Thursday, May 2, 2013

Swamp Visions

You all know the old saw "When you are up to your ass in alligators, it's hard to remember you are here to drain the swamp."

I've been zooming in on details of star catalog processing for a few weeks now.  I think it is time to re-focus on how I will use this information, and what products will facilitate that use.

So what are the drivers?




Gaming

My regular hobby, as you will rapidly guess from visiting my other blogs, is wargaming.  I would like to run a campaign game, by  invitation, fora number of my friends.  I would like them to be able to set policies and make plans that will shape my future history, and apply rules to resolve the shared results of the many players' interactions. Practically speaking, it would be great to have a website where players could log in, see what is going on, and issues their orders all at a conveniently high level, with lots of analysis tools.

Writing

With retirement starting to at least be visible peeking over the horizon (half a dozen to ten years, almost down to single digits) I need some way to spend my time that does not involve using TV to cause brain damage.  Like most people who like to read, I have a fantasy that I will be able to write and will enjoy doing it.  I owe it to myself to find out.  One of my favorite genres is Science Fiction, and for really great SF a well-though-out world is essential.  In the old days, this would consist of binders of hand written notes.  What I would like to do in this century is leverage the same sort of tool (or exactly the same tool) as I use to run games as a master reference for an SF future history in which I can set my novels.


Work

Huh?  Well, I am in the computer business; I write code for a living, and have for (brings up calculator) nigh 35 years this fall.  Its been a while since I tried to keep at the "bleeding edge" of development work, but I do depend on support work to pay the mortgage.

If we look at the systems written in the last five years, and project forward to the "legacy applications"  of tomorrow the key technology is Java in a web context using frameworks such as Struts or Spring.  Java Server Faces has solid purchase as a "front end" technology and Hibernate has a big chunk of the persistence space.  Note that I am not trying to predict the prime hot development environments of tomorrow; I need experience with technologies where, if I get solid skills now to complement my existing expertise, I will be well positioned to support those applications that corporations really have to keep going for at least another decade.  That's right, kids, Java is the COBOL of tomorrow.  Eventually it will be obsolete, but there is a solid mass of code its owners can't afford to turn off any time soon.

The obvious thing to do with the tool described above is to code and deploy it using a cross section of those technologies.  It will cost a bit and take some time, but since dev tools these days are free, and web hosting is just a couple of hundred a year, I should be able to put out a  muti-user product that will let me develop and showcase my skills while entertaining me, my friends, and hopefully my readers.

In future posts, I will get more into details.  Right now, I am prepping for a trip up the Danube, and I need to practice my useful Magyar phrases.


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