Sunday, December 26, 2004

Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Service Oriented Architecture - Headspace

The above link details about SOA and what it really means. It seems focused on the enterprise or business. I'm certain that SOA is not exclusively limited to the limited domain of problems that he clearly identifies, except if one sticks to the principles he briefs and sticks to the approaches he recommends, I am certain that you wouldnt come across unnecessary hurdles.

Monday, December 06, 2004

How Far the Mighty Have Fallen
Opec may look at trading oil in euro
Economic War Against the World

The U.S. national debt is 7 trillion dollars, 13 trillion if you add State, municipal and consumer debt and 18 trillion if the Bush economic 'plan' is fully enacted. The entirety of the third world's debt is just about two trillion dollars.

Oil is traded in dollars. Instead of converting between say ZAR and USD or EURO and USD, accumulating monetary exchange fees, money sits inside US banks in USD to be transfered to/from oil companies as oil changes hands. If Opec decides to change there preferred currency from USD to EURO, money moves out of US banks into foreign banks. This is compounded by the fact that any major run on the US currency will cause foreign countries to move their treasuries holdings from USD to some foreign currency. Taiwan (approx $57 billion of Treasuries), Japan (approx $740 billion of Treasuries).

Another point of intrest is how an economic war plays out.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Some intresting notes from* documented and sorted on the following site.
Java Glossary

Java Gotchas

Friday, October 29, 2004

The Economist describes it as it is - America's next president [link].

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Went to see Diamonds and Dust last night. An amazing musical covering south african music from the 1940s till modern times. A great performance only emphasises the hidden jewels that are african music.

The Barnyard Theatre

Monday, September 27, 2004

A great long weekend in the Drakensburg. Completely relaxed, ready for a great week and a long push towards December.

Absinthe... evil stuff. I found a good article [link] on Absinthe and an informative faq [link].

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Won my first game of chess today.

An amazing defeat of Gumpifoo on Red Hot Pawn [link]. My user name is trix1234 not tim12s. (I entered the wrong email address for authorisation, so I couldnt complete the signup). If you want a game, give me an invite... but I warn you, I make about 3-5 moves a day, gotta work, gotta work.

Next up, the defeat of Septic Fly that scourge that is trying to invade my kingdom.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Well done to Richard, Chris and Patrick who won this last friday.

We played 3 games of poker (winner takes all) with a double blind for every player that leaves the game.

Game 1 was exclusively Texas Holden (won by Richard).
Game 2 was dealers choice amongst Texas, Omaha and 5 card draw (won by Chris).
Game 3 was again dealers choice amongst Texas, Omaha and 5 card draw (won by Patric).

A few unbelievable hands made for some intresting losses.

If I'm also correct, in the last game I didnt win a single hand... but otherwise, some good chinese food, a few good hands and a great evening. I seem to be on this hectic loosing streak so i'm going to have to sort that out.

Whens the next poker evening?

Im keen to play a game of Omaha Hi Lo and 5 card draw (dealer chooses) and then in another game, Texas Holden and 5 card stud (dealer chooses) with the same number of chips as we played on this weekend.


Friday, September 17, 2004

I have someones Queen.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Got any Red Hot Pawn [link] lately?

Its quite a good chess site. Chess, unlike GO, is an easy game that can be played quickly over a cup of coffee or one move at a time, one per day. I prefer GO as there is more stragegy involved. Or at least, the strategy is less dense and flows more naturally between grand conflict (the board) and smaller battles (ko fights) to battlefield victories (capture) but a lost war (game over, you LOSE).

Okay... maybe I shouldnt emphasise the LOSE bit... GO is a chinese game mastered by the japanese and eventually, after hundreds of years, the chinese have gotten reasonably good at it.

The South African GO Association [link]. They... (we) meet every tuesday (i've been absent for quite some time now) in Melville on 4th street at some coffee shop from about 8pm till 12pm.

