In-Memory Databases

I used and got frustrated with in-memory databases. I mainly use them for testing, although I can image using them for managing huge amounds of simple data as well (e.g. parsing a huge plain text file into a simple table). Still, usually problems appear whis the SQL dialog. Unless the in-memory test database is the same as the production database, there will be SQL dialect issues. Martin Fowler wrote about this problem before.

Which Blog System?

For several years I’ve been running my own Blog software – but as I wanted to have more and more features, I realized that adding these features wasn’t justified any more, so I shopped around for other solutions. The winner is Serendipity.

Installing X.org on Ubuntu

Issues I encountered were:

  • A number of development packages needed to be installed – I didn’t keep track on which ones, but the error messages are pretty trivial.
  • I needed to install two patches that I found on the Gentoo website. Apply “MMX GCC4 compile fix” and “fbmmx-gcc4-compile-fix”, in this order.
  • The install failed, because /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/xkb/symbols/pc was a file and not a directory. I just removed it.
  • Configuration: Now /etc/X11/xorg.conf must be tuned. If you screw it up, it can be regenerated with dexconf. If nothing works, start with replacing the driver i810 with vesa, to get a slow but working GUI.

Hiroshima and the atomic bomb

Through a series of coincidences, I was well prepared for Hiroshima. I read the book that I received as a gift in Kyoto on the bicycle trip, and finished it on the first day in Hiroshima. The book tells seven tales of (fictional) people that died shortly after world war two – including one about a woman who died of radiation sickness from the Hiroshima bombing. Even though the other stories don’t talk about Hiroshima, the stories describe well the circumstances under which the bomb was dropped. They cover the treatment of Koreans (at the time a colony) in Japan; they talk about discrimination of Japanese in California; the fate of hopeful young men that are drafted for the war are covered, and that of women who went into prostitution out of desperation; and of course, they cover the direct suffering in war: the dropping of the A-Bomb, the carpet-bombing, the Kamikazes.

Compared to these human stories of suffering, today’s Hiroshima was quite the opposite: a vibrant city full of good energy. The city center, where the bomb did the most damage, has been converted into a huge park. Peace Memorial Park, as it is called, is hosting the excellent A-Bomb museum. The museum hosts an amazing exhibition, with extensive information in Japanese and English – not to be taken for granted! The museum kept a good balance of being personal and factual.

Surprising as it may sound – the dropping of the A-Bomb in Hiroshima was destructive – but not excessively so. For example, roughly as many people (200,000) died in the carpet bombing of Tokyo. But then again, here the damage was done by one single bomb! And not only that – people who were exposed to the explosion are suffering results to this date through increased cancer rates or because they were born handicaped due to exposure in the womb.

At the same time, I was surprised how robust nature is. Within a week after the bonbing, trees that seemed dead started to break out again, and many trees that were as close as 800 m to the explosion live to this day and are scattered throughout the park.

The museum was very personal, as it described in detail the fate of many people – victims, nurses, doctors, soldiers. For one victim, Sadako Sasaki, there was even a memorial outside in the park. The girl died ten years after the bombing from leukemia, and is known worldwide for folding thousands of paper cranes, expressing her desire to live.

The personal aspect was complemented by many, many scientific facts that merciless described the dropping of the bomb, the effect it had on the city, on the people, the details of what was going on in the human body, the design of the nuklear bomb, and much more.

An interesting detail was the decision to build Peace Memorial Park. When reconstruction of Hiroshima started, city planners decided to establish a park dedicated to peace and the abandonment of nuclear weapons. At the time, people considered this a waste of space and money, considering that the people had many urgent immediate needs. In retrospect, this was a visionary decision.

Düsseldorf Java User Group geplant

Sowohl in San Francisco als auch in Boston und Philadelphia bin ich oft zu den Treffen der lokalen Java User Groups (JUGs) gegangen – es hat Spass gemacht, sich mit den Kollegen zu unterhalten, und die Vorträge waren oft hochinteressant.

