I decided to do a quick introduction to Static factory methods and their use, based on the information in “Effective Java”, which I previously mentioned. The five minute video is up here. Let me know what you think!
I’ve been writing code for a while now and I have reused lots of bits here and there between projects, but never really properly organised any of it in one place.
As I’m going through Joshua Bloch’s amazing book Effective Java (which I would warmly recommend to any Java developer at any level, links below), I realised again how much I could benefit from setting this up and from developing a “toolkit” that I can reuse for many projects to come. So out of that, Shardplate is born, at the moment more an idea than a project, but growing slowly.
As you can tell from the github page, I will keep this open-source as I work on it so if you want to contribute or use any parts of it, go right ahead. Just got this started the other day, but got quite a bunch more things that I would like to put in it over the next few weeks.
NB: These are referral links, if you purchase the book by following the links, I get a small commission from Amazon.
I am very late to the “blog about this conference” party, having been caught up with other things in the last month, but here’s my share of highlights for posterity as well.
For the second year in a row, I woke up early on a Saturday to take part in the LJC Open Conference and just like last year, I had a fantastic time!
Lightning talks are one of my favourite bits at the conference, because you get to hear lots of ideas in a relatively short amount of time. This year I presented a lightning talk on verifiable voting. People seemed to like it (HT to Trisha for her kind words) so I’m really glad I decided to do it and hope to follow-up on the subject with those that reached out to me. I am still surprised how little developers know about this topic and it seems that London is no different than Washington, DC was.
My favourite was the workshop by Sandro Mancuso on refactoring and testing. It was great to see Sandro’s workflow live and he had some really good tips which I’m working on implementing in my own day to day job. You can now view this session as a webcast.
@Sleepyfox also had a great and fantastic piece about the role of management in modern software development which was very thought-provoking. By the end, several of us were asking to forward that presentation onto our managers, so maybe we’ll see a blog post with it?
Finally, I participated in the pilot for LJC “meet-ins” and heard about some open source-projects looking for interested developers. I think the pilot went well and there’s a lot of potential for these meet-ins and I hope I will see more of them happening next year.
All in all, it was a great experience, caught up with some old faces, made some new friends and learned some new things. Thanks again to Barry, IBM and everyone involved in organising this and looking forward to next year’s edition!
You wrote to me in May about love… I wanted to write back to you the instant I read that post, but I somehow never got around to it. What stupid order of priorities is that in which other things happen, but writing to your friends does not?
I always think of you this time of year. But unlike many other people, I don’t think about the past, I don’t worry much about the unchangeable things in the world, as terrible as they may have been. I worry about today though. About who we are and who we become. This year, more than any other, I am thinking of you. And this year, more than any other, I’ll try to write you a letter.
I do agree with you on what you said of love, though I didn’t used to. Love changes over the years. It doesn’t disappear, it doesn’t dry, it just changes, as people change. I’ve learned that to be true recently. You can buy the prettiest flowers and put them in a vase and water them everyday… but sooner or later, the flowers will dry out and die. It may be a few days, it may be a few weeks, but it will happen, as certain as time goes by.
Or you can plant the smallest of seeds and nurture it. It takes great care to grow a seed into a strong plant, lots of work. Sometimes the little plant will bloom and look amazing. Sometimes all the flowers will fall off and it will look like there’s almost nothing left to go by. You need to take care of the plant… sometimes it needs to move, sometimes it needs trimming or propping, sometimes it just needs to grow freely for a bit. And if you’re like me, you’ll do a thousand mistakes on the way.
But if you work hard and if you’re lucky, the little seed you planted will grow into a strong plant that may even outlive you. And that’s the love that grows.
But all love changes. The way we love our parents changes, though it’s always been there. I think we will never really love our parents quite right until we have children ourselves. Until then, I don’t think we will be able to really understand what they gave and what for and what magic is in their love. As I grow older I understand more, but I think I’m still so far off.
I’ve recently watched our graduation video again (yes yes, I have both mine and your recording of it, so remind to make sure they come your way as well). I haven’t seen it in a very long time, maybe 5 years now, maybe even 6. It reminded me of that youthful passion we had back then, that rebellious streak still overdominating our personality. It’s fun to watch it and to remember what we wanted to make out of that graduation ceremony.