Once you've got your mind wrapped around GO it becomes the game of choice... but maybe a bit too long to play at work over the day. 1 move an hour and you wouldnt even be near to finishing.

Monday, August 23, 2004

So you've got hiccups...

1. Try drinking water backwards.
2. A large spoon of peanut butter.
3. 1 or 2 shots of Tabasco...

The Tabasco hurts... but the pain is worth it after 2 days of hiccups.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

After a bit of a games discussion...

Games I regret not having played,

1. Syndicate
2. Sam and Max
3. Day of the Tentacle
4. Dungeon Keeper
5. Diablo

Games I regret not having finished,

1. Wolf 3d
2. Alone in the Dark

Maybe regret is too strong a word... "would have liked to" might be more appropriate.
Some very intresting reads regarding science fiction and related topics.

Is Science Fiction about to go Blind?

The Singularity by Vernor Vinge

Matrioshka Brains by Robert J. Bradbury

Friday, August 06, 2004

Been playing around with RELAX NG XML Schemas (as opposed to W3C XML Schema Definitions). RELAX NG is a practical solution to the problems that are not solved by XSDs. RELAX NG is an OASIS standard being put forward for ISO standardisation and as such, there are many implementations. Point 3 and 4 below are intresting reads regarding XML+XSD schemas and the various issues with XSD.

(1) RELAX NG Compact Syntax Tutorial
(2) RELAX NG - Refinement of values
xsd:integer { minInclusive="5" maxExclusive="10" }
xsd:string { minLength="4" maxLength="17" }
xsd:string { pattern="[A-Z]\d[A-Z]\s+\d[A-Z]\d" }

(3) RELAX NG better than W3C XML Schemas
(4) RELAX NG vs W3C XML Schema

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Time to shell out alot of money for a new PC. August 2.

Monday, July 05, 2004

I just got my LAKS Memory 128mb watch back (link). Myself and a friend bought one a couple of months back.

The USB connector degraded with general use. It was interesting and convincing that there are issues with the way the tension during the connection of the watch to a computer. For both watches the quality of the USB cable degraded to prevent the USB function. The failure of both watches occurred within a couple of weeks of each other and about 8 months of general use (which can only show a common flaw).

Given that it failed, I can only say that the service provided by LAKS was unquestioning and impressive. I recommend them as a company. They gave us both a new watch and I can only hope that its functionality won’t degrade as it did before. The watch’s connectors do look as though they have been improved upon.

I must say that its usefulness is indescribable and I would recommend it to anyone that works with computers. You'd typically not have a memory stick available when you need it... with a memory watch you've always got disk storage available. I've did away with the FDD about 5 years ago. The only hassles I’ve had have been during a clean operating system install. Until recently I used to have a 4x/8x non bootable SCSI CDROM drive. With the internet available everywhere... Email has always been preferable to 1.44 FDD... but once in a while there is a 20mb file or a whole lot of 'stuff' that needs to be moved. While a rewritable CD is accommodating, it is still a bit too large to carry around (I’m lazy and not willing to put up with the hassle.)
A great weekend at the Durban July (link). A 6 hour trip to Durban, dinner with friends, some stories (which I wont be mentioning here) and a mellow sunday morning on the beach watching the Gunston 500.

There were quite a few blazing honies about - its always impressive to see everyone dressing up for a day of horse racing... Comparing it to the Met, which is a larger event, the Durban July has a lot more class and character. I ended down loosing quite a bit on the horses but made back my losses on the 10th race. I used to be able to read a race guide quite easily... I felt blinded with all the statistics and numbers. Quite uncomfortable. I would recommend getting your hands on one of those books before the race day. Its never pleasant having to rush your decisions before placing your bets.

We stayed at the Blue Waters Hotel which is along the beach front next to the Sun Coast Casino and Vecca Matta. It proved, once again, to be a great hotel to stay. Its in walking distance to quite a few points of intrest. We were about 20 strong and having breakfast with friends and a view over the ocean is a pleasant change to the buzz of JHB.

