Need your help – how much would you pay for something that doesn't exist?

I’ve just updated the post How much did you pay for radiohead’s latest album?. Click on the thumbnail below to view the full pie-chart of answers.
RadioheadPiechart

I’m asking not because I care about the state of Radioheads finances (I don’t think they’ll be worrying about the lack of a defined-benefit pension). More , how do you put a price on something that doesn’t exist?

FeedBurner is toying with me

Not that size and / or stats is everything, but the FeedBurner stat counter has been stuck at 199 or so for the last couple of days. I think they are toying with me.
TIPE - 199

Or maybe there really are only 199 people out there that want to hear about Enterprise, Technology and have some relation to Ireland.

Your favourite colour – what should be in our new web site design?

Thanks to Eoghan, there are going to be some changes around here. He’s just announced that we’re the winner of the 2000 Euro worth of web design work. For a sample of his work , check out the redesign that he has done of the Barcamp Dublin site.

I actually tried to convince Eoghan to pick somebody else with even more readers (in a mercenary get some more exposure kind of way). He’s sticking with the person choosen by his random number omiter.
Winner

So the question is, What’s your favourite colour? What part of this website do you think needs an upgrade – this blog, the main FirstPartners.net ‘Corporate site’, or the wiki / knowledgebase? What changes do you think should be made?Or should I save the prize for the forthcoming mad, take over the world attempt part 2 (Red Piranha)?

Further Kudos to Eoghan for carrying out some Charity work as well: tuppenceworth.ie, entered by Simon McGarr, the other is a project by IQ Content for the Red Door School, entered by Laurence Veale

This is going to get ugly

This is going to get ugly. Yes, I’m learning CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) , the thing that does the pretty colours on this page. Normally , this sort of thing is done by Graphic Designers (the cool people who wear black), not people like myself (who spend too much time in the Server room). Think 3 year old kid with a paintbox , and you won’t be far off some of the weird and wonderful effects that you might see in the next couple of days.

View Paul  Browne's profile on LinkedIn Call me!

All because I want to add a photo to the top right corner. And stop the ‘linked in’ and ‘skype’ links floating all over the place.

Struts 2 is the new Mini

No matter what car you drive , the chances are it was influenced by the Mini. Introduced in the UK in the 1960’s a whole generation of families was crammed into a car that popularized the notion of front wheel drive. While small , it was practical and drove so well it even starred in films such as The Italian Job. Recently, a more modern version was released with none of the parts but all of the spirit of the Original.

Mini

We’ll come back to the Mini, but if you build websites using Java, then at some point you have used Struts. The original Struts is proof that a framework / project / product doesn’t have to be the best to be the most widely accepted. It just has to be in the right place at the right time, and ‘do what is says on the tin’ – in this case a fairly useful implementation of the ‘Model-View-Controller’ design pattern.

So what’s the link? Seeing the original Mini from the outside may bring a smile to your face, but on the inside it’s cramped and unfortable. You may have happy memories of websites you built using the original Struts, but lately your thoughts have been straying to more modern frameworks, perhaps with Ajax and integration with Spring built in.

This is where Struts 2 comes in. Like the Mini, it has (almost) none of the parts , but all of the Spirit of the original. It’s based on Webwork which sounds scary, but most Struts Drivers will be able to climb in , find the Struts.xml file and get the engine running within minutes. Struts 2 is easier to drive (JavaBeans instead of Action Forms), more powerful (it can use Ajax and JSF) and comes with more optional extras (e.g. it’s integration with other frameworks like Webwork and Spring).

Best of all the Struts team have a clear migration path between the old and new Struts. You can use both side by side in your garage application, and change over the parts piece by piece. Spare parts for the original Struts will still be available for quite some time, both from the original team and the large dealer developer network that has built up around the framework.

What do you think? When Are you going to give Struts 2 a try?

Free Struts 2 Training (Outline)

Every company now has a web site. Struts is the most widely used Java framework for building these websites. Struts 2 is a radical overhaul, making it easier to use, yet more powerful at the same time.

In January, I will start delivering a course on Struts 2 for IACT – the Irish Academy of Computer Training.

Struts 2 Logo

This course is an overview to programming for the Web using Struts 2 and Java (free course outline here), including an introduction to the language for people already programming in other languages like Visual Basic. It covers what is different about developing web applications, the problems the Struts 2 framework solves, and how to develop applications within it using the Eclipse IDE. Optional components include JUnit, Ant, Log4J and building Web-Database applications.

If you’re a Struts 1 Developer looking for more than the free outline then I do plan to blog about upgrading your skills over the coming weeks. If that isn’t quick enough, you can always hire me for a 1-2-1 mentoring session 🙂

Update: The Course notes are now also available on the wiki / knowledgebase.

RegisterToVote.ie

RegisterToVote.ie Good idea, shame about the implementation. To check if you’re registered , you have to go the individual County Council website – that’s about 30 different chances of error.

Did Local Government really pay web designers to do the same work 30 times?

Louth County Council

Anyway, try checking your ability to vote on the Louth website and you get the following error:

Electoral Registerindex.aspx?deptid=4&dpageid=0Register of ElectorsIndex.aspx?deptid=4&dpageid=0../XML/EREG/cntEreg0.xml
../XSLT/MainContent.xslt_parentOnline RegistrationeRegApp.aspx..
/XSLT/GenContent.xslt_parentOnline Enquiriesindex.aspx?deptid=4&dpageid=3_urlereg_parentFormsIndex.aspx
?deptid=4&dpageid=4_forms&secid=4../XSLT/FormDownloads.xslt_parent

I'm not used to this from a hosting company

I’m in shock. I don’t normally get this kind of treatment from a hosting company.

