The JavaChannel Podcast, vol 16

It’s only been six months, so it’s finally time for a new podcast. This one doesn’t even pretend to go over the mountains of killer content from ##java since the last podcast – it focuses on some of the more recent links, and that’s it. Well, apart from talking about the Java ecosystem a bit, especially in contrast with Python, an upstart language that’s making a lot of headway lately thanks to a giant upsurge in data science applications.

(A bit of irony: the very first paragraph in the podcast says it’s only been “four months” when it’s actually been six. Yikes.)

But there are some interesting links, and here are the ones the podcast focused on!

This was written with the new editor plugin for WordPress, called “Gutenberg.” It’s a lot like’s editor. It’s effective for writing… unless you have any actual features you want in the text.

JavaChannel's Interesting Links podcast, episode 11

Welcome to the eleventh ##java podcast. I’m Joseph Ottinger, dreamreal on the IRC channel, and it’s Tuesday, 2018 January 16. Andrew Lombardi (kinabalu on IRC) from Mystic Coders is also on the podcast, and this episode has a special guest, Kirk Pepperdine from Kodewerk.
As always, this podcast is basically interesting content pulled from various sources, and funneled through the ##java IRC channel on freenode. You can find the show notes at the channel’s website, at; you can find all of the podcasts using the tag (or even “category”) “podcast”, and each podcast is tagged with its own identifier, too, so you can find this one by searching for the tag “podcast-11”.
This podcast has a lot to say about Meltdown, courtesy of Kirk – who’s a performance expert and one of the people you go to when you really need to figure out what your Java application is doing. The short version is this: Meltdown and Spectre are going to affect everything, due to the way modern CPUs work (listen to the podcast to figure out why – it’s fascinating!) – and Java’s reputation as the environment where you can code and let the JVM magically fix everything for you may be in danger. Intel may have revived the importance of data structures for the JVM singlehandedly – not a bad thing, necessarily, but something Java programmers might have to get used to again.
Kirk also went into the things that make Java 9 worth using – and it’s not modules. It’s the extended APIs and the packaging support, neither of which get mentioned very much because of all the chatter about modules.
The interesting links for this week:

  1. DZone has been putting out a lot of information regarding Java 9’s modules. Up first is “Java 9 Modules Introduction (Part 1)“, which does a pretty good job of walking through Java 9 modules from the basics on up. It’s all command-line based, so no IDE, no Maven, no Gradle – Part 2 promises integration with tooling. But knowing what the tools do is important, so this article is a good introduction, about as good as any other so far.

  2. Another entry from DZone on Java 9 is “Java 9 Module Services”, which could be written to be more clear – it refers to a source repository instead of showing lots of relevant code – but does walk through the old ServiceLoader stuff and then walks through the same mechanism in Java 9.

  3. Speaking of tooling: Baeldung has done a walkthrough of docker-java-api, providingi a guide to a Java client that interfaces with the Docker daemon, providing programmatic management of images, volumes, and networks.

  4. There’s also resilience4j, a fault-tolerance library inspired by Netflix Hystrix.It provides features for limited retries, transaction management, a number of other such things; I haven’t run into a situation where I’ve needed this (transaction management has been enough, generally) but it looks like it might be useful; maybe I’ve made architectural decisions that allow me to avoid using libraries like this because I didn’t want to write the features myself. Maybe if I’d known about this, my choices would be different… hard to say.

  5. Lastly, there’s little-java-functions, a collection of functions that look pretty useful, although not modular at all. This library covers a lot of ground. The lack of modularity probably works against it; since we’ve mentioned Java 9 so much, it’d be nice if it mentioned Java 9 compatibility with modules, but maybe Java isn’t prepared to go that far down the Scala rabbit-hole yet. In the process of recording this, a potential problem with licenses came up – possibly the subject of a future conversation – and the author ended up explicitly licensing the code under Creative Commons, thanks to Andrew.

