Recent blog entries for jcv

27 Jun 2002 (updated 27 Jun 2002 at 16:24 UTC) »

Three of the newest features in Java 1.4 were all things we had to invent back when I was building/architecting the last product I did.

  1. java.util.logging - A robust logging facility.

    We built our own early in the project, but what I can build in a day really isn't as "feature rich" as one that comes as part of a standard API. Although, I'm thinking ours is probably easier to use.

  2. getStackTrace() - Direct access to the stack.

    As part of our logging, we wanted to "automagically" have the logger know the class and method that invoked it, to be able to print it out in the logs. People are forgetful, not to mention lazy, and asking programmers to have to remember to put in the class and method name in every log call seemed painful. So, we rolled our own.

    Manually parsing the output of printStackTrace() isn't hard, but the problem comes when you switch JRE's. Sun's stack trace is different from IBM's, for example.

  3. Assertions

    Well, to be truthful, we never did find a good way to implement assertions in our code, which would have been perfect for testing preconditions and postconditions. lindsey and I felt that writing to a "contract" was important. Methods should have defined results, and no undocumented side-effects. The best way I know of to acheive this is through the use of assertions when entering and leaving a method. Of course, that theory encourages the use of single exit points in methods, which I generally think is a good idea anyway.

    The way we worked around it was through liberal use of a unit testing framework. Of course, you really need both, but we survived.

18 Jun 2002 (updated 18 Jun 2002 at 20:33 UTC) »

Ayan, cmiller and I decided to each write a pong game one day. Ayan wrote his in xlib. Chad wrote his in python. I wrote mine in Java.

It's incomplete, but you can see the ball bouncing and move the paddle around and make it bounce. If you want to play with it, I've put it up:


It was a fun afternoon exercise. I may eventually finish it.

12 Jun 2002 (updated 12 Jun 2002 at 18:54 UTC) »

I've been battling with Debian Sparc on a 2 processor Sparc20 for a while now. It's real flaky and the networking locks up fairly regularly. I've got an idea it's something to do with the SMP support since it acted ok (I think) before I switched to the SMP kernel.

This is the machine that was hosting so if you've visited there lately you've just as likely gotten a connection refused as anything else. It also acts as primary MX for 2 other domains and secondary MX for a few others, so I couldn't simply let it be. I've migrated everything to a spare Intel box we had at the office, and I'll take the Sparc completely off the internet while I figure out what's wrong with it.

Ugh. I hate bugs.


bytesplit: The letter to Bill Gates was a joke. In fact, the technical details in it are positively ludicrous. I did actually mail it though. I'll post if I get a response.

cmiller: Where have you been? The office is too dadburn quiet with you out.

Musings is rapidly becoming "". Most of the highly rated photos are not photos at all, but are over-photoshopped monstrosities that are just sorta barely related to something that once looked like a photo.


7 Jun 2002 (updated 7 Jun 2002 at 21:09 UTC) »

We had a bit of excitement this afternoon. I was walking back from Sojourners with my sister and niece who came to eat lunch with me, and there were police cars all around the bank next door to my office. They had a 22 year old boy thrown up against the hood of one of the police cars, and there were people standing all around. Then a car shot out of the parking lot around the police cars, and some of them gave chase.

It turns out the 22 year old boy was wanted for killing his mother last night. He apparently strangled her and sliced her throat when she refused to give him money to buy drugs. A customer at the bank who used to be his neighbor recognized him, and told the teller to call the police.

He was trying to cash one of his dead mother's stolen checks.

His friends saw him getting arrested and took off in his mother's stolen car. I talked a bit with the neighbor who recognized him; she was standing in the doorway to my building and was distraught, saying to herself over and over, "He didn't have to kill her... he didn't have to kill her...".

I came up with a new product idea.

22 May 2002 (updated 23 May 2002 at 19:50 UTC) »

On Mother's Day (TM), I went to visit my mom in Thomasville. We ate lunch, chatted, and about an hour into the visit, Mom noticed that I had put an earring back in my ear. Now, I'm a pretty clean cut, all American kind of guy, and most people equate that with "conventional" and "boring". Mom likes me that way. So, after noticing, she rolled her eyes and groaned without putting up too much of a fuss.

