/
your_christmas.html">Your Christmas shopping troubles are over: more
than 40 Java Markup Language Editors collects descriptions of Java
tools for UML, HTML, and XML.

Mark Roth and Roger Kitain will answer questions about JSP 2.1 and
JSF 1.2 which are designed to improve the alignment of these two
technologies in the area of expression language, and to enhance their
ease of use. Join the href="http://java.sun.com/developer/community/chat/index.html">JSP and
JSF edition of JavaLive December 7. 11:00 A.M. PST/19:00 UTC.


In today's
Forums
, fuerte kicks off a topic by declaring
that href="http://forums.java.net/jive/thread.jspa?messageID=7567&tstart=0#
7567">It's more important that Java programs be easy to read than to
write: "Graham Hamilton says that 'it's more important that Java
programs be easy to read than to write'. [...] Wouldn't it be easier if
Java had literal strings like C#, so that backslashes would not need to
be doubled, and quotation marks wouldn't need to be escaped?"

roytmana has also started a thread, suggesting that href="http://forums.java.net/jive/forum.jspa?forumID=23&start=0">Mustang
should href="http://forums.java.net/jive/thread.jspa?messageID=7217&tstart=0#
7217">Add Filter interface to java.util: "Please add a simple Filter
interface to java.util and filtering method to Collection class. It is
one of those simple universally useful interfaces like Comparable which
really should be in java.util."

User mgrev has another suggestion: href="http://forums.java.net/jive/thread.jspa?messageID=7670&tstart=0#
7670">Start up specific implementation forums: " I suggest to
create a new master forum that the individual developers at Sun can use
to communicate implementation ideas for the 'small' stuff. For instance,
the developer responsible for creating a new layout manager, say
DockingLayout, can quickly an briefly post his idea about how to
implement it and what features he intend to include. Then that can
commented and if need arises the community can help to polish the
idea."

Finally, rickcarson responds to suggestions that
generics can straighten out casting problems, declaring in href="">Re: Smalltalk that "I *loathe and despise* generics with a
passion. I *also* don't like any of the other 'features' which mean that
my 8+ yrs of highly tuned mental parsing of other peoples crap Java code
just got made obsolete... (especially the syntactic sugar ones)."


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Can you train for unsustainable pace?