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Absolute Beginners

Posted by editor on March 5, 2008 at 5:06 AM PST

Things not to do at startups

The Java Posse Roundup is underway in snow-covered Crested Butte... and I'm serious about the snow part. Check out Robert Cooper's photo of fellow Roundup attendee Charlie Collins standing in front of a snowbank that blocks the entire first floor of the house behind him.

The theme of this open-spaces conference is "don't repeat yourself", a pretty flexible topic for unconference sessions. I kicked off a session called "startup mistakes not to remake", which started by discussing specific lessons learned from working at startups, and continued in some interesting directions. After all, as engineers, we can't keep management from doing stupid things, so the important survival skill is to see anti-patterns at work and stay the heck away from companies where they're evident. One of the themes that emerged was that in a startup, engineers can't afford to think they're better than anyone else; startup employees need to band together and believe in each other, and really can't tolerate the common "Dilbert"-style cynicsm about marketing or management. Joe Nuxoll and Dianne Marsh also offered some interesting perspectives about the relative markets for talent and entrepreneurs in the Bay Area and the Midwest, with Dianne trying to find a way to deal with the constant pressure from VCs to move nascent companies out West, even when highly-talented developers want to stay in (or return to) other parts of the country.

Session 2 for me focused on UI. It started with Joe Nuxoll talking about the best ideas in user experience, but took an interesting when some of the attendees pointed out that all the real progress is being made in new devices where a talented team can rethink all the concepts of user interaction: the iPhone and the Wii, for example. As Robert Cooper complained, there's been no substantial change in PC UI design since the mouse and windowed desktop took over in the mid-80's. Despite the occasional novel experiment, like the guy who did head-tracking with the Wii remote, there's nothing you as a programmer can count on being present on your end user's computer. What if, for example, your mouse had a small rumble pack, so you could get a little shake when you moused outside a window frame, or over a default button, as the Wii remote does? If it's a good idea, it might take hold -- Joe noted the quick emergence of the scroll-wheel mouse -- but improving the UI by improving the physical interaction between computer and user is a slow-moving process.

Cooper thinks it would help if JSR 82 (Java APIs for Bluetooth) was in core Java, so you could count on being able to access devices like Wii remotes. What do you think?

In Java Today,
the remarkable Ajax project Direct Web Remoting gets the spotlight in the InfoQ interview Interview: Joe Walker about DWR 3.0. "InfoQ had the opportunity to talk with the DWR (Direct Web Remoting) project lead Joe Walker. He discussed the upcoming release of DWR 3.0 including major features, helpful features and fixes for developers, a time line and a look at the future of DWR."

Kelly O'Hair is reporting about the near-future of OpenJDK releases in his blog My First OpenJDK7 Mercurial Push. Describing his upload to the JDK 7 build area forest, he writes, "This is just one of the many team areas for the JDK7 project, as the build team changes accumulate, at some point we will decide (as a team) to do some more detailed build&test runs and when we are satisfied all is well, we will reserve a time to integrate all these build changes to the master area Mercurial forest at"

The submission period for the NetBeans Innovators Grants, part of Sun's Community Innovation Awards Program, ends on Friday, March 7. "The NetBeans Innovators Grant is a process to provide grants to developers or teams of developers to work on an open source project. A total of 10 large projects will be chosen and awarded a grant of US$ 11,500 dollars. Another 10 smaller projects will be chosen and awarded a grant of US$ 2,000 dollars."

In today's Weblogs, Kohsuke Kawaguchi reports on
Progress on Hudson's i18n/l10n.
"A few months ago, I blogged about the enhancement in Hudson to enable i18n. The progress since then has been rather amazing."

Continuous Integration build strategies - stage your builds!, John Ferguson Smart writes:
"So you've got hundreds of tests, but they take ages to run. You have a Continuous Integration server, but it takes an hour to tell anyone when there's a failure. What can you do?"

Finally, Kyle Grucci reports success
Limiting auto-compilation within Netbeans 6.0.1.
"While unsuccessfully searching for a switch to turn off auto compilation within Netbeans, I did find a way to limit it (through the GUI). "

In today's Forums, whartung offers advice for getting session beans in GlassFish to commit, in
Re: Forcing commit and em.flush does not seem to do it.
"While all of your work is creating actual DB calls, the problem is that your transaction is not commiting. So all of those objects that you are creating are staying alive, and in the managed state. All flushing does is ensure that they're written to the DB, but it does not release the managed objects. You might trying makes calls to em.flush(), then followed by a call em.clear(), which is supposed to reset all of the managed entities, and make them unmanaged (and, in theory, available for GC). If that doesn't work, then you may want to try and break your transaction up in to batches, and commit the transaction at a regular interval."

maksym_shostak wants advice for providing a small JVM-and-application install, in the thread
Consumer JRE and User Experience during installation.
"I'm considering about using Consumer JRE for my desktop application. It seems it is better to wait for its release candidate [...] But my customers do not know (or need to know) English and what is Java. So, can I use Consumer JRE to create better user experience (or where is jkernel.exe and silent installation)?"

nsimpson makes the case for pointing in Wonderland in
Re: Gesture UI for 0.4 release.
"I think that pointing is a very important part of the Wonderland user model. It helps to complete the illusion that the user and their avatar are one and the same. I click with my mouse on something in world and my avatar points too. My action and my avatar's actions are connected and consistent. I also think this is essential from a social point of view. If I'm clicking on something and my action isn't visible to others then they have no idea that I'm something."

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Things not to do at startups


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