Java Closures

April 25, 2007

Last week I went to a really cool talk given by Dr. Neal Gafter about closures in Java. I wasn’t really excited about going, but I was between classes so I stopped by to hear what he had to say. I was pleasantly surprised. The subject was much more interesting than I had anticipated and it turns out that closures are very powerful.

Dr. Neal Gafter was a very enthusiastic speaker. You can see from his profile that he has been involved in some really interesting activities such as the development of C++ and Java. He has his own blog where he has written much more about Java closures for anyone who is interested. I think a good post to check out is “A Definition of Closures”, which describes the history of closures.

Dr. Cay Horstmann, a Computer Science professor at SJSU, has also written about closures on his blog as well as more details about the talk. Actually it turns out Dr. Horstmann is the one who setup the talk as he was teaching the topic in one of his graduate courses. His post “Dr. Gafter comes to SJSU” was easy to follow and goes over the main points of the talk.

Thanks to Dr. Gafter and to Dr. Horstmann for making this talk happen. The talk was very informative and exciting.

There is another talk that may be interesting coming up this Thursday, April 26, at 4 pm in BBC 202. The talk is being given by Bob Sutor, IBM’s Vice President for Open Source. Check out the flyer here.

UPDATE: I went to the IBM talk and I thought it was interesting. Steve Sloan wrote about it in this post.

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Tagging STEM

April 12, 2007

Yesterday the Students of SJSU Technology and Emerging Media Club (STEM) met and Andrew Venegas gave an interesting talk about tagging. Listening to his talk reminded me of my own experiences with tagging on my blog.

During the first STEM meeting, earlier this semester, we all decided that we should tag any posts about the club to allow readers to quickly get a list of posts related to the club happenings. On WordPress, there is built in tagging called categories that works nicely, but I didn’t want to add a new category for every specific thing that I wanted to tag. I wanted the categories to be more of a general table of contents and to have separate tags for more specific topics.

I read this post, Tags and Tagging in WordPress, on the Lorelle on WordPress blog. The article gave me a clearer idea of what tags are and how they can be used. I ended up using site search tags as suggested in the article. If you click one of my tags at the bottom of my post it has the same effect as doing a search in the search box for that term. You will be directed to a list of posts from my blog that mention the term in the tag. All of the posts that have that same tag will be listed as will any article that mentions the term anywhere in the article. This is different than the tags that Andrew mentioned in his talk that direct the reader to Technorati. Those tags would list blog posts from any blog that Technorati somehow deemed relevant to that tag. My tags only list my blog posts, which I think is more useful.

As a user of tags, if I am reading an article that I find interesting, I might click on of the tags listed with that article to find more relevant information. Often times, those tags will lead to nothing, which is frustrating to me and is useless from my point of view. So I try to have only a few tags that will lead to lots of related material. To help with this I keep a list of the tags I have used in the past and try to reuse those if they are relevant.

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CFA Strike

April 5, 2007

I’m disappointed with The Spartan Daily coverage of the possible CFA strike. I’ve been told by several professors, as early as Monday, that negotiations with the CSU have been successful and that the strike is definitely not going to happen. But looking at The Spartan Daily on Tuesday, I see this article about how serious the strike might be.

I’m not sure exactly what is going with the strike, but I know The Spartan Daily is failing to report well on this issue. I don’t like how they left students worrying about the safety of the campus when there is good reason to believe that there won’t be a strike at all.

UPDATE: Today’s Spartan Daily has an article clarifying the issue.

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New Blogger from SJSU

March 31, 2007

My friend Keith Callenberg started a blog recently. It’s called biolinuxtechgarden. It looks pretty cool so far. Keith is also a Computer Science student at SJSU. I’ve written a post that mentioned his involvement with the SJSU Linux User Group before here. I’d definitely like to read more blogs from SJSU students, so if you are a student, please leave a comment and let me know.

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Camping at New Brighton State Beach

March 30, 2007

I just got back from camping for two nights at New Brighton State Beach. We didn’t go far, but it was still fun. The campground was nice. It was very pretty and the facilities were great. There are hot showers and the restrooms are very private and clean. It is also very convenient. The campground is extremely easy to get to from San Jose, and there is a Safeway ten minutes away.

Rocks on the beach

Our campsite was right up against a cliff with the beach below. So we had a great view and a did a lot of relaxing from there. Overall, the campground was very relaxing and quiet. There were a lot of old people there and a lot of RV’s, which is fine but things died down very quickly at night.

Nice view from our campsite

The beach was nice for walking along. No one was swimming, but the water is still too cold for that anyway. Beside the beach, there’s nothing to do at the campground. There are plenty of other places to check out in the area though. The park ranger working there was very friendly and helpful and gave us a map of nearby places to visit. She recommended we visit The Forest of Nisene Marks.

The beach view from our campsite

The picture above is also taken from our campsite. If you’re interested in visiting the park, check out more of the pictures I took on my flickr page.

