My day job makes the news

Well, I don’t really consider GovExec to be part of “the news”, but my project from last year is the subject of an article in the December 2004 issue of their magazine. The article is titled “Social Security computer system may reduce disability overpayments”. I was the database technical lead/DBA and the architectural second lead on that project. It’s one of the few instances where my work is publicly mentioned on a resource that can be found outside of the SSA firewall.

For those who now wonder exactly what my day job is, I work as a subcontractor to Lockheed Martin IT for the Social Security Administration through Compuware Corporation as an hourly employee. How’s that for convolution?

My first Debian contribution

Last night was a first for me. I made my first contribution into a CVS repository for Debian. I had made no changes to the content, but nonetheless, I am pretty excited about it. Just seeing my Debian login on the CVS repository was gratifying. Looking forward to getting the 1.4.3 version of the Lucene Debian package done, thanks to the help I am getting from Jeff Breidenbach.

Changes and revelations about T-Mobile GPRS

OK, some news about T-Mobile’s GPRS and using it for Linux. A couple of weeks ago, chat stopped working when I was connected via GPRS. Last week, HTML stopped working. As it turns out the ability to use Unlimited t-zones for full GPRS connectivity was a fluke; the result of T-Mobile not having yet blocked the appropriate TCP ports. They apparently have them blocked now. After switching back to the full-rate Internet plan, I continued to have issues with FTP. I called up T-Mobile to figure out what was the matter.
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Sun and the Amazing Read-Only License

Good grief. Yet again, Sun makes it to my weblog with an embarrassing move toward “opening” its source code. The Java Compatibility Kit (JCK) has been released to the public, via a “read-only” license. Graham Hamilton, a Sun employee, posted a weblog entry on java.net about it, which led to some interesting posts. The best comment to me was Dalibor Topic’s. The JCK release even drew the ire of John Mitchell, the head dude for java.net, who refers to the release as part of ‘Sun’s mealy-mouthed, half-assed, Janus-faced approach to “opening” up Java’. Like the Schwartz quote about the JCP and Linux and the Java Desktop, this latest step belies a gross misunderstanding of what it would mean to open up Java.

I wish I had time to write more about this “read-only” license, but I do not. This is the gist; you can look at the source code, but you cannot compile or run it. However, you are allowed to remember what you saw. Sound insane? Read the post; that’s pretty much what it says.

Won’t it be funny when the free alternatives do match up? And for those of you who mock those of us who believe they will, look only as far as your regular, everyday tools for Java development. There was a time when Tomcat, open source IDEs, and JUnit were scoffed as well.

IBM’s idea of an HTTP 500 error

I was testing something today for WebSphere and the server issued an HTTP 500 error. For those who don’t know, HTTP status codes are a standard collection of error codes for HTTP servers, the things that give you web pages when you type in URLs or click on hyperlinks. When you try to go to a web page and something pops up that says “404 – page not found”, that is a a standard HTTP status code. 404 is the code for “not found”, meaning that the file you attempted to reach is not there. Those of you who live in Atlanta can now sleep better at night knowing that the Internet doesn’t somehow know your area code without you providing it.

The HTTP Status Code 500 stands for “Internal Server Error”. According to specification page, this means the following: “The server encountered an unexpected condition which prevented it from fulfilling the request.”

But check out IBM’s 500 error message:

An IBM WebSphere HTTP 500 Internal Server Error

In case you have images turned off in your browser, it says:
The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

Please contact the server administrator, you@youraddress.com and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

More information about this error may be available in the sever error log.

Ah, so I did something that made the error happen. Right; well, if I did, and someone can actually perform an action with a web browser that can give your server an internal error that it cannot otherwise classify, then guess whose problem that is? Yours.

I have never seen an HTTP 500 status code, even in Microsoft’s Internet Information Server, that suggested that the user could have caused the problem.

Finished reading William Gibson’s “Pattern Recognition”

I finished reading William Gibson‘s latest book Pattern Recognition last night; enjoyed it very much. Lots of things about the main character Cayce Pollard struck a chord with me. I told my wife that in some ways Cayce is like a girl version of myself, or at least parts of myself I am able to admit having. One of my new favorite lines comes from Hubertus Bigend near the close of the book:

“I think it’s all actually about money, for him.” He grimaces. “Ultimately I find that that was the whole problem, with most of the dot-com people. Good night.”