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JDJ Editorial Board member Yakov Fain writes: One of my resolutions this year is to start teaching part-time Java-related classes in some college. That's why I started browsing the computer science course lists that are being offered this year. While graduate-level programs offer many interesting courses, the situation is different in the undergrad world. Some schools keep teaching how to multiply matrices in Ada or work with algebraic expressions in Prolog. Half of the courses are preparing professionals who will be operating on another planet. Information systems programs look a little more down to earth. Meanwhile, many college graduates are having a hard time finding their first jobs because many entry-level programmers jobs are being outsourced overseas, and it'll stay this way as long as it makes financial sense for businesses. Unfortunately, student loans ha... (more)

PowerBuilder, Java, Flex, Agile Programming

From Farata Systems blog Ten years ago I've been doing PowerBuilder and my mentality was different: first, I was the best friend of business users, and second I did not really worry about what's under the hood. I could do stuff quickly, or using the modern jargon, I was an agile programmer without even knowing this (on the same note, lots of people were creating Ajax applications five years ago without knowing this, but it's off topic). I'd ask the business user Joe, "How do you usually do your business, what would you like to have on this screen, what step do you do after this step?" Most likely Joe did not really know, but I'd still give him a wide American smile: "No problem, I'll come back tomorrow and will show you something". Mary, yes you, "What's the most important word in my last sentence?" No, Mary, not "I'll come back", but TOMORROW. Not next week, not ... (more)

Google OS - A Cynical View

If you didn’t hear that Google has announced that in 2010 consumers will have a chance to enjoy new Chrome-based OS, stop reading and do you homework first. Done? Now we can move on, and let’s do it by the rules – positive things first, then some bile followed by a happy end. I really like Google. They produce easy to use applications that work great. I use their search engine about a hundred times a day. Their applications make sense. Nine months ago they released a Web browser called Chrome, and I liked it. Back than I suggested that in a year Chrome will bite off a decent chunk of the Web browser's market. (see I was wrong. They’ve bitten a really small piece of the browser’s pie. For lots of companies 3% of any market would be like money from home, but for Google it’s a failure. Now they sa... (more)

Flex User Groups and Conflict of Interest

First of all, to add a little more credibility to what I’m about to write, let me just say that I’m running Princeton Java Users Group (JUG) for years and have a pretty good idea of how organization of the meetings and sponsorship work in such gatherings. Java community is huge, well established and has a loyal following of leaders and enthusiasts that are willing to spend some of their evenings meeting with their peers and attending presentations by either well known or by no so famous yet presenters. As a leader of this JUG I often receive emails asking to promote among our members a commercial training event. I do it on one condition: our JUG members have to get some additional benefits from such a vendor, for example, discounted price, free speakers coming over to our JUG, free software licenses…something. During the last several years, I spent a substantial po... (more)

Thinking of Flex in London

After running an advanced Flex training in London with my colleague Victor, we kept asking ourselves, “Why did we like it better than many of similar events from the past?” No, it’s not because London is a nice city to visit. It’s not because you hear "dear" and "darling" all the time. The reason is simple - this was the strongest (from the skill set perspective) group we’ve ever had. Go Europe, go! Besides people from UK, we’ve had attendees from Holland, Belgium, Norway and even one person (very strong) from South Africa. Does it mean that European Flex developers are better than American ones? As usual, there was one 90-minute section with a detailed comparison of Flex MVC frameworks.  As usual, I was softly criticizing the use of MVC framework in Flex.  Yes, I can admit that if you are dealing with low-skilled developers you may justify using Cairngorm. IMHO, Mate... (more)

What Makes a Web Application Enterprisey?

