ZDNet: Oracle rebrands Java, breaks Eclipse. Obviously this is fairly amusing. The reason that Eclipse was checking the rebranded “Company” value was to work around a different Java incompatibility.

It’s pretty clear: the Java team at Sun (now at Oracle) has done far more to destroy the concept of “write once, run everywhere” than the supposed “proprietary” bad guys at Microsoft, Apple, and Adobe. Every single update to Java breaks something. There are no concepts of “backwards compatibility” or “forwards compatibility” in the product.

After years of this kind of bad behavior, the Java development community has simply given up on trying to deal with testing on different Java versions. Now most vendors say they work with one or two specific releases of Java and that no others are supported. Many of them actually ship their products with a version of Java embedded inside.

What that means for large enterprises is that we have to deploy all those special versions of Java along with the applications that use them — at 100MB per Java instance. It’s crazy. And we pretty much have to ignore the ongoing critical security issues that Java has since many apps won’t work (or at least aren’t supported) with the newer patched versions of Java. This is crazy of course: Java integrates with browsers and attempts to interface directly with “the Internet”. Along with other products that plug into browsers (like Flash, Silverlight, and Adobe Reader) Java should be right up there on the “critical to patch” list. But it isn’t because it can’t be.

The whole thing would be funny if I didn’t have to actually deal with it.


NY Times: Botanical Gardens Look for New Lures Here’s another article that mentions the recent financial tribulations of the Cleveland Botanical Gardens — although this time the problems are implied rather than the focus of the article. It does put the issue into a broader context though: Many similar organizations are having to scramble for money, not just ones that made a poor choice to expand at the hight of the economic bubble.

NY Times: What Do You Lack? Probably Vitamin D I’ve been taking a vitamin D pill every day for a little while now. I read that it could help with my mild psoriasis. I can’t say that there’s been a significant improvement there, but it looks like there are some other possible benefits. Since I’m susceptible to sun poisoning, I guarantee that I don’t get enough sunlight to make much vitamin D on my own. It also looks like the standard recommended dose of Vitamin D may be way too low.


Man, I just never seem to get around here anymore!

Ahh well.

A couple of links caught my eye today:

Henry Blodgett: My Kids Are Addicted to my iPad

I totally believe this story. In fact, it sounds like Henry is probably underestimating the extent of the problem. The Frati do not currently have an iPad. On the other hand we have to treat any and all technology the way Henry’s treating his iPad. Every single electronic item in our house has some sort of limitation or restriction on its use. If we didn’t do this I’m convinced we’d all be pale slug-like creatures drowning in our own excrement.

James Lileks: Get things DONE? But how?

“This is the week of doing everything. I mean, everything: I have a chart with dozens of little boxes, all waiting to be ticked off.” Again, somehow these blogger guys have been spying on the Frati. The past several days’ breakfast discussions have been around getting yet another “43 Folders” variation working for us. There’s always some issue or another. The current problem is that we put a task out there somewhere in the “folder”, but then we forget that we did that and then end up putting another variation of the same thing in there somewhere else. I guess we could have worse problems.

Jeff Bezos: We Are What We Choose

His commencement speech at Princeton this year. Overall a very typical graduation theme — as you can tell from the title. But his anecdote about his grandparents at the top of the talk really got me — especially as parent myself. I think all the time about the relationship between what we have and how we choose to use it. “Will you be clever at the expense of others, or will you be kind?”


Some bummer neighborhood news: Kmart is closing our local store. Here’s the article in the Plain Dealer. Not that Kmart is a great chain, or that this store is anything special, but this situation is a perfect example of the problems Cleveland faces. With the population declining pretty much everywhere in the city, if a new store opens then an old store has to close. There’s just not enough business for both of them. No matter how well these new stores do, the net effect is, at best, neutral.

In this case, a Target opened up about a mile to the west (on W 117th at I-90) and both a Target and Wal-Mart opened up in the new Steelyard Commons development about 2 miles east. Since they’re right on freeways, both new shopping centers are easier for suburban commuters to hit on their way in or out of downtown. This neighborhood Kmart simply couldn’t compete.

And so there’s another large strip mall in Cleveland that’s effectively empty now. It will probably sit there indefinitely.

On a more positive note, the Ashbury Towers development at 53rd and Walworth Run is apparently back in play with a new name: Kierland Commons. Nothing going on yet with the former factory portion of the property — now owned by Doug Perkowski — but the standalone condos are finally getting repaired and sold after sitting there boarded up for something like four years.