I remember that your father wasn’t as happy with it as we were. I remember his criticism later that summer and his arguments on what it should mean to go up on a stage. I remember most of the things he said and I distinctly remember not understanding it at all. I didn’t actually think about it too much after that night.
When I graduated from college, I didn’t speak at the graduation. But I did present something. I presented my senior project in various contexts. And when I was working on that, putting it together, going over it again and again, I remembered that summer night and what your dad told us about our “show”. And for the first time in my life, four years later, I felt like I got it.
When I presented my senior project, the audience listened. Everyone listened, I could see they were enjoying it. I never saw it as a presentation, it was a 8 minute show on a stage. It was worth putting my name to it, it was funny, but serious. I think your dad would have loved it. I think he would’ve been proud in the way teachers are when they hear news of where their students have gone to.
For people like us, some times are more difficult than others. I don’t believe in an “up there”, there is only a here and now. And the here and now is sometimes lonely and cold and there is little soothing to that. But if there are so many things that we can’t change in this world, there is still a lot that we can. We can change everything there is about who we are and what we do. We can choose how to speak, how to write, how to love. In the here and now, our choices are who we are.
I only knew your father a little bit, but I know you a lot better. And so I know your father through everything you do, through your choices, and he strikes me as a great man and a good father. I know he was proud of you, I know he would still be so and I know I am proud that we are friends.
I don’t know what else to say my dear friend. This is no place for the weary kind, there is no shortcut, no easy way out for us. But, me and you, we’re still crazy, we still believe. We still believe that the things we do can change the world and that at the end of it all, we will have left our prints on this world and made it into a better place. Even at our lowest points, we believe that we can make a dent on the world’s stage. And you don’t grow up to be like this by chance. We may feel like we’ve only recently spread our wings, but if we dream today, it’s because we were set free years ago by the careful guiding hands of our parents. And so all love lives on and that’s all I’ll write to you today about love.
Cannot WAIT to get together dude. You take care in the mean time. Te pup.
I’ve never been a very regular poster, but I have now been away for an unusually long time. There are several reasons for that, but I would like to talk to you today about what is probably the most important and relevant one: I was sick. No, not like “we need to talk” sick thankfully, but bad enough that I want to get this off my chest.
If your idea of terrible is something like cancer, you may find this as whiney, but if your idea of terrible is the flu or the spring allergy, strap in, this will be a helluva ride.
Part I – INTRO
Whooping cough is not some secret killer that no one knows about, so don’t panic just yet. If you’re a fairly healthy adult, it won’t kill you, it will most probably not even place your life in any real danger, but it will steal (at least) two months of your life and won’t give you much in return.
It comes by as a normal cold. You feel a bit sick for a while, nothing more special than any other year. You start coughing progressively worse, into something that looks and sounds a lot like bronchitis. About a week in though, if you’ve ever had bronchitis before, you realise this is nothing like that.
You worry about it being serious, but you’re not running a fever and your cold symptoms seem to get better so it’s definitely not pneumonia so you relax and decide to sit it out a bit more.
The cold symptoms go away, the intensely productive cough continues and gets worse.
This is probably where you would go online and research your symptoms. This is probably where, identifying the very specific sound you’re making, you realise you have whooping cough. This is probably when you will go see a doctor — always a good decision. Unfortunately, the doctors can’t help, most won’t diagnose it correctly, and the Internet – while it will point you in the right direction – will destroy your hopes by telling you your worst fear: there is absolutely nothing you can do and it’s not going away soon, it’s just getting warmed up.
Part II – FREAK OUT
The cough dries up, but it continues and gets worse.
You feel fine in all other regards, but the cough continues and gets worse.
Not believing the Internet, you try every single legally sold cough-suppressant known to man and you observe how all of them have absolutely no effect over the cough. You try high humidity, low humidity, cold water, hot tea, lots of honey, no sugar, lozenges with menthol, lozenges without menthol, strepsils, steroid nasal spray, and they are all equally worthless.
The cough continues and gets worse.
