Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Amazon! So good!

Amazon provides a simply fantastic service and goods at a great price!

Last week I ordered these two Java programming books from Amazon.
Both were second hand around $20 US and $9 US postage for each.
That worked out to about $70 in Australian dollars! Awesome - Because! If I had purchased these books here in Australia they would have cost me $170AUS!

Yep, I could have searched around for secondhand copies of these books in WA but that would have taken time etc.
Amazon does it all for you and I have already received 'Java in a Nutshell". (How good is it to have the whole API in a book on your desk as you program? Very good I can tell you!)
No more than a week to get here from the States and it is used but in good condition as indicated on Amazon's site.

Tried Wordpress briefly!!!!!!!!

Well, I gave a Wordpress blog a try over the last couple of days as I was after a couple of blogging features that Blogger does not have.

A three column layout and categorising posts! Which I have now just discovered how to do in Blogger!

It was easy to import all my posts and comments from Blogger but?
I am back at Blogger as I was unable to get my widgets to work on a hosted Wordpress site!? Very annoying!

Oh Well! I will keep trying to find a 3 column layout I can actually implement without too much hassle.
Can anybody help me out with that? Especially a solution that allows me to keep this template and just add a third column!

Saturday, 24 March 2007

The fitness campaign!

Some weeks ago I posted that Michelle and I had joined one of the local gyms as we have come to the conclusion that if we are to remain fit as we get older then we have to factor exercise into our daily routine on a permanent basis.

Well, I am delighted to report that both of us are still in there doing it.

Surfing, of course, is a preferred form of exercise, but we go to the gym on the days we don't get the opportunity to surf and we have already started to reap the benefis of that decision.

Both of us have lost a considerable amount of weight, are fitter strengthwise and aerobically especially as both of us have added swimming to our exercise schedule.

Yep, our gym has a 25 metre swimming pool which is a huge bonus, is unique to our gym and which the use of is automatically included as a part of membership. It only has three lanes but that seems to cater very well for the gym's clients who are required to make a booking to use the pool. We have never had a problem getting the opportunity to use it.

Rod and Kerry who run the gym along with offsiders, Lara (also a surfer) and another young guy whose name I am unacquainted with, are great, friendly and informed people who keep a watchful eye over our progress.

Another essential component of our fitness program has been an important change to diet. We have removed carbohydrates from our diet after midday ie protein and salad/vegies for the evening meal. This has taken a bit of getting used to as we were accustomed to having pasta and rice etc in the evening. For a few weeks we would constantly feel hungry until our bodies got used to the lack of carbs at that time of day. Most of the time we are able to stick with this but Once a week we do have a chinese takeaway in the evening so we are not silly about the regime.

My goal was to lose 10 kilos before we travelled to Bali for a surfing holiday (unfortunately put off until next year) in early April. I am well on track for that goal and will weigh in on Tuesday the 3rd of April in 10 days time.

That will mean I weigh 99 kilos! Still too much but I aim to lose another 10 kilos in the next three months to get below 90 kilos and that is probably a pretty reasonable weight for me at my age and height. If I could get down to 85 I would be a happy chappy!

Michelle has also lost a lot of weight but her progress has been somewhat curtailed due to a gynaecological issue which arose recently that she hopes to get resolved as soon as possible. She is still able to surf and go to the gym but has to take it a bit easy until the problem is resolved.

Apart from Michelle's aforementioned gynaecological issues both of us are way fitter and healthier and surfing better for it!

Powered by ScribeFire.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Nested for loops in Java!

For loops are such a fundamental part of programming in any language and I have been grappling with the intricacies of nested for loops in Java.

Let's say the problem is to report whether there are repeated letters in a string input by the user without using an array.

A nested for loop is perfect for solving this problem but it is not as easy as it first appears.

The loops should work as follows:

The inner loop cycles through the string and compares them to the letter in the outer loop continuing to do so until a repeat is found or no repeat is found and an appropriate message displayed. The crucial issue is getting the inner loop to start off at the 2nd letter in the string so as the two loops are not comparing the same letter!
Initially I tried something like;

char i;
for(i = userString.charAt(0); i <= userString.length(); i++) char j; for(j = userString.charAt(1); j <= userString.length(); j++) But the loops did not seem to work with userString.charAt() as a starting point? Unsure why! so I went back to the standard:

for (i = 0; i <= userString.length()-1; i++){

int j, count;
count = 0;
for(j = 0; j <=userString.length(); j++){ if( userString.charAt(i) == userStringcharAt(j))

hoping that i <= userString.length()-1 and j <= userString.length(); might do the trick. Nada! Anyway it transpires that the solution was very simple and I had just not thought to do it. j = i + 1!

for (i = 0; i <= userString.length()-1; i++) { int j, count; count = 0;

for(j = i+1; j <> {

I am still unsure:
  1. Why j <>
  2. Why there is still a need to use i <= userString.length()-1 rather than
    i <= userString.length().
I am sure someone can shed some light on this!

