Saturday, December 31, 2005

Christmas and the Wilds

Just back from Christmas at my parents place. Did all the regular stuff. You know, got stuffed with ham, chook, turkey and pudding on the day. Lots of hot weather too.

One of the storms knocked out the local TV re-transmitters on Yellowcap Ridge. Took ABC til the next day to get signal back (about 18 hours). The 2 commercial channels took at least two days. Must have been a bit of damage. For a normal power outage/spike, the re-transmitters take 2 to 4 minutes to reboot.

On the wild side of things, we have a pair of Brolgas (aka native companions/Grus rubicunda) nesting on the Home dams. They have two chicks. These guys are fast, you generally only see them if they not see you first.

Also on the wild front, did some washing! Anyway, while I’m was bring it back in, I nearly stepped in a snake. He was about 2 to 3 foot long, as think as the end of my little finger and light grey! Adolescent colouring, so its hard to tell what type he/she was. Think we both got a surprise. He got to the rockery first/fast.

Generally a restful break.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

China and the Shoe Event Horizon

China has passed Italy in economic size

That makes China the new sixth largest economy. Judging for the comment I’ve seen today, it should passes the UK and France in the next year or so, to become the forth largest economy, behind the US, Japan and Germany.

All this reminds me of something my dear old dad said 10 or 15 years ago.

That he hoped that the Chinese people start demanding their share of China’s action (in wages & a better quality of life), before all jobs and production got sucked into China.

This always reminded me of the Shoe Event Horizon from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

But I found some stuff that said this happened in 2001

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Compilable Specifications

Attended the Canberra Java Users Group (CJUG) monthly meeting last night.

The speaker was Stephen Mellor, Chief Scientist, Mentor Graphics and author.

Currently he is doing work in the area of Model-Driven Architecture (MDA). His latest title is ‘MDA Distilled: Principles of Model-Driven Architecture’ and was published in 2004. His recent titles generally relate to executable UML. I have two of his earlier titles, ‘Object-Oriented Systems Analysis: Modeling the World in Data’ (1988) & ‘Object Lifecycles: Modeling the World in State’ (1992). Both these titles are co-authored with Sally Shlaer. I got Stephen to sign them, a real blast from the past.

Whenever I talk to other professionals about where we as a profession want to end up, I always come back to two points. The first is the problems caused by the divergence, over time, between the code base and the stakeholders desired system (as embedded in the specification/documentation plus outstanding change backlog). The second is the dichotomy between the specification as view by the stakeholders and the code base as the thing that gets compiled and executed.

To happily resolve these issues you need two things, the first is compilable specifications, the second is domain-specific languages (that become part of a compilable specification).

For me, MDA represents the next best hope of getting to compilable specifications!

As outlined by Stephen, MDA has two school of approach.

These are ‘model as blueprint’ and ‘model as executable’.

Stephen went into detail (for a 2hr talk) about the components needed to build a generalized MDA system. He then talked about the differences between the processing and components needed to do ‘model as blueprint’ and ‘model as executable’.

Stephen’s company specializes in real-time embedded systems. Some of the systems they have built sound very interesting!

The presentation slides are on this page

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Mainframes Old and Out of Style???

Over at slashdot there is a thread titled Java Is So 90s

In this thread there is a post titled "Mainframes Old and Out of Style???"

not by a long shot.
My clients are very large financial instituions and I don't know one of them who is reducing mainframe capacity. In fact, almost all of them are increasing capacity.
Most managers find it troubling that their mainframe-centric data centers continue to be well managed, predictable facilities while their Open Systems (UNIX, Wintel, Linux) data centers are a mess. Horribly erratic power and space consumption and many other woes that make management and planning a nightmare. Blade servers have not solved these problems - in fact, they have intensified them (powering and cooling 1000+ W/sq' is much more difficult than 50-100 W/sq').

While style is subjective, age is not. There's nothing old about the new systems IBM recently announced. Also, if being in style leads to huge cost overruns or getting fired, many of might choose to be a little less stylish.

Here is what I got to say about it...

I have worked on mainframe sites that were a mess.

Things like JCL weren’t under source control. Testing was usually ad-hoc to non-existent.

It’s a matter of care/professionalism on the part of both IT & System Owners.

Been places where some of the stakeholders can't event be bothered to turn up to Planning/Information meetings. I know, I fell asleep in one once! (It was in another city & I c’ld sleep the night before.)

I’ve seen 3rd Party vendors ripping off organizations blind (for customization)!

Is your Mainframe system organized because your site is well run & professional or because it’s ‘functionally stable’, i.e. dead!