Leider gibt es in Düsseldorf keine aktive JUG. Ich möchte versuchen, das zu ändern. Ab Ende Oktober werde ich beginnen, intensiv Mitglieder zu rekrutieren, um Anfang 2006 das erste Treffen veranstalten zu könnnen.

Falls Sie Interesse haben, daran mitzuwirken – als Mitglied, Vortragender oder Organisator – schicken Sie mir bitte ein Email und melden sich bei der Email-Liste an unter [email protected] . Die JUG Webseite finden Sie unter

http://www.smartgroups.com/groups/d-jug

Und zuletzt: Ich würde mich sehr freuen, wenn Sie dieses Email an alle Java-Interessierten im Raum Düsseldorf weiterschicken würden. Vielen Dank!

561 bicycle-kilometers later

Japan is a country of contraditions. The stereotypical image of Japan is a densly populated country with little room to move. This is true, but only because 50% of the population lives on 2% of Japan’s land. Japanese love nature, and most of the land is protected.

Except Sado Island, we spent most of the time so far in urban centers. And in fact, the space between Kyoto and Osaka is completely developed – it was impossible to tell in which city or town we were. But that changed after leaving Osaka (where we spent a night in a so-called Love Hotel – an establishment that didn’t allow us to check in before 10 pm, but provided one of the most luxorious environments we had on this trip so far at a decent price. It goes without saying that condoms were placed by the bedside, but the dildo vending machine was rather… unusual).

The ride from Osaka to Kobe was getting calmer – mainly because we rode along the water. Finally there were fewer traffic lights and fewer pedestrians – in Japan, bicycles are expected to ride on the sidewalk, although more often than not, we picked the road instead. Japanese drivers know how to share the road, and kept a safe distance when passing.

Things changed dramatically when we took the ferry from Honshu, Japan’s main island, to Shodo Shima, a very small island on the half way to Shikoku, where we wanted to continue our trip. Shodo Shima wasn’t rich, that was clear to see. Even though it was clearly a tourist destination with a few resorts, things looked a little run down everywhere, and Japanese tourists arrived by bus, implying that guests were mainly booking package deals. We stayed an extra day and stretched our legs. People were very friendly, but almost nobody spoke English. Even more surprising was the fact that (in contrast to western resorts) there were few restaurants, no waterfront bars or cafes. There were a few beaches, but not really adequate for bathing. Still, or Bed & Breakfast had a nice waterfront patio, and that’s were we were hanging out at night over a glass or two of sake.

A short ferry ride brought us to Shikoku. This is a big island – big enough to justify a train line. But here too it was obvious that people were poorer than on the main island. But riding was easier, and the landscape was beautiful.

Rice Harvest

Most of the time we were riding through farmland. In the East of the island, where we started, we saw mostly rice. And as the harvesting season had just started, we saw rice that was still green, rice that was golden, ready to be harvested, and empty fields with bundles of rice-hay on it. Surprisingly, most fields were rather small. Granted, we often saw several fields together that probably belonged to the same farmer, but the large-scale farming common especially in the USA didn’t seem to exist. Further west we encountered citrus fruit, Kiwi, and even figs.

With communication problems and sometimes depressingly poor towns, Shikoku still gave us a unique view of the country and maybe the most authentic glimpse on Japan.

Crossing ten bridges

But the most stunning experience was the crossing back to Honshu over the Nishiseto Expressway. Ten bridges connect the many islands between Honshu and Shikoku. Not only that, but all bridges have dedicated bicycle lanes, and almost all bikelanes on the islands are wide and accommodating. The bridges themselves were impressive, and some of them are record breakers. The Tatara Bridge, for example, is the world’s longest cable-stayed bridge. The islands had their share of sights to offer, and the rapid change between views made this ride truly exciting.

It felt like being back in civilization after crossing back to Honshu. Things got more urban again, and communication got easier. After what we have been through, the final 100 km to Hiroshima felt like a piece of cake. We still didn’t find a real Internet Cafe until arriving in Hiroshima, otherwise we would have told you about this great trip much earlier.