January 30, 2004
The buck stops here

So, a large organisation has, probably inadvertently, mislead the public. The management of this organisation stuck by the initial report, whereas they should have launched an investigation into the report's accuracy. Having failed to do this, the men at the top fell upon their swords.

Hmmm. I can think of another large organisation which might have mislead us. Our government. One might charitably believe that this was also inadvertent, but mislead we have been. And we went to war, and a lot of people have been killed. I wonder if the men at the top will do the honourable thing this time?

I doubt it.

I must say, the Hutton Report looks totally one sided to me. The government was always given the benefit of the doubt, but the BBC never was.

Posted to The Big Room by Simon Brunning at 09:32 AM
January 28, 2004
Busy busy busy...

Phew, it's been a busy few days!

We've now come up with an architecture for our system, so I'll be spending the next couple of days implementing and prototyping it.

We've decided against Struts; instead, we'll be implementing a form of 'MVC lite', using a command servlet to control flow. (Yes, yes, I know, reinventing the wheel. It wasn't my decision.) And we'll use a Filter for our authentication. No cookies allowed, so I'll be putting together a taglib to do our URL re-writing for our session tracking.

Our toolkit:

Java SDK 1.4.2
Ant 1.6
Cactus 1.5
Checkstyle 3.3
Eclipse 2.1.2
J2EE JSPs 1.2
J2EE servlets 2.3
Jakarta.commons various
Jakarta.taglib various
jEdit 4.2 pre 8
jUnit 3.8.1
log4j 1.2.8
PMD 1.4
Tomcat 4.1.29

We'll be generating XHTML, and formatting with CSS, naturally. ;-)

Not everything that I'd wanted, but not too bad, either.

Posted to Java by Simon Brunning at 05:08 PM
January 27, 2004

Watch out for this new worm: Mydoom spreading as fast as Sobig.

On the other hand, if it's going to perform a denial of service attack on SCO, I'm tempted to let it in...

Posted to The Internet by Simon Brunning at 12:36 PM
January 26, 2004
Sir Bill

So, Bill Gates is to be knighted, eh? Presumably for his contributions to anti-competitive business practice?

Or perhaps it's for his unstinting work in keeping the Communists at bay. (Or the Open Source community, as you may know it.) And if he's had to tell a pack of lies to do this, what of it? Cough*bastard*cough.

Bill the spam-killer is another joke. Besides, at least one good anti-spam solution already exists: SpamBayes caught 70 spams for me this morning, with no false positives, none missed, and seven unsures. Superb. You going to beat that, Bill? Sorry, Sir Bill?

And if you think you are going to start charging me to send email, Sir Bill, you can feck off. You don't own the Internet.

From Slashdot: We want to be the first proprietary vendor to copy the methods of the Open Source solutions to the Spam Problem.

Posted to Business by Simon Brunning at 01:08 PM
January 23, 2004
My visited country map

Create your own visited country map.

Via bouncy.

Update: Phil will take some beating with this very impressive effort:

But then, he was an airline pilot!

Posted to Apropos of nothing by Simon Brunning at 03:59 PM

Thanks to Ned for pointing out the lovely SpaceMonger (screenshot), a nice graphical disk usage gadget. Have a play.

Posted to Software by Simon Brunning at 02:26 PM
The Brunning Diet

There was, I gather, a program about the Atkins diet on the idiot box last night. It seems that the reason that the Atkins diet works is that eating protein makes you feel full, so you eat less. So, I present to you the Brunning Diet.

You can have as much of the following as you like:

  • Peanuts. (For protein.)
  • Beer. (Well, the Atkins diet offers steak, and this is the only way I can think of to go one better.)

I reckon this is at least as likely to lose you weight as are most diets, and has the massive advantage that all the required foodstuffs are available without leaving your local.

Disclaimer: If you try this and die, don't come running to me. Diet may contain nuts.

Posted to Apropos of nothing by Simon Brunning at 01:50 PM

Thanks to everyone who gave me advice yesterday on the toolset that I should use for a new from-the-ground-up J2EE system. Now for the meetings...

I'll let you know what we end up with.

Posted to Java by Simon Brunning at 01:21 PM
January 22, 2004

Given that we are starting a brand new project with Java 1.4, is there any reason to prefer log4j or commons-logging over java.util.logging?

Posted to Java by Simon Brunning at 05:50 PM
Checkstyle or PMD?

Err, that's it, really; Checkstyle, or PMD, or both? Or is there anything else in this area that I should take a look at?

Posted to Java by Simon Brunning at 05:15 PM
The London Java Meetups

It's worth pointing out that the London Java Meetups aren't just for gurus; there are many gurus there, certainly, but Steve and I found that they are very clueless-newbie friendly.

You can learn an awful lot talking to the experts, and besides, they are a thoroughly nice bunch of lads, and it's a pleasure to drink with them.

But a 7:30 breakfast meetup? I'm not sure that even I'm that keen!

Posted to Java by Simon Brunning at 04:48 PM
Belated New Year's resolution

Learn to use colons and semi-colons properly.

And if you think that's easy, you are probably not using them correctly yourself. I know that my father, English graduate and author though he is, isn't.

