Tag Archives: java

Web Browser Games

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I consider myself an extreme casual gamer (which is why I spent this weekend at home playing Web games instead of rubbing shoulders with stinky geeks at PAX across town). Not sure if you’d heard of these two in particular, but I’d be surprised if you had – unless you were following me on Twitter and Facebook, then you would have found out about these two and a helluva lot more long before this video was uploaded.

Scrabb.ly was created by a Seattle-area developer in less than twenty-four hours’ time. This is a very cool MMO word-game where you continue to build words on tiles.

Swarmation is another online multi-player game where each pixel is a person from somewhere in the world. The idea is to get everyone to work together to form the specified design within the time period allotted. You have to collaborate to score points.

Both of these games tie back into Node Knockout. The idea of this particular endeavor was to bring developers together to build on Node.JS to build things based on JavaScript. The list is seriously extensive if you scroll through to take a look. There are a ton of games and services.

If you have browsed the list at Node Knockout and have found something I might like that wasn’t reviewed in this video, leave me a link in the comments section. I’d hate to miss out on something else I can get addicted to.

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Stop the Facebook Chain Message Madness!

If you’re on Facebook, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Recently, we’ve seen more than our fair share of chain messages making their way around, but not in our Inbox. These lovely little pieces of garbage are being sported right in the status boxes of thousands of profiles! One message claimed that if you re-posted it as your status, Facebook would donate a dollar to the Haiti relief efforts. Yet another was supposedly only for women. They were supposed to post their color of certain undergarments in their status pane, leaving the men to guess what it referred to.

It was only a matter of time, I suppose, before things like this made their way onto social media platforms. We’ve already had to deal with “legitimate” spam, of course. Now, we have to try not to tear out our hair every time we see yet another of these over-forwarded messages on Facebook and even Twitter. I promise you… Facebook isn’t donating a dollar for every person that posts that particular message. And, of course, you aren’t going to see some random woman’s bra or panties if you post the color of them in your status!

Just think about what you’re doing before you blindly click on or forward a link? And if you need links to click on, try these – posted by our community today. Keep up the great work, everyone!

Don’t forget to take a moment to stop by our software center to see what hot new software deals we have for you today!

Compiz Fusion in Ubuntu Inside a Virtual Machine

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Do you Ubuntu? If not, what’s your excuse? You don’t have to run it as your primary operating system, but all the cool kids are using it! Linux is sorta like ice cream – there are a ton of different flavors! It doesn’t even matter which distro you choose… go with what tastes right to you.

Ubuntu is certainly maturing over time. The latest release has mixed reviews, but are mostly positive. Each generation is more stable, and easier to use. I’ve talked about Linux in the past, especially when it comes to things you can only get inside of Linux… such as Compiz Fusion.

Since Ubuntu is open-source, you may want to give back to that community someday. Who knows? You could be the coder who comes up with the next great advance! But I know that most of you are regular users like I am, and that’s ok!

Now, if you want to run Ubuntu on your desktop, you might want to use virtual machine software. Can you guess which one I’m using? There’s a lot of software out there that can allow you to run an operating system inside of a piece of software. Everyone knows what I’m running now, right? If you were going to guess Parallels or VMWare, you would be incorrect… even though I have coupons for both of them.

What I’m using is VirtualBox from Sun. The same people that brought you Java have now brought you open-source virtualization technology for your desktop. So I’m running an open-source operating system inside of an open-source virtual machine!

Sun has enabled 3D acceleration inside of VirtualBox! So Compiz Fusion is even MORE amazing. It’s insanely smooth – and amazingly cool! I’ve never seen Compiz Fusion running inside a virtual machine before. Not only does it run inside of VirtualBox… it runs very well!

It’s fun to run an operating system like this. Give it a shot… it doesn’t cost you a thing!

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What Advice do you Give to Young Programmers?

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Programming is an excellent field to go into, and good Programmers are a hot commodity. That reminds me… if anyone out there is above excellent at working with Drupal, shoot me an email to [email protected] Thanks to Grant for sending in this list of tips for young people looking to learn Programming.

  • Read. If you do not like spending a lot of time reading… you should not program. When you are learning a computer language, you must be willing to spend hours reading books, websites, and magazine articles.
  • Take your time finding the language that is right for you. Think about what you want to accomplish when programming a computer. Remember, once you learn one computer language… it is easy to learn another.
  • ThinkWhen you start to make a program, really spend some time thinking about what you want it to do. I cannot tell you how many times I just jumped into a project, only to realize it was useless.
  • Use flow charts. Flow charting allows you to organize your code, and make it efficient.
  • Back everything up! When you start to program, there is a good chance that you might mess something up, and fry your computer. Give yourself a safety net, and back everything up. Also make sure to frequently backup your code itself! This makes it easier to undo when you make a mistake.
  • Comment your code! If you leave a project, only to come back later… you will probably have forgotten how it worked. Commenting your code will help you. With comments, you do not have to read through the whole thing. Instead, you can look at your comments and get an idea of what’s going on.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Microsoft has a great website and databases for programmers. Also check out their blog, and ask questions. There is always someone who is willing to help.
  • Get a book. Your local or school library will most likely have books on Programming. Check them out, read them over and over, and learn from them.
  • Testing! When you have a good start on your programs, let other people try them out. You could ask people to evaluate them, or you could give them out as freeware. Start a website and let people download them if you want. The feedback will be an invaluable learning tool for you.