Later in the day, my 14 year old niece Halley, Mom and I were sitting around when Mom re-noticed the earring (1/2" diameter, 16 gauge captive bead, in case you care).

"I can't believe you put that thing back in your head," she bemoaned.

Halley enjoyed the subject as only a 14 year old could, and chimed in with "Maw", (short for `GrandMa', I think), "What did you think when Uncle Chris got his nipple pierced?"

As my mother choked on her glass of Ernest and Julio Gallo Pinot Noir spiked with two packets of Sweet & Low, it dawned on Halley she had said too much, and blushed a shade not unlike Mom's wine.

19 Apr 2002 (updated 19 Apr 2002 at 22:23 UTC) »


Had this weird conversation on

[15:49:22] <jcv> When are you coming to town, ayan?
[16:48:16] <jcv> Mebbe he dun lefted.
[16:51:42] <cmiller>   Maybe so.  I doubt it, though.
[17:41:40] <jcv> Mebbe he went blind
[17:41:58] <jcv> You know doing _that_ will cause you to go blind.
[17:42:42] <jcv> AYAN! ARE YOU BLIND?
[17:42:58] <jcv> (you have to shout at them when they go blind)
13 Apr 2002 (updated 15 Apr 2002 at 01:37 UTC) »

Graduate School

The University of Central Florida has managed to recruit their newest graduate student. A further financial award came in the mail this morning, and that combined with last night's email from UNC letting me know they weren't going to be extending me an offer have sealed the deal. In a few short months I will be a PhD student.

What am I doing?

...some time passes...

Well, I've talked with lindsey, my mom, and my sister, and they all think I'm making the right decision. I tend to agree, and I have a growing peace with it. Now, I'm just nervous. It's a good nervous though.

12 Apr 2002 (updated 13 Apr 2002 at 05:06 UTC) »

What a Week

I couldn't bring myself to call UCF and turn them down. Every time I thought I had my mind made up, some well meaning person said something to make me reconsider. Yesterday, my dentist said "Ok, they offer you paid tuition and a stipend. What's the choice here?"

So, I'm going to think on it, and pray on it this weekend and make my final decision on Monday. If I don't die of an anxiety attack before then. This is soooo stressful.

  1. Can I go back to communal living?
  2. Should I wait for UNC? Update: They rejected me, so this is a non-issue. I was two months late getting my application in, though
  3. Do I really want a PhD?
  4. Will I be happy programming .NET at $SOME_LOCAL_COMPANY?
  5. Will Margo tell Jack she's really having John's cloned baby?

Wait, that last one isn't me.

All you PhD computer science students here... give me feedback!


I'm trying to extract a cpio archive made on a SCO box using a Seagate Travan drive. I'm trying to extract it using a HP SureStore T4 Travan drive on my Redhat Linux box. So far, nothing's happening other than the tape is winding forwards and back a lot. I'll let it run for a while and check on it tomorrow. I may have to take more drastic measures.

Update:cat /dev/st0 > archive.cpio seems to have gotten the data off the tape! Now, I've gotta do something with it.

7 Apr 2002 (updated 7 Apr 2002 at 12:57 UTC) »

Home fixin's

cmiller and his lovely bride Mary Ellen came over yesterday to help me work on my kitchen. I've been stripping wallpaper and spackling and sanding and generally making a mess most Saturdays for the past two months, all because I didn't like the wallpaper and wanted a nice yellow paint in the kitchen. That'll show me!

I'm so glad to have friends like that who will show up and help. We didn't get much done though. I'm not sure why.

Hey! You know on the bucket of drywall mud where they emphatically state "Avoid Sanding!"? They aren't just blowing drywall dust up your hiney. It will enter most other orifices, though.

Most of the problem was that I had to sand some of the patches I had made in the drywall, and airborne gypsum ain't fun. We took a couple of hours cleaning it up. Then we spent a couple of hours masking stuff off, and then we tried the "rolled on plaster of paris texture technique" someone had recommended. It looked really bad, so we didn't go forward. Good thing I tested it behind the refridgerator.

So, then we ate steaks off the grill. I love my friends, even if I'm a bad host.

Daylight savings time

Who the heck thought this was a good idea?

It's summer, it's hot. Who the heck wants to save daylight? I'm all for donating it to less fortunate countries, like Alabama.

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