All entries for November 2005

November 29, 2005

We have a new leader!

Writing about web page

Looks like they have chosen a new VC. Prof. Nigel Thrift is to be our new leader. No idea what he is going to be like, I wonder what the word from Oxford is?

November 24, 2005

Remote VisualGC for JBoss

Follow-up to Garbage collection and Hibernate performance tuning from Kieran's blog

We've recently upgraded the BlogBuilder server to Java 5 and JBoss 3.2.7. I was hoping that this would cure some of my garbage collection (GC) problems, but sadly it has not. I am still getting some very long blocking 20–30 second full GCs.

My backup plan was that if just the upgrade didn't fix things, then at least I could finally use the new remote monitoring tools that come with Java 5.

VisualGC is a tool that lets you visualise what is going on in a Java processes GC. As mentioned in my previous article, you can do some analysis by looking at and analysing the log files that you can get out about GC, but they don't really show quite whats going on. VisualGC will give you something like this:

This is easy to get to work on your local machine as you just follow the instructions here

The remote stuff is slightly trickier as you'll have to run an RMI Registry on the remote machine and also the jstatd program that helps generate the statistics about the process.

You'll need to get over a few permissions issues. Create a file called jstatd.all.policy in the directory where you want to run jstatd containing the below code:

grant codebase "file:${java.home}/../lib/tools.jar" {
Make sure that the rmiregistry and jstatd are running as a user who has permission to see into the processes that you want to monitor.
rmiregistry 2020&
jstatd -p 2020&

Importantly you have to specify a port, I am using 2020 here, but you can use any port that isn't in use. The reason is that the default port is 1099 and that will usually be used by your JBoss install. If you are getting access denied errors when trying to run jstatd, there is probably something wrong with your policy file. If you get a ClassNotFoundException for the sun.jvmstat.monitor.remote.RemoteHost class, then you probably have a problem with Java versions or paths.

Once these two processes are running, you should be able to hook into an monitor your remote process like this:

visualgc pid@host:2020
Good luck!

November 22, 2005

Warwick Facebook – social networking for universities

Writing about web page

I came across a website today called Facebook.

Basic premise: Social networking at your university/college/school

There is a great little summary on TechCrunch

They have something like 4 million members, which is a lot, but a lot of websites have more. What is amazing is how addictive it is…

  • 85% of students in supported colleges have a profile
  • 60% log on daily!
  • 85% log on weekly
  • 93% log on at least once a month

This means page views gallore and as Facebook is purely advertising driven, they are making plenty of money.

There is no indication that they support universities in the UK, but David Apthorpe in a fit of good timing pointed out that it does in fact support Warwick (although only 50 or so people have signed up so far so they are not pushing it over here).

If you have a tough time imagining what Facebook is all about, watch this great video

I had been thinking about wanting to build something like this for Warwick, basically as an extension to Warwick Blogs but with more community features…but it's already done. I'm sure we could do a lot of things better and more specific to Warwick, but is there a demand for this kind of thing over here? In some ways it is very similar to FriendReunited but it's more focused on the social side rather than tracking down old friends.

November 18, 2005

JBoss tuning and sliming

Writing about web page

I came across this JBoss tuning and sliming page on the JBoss wiki a while back, but never really tried it out very much. I was forced to upgrade my JBoss from 3.2.6 to 3.2.7 today so that I can use the new Java 5 monitoring console so I thought I'd give it a go.

By taking out a load of stuff that I just don't need I managed these results:


  • Clean startup with no webapps deployed: 15s
  • Startup with BlogBuilder deployed: 34s


  • Clean startup with no webapps deployed: 8s
  • Startup with BlogBuilder deployed: 27s

Try it out, it's worth a look.

November 17, 2005

How to drive a customer crazy

Writing about web page

One of my many GTD/Life hack type sites I subscribe to wrote about customer service; not how to do it, but how not to do it.

Say “I have no idea.”
Say “Are you sure that’s what you want?”
Slouch. Chew Gum. Twirl your hair between your fingers.
Give them a blank stare, or worse, roll your eyes.
Fidget distractedly. Appear bored.
Finish whatever other task you have at hand, while they wait for you to attend to them.
Talk story with other employees. Laugh at an “inside joke” they are not privy to.
Speak in a monotone. See how long you can go without smiling.

And my personal favourite that really really really bugs me about lots of places

Pretend you haven’t noticed they are there.

How many places do if not all, but a good proportion of those no-nos?

Know what people are saying about you

Writing about Trying to get a response from Blinkx from Contemplating the Frame

Following my discovery that Blinkx were being slightly misleading about their deal to show Warwick content, it shows the importance of knowing what people are saying about you or your organisation on the web.

I know we all occasionally do a little vanity search for our name on Google, but ideally you'd have new results sent to you when they happen.

You can sign up for Google Alerts and get emails, or use RSS to monitor Google News

Do you know what people are saying about you online?

November 16, 2005

Agile programming

Writing about web page

November 15, 2005

Warwick media on blinkx?

Follow-up to Google news feeds about Warwick from Kieran's blog

Following my subscription to all mentions of ‘warwick university’ on Google News, I came across this…

blinkx Brings World Leaders, Top Economists and Best-Selling Authors Into Your Living Room With Searchable Speeches From Cambridge and the Ivy League=

Top tier universities from around the world are making content from the arts and humanities, as well as social, biomedical, and physical science
disciplines, available through the partnership. Beyond Cambridge and
Princeton, lectures from institutions including UC Berkeley, Harvard,
Middlebury College, Columbia University, Washington State University, the
University of Glasgow, University College London, the University of Warwick
and the University of York will now be searchable through

If you do a little search on Blinkx and you do indeed find some Warwick videos, but they all seem to be from Warwick TV, the student society. Now, I’m not saying this is not good content (in fact some is great), but it is not quite what you were lead to believe you’d find after reading the press release. I wonder how many other of the universities in that list are actually publishing academic content?

Google news feeds about Warwick

If you want to know what the rest of the world is saying about Warwick, you can do a little search on Google News for "warwick university" and it'll come back with a surprising number of references to Warwick. However, you don't want to do this every day so you can subscribe to a result via the RSS feeds:

RSS feed for 'warwick university' Google News search

I keep an eye on this out of curiosity to see what our press concious researchers and students might be getting up to.

November 10, 2005

Guitar progress

So it's just been a few days since I got my guitar (and as I type this my fingers are sore from practicing) and the good news is that I think I like it. Phew.

It's hard work as the first couple of chapters of my book are all about chords and they are both not easy on the finger tips nor the on the ear just yet. F is an absolute bitch, my fingers just don't reach like that!

Leave the chords section (I will keep practicing them), I got onto some simple single finger melodies. Why couldn't they start with this stuff! I can now play a decent little rendition of "Old MacDonald" Rock and roll!!!

Anyway, here's a picture of my new toy (and as usual, Maggie crept in the shot)

My new guitar (and Maggie)

It's a Vintage V800, as with all these things, it'll take me a while to get used to it and I really have no idea if it is a good guitar or not, but it certainly sounded nicer and looked nicer than some of the cheaper ones in the shops and with a bit of advice this is the one we went for.

November 2005

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