JConsole and JMXMP

For the record, if you want to use jconsole with an MBean server using JMXMP you need to run it using

java \
  -classpath $JAVA_HOME/lib/jconsole.jar:$JAVA_LOCAL_LIBS/jmxremote_optional.jar \
  sun.tools.jconsole.JConsole \

Other incantations just don't work. Define JAVA_HOME, JAVA_LOCAL_LIBS, JMXMP_HOST and JMXMP_PORT appropriately. Now, back to work.

Network activity records and the common good

The record of activities of users of Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc have enormous use in the service of the common good [1]. Google shows us how searching on flu and flu related terms bests the CDC's reportage on outbreaks by two weeks. Facebook's shear population size and its tools for instant affinity groups sees people helping people under good and adverse circumstances. And lack of Twitter activity is the same warning signal grasshoppers give [2]. The upshot of this is that in our current networked world these private institutions need to start making this activity record public.

At one time most decent roadways were private enterprises. They supported commerce and so tolls were used to support them. At some point, roads were seen as too valuable to be held in private hands and government took over the task of building and maintaining decent roadways. The same story can be told about potable water. But why did this not happen to the electric grid or the telephone infrastructure? I don't have an answer today but I do want to find out. I think the answer will lead to a better understanding as to our rights as citizens to having the activity records available for the common good.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_good
[2] The Origins of Knowledge and Imagination. Jacob Bronowski. http://bit.ly/akd0gR

Whitelines Hard Bound A5 Squared Notebook

Varanasi has an almost perfect web site

Varanasi, http://www.varanasi-indian.com/, has an almost perfect restaurant web site. Just one page containing the menu, hours of operation, and location. And one page that works with a mobile browsers as well as a desktop browsers. No Flash. No extra navigation. No big pictures. No complex layout. It was a pleasure to use.

The food, by the way, is fantastic. I really enjoyed the Punjabi Eggplant with spice level 4.

Ranks and snap lines in Instaviz

A Graphviz features is the abilty to align nodes using "ranks" [1]. Does Instaviz [2] offer a means of using ranks? If not, I imagine a means of dragging a node to "snap" to one of several equidistant lines drawn on the canvas. In this way, the user is able to specify some node organization and still allow Instaviz to automatically layout the graph as a whole. (I think it is reasonable to limit the snap lines to be in one direction only per graph.)

[1] http://www.graphviz.org/pdf/dotguide.pdf
[2] http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/instaviz/id299022481?mt=8

UpdateFor example, I want a graph to have have three ranks: The first rank contains the nodes A, C, and E; The second contains B, D, F; And the third contains X. Without ranks the following definition

digraph rankexample {
A -> B -> X;
C -> D -> X;
E -> F -> X;
C -> X;
X -> C;

Creates this graph:

However, adding ranks (i.e. the "snap lines") to the definition

digraph rankexample {
{ rank = same; A; C; E; }
{ rank = same; B; D; F; }
{ rank = same; X; }
A -> B -> X;
C -> D -> X;
E -> F -> X;
C -> X;
X -> C;

I get the layout I was looking for:

Addressing the needs of individual and groups with predictability

There has been some good observations of failures to help customers affected by Iceland's volcano eruption. David Weinberger's blog has a typical posting http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/2010/04/18/volcano-1-internet-0-01/. I think the roots to this problem are that money and effort is being spent on

1. style over substance, and

2. individual-casting over broad-casting.

The style over substance argument is very easy to see. Every travel website that I have used obscures the process's workflow (and the broader information architecture) with abusive Web 2.0 techniques. Most of these techniques require an inordinate number of communications between the browser and the server. The upshot is that under moderate load the website fails to respond with predictable timing. Without this predictability customers are greatly frustrated and this leads them to use a telephone where they can at least know what their predicted wait time is!

