Friday Apr 24, 2009


A lot of stuff is happening these days, so here are some quickies... is this what people use Twitter for?

  • My brother is visiting me these days. He's in town for the MySQL conference, where he presented his work on memcached. He's also a huge fan of Solaris, so I'm now running OpenSolaris on my desktop machine. It's fun to see how user friendly the (always powerful) operating system has gotten. And his blog entries like this and this take me back to my first job at Sun - working on the Solaris debugger UI. Good memories.

  • Yesterday was "Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day", so I brought my kids down to the Santa Clara campus. They had a great time. After "working" in an office while I was on my laptop, we walked around the campus, they met my boss, and I'm sure the highlight for them was having lunch in the Sun cafeteria - which even had a special kids menu for the day. In our walk through some of the buildings we came across a pool table where they got to try pool for the first time.

  • I had the honor of being interviewed on the PlanetCast a week or two ago. That's the third episode of the podcast, but do yourself a favor and listen to the first two - with John Rose on the DaVinci Machine Project, and James Gosling on Java and JavaFX. I've had to drive down to the Valley almost every day the last couple of weeks for meetings, so the timing of my discovery of the PlanetCast couldn't have been better!

  • My friend Carl Quinn just got his Tesla - an all electric super sporty car. He's waited two years or so since he ordered it and they're just now coming off the assembly line. When we got together for a podcast recording session Wednesday night he brought the car, and took each of us for a spin around the block. Wow! It felt like like getting a ride in a fighter jet - but while the acceleration force was amazing, unlike a jet the all electric motor is unbelievably silent. I can't wait for cars like these to get to mass market! There are some pictures of our rides on Jackie's blog, and Joe has a lot more pictures and even some video.

  • The Ruby support in NetBeans 6.7 is coming along nicely. Erno just announced that preliminary Ruby 1.9 support is in the builds now. More details on that in his blog entry. And in another blog entry he's describing work he and Martin did recently to improve the type inference support in NetBeans. Here's some Ruby 1.9 goodness:

  • Finally, we're using JIRA as the issue tracker for the JavaFX project, so I've been using Cubeon for NetBeans a lot recently to handle querying and updating issues from within the IDE. I don't have Eclipse envy, but I'm impressed by their Mylyn project which looks both nice and useful, so I definitely welcome task oriented flow into NetBeans as well. In addition to connecting to repositories like Bugzilla, JIRA and Trac, Cubeon adds some basic support for tasks (e.g. when you "activate" one task, all breakpoints you set in the debugger get grouped and associated with this task and so on), so I'll be playing more with that. I'm using a daily snapshot rather than the most recent published version, and I'm pretty happy with it. I'll probably have more to say about this in another blog entry as I get more experience with it.

Wednesday Dec 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

My music teacher in middle school had a great tradition. Every New Years Eve, at midnight, he would lift his stereo speakers up to his open windows, and on full blast, play ABBA's "Happy New Year" for the neighborhood.

I'm going to do the same thing here, on my little corner of the internet. Enjoy!

My kids have recently discovered ABBA through the Mamma Mia movie. Now they want to listen
to ABBA when we're driving around. No, don't pity me - it's a lot better than what they usually
want to listen to (I'm looking at you, Hannah Montana!). And besides, having grown up
in Norway I'm an ABBA fan at heart. When I was in 4th grade, all the girls in my class
liked ABBA, all the boys in my class liked Kiss, and then there was me - I sided with
the girls. And I'm still not ashamed of it. Despite some of their ridiculous outfits,
ABBA created some timeless melodies and had great sound production values that hold
up to this day.

Thursday Nov 06, 2008


I'm extremely proud and relieved. If it hadn't been for the embarrassing passage of Prop 8, it would have been a perfect ending to the last eight years.

Friday Aug 17, 2007

Back from vacation

I just came back from a wonderful week in Hawaii, on the big island. The highlight was obviously our wedding. We had planned to get married on August 14th, on the beach at sunset, but because of Hurricane Flossie most beaches were scheduled to close. It didn't turn out to be a problem - we just got married a day earlier. It was a wonderful moment and we were thrilled to have our children there to be part of it. And obviously the rest of the vacation was great too - how can you go wrong with volcanoes (both the world's most active volcano, Kilauea, and the world's largest volano, Mauna Loa), waterfalls, snorkeling over coral reefs with turtles and tropical fish, and ....
piña coladas ?

