Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Eclipse Ganymede

Well, being the abject loser that I am, I downloaded Ganymede (Eclipse 3.4) ASAP, and after running it for a few, allow me to tell you what's really awesome about it:

1) Software Updates

Wow, this is a world of improvement. If there was one thing that really really sucked about Eclipse it was the software update system. One bad update in a huge list and nothing got updated. Most times, clicking Software Updates led to the system spinning for about 45-60 seconds, on a beefy Macbook Pro. Don't even get me started on dependency management. They seem to have solved all these problems. The site is more intuitive, much more nimble, and when you say you want to download 3-4 packages, it just grabs the dependencies for you. Kudos!

2) Search Results

Netbeans has always been playing catchup to Eclipse. That's a well-known fact. The thing is, since I think Netbeans 5, performing a search showed the instances in each file hit of the search term. That is a really handy feature, especially when you are doing maintenance work (much of what I do falls under that category). Now Eclipse has the same. Well done.

These are the two things I've found to be really awesome so far, in the hour and a half I've been using it. If I find more, I will definitely be back to blog about them. Eclipse is an amazing platform, and a true testament to what a bunch of people can do in the Open Source realm with some decent backing. Another great release!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My Hero...

Marcus Thames. Well, not really, but for this week at least. Marcus Thames is a left fielder for the awesome Detroit Tigers. He hits bombs, like it was the reason he was put on Earth. It has not been verified by historians or scientists, but it's been said that he was bred by mixing DNA from ninjas and Chuck Norris, then sprinkling in a little awesome powder. I just thought that anytime someone keys a Tiger resurgence by hitting home runs in five straight games, and whose last 8 HITS ARE HOME RUNS deserves a little blog love.

Marcus Thames, for this week, and maybe some of next week, you are my hero.

Monday, June 16, 2008

What It Is!

Been a while since I did an update on what's what.

Precana was actually a good time. It's a long weekend - I think total we put in almost 30 hours, but it was well set up. Not a lot of endless lectures. Good discussion. It was definitely one of those "Get out what you put in" type things, but I am glad we did it. After that we went to watch the fourth installment in the Indiana Jones series. I have been looking forward to seeing this since I heard about it.

It sucked.

The dialog was bad, the plot weak, the premise sillier than most action flick premises. Harrison Ford was actually still believable, and the action scenes, especially the part with the ants, were pretty sweet. Disappointing though. Ah well.

Reading: I am reading a few books as usual. The two most active are 'The World Without Us', by Alan Weisman and 'The First Crusade: A New History', by Thomas Asbridge. The World Without Us is a pretty popular one, and it kept seeming interesting, so I finally checked it out. It's pretty crazy to think about all the infrastructure that would just crumble if we humankind ceased to exist. While the book has the potential to be really depressing, every time it veers in that direction, it gets interesting enough that you don't feel like you are being preached to or warned. I like it half way through.

I just started the book about the First Crusade, as part of my reading regimen to understand Italian and papal history. I want to be somewhat educated on what I am seeing when I go to Italia. So far the book is written in a pretty accessible way, though as with much early history, I have a problem with the inherent required guessing that takes place due to lacking solid written evidence.

Have I mentioned that I can't freakin' wait to go Italy!?!?

As far as work, I have all manner of code out on the interwebs. The php stuff seems to have solidified enough so that I won't be doing any emergency deployments any time in the next week or so, and I will take that. We are in the midst of ironing out some issues with the latest deployment of sportsvite, and I got to dust off my performance engineering skills. It's good to know that I haven't already forgotten everything. I have to admit that working on those problems is fun, and I am lucky to have worked somewhere that gave me the ability to learn some of those relatively rare skills.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Good And Bad

Well, in the midst of doing an emergency php deployment, Jena and I found out that her parents got us a timeshare in Sardinia for our honeymoon. Makes the dire php ecommerce issues seem slightly less painful. Can't wait to get to Italy. Can't wait!

I leave you with these nuggets of wisdom:

Php deployments on a live ecommerce site from a Barnes and Noble Cafe in Bethesda - no matter what anyone tells you, it's not awesome.

Things I find to be awesome:
  • Juno Soundtrack (good movie too)
  • Old Alice Cooper music
  • Sardinia timeshares
  • Tigers sweeping the evil White Sox (about time Cabrera!)