Javachannel's interesting links podcast, episode 5

Welcome to the fifth ##java podcast. I’m Joseph Ottinger, dreamreal on the IRC channel, and it’s Monday, 2017 October 23.
This podcast covers news and interesting things from the ##java IRC channel on Freenode; if you see something interesting that’s related to Java, feel free to submit it to the channel bot, with ~submit and a URL to the interesting thing, or you can also write an article for the channel blog as well; I’m pretty sure that if it’s interesting enough to write about and post on the channel blog, it’s interesting enough to include in the podcast.

  1. First up, we have a DZone entry; DZone‘s actually really good at picking out content that’s interesting. However, sometimes you have to be fairly selective about what you read, because they end up like a lot of such sites and go for volume and consistency in publishing as opposed to being selective for stuff that’s truly relevant. That’s why you have things like this podcast, of course, because I clearly know what’s interesting and relevant more than they do! Anyhoo, the actual reference is for Eclipse: “Fifteen Productivity Tips for Eclipse Java IDE Users,” and they’re pretty good; none of them are what I would consider the most obvious (which is: “Use IDEA instead”). The truth is, Eclipse is very popular; anything that helps people use their tools more efficiently is a good thing. Some of the tips are fairly obvious (“use the most recent version of Eclipse”) and others are just things that experienced users might know and use already, but that’s the benefit of articles like this: they make sure that everyone has a baseline of competence. Other tips: switch editors with ctrl-tab; group related projects in working sets rather than using multiple workspaces (this is one of Eclipse’ better features, and I’m glad it’s here); download the sources of libraries; conditional breakpoints and watchpoints; leverage code coverage. There are more (nine more, making a total of fifteen, as the article title promises), and none of them are awful.
  2. Next up: Java 8 updates have an end-of-life: September 2018. Along the way, new versions of Java 9 and Java 8 have been released (9.0.1+11 and 8u151/8u152) – which is good, I suppose, although expected with a new major release – but the big news here is that Java 8 is going to see no more public updates after September 2018. Progress marches on, but I have a feeling this is going to be like the Java 7 migration – which is still ongoing. We aren’t seeing as many people saying they’re still on Java 7 – or Java 6 – as we used to, which is anecdotally a good signal that people are moving to Java 8 after all. So who knows? Maybe with such a recent mass migration to Java 8 there will be momentum to allow people to move to Java 9 – especially if they don’t have to use the module system yet – and people will stay more current.
  3. More DZone: they’re on a roll (and sneak preview: they have two more links after this one). The entry this time is “Artificial Intelligence: Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics.” It’s a fairly high-level guide, and being on artificial intelligence, it’s not just Java – and shouldn’t be. It’s a good reference, though. It’s well-done. I would love to see Java be more relevant in AI; it’s certainly relevant, and is a major player in the space, but the truth is that the starting point for AI is in Python, not Java. The same goes for natural language processing; you can find tools in Java, to be sure (Stanford NLP, for example), just like you can find AI resources in Java (WEKA, among others) but they’re typically trailing the cutting edge. Most data scientists would see a preference for Java as a bit of an affectation. (And I say that because I do prefer Java, and the data scientists I know think I’m a loon for that. They’re probably right.)
  4. This is an old link, but it showed up on my feeds recently, so I’m pretending the publication date of May 16, 2017, is badly inaccurate: Java 8u131 – and yes, 131, 151 is the current build – is transparently aware of Docker memory and CPU limits. Why is this important? It’s because older builds were, well, not aware of Docker‘s machine limitations. The idea is that Docker runs a constrained virtual machine; your actual machine might have 16Gb of RAM, but your Docker image might have 2Gb available to it, and only two of your eight cores. But if you ran an older build of Java in that Docker image, it would use the actual physical machine limits to gauge heap allocation limits and CPU core usage – which could obviously cause problems (your 2Gb image would allocate heap as if it were on a 16Gb machine, which would be incorrect). So… I guess, what with this information being fairly stale, it’s good that they fixed this. And if you happen to be running an older Java, update, please. Note that you do actually need to tell the JVM to use group memory for the heap. This is via two command line options: -XX:+UnlockExperimentalVMOptions -XX:+UseCGroupMemoryLimitForHeap.