It will take me a few days to get the sand out of my shoes, the tropical air out of my sun hat and get through my huge inbox. Apologies to those of you waiting for some sort of response from me!

Saturday Jan 06, 2007


The "5 Things Meme" is working its way around the internet, with people writing 5 things about themselves and then passing the baton to 5 others. Yep, exponential growth. I've been really busy with personal life recently but I'd better get this done before there's no-one left to tag! I've already been tagged by three different people (thanks Alexis, David and Todd) so I guess the signs of congestion are already becoming apparent!

It's hard for me to write 5 things that you don't know about me, because I know many of my readers listen to the Java Posse, and we frequently talk about our personal lives and our past there. You already know about my Dragon 32, Commodore 128 and Amiga 500 days, as well as my kids and hobbies like paragliding. Anyway, I think the following list should hopefully be new and entertaining:

  1. When I was 18, I came to the USA as an exchange student in high school in Kansas. I joined the cross country running team, and the first week of school they had a rally during a football game where the new team was introduced. The coach (who was also a wrestling coach) introduced me to the home crowd as an exchange student from Sweden! (If you're not a regular reader, I'm from Norway). Well, we have this little national tiff between Norway and Sweden, telling "Swedish jokes" the way Americans used to have Polack jokes. So, I promptly took one step forward, and proceeded to greet the coach with the middle finger!

    Yes, looking back at it, and having been immersed by American culture for the last sixteen (oh my, has it really been that long?) years, it sounds shocking to me that I'd do it, but hey, it was high school, it was impulsive, and meant as a joke.

    Suffice it to say, the coach did not find this funny. I don't think Kansas wrestling coaches are the most receptive audience for such a greeting anyway, especially on home turf with the yearbook photographers standing by!

    I convinced the coach that I was truly sorry and had not meant offense, and we patched up through the season. But at the end of the year, on the last running practice, the coaches had arranged a treasure hunt - we ran around the town, looking for clues and finding little gifts. My gift from the coach was a cutout of a hand, with the middle finger cut off at the middle, blood painted on, and the inscription "If you ever do that again..." !

  2. In high school they opened a local radio station in my home town. I immediately joined, and had a lot of fun as a D.J., playing my favorite records, having callers call in and asking them questions from quiz books, etc. I also occasionally ran the "reruns" of the news episodes. One Saturday I came in, turned on the antenna, and started the most recent rerun tape. I then pulled out my homework and started working on it. However, listening to news while doing calculus is not easy, so as I so frequently did, I turned on a record and turned down the volume of the live feed channel. It was actually Woodpeckers from Space if I recall correctly! However, this time I had apparently pulled the wrong control, because after 15 minutes, a friend of mine called the radio station and told me something was horribly wrong - there was disco music playing on top of the interview and nothing was legible! Ooops.

  3. I ran track as well. I was not good at it - though I did get a couple of regional titles. One time, when I had travelled 4 hours away to an indoor track meet, one of the local runners (who I knew was one of the best junior runners in Norway) came over and asked me out of the blue (and as if he knew me) if I had been training much this winter. I said something to the effect of "yeah, twice a week or so" to which he had a long good laugh. He then told me he was bitter I had beaten him by 2/100s of a second in Japan the previous fall! What was going on? It turns out I looked a LOT like another runner in Norway, Vebjørn Rodal, who later went on to win the 800 meter dash in the Olympics in Atlanta '96. At this time he was still a junior, but a top runner. Later that spring, I was running a race in Oppdal, near his hometown, and he was present. When I ran the 800m dash, my coach had been standing next to Vebjørn's coach, and his coach had said "I thought I had told Vebjørn not to run this one!". I wish I had pictures of him and myself at that age so you could be the judge yourself. Instead I'll give you a couple of pictures of him later; I think the similarity is still there but obviously not as much. Those of you who know me can be the judge:

  4. In 2000, I was in Norway for the summer when Bill Clinton was visiting the country. One night my ex wife and I went out on the town, and walked by a restaurant with a crowd outside of it. In the window we saw Bill Clinton and a group of people having dinner in an otherwise empty restaurant. The were a number of guards in black suits hanging out by the door. We asked if the restaurant was open for business - which it was, so we went in! We had drinks at the bar (hey, this was an expensive restaurant!), and we were the only other people there! When they were about to leave we decided we had to say something, so my ex wife went up and after the introductions joked something along the lines of "Well, we're thinking of moving to Norway now that Al didn't make it". (This was right after Al Gore had lost(?) the election.) Bill Clinton came right back and said (and you've gotta read this with an Arkansas accent, especially the "fight" word), "No, you've gotta stay and fight. Stay and fight!".

