Friday, September 13, 2013

Lightening the Load Testing

Load Testing was the topic at this morning's Los Angeles CTO Forum. Two presenters showed the goods. Apica has their own proprietary tool, which they demonstrated. I thought it was way cool when they picked up nodes to run their server off balloons on a World Map! The tests are then run off these nodes, using their rackspace datacenters. Apica are partners with Rackspace, so they can come in on your project if your using them for your cloud.

The other presenter was Andrew Cholakian, a local hacker who also likes Clojure and wrote his product in it. His product is Engulf and you can spin up AWS AMIs as nodes to run your loadtests.

Finally, I spent a few minutes plugging the Technology Radar Group. It's a key tool for keeping up with the dizzying pace of technology. TheHackerCIO is far too busy to do without the Technology Radar Group! Between that and Hackathons, they are crucial for keeping current. Slides are here.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Where is Your Technology Radar

Today TheHackerCIO is preparing presentations. Tomorrow he'll present on "Your Technology Radar" to a gathering of Chief Technology Officers in Silicon Beach, held monthly at Clearstone Venture Parners. If you're a CTO in the greater LA area, the LA CTO Forum is a great place to learn from colleagues and to get advice about problems or pointers to resources.

Technology Radars are an important tool to keep up with Tech. Invented by Martin Fowler of ThoughtWorks, they are produced twice a year. Lots of developers I work with await the latest Radar release with considerable anticipation. Our local Los Angeles Java Users Group has a weekly book club / study group, which sometimes spends a session discussing Radar items.

The idea, in essence, is to take inventory of all of the emerging technology that the consultants are seeing and getting interested in as part of their field work and recreational work. :-) Then the list is reviewed by the participants and assigned to one of 4 quadrants on a circular graphical display:

  • Techniques
  • Platforms
  • Tools
  • Languages & Frameworks
A circular graphic lends itself naturally to the notion of a Bulls-Eye. Accordingly, the outer ring represents an assessment of "hold", and successive inner rings progressively become more positive, ranging from 
  • Assess
  • Trial
  • Adopt
The Bulls-Eye, therefore, consists of those Techniques, Platforms, Tools, Languages, & Frameworks that should be adopted. A further graphical device is used for each "blip" on the Radar screen, to show change by placing a triangle around those "blips" that have changed since the last issued Radar. A circle, by contrast means the item has remained at the same level. To put it all together take a look at an example of one quadrant of a Radar:

And spend some time reading the May 2013 Technology Radar from ThoughtWorks.

The real point is, you shouldn't be depending on ThoughtWorks Technology Radar. Where is your own personal Radar? You need to be the one actively driving this process of systematic evaluation. To read more about this, read this article and, if you're in LA, join the Technology Radar Group and start working on your own Radar. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

All Work and No Play Makes Jack a dull Hacker

Play is contagious. But that's not a problem, when the play is a Framework.

Play works in both Scala and Java, but you have to be very careful to pick which one you want correctly without mixing/matching, or you'll get into errors. Monday, TheTechnology-Radar-Group had a presentation from Alexandros Bantis on Play with Scala.

Tuesday night, our local Java User's Group got another presentation from Alexandros on  Play with Java.

One question surfaced, which is still being discussed: Given that Grails can easily produce a CRUD application, using Active Record as in Ruby/Rails, is this time-saving capability available in Play, or are they orthogonal approaches? Stay tuned for details!

Two Play sessions, in succession! What a fun month for the Hacker side of ...

the one who remains faithfully,


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Coding Play Makes it Fun

Coding is always fun and sometimes play. But "Play" is also a framework. It's a fun framework, so Alexandros Bantis demonstrated at last nights Technology Radar Group Meetup.  His hands-on tutorial on the Play Framework and it's Akka messaging infrastructure, was delivered as a GitHub Repo of code demonstrating the use of Play both in Java and Scala.

Theoretical points of interest were how "Actors," "Futures," and "Promises" make life easier for the developer.  The Actors are implemented by a messaging infrastructure -- I gather that this is built into Play, via the Akka package, which is incorporated into Play. Play is a bundle of lots of cool technology into a bundled rapid-development stack. I particularly liked the way Play uses Websockets to monitor the code and incrementally compile it as needed, so that the hacker doesn't need to reboot a server (as with Tomcat, in the bad old days) in order to see his new code changes at work. Just a refresh of the browser and you can see what you have done -- whether it be good, or ill .... :-) In the modern code development world, jRebel is getting built in out of the box!!! And that's a good thing.

Another extremely cool point was how in Play even your HTML get's bound up with Static typecasting. So you can catch all the nasty errors up front even though you're developing client-side display. I'm not quite sure how it works in Java, but in Scala the type of the parameters to be passed seems be combined into a function. And if you pass a faulty type as an argument, low and behold, the browser reveals your type-error.

Finally, the evening was rounded out by a presentation of TechStacker by Rick Parker. A Heroku hosted tool written by a friend, this handy little site is a first stab at creating a crowd-sourced tool for the evaluation of software products. Rick is already using it to do his own evaluations, which are part of his day-job, and I'm certainly going to start putting in materials and experimenting with how Social Networks can be part of software evaluation. I might even go do the Play framework as my first eval on TechStacker! If you want to join in on this, please join in and sign up at

By the way, please don't complain to me about the TechStacker UI. Rick admitted that it's the worst imaginable. But hey, we'er geeks. We'd rather have a command line anyway, right? Who needs GUI?

Thanks to everyone for making the evening enjoyable as well as enlightening.

I remain faithfully,


In Media Res

TheHackerCIO is aways busy; on the move;  generally coding. No time to introduce him now, but he is known to have very strong opinions about technology  -- backed up by hands-on experience. A few months ago he was "Sensei" at the AT&T Hackathon: his teams came in First & Third place. One of the teams won 4K in prizes they would have missed out on, because they didn't have their eyes on the API-prize ball. That would have been a shame. Two months ago he constructed a Performance Engineering Environment for a major Entertainment client. His performance review of JVM problems led to resolution of an OutOfMemory error that had been around for  years. Last month, he installed a RHEL/DB2 subsystem for a major Casino client. A week ago, TheHackerCIO figured out the OAUTH2 API with Google Play Purchasing, to support client requirements in their Java backend server. Today, he's implementing Mobile APIs in a Java server. In two days he will be advising a Startup on Development tools, approaches, guidelines, and User experience flow. TheHackerCIO wears many hats. And he wears them all with style.....

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