Random thoughts

It’s way too late at night for me to be thinking clearly, but my internal clock still hasn’t quite adjusted from my trip to Amsterdam yet and I’ve got too many thoughts running through my head.

(Plus, I’m too tired to actually do any work on my Hibernate materials and trying not to feel guilty about that.)

  1. Maybe it’s just me, but when I was playing with the Ajax toolkits, all I can hear in the back of my mind is the bad sensei from Karate Kid saying, “Pain … does not exist … in THIS dojo!”  Yeah, that’s probably just me.
  2. Speaking of obscure movie references, one of my all-time favorites is from the horribly overlooked movie Mystery Men.  I just love it when William H. Macy (playing The Shoveler) turns around and says, “We’re on a blind date with destiny — and it looks like she ordered the lobster.”  It’s funny ’cause it’s true.
  3. I was bringing Xander back home from the Hebron Harvest Fair (exactly what it sounds like) when we turned on the Red Sox game.  We heard Jason Varitek hit a home run to cut the deficit against Kansas City to 8 — 5.  How pathetic is it when you need a two-run homer to get within two runs of KC?  Then they rally for even more runs, including Big Papi hitting a double to make it 9 — 8, when we heard the inevitable words — Mike Timlin is warming up in the bullpen.  We were home by then and had the game on NESN-HD.  Sure enough, Timlin blows the save and we lose 10 — 9.  That’s been the story of the Sox’s season since the All-Star break.  I’m trying not to get too depressed about it.
  4. When I was in Amsterdam, I had two Nederlanders and a German in class.  As often happens, a random joke occurred to me.  It involved Rodney Dangerfield, but unfortunately none of the students had ever heard of him.  Wrap your head about that one a minute.  Yikes.  No Back to School references, no Caddyshack references, no nothing.  Talk about getting no respect…
  5. On a related note, I have an instructor friend who grew up without a television.  I have no idea how she teaches.  Without my pop culture references, I feel like I’m teaching with both hands tied behind my back.
  6. I can’t tell whether learning more JavaScript is making me appreciate how cool Ruby is, or if digging into Ruby helps me understand how slick JavaScript can be.  Being able to add properties and functions to an existing library class just by writing code as if they were already there is way cool.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
  7. Speaking of JavaScript, JSON is really interesting if only as an alternative to XML.  While I don’t necessarily subscribe to the massive backlash against XML currently sweeping the industry, parsing XML just isn’t fun.  If, however, the server-side code returns a JSON string representation of your data ([{first : ‘Buffy’, last : ‘Summers’, job : ‘slayer’},{first : ‘Willow’, last : ‘Rosenberg’, job : ‘witch’},…]) then JavaScript automatically gets it and can access it immediately.  That’s so much nicer than walking a DOM tree.
  8. Raw Ajax involves two of my least favorite programming activities: parsing XML by hand, and debugging JavaScript.  Yuck.  Frameworks like prototype and dojo make both so much easier.  Plus, the Firebug plug-in for JavaScript is just sweet.
  9. Which brings me to the book Pragmatic Ajax.  When I first got that book, I wasn’t really all that wild about it.  I liked the approach and some of the recommendations, but it didn’t feel as practical as Foundations of Ajax nor as interesting and profound as Ajax in Action (still my favorite technical book at the moment).  But on the plane to Amsterdam I still couldn’t get the ATF toolkit to install in Eclipse properly, so I spent time reading more and more of that book.  It really gets good as you go along.  I wouldn’t make it my only Ajax book, or even my first Ajax book, but it’s great reading after you already have a feel for the technology.  In addition to the technical content, the authors also tell some great stories, too.  Somebody should tell them about Firebug, though.
  10. I received an email today from somebody who actually reads this blog.  That’s a very strange feeling.  Maybe I can aspire to a “Sports Guy circa 1998 back when he was only the Boston Sports Guy” mojo, where I could develop a small core of loyal, slightly “off” readers and share humorous software-related in-jokes with them.  Or not.

I think that’s more than enough.  It’s late.  Time to go Hibernate (insert groan here).

About Ken Kousen
I teach software development training courses. I specialize in all areas of Java and XML, from EJB3 to web services to open source projects like Spring, Hibernate, Groovy, and Grails. Find me on Google+ I am the author of "Making Java Groovy", a Java / Groovy integration book published by Manning in the Fall of 2013, and "Gradle Recipes for Android", published by O'Reilly in 2015.

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