Normal Version (for more see this post)

  1. Try something vaugely technical and fail
  2. Post support ticket on website
  3. Have support ticket ignored
  4. Post another support ticket , have it ignored
  5. Have credit card billed for hosting
  6. Repeat steps 2-5 until hosting company dies (it actually happened).

Java and Linux VPS Hosting by RimuHosting

New Version

  1. Try to upgrade to PHP5 (latest version of the language the website is written in)
  2. Find good script on support section of hosting company website
  3. Script fails near end (these things happen), raise support ticket.
  4. Get response within 6 hours (hmm , that’s strangely fast!).
  5. Shock! Not only have the updated the script, but they’ve actually gone and performed the upgrade for me , saving me about 2 hours work.
  6. Still not believing 5 , I double check the upgrade , and yes, they’ve actually done it!

Now , if only they could do something about the name (I’ve lived in New Zealand , so I know Rimu is actually a type of tree, but a lot people just think it’s rude!).

Warning: Irish Rail website gives false information

Irish Rail Logo

If you’re planning to travel by Irish Rail, don’t trust the timetable information given out by it’s website. On a recent trip from Drogheda to Portadown, the actual outgoing and return times were between 5 and 10 minutes earlier, due to timetable changes made up to 6 months before. It’s all very well getting consultants to redesign your website , like CIE did recently , but if your organisation can’t keep it up to date , what’s the point?

There’s no excuse for giving out inaccurate information. Translink , the company that operates the northern half of the Dublin-Belfast Enterprise service, manages to display the correct train times. Incidentally , Translink is also publicly owned , so the ‘shrug shoulders it’s just public service’ excuse isn’t valid either.

Get your act together , and display accurate times, or don’t give out any information at all. I made the train , but how many people have been caught out by this? Bluire has found more reasons to be angry with Irish Rail.

Update: Red Cardinal has shown that at least the ex-CIE group of companies are consistent, with Bus Eireann showing an appalling web design for their site.

Update 2: Ken reports about a recent webchat with Irish Rail. Interesting reading.

Update 3: And I thought I had problems. This is much worse.

Enterprise Java Presentation at DCU

On Wednesday, I’m presenting on the topic of Enterprise Java at DCU (Dublin City University) , in conjunction with Trigraph.

Trigraph Logo


I’ll blog later about bits and pieces of the slides (for commercial reasons I can’t publish the full set here), but the overview is below.

Description: Success or failure in your business depends on dealing with information faster and better than your competitors. This briefing shows you how Enterprise Java tools can do this and how to apply them to your organisation. Crucially, the briefing shows you when not to use Enterprise Java and details the alternative approaches.The briefing will give delegates an overview of the Java Web development environment, how to architect and distribute multi-tier applications and how to link these components with existing sources of information using Enterprise Application Integration (EAI). Most business have substantial investments in existing and legacy IT systems and the briefing will show how to integrate these with techniques such as JMS Messaging/ MQ Series, SOAP / XML or using the Java Connector Architecture (JCA).

As well as examining the main Java Application Server vendors (including Sun , IBM , Oracle , BEA and JBoss) the briefing will detail the technology stack that they offer. This stack includes Web presentation frameworks and SOA – Service Orientated Architecture at the Front end. In the middle (Business) layer this covers the capture of Business knowledge using Business Rule Engines and workflow (BPEL). At the back (Service) layer, this includes database integration using JDBC, and the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB).

What Problem are we trying to solve?Where Java Fits in Enterprise Computing.
Enterprise Application Integration (EAI).
A Componentised & Connected Enterprise.
Enterprise Java Architecture Overview.
Enterprise Java Platform Roles.
Benefits to the Enterprise.
Alternatives (.Net , PHP , Oracle , Lightweight Java Frameworks , scripting)
Scripting Languages and Enterprise Java (Ruby, Python, Groovy)
Vendors (IBM, Oracle, Sun , Bea , JBoss and SAP)
Vendor Specific Solutions (e.g. Oracle Fusion / ADF , IBM MQ )
Market Trends – Resource availability (can we get the people to do this?)

Foundation Technologies & Techniques.

Enterprise Web 2.0 and Service Orientated Aritecture (SOA).
Integrating with other Systems ( Legacy Systems, Oracle etc)
Enterprise Java Beans 3
Middleware (MOM, Rule Engines, Workflow)
Java on the (Enterprise) Desktop
Web Services / Enterprise Service Bus
Best practices (Code standards, Build standards, Version Control / Iterative Development / Junit)
UI Layer: HTML, Servlets, JSP, XML/XSLT.
XML’s Role in the Enterprise.
Application Tier: EJB, JNDI, JDBC, JDO.
Integration Technologies.
Java Connector Architecture- JCA
RMI, CORBA/IIOP, SOAP.
Security – Application and Server Level
Java Access & Authorization Service (JAAS).
Object-Orientation & UML.
Design Patterns.
Frameworks (Struts , JSF, ADF, DWR, Spring, Hibernate)
.Net interoperability

Enterprise Java Application Architectures.

Overview of Enterprise Application Servers.
Commercial Application Servers.
Distributed Application Models with Enterprise Java.
Enterprise Java Application Server Basics.
How to Choose a Enterprise Java Application Server.
Enterprise Java Application Architecture.
Building a Enterprise Java Application.
Deploying the Application.

Enterprise Java & Your Business.

Planning for Migration.
First Steps.
The Implementation Plan.
Organisational Challenges.
What’s next for Enterprise Java?

Close.