Monday, 19 March 2007

Justin TV finally launches - Check it out!

Have you checked out Justin TV yet?

I learnt about this interesting new site a few weeks ago from one of the many RSS feeds on new technology that I subscribe to using WIZZ RSS Feed Firefox Extension. It took my fancy, but was yet to be launched, so I signed up to hear when it would be launching and today I got the email I was waiting for.

This site allows you the opportunity to be entertained by Justin's life in video 24/7 and you can text him in real time which is pretty cool as they always have what looks like a Blackberry on hand!

Here is what he has to say about the venture.
  • I am broadcasting live video of my life 24/7 to the internet. I started Justin.tv because I thought it would awesome for people to see what it was like to be Justin.

  • I convinced three of my friends (Emmett, Michael, and Kyle) to join me out in San Francisco. Now, we're starting a company to make broadcasting live video on the web easy.

  • Thanks for watching Justin.tv. Let me know what you like and don't like about the show; I hope to hear from you soon!
Well worth a look at least as I believe it is a pointer to the way in which the web will further entertain us.

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Another Java 5 results per line solution

for (values = startvalue; values <= endvalue; values++) {
System.out.print(values + ", ");
if (count == 5)
count = 1;
Thanks Lloydy!

Friday, 16 March 2007

The Java code 5 results per line solution is...?

for (values = startvalue; values <= endvalue; values++) {
if (count == 5)
System.out.println( + values + ", ");
count = 1;
System.out.print( +values + ", ");
count = count + 1;

Many thanks to my tutor Prathmesh!

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Output 5 results per line in Java?

Well, I have my fantastic new Java book but can I work out how to output 5 results per line? Nada!

I know! use count but how?

All I get so far is each result repeated 5 times?

1,1,1,1,1, 2,2,2,2,2, 3,3,3,3,3, etc etc?

I need it to do this:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5,
6, 7, 8, 9, 10,
11, 12, 13, 14, 15,
etc etc

The code I have tried is something like this:

for(i = startvalue, i <= endvalue, i++){

int count = 0;
while(count <= 5)
Screen.out.print(values + ", ");

Am I missing "\n" somewhere or something like that?

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Wow! All my Blog images ended up in Picasa!

Well, I did have a nice surprise when I logged in to my blog to write a new post.
All the images that I have uploaded have been placed in a folder in a Picasa web album for me.
Check it out if your interested here - Wizard Blog images

I really appreciate the way Google adds so intelligently sometimes to my internet life!

Sunday, 11 March 2007

My new Java programming book has arrived!

Finally, now that I have been paid for the first time in three months, I have been able to purchase the text book I need for the Java programming unit I am doing at Murdoch University this semester.

"Java - An introduction to Problem Solving and Programming by Walter Savitch"

I did a bit of research on the book at Amazon and it got rave reviews so I was happy to purchase it.
I had also considered using "Head First Java" which appears to use a very interesting way of teaching Java.

I completed a term of Java programming (and managed to pass) last year so I have a reasonable grasp of the basics but I am still not that confident.
Although I thoroughly enjoy and obtain a great deal of satisfaction from programming, much to my surprise initially, I still approach programming tasks with some level of concern particularly when a new Lab assignment becomes available!

I have managed to get through the first two labs this semester without the textbook but I am very glad to have it now as we move in to object orientated programming.

I am using Netbeans 5.5 as an IDE previously having done all my programming in a text editor and I am finding it eases the programming process greatly by:
  • adding curly brackets automatically which can be a source of great frustration if you loose track of them in a text editor
  • automatically spaces the code with tabs so as you end up with nice looking code - a perennial frustration for my tutor last semester as I never managed to layout code to his satisfaction
  • providing much better error resolution resources - even making the odd suggestion or two!
  • many more things I have probably not discovered yet!
Any other Java students out there using Netbeans for their coding?
I would love to hear of your experiences with it!