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Stevens Creek Park

March 27, 2007

On Friday, Tamara and I took advantage of the beautiful weather to go on a hike at Stevens Creek Park. There is a whole system of parks throughout the mountains surrounding Silicon Valley. The Stevens Creek Park is in the Santa Cruz Mountains near Cupertino. You can read all about the park at the official Santa Clara County Parks Page and about the trail we took at Bay Area Hiker.

Deer Eating Grass

We actually went up the Stevens Creek Tony Look Trail which took us by the reservoir and through some woods. There were some ups and downs (climbing) but overall it was pretty even. We would have liked to continue on the loop described on the Bay Area Hiker page but it got dark and we turned around at the end of the reservoir.

Sunlight Through Trees

We definitely weren’t the only ones there, but it wasn’t as crowded as some other parks I’ve been too in the same area. I’m sure on weekends it gets worse though. There is a lot of fishing at the reservoir, but there was a sign that said don’t eat the fish because the mercury content is too high. I assume the mercury content has to do with the near by mining site which we got a good view of.

Mining Site

I would like to go again, and see the side of the park that has views of the valley. If we had continued on the trail instead of turning back, we would have. Check out my Flickr Set for more pictures.

Stevens Creek Reservoir

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Another Free Barbeque and Voting

March 21, 2007

I wrote last month about the free barbeque hosted by Associated Students. Today there was another barbeque that was even better. The food was probably the same, but the great weather and cool band made all the difference. One thing that surprised me though was the fact that they weren’t using the event to promote the election in any way. I figured they’d have a sign up or something that would say, “don’t forget to vote”.

I honestly believe that a large percentage of students don’t even know the elections have started. The only reason I know is because I walked by the voting tent and picked up a flier. But many people probably don’t walk through campus that way. I read the Spartan Daily on most days, but I didn’t learn that the election had started. I did read several articles about how the election is very important this semester and about how the last election had a very bad turnout. But after reading those articles, I was still wondering when the elections would start. Most of the people I talk to don’t know about the election and don’t know you can vote online. The barbeque would have been a good way to get the news out.

My recollection, is that in the past, Associated Students did a much better job of raising awareness about the election. Now I know why less than 2% of the student body voted last year. Another thing that might be stopping people from voting, is the confusing link. The placement of the link on my.sjsu.edu, is very small and off to the side. It makes it look like it is a link to something unimportant, like a disclaimer. When I was trying to show some of my friends how to vote, they had a hard time finding that link. It should be big, centered, and obvious in purpose.

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I Voted!

March 21, 2007

I just finished filling out my A.S. Election Ballot online. It’s nice that they have it online now (go to my.sjsu.com to fill out your own ballot). I’m usually busy running between classes when I am on campus. I wasn’t that excited about any of the candidates, because unfortunately I know very little about any of them. The bios weren’t that useful either. The only cool part about it was voting no on the San Jose State University name change. I’ve been looking forward to that. Kyle from Kyle’s Comments has some pretty interesting stuff to say about the name change:
Go San Jose State! not CSU-SJ!
SJSU name change a ‘bad idea’
San Jose is not a state?

Kyle’s blog has been pretty interesting to me this semester in part because he is writing for the Spartan Daily. I like reading the behind the scenes of how news stories are created.

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MESA Day

March 18, 2007

MESA Day

Last weekend was MESA Day at SJSU. There were students from high schools and middle schools who had worked on projects for months and were being judged. A group of us from the CS Club judged the Cyber Surf competition. The students created webpages about one of the other competitions following given criteria. All of the students did very well. One interesting thing we heard from students, is that many of them learned web design through customizing MySpace. Actually I was most impressed by their presentations. I know when I was that age, I would have been seriously nervous about presenting to a group of judges. So I think these kids have a lot of potential, because they have the confidence to give something a try, and put their best foot forward.

I was also glad to see that three of the CS Club officers attended. In the picture are Glenn Jahnke, Evan Luine, and Michael Butler. I just think its good that our officers are involved in community service on campus.

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STEM Club Impresses Me

February 26, 2007

The SJSU Technology and Emerging Media Club (STEM) had a great meeting on Wednesday. Andrew Venegas gave a talk about tagging and other issues related to blogs. His talk was excellent. Even though most of the stuff he talked about was nothing new to me, it was interesting to hear his perspective on things. That’s why I think it is great for me to be involved in this club. I’m hearing ideas and seeing how people interact outside of the Computer Science Department. There has also been a flurry of activity online. Andrew Venegas created a Blogger page for the club and also a cool promo video. We have a google group now, and you can see pictures and read about the meeting on Jessica Drnek’s blog. So far I am very impressed and I look forward to our next meeting.

On the way to class after the meeting I caught this picture of the Event Center and Spartan Complex.

Spartan Complex during Winter evening

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