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Its been 2 years since I last posted and a a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. I’ve started a cub scout pack, coached under 8s soccer for a year, and spent 8 months on various DIY projects including renovating 3 bathrooms, a laundry room and kitchen ceiling, and 2 months selling my house. After all that I have finally moved back to Manchester in the UK which is where I am from originally.

Now that things have quietened down a bit, I’m going to start looking at writing some more posts. Technology-wise, I’ve been mainly going where my work has taken me, which has mostly been Spring, some EJB, JSF and GWT. Future blog posts are more likely to be technology agnostic, but there will be posts dealing with specific technologies and how-tos.

I personally enjoy reading longer and more in-depth posts or articles, and in general I enjoy writing them, but writing, proof-reading and re-reading takes a lot of time. As I only have a few hours to spend on non-work projects, I’m hopefully going to try and reach a balance with shorter posts more frequently (although brevity is often not in my nature).

I’m Back

So I’ve been on a bit of break from blogging, I’ve had lots of things going on, I’ve moved house twice, and changed jobs a couple of times. I’ve not even really been checking my email that much (as evidenced by the fact that I didn’t see my hosting invoices and the subsequent temporary suspension of my blogging web site). I’ve been spending time with the family over summer and taking a bit of a break from the extra-curricular IT work. I’ve also been doing some thinking on which direction I want to go in my career. Because of all this, If you’ve emailed, or sent a LinkedIn request that I’ve done nothing with, that’s why. However, things have been hotting up in my absence so there’s certainly a lot of topics to delve into.

Back from the Christmas Break

Happy 2011! Well, I’m back from the Christmas break. I had a lot going on last year so took some time out. If you posted an email or comment, I’ll get back you this week.

I spent a month working on a 3D terrain rendering engine that provides real time terrain and texture generation and can be used for ‘infinite’ terrains in real time at 100fps.It also uses multithreading to generate the terrain patches and shading so it can maintain frame rates while it fills in the geometry and shading information. If I find time to clean it up I may end up releasing it as it is part of a personal graphics library I use and I have some other mini-projects based on it such as a particle engine. Actually, I may end up incorporating the particle engine in with the OpenGL engine that the terrain engine uses. I often find I want to play around with some graphics based ideas and then need to spend time creating the boilerplate just to try them out. This way all the basics are in one place and I can just summon the libraries and code I need from Maven.

I’ve also got a couple of enterprise Java posts up my sleeve, and at the end of last week, I had a bit of an epiphany regarding some of my practices with the CDI and getting it to work with other frameworks, including in the Knappsack archetypes. I need to investigate it a little more but I think I’m on the right track.

As for blogging, this year I plan to add a couple more foodie related posts. My wife and I are fairly big foodies and we like to try out different recipes now and then, and since I use my blog to remember things that I normally would forget, like recipes, I’ll probably blog about them. Currently, I’ve been playing with the dutch oven I got for Christmas, and had great success with Short Ribs and Chuck Steak, some of which got made into pasties for the New Year with homemade shortcrust pastry. In the summer, I’ll probably cover my BBQ escapades.

It’s a Girl!

After my wife being in hospital for a month, she finally gave birth to Amy Louise Gibson who was born on 29th October 2010 at 9:01pm weighing 6 lbs, 5oz, and 18.5 inches long.

Amy

Not only is this the third October birthday in our house (my son Michael is on the 24th and I’m on the 18th), but this is the first girl born on my mine and my dads side of the family in 4 generations.

As a result, I’ll be a bit tied up for the 20 years next few days, so email and comment responses might be slow coming,

Cheers,

Andy Gibson

Slow Month

My wife is currently in hospital, and will be for the next week or two so I’ll be playing single dad for a while. As a result, I am slow responding to emails, and probably won’t be posting much this month. I will be checking email daily so I will see anything urgent that comes in.

Cheers,

Andy Gibson

R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio

Ronnie James Dio

Ronnie James Dio died at 7:45am this morning after a 6 month battle with stomach cancer. Ronnie had performed in a number of bands, most notably with Black Sabbath taking over from Ozzy Osbourne and with his own band Dio. He embraced the mythological themes of metal with dragons, castles, swords, magic and damsels featuring heavily in the lyrics, videos, and stage shows. Back in the day there was a myth he had an English castle transported over to the US.
Not only was he the driving force behind a number of great albums and bands, but he was also a genuinely nice guy, heavily involved in the Children of the Night charity for teenage runaways. Recently appearing on The Metal Show, in the last 2 minutes of this clip Ronnie explained why he treats fans so well, after seeing the disregard Ritchie Blackmore had for fans.