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How to Learn

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Brian writes: “I’ve been watching your videos on YouTube for a few month now. I’ve been learning Java for a year now, and I’ve got some tips for learning computer programming. Hopefully, these will apply to other things, as well.”

  • Learn to use the help section or guide. The first thing you should master when learning, is the skill of using the help area. It’s so much easier to find something you need on your own than it is to ask others for help.
  • Trust books… but have your own mind. When you feel the book isn’t right, you should do research rather than saying “oh, well a book knows more than I do”. Nobody is perfect… even authors could be wrong sometimes.
  • Use the tools. When you are learning something new, always use the tools that can help you. Such as… don’t just use Notepad for programming. Use an IDE, because it can make your life easier. It will also make your debugging easier when you make a mistake. And don’t just use any tool, find the one that is right for you. By the way… I use Eclipse for my Java programming.
  • Take a rest. When you feel you have mastered 2 or 3 new things, take a rest, and think about what you have learned. It will be more effective this way.
  • Don’t research immediately. If you find something in the book that you don’t understand, don’t go do research immediately. Read the rest of the article or book first. Then if you still don’t under stand it… do some further research.
  • Always read twice. If you can, always read an article or book twice. I always learn a lot of things the second time I read the book or article.


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How to Get Started With Computer Programming

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Programming is NOT as scary of a task as you might imagine. I know some people who shudder at the thought of learning any programming language. However, take a read through these tips, and find out for yourself how to get started.

  • Save your coding often! Everybody knows the feeling of having worked for several hours on the same thing and you lose it for various reasons (the computer goes down, program crash, power out). I usually save every five minute or every time I have written a line.
  • Backup your code! Kind of for the same reason as tip 1. When working on a mac it is really easy to back up with Time Machine. I do this every night before I go to bed.
  • Write proper comments everywhere. Comments are very important. Even though you might not find it useful at the time you write the code, imagine how it is if you do not look at the code for a year. It will take you up to several hours to figure out how the program runs if you have to read the code instead of the comments. It is also a requirement to use commenting if you are developing code as a team.
  • Keep your code clean. Linebreaks are free. Separate your code in chunks sorted by what it does. Make it easy to overcome. Combined with tip 3 you are good to go. It is also good to separate the code in files. Files for functions, common used files and so on.
  • Test your code often!!!! Whenever you have made a simple part of the code, test it. Writing 400 lines of code before testing is a nightmare. Do it as often as you can. Output your variables to see if they contain what they are supposed to. Also twist your mind to be predict every possability of program crashing and error reporting. E.g. If the end-user is supposed to input a variable. Check if it is a variable, if not, stop and tell the user. Not checking stuff can be fatal and is the main reason websites get hacked.


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Aptana Studio Web Development IDE

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A community member who uses the name of Fatal email me today. He said he was looking for an alternative to Dreamweaver, and came across Aptana. This is a free, open-source application, and wanted me to try it out.

Aptana Studio 1.0 is indeed an open-source application… for the community version. There is, of course, a Pro version, which is right around $100.00. The caveat to this program at first glance is that it is Java-based. Not to diss any Java programmers out there, but let’s face it. Java is just doggy at times.

If you look past the speed issues, you’ll probably be quite happy with Aptana. There is a lot of troubleshooting built in, and not just for HTML. You’ll also find support for CSS, Javascript, and more. There are tons of features in this program, much more than I would normally expect from an open-source project… especially in its early release stages. This is definitely going to be something to keep an eye on. With a 1.0 version this good already, it will be interesting to see what the developers do with future versions.

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Java Security Video

Chris K. just watched the podcast on Java security, and was (thankfully) able to put a finer point on it. Not to mention, clarifying a misspoken URL:

The way Java runs is that it has a JVM (Java Virtual Machine), and commands in Java are sent to these VM. The VM, which is coded for each OS, sends the code to the processor after translating it. The processor then performs the action.

For example, on Mac: new BadGuy(); -> Mac OS -> JVM -> Translation -> Processor -> Performs -> Reserves spot in RAM for the new BadGuy. The same applies on Windows or Linux, or anything else you care to name.