  5. Another DZone article! This one is “Automata-Based Programming in Spring.” It really serves as a bare introduction for Spring Statemachine, which isn’t quite what the title led me to expect – I was thinking that I was going to get to read about how to apply cellular automata for problem solving, a la Wolfram Alpha, but instead it’s just a library that makes state transitions easy to manage. It’s a Finite State Machine, not Cellular Automata. This is on me for reading it wrongly, by the way; FSMs are automata, but not cellular in nature.
  6. Daniel Dietrich wrote an article called “Opinionated Database Access in Java” – because we all know that database access has no opinion involved at all, ever. In this case, he’s writing a library that provides yet another abstraction: this one leaves modeling to the database; complex queries are moved to the database; access should be simple and obvious. In other words, it’s one of the Java libraries that provides access to the database services, as opposed to backing up Java data structures with a database. It’s not mature yet (and he provides an example of the API using Scala, too, so it never will be mature.) The only thing is: the article doesn’t provide a reference to an actual project, so it’s all vaporware at this point. Plus, as the lively comment flow indicates, it’s another entry in a space that’s very crowded with possible implementations depending on what you want, from ORMs like Hibernate to JDBC layers like MyBatis and jOOQ.
  7. Java’s version numbers are likely to change. Java has generally followed a semantic versioning approach: you have a major version, a minor version, and a build number (sort of). However, there’s a proposal put together by Mark Reinhold (He Who Controlled Java 9’s Release) to go to a date-based release cycle, so the next release won’t be Java 10, but Java 18.3, meaning “released in the third month of 2018.” There are a few problems with this proposal, and I’m hardly alone in seeing them: one is that there’s not a “major release” associated with the build. With Java 8 versus Java 7, there’s a clear delineation of major versions; Java 8 is the one with streams. Java 9, likewise, has Jigsaw. But the next major feature – let’s say “value types” as an example – might be in Java 18.6 as opposed to Java 18.3, so we lose the ability to easily determine feature groups. Plus, Java applications will have a harder time determining the actual baseline versions they require; right now they can parse out the major version and say “Oh, I’m on Java 8 instead of Java 7” but now they’ll have to factor in the actual release year. Maybe it’s me being a curmudgeon, maybe it’s me resenting how Mark handled the Java 9 release, but I think semantic versioning is still better than the year/month release versioning. With Reinhold proposing it, it’s likely to be approved by fiat; I’m sure it’ll grow on me over time, like a fungus, but I still don’t have to like it. Now get off my lawn!
  8. Last week I highlighted Excelsior JET, which allows delivery of native binaries using Java 8 (so far). This week, we see Steve Perkins writing “Using Java 9 Modularization to Ship Zero-Dependency Native Apps“, using Java 17.10… yeah, the date-based versioning isn’t something I like at all yet. Anyway, it’s just a simple “Hello world” example, but it, like others, is a good start; I like seeing articles like this, because this is how we build a repository of knowledge concerning how to use these neat new features Java 9 provides.
  9. And now for the last of our links, this one also from DZone: “ Java EE Microservices Done Right.” OpenLiberty is another microservice framework, like Spring Boot, DropWizard, or Vert.x, this one focusing fairly heavily on canonical Java EE APIs (as opposed to leveraging those APIs where appropriate as Spring Boot or DropWizard do.) It’s billed as a “deep dive into OpenLiberty,” but it’s really not; it’s really a cursory example with a single JAX-RS endpoint (although it does show live redeployment, which is neat.) The actual OpenLiberty sample application isn’t much to speak of; the redeployment is important, but the main thing the article shows is configuration of the OpenLiberty build, which is probably the most important thing it should want to show. It’s interesting; it’d be interesting to try out.