  5. I started graduate school at the Stanford University computer science department at the same time that Larry Page (one of the two co-founders of Google) did. We took a number of the same classes, and we both hung out in the HCI group on Fridays since they had a number of interesting guest lecturers, research topics and discussion groups. We've both done well for ourselves, huh? (wink wink)

And now it's time to pass the baton. Since my fellow NetBeans and Creator engineers are already tagging each other, I'm going to try to branch it out in new directions: My brother and Sun Norway engineer (and OpenGrok developer) Trond Norbye, my fellow Java Posse members Joe and Dick, and JRuby developers Charles and Tom.

Tuesday Aug 22, 2006

End of summer

I apologize for the lack of activity on this blog the last couple of weeks. I've been spending a lot of vacation days this summer. Unfortunately I came down with a stomach flu, so that has put a damper on the festivities. I'm finally starting to feel better so I'll take a stab at another blog entry.

Tuesday Jun 27, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

I decided to go see a movie tonight. Things have been really hectic lately, so I was in the mood for mindless entertainment – and there were plenty of choices to choose from. But on impulse I decided to go and see An Inconvenient Truth instead. If you haven't heard about it, it is essentially a documentary from Al Gore regarding global warming.

Okay, I will admit that it sounded a bit boring. And if there's one impression the Republicans were able to hammer home to the public in 2000, it's that Al Gore is boring.

However, I found the movie energizing – I highly recommend it. (And don't just take my word for it – check out what the critics are saying ). It was engaging, as well as compelling. Even those of you happy with the current U.S. administration should not dismiss this movie as political propaganda, or place it in the Fahrenheit 9/11 category - it's not.

One of the points made in the movie is that a lot of people think global warming is simply a theory, and a controversial one at that. That's not surprising given media reporting on the topic. However, scientific publications on the topic universally agree on the global warming trend: it's not just a natural cycle as in past ice ages and subsequent melts. In media reporting, however, more than half(!) of the reports are sceptical. Sure, it's possible that this reporting imbalance is simply due to lobbyists at work. However, I suspect people want to hear that there's no problem. That absolves all of us of any responsibility. "An Inconvenient Truth" is a fitting title - it's a truth nobody would like to hear.

However, the movie presents irrefutable evidence of the trend. One thing is the temperature and CO2 graphs, but the side-by-side pictures of glaciers, evaporated lakes etc. over very short time intervals are hard to argue with.

In the U.S. we now have an ad campaign against the conclusions in this movie, touting the benefits of carbon dioxide! That's right boys and girls, never mind the connection between CO2 and global temperatures. Carbon dioxide is good! It's natural. It comes from trees. Without it, life wouldn't exist! Thankfully, John Stewart on The Daily Show made fun of these ads. But the problem with comedy is that we laugh, then move on to the next show (in my case, The Colbert Report!) and fail to act.

This movie is pretty effective in trying to inspire people to take some action. Not only is it specific in what you can do, but it also has a pretty positive message. You might think global warming is all gloom and doom – and if we don't do anything, you wouldn't be all that wrong. But it makes a point I was not aware of: that we have averted a global environmental crisis in the past, so we can do it again.

Remember the ozone layer problem? I sure do. To this day I still use deodorant sticks because I remember the environmental campaign to avoid ozone-layer hazardous CFCs used in among other things, deodorant aerosol sprays that were popular at the time. What I had not heard until I saw this movie, is that this effort was successful and things are well within control today.

I was heartened to see that the movie was well attended. But then this is northern California, which politically is "out of touch" with the rest of the U.S. And, I suspect the people least likely to see this movie are the ones who need it the most, and vice versa.