After 20 years, this guy is still one of my favorite metal icons that embodies a large piece of what Heavy Metal means to me.

We’re a ship without a storm
The cold without the warm
Light inside the darkness that it needs, yeah

We’re a laugh without a tear
The hope without the fear
We are coming – home

– Last In Line

(One of the) Best Burgers Ever

Believe it or not, but I find Applebees burgers to be the best burgers I have ever tasted! This may be heresy coming from a self confessed foodie, but hear me out. Usually, I find burgers from chains fairly throw away affairs, you get it, eat it, it’s hot, it probably has some nice toppings, and you’re done. However, I don’t know whether it is the new line of “Real Burgers” they started doing months ago or if they just started making them better, but their recent burgers, particularly the A1 Steakhouse burger is just fantastic.

It comes on a lightly toasted bun, on which they put a drop of tangy A1 sauce and a creamy mayonnaise type dressing and plenty of fried onion straws. Now, if they’ve done it properly the burger should have some pink to it but still be warm throughout and that is when you get a good juiciness to the burger. They’ve been a little bit inconsistent recently and not asked how I want the burger and sometimes I get it well done and other times I get it nice and pink-ish. Since they can’t decide on a default, just tell them you want it pink and warm throughout (medium as opposed to medium well).

When this thing arrives, you start by biting into the soft bun and then you plough through the onion straws which have a mildly crunchy fried texture and a slight sweetness from the onions. You then hit the soft mild (swiss?) cheese and the burger which is a patty of tender juicy beefiness with just the right crumbly texture to the burger and a juiciness that drips. In there somewhere is the tangyness of A1 which punctuates the other flavors now and again. These things are awesome and they are on the 2 for $20 menu (2 meals plus an appetizer for $20). I think they are grinding their meat fresh, and gently forming the patty so the meat doesn’t form into a tight beef puck which just gets tough.

Next time I plan on broadening my horizons and trying one of their other burgers (cowboy or cheese burger) to see if it is as good. The A1 burger doesn’t have bacon on it which normally should be an instant penalization, but regardless this burger is still so tasty. I used to have the cowboy burger (well done) but the toppings (onion rings, bacon and BBQ sauce) were tastier than the burger. I plan on trying it with the new improved burgers since perfect burger plus fantastic toppings could lead to an epic event!

(Update – 8th Feb 2010 – After taking my brother and Sister in law there, we found that a) They are thoroughly inconsistent, with the better burgers being the exception not the rule. b) Their service was crappy as they delivered appetizers, salad and the burgers in the space of 2 minutes after letting us wait for 10 minutes (Their problem, we planned on having a long meal and working our way through the cocktail menu). Also, they just got usurped by Michael Symon).

Christmas Hiatus Over

Well, 2009 is done with and we are plunging headlong into 2010. Being European, I like to take a good week off around Christmas and New Year and with relatives here for Christmas I haven’t spent much time on work or blogging. So for those that have sent emails, apologies for the delay and I’ll get back to you this week/weekend. I have a few posts lined up including part 3 of the CDI articles covering Events, I’ll probably do one introducing conversations and then I’ll start writing on creating some real world apps with JSF and CDI. If anyone has anything they’d like to see in these articles, let me know.

Also, I have a couple of food posts almost completed as Christmas was full of good food and recipes that inspired me to blog about it (Must have been watching Julie & Julia in the New Year that did it).

Happy New Year all!

New Blog Theme

Yes, I’ve done some decorating around here, well, actually I got the interior designers in as I didn’t write this theme. I have retired my own custom theme as I felt it wasn’t making the most of the features that WordPress has to offer such as widgets and plugins.

This Carrington Framework Overview gives you an idea of some of the details that can go into making the best theme possible and right now I just don’t have the time to dedicate to my own theme to do it right. Instead, I have found myself a new theme and done some customization on it, and no doubt it will be tweaked in the days and weeks to come.