Sunday, June 29, 2014

New release: Class Viewer 5.1

The new release for my Class Viewer is out, and I'm calling it version 5.1 where it implements changes I said I was considering in a prior post. One thing I decided to do is just leave the packagedirectory.xml name completely behind. So it doesn't check for it. But that's just a file name change to ClassViewerConfig.xml which is easy enough to do.

Did some code clean-up which included getting more generics implemented.

Kind of relieved to have the new release out. It was easy enough from a coding perspective but I'm more concerned about doing these things in a more sensible way so it felt different from when I cared less.

Thinking more about marketing by realizing it's not really about me so much as if I can bring value to people who like the application then that's a good thing. So I'm adjusting my perspective.

I think it's worth it to--I guess proper phrase is--upgrade, as you have a more sensible name for the xml configuration file. And you can keep your old packagedirectory.xml by just renaming it to ClassViewerConfig.xml so easy and that's what I did. And there is actually one less menu item on an already simple interface, and oh yeah, the web links are meant to be helpful so are now under "Help" on the top menu:

Class Viewer main website on SourceForge

Any comments appreciated. Putting this out during the summer helps make it less pressured so I have lots of time to make sure everything is working well before things get busy again come September.

James Harris

Thursday, June 26, 2014

My take on coding

Writing code for computer systems is, yup, writing!

Turns out that writing well is kind of hard.

If you look around the globe at writers you have an interesting lot who help make things happen, and I think the idea that coding is writing is something that gets lost when people are trying to get more young people to write computer code.

And make no mistake, I think more young people should write! But it might actually help just as much to have them do creative writing, and here's why:

Think of a computer as a really big intelligent genie who will try to do ANYTHING you tell it.

All you have to do is instruct this wonderful genie, but even if you screw up, the genie will try it anyway!!!

So you need to tell a Great Story, where the genie will follow this story to a wonderful ever after--or at least, get your desired tasks done.

Coders have to have a certain attitude as you're in control.

Like writers in other formats you are THE BOSS, what you say goes, absolutely. It is an absolute dictatorship within your writing zone, or at least your blocks of code, but if you're supervised they'll review it. And if you write fiction your editor presumably--as I've never had anyone but me edit--will presumably muck up your work, shift things around and irritate you greatly.

So certain kinds of people are writers. I think more people should be writers. And the sooner they start the better.

But make no mistake, you want a kid to code she or he needs to learn to tell a story.

And learn to get that magical genie called the computer through to a fairy tale ending where users aren't pulling their hair out and screaming at their computer screens.

So it's actually kind of like: when you write computer code exceptionally well, then EVERYBODY gets to live happily ever after, or at least until they bump into the next thing that life throws at them.

Of course, trouble is, few coders write that well, so millions of people around the world are probably screaming at their computer screens RIGHT NOW because some coders couldn't get that computer genie to that fairy tale ending.

But life goes on. It's a beautiful thing.

And if you read this far--thank you for appreciating my writing! If you didn't appreciate it, what's wrong with you! You should have stopped sooner.

Writing is what I do. And I am a coder. Writing and I get along. It's like, WRITE, yeah. I write. And going to stop writing for this piece now.

James Harris

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Possible Class Viewer changes

Been thinking about some changes to my Class Viewer app which I think of as more cosmetic which makes me wonder about doing them, but thought I'd talk the potential changes out ahead of time versus just doing them and seeing what happens.

One thing I'd like to do is get rid of the "Weblinks" drop-down from the top menu, and put all the links into the "Help" drop-down, which I think makes more sense. Also the one link not mine I might have in the help section is:

That makes sense to me as it's a great tutorial on Java which I've used myself to refresh. And it would fit there I think.

Also I'd like to rename packagedirectory.xml to ClassViewerConfig.xml which I think makes more sense. I'm thinking about putting in more functionality into that xml file, and it's really a lot more than just a package directory at this point.

If I make that change would make it look for the old file if it didn't find the new one so it wouldn't force people who were long-time users to change the name.

Very speculative I've wondered about some kind of xml format for handing information to other applications.

But the reality of what I could do say, overnight if I felt like it, would be the first set of changes, removing "Weblinks", consolidating the useful current links under "Help" and adding the Java Tutorials link, and changing the name of packagedirectory.xml to ClassViewerConfig. xml are easy enough to do.

Oh yeah, I've realized it's easier to use this blog for help and instructions, which is actually kind of industry now. A blog post is easy to update, and can be as specialized as I need it, which is why there has been a shift in that direction.

Thing is, I can blog about my app when I feel like it, like in this post, or otherwise rant and rave about just about anything I want.

Blogs are just so freaking useful.

Oh yeah, any Class Viewer users who have any thoughts on these possible changes, please let me know.

Easiest way is to comment on this post.

James Harris

Thank you Supporters!

Was getting mad at myself for repeatedly talking about how many countries supposedly view my pages--according to Google stats--and the reality is that it's not about me. It's not like I can fly all over the world just to click on a link to one of my blogs or to go to SourceForge website to download my app.

(I wonder if there are any people who try that to get high country counts. After all, it's nice to be able to say--read all over the world!)

Reality is it takes a lot of people out there, and turns out there are billions of people out there. It's really important for some of them to notice you, if that's your thing.

So you would not be reading this post if not for the efforts of people other than me.

Even to be found requires that people are showing an interest, like by linking to my blogs or linking to my app website, or actually downloading my Class Viewer app.

