Been awhile since my last blog post. I have some bad news, some indifferent news, and some good news.
On April 22, I was laid off after 21 years of continuous employment. Company downsizing. Weak economy. Who knows what else goes into those decisions.
I'm searching for a new position. It is a pain because opportunities are few and far between, and hardly anyone gives you the courtesy of acknowledging your resume and/or telling you whether you are turned down. So it is a lot of looking, applying, and waiting. There MAY be something positive later this week, though.
1. I took and passed 2 online programming courses. The first was in Java and the second was Perl. These two are used a lot these days and I felt that everything I used for 21 years was mostly stone age. So, to get a new position I needed to become more current.
2. On August 30, I did my final test to earn third degree black belt. It was a grueling test but I did very well. Will receive the belt in December.
3. To get real (non-classroom) experience using Perl and Java, I started writing a program that I call a "blog agent". It will be done in 2 phases and phase 1 is complete.
The blog agent:
If you are like me, you want to keep up with what a lot of people write in their blogs, so you bookmark all your favorite ones and visit them once a day, or every couple of days. If there is nothing new, you go to the next one. Just calling up the web site and scanning manually uses up time. And if there IS indeed nothing new, it is basically wasted time. So, the agent will do all that scanning for me (and perhaps you some day).
I built a list of my favorite blog sites, keeping the URL, the last read post date, and the last read post title. The program reads the file and builds a table of your blog URLs. Then, for each, it retrieves the web page and finds the most recent blog date and blog title. It compares those to what you have saved. If either the date or title is different, you get a notice, meaning that you should go read that blog.
My test list currently looks like this:
[http://patfixer.blogspot.com/] [Sunday, January 27, 2008] [The Valance]
[http://marcelymca.blogspot.com/] [Tuesday, August 26, 2008] [Weather]
[http://chusbands.blogspot.com/] [Friday, July 11, 2008] [WORK]
[http://jgbeau.blogspot.com/] [?] [?]
the individual fields are bracketed.
The output after running the agent looks like this:
[http://patfixer.blogspot.com/] DATESAME TITLESAME
[http://marcelymca.blogspot.com/] DATEDIFF TITLEDIFF <=== go read this one.
[http://chusbands.blogspot.com/] DATESAME TITLESAME
[http://jgbeau.blogspot.com/] DATEDIFF TITLEDIFF <=== go read this one.
So, as you can see, in this list of 4 blogs, I only should go out and read 2 of them.
Phase 2 is yet to be written, but I want to add interactivity. I intend to present the list as a table of links (and the indicator of which ones should be read). Then, to read a blog, you'd just click on the link and it would show. After you read it and browse back to the table, I want to have a button that you click on to indicate that you have just read the blog. When you do that, it will use the most recent date and title of the blog post, and will overlay the old info in the save file. That way, the NEXT time you run the agent it will do it's work against the items that you have "told it" that you have already read.
At first I wrote this with Perl, but I think the interactivity will be better with Java, because I can get it to run in a browser window by making it a thing called and "applet". We played with applets in the class that I took.
So, now that Phase 1 is complete I can start on Phase 2.
Will put up another post soon on the trials and tribulations of job searching.
So long for now.