My clients are very large financial institutions

How do their market shares compare to 20 years ago. What will their market shares be in 10 years time? Are they being pecked to death by new companies running blade farms?

I wont use the name ‘Open Systems’, in this case it’s a wrong term! (When did Wintel become an open system?)

It’s not the scale of the hardware that is the issue. It’s the utility of the software. Generally the newer the software, the better its utility! It’s a matter of trade offs. When does the cost of upgrading worth the benefits of the extra utility!

These small systems run the newest software.

All things considered, I’ld rather work with more recent software. Why, one word, UTILITY. Better software tools, if used in a professional & disciplined way, led to better systems that can evolved in a more timely manner.

In a COBOL environment you are fighting the language to be disciplined and structured. The grain of the COBOL language is too course! Which would you rather Unit Test, a 30K LOC of COBOL program or a 50 LOC java method?

A quiz for you!

Question: What are the four division of the COBOL program.


A good manager make sure their staff have good tools!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Blast, someone stole my RSS/text to voice idea!

One of these day I’m going to rig up a RSS to text to voice hack! One of these days…

Just found this RSS to voice post over at Doc Searls' IT Garage.

the link to


are bloggers a sub-set of journo

Over the last week or so, I’ve been pondering, just what is the difference between a blogger and a journo?

I had concluded that there was no real difference between a good blogger and a good amateur journo.

This post was just posted over at Slashdot.

Now I might just have to conclude that a really good “A-list” blogger is up there with the professional journos.


Sunday, December 04, 2005

A podcast niche for someone

While I was vegging out (reading a novel) on the couch yesterday (Sunday) morning, with a idiot box on in the corner. This segment appeared on the ABC’s, Inside Business. It was an interview with the retiring journo, Trevor Sykes.

Trevor has been a finance journo for more booms than he cares to remember. He has written under his own name and that of his alter ego, the arch-capitalist, Pierpont. You got to love someone who’s got a stock broker name Leo Liability!

The following quote from the interview took my attention

Every morning when I open the Pierpont website I get all these emails from people, and usually there is one or two ideas for a story every day. I'm going to be leaving the office with a stack of paper approximately one foot high, and every bit of paper is an investigation I never got around to. So there is plenty of material for someone who wants to come along as a copycat!

This strikes me as an opportunity, where someone with writing skill could carve an internet niche for themselves!

Someone might even be able to construct a two person interview team, like John Clarke and Bryan Dawe stage on The 7:30 Report. A good place to host this would be a some place like Cameron Reilly’s The Podcast Network

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The things Users say…: Installment 1

Got a user requested system amendment recently.

You got to fear an amendment that starts


1. Introduction.

Contrary to policy…

It’s a worry! Only got one of these stories at the moment, but I’m going to start numbering them. I’m sure the next one wont be long! Think I’ll start measuring Mean Time Between Worrying Statements (MTBWS).


Tune in next week for another adventure of GNOLLS IN S-P-A-C-C-E!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Struts: the King is Dead, long live the King!

Earlier in the year, just after JavaOne, I attended a CJUG meeting. The speaker, an Enterprise Architect for a federal government body, gave a general overview of JavaOne.

One of the point he made was that Struts (among others) was becoming ‘functionally stable’. That active development was moving to newer frameworks.

Well this trend has been confirmed by this post at Simple Thoughts

Merging Struts with Webwork2 does not surprise me. I always found WebWork easier to install and configure, while Struts has a big user base.


Monday, November 28, 2005

Open Power

At times over the last year or so, I’ve read about projects to produce open source software for spacecraft and satellites. Stuff like this and this .

Last Thursday I went to the monthly meeting of the Canberra Linux Users Group. The presentation/demonstrations on the night were about MythTV. This project has two major software components, a frontend and a backend. The way I understand it, the backend has the smarts to drive and capture images from multiple heterogeneous TV tuner cards.

Yesterday, Doc Searls, in his weblog, talked about his current home fit-out and the related Open House article in the Linux Journal.

The final straw, was the news this morning about the Montreal Climate Summit

Over the last few months, an ideas has been loitering in my braaain. That ideas is the development of an open source software suite to monitor and control small scale power systems/stations. What I’m talking about is the Operation Centre software for these systems. The systems I have in mind scale from home alternate energy systems up to small scale commercial system. The kind that a farmer or small business might invest in to produce power, where the excess is dumped into the grid (for money).

What do people think of this as an open source project?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Pop-up adds on TV? (News and Ads as one: Part 2)

This Content is King post with comments was posted to Cameron Reilly’s blog today.

It’s about this story in ‘The Age’.

For me these ‘pasted billboards’ are to TV, what Pop-up ads are to the Internet! To pursue this analogy, the scrolling banner is the text ad of TV.

