wawannem writes: For the few of you that know me, you probably also know that I have been working on a book recently for a prestigious publisher. For the other 99.9999999% of you, I don't want to come off as making a last ditch effort to generate buzz for my book, so no links. Anyhow, as a developer on a popular open source project, I began working with a publisher to write a book about incorporating the project into real-world development projects. To be fair to the publishers, there is a narrow market for tech books in general, and this particular topic is not guaranteed to sell as many copies as a book on a more popular topic such as JQuery, Rails or PHP. My first motivation for writing the book had little to do with the money and more to do with the fact that there is often complaints about the available documentation. Since the economy is heading down the toilet, and it is a new year, I have heard that the publisher is considering dropping my project (as well as 30%-40% of their in-progress titles). I would like to think that I could do something to change that, but the reality is that the topic of the book may not be popular enough, regardless of the quality of the book. Another author that I have worked with thinks that we can probably do pretty well publishing the book on our own. There is also the possibility of trying to strike up a deal with another publisher. My gut feeling is to incorporate what I've written into the existing documentation for the project. At this point, nothing has been decided, so I am wondering if anyone on here has had experience self-publishing. Given the choice between titles from major publishers and self-published books, I would, personally, most likely choose the book from the major publisher. My thought is that if I make the content available freely, I could improve the popularity of the project (due to the better documentation) and work on maybe being published later. At the same time, if there is a chance at a decent profit, then I don't want to turn it down. One advantage to self-publishing would be the easing of deadlines which I could translate into better content. So, I'm sort of torn on what I should do if I find out tomorrow that I own some possibly valuable content without a publisher.
wawannem writes: "I went to my local Ohio county website to find out when the polls open tomorrow and was presented with a link to a page to search for voter registration data — http://www.wcoil.com/vote2008/ of course, I searched for myself and found my home address. What surprised me was that it was searchable. For example, putting in 'w' as the last name lists all voter registered in my county who's last name begins with the letter 'w,' and their home addresses. I have a few friends and family members in law enforcement that were pretty upset to find out how easily someone can find their home address using this tool. I thought for sure that it was a terrible oversight in privacy (it happens when you live in BFE). But, I did a search and found another — http://www.tax.co.harris.tx.us/voter/pctdatadownload/ . This was only the second link on google. Did I miss something somewhere along the line? I know that certain exposures of home address data are unavoidable (such as when you mortgage a home), but this seems to make it too easy. Does registering to vote mean that my home address becomes a matter of public record?"
wawannem writes: "One of my favorite recurring topics on/. is the debate over Java. So many hard-core geeks hate it, and before I started getting paid to use it, I was very apprehensive. Although many/.'ers and even some editors aren't Java fans, there are a few items that provide a good argument for Java —
Java has good commercial support from big players (IBM, Oracle, Sun)
I've made a good living since I picked it up as a skill.
Even if you aren't a Java developer, if you are a web developer, you have at least heard of the Struts framework. It seems like a new Java framework is born as often as a topic gets rejected on/. Despite that, Struts has remained extremely popular. The 1.x series of Struts was a difficult framework to learn and heavily constrained developers to following it's notion of MVC. Even with its drawbacks, Struts has remained the most popular framework. Since the inception of Struts, programming web-apps has changed quite a bit. Many of the drawbacks of Struts have led to the creation of many competing open source MVC implementations. One of the competitors was a little project called WebWork from opensymphony. Anyone who has used WebWork/XWork can tell you that it is architecturally solid and quite easy to pick up. At some point, the Struts devs hooked up with the WebWork devs and they decided to merge for the next iteration of Struts. This led to Struts 2 being released. Struts 2 has moved along quite nicely and gained some popularity, but a lack of documentation and the expectation that it would be similar to Struts 1 has led to quite a bit of confusion for developers.
Struts 2 In Action from Manning attempts to fill in the blanks as both an introduction to Struts 2 and a partial reference. Struts 2 is a comprehensive framework that provides a lot of functionality, so it would be impossible for a single volume to thoroughly cover all aspects of Struts 2 development. If you are looking for a reference on Struts 2 AJAX tags, this book will not work. If you are working with Struts 2 on a regular basis or are curious about adopting it for a future project this book is definitely a good fit.
