BileBlog

While most blogs are readable and many are informative, very few are enjoyable.  I ran into one this morning as I was looking around to see if there are any good open source Java blog tools out there.  The short answer is No.

BileBlog is a Java blog, meaning it is all about Java, by an apparently anonymous Java programmer named fate.  If he isn't anonymous, he must have a mile thick skin because most, if not all, of his posts are ultra-strength rants, strong enough to peel golden paints off saints.  If you take a some good observations and valid complaints, mix with some amusing bullsh*t generalization, and wrap them in colorful analogies, you have a BileBlog post.

I enjoyed reading BileBlog because, despite all the unnecessary extras, fate's posts scratched many itchy spots I have about Java technologies.   If you are into Java, go check it out and see if it scratches some of your itchy spots.  If you are an open source Java programmer, be sure to wear some protection before wading into it.

Atom and XHTML

Unless I am mistaken, Atom will require embedded XHTML to use numeric character entities ( ) instead of named character entities (i.e.  ).  While I understand the reasons, I think this may cause some round-tripping and usability problems.  Yet, there hasn't been much discussion over these issues except for a brief mention in one of the Wiki pages which I can't seem to locate at the moment.

TypePad UI

Some information on TypePad's Template Builder UI has been released.  While it retains much of the first preview's clean design, it looks pretty complicated.  First problem is that there are two many levels, leading to nested tabs.

I would add some visual location hints.  Maybe a simplified upside down tree with colored branches and nodes showing where and how deep the page user is looking at.  Only the recently visited tree nodes should be labeled, leaving rest to show label on hover.  Each branch should be unique looking to allow users to identify it by shape.  Since number of tree images are finite and smart labelling can be done using client-side script, it should be cheap to implement.

The 'tree' provides not only a unique image for each page, but also an alternate means to navigation if the nodes are hyperlinked.  If similar simplified tree is used right side up for user web pages, then it all sort of fits together: tree for user pages, root for system pages.  Having a unique and easily identifiable image on each page means a lot to user experience.

On gaming

Reading Tim's On Not Being a Gamer reminded me my own gaming experiences.  Unlike him, I am a gamer which means I have to stay away from games.  I avoid MORPG games like Everquest and DAoC because I know I will lose too many hours to the game.  They are highly addictive and sucks real world life out of you, replacing it with online life, laughing and roaring all by myself in my office.  It affects work and family life.  Thankfully, it's less addictive than smoking.

Still I miss the online RPG world.  The pinnacle of MORPG's magic is when your party runs smack into deepsh*t as Tim illustrated with two screenshots.  The rush of emotions unleashed while watching your and your companion's health stats drop like stone and flashing by in various shades of red is difficult to match in real life.  Perhaps waking up to find 200% overnight gain on my Yahoo call options might come close in magnitude.

In games like that, true character of a person comes out.  There are some who would teleport out on the first hint of trouble.  Can't blame them if they are mages, but I have seen some tanks do that in my gaming days.  Occasionally, I would come across characters who would jump in just to give time for the companions to get away.  Those times are more powerful than watching a good war buddies movie.

Besides RPG, I like playing wargames, particularly WWII wargames.  I usually play the American or British side but the rush of blitzing with those excellent German tanks, Panthers especially, is enough to lure me into German side occasionally.

Damn it, Tim.  Now you got me itching for some blood and gore online action.

Korean Government Online Newspaper

Korean government announced on 27th that it plans to launch an online newspaper for government-related news.  There is already serveral websites (i.e. http://www.news.go.kr) with similar content, but the plan is interesting because it seems to be modelled after OhmyNews.com with government employees acting as reporters.  Seoul city government has already been operating a similar online newspaper (http://inews.seoul.go.kr) with one full-time editor/reporter and 100 citizen reporters writing articles.

Many traditional newspaper publishers are accusing the government of oppressing the press by creating a competing online newspaper.  I think this is a cool thing although it should allow all branches of the government equal access to the newspaper.

I wonder if they are going to have ads and cartoons…

Moving from Radio

My annual Radio subscription will expire in one month which means I better put together a replacement, hopefully with Blog Brix.  While I am at it, I am thinking of upgrading my website as well.  It's currently JSP-based but I am looking at replacing it with Velocity templates or extending it with JavaServer Faces.  This is also a good time to experiment with mixing blogging technologies with traditional website code.

