EJB’s in RAD6 in Columbus, OH

This week I'm in Columbus, Ohio, teaching a five-day EJB class in RAD6.  As I learned last week, IBM would prefer I call the product IRAD, meaning IBM Rational Application Developer.  That's going to be a tough transition, assuming I try to do it at all.

The students this time are from the State of Ohio Department of Taxation.  Their Java background is rather mixed — I've got a couple of relative rookies and a couple of ringers.  We should be okay, though.  The Trivera materials are pretty explicit regarding lab instructions.

Even though my enablement class last week wasn't concerned with EJB's, I'm glad I had it.  We'll be using a Cloudscape database again and I'm glad I've recently been reminded about how to use the Data perspective.  Of course, when I re-installed RAD6 on my laptop, it threw an exception when I tried to go to the data perspective. 🙁

Technology-wise I'm heavy into Hibernate these days.  Soon I'm going to begin the courseware development project with Will Provost at Capstone Courseware and I need to learn as much as I can as quickly as possible.  It'll help, though, that I plan to do some of this stuff in my Rensselaer class, too.

On the plane I also got a cute idea about a database of superheroes, with superpowers, names, max_emergency_level, and teams, who fight supervillians, handle emergencies, and so on.  It's silly, but I'm looking forward to creating a database that includes not only X-men, but also PowerPuff Girls and even Aqua Teen Hunger Force. 🙂


IBM Enablement class, Bloomfield, CT

This week I'm sitting in an IBM enablement class for intro Java, servlets and JSP's, and the toolset (I think those are SW244, 284, and 287 for those keeping score at home).  Since I've taught all this material many times, it's a bit of a challenge keeping quiet when I disagree with an approach.

I'm reminded of the three phases of an instructor's development.  In phase one, he tells you everything he knows.  In phase two, he tells you everything he's learned since then.  Finally, in phase three, he tells you what you need to know.  I always struggle with getting from phase two to three.

It's good to see some of my instructor friends again, though.  (Except Garrett, who's probably the only one reading this.)

Phillies vs. Mets

Wow. That was really something. I just got back from Citizens Bank Park, the new stadium for the Philadelphia Phillies.

It's a lovely little park. I remember visiting Veteran's Stadium a few times, and it was downright ugly. The turf was plastic, you could see the seams between sections, and even the sight lines were bad. The only good memory I have of it is that when Xander was about 2, Ginger and I brought him with my sister Cheri and her husband Jeff to see a game because there were going to be fireworks afterwards. Xander got progressively more tired, but we pushed it to see the fireworks. Eventually the game ended. He enjoyed the fireworks for a while, but the finale was so loud and spectacular that it WAY overstimulated an already exhausted two-year-old and he cried all the way home.

On second thought, maybe that wasn't such a great memory after all.

These days, whenever I travel during baseball season I try to catch a local game. A couple weeks ago, when I was in Jacksonville, I got to see the first-place Jacksonville Suns lose to the Birmingham Barons, which I mentioned earlier. I prefer to see minor league games if I can, because they're much less expensive and often more fun. But here I am in center city Philadelphia on a beautiful May night, so I just had to head over to the ball park.

That in itself is rather amazing to me. Fenway is already sold out for the season, and the cheap seats are $90. Here I was able to go to the box office at the Phillies' stadium and buy a ticket in the best section in the house for $50. Not something I want to do every day, but it sure was fun this time.

Even better, the Mets were in town, and Pedro Martinez was pitching. I was amazed how many Mets fans were in the crowd, too. The Phillies fans were not pleased about that, to put it mildly. I wound up sitting next to a long time Phillies fan who was a music teacher at a local high school. He had his son along, age 15.

The Phils went up 3-0 in the 2nd off of Pedro and it looked like it was going to be an easy night. Pedro settled down, though, and Bret Myers looked good for the Phillies. It was still 3-0 in the 8th when the Mets got a 2-run homer. The Phils got an insurance run in the bottom of the 8th and brought on Tom "Flash" Gordon to pitch the top of the 9th and save the game.