Struts 2 In Action walks developers through many common use-cases where Struts 2 will help. The example content and easy-to-read text make the book readable from cover-to-cover. This book will work for many levels of reader. Due to the lack of online documentation on certain topics, experienced Struts 2 developers will likely find clarification on topics like OGNL, new developers will find a thorough introduction that will lead to productive development. The authors did a very good job of creating creating examples that covered the material. This is a bit of a difficult task considering the size of the framework, but I was very impressed with each chapter. Each chapter could nearly stand alone because the authors were able to cover the topic without delving too far into side topics.
All-in-all, this is a good book, and likely to be the only book necessary if your goal is to learn to use Struts 2 or hone your skills on Struts 2. Although I hate book reviews that fill space by telling you what's in the book, Amazon doesn't have a Table of Contents, so I feel a bit obligated to say what's covered. The book is broken into 5 main parts — Part 1 is a quick introduction into JSP development and a small Struts 2 example. Part 2 covers core components, writing actions, using and configuring interceptors, type conversion and OGNL. Part 3 moves into the View of the MVC, it covers results and tags. Part 4 covers more advanced topics — Spring/Hibernate integration, input validation and i18n. Part 5 wraps it up with struts 2 plugins, best practices, and migration from Struts 1.
There are many topics the authors chose not to cover (AJAX, Sitemesh, and JSF to name a few). I was a bit disappointed not to find some of these topics at first, but to create a book covering everything that Struts 2 can do and all the ways to integrate it with popular technology is not a reasonable expectation. I would expect that if Struts 2 continues gaining popularity, more volumes will be released covering these topics. This book concentrates on the fundamentals and delivers a thorough explanation which will serve it's readers much better than a light intro into everything.
For the sake of full-disclosure, I will say that I am one of the Struts developers, and I want people to read the book because it does a great job of answering many questions that would otherwise make their way to the mailing lists."
wawannem writes: "We may someday see a live action adaptation of Dragonball Z! It seems details are hard to find, but it would seem that filming has begun. I remember rumors of this film as far back as 2000. The budget is listed at $100 million, so I am expecting big effects!"
wawannem writes: "I know that fark is not likely considered the serious news institution that slashdot is... In fact, I've heard of it referred to as slashdot's immature, mentally handicapped, younger stepbrother. Whatever it is, it appears that it drew some attention from a Fox news affiliate. Enough attention that it seems a reporter may have tried to hack into their servers. FTA — Curtis believes that Phillips, or someone working with Phillips, sent him and several other Fark employees deceptive emails in an attempt to get them to download a trojan, a form of computer virus. The Trojan was designed to capture their passwords and give the author access to Fark's servers. In one case, it succeeded, giving a hacker passwords to a file server and one Fark employee's email account; he tried, but failed, to break into Fark's Web servers and email. The article goes into some other speculation about the reporter's intentions, but I would imagine that the title of journalist should not exempt him from punishment in this case."
wawannem writes: "So, who said that Tesla Coils weren't practical? Well, add MIDI player to the list of practical applications. Watch this amazing video of a Tesla Coil built by a few college kids that plays music. FTA —
This is a solid-state Tesla coil. The primary runs at its resonant frequency in the 41 KHz range, and is modulated from the control unit in order to generate the tones you hear... it is the actual high voltage sparks that are making the noise. Every cycle of the music is a burst of sparks at 41 KHz, triggered by digital circuitry at the end of a "long" piece of fiber optics."
wawannem writes: I am currently creating a business plan for a startup I would like to create, and I am trying to budget for developer hardware. The startup is sort of a pie-in-the-sky idea, so I am asking for more than the typical IT budget. I am pricing hardware right now and I am wondering what other people think would make a great developer setup. The platform is sometimes referred to as SASH (Struts2, App Server (Tomcat, WebLogic, WebSphere, JBoss or Resin), Spring, and Hibernate) as opposed to LAMP. So, OS doesn't really matter, but will most likely be Linux-based, therefore linux compatibility is a must. I also want to be able to take work home, so I want a laptop with the capability to dock at the office. I was thinking of a high-end laptop with dual-core processors, excessive RAM and HD space. The real question though is how to setup the workstation in the docked environment. I was considering a dual-monitor setup so that I can run eclipse on one monitor and a web browser in the other. I figured that might be harder than it sounds since many laptops don't have dual video cards. I remember reading a "Joel On Software" entry a while back, but I would imagine the information would be dated and that entry concentrated mostly on furniture and office layout. I am wondering more about specific setups that were or would be productive for people doing similar work now.