The online journey of a technophile, by Steve Brownlee

Our Guatemalan adoption has stalled out lately. We’re now on day 43 of Referral Wait. The thing is, our agency – named For This Child – has this absurd policy that childless couples who have the audacity to request a specific gender for their first child get to stay on the bottom of the list. That’s right; we stay there.

This means that even though we’ve been waiting 43 days, and someone submits all of their adoption paperwork tomorrow and does NOT specify a gender preference, they immediately move ahead of us in line. Then if a girl becomes available, they will get that referral before us. Likewise, if there is a new a couple who already has a boy, but wants a girl, they also jump ahead of us in the referral list.

As I said, absurd. Apparently this policy is driven entirely by the whims of the agency’s director and not by any actual accepted formula for referral waiting lists. All other agencies we’ve talked too laughed until tears when they heard this, saying it was insane. Of course, For This Child keeps this pecking order a secret until you’ve signed a contract and handed over $6,000. If I had known about this, I would have never signed with them.

Now we just wait and hope enough girls get put up for adoption in Guatemala that we eventually make it to the top of this list. This could be in two weeks, or it could be in two months – we have no idea. Too many variables in play for anyone to make an accurate guess as to when we’d be at the top.

If any of you out there are planning to do an adoption, make sure you join an agency with a first-come, first-serve policy instead of one driven by some nebulous set of values.

Published on Tuesday, Sep 5,2006 | 8 Comments

I recently completed the first stage of a real estate web site called mxFSBO.com. I used my new cfObjects libraries that I’ve been working on for about a year – on and off. Everything’s been working fine so far. The ajaxCFC integration worked flawlessly and even got a chance to implement my multiple inheritance code.

I plan on releasing the libraries within the next few months for people to play around with and provide any feedback.

The web site is a real estate application for all the “For Sale By Owner” people out there. FSBO resources are slim – as the real estate agent community undoubtedly lobbies against all efforts to provide them – and my client wanted to help the FSBO people in our area by offering them a place to post and browse properties. I hope it helps.

Published on Monday, Sep 4,2006 | 1 Comment

I’m investigating some basic, everyday operations that many web application developers face.  Using very simple test cases, I’m determining if there is a time savings by writing Java code and calling it from ColdFusion.  If there is a savings, is it worth the extra coding time and overhead* for using Java.  Here’s the result of my first, basic test.

File Read/Write Operations

I was actually surprised how much faster invoking a Java I/O class was than the equivalent code in ColdFusion.  Using only a 90k byte file, I wrote a Java class to read it, parse it on a delimiter of the pattern ‘x\s’ and output each line.

public String outputScannedFile() throws IOException 
   Scanner s = null;
   String output = "";
   try {
       s = new Scanner(new BufferedReader(new FileReader("C:\\inputfile\\xanadu.txt")));
       while (s.hasNext()) {
      	  output += s.next();
   } finally {
       if (s != null) s.close();
   return output;

This is executed by creating an instance of a class and invoking a method (I use cfscript for Java objects… easier to read)

output = createobject("java", "orbwave.StringTest");
<cfdump var="#output.outputScannedFile()#">

This executed at a good pace.

Execution Time

Total Time Avg Time Count Template
3078 ms 3078 ms 1 C:\jboss-4.0.4\server\default\.\deploy\brownlees.war\scribble.cfm

The equivalent code in ColdFusion is much easier to write

<cffile action="read" file="C:\\inputfile\\xanadu.txt" variable="input">
<cfloop from="1" to="#ListLen(input,'x')#" index="span">

It also took over twice as long to execute.

Execution Time

Total Time Avg Time Count Template
7484 ms 7484 ms 1 C:\jboss-4.0.4\server\default\.\deploy\brownlees.war\scribble.cfm

As one would expect, using Java to handle the I/O is faster. However, I did not expect the compilation and execution of a simple set of ColdFusion commands to take over 4 seconds longer on such a basic operation.

Is It Worth It?

In situations where you’re performing a significant amount of file I/O, I would suggest writing some simple Java classes, compressing them to a JAR and installing it on your app server.

* By overhead, I’m not talking about system resource overhead, but the additional resources needed to maintain Java in addition to ColdFusion, such as source control measures, training (if necessary), compile-time and build-time.

Published on Wednesday, Aug 23,2006 | 1 Comment

I stumbled across this great article that Terry Ford wrote when CFMX 6.1 was released.  It’s still relevant and one of the best beginner tutorials on Java resource usage I’ve seen.

Macromedia – Developer Center : Using Java and J2EE Elements in ColdFusion MX Applications

Published on Wednesday, Aug 23,2006 | 0 Comments

The blogosphere is hopping about Windows Live Writer and here’s my take on it… wait a few releases before giving it a serious shot.

After playing with it for about an hour, I’d have to say it does an adequate job for blogs that use standard templates and bloggers with simple needs. However, it does a horrible job when you have multiple CSS layers or three column layouts. It’s a good first attempt to be a one-size-fits-all blog editor, but it doesn’t replace the custom editor for WordPress or Moveable Type. In fact, it’s not even close to being as good a the Performancing editor which is integrated into the browser (which, when combined with Flock is all you need).

Having a seperate program to run for editing my blog just doesn’t make sense to me. However, as is almost always the case, Microsoft will continue to refine the program and make it more friendly and universal, and in a few releases have a kick-ass blog editor.

Published on Tuesday, Aug 15,2006 | 3 Comments

About Steve

I am a technologist, and have been ever since 1980 when I got my very first TRS-80 and programmed it to do my math homework. I love to share the gift of technology with others and show them the wonderful things it can do for them, and how they should not fear it, but embrace it.
Find out more about me at Vizify....


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