What’s that SmEll(ison)?

So, I’m working away, thinking my little programmer thoughts, when I notice I have a Java update available for the Winblows box that I’m forced to use while on-site at this particular customer location (to do email, Office and SharePoint, ostensibly). I love Java, so I’m all, “Sure, dude, let’s spin that up!”

The update has just begun when I run across a message that – unless I uncheck the “Ooo, I’d love to install this unknown product” box – will install something called Carbonite. Apparently it’s a backup utility, and applying the Java update by default (meaning you blast through the install and don’t bother to read every screen) installs a 30 day trial of this product. I’m sure it’s a fine product (see what I just did there? I’m practicing in case I ever decide to go into politics), but NO THANKS. Oh, and I’m equally sure it’s a snap to uninstall (I just did it again there).

Now that Oracle owns Java, is this the sort of thing we can expect?

In case you’re wondering, I did NOT install the update. The whole thing is rather irritating.

OpenID For Java Web Developers, Part II

Part II of this article series is available here.

I love openid4java, but their sample application code is lacking. Lucky for guys like me, I guess, who write articles about stuff like that, huh?

This article comes with a complete, working sample application that you should be able to build and deploy to Tomcat 5.5.x right out of the box (I tested it with Tomcat 5.5.27).

I’d love to hear what you think of this article.

What is Truth?

Saying there is one Truth is like saying there is only one kind of food to eat. Experience shows us that there are lots of foods to eat because we practice eating all the time. Unfortunately, we don’t practice spirituality much at all, so our experience is limited. In fact, I would argue that to the vast majority of people, practicing spirituality is an alien concept, which means we pretty much all suck at it. Is it any wonder then that there is so much division along religious lines in the world?

Why do we talk? Debate? Exchange ideas? I would argue that it is because an honest debate begins with the premise that I have an idea and you have an idea and we both might learn something from the exchange, which may ultimately shape our perception of “the truth.” We are both “right” in the sense that we bring something to the exchange we perceive as correct (or functional or valuable or whatever makes a belief “work”). But when we’re done, if our ego is not in control of the exchange, our positions may be forever altered for having had the exchange (vis-a-vis “Hey I didn’t see it like that. Cool.”). If our egos are in control, then you’re still wrong and I’m still right (or from your perspective I’m wrong and you’re right), and we’ve not done anything but try to convert each other to the “Truth.”

I never could get my head wrapped around any particular set of ideas and beliefs as the “Truth.” The whole idea never resonated with me. I mean, who says I’m “right” anyway? Me? What if I got my opinions from a book. Maybe a sacred book. Well, who says it’s sacred? If I believe it’s sacred, then it is. TO ME. But do I have the right to make you believe it, just because I do? See, here’s the absolute genius of belief systems that have this view of right and wrong. Their fundamental tenets (which must be spelled out in the sacred tome) must state that not only is everything written herein the Truth, but the fact that this sacred writing says so is proof enough, and furthermore (here’s the kicker) everybody who believes otherwise is (insert fate of “unbelievers” here). And to top it all off, you are never ever (ever) allowed to change your belief or you are weak. So this system sets itself up to be rigid and self-reinforcing.

What would possess me to think that just because I believe it, it’s the “Truth?” It may be MY Truth, but I have NO RIGHT to force it onto you. I would like to share it with you, but in doing so, your ideas will possibly influence my view and forever alter it.

NOW I’m practicing spirituality. The world is changing. People are beginning to see that it is no longer acceptable to force ideas about something so personal upon others.

Our collective human ego is dying.

Spiritual Software Development?

I wonder about this. It’s just something I’ve been thinking about. Can we bring our spirituality to our work? I think we can.

As a consultant, I feel ethically bound to tell my customers when they are heading in the wrong direction, and help guide them in the right direction (unfortunately, I don’t get much chance to advise them a priori). I am also ethically bound to fair billing practices.

But I think this is more than that. It has to do with what of ourselves we give to our work, rather than how we do our work. It’s a subtle but important difference. Just something I’ve been thinking about. Maybe I’ll write a book about it someday. And get on Oprah’s Book Club list.

Yeah, right.

Tips for Developing Your Software Development Skills

Here’s another one:

Write Less Code.

Yep. That’s right, kids. I have found as I mature as a developer that I write less code. But there are those times when my brain tells me that writing more code is the answer to a particular problem. Or that I should just throw something away and start over (though, in all fairness, there are times when that is the right answer).

When I’m looking to solve a problem, I always search for an existing solution to the problem. If none exists, then, of course I will write code as necessary. But I’m not in the business of writing code. I am in the business of using information technology to solve business problems. Sometimes that means I write code.

But not if I can help it.

Printing Body Parts?

I LOVE stuff like this. This article from the Economist about creating body parts from a person’s own DNA using a special machine is just really neat. Basically, the idea is that the “bio printer” first erects a water soluble “scaffold” on which the 3D printing will be done, then the machine – using as “toner” a combination of the patient’s DNA and other stuff – prints out the blood vessel or whatever is being printed. After the item has been printed, the water soluble scaffold is washed away and the item is ready for implantation.

The printer should be ready for wide spread use in as little as five years. I’ll be you can’t get the toner for that printer at Office Depot.