Category Archives: Brainfart

Hook Turns

Sad to use this blog to gripe about traffic – but what is it that people don’t get about hook turns? Every day I ride my motorcycle to work in the city and each day I have to do at least one hook turn. For those who’ve never driven in Melbourne (and some who do) a hook turn is a right turn executed from the left side of the road. When the light turns green in the forward direction you line up orderly on the left side of the intersection, allowing traffic and trams to continue forward unimpeded. When the lights turn orange you wait for traffic to stop and then the waiting line of cars turns. All very neat and tidy – and I imagine dreadfully scary for any interstate or international visitors. Shame it doesn’t work out so well in practise – people seem awfully frightened, leaving big spaces in the queue and then panicking and accelerating at a million miles an hour and trying to run me over!

Instructions for executing a hook turn are here on wikipedia.

I hate to think what Melbourne drivers would think as they approached the Hemel Hempstead magic roundabout…Â I know I soiled myself.

So I’ve finally jumped on the bandwagon along with all the other idiot boys. I’m tagging mainly software tools and articles at the moment. Tools and open source projects I’m being quite careful to tag accurately, I’m interested in coming months to see how much I use to search my bookmarks. Articles and long blog posts that I want to come back to I’m tagging with ‘toread’.

The firefox plugin is really cool, or it will be while the enthusiasm lasts. Javascript bookmarks are a bit less intrusive.

Also very cool is their support for a javascript linkroll which I just dropped into my word press template to show the links on the right hand side of this page. I haven’t used this kind of client side syndication in years since RDF first became news, it always works surprisingly well.

I’m enjoying following the links posted by some of my friends and colleagues, which is really the whole point of this thing right..? Web 2.0? Bah Fooey – but it is very cool.

This looks familiar

Hmm. Yeah. See I’ve had a ‘weblog’ before. Didn’t write much. But ALL the cool kids have one, so I feel compelled to start one up again. Shame I lost all that crud I wrote between 2 and 4 years ago, I’m sure it was fascinating stuff. Well anyway here we go again – if you’re unlucky to read anything on here don’t expect anything funny or witty. I’ll just every now and then post an observation or a link. Probably not much at all. Have I set your expectations high?

Busy Time

It’s been mad the last few days – a three week one-man (me) initial iteration is coming to a close. Unfortunately a demo to the key stakeholder was organised about a week early, so have been wading through comments like “can we have button xxx in a different font”… I’m slightly surprised at the client’s low expectations – they see my test report dump code and praise the friendly UI. Maybe I’ll give them an XML dump in textpad next time.

Thought I’d run through the open source tools I’ve been using:

  • webwork

    WebWork is a web application framework for J2EE. It is based on a concept called “Pull HMVC” Pull Hierarchical Model View Controller).

    Struts is a bloated pig – switching to webwork is a breath of fresh air. This carefully thought out and intuitive framework is incredibly productive.

  • Jakarta commons-lang

    The standard Java libraries fail to provide enough methods for manipulation of its core classes. The Lang Component provides these extra methods.

    I love the goal of the commons-lang project – to provide the bits’n’pieces that are missing in the standard jdk. I’m not completely immersed in this lib yet, but the bits I’ve used have been very handy indeed.

  • dom4j

    dom4j is an easy to use, open source library for working with XML, XPath and XSLT on the Java platform using the Java Collections Framework and with full support for DOM, SAX and JAXP.

    Where is JDOM going? I really like dom4j – very intuitive and comfortable to work with.

  • sitemesh

    SiteMesh is a web-page layout system and web-application integration system to aid in creating large sites consisting of many pages for which a consistent look/feel, navigation and layout scheme is required.

    I definitely like the philosophy of the opensymphony group – sitemesh is small, simple, and intuitive. One thing I love about sitemesh is that it makes my JSP templates even simpler – the less time I spend working on JSP the better…

  • jCharts

    jCharts is a 100% Java based charting utility that outputs a variety of charts. This package has been designed from the ground up for displaying charts via Servlets and JSP’s

    I didn’t have much time to search for a decent charting package a week ago. I am really pleased with the results from jCharts. An impressively flexible API.

    All free – deployed on jboss. Integrated with a commercial application worth over £1m. That rocks !

  • Sharp Zaurus

    We were visiting an old work colleague today for lunch, and he pulled out his latest toy – a wi-fi card for his Zaurus. This was my first practical introduction to both wi-fi and the zaurus and I was well impressed by both. In an afternoon of conversation the Zaurus was constantly used to refer to google for questions like “what is maple syrup made of?”, and “is baby oil a petroleum product?”. Fantastic stuff – no need to run off to the nearest computer, it just sat on the coffee table!

    For a laugh I brought up a konsole on the Zaurus and ssh’ed to my home server from their loungeroom. Very usable, really – they’ve done a great job of tiny fonts to make the console readable. My friend is a linux sysadmin so the Zaurus has a very real practical application.

    It’s shiny, it’s new, and it’s based on open source. Did I already mention that I want one?

    Opera Small Screen Rendering

    I’m starting to get real excited about the direction mobile devices are heading. Russel showed the new Nokia 3650:

    It’s got EVERYTHING. Symbian is a full-fledged modern OS, so it supports just about any spec and protocol you can think of: HTTP, SMTP, POP3, IMAP4, XHTML/i-Mode, Java, WAP, MPEG4(!!), MP3s, RealMedia, Bluetooth, SyncML, SMS, MMS and more.

    Today I realised just how good the opera small screen rendering looks. Damn – I wish I was an early adopter…

    Argh Messenger Update

    “A new version of MSN Messenger is available” Would I like to upgrade? Why not? Only because every other time MS has released a new version of messenger the damn thing has been more and more unstable. Aaargh. It’s ugly too. Time to look at another client… Gaim at home is pretty good, it even tells me when I have new hotmail, but the interface is pretty ugly. I thought Trillian was a contender, but I got bored with it very quickly. I’m looking at Jabber clients now…