And for the people who do--Thank you!!!

My feeling is that my job for the most part is that I should try to be interesting, but that's too hard, so even better: try to put up interesting content.

So far that has worked well, though I'm looking to be more inclusive and engaging I think is the phrase but that's really hard so may do not much different than before.

Regardless I can show some appreciation.

Reality is that if you're reading this post it is because of LOTS of people all over the world without whom I'd be one more needle in a trillion haystacks as the web is kind of big.

You can't even find me without the activities of lots of people all over the globe, and if one of them is you, then to you personally, thanks! I really do appreciate it.

I think of it as a sharing contract. Things are better on the web in my opinion as a sharing place.

It may not seem that way, especially when I'm endlessly telling you how many countries read me, or endlessly focusing on how I feel, or how, it's not about me though.

Actually it never was. Content matters. Be interesting. And also very importantly, be interested.

That's how our web works best for all of us.

Oh yeah, so if you're ever interested in getting my attention you might try to be interesting, but I think that's too hard! So instead, work at sharing interesting content. Fuel the web.

Help make our web grow ever better.

James Harris

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My hometown: Tifton, Georgia, USA

One of the big recent changes in the area I grew up was a move from Prohibition era laws against alcohol sales, which in my opinion has greatly enhanced economic prospects for the area.

And I grew up in Tift County just outside of the city of Tifton, Georgia, USA. It's a rural community with plenty of farmers, and other good natured people who do indeed behave with a great degree of Southern hospitality.

One purpose for talking about where I grew up here is to set some things straight as over the years as I've traveled the country I've heard all kinds of wrong things about how supposedly horrible it is to grow up as a Black person in such an area.

For me things were fine. Though I know there were plenty of exceptional things in my life, but still, there are practical realities, like a third of the population is Black.

Regardless of race, there is much support from community

Where I grew up is multi-ethnic across the board with a healthy population of immigrants from all over.

And, you see, Southern hospitality is also about Southern practicality.

It helps to really work at getting along when you have people from all over.

Part of me wants to talk about the sudden burst of famous people from the South Georgia area but not sure it really fits. Though wouldn't mind meeting some of those folks! Haven't yet.

Have gained a certain amount of appreciation for all my hometown area has to offer as I've gotten older. It really has a lot of beauty with lots going for it which helped me out immensely growing up.

Fascinating to me that I'm much more fond of the area now that I'm in my forties, as when younger mostly was thinking about elsewhere.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Tweet views

Did an email search this morning to see when I first got an email from Twitter with tweet views and found it was March 21st, so over two months ago. But then re-read a post of mine with advice to Twitter which suggested they give tweet view information, which was April 30th.

So I'm sitting here wondering about having suggested in a post of advice to Twitter something they'd already started doing to some extent a month before! And that's the thing. The email told me my tweet with the highest views, and guess I should also say it had 10 views. I was underwhelmed.

And I have no clue if anyone at Twitter reads this blog, but if they did they might have been puzzling about me asking for something I was already getting except the thing is to me, a highlight on a single tweet or two or three isn't as much as I'd want. I'm talking about across the board tweet views, so you can see with every tweet. So I guess I'm not really being inconsistent here. (Sometimes I puzzle about myself.)

Oh yeah, so for a while I've been getting a weekly email from Twitter with highlights, telling me which tweets get the most views. So it doesn't cover all my tweets, just the few that seem to really get interest.

And that's progress. Where remarkably enough having this information I must say weirdly enough I've been getting more and more views each week, as I seem to be unconsciously adjusting how I tweet. So it's like, with no clue which tweets work or don't, how can you adjust? But with that information, I'm looking at weeks where like, I'll have over a thousand tweet views. So from 10 to 1000 in a couple of months? Seems like that information is important to me.

Not sure how widespread this thing from Twitter is, but I think it clear ALL tweeting Twitter people need it, if they are interested in maximizing tweet views! If they don't care about that then no, they don't need the info.

But it is weird to see what resonates, because it's not completely intuitive. Scratch that--yeah I could just delete it and type something else but being dramatic--it's NOT intuitive.

Before I got the information from Twitter, I didn't have a clue.

Oh yeah, glad to at least be getting the highlights information, but will add that knowing in how many and which countries the tweet was viewed would also be very useful information.

James Harris

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Summer plunge

We've finally reached that time of year when my admittedly meager global audience drops by a quarter to 30% which occurs as my core audience of college students go on summer break. Which puzzles me every single freaking year though it has gone on for so long I don't remember when I finally noticed it.

You see, I'm like, shouldn't they have MORE time to look at things I have up?

And the answer I came up with for the sake of my ego is that I'm a reference. So I'm more useful when college is in session as that's when they need things I've discovered. Otherwise they have no use for me.

During the summer plunge I tend to drift more than usual though I pride myself on always being capable of just not caring and not doing much, or I do more experimental things.

Not sure what I'll do this year. If anything. Maybe this year I'll just wonder how I should figure out a way to be interesting to college students when they're not in college.

Or I can actually just not care that much. Seems easier. Yeah, I like that one. Will mention it, because I think it's funny and worth noting. And now move on to other things.

Have a great summer!!!

(Oh wait, or Winter for those in the other hemisphere...but are you on break too? Or are there just fewer of you? Not going to ponder that any more. Will stop typing now.)

James Harris