In some cases, Java doesn’t use a JVM, instead using a physical hardware chip, installed directly on the motherboard in most cases. The code will go to this chip instead of the JVM, and then is sent directly to the processor. This is many times faster in most cases. When you download the newest Java, it will either install the latest firmware upgrade for the chip in your computer, or it will install the JVM (or sometimes both).

Java is one of the most secure programming languages. It has several layers of security:

  • A compiler won’t be able to compile code that accesses the files on the computer in any way. It can make a stand-alone application with a specific kind of compiler, but then it won’t be web-usable (it is not like flash in the sense that you can put anything on the web, or off the web; it has to be specially coded for an applet. Of course, you could use a rouge compiler, but that brings us to our next layer of security.
  • The JVM, or the firmware on the chip, will stop any access to files through applets, and will warn the user, and ask permission. This prevents even a rouge compiler from compiling “bad” code.
  • The final layer of security falls to the operating system, which the code goes through.
    Can you make a Java application that deletes all of the files on your computer? Hell yes! Can you make an applet? No. Java applets are completely blocked from modifying files on your computer, unless they have a certificate from VeriSign, etc.

However, can you make a .exe (or Mac application) that deletes everything on your computer? Yes, you can. For the most part, Java is very secure, and if you don’t upgrade, you still are just as secure, because any new code on an updated compiler won’t run, so there’s no change of an exploit with new compilers. (PS: It’s java.sun.com, not sun.java.com as you said in your podcast)

Installing Java for Security Updates

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http://live.pirillo.com/ – How much of a security risk is it to not update your Java Runtime Environment? Well, it’s definitely a good idea to always update. Usually, an update addresses a security issue.

A Java Runtime Environment is an application you install to your computer that allows you to run programs that were coded in Java, or use Java applets found on a Web page. As far as uninstalling older versions after an update, it’s entirely fine to do so. However, I would recommend keeping one previous update, in case of issues. Then you can uninstall that new version, and roll back to the older one until the bugs are fixed. There’s no need to keep seven or eight old versions of this lying around on your PC, though.

The nice thing about Java is that it’s basically “write once… run anywhere.” You install it, and can then use it on any Java-based program and application you come across. However, certain things about it are just plain ugly. For instance, our chat room used to be a Java applet. It was slow, clunky, and bloated. We now have an excellent Flash application, written by SC_Thor of ThunderIT. It’s much easier to use, prettier to look at, and all around just works better for us. That’s not to say Java doesn’t have its place. It is a great application, in the right environment. I personally think it runs and looks better on OS X than Windows. But of course, that’s just my opinion… for what it’s worth.

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A Peet's Story

From a Gnomie named Theo…

You keep mentioning Peet’s Coffee Tea and Spices, so here is a story.

Back before the ‘seven day war’ in the Mideast, I shopped at Peet’s in Berkeley, CA. He always had good stuff, and the prices were affordable. I recall my like for his mocha java [presumably a blend of mocha coffee and java coffee – not coffee with chocolate flavor]. One day, I bought an bag of whole beans which was put inside another bag, stuffed into my backpack, and then bicycled home. I put the backpack down inside my room and within a minute the whole room smelled of that wonderful coffee. It tasted like heaven, and lifted my spirits the same way.

After the war, that was not available – and I went on to other enjoyable varieties. Moved away and satisfied myself in the last 10 years with Trader Joe’s French Roast, when I do coffee, which I have stopped mostly in last three years – too hard on the liver.

A few years ago, I started seeing Peet’s in my San Diego area. Naturally, I assumed Mr. Peet was no longer overseeing the purchasing and roasting of coffees, but what the hey, give it a chance. I sat down and had an espresso and it was not very good – lackluster, off-flavor, spoiled. Well, maybe once is bad luck, but I did not go back for fresh or packaged coffee.

Just the other day somebody brought in ground French Roast from Peet’s, so I figured that would be worth trying as a data point. At the usual indecent strength I brew coffee [heaping tablespoon for 6 oz water], it was fresh and clean, but very thin in flavor and aroma.

I think Gresham’s law applies [the bad swamps out the good when demand is high]. Also I read coffee and chocolate plants have become selected, cloned, grown in unnatural ways, forced to grow with fertilizer and pesticide, so we have things a shade of its previous self, and fungus etc. attacking what is left. ‘Course that has happened to much of our food.

Chocolate does not taste as it did decades or years ago, and not all because I am becoming older. Again, I recall in the mid 70’s when recycling just started to be a fad, people left all sorts of things at recycling centers to be “recycled.” One item I stumbled upon was a 25 pound [yes, pound] sack of Ghirardelli’s cocoa. I figured it was meant for me, so I “recycled” it. For over 10 years, I’ve taken from that unrefrigerated sack to make hot cocoa, etc. – and the flavor and aroma, though lessening with time, exceeded what I can find today.

Anyhow, hope we can find enjoyable coffees and chocolates when we want. I still have the memories. And just shared them.