August 31, 2004

Chillin' with the Di He

Atlanta was fun this weekend. It was nice seeing Didi again. Emory seems like a very nice area.

Nothing particularly notable happened. It was just nice to be around "old friends" once again.

Didi has this really cool Indian friend named Dash who hung out with us all weekend. Got the tour of Emory and Decatur. Went to Olympic Park in Atlanta (eh, nothing special, but I just had to do something quintessentially Atlantan). Ate good Thai Food for lunch on Saturday. Hung out. Drank coffee. Hung out. Ate Cold Stone Creamery. Saw the Manchurian Candidate (good movie).

We had Ethiopian food for dinner on Saturday, which was a first, even though I had been meaning to try it all throughout college. It was different, but good. It's one of those cuisines that you eat with your hands... or rather you use these little sheets of thin bread (which I thought looked like rolled up napkins on a plate) to handle the food. It was good. Somewhat reminiscent of Indian food. The restaurant, itself, was a lot more trendy than I would expect from an Ethiopian restaurant which begs the question of how authentic it actually was.

Prior to leaving on Sunday, Didi cooked a fantastic lunch (the best meal of the trip) whilst advising on how to cook Chinese food. So now I have more skills to go along with the Cantonese-style cooking Amy Chan taught me. Yay :)

Unfortunately I think that Atlanta is just a little bit too far to drive for an average weekend, but it was nice nonetheless. Very glad a went.

come visit the Triangle sometime, Didi.

In General

Posted at 12:03 AM | Permanent link

August 27, 2004

Going to Atlanta

Heading down to Hotlanta this weekend with Ashish to visit Didi.

Oh dear, I really shouldn't do this. I have so many other things to take care of....but it'll be a blast ;)

In General

Posted at 01:20 AM | Permanent link

The new Mac

I received my PowerBook on Tuesday. It is...beautiful.

It's been nearly five years since I've used a Mac as my main computer. A lot has changes, and a lot has stayed the same - which is good on both accounts.

Unfortunately, I've been so busy that I've had very little time to play with it, but here are some of my impressions so far:

Firstly, the hardware design is very nice. I would say that from a purely utilitarian standpoint it is about on par with an IBM ThinkPad T40, but, of course much, much sexier.

Over the first few days I went through the panic of suddenly having the keys on my keyboard positioned in the wrong place, no second mouse button, my usual keyboard shortcuts no longer working (or doing funny things), having to specifically quit applications instead of just hitting the little X button. Argh. It's fairly disorienting at first, and I never thought that I would have to readjust myself back to the Mac paradigm (the top menubar with disparate windows, for instance, as opposed to the one monolithic window paradigm for Windows). However, at some point things just click...and now the machine is a pure pleasure to use.

My initial impression is that on average, Mac software is about 25% nicer than corresponding Windows software. This goes for everything from the operating system to little utilities (such as LaunchBar, which totally kicks ass). The machine just feels so much more responsive to me, and not because it's faster (in fact, I've noticed a slight lag here and there), but because the software seems to anticipate what I want to do so much better. It's beautiful to experience such good design. I really like the different perspective. It gives me ideas for things I would like to incorporate into my own work.

On a side note, I think that many lifetime Windows users are unable or unwilling to get past the momentary disorientation I felt. It is quite annoying at first, and if I didn't know any better I would conclude that Macs were terrible as well. Unfortunately they never get to appreciate the other side when things actually click.

I think I can forgive the average person for this. They just want to read their email.

However, I have much more trouble forgiving a software developer for this same fault (and sadly there are still quite a few out there who possess it). In order to do good work, I think that it is key to look at things from a different point of view. That is one of the things that I think is really cool about the Mac. It's different from the operating system, all the way up through the development APIs to the end user applications. It's like a species that got stranded on it's own island back in 1984 and since has evolved its own development culture.

In other words, it's like visiting another country. A lot of people will go to a place like Europe and come back god-blessing America all over the place. While for others...when you visit Europe, it changes you. The latter are the more interesting people to know.

Sorry, the Mac has a tendency to make me get philosophical ;)

In Technology and Software

Posted at 12:43 AM | Permanent link

August 23, 2004

Ginevra de Benci

Paul Graham has inspired me. In honor of the epiphany I experienced whilst reading his book:

Leonardo Da Vinci's Ginevra de Benci, c. 1475

Isn't she beautiful? Now I just need to decide if I'm going to put her in my room or in my office.

