Spam

Most, if not all of you at some point have received your fair share of spam, and i don’t mean the meat.  Now spam comes in multiple formats and delivery methods.  You’ve got your get cheap drugs spam, dietary supplement spam, pornographic spam, the “enlarge/increase ….” spam.  Something for everyone.

With the popularity of social media, spammers have just multiplied their medium.  I normally completely ignore it, but this past week, i happen to reply to a friend over twitter regarding IPhone and Google + topic.  I happened to mention the word IPhone in my tweet, and within seconds my name started popping up in mentions about winning free iphones, get a free iphone, etc.

 

The other kind of spam that has been hitting me lately is WordPress comment spam. I receive on average 5 to 6 spam comments a day. I have it setup to auto-moderate the comments, and hold them in a queue before publishing.  Its a minor inconvenience, but still.  I understand that spammers are playing the numbers ( 1 percent of 1 percent of spam is actually clicked on, so the more they send out, the better their chances.

On that topic, anyone have a good comment filtering solution for wordpress?

What is J2EE/JEE?

In the past couple of months my interaction with recruiters, placement agencies, head hunters and just other IT folks has increased as I have been looking for a new job, new contracts, new potential clients.  Having a relatively strong background in Java ( 10 years of having seen everything from distributed services via RMI, low level threading & sockets, web interfaces, JDBC, EJB, Servlet Containers, Application Servers ) I sometimes get frustrated with the question “Do you have any experience with J2EE?”, because it is such a vague question there is no correct or complete answer.  My typical response is along the lines, of “what do you understand by J2EE, or what aspects of J2EE are you looking for, so that can discuss me relevant experience”.

Lets backtrack a couple moments, and define ( well, if we can ) J2EE.  J2EE ( now known as JEE ) stands for Java 2 Entreprise Edition, in contrast to J2SE ( known as JSE ) which means Java 2 Standard Edition.  They are both centered on the Java language specification (syntax),libraries , and Java virtual machine.  For those of you not concerned with Java ( or even those who don’t care ), there are a lot of things named java, and they can be confusing if you aren’t directly involved.  That doesn’t mean that you can ignore the differences if you are involved, it means you have to pay a little more attention.

The best description of what J2EE is, is that it is a collection of Java technologies and best practices.  The most common consensus seems to mention these top 14 frameworks( JDBC, JNDI, EJBs, RMI, JSP, Java servlets, XML, JMS, Java IDL, JTS, JTA, JavaMail, JTA, and JAF ).  The rest involves knowing when and how to tie the right technology, using the appropriate combination of best practices to gain the maximum of the Java Ecosystem.

Once upon a time, J2EE was synonymous with EJB’s.  Since you were either working on “simple” web or desktop projects, or you were doing “entreprisey” stuff ( EJB’s, Application Servers, etc, on big name hardware and platform combinations ).  Typically only larger companies were using the J2EE stuff due to initial cost investment.  At some point some consultant probably managed to convince them that they couldn’t develop their web application without having the full WebSphere/WebLogic/<other J2EE provider> stack.  Once EJB3 came out, things changed somewhat, as EJB3 was lighter, and easier to use as a specification than the previous incarnation.

For the most part the recruiters I’ve dealt with are more than willing to co-operate and get more information to try and find a best fit for a given position, as they are only doing the best they can with the information that was provided to them from clients/partners/IT departments.  My complaint is to those building the job description, why not specify the skills you are looking for instead of being so vague.  You’ll get a more honest, direct and relevant candidates when you are honest and precise with what you are looking for.

Most java projects today want to know if you understand some combination of the following aspects java, the web interaction model, visual display ( jsp, jsf, html/javascript, Swing, something to display the UI ), data persistence, server/data distribution, transactions.  If you take a look around the web, the most popular java frameworks are things such as Spring, Hibernate, Wicket, yet these are not included in the J2EE classification under most people’s definition.  If you want someone with ORM experience mention that, or a particular framework/library that you want.

I hope this information helps people either understand what is being asked, or those writing up job descriptions identify the skills they are looking for.

Initial Product review: BlueBeards Revenge Shaving Cream

BlueBeards revenge shaving cream

This is a follow up to a post from a couple weeks back regarding a product review for BlueBeard’s Revenge.  We my parcel arrived this week ( thanks to the long delays in the Canadian’s postal system due to the strike and subsequent lockout, topic of a previous post as well ).

So far I have used it twice,  each with a different brush.  The first one was with the Doubloon brush that they so kindly sent to me as well ( thanks again ), the second, my goto brush, a pure badger Vulvix brush.  The reason I wanted to wait for a second shave to do this initial review was the Doubloon brush while providing good lather, it didn’t product as thick as I had expected from other reviewers, and claims online.

Now time for the review ( instead of talking about brushes, and their differences ). I’ll avoid a good part of the science part and direct you to read this about the main active ingredient in BlueBeards revenge shaving cream called Decelerine.  This is the ingredient behind the hair reduction claim.  I haven’t used it long enough to test the claim, but it has gotten some pretty solid reviews.  All that to summarize that decelerine affects the hair growth cycle ( not permanently, but for the duration of application ).

