My new open-source project: Karate

After almost 7 years I’m blogging again. It feels great.

And it is good to be back in the thick of open-source action, founding a brand new project, and actively spreading the word and building a community from scratch.  And the best part is the support I’m getting from my employer – Intuit.

For me personally, this is some of the best hacking I have ever done.  There were times when it seemed like things magically came together. After programming for what feels like decades, the 10,000 Hour Rule feels Very Real to me now.

For those following this blog, I’m likely to be blogging over on Medium from now on.

Do have a look at my first blog post over there, and please do help spread the word !

Here’s the link:

Karate: Web Services Testing Made Simple.

 

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Japanese anime song and dance stuck in my head

Thanks to Boing Boing for introducing me to this kind of stuff. It all started with this Haruhi Suzumiya dance, I watched the YouTube clips and sure enough, that was enjoyable. Exactly as predicted by the BB poster, the song stuck in my head for a week.

Then just recently there was this: “Software creates songs, vocals from text“. Woah, cool. You gotta hand it to the Japs!

So I followed the links, listened to the demos, and I was thrilled. Will this “Vocaloid” ever be available in English? I’ll buy it!

Something about the “anime song generator” stuff got to me, I feverishly searched for more demos. Soon, I landed on this YouTube video – a song called “Go My Way”. Yes, the vocals are computer generated!

[update: looks like the YouTube video was taken down because of some effing “terms of use” violation. I was able to find a version minus the video of the cute dance here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9g5Ezdml3ww]

This was getting better! Although the video quality is terrible, the choreography, the cute anime characters and the CGI camera moves really got my attention. My, what a catchy tune! Little did I know that this song and dance was going to turn me into a crazed file-downloading j-pop-tune-humming maniac over the next two days or so.

Digging around for the source of the video, I came to learn about this Japanese arcade game called “iDOL@MASTER“. The game is about building the career of a cute anime “Japanese Idol” contestant you get to choose at the start. This Wired blog post has details on the gameplay.

So apparently in the game, once you are done with the mini-games and the sim gameplay, you sit back and watch as your precious teen idols take the stage and perform. I’ll probably never have the patience to play the whole game, but the computer generated performances and one particular song and its choreography is what I am currently obsessing about.

The in-game songs are voiced by humans and the YouTube clip above is just a Vocaloid demo. I watched all the YouTube clips of the iDOL@MASTER stage performance routines I could get and this “Go My Way” song was by far the catchiest. And those dance moves! The glorious cel-shaded animation! The smooth, sweeping camera moves and changes! The super-cute anime girls! The hair and costumes! The stage, lighting effects and sets! Wow. Very soon I had found hi-res versions of “Go My Way” and a couple other iDOL@MASTER songs on the net. Awesome.

So have I gone stark raving mad? In my defense, here is a YouTube clip I found of a grown man showing off his mastery over the “Go My Way” dance moves in sync with the video. Heh.

My cousin will be proud of me, he was trying to introduce me to the wonderful world of Japanese anime a while back and I still have those “Naruto” episodes on my hard disk. Maybe I’ll go back and finish watching them all. So much to do, so little time. *sigh*

Now coming full circle, I explored more about Haruhi Suzumiya – intriguing stuff, maybe will watch someday. But allow me to rave about this one particular video clip from the TV series where the main character and her friends play a rock-song live in a high-school event.

Considering that this is animation, the visual accuracy of how the characters are depicted playing the instruments in sync with the music – is to be seen to be believed. I wonder if the animators did something like rotoscoping, but the video captures the mood of a live band and the pent-up emotion of the lead singer amazingly well. The song is called “God Knows”, you can search for hi-res versions on the net.

In time, I’ll probably look back at this blog post and say to myself “what was I thinking?” but this stuff has so gotten under my skin that I simply have to post about it! “Go My Way” is well and truly stuck in my head and is not showing any signs of going away, I suspect because of the additional visual appeal of the dance moves. Oh help.

“Go My Way” is the best pop song EVAR!

I hope to be back to posting on Java soon. Heh.

Starting to look at Wicket

Haven’t blogged for over two months. Bad.

Things have been hectic lately. Presented on Spring at the first Indicthreads Java conference. Lots of Spring + Hibernate training and mentoring at work. Trying to get JTrac 2.0 final out. Had the honour of meeting and shaking hands with Gavin King twice within the span of one week. Am I getting converted to Seam? I don’t know yet, but I’m sure going to take a good look at it. Gavin is a great presenter and he is especially entertaining when he rants about stuff. I’ve sat through his Seam demo and presentation two times now and I think I’m subconciously picking up some of his mannerisms. You know, like the catchy way he exclaims “bogus” when discounting concepts he doesn’t agree with.

And of course he is so darned young! I could see guys stopping him in the corridor and getting his autograph.

Am getting more interested in Mylar. Especially after seeing this recent webinar recording. Maybe this is indeed useful. Will NetBeans bring out something like this? I hope so. If Mylar catches on, and I think it just might, it may be the big differentiator that the Eclipse camp needs to pull out far ahead of NetBeans.

So I am considering trying to implement Mylar support in JTrac. A remote-api is anyway in the roadmap and this would be a good excuse to start working on Spring remoting options such as web-services. Mylar appears to have done a good job at defining a generic task-management integration model, so during this exercise I may be able to identify domain concepts that JTrac may have missed till now.

And also, if I choose to not go the Seam / JSF route, I’m likely to go with Wicket. I had been very comfortable with plain JSP / JSTL till now, even implementing the odd custom-tag with ease, but now I’m starting to see the maintainability factor as something that needs improving. I would really like to be able to model the UI as pure Java code, Swing style. Templating and the ability to define panels and layouts are the things I miss most currently and Wicket appears to offer that as well as still giving you good control over the HTML and even Javascript that you may need to render in a page. I’m just starting to look at Wicket – but it looks promising.

I’m hooked on Spring WebFlow, and I’m wondering whether it will play nice with Wicket though. Hmm. I’ve taken an anti-annotations stance till now and maybe I need to relax that a little because after looking at the Wicket-Spring integration options, using annotations appears to be the cleanest option. And maybe Gavin’s ranting has had an effect on me :)

Welcome to Asia!

I’m in Istanbul! It’s travel time again for me after a long time. Last month it was Belgium – and now here I am in Istanbul. The hotel has free wi-fi. Yippee!

This is probably the most interesting place I’ve been. I take a ferry boat from Europe to Asia to work every day. The first day, when we took a taxi to the office, we crossed the magnificent Bosphorus Bridge and I saw this sign on the right, as soon as we crossed.

That’s right, a “Welcome to Asia” sign. When I joked about this during lunch, my colleagues did not believe me, neither did a couple of folks from the local office. So I’m quite proud of myself for having pulled off this snap two days later from a moving taxi, I had to get the timing just right you see!

Here’s another nice picture – all taken off my mobile, I forgot to bring a digital camera this time. This is an annual long-distance yachting competition kicking off on the Bosphorus. I was at a sea-food restaurant along with the local office folks and this was a splendid sight as the boats came into view.

Here are all my photos so far.