In the comments to this post there are a lot of suggestions of language learning sites and software. Much insistence that they are all better and/or cheaper than Rosetta Stone. Both seem possible. Rosetta Stone is OK, but it’d be easy to imagine something more effective. And one thing for sure: It’s expensive!

Here are all the links:












Pen F

Pen F

When I was a kid we did a lot of traveling including some big trips to Europe while my dad worked over there, but also trips down south and out west.

One of the things I remember most about those trips was taking pictures.

We took half-frame slides using an Olympus Pen-F. This was a small SLR that took “single frame” photos on 35mm film. Of course since most other SLRs took “double frame” photos, the common way everyone referred to the Pen F’s photos was “half frame”. The cool thing about this half frame stuff was that you could take twice as many photos per roll of film. I think this just meant we took twice as many photos as everybody else. We took a lot — and most of them are still in trays at my parents’ house.



I thought about this again today, because Olympus has just come out with a new camera that has much of the look and feel — and maybe some of the spirit — of the Pen F. It’s called the E-P1. There’s no viewfinder, so it’s not exactly an SLR, but it does have interchangeable lenses and a lot of “SLR”-like features, including the fancier video recording capabilities that higher-end cameras are getting. But like the Pen F, it’s significantly smaller than all SLRs and even than many other point-and-shoot cameras without changeable lenses.

And of course with digital cameras, you don’t end up with trays full of slides you’ll never look at.


There’s been a lot of whining lately that President and Michelle Obama shouldn’t have gone to dinner and a play in New York the other day, and definitely shouldn’t have taken any time out of their European trip to do any sightseeing.

Predictably, these complaints went nowhere. I’m pretty sure that  most folks could not possibly imagine going on a business trip to, say, Paris, and not take some time out to see the town.

Lance Knobel over at Davos Newbies has an interesting take on this. He points out that not only did the Obama family choose to visit a modern art museum (the Musée National d’Art Moderne at the Pompidou Center) while in Paris, they apparently like going to museums and looking at modern art! Quite a change from some recent Presidential office holders. (But right in line with most Americans: there were about 850 million museum visits in the US last year.)

(I’ve got more to say on this very American “all work/no play” attitude. It has huge impacts here in Cleveland. But I’ll save that for another post.)


So there’s this “Green Dog” company called Olive. They specialize in eco-friendly stuff for your hound.

Well, they realized that it was dumb to pick up dog doo-doo in a plastic bag that will outlast all of us.

So they came up with this.

Cool, eh?

On a somewhat related item, here’s some catfood I know our halfway-wild cat Wink would love.


Atul Gawande‘s had quite a ride recently.

First he wrote an article in the New Yorker that demonstrated how certain communities spent twice as much on health care as other similar communities but with no corresponding improvement in outcomes. (I linked to that article recently. It really is compelling.)

Then his data got picked up by Peter Orszag, the White House Budget Director, who used it as an example of why it was important to talk about health care costs now, and as way to show that there was plenty of fat to cut in the system. (Orszag has now returned to the topic in his blog a couple of additional times. The first post has a ton of background data that shows exactly where the extra money is going. The other post is essentially a response to complaints about the focus on this topic.)

Recently, President Obama started using Gawande’s research and much more extensive and long-term research done at Dartmouth College as the basis for a whole series of policy speeches, including a “town hall” event on health care in Green Bay on Thursday. Obama is convinced that correcting these health care cost issues is the most important issue he can be working on.

And now, Gawande was invited to give the commencement speech at The Univeristy of Chicago Medical School. In the speech, he focuses on the same topic, but also tailors it to his audience by highlighting some of the lessons he’s learned in this area and giving them some advice on how to start to make a difference.

Here are his closing remarks:

Along the way, you will sometimes feel worn down and your cynicism taking over. But resist. Look for those in your community who are making health care better, safer, and less costly. Pay attention to them. Learn how they do it. And join with them.

If you serve the needs of your patients, if you work to ensure that both overtreatment and undertreatment are avoided, you will save your patients. You will also save our country. You are our hope. We thank you.


At lunch today one of the guys ordered General Tso’s Chicken. This reminded of me of an article I’d read recently on how, in most of the world, ethnic food is pretty much the same dishes immigrants would have made back in the “old country”. But in the US, the ethnic foods change, sometimes significantly, to meet American tastes. And in a lot of cases, the dishes are completely American.

In the case of Chinese food, you simply cannot go over there and order most of the stuff that’s served in the US. General Tso’s Chicken is a great case in point. It’s not exactly clear where it was invented — perhaps in the US, perhaps in Taiwan — but it is clear that nobody’s ever heard of it in mainland China.

One other interesting example from the article: Fortune Cookies. In China, these are considered “American” food.