Saturday, 10 March 2007

US way ahead of Australia implementing alternative energy and water reusage!

The image on the right is of Las Vegas and like you I would not have considered that a city of this nature could actually be considered a "Green" city? But it is - and way ahead of what we are doing anywhere in Australia I believe.

Now I admit that Las Vegas is a city that is situated in a desert but then so is a city like Perth in Western Australia basically and especially seems so in the last few years as the temperature rises and both water and power consumption become more problematic.

The Las Vegas Valley Water District are :
  • Giving $2 for every square foot of grass residents remove and replace with desert vegetation! Millions of square feet have been removed (enough to stretch from Vegas to Sydney and beyond) with a consequent reduction in water usage
  • A huge portion of the water from the sewage system is treated and reused. Some goes to golf courses, while water that is treated further is returned for human consumption. The city gets 300,000 acre feet (370 gigalitres) a year from Lake Mead, and it reclaims more than 200,000 acre feet (246 gigalitres).
Because of Las Vegas' desert location, a major emphasis is on solar energy.
Under one state law, utilities are required to get 15 percent of their power from renewable resources and 5 percent from solar by 2015.

In response to this requirement, the Las Vegas Valley Water District are also using solar power to pump water and although this will not produce all the power required it does reduce there reliance on the grid and so qualify the authority for incentives and rebates from the state.

With the issues we have with water in Australia can you believe that we are still not discouraging lawns, recycling water for human consumption and using solar power far more than we have to date especially as we are world leaders in solar power technology.

See the full story here: http://news.com.com/2100-11392_3-6166027.html?part=rss&tag=2547-1_3-0-20&subj=news

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Sliver Solar Cells - Fantastic new world saving power generation technology

I was very excited to hear about this technology on the ABC program "Catalyst" last night. Especially because the cost of panels of this amazing new product will be a quarter of that of the current exhorbitant cost but have 30 times the power generation ability and they work even when there is cloud cover.
It will take 5 years to pay off the initial cost rather than 20.
They should be available within twelve months so we all need to start saving and get 'em up on our roofs!

The average Australian home consumes about 7,400 kWh of electricity each year and this would need about 64 panels (which would take up a lot of roof space).
With 30 times the power of current technology Sliver cells can achieve the same power generation using a much smaller roof area making feasible all the power generation requirements of your home with batteries used to store the electricity generated for sun free periods.

Imagine the contribution to reducing global warming this could make if only 10% of Australian households implemented this technology?

Here are some more statistics about Sliver Solar Cells:
  • Dramatically reduces expensive silicon use: Sliver technology uses 90% less of the expensive silicon than current conventional solar PV modules yet delivers commercially competitive cell and module efficiencies.
  • This means a solar power panel using Sliver cell technology needs the equivalent of 2 silicon wafers to convert sunlight to 140 watts of power. By comparison, a conventional solar panel uses around 60 silicon wafers to achieve similar performance.
  • Substantially thinner than most solar cells yet highly efficient: Micromachined using innovative manufacturing techniques to less than 70 microns thick (thinner than a human hair) from monocrystalline silicon, Sliver cells demonstrate efficiencies of 19.5%.

  • While Sliver cell efficiencies are competitive with other conventional solar cells, they perform much better than most other thin film technologies. Sliver cell trial modules tested by Sandia National Laboratories in the United States show efficiencies comparable with other solar power module products now on the market.
  • Radically different in size and shape: Sliver cells also differ radically from conventional solar cells in size and shape. They are long, ultra thin, quite flexible and perfectly bifacial. This is unlike conventional solar cells which are typically square or round, up to 4 to 5 times thicker, quite rigid and usually single sided.

This means there are new and exciting application possibilities as these unique and versatile properties open up opportunities to use the sun to power a wide range of potential new applications including:

  • Transparent cell panes in buildings
  • Flexible and roll up solar panels
  • Small and very high voltage solar panels for consumer electronics, and
  • Remote surveillance systems.
Much of the information in this post came from: http://www.originenergy.com.au/news/news_detail.php?pageid=82&newsid=330

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

A great Blogging Firefox extension!

One of the many great things about Firefox is the extensions.

Today on the recommendation of an article in the current issue of the Linux Format magazine I added 5 more to the 6 I have already installed!

Fast Video Download - downloads embedded video from sites like YouTube (replacing Ook video Ook!)

Nightly Tester Tools - A test tool for extension compatability

Wizz RSS News Reader - Obviously a news reader

Greasemonkey - A website redesign tool using javascript which I have installed for a second time to explore the possibilities of a bit further.

