my2cents

19. November, 2006

Don’t push – pull!

Filed under: Java — frightanic @ 01:44

I recently had to teach/advise some fellow co-workers on XML parsing technologies (with Java). One of them knew nothing about XML at all – let alone XML parsing – the other was familiar with DOM and SAX basics. So, I started with a crash course on those both technologies, stressed their differences, AND introduced both of them to the XmlPull API.

In my opinion the XmlPull API which has led to StAX, the Streaming API for XML as per JSR-173, has not gained the recognition it deserves. Btw, check out the StAX crash course at Wikipedia for a neat introduction.

A “pull” based API that pulls relevant information from the XML tree – rather than “push”ing events as with SAX – lets you parse the document without the large memory consumption of a DOM and without the rather complicated event handling of SAX. It’s usually a very light API with some implementations specifically targeting J2ME applications. In my life as a software engineer I’ve seen too much abuse of DOM and SAX simply because people didn’t know that there are better alternatives available. I’ve found that XmlPull/StAX fits wonderfully for most use cases. It’s easy to learn & use, it’s extremly fast, and the memory footprint is minimal. What more do you want from an XML parsing API? Nothing more.

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11. November, 2006

Scrum in Switzerland/Schweiz

Filed under: General — frightanic @ 11:54

Where are though?

Scrum is a lightweight agile method for, well… basically for (project) management in general, but mainly applied in software development. The Internet provides piles of information about implementing Scrum, the Scrum Alliance … there are two entries at Wikipedia etc. So, help yourself if you’re looking for a more efficient, more natural way to manage your projects. Ken Schwaber’s talk at Google (movie), though, makes for the best of all introductions to Scrum. You hear most of what you need to know in an hour.

I’m Swiss, I live in Switzerland/Schweiz, and it’s quite true that the Swiss in general are often a bit reluctant when it comes to adopting new/better “stuff” (technologies, methodologies, etc.). It certainly is the case for Scrum. My current employer is probabely the one company in Switzerland/Schweiz with the highest number of Certified Scrum Masters – we’re 4. And Lucern, the company’s home base, is most likly the city with the highest density of CSMs in Switzerland/Schweiz – we’re 6.

That said, you can imagine that finding a new job here as a Senior Software Engineer can be pretty tough if you’re looking for an agile software shop; or one that wants to introduce Scrum with my help. Drop me a line if

  • you are CSM, live in Switzerland/Schweiz, and are NOT one of Joseph Pelrine’s “desciples” (I’m sure he wouldn’t like such sectarian terms…). There’s a good change the Scrum movement in Switzerland doesn’t know you, yet 😉
  • if you need a Senior Software Engineer (J2EE) and provide an agile environment OR – even better – if you want me to help establish one!

Btw, the German translation of ‘Switzerland’ (Schweiz) was added to this entry to have it indexed by the search engine spiders under both ‘Scrum Switzerland’ and ‘Scrum Schweiz’. This should help folks who query Google and other search engines with German terms find my blog. Wonder if it works.

5. November, 2006

How to learn Japanese!?

Filed under: General — frightanic @ 13:57

Since my wife is Japanese it came as a natural choice to me to learn Japanese. For a westerner like me Asian languages are far from every other language that we might be familiar with. The first and most obvious reason are the different character sets. It took me quite a while to memorize the two Kana sets Hiragana & Katakana. I’m still struggling with Katakana…
How do you practice the vocabulary of a new language? There are tons of strategies available to you…none really seemed appealing to me. C’mon, there mus be easier ways to memorize what fridge means in Japanese than to write the translation onto the backside of a small card, no? So, yesterday I started decorating our home with white labels!
I went to a stationery, bought some ten sheets of Avery-Zweckform L6023REV (stick & lift category for easy removal) labels, and sat down in front of the computer with my wife. We went through dozens of objects in our appartment and I typed their Japanese names into the prepared Word template. I then printed the labels and attached the label to the corresponding object. Nice!

As I am typing right now I’m confronted with that white label on my keyboard that says ‘キ-ボ-ド’ on it. Very easy to remember…

Here a few more examples:

‘tansu’ – the closet
tansu - the closet

‘sofaa’ – the sofa
’sofaa’ - the sofa

‘hikidashi’ – the drawer
‘hikidashi’ - the drawer

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