Blog Brix

I enjoy camping because being busy doing nothing in midst of fresh air and enjoyable inconvenience of nature brings a rush of peculiar nothing that wash away all old thoughts and leave recollectable remains.  If you are still trying to make sense of the last sentence, you are missing the point.  Anyway, I found something interesting on the beach after that mental storm: how will blogs become webpages?

Even if one can look ahead a few years, knowing how it will happen step by step is not easy.  So I thought about what should happen in the next step.  The answers that popuped up were:

  1. blog pages will be broken up into modular and configurable components.
  2. bloggers will be able to build custom-built blogs simply by selecting and arranging components from blog component vendors.
  3. blog component tools and services will flourish and expand into non-blog functionalities.
  4. blogging services such as TypePad, AOL, and LiveJournal will use blog components as an important barrier against migration.

So far so good.  Breaking up a blog is easy enough.  There is the blog content area which breaks down further into days and weeks.  There is also the calendar with nativation functionality.  Blogroll is another key component.  Blog search and backtracking component will become more important.  Multimedia components will gain popularity as well starting with faceroll, slideshows, etc.  Components for advertising, stock tracking, movie listing, music and book recommending, endorsements, and identities (i.e. FOAF) are also just down the road.

More I think about this, clearer the picture becomes as I come up with details and nod them into place.  Now what to call it.  Need a neat catchy name.  Portlet is no good since its Java tainted and stink of API (BTW, public review draft of Portlet spec was recently released).  Bloglet, Pagelet, Weblet are taken.  Inlet sounds good but too easy to overlook in print.  Hmm.  How about Brix as in web bricks or blog bricks?

Maybe I should change my job title to Technologist.  Engineer nor Architect seems to fit me too well these days.  Believe it or not, my job title was Rainmaker in my last job.  An eccentric voodoo man dancing for rain seemed like a good fit.  Heh.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

I got back yesterday from three days of camping at Big Basin Redwoods State Park.  The park is pretty close to my house on the map, but getting there and back takes a while, thanks to winding roads.  On the way there, I took the direct route over the mountain range which made my son car sick.  If you are thinking of going there from the Peninsula, take the southern route that follows the stream down to Santa Cruz.  The other route route twists and turns enough to drop the joy of nature into a puke bag.

Once we were there, we initially got a campsite at Huckleberry camp, but switched to another camp next to a creek.  Here are a some pictures from the trip.

My son and I on top of a redwood over the creek
…and my wife taking the picture in the creek

My son caught an alien scout from Andromeda

Before we left, we bought a Coastal Redwood sapling to plant in our back yard.  We live in Redwood City where there only a few Redwoods left.  Now there is one more.

Pissed-off Illustrated

In my post Pissed off on Sept 28, 2002, I mentioned Kim Doo-Han, a famous man in Korean history.  He became famous in his youth as the toughest gangster in Korea with his lightening flying kicks and thunderous fists.  He was also admired for standing up to Japanese oppression and secretly ransacking rich Japanese houses.

After Korea was liberated, he got into politics, initially beating and occasionally killing communists (his father, a famous general who fought in Manchuria against Japanese army, was killed by a communist) and later becoming a congressman.  Needless to say, he added a lot of excitement to disgustingly corrupted Korean politics.  How disgusting?  It was disgusting enough to cause a son to commit patricide because his father, a well known politician, was corrupt.

One of Kim Doo-Han's famous acts was throwing pig's urine all over Korean Congress because other congressmen were trying to cover up an incident in which one of Samsung's division was caught smuggling saccarine from Japan.  I mentioned it briefly in Pissed off but I didn't have any pictures.  Well, I found them on OhmyNews.com (Korean).  Enjoy.  Don't forget to mention that you have seen these hard to find pictures of Kim Doo-Han to your Korean friends.  If they are old enough to watch TV, they will know who he is.

Kim Doo-Han, God Father + Robin Hood + Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Good til the last drop

jGoodies

If you are using Java Swing to build your GUI, you should be using jGoodies Looks (SWT-like clean Java Look & Feel library), Forms (layout library), and Animation (animation framework).  They are free, open source, and, best of all, great looking.  When I say great looking, I mean Audrey Hepburn good looking: clean, crisp, and neat.

I have yet to see a better way to minimize the mess most Java programmers call GUI.  If a stray pixel doesn't bother you like a thorn does, you need jGoodies badly.  jGoodies is also a member of java.net's JavaDesktop community.  Go check it out.