Things that aren't great:
  • $4 for 2 hrs of wireless access
  • Cafes with one available wall outlet where the sun is shining thus making it 200 degrees while doing crazy php debugging
  • php debugging
  • The nagging feeling that after sweeping the evil White Sox, the Tigers will find a way to lose most of their next 20 games
This weekend is pre-cana for Jena and I. Hopefully we will pass. Peaceout!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ya down with PHP? Yeah you know me!

So my company also operates another related site that required a little love. It's written in php. We had to make some changes to make a client happy. I volunteered, as I thought it might be nice to learn php. After some initial trepidation, I dove in and got the application running. Getting the LAMP stack running on Mac is kind of annoying - minor weirdness with different packages and odd compatibility issues - that kind of crap doesn't exist on linux - in Ubuntu the work is accomplished by doing this:

sudo apt-get install apache2 php5-mysql libapache-2-mod-php5 mysql-server

And BAM! It works. How easy is that! Man I love Ubuntu. I should get a t-shirt that says that or something.

ANYWAY, back to the point of the post - I had a hard time getting the LAMP stack running, but I finally got it going. I got the application I needed to work with up and running in no time once the servers were setup, but we hit a snag. Some of the work I am doing requires SSL. SSL is a pain in the ass. I could not, for the life of me get it setup. Missing .so files in mac, weirdness once I found them, compilation errors, how many times must I run make and make install? This sucked, until I found this awesome MAMP program, that bundles php5, apache2, and mysql into one Mac application. This had some promise. It installed just like a regular app, and provided a GUI interface for the most common apache setup stuff, like document root. Did I mention IT'S FREE. Who are these awesome nerds that do these incredible things for us? Once I discovered this awesome tool, I was able to follow simple directions on how to setup SSL, create a bogus self-signed certificate, and holy crap, it just worked!

Since then, I have been diving right into the craziness that is php. Little intricacies like php pages that have html forms that submit back to the same php! Odd. Symbols like -> and => where there should be dots. Some things are similar. Braces. Semicolons at line endings. All in all, I found php to be a pretty simple language. I can't say I understand it fully or anything, but I am certainly able to poke around this application and make things work. I LOVE arrays that are really just like maps, or can be just like arrays. I love the convenience methods like print_r to print out all the contents of an array. Now as someone who has done almost all my programming in java, and especially in java web applications, here's the kicker. I would make a change, then refresh the page, and the change was already there. Yep. Pretty awesome. No build.xml that then deploys to the server that you then restart, then re-login to your application to see what the change did. No sir. So my lack of php skill didn't put too much of a dent in productivity. That's awesome.

I am now truly excited to rock out with Groovy or Scala or one of these other JVM-based scripting languages, so that I can get the best of both worlds. Things are going to get interesting! Man I am a horrendous nerd.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Interesting Article on Wilson Baseball

I thought that this article in the Washington Post was interesting. It discusses Wilson's baseball team's ongoing dominance in the DCIAA, and whether it makes them a good team. I thought it was really interesting, because all my life growing up, I read about Wilson winning another championship in baseball, so when they landed on our schedule in my junior year of high school, I was intrigued.

Their starting pitcher looked like Buddy Holly, but didn't pitch as well as Buddy sang. We dropped 16 runs on them in the first two innings. I struck out the side on 9 pitches in the first inning, and gave up a bunt single in between three strikeouts in the second inning. I came out of the game after that, having already scored twice after doubling and singling. I was probably the slowest runner in the Northern Region, but the third baseman was playing me to bunt (we were up 2-0 already in the first with nobody out - why would I bunt??). They struck me as not only lacking in talent, but also not particularly well coached, so I get a chuckle when Eddie Saah is always played up in the sports pages as being some sort of fantastic coach. They were easily the worst team we played that year. We won a mercy-rule shortened content something like 25-2. So this article definitely rang pretty true.

It makes me sad about the rest of the DC baseball teams. It's not as if DC is so urban that there isn't anywhere to play. There are plenty of parks. I think it all goes back to the fact that baseball just isn't as easy to go out and play as something like basketball, soccer, or football. Those sports require a minimum of gear, and there is no shortage of basketball courts. As someone who loves baseball, I wish it still held the same pull as some of the other youth sports. I will just have to have 50 kids to seed future baseball drafts. I hope my fiancee is okay with that.