In The Zen

Posted at 12:00 AM | Permanent link

August 22, 2004

Bitter Java - a book review

I just finished reading Bruce Tate's Bitter Java this weekend. It was *okay*.

Bruce makes a pretty compelling case for the study of antipatterns, and I also think that in aggregate the book provides a pretty good "bird's eye" view of a lot of the problems that one faces when doing server-side Java development.

The book does quite a good job of covering a lot of particularly troublesome Java-related topics. The Model View Controller sections, Java Memory leaks section, the caching section, and even the EJB section were all quite valuable. In each case he starts with a clear problem definition, or antipattern, provides a clear real-world example of an application that falls into the trap of using the antipattern, and then describes step-by-step how to refactor to eliminate the antipattern. When done right, this method of presentation is very effective.

Unfortunately, I think that his discussions of many of the other topics in the book, other than those mentioned above, leave a bit to be desired. In many cases, he does not provide enough contextual detail about the problem or the solution to convey a very good picture of what is going on.

Additionally, perhaps it is only because this was his first book, but Bruce Tate doesn't strike me as a terribly good writer. At certain times the book is a bit repetitive. At others, it is contradictory. For instance, he introduces the round-tripping antipattern multiple times throughout the book - each time treating it as though it were a semi-new topic. Early on he mentions the evils of pre-mature optimization, but then later on emphasizes the importance of considering performance early on in a project - without making a clear distinction as to when, specifically, this applies (a good software developer should be able to figure this out, but it still struck me as slightly annoying). In the code hygiene section, he states that one should almost never handle the raw Exception class, and yet he, himself, does this in almost every code example he presents throughout the book!

Additional small annoyances abound. Why the hell does he put (a rather incoherent, mind you) discussion of XML in the same chapter as database connection pooling. And for the love of god, why does he discuss CamelCase and Java interfaces in a book that should clearly be aimed at the (very least) intermediate Java developer!?

I get the feeling that the book originally began life as a loose collection of essays that the publisher tried to stitch together and pass off as one coherent book...and in some places the seams painfully show.

Still, these are mostly minor annoyances. In the end, I think that the positives of the book (the good sections) still outweigh the negatives, and any software developer worth his salt should be able to separate out the kruft from the cream. If you can do that, then Bitter Java is a fairly good book for getting up to speed on a wide variety of Java problems in a short period of time.

In Technology and Software

Posted at 09:29 PM | Permanent link

This week's episode

Oye Vey! More hilarity ensued this weekend than has ensued in quite a long time. It was a blast, though :) In fact, this entire week was.

On Thursday, out of the blue, Christine (Lee) got in touch with me. That was kind of cool. I hadn't talked to her in quite some time. Went over to her apt and chilled for a bit. Not only that, but Mike Mirman, another one of our friends from last summer, came into town to stay with Adam and I that night very night. We all went out to Uno's afterwards. Did some trivia. It was a lot of fun. And that was just the beginning :)

Out to Chapel Hill Friday night. I had never been there when school was in session (or close to being in session, as it were). Chilled at the Carolina Coffee House for a while. They had a pretty cool blues-ish band. The out to this place called "He's not here". They had a really nice outside area. (very nice "scenery" too :)

After getting back, had a really kickass conversation with Mike until nearly dawn, and Europe, and ... and such.

Mike, Adam, and I put up a ceiling fan on Saturday. Home improvement is the shizzle.

Ate at the Mellow Mushroom Saturday night for the first time - very good pizza. Will have to go back often. Got poured on as we were leaving. Then it was out to a House Party and then Ri-Ra later on. I DD'd. So much crazyness. So much fun, though :) The band at Ri-Ra was really good.

Let's see, what else is new? I bought a Macintosh PowerBook to match my iPod. It's coming in the mail now. (going to give my current laptop to Elizabeth) I can't wait. I haven't owned a Mac since going to college in 2000. It's been too long. Too damn long and something needed to be done.

My car could burst into flames any moment now. It's been leaking gasoline for the past few days. Not a good thing. I'm taking it into the shop on Monday...but I think this is a sign that old blue is on his last legs.