But don't bother with colons and semi-colons unless you have the hang of apostrophes and commas. Colons and semi-colons are just the icing on the cake, but if you aren't using apostrophes and commas properly, then you aren't writing English.

Posted to Apropos of nothing by Simon Brunning at 03:41 PM
Microsoft - you're shit, and you know you are, part II

IE Sucks.

Posted to Software by Simon Brunning at 01:06 PM

The Daily Mail-o-matic, via As Above.

Posted to Funny by Simon Brunning at 12:51 PM

I'm not sure about the application, but I love the name - Booble, the pron search engine.

Posted to Funny by Simon Brunning at 12:38 PM
J2EE done right

I've got a new work project, and I'm pretty excited about it. We are to build a J2EE web application. We've got a few of these floating around, but this one is to be done from scratch, and it's been made clear that it's to be done right - no cutting of corners whatsoever.

Music to my ears. ;-)

Our existing projects all either date from back when we really didn't know what we were doing, or are based on them. Our unit tests are patchy at best, our build files are nasty shell scripts with the odd Python script thrown in, deployment is totally manual, wheel-reinvention is rife, you name it. Everything works, but you wouldn't want to start from here.

Not this time.

The toolset I'm thinking of recommending:

You'll note that I'm shooting for current best practice rather than cutting edge here; hence Ant rather than Maven, Struts rather than WebWork, for example. Is there anything that should be on this list that isn't? Anything that is on the list that shouldn't be?

Posted to Java by Simon Brunning at 11:48 AM
January 19, 2004
Getting there...

This one has been nasty, but I've got most of what I need reinstalled now.

I had to give up and start again at one point, 'cos Windows Explorer started locking up. :-(

Now I'm just having some trouble with Tomcat. I took the oppertunity to upgrade to 4.1, ready for a new project, but now I can't get any servlets running at all.

Posted to Apropos of nothing by Simon Brunning at 04:18 PM
January 15, 2004
Off line...

Bah! That's it! I've had enough!

When my PC was rebuilt recently, there were apparently several warning and error messages during installation of the OS. Unsurprisingly, its now about as stable as a drunk on a unicycle. So, Ive decided to bite the bullet and reinstall from scratch, myself.

You wont be hearing from me for a day or two, at least. Wish me luck; I'll need it.

Posted to Software by Simon Brunning at 11:09 AM
January 13, 2004
Small world

The iSeries world is a small one, and the Synon/2 world is smaller still. So, it's really no surprise that Steve is now working with my old mate Michael.

Anyway, the three of us are meeting up at The Prince of Wales, Wimbledon tomorrow evening. All welcome.

Posted to iSeries by Simon Brunning at 12:47 PM
The value of free software

I do hope that Richard Allan MP's excellent response to Jack Schofield's Grauniad piece on Free Software is published.

Now, I'm not a Free Software man myself - I prefer the more flexible BSD/Apache style of licence. But Richard is right to flag up the importance of the work that the Free Software people have done. The Internet wouldn't exist in anything like its current form without it.

Posted to Open source by Simon Brunning at 12:39 PM
January 09, 2004
Global Warming

US climate policy bigger threat to world than terrorism.

My theory is that somewhere between ten and twenty years from now, the US will recognise a link between the increasing severity of their tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and forest fires; global warming; and greenhouse gas emissions. At this point, they will classify greenhouse gas emission as a terrorist act, and bomb the fuck out of any nation foolish enough to keep up with the practice.

Whether this will happen in time to save us from total ecological collapse is another question.

Posted to Science and technology by Simon Brunning at 12:58 PM
Sickie Nation, reprise

Sigh. It was inevitable, I suppose. I diss Mark over his sickie record, so I need a day off myself almost immediately.

That was yesterday. ;-)

Not a hangover, I hasten to add; I baled out on Steve after just a couple of pints, 'cos I was feeling terrible. Sorry, Steve! Then I went home to bed, but got very little sleep.

Still, 'Sicknote' Matthews is keeping his end up. He was late in this morning because his new tattoo was hurting.

Posted to Apropos of nothing by Simon Brunning at 12:37 PM
January 07, 2004
Keep it in the family

It appears that I'm not the only Brunning with an interest in pubs. I seem to have a (probably vanishingly distant) cousin running a chain of them.

Well, actually, I know I'm not the only Brunning with an interest in pubs. As a family it seems we are seldom out of them. ;-)

Posted to Apropos of nothing by Simon Brunning at 01:47 PM
Getting Windows version information in Python

I recently needed to find out which version of Windows on of my scripts was running on. Python 2.3 introduced the os.sys.getwindowsversion() function, which gives you exactly that, but interpreting its output is a bit of a trick. It turns out that it's a fairly thin wrap of GetVersionEx(), and its output is an OSVERSIONINFO structure unpacked into a tuple. So, how's this for a nasty one-liner?

win_version = {(1, 4, 0): "95", (1, 4, 10): "98", (1, 4, 90): "ME", (2, 4, 0): "NT", (2, 5, 0): "2K", (2, 5, 1): "XP"}[os.sys.getwindowsversion()[3], os.sys.getwindowsversion()[0], os.sys.getwindowsversion()[1]]

I suppose I really ought to turn this into a function... ;-)

BTW, I've only tested this on NT and up - if it works (or otherwise) on 9x platforms, I'd love to hear from you.

