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Sugar, We're Goin' Down

Posted by editor on October 24, 2008 at 7:51 AM PDT

Will a troubled economy ding us techies?

I'm sure a lot of us are paying more and more attention to economic and financial news over the last few months... I just re-subscribed to BusinessWeek after a long time away, feeling that the sudden on-rush of the credit crisis had taken me by surprise, certainly the kind of thing you don't want happening when you're trying to buy a house (and sell another).

But still, there's a sense that this is someone else's problem. We techies went through our apocalypse back in the dot-bomb years earlier in the decade. We've had our crunches of downsizing, unemployment, and clinging to gigs we don't like, just to keep going. The excesses of the 90's are well and truly burned off, and we're the survivors. As a Fortune article called The view from Silicon Valley quips, "even the most vapid online pet-food delivery business looks benign next to arcane financial instruments designed to line the pockets of investment bankers."

Yet, are we in Silicon Valley, Bangalore, Buckhead, or wherever immune from Wall Street's fiasco? It's hard not to keep a wary eye on stories like Sun's pre-announcement of a big quarterly loss, while other reports say that some tech firms are still flying high as others batten down the hatches, asking "so which is it? Is tech falling apart or not?"

This is the background behind the latest Poll, which asks "How concerned are you that a worsening global economy will affect your job?" Cast your vote on the front page, then visit the results page for current tallies and discussion.

And hang on tight. Nobody seems to know where this is going yet.

In Java Today,
the jLab environment extends the potential of Java for scientific computing. Initially, it provided a Matlab/Scilab like scripting language (j-script engine) that is executed by an interpreter implemented in the Java language. However, the j-script engine is interpretable and thus it is rather slow. Also, Java toolbox code is not directly accessible, but instead it requires a specific external function interface. In order to overcome these shortcomings, the current version of jLab is based on the Groovy programming language. The Groovy agile scripting language for the Java platform is both very flexible and powerful. The Groovy 1.6 runtime is based on an efficient call-site caching mechanism that allows much faster execution. By building on this mechanism jLab is close and sometimes even outperforms Matlab in mathematical scripting benchmarks.

"BlueJ is an integrated development environment (IDE) specifically designed for teaching students object-oriented programming using the Java programming language. Although BlueJ covers the introductory phase of learning to program, the NetBeans IDE offers powerful tools for professional developers. Taking the inevitable step from one into the other has been a difficult barrier for students -- until now." In the SDN article Getting Started With the NetBeans IDE BlueJ Plugin, Dana Nourie shows you how to load, edit, and create projects, and to create a GUI via drag-and-drop.

Javalobby has posted an essay by Manik Surtani considering Caching, Parallelism and Scalability. "Since about 2005, Moore's Law has stopped being relevant. Today, Amdahl's Law - coined by Gene Amdahl - is far more applicable. This law has to do with the fact that by throwing more processors to work on a problem, you don't get the expected overall throughput calculated by adding the individual throughputs of each processor. [...] You need to be conscious of the fact that workloads will be distributed and your software would need to be written specifically to take advantage of this parallelism. If your software wasn't written with parallelism in mind in the first place, portions may have to be rewritten."

Today's Forums begin with a thread about new coolness from SwingX, as cadraig asks about a
JXXTreeTable - roadmap?. "I've just been playing around with the JXXTreeTable in Kleopatras (Jeannettes?) incubator and it's awesome. I was just wondering if and what the plan was concerning continuing development and moving it into the main swingx branch. e.g. timescales etc."

Chris Desmarais needs
Help with scripting install (need to avoid license popup). "I'm working on a script to configure some servers. Installing glassfish is going to take place about 20 minutes into the script, so its hurting my script that my scripts hangs until the user accepts the license agreement manually. I really would like to remove user interaction from my installation scripts, the script under ideal circumstances is going to take about 4 hours. Is there some way for me to automate the acceptance of the license agreement when I run java -Xmx256m -jar filename.jar?"

bozimmerman passes along hard-won knowledge in
JMS In Web Services -- lessons learned. "I've had to undergo a process of adapting a web app written for another jms implementation to glassfish. As we were planning to cluster our brokers, I did all my work with glassfish jms set to REMOTE, though LOCAL has the same issues discussed below. I ran the imqbrokerd on another machine. Here are the lessons I learned that most (not all) the internet docs and articles I read neglected to tell me:"

Finally, ipodee would like to avoid a
Entity reference Conversion to Special Character
"Does anyone know how to diable the auto conversion of entity reference by SAXParser? For example, when I feed source xml file with entity reference like "& lt;" to SAXParser.parse(...), it's converted to < character in the target xml. I don't want this happen, how can I do it?"

In today's Weblogs, Jean-Francois Arcand discusses Atomosphere in Applying Asynchronous Web: The slides enter the Atmosphere.... "This week I was in the Bay area to present at the California' Silicon Valley JUG. A significant set of peoples showed up to listen to the Canadian invasion..."

Arun Gupta's tips series hits entry number 50 with
TOTD #50: Mojarra 2.0 EDR2 is now available - Try them with GlassFish v3 and NetBeans 6.5. "Yaaay, 50th tip!! The previous 49 tips are available here. Mojarra EDR2 is now available - download binary and/or source bundle! GlassFish v2 UR2 ships with Mojarra 1.2.0_04 and v3 prelude comes with 1.2.0_10. The Mojarra binaries in both v2 and v3 can be easily replaced by the new ones as described in Release Notes."

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Will a troubled economy ding us techies?


The economy at large is healthy. The trouble is mainly limited to parts of the financial industry. As long as your (main) customers are not financials you should be fine, at least if the trouble in the financial sector doesn't last too much longer (read no more than a year or so).

But (and that's a big but) the government intervention into the financial sector may well prolong the problems the sector is experiencing, plunging the entire economy into disarray as noone trusts the viability of their banks any more (and rightly so, government intervention caused the problems the sector is in in the first place).

"Will a troubled economy ding us techies? " Most likely not... business needs its infrastructure. ;-) However, both *selling* and _buying_ a house, at the same time, right now... my friend, I am very sorry to say; it is going to affect you: very much. :-( Hang in there, as my old multics machine used to say: better days are coming John