And the cough itself! This isn’t the kind of cough you get with the flu. That bronchitis cough? That’s a walk in the park in comparison. This is the kind of cough where you run out of breath (the gasp to breathe in is what gives it its name). This is the kind of cough that makes you throw up. This is the kind of cough that teaches you what a laryngospasm is, at 4 in the morning (teaser: you’ll have an instant understanding of why water-boarding is so effective for torture and it will scare the hell out of your life partner). For some people this cough causes muscle strains, hernias and broken ribs. For children it can be deadly.
This cough makes your nights so bad that you’d rather stay awake. Insomnia may kick in.
You only wish I was making this up. The cough continues… and gets worse.
PART III – DRAWN OUT BREAK-UP
About two months in, right when you start getting used to waking up coughing several times a night and you start thinking that anytime you don’t feel like suffocating or throwing up is a lucky run, it starts slowly getting better. The cough gets progressively lighter and more rare. Slowly (very slowly!) it gets better and you can have a chance at going back to your previous life.
I had two months of hell. Third month in, I am still coughing, but a lot lighter than before. The only frustrating lingering symptom at this point, other than the cough itself, is that my voice is still quite affected, but hopefully not permanently.
Up to you what you want to take away from this experience and post, but I took two things.
First, an unexpected shot of humility.
When you get into sports and nutrition and all that healthy lifestyle jazz, you develop an illusion of invincibility. You do things that make you feel healthier and you DO feel healthier. You feel stronger and fitter. You know that you are actively working against things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer and that gives you a certain feeling of strength. But you forget that you’re still so vulnerable to so many things. You start thinking that you’ve evolved into some super-human beyond all viruses, bacteria and “normal folk” diseases. You’re unfortunately wrong. I got slapped in the face with reality. It smarts.
Second, a not at all unexpected shot of rage.
Why rage? Because we have a little miracle thing called a vaccine. Further more, you yourself, were vaccinated against whooping cough. Yes you were, as a child. So was I. Unfortunately, immunity doesn’t last all that long for this bugger. It would need boosters about every 5 years to keep your immunity up.
But no one talks about it (be warned, ranting starts here).
I haven’t heard a single damn thing about whooping cough until it hit me this year. Not a word. Not a PSA, not an ad, not a single thing. Everywhere around me everyone talks about the flu, the flu, the flu, OMG THE FLU! I couldn’t care less about the bloody flu. A bad flu will cause me to spend a few days in bed playing video games and watching old Star Trek: TNG shows, and one day which may really suck. BOO HOO, cry me a paracetamol river. Whooping cough stole two months of my life! Remember the paralympics? That’s when I got sick. It affected my work productivity, postponed my personal projects, limited my social interaction (to an absolute zero for the first month), made me miss personal and business commitments, kept me out of the gym for two months (and away from any cardio still to this date) and do NOT get me started on how much money it cost me in (mostly useless) medicine. No, this is not a good time to talk to me about the flu vaccine; I want to hear why we’re not doing periodic whooping cough vaccines. Why want to hear about why I’m not hearing about it. (end rant… for now)
Vaccines are a good thing. They are a life-saving good thing. The whole anti-vaccine movement worries me a lot more than any of the political and military issues you hear discussed on the news every evening. It worries me more than global warming. It’s another sign of the masses losing faith in science and the scientific method. It’s a brewing disaster. But if we are to fight against the rumours and gain public trust for vaccines again, we need more promotion for the really important ones and less emphasis on seasonal flu.
I’m not yet sure how I will channel this rage into productive positive action against this thing, but be sure that I will. In the mean time, I’ll share some of the knowledge I have for people who wind up on this website by chance looking for help:
- This website may be the most comprehensive and useful page on the net on the topic of whooping cough. There are many others, but this will do fine as a primary source.
- If you have good reason to believe your child has it, I strongly advise you take early action. An adult can ride this out at home, a child needs a lot more serious help. Don’t wait until it gets serious, go see your doctor now and try to get it verified.
- If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about the possibility of having a whooping cough vaccine to give some protection to your baby from their first day into the world, until they are old enough to get vaccinated themselves. It’s not my idea, but it sounds damn good to me.
- If you would not like to go through all of the above yourself, get a damn pertussis vaccine booster.
Oh yeah and one more thing. If anyone tells you that whooping cough has been eradicated, you have my permission to punch them in the face with a bucket full of cough syrup. It hasn’t. Trust me on this one.