(used to be called Performancing) - A great blogging editor.

I used Scribefire to create this post.

powered by performancing firefox

YouTube for your dog!

Yep! It's here! A video site just for your dog!

It had to happen, didn't it.

All the people in the world who love their dog/s will welcome completely and utterly understand this new web experience.

And all the people in the world who are not dog people will be rolling their eyes in disgust at why on earth anybody would bother.

Personally, being the owner of two toy poodles - I reckon it will go off!!!!

Monday, 5 March 2007

Robben Ford and Monterey Pop Festival

As well as having played classical guitar for many years, I am also a great lover of electric blues guitar and I like many of the greats but I really love the way Robben Ford plays!

What do I like about him:
  • His tone is outstanding!
  • His playing is tinged just enough with a jazz grammar but not too much as personally I am not keen on jazz!
  • He usually has a great rhythm section playing with him and often a great keyboard player like Russell Ferrante
  • He has done some great covers of classic songs like - Born under a Bad sign, Don't let me be Misunderstood, Badge and Keep on Running to name a few stand outs
  • He has a great feel for gospel very apparent on the album "Talk to your Daughter"
My only point of contention with him is his singing which is fine but not in anyway a match for the way he makes the guitar sing!
If you are in to electric blues guitar and you haven't heard him play can I recommend you do so.
I have embedded a short video of him playing a rhumba blues just so as you can get a taster! Enjoy!

Carrying on a little again with musical inspiration, the father of one of my very few students kindly lent me a 3 DVD set of the "Complete Monterey Pop Festival Collection" and I can tell you it has some stellar musical moments and people playing including Hendrix and he is at his peak here.

But what a pleasure to see Mike Bloomfield, Paul Butterfield and Elvin Bishop play along with many other great performers. Get your hands on a copy if you can! Reminded me of why I got in to playing music in the first place.

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Classical Guitar Magazine Volume 1, No: 1 Julian Bream issue!

I have a copy of Volume 1, No: 1 of the Classical Guitar magazine featuring Julian Bream, that I have kept in a plastic folder in my filing cabinet, that is in very good condition.

I have been thinking about selling it on EBay this year as it will have been 25 years since that issue was first published.
If there are any collectors out there that might not have this particular issue and are really interested in obtaining it let me know and I will give you the option of purchasing it first for a fair price!

I have a few other early issues also but I have not bothered to attempt to keep them in good condition - but many of them are reasonable.

"The Classical Guitar Network" takes off!

A couple of days ago I posted about a new social networking site I had created in Ning specifically for classical guitar players and afficionados.

I am amazed to report that the site has had 194 views already! Incredible!
Now all that needs to happen is for a few people to actually join up and we will be having a jolly time!

I have just uploaded a new video by an incredible young Chinese guitarist who is playing Domenico's Koyunbaba!
I have posted it here for your pleasure too!

If you haven't checked out Ning already, I would encourage you to do so; especially if you are interested in creating a social networking site for a specific group.

I have found that the interface is particularly easy to use resulting in a great site very quickly.
Ning was started by a bit of a luminary in the computer world - the founder of Netscape, Marc Andreessen. He has also invested in Digg and many other start ups.

Friday, 2 March 2007

The Classical Guitar Network!

I have created a social network "The Classical Guitar Network" specifically for classical guitar players and afficionados using Ning which is a new and very impressive social networking site.

If you are in to classical guitar at all please feel free to join up and if you know anyone else that is invite them too!

Although there are many great classical guitar sites out there I feel that this site will be able to fill a niche that is not currently available.
  • It provides features such as a discussion forum and the chatter facility to allow guitarists to discuss guitar issues.
  • Members can upload videos, music and photos
  • Provides an easier means in which to find other like minded individuals in their area.
Anyway the site is there and we will see if it manages to gather members.

Thursday, 1 March 2007

For Classical Guitarists - Tarrega's Alborada

I had a teacher from the local Grammar School, who I had helped out with some solo guitar and guitar ensemble music in the past, ring me to say that he was struggling to work out how to play a piece by Francisco Tarrega called Alborada!

This piece uses a fairly unusual technique of left hand hammers and pull offs combined with right hand plucked harmonics. If you get it right it is a very charming effect! I have embedded a vid of Carlos Barbosa-Lima playing this piece so as you can see the technique and hear the effect. Enjoy!