Saturday, May 20, 2006

Google Web Toolkit

So, I have this huge to-do list this summer, and recently added writing some AJAX applications to the list.

Now, I like the way that the AJAX techniques allow web pages to be more interactive, stateful, etc. But I wasn't at all looking forward to fiddling around with Javascript on the client. Javascript has evolved far beyond its original purposes, and isn't that fun to use for a large application. So I'd been procrastinating at starting the AJAX applications.

Luckily, I procrastinated long enough for Google to release their Google Web Toolkit. The GWT is basically a framework that makes writing the client side of an AJAX application far easier than it previously was. Instead of fiddling with Javascript, which varies from browser to browser, you write the client in Java. Once you've written and debugged it in Java, you run the client code through the GWT compiler, which take the Java code and spits out Javascript.

What's even better is that the GWT provides a bunch of user interface widgets that would have taken me years to get right working in Javascript. So now, in my summer AJAX projects, I can focus on the application itself, and not worry about fiddling my summer away figuring out user interfaces in Javascript.

Life is good!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Betrayed by Spring

This early spring has been lovely, but brought an unexpected drawback.

I actually had to mow my lawn in May, rather than waiting for June. All the flowers had gone to seed, and even some of the grass had gone to seed. All you could see of our cat as she walked through the backyard was her head. It's about that time that Lisa starts suggesting it's time for the first mowing.

So, I mowed. But first I had to pick up sticks. One downside of having so many mature trees in our yard is that the yard is littered with sticks. The smallest I let the mower chop up, but the larger ones need picked up. I had about two wheelbarrow loads full of sticks by the time I was done.

Then I mowed. I have to admit, a freshly mown lawn does look good. I think for us, it looks especially good because of the contrast between the ragged, natural look, and the freshly mown look. I don't quite understand our neighbor across the street who mows twice a week, rain or shine. Seems like artificial turf would be easier to maintain.

On the summer to-do list front, we created a new flower bed for some mother's day lilies Lisa was given by a friend of hers. The new bed looks pretty professional, if I do say so myself. That's mostly due to Lisa's detailing of it. I haul stone, dig, and mix soil, and she comes along and makes it look like a garden instead of a disaster area.

Unfortunately, I've added at least three or four technical projects to my to-do list. Make my brain stop!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Free, At Last!

I've officially submitted grades for the spring semester, and now have a summer of total freedom stretching ahead of me.

Well, okay, I am teaching an online class for another university. And my wife has that long list of projects to be done. And I have my own list of projects. And I have four classes to prepare for in the fall. Where am I going to find the time?

Seriously, this should be a fun summer. My daughter will be one year old on June 6th, and she'll be toddling around before too long. She loves to be outdoors, so I think we'll spend plenty of time outside this summer. I need to buy a new tent so we can try camping (our current tent is a three person tent, which means it's barely big enough for two adults) in the backyard.

On the subject of freedom, I recently came across the Topfree Equal Rights Association. When the subject of women being topless comes up (which isn't all that often, so I must not live an exciting enough life), most women I talk to are still surprised that it's legal for them to do so. This is despite the public demonstrations that have been held in our own city on the subject.

I find it fascinating what a hold cultural conditioning has on us, that we may hear about something and immediately dismiss it as irrelevant. There are so many fascinating ideas out in the world that are hard to understand or accept because of cultural conditioning. It'd be nice if grade schools taught open mindedness and critical thinking as part of the core curriculum.

But I guess if we taught kids how to overcome cultural conditioning, they'd have nothing to rebel against later in life.

On a side note, if you were a student of mine this year at Muskingum, and will be in Columbus on May 20th, I'm holding a bonfire get together and you're invited. Send me email to get the details.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Blue Security, Again

I'd posted here earlier about Blue Security's opt-out list for spam.

Recently, Blue Security was the target of a denial of service attack, allegedly by a spammer who decided that Blue Security was too dangerous to continue its opt-out list. There's been a fair amount of controversy about the incident, some of it targeted at Blue Security for what seemed to be poor handling of the attack itself.

I won't get into the details, because I haven't done enough research to know what actually happened. But, I think it's worth looking at the logic of the situation. The spammer responsible obviously sees Blue Security as cutting into his business. So he decides to attack Blue Security, and as a sideline also start a spam campaign targeting Blue Security's customers.

First off, who actually clicks on spam and buys anything? Nobody who subscribes to Blue Security would do so. And anyone who would isn't going to mind getting spam. So the logic of Blue Security cutting into a spammer's business is a bit dodgy. If anything, Blue Security is helping spammers to clean their lists so each email on the list represents a better candidate for their products. Not that that means much to an email spammer, since the cost of sending a single email is negligible.

Second, what's the likely result of sending even more spam out to the world? It seems like it would draw more attention on the problem of spam, and prompt more action against spam.

The logic all around seems to be a bit flawed, which might make me wonder if there isn't something more going on, except for the fact that most of what you hear in the news seems to be based on flawed logic. It's certainly possible this is all some ploy by Blue Security to raise interest in their opt-out list, but unless they're about to go public with stock, I don't see the point.

I guess it's just a crazy world.