by Simon Email

I recently got interested in SecondLife through a client.

There's no official SDK for the system so some people have hacked the message protocol and produced a library to build alternative viewers and other applications - this is called LibSecondlife.

Unfortunately LibSecondLife is written in C sharp.

I don't run Windows stuff, and prefer to use Java, so I did a port of most of the code to Java.

I'm not particularly keen on the code - the abstractions aren't clear, and the code is highly coupled (everything refers to everything else).

I guess this is partly a result of how the code was developed - in an experimental way by severa l people.

Since I did the initial port several things have happened:

* the original libsecondlife code has continued to change
* Linden Labs the developers of SecondLife have started to move towards a different protocol (XML-RPC) for some calls
* Linden Labs have open sourced their viewer program - which (in theory) disambiguates the message protocol, provides some possibly usable code for other projects, and can possibly be used to produce some kind of SDK or plugin framework

My dilemma about LibSecondLife-Java is whether to continue to try to track LibSecondLife - give my misgivings about the code.

Is there value in this?

Or would it be better to strike off in a new direction with a better architected version of the library?

Or would it be better to leave the library and pursue other avenues - such as a plugin architecture for the viewer?


by Simon Email

Another "hot" topic I read about last week.

It reminds me of other "hot" technologies I've come across in the past - such as "business objects", "drag and drop interfaces", "client-server"

People seem to go crazy about something, then move on after a while leaving the rest of the world to pick up the pieces.

Having said that, I think that Javascript is a great piece of technology - although it's been around a "longgggg" (to quote Miss Jocelyn) time.

I've recently had lots of fun mixing Javascript and Java to do uploaders and downloaders on the Tunetribe site.


by Simon Email

As part of my research last week, I was reading up on Java frameworks - such as Struts and Hibernate.

As it's been a while since I've looked into these things, I found the Wikipedia articles to be really useful

They give you a "skim" along the top, without having to delve too deep. They also give you the links to the underlying raw material.

I used a "homegrown" framework, loosely based on other "homegrown" frameworks from systems I've worked on in the past.

Reading about all these other frameworks made me feel slightly depressed - the effort of learning them, the petty problems and then the difficulty in making them do exactly what you want.

I find making my own framework to be so much more rewarding. You learn a great deal in the process of building it, and then you really understand how it works when you apply it to a particular system.

I know the downside that is new developers have to come to grips with how you've done things. But then maybe they'll learn something - as I have done from others' frameworks.

Making money from stuff

by Simon Email

One of the systems I work on is a music download site (

This has brought into sharp relief the question of how you can make money as a content creator on the internet.

Everything is free! Websites, software products, information, music etc...

How will the "content" economy shake down in the light of this.

Unless the producers get paid, they won't have much time to create - they'll be too busy flipping burgers.

It seems that every time the barriers are erected (DRMing music, password-protecting software and e-books) someone rips them down - hacking the protection, sharing files on P2P networks.

I guess this always happened (think of photocopying and cassette tapes) - but it just seemed to happen on a smaller scale and more slowly.


by Simon Email

I've been flat out for the last couple of years - moving house, looking after my children, and building software systems.

This last week I had a bit of enforced leisure time - and realised how "stale" my thinking has become.

I've got so caught in having to deliver, that I haven't time to broaden my thoughts.

For a couple of days I had the luxury to look around, and I can feel some creative juices coming back.

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