I can only recommend to those that havnt been to find the time to get out of JHB for a weekend and enjoy their time in Durbs.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

A few notable things have happend in the last two weeks.

(1) I wrote Business Management 101 and 102 through UNISA. (June 3)

I must say that the courses were mind expanding. The amount of general knowledge received about the business world is well worth the course and I would say that there are fewer courses that have as big a WoW factor than Business Management 1. (Macro Economics 1 comes in a close 3rd).

(2) Two of my friends got married this last weekend (June 5).

Their wedding was in the Natal Midlands at a small cottage. Lovely place for a wedding and I'm really happy for them - a perfect couple. It was quite pleasant to be at a wedding where most of the guests slept over at the cottage/hotel with most having breakfast in the morning. We all ended up with Cactaii which, after alot of effort, I eventually got back to JHB.

Sunday lead to a drive along the Midland Meander, lunch at Gunters (a great german cottage, and some great photos), numerous pancakes at the Pancake Place, some shoes and a pleasant drive. I can say that as a tourist route its going to do quite well during the 2010 soccer world cup.

Friday, May 28, 2004

The only good fanatic is a book fanatic.
Virtues of a good Software Developer

1. Laziness
2. Impatience
3. Hubris

Do it right the first time (lazy)
Let the computer do the work (impatience)
Do the best job you can (Hubris)

Bring together a good developer and a good set of tools...

to Quote

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Charles de Gaulle airport (2004),
"There was more dust falling from the ceiling, particles of cement, more dirt. We pointed it out on several occasions," the cleaner said.

Boeing (along time ago),
Some fresh engineering grad, one of the top guys in his class, gets to Boeing for his first job. He gets told to watch a hose for 3 weeks and count the number of drops of liquid and preasure of a particular pipe connection. Eventually he complains to his manager that he's got a menial job and, after 6 years of study he'd expect something a bit more challenging. And whats the story about the leaking pipe?

"Well, if that leak fluctuates wildly, its signs that something is wrong and it could blow the building apart" - Manager

Even the most menial of workers are important.
Even if you dont understand it, the most menial of jobs can be critical.
If you're an engineer, never disregard a complaint because you think it'll never happen or because the person complaining is 'clueless' about engineering.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Java vs .NET

Why not both. Why must one be exclusive? This exclusivity is a perception of Microsoft's practices to hunt and kill, as opposed to compete as sportsmen, but compete nevertheless.

I agree that the advances in .NET and the WoW factor that some .NET evangilisers try to dazzel me are an insult to the Java developers intelligence, that doesnt mean that .NET is bad for ALL developers.

DOTNET is the best thing since Windows 2000 and Java. VB, ATL, COM and a whole lot of bad voodoo must make way. Developing software does not have to be a dark art. The easier it is to validate the integrity of the application the better. Software is a business investment after all.

What Microsoft has going for itself is that its a onestop shop. SUN should do the same with regards to consolidating 3rd party projects to make them look like a onestop shop. JMX is a beginning but its a long way from providing a single management console provided with the J2SE runtime to manage running services, systems and remote services. J2EE is too heavy in my opinion.
Hibernate is great but good documentation (clear, simple, effective and authorative) on the hibernate website is lacking.

Simple Hibernate

Software - Capability Maturity Model (CMM)

Below are some links that provide a simple overview of what CMM tries to achieve and how processes can be put in place to achieve the goals set forth by CMM. I give XP as an example however many other processes from different methodologies could cover CMM. The important thing to note, and I disagree with strict level-by-level advancement of CMM, is that the field of QA in software comes down to 'best practices' that must be introduced by the managers of a company to act as a hedge against the risk of anarchy and cancelled projects. Their job is to reduce risk in the company by ensuring that we always travel forward. The obvious risk to chaotic companies is that while there may be significant short term gains to rapid delivery, there may be painfull costs in the longrun.