Gordon (former Red Sox, former Yankees) has been great for the Phillies this year. He's 10 for 10 in save chances. He got the first out right away, then gave up a seeing eye single. Up comes Carlos Delgado, who is something like 2-infinity against Gordon.

Pow! Delgado hits a homer to center and we're tied, sending the Mets fans into delirium.

Gordon eventually gets out of the inning, though, and we head to the bottom of the 9th tied.

The Phillies fans are dearly hoping that the Mets will bring in Billy Wagner, who was basically run out of town last year. No such luck. Instead it's Dellucci, gets an out and then gives up a triple. A walk follows and then another out, so we have first and third with two outs. Up comes Utley, the Phillies emerging star, who works a walk from careful pitching.

That means it's now bases loaded with two outs and Bobby Abreu at the plate. Abreu won the home run contest at the All Star game last year, but hasn't done much in the regular season and is slumping this year. He works the count to 3 and 2.

Abreu takes a mighty swing at the next pitch but barely hits it. It's basically a swinging bunt, which rolls up the first base line. Dellucci runs over to field it (he should have left it for the catcher, but so be it) and throws wildly at first. The ball winds up in the stands, the runner scores from 3rd, and the home town fans go home happy.

Like I said, wow, that was fun!

Oh, by the way, I was watching the out of town scoreboard all night, too.  The Sox are playing a three game set at Yankee Stadium.  Tonight was Josh Becket against Randy Johnson.  Let's just say the Sox won 14-3 and bask in the glow. 


Philadelphia, PA

It's Philly this week.  I've got an interesting group who work for the same company last week's students work for.  Maybe I can come up with some kind of inter-city competition — a game, a puzzle, or something.  I'll have to think about that.  This week is all about making the OO transition, but this group appears to be a bit ahead of the group in Westborough so far.  We'll see.

Last week at about 12:30 AM on Thursday the fire alarm went off in the hotel (a Marriott Courtyard in Westborough, MA).  That's the first time I can remember that happening.  Fortunately I didn't have to leave my room, but it was very loud for a while.  From what I hear at the desk the next day the problem had to do with a lint trap in a dryer.

That's odd, but not necessarily remarkable.  What's interesting is that Friday it happened again. 🙂

Xander went on a retreat over the weekend with the church youth group.  I managed to make it home just in time to go with Ginger to drop him off.  Afterwards, Ginger had tickets to a big gala at the Hartford Civic Center hosted by CATIC (Connecticut Attorney's Title Insurance Corporation, her biggest client).  We decided to make an evening of it and spend the night at the Hilton attached to the Civic Center.  The Boston Pops were playing and did a great job.  Anyway, late at night — right about 12:30 AM, actually — the fire alarm went off there, too.

I had no intention of walking down 19 (!) flights of stairs.  Fortunately, I didn't have to before the fire department called it off.  This time it was a bunch of kids smoking in a bathroom that did it.

Can I be petty for a moment?  The Pops were great, but they also hosted a tenor who sang for about 40 minutes during the concert.  He apparently had played Jean Valjean in Les Miz for nearly 3000 performances on Broadway and on London's West End.  He sang "Bring Him Home" (of course), and "This Is The Moment" from Jekyll and Hyde, and "Music of the Night" from Phantom, and several others, including a bizarre rendition of a Barbara Streisand song.  I can't remember which one, which is probably good.

Look, the guy could flat out sing.  He really was good.  But honestly, I can do that.  He's better than I am, but he wasn't 3000 Broadway performances better than I am.  There really was very little he did that I couldn't do almost as well on a good day, for a lot less money.

I'm not really upset about it, but frankly I would have liked it better if the Pops had just played more music instead.

(Okay, okay — How many tenors does it take to change a light bulb?  Three.  One to do it and two to say how they could have done it better.  Sigh.) 

My new Rensselaer class starts next Saturday.  This semester I'm doing the Developing Enterprise Applications class again.  You'd think that eventually I'd actually try to teach the same material more than once, but no such luck.  As I learn more and the field evolves, I wind up moving more and more advanced materials into the Web Applications class so I can focus on higher level stuff in the DEA class.  This semester I think we'll really dig into Object-Relational Mapping tools like Hibernate, or the ActiveRecord framework in Rails.  I need to spend more time on web services and SOA, too.

