Day Three: In which I am introduced to Big Brother

I have given up all hope of learning anything interesting. It just isn’t going to happen.

The classroom computers were having lots of problems today. Many of them were crashing, and an overnight change to the security policy had made it impossible for webAF to write certain registry keys, so screwy things were happening. In the middle of an exercise shortly before lunch, half the class was unable to get anything to work, so the instructor called the system administrator, who began using VNC to fix the machines remotely.

I had long since finished the exercise in question, so while all this was going on, I was playing Bookworm on Ghostwheel via Remote Desktop. Suddenly, my mouse began moving of its own volition. I was busted.

Notepad popped up and the sysadmin typed, “What are you doing?!???”

“Playing a game,” I responded.


“Because nothing is happening and I am bored.”

“Well, stop it. It’s rude. Check your email or something.”


I closed my Ghostwheel terminal and began trying to determine why checking email in class was any less rude than playing a game in class when I had finished all my work and the instructor was on the phone. Luckily, lunch interrupted me before I exploded in a puff of logic.

After I had braved the conversational torture chamber of the lunch hour, class resumed, and so did the problems. At one point, during another exercise, webAF ate one of my servlets. It just swallowed it up. The servlet disappeared from the project. Poof. Of course, the file was still there…it just wasn’t showing up in the component list. Attempting to re-add it had no effect. So I nuked webAF, opened the project file in a text editor, found that the servlet was still listed, removed it by hand, reopened the project in webAF, re-added the servlet, and all was well.

The instructor, who had sent an email to one of the webAF developers asking what the deal was, sent another email saying the problem had been solved, to which the developer apparently replied, baffled as to how I had managed to edit the project file by hand. I had thought it was a fairly obvious thing to do, what with the project file being nothing more than XML, but everyone seemed astonished that I had done it by hand, as if I had just written Quake III in pure assembly with one eye closed and a monkey on my head.

Speaking of such things, I am disappointed with webAF. At first glance, it showed some promise. It looked like a fairly nice Java IDE with some nice wizards, custom tag libraries, and components, but it falls victim to the scourge of many a development environment: in trying to simplify things too much, it only ends up adding layers and layers of extra complexity. It’s obvious that there was a fair amount of effort put into it, and there are pieces that really do show some promise, but I wouldn’t want to use it to develop a real-world application; not in a million years.

Oh, and this afternoon the soda fountain sputtered and coughed and spewed its last few drops of yucky bottom-of-the-barrel Coke into my cup. If it’s not refilled by tomorrow morning, I may have to resort to violence.