Posted to Python by Simon Brunning at 01:05 PM

We though of that first! It's really irritating when you give your child an obscure name, so they don't end up with the same name as three other kids in their class, only to find that the hoi polloi pick up the name a few years later: Freya was the highest new entry, up 10 places to 41.

Ah well, at least we spelt it authentically...

Posted to Parenting by Simon Brunning at 11:50 AM
Three score years and ten

Well, three score years and 17.6 for me, according to the BBC's Life Expectancy Calculator. Everyone else in the office will last until over eighty, though - it's just not fair!

I have a BMI of 26.1 - well, I suppose that the six-pack turned into a party-seven some years ago. :-(

Posted to Science and technology by Simon Brunning at 11:36 AM
First beer of the new year

Steve and I are meeting at The Stage Door near Waterloo this evening at sixish. Anyone wishing to be bored witless over a few pints of Pride (or the tipple of your choice) would be more than welcome.

Posted to Apropos of nothing by Simon Brunning at 10:28 AM
January 06, 2004
Sickie nation

Fit workers 'would call in sick'

"And 60% will stay at home with minor ailments such as colds or hangovers." I can assure you, if ever a hangover has kept me from work, there's been nothing minor about it!

Not that I've had much sick time in the last few years - unlike some people I could mention... CoughMatthewsCough.

Hmmm. Unless you count time in the Dentists chair having my front teeth reconstructed, that is. ;-) A couple of years back I spent rather a lot of time at the Dentist. I did come straight to work after having a incisor removed, though...

Posted to Business by Simon Brunning at 05:01 PM
Parental tip

Never buy make up for small children if you are bald. It's just too much of a temptation. (From left to right - Ella and Freja, my daughters, me, and Lucy, my youngest niece.)

At my brother-in-law's insistance, another Xmas picture for you. This is Dan (my ex's new husband) and I drinking Tequilla.

Posted to Parenting by Simon Brunning at 02:36 PM
The Office

Hah! I feel better now!

I had been feeling rather let down by The Office's Christmas special. Most of it was brilliant - I actually had to leave the room during the Blind Date sequence. But the ending just didn't feel right. David Brent, pull a decent bird? Never!

But it's just been pointed out to me (by my colleague Phil) that she was an escort. All's right with the world once more.

By the way, there is some good stuff on the web site. The screen saver is a bit of a let down, especially as a 5 MB download. But Gareth's homepage is just right, and the newsletter is worth a look too.

Posted to Funny by Simon Brunning at 02:18 PM

Jez posted a nice little toy today - box: monitoring RSS/RDF feeds via email/SMS. Since I don't have access to an email/SMS gateway, this isn't really that useful to me. Besides, I subscribe to far too many feeds - I'd be getting hundreds of messages a day! But I can see tremendous use in various parts of this gadget.

Indeed, between the tool itself and Jez's follow up comments, I've learned a couple of useful things. Firstly I'd not heard of hsqldb. It's a fast, lightweight, pure Java RDBMS, a bit like Python's Gadfly.

And secondly, now I know how to tell Java about my firewall - see Write Java apps that work with proxy-based firewalls.

Thanks, Jez!

Posted to Java by Simon Brunning at 12:48 PM
January 05, 2004
Browser as Desktop UI

Bruce Eckel posts a nice example of a program which uses a browser as its GUI on a single PC - Browser as Desktop UI. Class. I'll give this approach a go Real Soon Now.

Posted to Python by Simon Brunning at 02:16 PM
JavaScript in Python

python-spidermonkey, a Python/JavaScript bridge module. Cool, but if I'm honest, I can't see any use for this for me at the moment...

Via Simon Willison.

Posted to Python by Simon Brunning at 02:00 PM
Are You A Blogaholic?

Are You A Blogaholic?

My results: You are a casual weblogger. You only blog when you have nothing better to do, which is not very often. There's nothing wrong with that. But if you'd post a little more often, you'd make your readers very happy.

Utter bollocks, obviously. ;-)

Via Erik.

Posted to Blogs by Simon Brunning at 11:56 AM
Congratulations, Sir Tim

Tim Berners-Lee gets a knighthood.

And via Ben, the pun of the year (so far) - And why stop at a knighthood? They should make him an Url.

Posted to The Internet by Simon Brunning at 10:37 AM

... to Steve on his new job. He's now working with Michael, my oldest friend.

Oldest in terms of how long I've known him, that is - 22 years. We first met at 13, at High School. 22 years, scary!

Posted to by Simon Brunning at 09:28 AM
I'm back!

I've not so much as booted a computer for over two weeks now, so naturally I get a BSOD first thing. Sigh. Just Bill's way of reintroducing me to Windows.

2822 emails in my in-box, and Bloglines has 2607 blog entries for me to read. This could take me the rest of the week...

Oh, yes, I had a lovely holiday. Thanks for asking. How was yours?

Posted to Apropos of nothing by Simon Brunning at 09:12 AM