I beg that content produces use the scrolling banner and keep some visible border between the content and the promotional materials that pay for it.

Do we need to go to the US magazine solution, where full page ads (and multi page ads) must have a ‘this is paid advertisement’ at the top or bottom of their advertorials. How could you police this solution on the global Internet, anyway? This enforcement issue is why I used the word ‘beg’ in the previous paragraph.

Is 'News and Add as one', the future?

I must get around to that RSS to text to voice hack sometime!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

News and Ads as one.

Had the idiot box on while I got ready for work this morning, again!

I note that in one of the human interest stories they ran, they 'painted' the shows logo into the interview. I’m not talking rolling banners here.

It was an interview with Terry Vo, the kid that lost two hands and a foot, last March in Perth.

Anyway, the background for the interview was a couple McMansions. They 'painted' the logo onto the front of one of the houses, over the front door. It was well done. It was behind the head of the interviewee (and partly obscured) and looked like a large shop sign.

So much for ‘pictures never lie’.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Is this really News, I think NOT!

Had the idiot box on while I got ready for work this morning!

I note that in the top of the hour ‘News bulletin’, before the sport, they 'reported' the winner of Australian Idol. Since when is this classed as News?

To think, this is going to count as local content and not as ad time!

One of these day I’m going to rig up a RSS to text to voice hack! One of these days…

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Not a good weekend

Sometime between Friday evening and Sunday morning, someone broke into my car…

And stole the battery!

The bastards!

Is SBS a MSM organization?

Just been reading the Public Journalism Network blog site.

One recent entry is ‘Why People of Color Don't Trust the News Media’. For me, this poses the question “Is SBS a MSM org or not?’

It’s an ethnic broadcaster, in that is includes non English language programming etc.

But there are three aspects that scream MSM to me:

1. It does not specialize in a specific language group
2. It’s a federal government ‘business entity’,
3. with big business ads.

What do people think?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Getting content into Google

Tired of waiting to be web crawled by Google, try this

My big question is:

How do they stop spammers submitting spam?

Tune in next week for another adventure of GNOLLS IN S-P-A-C-C-E!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Noon Friday.

All the presentation work is finshed.

Just the last big exercise to do!

We found no big holes in my knowleadge. But its been a while since I last played with threads, networking (expect FTP in Jakarata Commons) and GUI classes stuff. All my recent UI work has been using framework for web interfaces, stuff like Spring & WebWork.

Time to hit the books and get that certification!

Anyone need a Java programmer in Brisbane or Melbourne?

Tune in next week for another adventure of GNOLLS IN S-P-A-C-C-E!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Start of Day 4

About to begin the 4th day of my basic Java course.

Over the last 2 days, it's still been filling small holes in my basic Java knowleadge. Also found out about a few things/classes new to version 1.5, particularly Generics.

W'll see what today brings.

Tune in next week for another adventure of GNOLLS IN S-P-A-C-C-E!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Filling Holes

Just about to start the second day of the SUNs Java(TM) Programming Language cource (SL-275). Day 1 was language basics. So, as a self-taught java programmer, I knew most of it, but we did fill a few small hole.

So, if this cource is going to be of any value, we had better fill some bigger holes, later on!

But, when it comes down to it, it's resume build. I know the language (I think), but no commerial experence, so can't put it on the resume.

Time to start, today.

Tune in next week for another adventure of GNOLLS IN S-P-A-C-C-E!

Monday, October 31, 2005

and then there was One

Well, time passes. Where did the last month go?

I do want to note two passing in the last month.

The funual of Australia's second last WWI veteran was last week. He was William Evan Allan, he enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy at the outbreak of the war when he was just 14. He was the last active service veteran.

John Campbell Ross, 106, a wireless operator who enlisted just before the war end is Australia last WWI veteran.

Lest we forget.

Ronnie Barker, one of the comic greats, passed at the start of the month. One of the great stand-up comics. His most noted works are 'the Two Ronnies', with Ronnie Corbett, 'Open All Hours' and 'Porridge'. A master who's range included everything from verbal 'Spoonerisms' to dressing up in all kinds of outfits!

I'll just close with the Two Ronnies classic close.

It's Goodnight from me.
And it's Goodnight from him!

Monday, September 12, 2005

I’ve been spammed!

Well, it took 2 weeks and 5 day (since I started this blog, 25/09/05).

Today, after my 5th post, that post got two comments.

Both at the same time. Both generic ‘Great Blog’ comments and link(s) to ad stuff. In these cases; hearing aids and ‘Big Savings’ Car Insurance. Different accounts, but me thinks its the same person, given the common posting times!

