Recent blog entries for blinker

Long time no update.

Here's what's been happening:

  • My personal J2ME projects haven't gotten much attention lately, but I'll come back to them sometime soon.
  • I gave up trying to follow the ant-dev mailing list. There was too much traffic and I wasn't using Ant enough for it to be worthwhile for me. I think that I'd be better off working on a smaller project.
  • I've got an idea for a Scrabble-related toy program that won't do anything useful but might be fun and educational. I'd originally planned to do it in Perl, but Java might be the better tool.
  • I've started playing with the Movable Type blogging system and learning about how CSS layout works now that browsers implement most of it properly.
  • I passed the Java Programmer certification exam. The exam itself was challenging, but the real value was the studying process. It forced me to pick up a lot of things that I'd avoided up to that point because they seemed difficult or messy.
  • I've gotten hooked on LiveJournal and am thinking about building my own client or helping out with someone else's, but migrating my weblog from Blogger to Movable Type is my first priority.
  • I did some copy editing for the third issue of The Perl Review.

My ImageViewer app is mostly working. I just need to test it a little bit more (so far, I've only tried it on DefaultGrayPhone), comment out all of the System.out.println calls, and write up an Ant build script. I found Stampysoft's J2ME tasks, which will probably be helpful. If there's anything that doesn't cover, I can write another custom task.

I'm continuing to read Ant-Dev and while the traffic is still overwhelming I'm getting a better sense of who's who, how things work, and which messages I can skim or skip. I'm thinking about subscribing to Ant-User also and getting involved by helping users with problems as a next step towards getting involved with development. But that would be even more e-mail.

I'm also doing some work on J2ME apps of my own. The two currently underway are a Dice app (so that if you need dice and you don't have them, you can just use your phone, probably more fun than useful and an image-previewing app for developers. The image-previewer would be useful if you were working on images and wanted to try them out on the various emulators. You dump your images into the resource directory, build the app, and run the emulator. Type in a file name and it'll grab that PNG from the resource directory. Packaged with an auto-build tool that took care of the image-copying, it could be useful. The one thing I'm bummed about is that CLDC and MIDP don't seem to provide any facility for grabbing a list of the files in the resource directory. A possible expansion would be to let the user type in a URL and view an image over the network, but that'll require some research into HttpConnection stuff.

I've been struggling to keep up with the traffic on Ant- Dev. I need a better mail reader than Outlook Express. I'd like to be reading my mail on the laptop's Linux setup, but for the most part my Java development happens under Win2K so it probably makes more sense to download Eudora or something.

Anyway, there's a lot of interesting discussion on Ant-Dev. I'm getting a better sense of what's happening with the proposals for Ant 2. Observations so far:

  1. If I submit a patch, I can't expect to see it in the nightly builds right away (or even anytime soon). I may be eager to see it in a release, but that doesn't make it a top priority.
  2. Adhering to coding standards is critical. I shouldn't even think of contributing anything until I've at least read the standards a few times.
  3. Reaching consensus via e-mail is difficult. I've been thinking about how some of the e-mail discussions might have gone differently if the participants had all been in the same room. The voting system used by the Jakarta projects seems to do a pretty good job of moving things along, but voting only helps if you can call for a vote on the right question.
  4. Backwards compatibility is hard.
  5. Mailing list discussion makes much more sense when you're really familiar with the source code. I downloaded the entire Ant tree to my laptop last night so that I can start reading through it in my copious free time. I've already worked with the Task stuff, so I'm not starting from nothing.

One of my New Years Resolutions is to contribute to at least one Open Source project this year. I figured that a diary here would be a good way to keep track of that.

What have I done so far?

  • Set up an account on Savannah and looked over the Project Help Wanted listings a few times but didn't find anything good.
  • Wondered if it would be easier to get involved with software that I already use.
  • Signed up for the Ant Developers' mailing list at Jakarta and started reading it. It's going to take a while to figure out what's going on over there - at the moment, there seems to be a lot of debate over 2 proposals for new versions of Ant. Unfortunately, the proposals section of the CVS repository is hard to navigate (there's code, but no overview of the sort that I associate with "proposal"). I'll probably post to the mailing list tonight and ask for an explanation.

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