We’re starting to writing a book for O’Reilly that’s titled “Enterprise Web Applications: From Desktop to Mobile.” The book will be available under the Creative Commons license, which means you can read it and provide your feedback from the get go. Here’s the github repository where we’ll keep the current version of the book. In the morning we had a discussion about the meaning of the word Enterprise applied to Web applications. Below is the draft we came up with and we ask your input – would you agree or have a different understanding of the meaning of the term “Enterprise Web Application”. The easiest way to do this is by example. Creating a Web application that will place process orders is not the same as creating a Web site to publish blogs. Enterprise applications, including company-specific workflows, might need to be integrated with a number of internal syst... (more)

Hangover Thoughts About the Web and AJAX

Yesterday, we celebrated the birthday of my employee Alex in a fancy Russian restaurant. If you haven't tried it, go there - once. The party started late, and I've never seen such a variety of food on the table at the same time (they call this setup "bratskaya mogila," which means "mass grave"). After five shots of straight vodka, we enjoyed a Broadway-type show, and then more drinks and food. Anyway, this morning the last thing I wanted to do was drive to my gas station. Last time I selected a Java Web application framework ( and for a second, I regretted that I hadn't implement a Web application. If I had, I could have opened a Web browser and checked on the business without leaving home. At the moment, I was pretty sure there were only two types of users that could appreciate Web applications: Sober people who want to buy... (more)

Can i-Technology Be Feminized? – "There's Way More to Life Than Bits & Bytes"

"I have served as a technical lead on several successful projects and devote at least an hour a day to keeping current with trends," writes a female Java architect, Patty, who has been developing Java systems for more than nine years, in response to in a discussion thread triggered by JDJ's Yakov Fain by a blog posting he wrote last week in which he noted, while watching the live SYS-CON.TV coverage from San Jose of the "Real-World AJAX" seminar, that none of the speakers was female.   "The thing is," Patty adds, "I do all of this during work. In the evenings and on my own time. I do not log on, talk about computers, Java, or anything else technical." "At the risk of over-generalizing," Patty continues, "I think women have better and more interesting things to do. We value social relationships and have more well-rounded lives than our male counterparts. That's why you... (more)

Mentality Shift: from a RAD tool to Java and back

Mentality of programmers depends on a  programming language or tool they use. Should they even try to learn what's under the hood in a particular framework? Ten years ago I've been programming in PowerBuilder. This is a RAD tool and it does a LOT for you automatically. Creating a simple CRUD application there is a matter of one day (hello from the 90th, RoR). Anyway, I did not care HOW PowerBuilder did it under the hood. Then I switched to Java and started to spend all time programming this "under the hood stuff".  I've learned how to MANUALLY program servlets, JSP, EJB, et al. Last year, I was working on a project that was using WebLogic's Workshop 8.1 (not a good tool), which was also providing a lot of auto-generated functionality. But after so many years of writing everything manually, it gave me an uneasy feeling: the tool was instantiating some objects (if I r... (more)

My Friend Is a 72-Year Old Programmer

Yakov Fain's Blog This is a short story about my friend (let’s call him Joe). The last 15 years prior to his retirement Joe spent working as a mainframe programmer for a large financial firm in New York City.  He stopped working at 67, collected well deserved retirement package and was looking  forward to a new life going places around the world and meeting new people.  His lovely wife Mary is a food critic and is also into travel.  We often travel with Joe and Mary, and like these trips a lot.  We never feel any age difference because Joe and Mary are a lot more energetic and interesting people than many 40 years old that I know. To make a long story short, after a year of enjoying his retirement, Joe got a call from a former boss asking for help. Outsourcing of their system to young people did not work out, because the system was rather complex, and knowing ... (more)

In Defense of Joel Spolsky

Joel Spolsky doesn't need my help in defending himself. But since he's my favorite blogger and a person I highly respect, I feel obligated to speak up. Mr. Curt Monash has written an article implying that Joel overestimates his importance while not achieving that much since he was able to grow his company to "only" 25 people. Mr Monash wrote this article based on the wrong assumption that the number of employees is an indicator of the success of the founders of the company. Joel's company has about 25 employees, which is the border number when the company remains agile, manageable and doesn't require an overhead in the form of mid-tier management. Besides, every founder of a company has his/her goals and priorities that may include (surprise, surprise!) having some spare time for a personal life too. I have no doubt that if Joel ever decided to open a consulting arm a... (more)