I test drove a bunch of cars on Saturday. Psh - car salesmen...think they can put the moves on me, do they? "What do I have to do to put you in this car today?" Little do they know who they're dealing with...

I think I really like the Nissan Altima. We shall see.

Yes!! The USA Basketball team lost - again! Good. I hope they don't even get a medal.

In General

Posted at 07:41 PM | Permanent link

August 17, 2004

Life since the iHop incident

Hmm, the iHop incident happened over a month ago. It's inexcusable that I should go this long without blogging, but things happen.

So, what's happened? I don't know. I worked a lot. I think I only fell in love with one girl - which is an improvement.

Oh yeah, so I went to Cleveland this one weekend. I think it was for a wedding. We went to Edgewater. Oh damn! I think those pictures are still in my camera!

Ok, let's try again. Somewhere around mid June I think that I finally crossed over to the good side of the learning curve as far as work goes, and ever since that time it has been full speed ahead...

I worked a lot, especially during mid-to-late July, and towards the end of it I think I was quite ready to shoot myself - but I didn't. So, y'know, that's good.

Ashish is back, and for keeps now. I'm glad to hear that he's doing so well at Duke.

On July 29th, I turned 23. Adam and SteveO took me out. Carolina Ale House, Hibernian, Ri-Rah, etc. It was a good time. Thanks to everyone for the cards and the well wishes! I've been meaning to call y'all but I just have so little time nowadays.

I bought an iPod!!!

Luckily, right around the time work was really starting to get to me, I took a much needed vacation. Around the first week of August caught a flight down to Sarasota Florida and spent a week there with my family. That's when I had my moment of clarity.

and... life has been pretty good since then. Work has been good.

Matt Cross came into town last Thursday. That was a nice "surprise".

I've been jogging every morning. It's fantastic. But as you can see, I still don't sleep enough. That's ok, though.

Books I've read: Ender's Shadow, Hackers and Painters, The Da Vinci Code.

Movies I've seen: iRobot, The Bourne Supremacy, Collateral.

Got the second season of Curb Your Enthusiasm!!


That was quite possibly the most incoherent entry I've made yet. I appologize.

In General

Posted at 12:00 AM | Permanent link

August 16, 2004


Comments have now been enabled if you register and login using Type Key.

I'm not terribly happy with this as a final solution. Ideally I don't want people to have to register, but this will have to do for now.

In Site News

Posted at 01:22 AM | Permanent link

August 15, 2004

I'm back and why pghoster sucks

Ok, so here's the deal. My old hosting company: majorly, majorly sucks. Over the past year that I've used them, their uptime hasn't exactly been stellar and their service offerings and willingness to respond to my emails have steadily gotten worse as time has gone on.

Around the end of July (right on my Birthday, actually, when I had meant to post a lengthy entry here reflecting on the past year), not only did my site go down, but when I tried to visit to figure out what was going on, I got one of those domain parking pages. I was not amused, and became even less so after receiving a bounce back from the support address. After that, I became downright pissed after sending three emails to the owner of with no response (I still have not received a response to this day).

My site finally came back up one day before I was supposed to leave for my vacation in Florida, but by that point, I had had enough. As soon as I noticed that was back, I downloaded all the content off my site and sent a cancellation notice to pghoster (which, of course, I have not received a response to - we shall see on my next credit card statement whether or not I will have to call Visa and tell them to withhold payment).

My site now resides at Dreamhost, and so far I have been quite happy. I'm still in the process of transferring some things like pictures over and getting my Movable Type templates and stylesheets squared away, but I'm mostly back - finally!

Pghoster - good riddance!!!

Some site news:

  • For those of you who I had mentioned "lending" webspace to (Amy Chan, Anders...), I now have more than enough, so let me know.
  • I'm leaving comments off for now because apparently MT Blacklist isn't compatible with Movable Type 3.0, and I had enough problems with comment spam even when I had MT Blacklist installed! Ugh. One of these days I would like to try my hand at implementing a Bayesian filtering system for Movable Type. We'll see if I can come up with a makeshift solution in the meantime. Will keep y'all posted.

Coming Soon:

  • Photo gallery (hopefully!)
  • Lots of entries about what I've been up to over the past month or so (hopefully!)

In Site News

Posted at 09:19 PM | Permanent link