Thursday, May 22, 2008

JGNAT is coming back!

(If you're not interested in the Ada programming language, then this post has nothing for you :-)

AdaCore has announced in their latest newsletter that JGNAT, their Ada-to-Java Byte Code compiler, is being updated and will be made available in the 2nd quarter of 2008 (see the "In The Pipeline" sidebar):
A collection of add-on tools for interfacing between Ada and
Java is scheduled for release during Q2 2008. They support
mixed-language Ada/Java development, in particular:

- Calling natively-compiled Ada code from Java
- Compiling Ada to JVM bytecodes and communicating between Ada and Java directly.

The toolsuite exploits the Java Native Interface (JNI) for the
first scenario, but automates the generation of the JNI-related
“glue code” to ease the job of the developer. An updated
version of AdaCore’s JGNAT product handles the second
scenario. The tools take advantage of Ada 2005’s new
features to provide an interfacing mechanism that complies
with the Ada standard.
A future version of the toolsuite will support the invocation of
Java methods from natively-compiled Ada code.
The original release was never updated beyond version 1.1p, which I used a fair amount. I felt it was almost, but not quite, production quality. My experience was that it worked pretty well with Java 1.2, tasking broke in 1.3, and was pretty much a non-starter for 1.4.

Robert Dewar, AdaCore's president, commented in 2004 that "the status of JGNAT is that we have kept the sources updated to the minimal extent that they compile, but we no longer support this product and it was never fully completed."

I don't know the impetus behind restarting JGNAT support, but I'm glad to see it happening.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New Word: "Antiference"

Antiference

an-tif-er-uhns, an-tif-ruhns
- noun.

1. A preference against a choice.
2. That which is preferred to be avoided.
3. A manufacturer of aerials and distribution equipment.

Ex. "I don't really have a preference among these projects, but my antiference is the one coding a CORBA app in C++.

Phoenix Descending

The Phoenix Mars probe is scheduled to land this Sunday at 23:38:32 UTC Spacecraft time (23:53:52 UTC Earth received time).
























Here's a Phoenix Mars Landing Real-Time Simulation to help you see what has happened, and what is going to be happening and when.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Lunas Are Back!

North Alabama has suffered through a drought the last two years, with last year's being "exceptional". Because of this the local insect populations appear to have had significantly declined. While this means less of the pesty bugs, it also means fewer sightings of the neater ones.

Like I hadn't see a Luna moth here at all in the last couple years, while in prior years there were always some showing up in the spring.

This year, rainwise, has been different. We're basically getting normal rainfall--though technically the drought is not yet broken--and starting to see some critters that I haven't seen for awhile. I was very happy to again see one of the Lunas:



















The big, furry Cecropia moths Polyphemus moths have managed to show up each year, despite the drought, and this year was no different:


















Cool, eh?

And I don't know what this guy is, but he's certainly pullin' in Shanghai off the shortwave...


















Later this year we should be getting the big "rhinoceros" beetles. Stay tuned...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Binary Search -- Mmmm, tasty!

I stumbled across Tim Bray's article on binary search, and simply felt compelled to pass it along.

It's well-written, concise, and even if as a software developer you've got binary search down pat, it's still a pleasure to read a well-written explanatory article about something so fundamental to our craft.

So if you need a little refresher on the details of binary search, and why it's so gosh darn useful, or you need to roll your own because you need to make some small variations to the basic algorithm (which was my situation and why I went looking for some articles on this subject), give it a read.

Good technical writing stands the test of time.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Send Your Loved Ones Into Space -- And You Too!

A couple of upcoming missions have announced that the public can submit their names, which will then be attached to the spacecraft that is launched into space. I've done this with a couple previous space missions, and it's a cute thing, you can even get a certificate :-)

The two missions that I just became aware of that are doing this are:

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter - whose purpose is to "to [find] safe landing sites, locate potential resources, characterize the radiation environment, and demonstrate new technology." Send your name (and those of your family and friends) to the moon!











Kepler Mission - "specifically designed to survey our region of the Milky Way galaxy to detect and characterize hundreds of Earth-size and smaller planets in or near the habitable zone." Submit your name (and a brief message if you want) to be carried along on the spacecraft that may be the first to detect a possibly habitable extra-solar planet.