CMM Overview
ExtremeProgramming and SW-CMM

CMM is not the holy grail for business managers. There is more than one paradigm to manage development. A company whose managers are at least knowledgable that they can implement processes to protect their investment is better of than the company lead by blind managers.

Against SW-CMM
Software Productivity Research

System Security Engineering - Capability Maturity Model (SSE-CMM)

Security is a whole different ballgame but it's got to be evaluated somewhere. Understanding the all the issues before development is at least one benifit. People have encountered the problem of ensuring that they have not missed some glaring problem, why reinvent the wheel. The biggest problem with security, for small companies at least, is the expensive cost in time that it takes to achieve certification. That doesnt mean as a professional developer one should not know how to evaluate the risks, threats and justify their security solutions regarding how they'll minimise the risks and threats.

Common Criteria

Monday, May 17, 2004

The World Cup Soccer 2010 comes to South Africa at a crucial time in its development. Many development projects will be fast-tracked and can only improve and unite the country behind a common goal.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Thinking about what a newly hired developer should work through upon joining a company,

1. Company Products
2. Company Support Knowledge Base
3. Employed Project documentation (requirements, specification, source control)
4. Developer Processes (release notes, testing procedure, release procedure)
5. Professional Basics (see April 08, 2004 below)

(Some additional links)
5.1. - great site
5.2. - some good essays
5.4. - a bit dirty
5.5. - useful, wish it were maintained more regularly

The biggest company problem I've seen is when both management and developers have a knowledge gap on development and how to develop. Sad. Communication is a no brainer and it should be management that protects their investment in their staff. Hiring someone without any formally planned introduction with effective objectives and saying 'go code' is terrible.

Making sure that all developers are at the same level of communication is very important. Having one guru who doesnt see eye to eye with the rest of the team is a recipe for disaster. Is it up to management to ensure all developers have knowledge of the same concepts? Yes, but this also rests on the developers themselves. How can you call yourself a professional if you're not fully abrest of the concepts and correctness of your profession.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Audigy 2 + 5.1 Home Cinema Theater System + Digital Out + Any 5.1 game = Madness

(and lets not talk about a 4-pole miniplug).

PCM 2/0, the bane of my life. I want PCM 3/2. Is it too much to ask?

I've found a mono-miniplug splitter to connect my Audigy 2 ZS 'digital out' to Digital Coaxial. I cant resort to using 5.1 analog out because my rca-db converter only has TOS, Coax and L/R input.

HL2 and DooM]I[ is nearly out. (sad aint it).

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Yesterday we voted. Some people didnt - ignorance and apathy. If you're not going to vote, you might as well give up your liberties as someone someday will take them without you consent (dictatorship).

Ignorance, Apathy and Selfishness

I've always wondered about the US electortial college. I think its a great idea. What I dont like is the fact that everyone always votes along party lines. If someone doesnt vote the party line, they get booted out of government. You would hope that the individuals that make up a government have morals and apply them appropriately.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

The wonders of Software Engineering is akin to alchemy and artistry - at least for the few professionals who don't try to become professional software engineers instead of software professionals. Alchemy is a profession with hidden secret formulas while artistry requires an artist. If you're not an artist, don't try. If you don't have the formulae or cannot figure it out, you're in the dark.

Some useful resources for prospective professional software engineer/developer.

1. Know your fundermentals
OO Tips - Developer Strategy, Patterns, Methodologies and Technical topics

2. Understand your professional environment and and what it means to practice your profession effectively
Fundermental Rules (and Principals) of Software Engineering

3. Communicate effectively
UML 2.0 samples with decent explanations

4. Know where your profession communicates thoughts and ideas
C2 Wiki - Portland Pattern Repository

5. Know your tools and your development language

6. Know where fellow professionals communicate implementation questions
SUN Java Developer Forums
Java Developer USENET
C# Developer USENET

7. Be Professional

Personal notes:

Beware of 'Death by UML'. UML is a means to communicate not a means to an implementation.