Of course, it would help if I actually wrote the syllabus.  Can you tell I'm having a bit of trouble getting motivated to start a new semester?

Sox win, and a new version of AWDR

So the Sox pulled out a win against the Yankees, thanks to a seeing eye single by Mark Loretta and a three-run homer by Big Papi. That guy simply rules. I don't think I've seen a hero this lionized in Boston since Larry Bird, though I will admit that Tom Brady can do pretty much anything he wants. 🙂

The best story of the night, however, was that early in the day the Sox got Doug Mirabelli back from San Diego, flew him across the country, and then gave him a police escort to Fenway in time for the game. The announcers said that the police cruiser made it from Logan Airport to Fenway in less than twenty minutes. I don't think anyone who hasn't driven it can really appreciate how impossible that trip was. Frankly, I wouldn't have thought you could get from Logan to Fenway in twenty minutes during rush hour on the night of a Sox/Yankees game even with a helicopter!

On the technical front, Dave Thomas announced that the definitive book on Rails, Agile Web Development with Rails, has just moved to a second edition as a beta book. Despite the fact that this means I'll have to buy it all over again, I couldn't be happier. I've been struggling with both migrations and RJS, and now I'll know the right way to handle them. Rails has changed so much just in the time I've been following it. I really, really needed a revised version of this book.

Of course, that means I'll need to get it autographed again. 🙂

As an update, I did buy the new version, both as a PDF and in hardcopy (which won't be available until the fall). I spent several hours this evening working through parts of the depot application. I downloaded a clean version of RadRails, too, so that I could start from scratch. Things are working better now, except that somehow my migration that was supposed to add data to the database didn't do anything and I don't know why. Also, RadRails seems to have "issues" shutting down the server.

Some days I feel like Rails and Ruby are easy. Others I feel like I'll never know them well enough to teach them. Actually, I tend to experience both extremes on the same day, usually as it gets later and later.

Big Sox game tonight

After dropping two of three to the Devil Rays (!), the Sox have finally fallen back far enough to be tied with the Yankees.  This just in time for them to come to Fenway for a two-game set.

Do you think Johnny Damon is going to get booed?  Yeah, me too.

Wakefield is on the mound tonight.  In other words, if the knuckleball is dancing, Bard will have half a dozen passed balls.  If not, then there will be several dented cars in the parking lot.  Sigh.

Maybe when Coco Crisp comes back we'll start scoring runs again.

The Sports Guy had a great chat last week, though.  When asked about the size of his Papelboner, he replied, huge, like he'd overdosed on Cialis.  It's not good to burst out laughing while reading a webpage while the students are doing a lab.


Westborough, MA

I wrote a nice, long post, hit the "Publish" button, and was rewarded with the dreaded 404 Not Found error. I guess I shouldn't be surprised — computer networks have not been kind to me lately. I think I forgot to swing the mouse cable over my head counterclockwise when I sacrified that chicken by the light of the full moon…

Anyway, hi from Westborough, MA. I'm teaching three classes twice. By that I mean I've got a three-class series that's being done once up here in Westborough and once down in Philadelphia. The classes are two weeks in May, two in June, and two in July. That eats up a lot of schedule, as you might imagine. I think I've got an EJB class in Columbus, OH coming up, too, and maybe an Advanced Java class down in Jacksonville just to complete the set. When I hit August I think I'll be ready for a break.

On the other hand, in August I get to teach a Hibernate class for the first time, which ought to be fun. I'd like to start teaching Ajax and Ruby on Rails classes, but I'm still not quite ready for the latter and I don't have any decent materials for the former. I'll get there, though.

Random MS joke: "Did you hear that Microsoft was thinking of adding advertising banners on its blue screen of death?"

(I usually follow up with "This blue screen of death brought to you by Sun Microsystems.")

My server at home still isn't serving. Nuts. I fought with the DNS stuff all weekend. At least I can get my email again, though, which I lost for a while. Talk about feeling deaf, dumb, and blind!