It's very easy to ignore global warming. That's right. Click on the next blog story in your reader, perhaps something regarding Web 2.0, and forget all about it. But if you're reading this, chances are good you're in one of the top CO2 emissions countries causing the problems – and that makes you part of the problem. Ignorance is not an acceptable excuse. Watching the new Superman movie may be entertaining, but please consider assisting Superman in saving the world yourself! Watching this movie will make you think, and perhaps inspire you to do your part.

P.S. After posting this, I watched tonight's Daily Show and they announced that Al Gore will be the guest tomorrow night!

Monday Jan 23, 2006


It's been nearly two weeks since my last entry. I do apologize; I try to write something at least weekly, but the last month has been very crazy in my personal life. My son had surgery last week (which thankfully went well), and I've had some other very stressful things going on as well, but it's mostly resolved now and I can get back to thinking about work and coding!

Thursday Sep 08, 2005

First Day of School II

It's been a very hectic week in my personal life. This week school started - my daughter in first grade, my youngest son in preschool, and my oldest son in kindergarten. He's in the picture on the right outside his new classroom - the same room his sister had last year.

It was a nightmare balancing the equations such that they're all taken care of from 8 until 5 every day. School only runs until 2:35 (first grade) and 11:20 (kindergarten) so I had to find an after-school program right next to the school - and the school-provided one isn't available for kindergarteners. And of course the after school programs won't take preschoolers.

Filling out all the paperwork was a Dostoyevskian effort. For each child there was form upon form, all asking the same information over and over again. Whatever happened to the paperless office? Reducing red-tape? There's definitely an opportunity here!

(First Day Of School I)

Tuesday Aug 16, 2005

In Prague

I'm in Prague this week, visiting the NetBeans team. NetBeans of course is the foundation Creator is built on top of. We're working closely together to make sure that we get everything we need, and to align work and vision such that we're heading in the same direction.

I've seen some of the new stuff coming in the next release of NetBeans - 4.2. It's documented in the this document, which is similar to the "New and Noteworthy" documents Eclipse publishes for their milestones. If you're wondering what "Q-Build" refers to in that document, a "Q-Build" is a "quality-build". It's a promoted build (roughly weekly) from the nightly builds, that has had some QA analysis applied to it and showstoppers fixed. There's a separate document for new and noteworthy features in the mobility pack.

...and of course, I saw some cool new stuff that hasn't been integrated (and therefore listed) yet!

Prague is a beautiful city. I have been here many times before (I think this is my eighth trip) but it never ceases to impress. I haven't done any sightseeing on the last trips so I think I'll go back and visit the castle if I get some time Friday morning. The best way to get around is to use the underground. The metro runs deep below the ground, so to get down to the tracks they have these really really long escalataors -- see the picture on the right (and note that it continues up above the lighting fixture). On my first trips here I was amazed at how fast the escalators were running! They don't seem as fast anymore and I was just told yesterday they have deliberately tuned back the speed...

Thursday Jul 28, 2005

I'm back

I'm finally back. I've been sick, my kids were sick, and I've taken some time off, so I've only worked a little bit now and then the last couple of weeks. But I'm feeling energized again and ready to go!

A couple of miscellaneous pointers:

  • There's a new article in eWeek on AJAX that talks about some trends and mentions Creator.
  • I did a chat on TopCoder a couple of weeks ago; the transcript is now available. I'm sun_1 - my responses are the lines colored in red.
  • I haven't tracked podcasting much, but that will have to change. The new JavaCast site looks interesting. I've met one of the guys behind it, Dick Wall, who in addition to being a really great guy is also a great engineer (check out some of his articles on, so I'm sure the content will be interesting!

Wednesday Jul 06, 2005

July Todo List

Beach in Kauai
Fire dancers
Todo list, July 2005:
  • JavaOne
  • Relax 5 days in Hawaii
  • Finish and re-enable hidden feature X in Creator
  • Blog on Creator 2 and AJAX
  • Fix bugs
  • Performance tuning

Sunday Apr 10, 2005

Cell phones: The new rock ballad lighters

A friend called on Saturday and had tickets to U2 that night in San Jose. I think the HP Pavillion (the Sharks hockey arena) is the worst concert venue in the bay area. We have many good ones - and the sound in HP Pavillion is just awful. As a result I think they compensate by turning up the volume so it'll drown out the echo. So during the first song we ran out to the information desk and got ear plugs, which they hand out for free. I watched the rest of the concert with ear plugs - and it was much better!

