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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)

i-Technology Opinion: Students

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)

Small Business Solutions

Several years ago I was thinking about buying a small gas station in my local town. I went to my friend Gregory Z., a successful businessman in this field, and asked him, "How do I start a gasoline business?" He gave me simple but wise advice: "You know nothing about gas, but know a lot about computers. Keep doing what you're doing. Just be a little better than others". I'm trying to follow his advice but I keep thinking how would I apply my software skills had I bought such a business. So here I am again asking for your help, advice, and experience: let's automate my virtual gas station. The Setup I've borrowed the money from a bank and now I have: A four-car gas station A small convenience store (coffee, cigarettes, milk, newspapers) A repair shop that changes oil, brake pads, and tires Six employees: one American, two from India, one from Russia, and two from Paki... (more)

Interviewing Java Developers With Tears in My Eyes

During the last week I had to interview five developers for a position that required the following skills: Flex, Java, Spring, and Hibernate.  Most of these guys had demonstrated the 3 out of 10 level of Flex skills even though each of them claimed a practical experience on at least two projects. But this didn’t surprise me – Flex is still pretty new and there is only a small number of developers on the market who can really get Flex things done. What surprised me the most is a low level of Java skills of most of these people. They have 5-8 years of Java EE projects behind their belts, but they were not Java developers. They were species that I can call Robot-Configurator.  Each of them knew how to configure XML files for Spring, they knew how to hook up Spring and Hibernate and how to map a Java class to a database entity. Some of them even knew how to configure laz... (more)

Dealing with Open Source Software

In the first article of this series (see, I "bought" a gas station with a convenience store and a repair shop and started to think about automating this small business using various Java technologies. This time, I'm getting a crash course on open source software. Mentality Shift The most surprising thing is how quickly my programming preferences have changed after I left the corporate world and started working at my gas station. I used to easily recommend expensive software tools, application servers, RAID devices, grid servers, and fiber optic connectors. Need scalability? No problem. We'll create a cluster of two 8-CPU application servers. Let's allocate another $100K for the server licenses for our development, UAT, and contingency environments... But now I'm buying coffee beans in bulk quantities for my convenience store... (more)

What CIOs Should Know About Outsourcing Enterprise Java

Your manager Frank started the meeting by saying that the budget for the new project had been approved, but half of the project will be outsourced to a great team from overseas. Can you imagine, their rates for Java programmers can go as low as $15 an hour! No, we're not losing anyone from our team, and you should take it as an opportunity to work as team leaders, helping our new partners to hit the ground running. No, this wasn't my decision; it came from above. Three Months Later Mary. I've asked them to add two fields to a JTable on the Invoice screen. The data are being retrieved from our database so they'd need to modify an SQL query as well. I've sent them this e-mail yesterday, but it was night time over there, so they've responded today asking me to send them the modified SQL and write the name of the Java class and method where this new code should reside. ... (more)

Creating a Flashy Monitoring Application

Do you know what's the main goal of any gas station owner? To get lots of trucking accounts. Business from small car drivers is worth pennies, and it gets on my nerves to hear them ask again and again, "Five dollars of regular, please." Trucks are different. They usually pump in a couple of hundreds of gallons at a time. For instance, here comes a flashy 18-wheeler with a sign "Software Delivered." These guys ship reusable open source components around the globe. As a former programmer, I was trying to play it smart by asking why they don't just let people download these components from the Internet? But the smiley truckers (many of whom used to be software developers too) just shrug and tell me that nothing beats personal delivery, plus the tips. If you think about it, their ventures are the basis of a new business model. Ten years ago, only professional vendors wo... (more)

Two Sacred Cows - AJAX and Paris Hilton

Yakov Fain's Blog Last Monday I was participating in the rich Internet application panel that has been broadcasted live from Times Square. The recording of this session is available. Unfortunately, none of my comments on AJAX made it to the recording (they were mainly negative). So do not be surprised hearing Coach Wei answering my comments, which you've actually never heard. No big deal, you can hear my raw unedited comments on current rich internet application technologies in my podcast at this URL. AJAX is one of the most searchable technical words today. One of the most popular searches in the non-technical world is the name Paris Hilton. Forget AJAX, what really bothers me is the fact that Paris Hilton is prematurely out  of jail "because of an unspecified medical problem". Money talks in the USA. "Under the new agreement, Hilton would be confined to her home f... (more)

Web Frameworks and IDE in Java/J2EE

In the first two articles of this series (see and, I started thinking aloud about automating my gas station using various Java-related technologies. This time, I'm trying to figure out what IDE and Web framework to use. How Many Java Web Frameworks Does Mankind Need? Being a consultant in my previous life, I worked on different projects for various clients. Each time I joined a project I had to learn a new Java technology that promised to make my life easier. Here it comes again! Now I need to select a Web framework. The good part is that literally all of them are free (is it the right word? I need to do some more reading on all these public licenses). Since a gas station is the best place for networking, I started to ask drivers/programmers to recommend a good Java Web framework. By th... (more)

Opinion: What if IBM Buys Sun For Real?

When Wall Street Journal writes, they have their reasons. A couple of days ago they wrote that IBM wants to buy Sun Microsystems for $6.5B. To me, this is sad news. I like Sun and don’t want them to die. Neither do I want to see thousands of Sun’s employees being laid off.  But if IBM will really purchase Sun such consequences are unavoidable. But if laid off people will be re-hired by other employers, some Sun’s software will die. I mean will cease to exist. IBM is a huge firm. It makes hardware, software and has an extensive consulting arm. While IBM has been always supporting Java and its derivatives like IDE and J2EE servers, they were always behind. Just look at the delays in implementing latest Java specs in WebSphere. RAD IDE is not as good as Eclipse either. So what software will die first? IMO, Glassfish won’t survive.  For years, Sun has been pushing this serve... (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)