The primadona may think he's good but a good team of average but competent developers will acomplish alot more than the primadona who can acomplish complex tasks. Teamwork is crucial. The primadona should still be paid appropriately as he'd typically provide good advice and technical support to the other developers. This alternative is the primadona who upsets and distrupts the workplace either through the taking of liberties, because he can, or through the ignorance of others business needs.


After living with a couple of accountants this year I can say that Software Engineering should not be a university degree as per BscEng but rather a professional association. Certification should follow that of the typical Chartered Accountant. For 3 years after leaving university with a 3 year degree Bsc (hons) or Bsc in Infomatics (something appropriate) the prospective developer should work professionally at a similar level to articles (but earn a bit more due to technical differences).

The prospective developer should then,
1. obtain certification in at least one area of practice such as J2ee certification or MCSD
2. pass an examination on at least the 7 points above
3. pass a examination set by universities based on the currently identified field of software engineering
4. complete 3 years of business practice

The content of the exams (2 and 3) should directly relate to the profesionalism, design, planning, communication and conceptual ability of the prospective developer. Technical proficiency should be certified through (1). (4) provides a baseline in what is expected from businesses. I've definately found that what you study at university through a Bsc (hons) while technically challenging is different to your competance as a professional developer. Only after 3 years could I say I am competant enough as a business professional.

Thinking along the lines of what it takes to become a Chartered Accountant should be the similar path to becoming a software engineer. After this point in time I believe a developer would have enough of a technical and professional basis for a further masters in software engineering specialising in say development of software for nuclear technology, safety devices, etc. Before that point I believe a Bsc masters would be of theoretical relivance.


Monday, April 05, 2004

Great play by Google.

Step 1: Announce a "product" on April Fool's day. Get a bit of publicity over the "humor".
Step 2: Its not a joke. Everyone spends a day or two thinking about it.
Step 3: Everyone releases another news broadcast that its not a joke.

Good product advertisement strategy.

Seriously, which reasonably well read internet user doesnt know about Gmail and its 1000mb of email storage for free at this point in time. While there may be a few of you fellow geeks that are actually doing alot of work instead of reading slashdot, TheReg and TheInq, there are quite a few more vocal readers (Magazine, Newspaper and other editors, etc) who are fully aware by now.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Why is it that some jokes are better read than spoken? Where are the websites with jokes better spoken than read? Alot of the spoken jokes are typically 7 to 15yrs "Knock Knock" jokes, or R-18 and simple.


Been playing around with JUnit, Ant and IDEA 4.0. Seen the light, blinded, no turning back.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Many are better read than written. Barring standup comedy, which is more an art form than a collection of jokes, few are better spoken than read.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

10 unanswered questions (LINK) lay before string theorists. Their solution in terms of String Theory can only help to further understand the fundamental workings of String Theory.

There are obviously more unanswered questions in many different fields. Mathematics has its own set of problems(LINK).

As long as there are fundamental questions to be asked, the foundations will be in jeopardy as a single unexplained flaw or paradox could be a serious flaw in a theory.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Polo 1.9 TDI or Fiat Stilo 1.6. Difficult choice. The VW may be too conventional, the Stilo slightly more creative. The Polo has cruise control, great for long distance trips to Durban and JHB. Still to test drive both (this saturday). Still uncertain whether I should go for it or not. Will decide after my car Fiat UNO (Fire) 1994 (165,000km+) comes back from the service shop. Am I being too compulsive? A car isnt really an investment.
My first attempts at blogging went horribly wrong. I didnt think I could speak my mind as easily and as often as I would have liked to yet my intrest has turned me towards blogging once more. I think the main reason I'm trying this again is because its listed as one of the services Google provides. Very shallow. I dont know long how this will last...