It was a good concert - and they have an amazing repertoire to choose songs from. I have about ten of their albums - but Joe says he has over a hundred U2 CDS - imports, singles, you name it.

The highlight of the show for me was when they dimmed the lights and on the giant screen slowly scrolled through the first seven or so articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

However, a close second was the moment when Bono asked everybody to get out their cell phones and hold them up. The lights were turned down. Can you imagine a packed arena with 20,000 people, and just about everybody holding up bright cell phone LCD displays? It was like rock concerts in the past where people would hold up their lit lighters during the band's ballad. But rather than a warm sea of candles, the cell phones generated a sea of blue dots instead. Bono then went into a little spiel saying he wasn't looking for donations, but for signatures on a petition, and asking everybody to send him a text message to a number listed on the big screen. And of course we did. With just about 20,000 people hitting the system simultaneously it must have hit quite a traffic spike - but it held up. Phew! ( Sun was involved).

The goal of the texting segment is to drive participation on and the ONE declaration:

WE BELIEVE that in the best American tradition of helping others help themselves, now is the time to join with other countries in a historic pact for compassion and justice to help the poorest people of the world overcome AIDS and extreme poverty. WE RECOGNIZE that a pact including such measures as fair trade, debt relief, fighting corruption and directing additional resources for basic needs education, health, clean water, food, and care for orphans would transform the futures and hopes of an entire generation in the poorest countries, at a cost equal to just one percent more of the US budget. WE COMMIT ourselves - one person, one voice, one vote at a time - to make a better, safer world for all.

Tuesday Feb 22, 2005

Hello from Shanghai

Hi there,
here's just a little quick entry written from my hotel room in Shanghai, China. I'm here for a very quick trip - I arrived last night, I'm spending three days here and then flying home on Saturday. I'm here to talk to some potential Creator partners and customers. There won't be any time for sightseeing, which is too bad, given how interesting this city is. I would especially like to go to the historical museum. Perhaps I can cram it in before the flight on Saturday...

Now a couple of quick tips. I've written a couple of blog entries on expression evaluation. I heard from two readers that they couldn't get this to work when referencing their own beans - it only worked with the "builtin" page and session beans. The reason for this is that expression evaluation works with managed beans. These are beans that are managed by JSF - which means they are created on demand by the framework. You need to register your own beans in the managed-beans.xml file, which you can find in the Project Navigator.

Second, if you want to track the IDE's memory usage over time, you can enable the "Memory Meter". Right click in the toolbar (not over a toolbar button), and you'll see a list of available toolbar items. One is the "Memory" item. Select it, and your toolbar will now display a little graph showing you memory usage over time. Perhaps useful if you're observing occasional sluggishness and you're wondering if your project working set is using up your available heap space, or if you wonder if occasional pauses are related to garbage collection.

Monday Jan 03, 2005

I'm Back!

I just got back from a really nice vacation visiting my family in Norway. It's been ten years since my last winter-time visit to Norway. The temperature in my hometown Tynset was cold the first couple of days there (-22° Fahrenheit, or -30° Celsius). But I got to go cross-country skiing, and I hadn't forgotten how - I guess it's like bicycling - once you know how you never forget.

Everything about the trip was great. Celebrations were a bit somber this year though because of the Tsunami catastrophe in Asia .

Flight Camera View I flew with SAS. Perhaps some other airlines offer this too (but certainly not all, since I've flown several other big carriers in the last couple of months), but I was really blown away by their flight camera feature. Unlike the Channel 9 feature offered by United Airlines (where you can listen to cockpit transmissions), you can choose to view the forward facing (or the downward facing) camera on your TV screen. This works at all times, including during take-off, during flight, during landing, and even while the airplane is taxing back to the gate after landing! It was quite a kick to "participate" in the landing process, seeing the airplane aligning with the lit-up runway, seeing the approach angle and so on. It reminded me of some flight simlator computer games I've seen, but with unbelievably realistic graphics!

I'm reasonably rested from the plane ride home and now I'm catching up on e-mail.


Tor Norbye


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