Interesting Links – 2017/May/1

If you have a teammate who suffers from mental illness, I’d encourage you to champion (heart and balance) within your team. Be an ally. Help create a safe and inclusive space. Not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because being around people different from you broadens your horizons and builds empathy. And empathy for others makes you better at just about every job.

Interesting Links – 8 Nov 2017

  • From ernimril: a video! CppCon 2016: Jason Turner “Rich Code for Tiny Computers: A Simple Commodore 64 Game in C++17” is an hour and twenty minutes of Jason Turner talking about writing a game for the Commodore 64 using, surprise, C++17 and translating to 6502 assembly. (Play at 1.25x speed to save some time – or 2x speed if you want that Brian Goetz effect.) It’s actually really fascinating to watch, and has nothing to do with Java whatsoever.
  • For Mac users, particularly on Sierra: “MacOS Sierra problems with getLocalHost()” documents some lookup problems on the recent MacOS update. Short form: make sure your /etc/hosts actually has your local domain name resolving to
  • FindBugs is apparently having some problems.
  • Non-java, but useful for programmers anyway: Bulletproof Mind: 6 Techniques for Mental Resilience from the Navy SEALs. Some adult language, but it’s an excellent article and we’re all adults anyway.
  • Docker in Production: A History of Failure” is a litany of issues with the popular virtualization technology. It’s worth reading, even if you’ve deployed Docker successfully – if only to keep track of how far there is to go.
  • From the Python world: EAFP and LBYL. In Python, apparently using the “Easier to Ask For Permission” approach yields massive performance gains; Java, like C and C++, tends to prefer LBYL, which stands for “Look Before You Leap.” Worth keeping in mind, especially as Java adds more functional programming concepts. It’d be interesting to see EAFP and LBYL contrasted well in Java – and note that EAFP tends to prefer try/catch to manual boundary checking, so maybe Java’s already there to a large degree.

Interesting Links, 28 Mar 2016

  • The Apache Foundation has announced the release of PDFBox 2.0. Apache PDFBox allows for the “creation of new PDF documents, manipulation, rendering, signing of existing documents and the ability to extract content from documents.”
  • TechEmpower‘s Web Framework Benchmarks features Rapidoid as the fastest web framework – and Rapidoid is written in Java. It’s worth noting that the benchmark, being a benchmark, isn’t exactly “real world” – and Rapidoid doesn’t win every category – but it’s still pretty impressive to see Java, with it’s (ancient and outmoded) reputation for lack of speed, featuring so highly here.
  • AngularBeans: A Fresh New Take on AngularJS and JavaEE discusses the use of the AngularBeans project to expose functionality from CDI beans.
  • Docker Commands and Best Practices Cheat Sheet, from our friends at ZeroTurnaround, is pretty useful.
  • Functional Programming: Concepts, Idioms and Philosophy is an attempt to sum up functional programming for people who might not be familiar with the idiom. Not bad, but if you want to really dig in deep, you might check Manning‘s Functional Programming in Scala, which does a fine job exposing you not only to the idea, but its strengths and weaknesses.
  • Chronicle Map is, according to the project site, an in-memory key-value store designed for low-latency and/or multi-process applications. Notably trading, financial market applications. Looks interesting – there are plenty of distributed key/value stores around, it might be interesting to see how this one compares to things like Apache Ignite, GigaSpaces’ community edition, Oracle Coherence, Terracotta DSO, and other such candidates.
  • Markov Chains explains, well, markov chains. Basically, markov chains are a state transition method that predicts the “next state” using probabilities – you can build conversations using markov chains to predict likely responses. (For example, “vote Trump for President” has likely responses of “Gosh, why” or “heck yeah, let’s build us a wall!”) The reference link is actually a really nice explanation.