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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)

Dead Souls From Overseas

From Yakov Fain's blog Today’s topic is how to lead offshore programmers. To make this discussion a bit more interesting, let’s go back in time into the first half of the 19th century. The novel “Dead Souls” by the Russian writer Nikolai Gogol was published in 1842. At that time, landowners paid taxes based on the number of people registered with their properties. Often, landowners were taxed even for the dead souls after people passed away. Guess what, one entrepreneur  named Chichikov, started visiting landowners offering  to purchase dead souls from them, as this would lower their taxes. Why Chichikov would need to have legal rights to these dead souls? C’mon, it’s elementary, Watson!  He wanted to inflate his importance in the society by showing the large number of souls he owned, so he could  take a large loan against them. No... (more)

Immersing Into Flex, Java, AJAX, and Microsoft

Yakov Fain's Blog I'll spend the second half of March'07 teaching and learning about all these different but related technologies. After finishing an  SOA project, my brain needs a good massage, and I consider all these conferences and training sessions as a luxury SPA. Here's my  plan (If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans). 1. March 18. I'm running with my partner n intensive one-day Flex Bootcamp as a part of the AJAXWorld conference. It's going to be an absolute hands-on class (everyone must bring their laptops), and we'll create two working applications during this session: a fancy RSS reader in Flex, and a working Flex-Java-DBMS distributed CRUD application.  In my opinion, this is a very good injection for anyone who's planning to jump-start a real world Flex/Java project.  2 . March 19-21. AJAXWorld Conference & Expo 2007 East, which  has a numb... (more)

Microsoft Is Not Dead, It Just Has A Flu

From Yakov Fain's Blog One of my favorite bloggers, Paul Graham, has published an essay called “Microsoft Is Dead.” He starts, “A few days ago I suddenly realized Microsoft was dead”, and then explains why he thinks so. Obviously, Microsoft circa 2007 is not the same as 10-15 years ago. It’s weaker now, but it’s far from being dead.  I’m not a Microsoft developer, but during the last twenty years I use their products daily – Windows OS, MS Word, MS Excel, PowerPoint, and Visio.  Last month, I’ve attended a very interesting technology summit for a small non-Microsoft crowd at Redmond, WA. I’ve posted a number of more or less technical blogs with my notes from this event, but this time I’d like to explain my vision of this software giant as a respond to Paul’s blog. About fifteen years ago, Microso... (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)

Stupid Users and Usability of UI

When you design  UI, it has to be intuitive. If a user does something wrong,  the first reaction of rookie developers is, “Stupid Users!”. While some users may not be exceptionally bright, if they make mistakes using your  software, most likely it’s your fault.  I ran into a couple of such issues within the last three days. 1. While placing an order in one online store, I’ve entered my credit card number and pressed the button Submit.  After a round-trip to the server (this was a thin client Web application), I got an error page stating that the credit card number is invalid. Actually, the error message was very friendly and warm. It suggested, “Consider removing spaces from the credit card field”. I was so grateful! Indeed, I’ve entered my CC number as groups of four digits separated by spaces.  Removed the spaces, another round trip to the server, and it took it! N... (more)

Why People Like Open Source Software

I like quotes by great minds. Here's my favorite quote by Henry Ford: If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right. Some of these chapters of our upcoming O'Reilly book "Enterprise Development with Flex" had opening software-related quotes.  Our editor suggested that for consistency,  it should be done in every chapter, which makes sense. Chapter 6 of the book is titled "Open Source Networking Solutions", which begs for a specific quote on  open source software, but I'm not aware of any pundit who said something short and catchy in this field. Hence I decided that I might as well come up with a quote myself. In less than three minutes I gave birth to this one: 99% of the people who reject using the software until it gets open sourced, neither plan nor will look at its source code. If you know of any better  on open source software, please ... (more)

i-Technology Opinion: Outsourcing...to 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)

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)

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)

Adobe AIR Is Cool and Not So Cool

Adobe AIR 1.5 Is Cool Because 1. AIR allows you to perform all I/O operation with the file system on the user’s desktop. 2. AIR allows you to sign applications and version application. 3. AIR offers an updater to ensure proper upgrades of the applications on the user’s desktop 4. AIR comes with a local database SQLite to keep the data (in clear or encrypted mode) right on the user’s computer 5. AIR applications can monitor and report the status of the network connection 6. You can start and run AIR application even when there is not network connection available 7. AIR has better than Flex support of HTML – creating a custom Web Browser is easy Adobe AIR 1.5 Is Not Cool Because 1. AIR can’t make calls to user’s native operation system. 2. AIR can’t launch non-AIR applications on the desktop (except the default browser). 3. AIR can’t instantiate a DLL. 4. AIR can’t call an A... (more)