Monday, July 31, 2006

How to get an OPML feed into your google homepage?

Several colleagues have been blogging recently, and sending around an OPML file for co-workers interested in following the new posts on those blogs.

The downloadable RSS clients seem to have good OPML import/export support, but I'm not a big fan of the fat client RSS readers because I like to be able to check my news on the go -- no matter what computer is in front of me.

I am pretty fond of my google homepage where I can scan new headlines quickly . . . so I set off to find a portlet for that page which would give me a quick heads-up to any new posts at my colleague's blogs.

After trying to search for an "OPML" portlet for my google homepage without much success, I finally found (right in front of nose) Google Reader. Here's how to hook it up to your Google homepage:

hibernate resource

Here's a random hibernate resource I stumbled on which looks promising:

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Favorites on Booklist

I've added some ratings to my booklist page. I've pretty much just got 2 categories right now: 1. I've read it, and 2. I've read it and really really liked it. You can see the ones I liked by looking for the $$$'s (no relation to money, just a character that the wiki engine would avoid parsing).


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Remembering to Blink

So, my day job consists mostly of writing Enterprise java Application/architectures (spring/aspectj/hibernate/j2ee/etc) with web front ends. With the occasional exception (last year I worked on a webstart based swing project which talked to a j2ee server backend), I rarely get to dive into what's new for java desktop applications.

I recently went on a search through the internet for a good program to remind me to occasionally look away from the computer screen (to keep my eyes from drying out while working on the computer for long periods of time). I found a mix of 'free but not quite right for my needs', and 'meets my needs and lots of other people's needs, and therefore somebody feels like it's valuable enough request payment for (nagware)'. Given that, I figured I could code something relatively quickly to meet my needs and try out a new JAVA 6 features in the process. The result: Blinky. It's an app which sits in the System Tray and reminds you to blink based on your activity level at the computer.

What did I learn from coding this? Several things:
  1. Eclipse 3.2 can work easily with JAVA 6 level code.
  2. The Full Screen JAVA API requires an active rendering loop (because of a difference in how paint events are delivered).
  3. JAVA doesn't have an event based way to monitor system wide mouse events.
  4. System Tray API included in JAVA 6 seems to work great.
Here's a link to the app/src: Blinky

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Using 2 computers on one desk

The Challenge: How to best use the 2 computers at my desk to increase my productivity.
Comp #1: 3.2ghz laptop, 2 gb ram
Comp #2: 2ghz desktop w/lcd, 2gb ram

Attempt #1
Tried Multiplicity from Stardock. It let me use one computers keyboard/mouse to control both computers. To switch computers, I simply slide the mouse pointer to edge of screen towards the desktop I'd like to switch to.

  1. Automatic clipboard sharing

  2. Let's you use all the hardware

  1. Encountered too many bugs to use on a regular basis.

  2. Ability to switch can depend on responsiveness of the computer you're on (as opposed to a H/W kvm)
Attempt #2:

Use both comps. with their own keyboards/mice. Rotate my desk chair to reach each.


  1. Full power of both comps. Easy for someone to pull up a chair and work on one of my spare comps pair style.

  1. Too much rotating. Can't seem to get in a comfortable position for both keyboards/mice.

  2. No clipboard sharing without another external tool (see Resources)
Attempt #3:
Plug the display from comp2 into comp1, and use the windows extend desktop feature.

  1. Lots of desktop space to work in. Can lay out my eclipse windows in some interesting ways (since the views undock). Tip: Create a two-monitor version of each perspective and save it under a custom perspective name, like "Java - 2 monitors" or "Debug - 2 monitors". Then you can easily flip to your 2 monitor layout or your 1 monitor layout depending on which computers are available on your desk at the time.
  1. Dialogs in JAVA programs (namely eclipse tend to pop up in the wrong monitor, and/or eclipse incorrectly checks for focus based only on the current monitor).

  2. Sometimes when waiting on the cpu of comp1, I could be doing something useful. not using the full power of comp2 (no cpu)
NOTE: There is an option in windows to center the mouse on a dialog when it pops up (which saves you from having to slide the mouse very far when a dialog pops up on the wrong monitor).

Attempt #4 (what I'm using currently):
Bought a hardware usb KVM switch (IOGear miniview GCS632U KVMl). Uses one keyboard/mouse to connect to both computers. Allows me to tap Ctrl twice to switch computers

  1. When an activity (i.e. - recompiling a workspace in eclipse) is bogging down one machine, I can switch to the other to accompllish something in the meantime.


  1. Switching takes about a second.

  2. Can't see both computer's desktops at any instant.

Other options that I have not tried yet:

  1. Distributing the responsibilities of the software I'm using which bogs down. I.e. - put the database, app server, or both on a single machine which the other machine (running my development IDE for instance) then acts like a client for.

  2. Software to investigate:

Additional Resources
RemoteClip - -- Synchronizes the clipboards on both computers

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Java Posse

I'm continuing to flush out the spring enabled services notes on the wiki

I've been listening to Java Posse podcasts for the last month or so. Check them out if you get chance. . I think there's something about the 4 different voices, and the interactions between them that makes it more interesting to listen to this, than for instance, read the news headlines yourself.

This weeks show clued me in to a totally non-tech, but funny podcast... -- click at your own peril.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Focusing on the wiki right now....

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Tackling big challenges in Enterprise team builds, and a way to jumpstart Iteration 0

New build/codeanaylsis product with some very cutting edge features I haven't seen elsewhere (Build Grid, Delayed Commit, Distributed [on the build grid] Code Coverage and Static code Analysis) from the folks at Jetbrains (requires free SDN registration) :

An all-in-one development team CD (Continuous integration, source control, bug tracking, wiki, bootable) from the folks at Thoughtworks:

update: Jetbrains put up a product page describing some features of the aforementioned build product
After parsing through a bunch of old, audible orders, and the small bookshelf worth of material I have on hand, I've partially filled out the booklist. In fact, partially may be stretching it since my library is packed up right now, and I've haven't copied over my handwritten notes/reviews/opinions/etc for any of the material. Patience, grasshopper.
I've added a booklist to netsmith.

I'm going to attempt to backfill the booklist with as much as I can remember.

I'm want to keep a booklist for these reasons:
  1. So that when I give my opinion on a book to someone, they can have some context.
  2. So that I can keep track of the development of my knowledge portfolio over time and potentially identify trends or areas where I should refocus my learning efforts.
  3. So that when I personally want to recommend a book to someone and have trouble remembering the author or title, I can point them to my booklist.
  4. So that I have a place to keep notes, fieldstones, opinions, and resources related to a book.

Additionally, I plan to queue up books here based on recommendations received.

With the title and author, you can search a major bookseller to locate the book and find further information. I'm not going to use any commission/associate program (i.e. - amazon) as I wouldn't want to introduce any potential conflict of interest and/or unnecessary bias in any reviews or recommendations.

Monday, July 10, 2006

This post marks the start of netsmith -- a combination of a blog and a wiki site.

I have the following vision for the simultaneous development of both :

  1. Self Development (researching, writing)
  2. Contributing back to the internet

Here were my criteria for choosing this setup:

  1. Have a reliable, neutrally hosted blog/wiki so that I can focus on generating content.
  2. Create a blog for temporal content, opinions, research which I'm not intending to develop further.
  3. Create a wiki for more permanent content which is likely to be iteratively improved upon over time.
  4. Cost Effectiveness. Both Blogger and Wikispaces have free basic functionality.

Bonuses of this setup: Wikispaces has a feature to import a blog entry to a wiki page which could be useful.