Monthly Archives: October 2003

Mr Men Mastermind

Over the past few weeks I’ve become a Mr Men expert. Ethan has gotten seriously hooked on them recently and so I’ve spent a good chunk of my paternity leave reading, re-reading, and re-re-reading them. We also bought him a Mr Men DVD (cheap deal in Fopp; although only series 2 frustratingly) so in-between reading the books we take time out to watch them on telly instead. Oh yeah, and when we’re not doing that we play with his blackboard and chalks, drawing the Mr Men.
Ethan’s current favourites are Mr Strong, Mr Muddle, and Mr Impossible. He pretends to do all Mr Impossible’s impossible things, and can now even narrate the last half of the Mr Happy story from the pictures alone. Listening to him tell us a story gives Debs and I a nice warm glow. His little sister also responds to the sound of his voice, which is cool too.
All of this has resulted in my now having a great deal of Mr Men trivia at my finger tips. Not so much the Little Misses, mind you, as we don’t have many of those. And anyway, they’re for girls!
Seeing as MasterMind is back on the telly, perhaps I’ll apply. I’ll be absolutely rubbish at the general knowledge, but that black chair will be so 0wn3d by my Mr Man skillz.
Think you can do better? Then tremble at the following demonstration of Mr Men knowledge…

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Java Web Start and Signing Jars

In response to a feature request from L. M. Orchard I’ve just spent a couple of hours packaging up the FOAF-a-Matic Mark 2 as a Java Web Start application.
Actually creating the requisite JNLP file was straight-forward; the specification is clear and the format simple. I very quickly had the application launching from a web page link. What took a bit longer is working out how to sign the jar files so that I could request permission to access the file system, open local ports and remote connections. Actually with the current version of JNLP you have to create all permissions, there’s no granularity in what you can request or grant access to. Suprising really as you’d expect this to be relatively easy to implement giving that the underling security manager and permissions model is all in place.
Anyway, the JNLP and jarsigner documentation just refer you to a certificate authority to get a certificate to sign your jar files. This is frustrating as I’m not about to fork out for a certificate when I’m giving the code away for free. A quick bit of googling dug up this excellent document from Richard Dallaway, “Java Web Start and Code Signing“. Dallaway had met exactly this problem and documented how to sign up for a free certificate from Thawte.
Completing the requisite application forms, and awaiting for email confirmations ate up the rest of the time required to get FM Mark 2 running under Web Start. Happily Ant already has tasks for signing jars so it was quite straight-forward to add a new target to my build file to create the Web Start distribution.
The lesson to be learned here is to take the time to write up any non-trivial problems you resolve, because you’re going to save someone (and probaby many people) from floundering around. Doing so with bring good karma. Guaranteed
The Web Start enabled FM Mark 2, plus a couple of bug fixes, will be beta-2.1 arriving at a browser near you shortly.

Her Name is Martha

Martha Louise Dodds to be precise, and she was born at 1.58pm this afternoon weighing 7lb 12oz. Mother and baby are both doing really well, and Martha already seems deeply interested in her new environment. So much so that she’s preferred having a good look around rather than sleeping. I snapped the following photo when she had a brief nap this afternoon.
Daddy’s little girl
Her big brother has shown an interest too and has already had a cuddle with his little sister.
Personally, I’m cracking open a few beers to wet the baby’s head. That is, if I can drink past this big fat grin!

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