Looks like I need to call for trender on a second contract!

Call For Tenders: Contract on Sydney CBD Traffic Planners

Went to the Sydney CBD yesterday evening. The first time there, since the opening of the cross city tunnel.

Usually it takes me 20 to 30 mins to get from the top of the M5 to where I park, in the City West (King/Kent/Sussex streets) area. This is during peak hour times, as I’m usually going to the Sydney XP Activity Club (SyXPAC) geek nights. I try to get up to Sydney for this, about once a month.

Last night it took me 70 minutes to get parked! Got forced across the Habour Bridge once (first time ever) and ended up in Pyrmont/Darling Habour twice!

The worst bit was that by the time I parked, it was after 7.00pm, and Borders Books was closed! Borders are the only place I know, that offer a good selection of US magazines that don’t generally make it to the local news agents. I usually buy two mags (that have cheap, crappy Australian editions). Must rings Borders today, and see if they will hold this months’ editions for me.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Comments about 'The New Inventors', Stubble Star (7/Sept/05)

Stubble-Star was one of the devices on last night’s show.

Being a farmer son, I'm close enough to the subject to realise how inept most of the questioning about the product was!

Two of the panel had no idea about the subject. Just asking motherhood questions. The one that has closer knowledge was still far enough removed as not to be able to ask the hard questions.

The Star competitor technologies are tine and chisel ploughs (used for seed sowing), not the seldom used disc plough. Disc plough use has been declining since at least the 60's.

This also allowed the inventor/promoters to push as major selling point, sometime that is only a minor point. Stubble burning is a seldom used practice, it had disappeared from the northern wheat belt by during the 70s and largely disappeared from the southern wheat during the 80s.

The promoter talked about the stars being trialled in the Wagga Wagga area and in the sandy soil of the WA. Then made the sweeping statement that it was suitable for all the wheat belts. I'ld like to see it tested in the heavy red and black (basalt) soils of the Eastern Darling Downs, the Brigalow Clays of the Western Darling Downs and the Liverpool/Moree Plains.

It looks like an interesting bit of equipment. It has good potential, even if it only matches current methods, given its claimed fuel savings.

One last silly comment from the panel was about it being a good invention, going into a growing market. I want to know, what growing market? Given the current economic and polito-legal frameworks in Australia. At most, the amount of land under the plough is either plateauing or static. An 'out of touch' comment! If the wool market improves markedly, it may even start to fall as land in SA and NSW returns to wool!

I think the Show should get Subject Area Experts to prepare a background reports for the Panel.

Outlining area such as
- Competitive technologies/methods and the economics.
- Market state
- Pros and cons of the Invention & major competitive technologies

Thursday, September 01, 2005

the Poseidon device

Saw vision about this story on the TV morning News bulletins today.

And found this online.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The things journalists say!

This morning I saw part of the Today Show on channel Nine.

It was talking about the Oil price going to US$70, after the storm in the Gulf of Mexico. They talked about some market chatter about the price going to US$100. (that’s a 42% increase).

One of the journos (...) talked about that resulting in a 40% increase in the price of petrol at the pumps! He was talking about AU$1.60! I paid AU$1.25, last time I filled up. But I’m paying Canberra prices, so there no way I can compare, as he would be talking Sydney prices. (Australia media is becoming so Sydney-centric).

This is all so overly simplistic! Anyone who portrays themselves as a financial journo should be ashamed of this logic!

Surely the pump price of fuels would include things like federal taxes, state/terr. taxes, cost of infrastructure, labour, marketing, transport, did I say taxes! Are we expecting all these to go up to 40%, over the same period.

To illustrate that there is not a one to one link between the oil price & the pump price, take the period between 1999 and now. I remember the 1999 prices, I travelled during that year!
In early 1999, the oil price got as low as US$10 and the pump price was about AU$0.72. That is a 600% increase in the US$ oil price, over 6 and a bit year! The pump price has not gone up by anywhere near that percentage!

To short cut an explanation due to time constraints one thing. To take logical leaps is another!

Tune in next week for another adventure of GNOLLS IN S-P-A-C-C-E!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Well we all got to start somewhere.

Software wise, at home, I’ve been reading a bit about Javaspaces. Must play around with it, once I get my computers & Internet setup at the new place.

Went to the Canberra Linux Users Groups (CLUG) last night. There were two interesting talks

  1. What the National Archives of Australia (NAA) is up to. They have open sourced some of their software.
  2. Incorporating java script into Samba. This should greatly improved scripting generally and installation (on all platforms).

Tune in next week for another adventure of GNOLLS IN S-P-A-C-C-E!