oh, now plants blog too

Just in case you thought that blogging was the domain of humans only, along comes Midori-san – a Sweetheart Hoya (English translation here) that is able to use a sophisticated botanical interface system to blog its thoughts for all and sundry to read, from the comfort of its bowl at Donburi Cafe, Kamakura near Tokyo.

A potted plant that posts daily news on its mood and health is believed to be the world’s first botanical blogger. Midori-san, which lives on the counter of a Japanese café, writes regular updates with the help of sensors attached to its leaves.

This new plant interface system is the brainchild of Satoshi Kuribayashi at the Keio University Hiroya Tanaka Laboratory, relying on surface potential sensors to read the weak bioelectric current flowing across the surface of the leaves. This natural current has been found out to fluctuate depending on the changes in the plant’s immediate environment, ranging from temperature to humidity, vibration, electromagnetic waves and even nearby human activity. The algorithm coded will translate data into Japanese sentences that are then constructed into daily blog posts.

Midori-san is a hoya kerrii, which are more commonly called “sweetheart plants” because of their heart-shaped leaves.

Can’t be too exciting to be a plant, IMHO, but it would definitely be adept at picking up office gossip on who’s sleeping with who. We had cats (here and here) blogging earlier about their daily encounters with their humans, and now we have plants. What next?

Oh, and check out Zeitgeist…he’s hilarious!


ten commandments for Java programmers

There are many standards and best practices for Java Developers out there. The article 10 Commandments for Java Developers outlines ten most basic rules that every developer must adhere to and the disastrous outcomes that can follow if these rules are not followed. Briefly summarizing the 10 commandments:

    1. Add comments to your code. – It is true comments do not literally contribute to the functionality of a program. But time and time again you return to the code that you wrote two weeks ago and, for the life of you, you cannot remember what it does!
    2. Do not complicate things. – Developers tend to come up with complicated solutions for the simplest problems. We introduce EJBs into applications that have five users. We implement frameworks that an application just does not need. We add property files, object-oriented solutions, and threads to the application that do not require such things. For those who do not know any better, I recommend reaching out to the more experienced programmers for advice.
    3. Keep in Mind – “Less is more” is not always better. – Code efficiency is a great thing, but in many situations writing fewer lines of code does not improve the efficiency of that code.
    4. No hard coding, please. – Developers often forget or omit this rule on purpose because we are, as usual, crunched for time. But maybe if we had followed this rule, we would not have ended up in the situation that we are in. How long does it take to write one extra line of code that defines a static final variable?
    5. Do not invent your own frameworks. – There are literally thousands of frameworks out there and most of them are open-source. Many of these frameworks are superb solutions that have been used in thousands of applications. We need to keep up to date with the new frameworks, at least superficially. One of the best and most obvious examples of a superb widely used framework is Struts. This open source web framework is a perfect candidate to be used in web-based applications.
    6. Say no to Print lines and String Concatenations. – I know that for debugging purposes, developers like to add System.out.println everywhere we see fit. And we say to ourselves that we will delete these later. But we often forget to delete these lines of code or we do not want to delete them.
    7. Pay attention to the GUI. – No matter how absurd it sounds; I repeatedly observe that GUI is as important to the business clients as functionality and performance. The GUI is an essential part of a successful application. Very often IT management tends to overlook the importance of GUI. Many organizations save money by not hiring web designers who have experience in design of “user-friendly” applications. Java developers have to rely on their own HTML skills and their limited knowledge in this area.
    8. Always Prepare Document Requirements. – Every business requirement must be documented. This could be true in some fairy tale, but it is far from that in the real world. No matter how time-pressed your development is, no matter how tight the deadlines, you must always make sure that every business requirement is documented.
    9. Unit-test. Unit-test. Unit-test. – I am not going to go into any details as to what is the best way to unit-test your code. I am just going to say that that it must be done. This is the most basic rule of programming. This is one rule that, above all, cannot be omitted. It would be great if your fellow developer could create and execute a test plan for your code, but if that is not possible, you must do it yourself. When creating a unit test plan, follow these basic rules:
      1. Write the unit test before writing code for the class it tests.
      2. Capture code comments in unit tests.
      3. Test all the public methods that perform an “interesting” function (that is, not getters and setters, unless they do their getting and setting in some unique way).
    10. Remember – quality, not quantity. – Do not stay late (when you do not have to). I understand that sometimes production problems, urgent deadlines, and unexpected events might prevent us from leaving work on time. But, managers do not appreciate and reward their employees because they stay late on regular basis, they appreciate them because they do quality work. If you follow the rules that I outline above, you will find yourself producing less buggy and more maintainable code. That is the most important part of your job.


Monitor Internet bandwidth with BitMeter and SurplusMeter

With ISPs, such as Comcast and Time Warner, metering or limiting bandwidth, your users, particularly telecommuters, may soon need a way to monitor their Internet usage. On a September 24 episode of CNET TV’s Insider Secrets, Brian Tong discusses two free bandwidth monitors–BitMeter for Windows and SurplusMeter for OS X.

I haven’t used either of these applications, but those concerned they might get caught by their ISP’s bandwidth limit might want to give them a quick look.


DriverMax is a powerful free utility which helps you download, backup and restore the drivers installed on your Windows Vista or Windows XP computer and check if newer versions are available. Download all drivers from one place in just a few steps. Or back them up so you will have all of them in a single place and will be able to reinstall them in a few minutes.

This tool can save you a lot of time when reinstalling Windows, especially on older computers for which the original CDs containing the drivers have been lost. You no longer have to track down old driver installation CDs, insert one installation CD after another or spend hours searching for drivers on the Internet.

DriverMax is also able to display a detailed report about all drivers (versions, release dates) installed on your system. Identify unknown devices in your computer and get Windows Vista rating information before you purchase new hardware. Version 4.5 is located on a faster server. An account activation bug is solved.

Glary Registry Repair

Glarysoft Registry Repair is an advanced registry cleaner for Windows that allows you to safely scan, clean, and repair registry problems. Problems with the Windows registry are a common cause of Windows crashes and error messages. Glarysoft Registry Repair allows you to fix your registry and optimize your PCs performance with a few simple mouse clicks.Version 3 improves scan engine and fixed some bug.


Attention, Google Maps fans: Here come GeoEye photos

This shot of Kutztown University in Pennsylvania is the first image from the GeoEye-1 satellite. Google is a commercial customer for the satellite’s imagery. (Credit: GeoEye)

Golden Bears fans, take note: The first high-resolution photos from GeoEye’s newest satellite, GeoEye-1, have begun arriving, and Kutztown University in Pennsylvania is the first subject of scrutiny.

These are the shots that eventually will show up on Google Maps and Google Earth; Google has an exclusive partnership to use the GeoEye-1 imagery for online services. The satellite’s camera can capture image details as small as 41 centimeters, though commercial customers only get 50-centimeter resolution because of U.S. regulations.

The Kutztown University image was taken at noon EDT Tuesday while the satellite was moving south at an altitude of 423 miles at a speed of 4.5 miles per second relative to the Earth’s surface, GeoEye said.

GeoEye launched the satellite on September 6; GeoEye-2 is slated for a launch in 2011 or 2012. It has a 25-centimeter resolution.

(Courtesy: CNET)