BlueBeards revenge shaving cream The first reaction is the packaging, this cream is beautifully packaged in 100% recyclable material, got to take care of our environment people.  I really like the packaging of their cream, who wouldn’t,  what could be manlier than a skull and crossbones on your tub of shaving cream.  The cream has a nice thick mate pearl look to it and a clean soapy smell to it.  I can’t really describe it better than that (its like trying to describe what Dr Pepper tastes like, you can’t until someone has tried it for themselves ).  I really don’t like a cream that is too perfumed for two reasons, first as my wife is allergic to most perfumes and starts sneezing ( and/or have trouble breathing around them ), and second I really dislike people who walk around with oppressing perfumes, so I try to be considerate and avoid doing that myself.  This cream has a very clean and manly smell to it, that is pleasant without over doing it, +1 for Bluebeards.

Now onto the lathering.  The first attempt was satisfactory ( the one with the Doubloon brush ), meaning it created a nice sufficient lather to get a really nice shave with.   My second attempt with my pure badger brush produced EXCEPTIONAL lather.   The saying goes, the most important part of your shaving equipment is your brush, and it didn’t let me down.  This cream produced excellent lather while using very little of the product.  I can understand how they say it will last quite some time.

The cream in both situations provided very good lubrication and protection during the shave, and the blade just glided across my face without any irritation at all.  On both tries I had enough lather for 3 full passes on very little of the product.

For now, I would say this is an excellent cream, and one of the best shaving creams I’ve ever used.  I look forward to seeing if the claim really does hold truth, or whether someone should be made to “walk the plank”.

The story of a good man

This is the story of my dad, well some parts anyways.  Becoming a dad myself, I’ve come to realize a few things and wanted to thank my dad. He died four years ago this past week-end, and I always find it difficult during the days around the anniversary of his death.

My dad died from a stroke at the age of 63.  He never took very good care of his health ( smoking, drinking, bad eating habits, etc ), and his death, although earlier, wasn’t a complete shocker.  He’d had health problems for the past 20 years or so, including two bypass surgeries, diabetes, high blood pressure, and so on.

My dad worked hard throughout his life to take care of our family, he did not have a high school diploma, and was somewhat limited on his employment options.  He spent most of my life as a security guard for various companies and even a few cities.  It wasn’t glamorous work, nor was it work to make someone rich, but it was an honest living for someone.  Unfortunately, this meant that we often didn’t have him around ( working days/evenings/nights/shift work ) because he was at work a lot, and at odd hours. He wasn’t always at our sports events, outings, etc, but he would wish us good luck, told us he wanted to be there.  This was quite hard growing up, because as kids, you can’t really understand someone wanting to do something, but not following through with it.

As I got older, I started noticing some behavior that my dad was exhibiting, at first ( and for a long time ) I thought that was how he was, not wanting to do anything or interact with people.  I instead discovered that my dad’s idea of a good time, was just being surrounded by friends, family and food.  He didn’t need to “go somewhere” to consider it a good time, just having people over for a BBQ, was plenty for him.  Unfortunately this caused tension with my mom, who had a very different idea of a good time (i.e. going AWAY on vacation, going to movies, dinner, etc ).  My dad would rather spend a day slaving around to feed 40 people around the house, then be served dinner at a nice restaurant, my mom was (still is) the opposite.  It’s all a matter of personality.  I do believe I’ve inherited that from my dad, as we love hosting people for supper. I’m getting sidetracked a little here, back to the point.  When I was ready to leave the house on my own, my dad simply said, “you know where to find me”.

At the same time I moved out, my sister and mother moved out together, leaving my dad all alone.  I kinda felt bad, because he had given so much, and now everyone was leaving him.  My sister and I did our best to visit regularly, and tried to get him out of the house, but the biggest change was his attitude.  He became a more involved person.  I don’t know if it was because he knew how to deal with adults better than kids, or if it was not being with someone who wasn’t right for him.  But after I moved out, we could actually have conversations, get involved with us, and he enjoyed it.  Then when his first and then second grandsons were born, he became even more involved, he would actually just “show” up sometimes to see how things were while on his way home from work.

Then, on the second of July 2007, he left us.  I was the one to find him in his house, dead.  I called 911, knowing it was too late, but having no other idea of what to do.  His death has “separated” some of our family, as people disgraced his memory with their behavior, but that is a story best left untold.  All I can say, is the family that is still together is that much stronger, and those who chose to walk away, were not pushed that way.

Some of the things I want to share to those reading this that I learned from my dad are simple things.

  • Don’t take for granted that people know how you feel.
  • Do it, don’t talk about it.  Show people how to live, be part of their life.
  • Make exceptions for life.
  • Do what makes you happy, and others will enjoy it along with you.

We miss you dearly, and remember you always, dad