The casting issue is more difficult to see. There are more casting groups then just "me" and "everyone else". Depending on your service, customers can be group into multiple and overlaps groups. For example, specific airport groups, country groups, traveling with children groups, etc. Each of these groups have common and unique information and advice needs in times of emergency (and times of calm!). The general public group is, generally, the most useless group unless there is system-wide failure. Without addressing the needs of affinity groups you are not truly servicing the needs of your customers.

The upshot is, let's spend less money and effort on individual-casting with technical acrobatics and instead balance the money and effort on addressing the needs of individual and groups with predictability.

This posting was inspired by Mark Bernstein's posting http://www.markbernstein.org/Apr10/InternetFailure.html

Always include a telephone number

Whenever you find yourself typing or saying "call me" ALWAYS include a telephone number. It it only 7 numbers locally and 10 nationally. Obviously, this is a pet peeve of mine.

Tomcat, JMX and working at the local library

When working within a restricted IP network -- like those found at libraries, cafes, and other hot-spots -- make sure you run services on and not "localhost". This will ensure that all network services you are working with -- and, in my case, developing for -- do not need to access the restricted network. For Tomcat 5.5.x you will need to edit ./conf/server.xml and add the attribute "address="" to each <Connector> element. For example,

Looking for webapp suitable for community garden hub

I am looking for a webapp that combines

* Wiki
* Issue Tracking

All of these can be -- and, perhaps, should be -- feature-light. This will be used by members of a community garden. Anyone know of a turn-key solution for this?

Using a proxy & reflection to access a JMX Standard MBean

A current project uses JMX to monitor the application. Using JMX's Standard MBeans makes publishing an application's health, for example, very easy. This is the "server" side of the story. The "client" side of the story is not so satisfying. The JMX API is designed to support a highly dynamic management environment. To this end, the API uses an indirect access to the data. The client uses textual, untyped descriptors to get, set, and invoke methods on mbeans. Unless you are building a general purpose client this leads to lots of code and mental overhead. For example, if this is your Standard MBean

public interface HugsMBean {
   boolean isHappy();
   int getHugs();
   void addHugs( int hugCount );

To use the isHappy() method requires the code

MBeanServerConnection mbeanServerConnection  = ...

ObjectName happyMBeanName = new ObjectName( "com.andrewgilmartin.hugs:name=hugs");
Boolean isHappy = (Boolean) mbeanServerConnection.invoke( happyMBeanName, "isHappy", null, null );
if ( isHappy ) { 

If you are using Standard MBeans to publish data it would be great for your client to also use the Standard MBean to access the data. For example,
MBeanServerConnection mbeanServerConnection  = ...

HugsMBean hugs = ... // i.e. associate with com.andrewgilmartin.hugs:name=hugs
if ( hugs.isHappy() ) {

To this end, below is a little set of helper classes that use Java's reflection and proxy facilities to do just this. The first code we need is an invocation handler that will send attribute and invocation mbean requests between the proxy and the mbean server:

package com.andrewgilmartin.common.management;

import java.lang.reflect.InvocationHandler;
import java.lang.reflect.Method;
import javax.management.Attribute;
import javax.management.JMException;
import javax.management.MBeanServerConnection;
import javax.management.ObjectName;

public class MBeanClient implements InvocationHandler {

    private MBeanServerConnection mbeanServerConnection;
    private ObjectName mbeanName;
    public MBeanClient( MBeanServerConnection mbeanServerConnection, String mbeanName ) throws JMException {
        this.mbeanServerConnection = mbeanServerConnection;
        this.mbeanName = new ObjectName( mbeanName );

    public Object invoke(Object proxy, Method method, Object[] args) throws Throwable {
        if ( method.getName().startsWith("get") && method.getParameterTypes().length == 0) {
            String attributeName = method.getName().substring(3);
            return mbeanServerConnection.getAttribute( mbeanName, attributeName);
        else if ( method.getName().startsWith("set") && method.getParameterTypes().length == 1) {
            String attributeName = method.getName().substring(3);
            Attribute attribute = new Attribute( attributeName, args[0] );
            mbeanServerConnection.setAttribute(mbeanName, attribute);
            return null;
        else {
            return mbeanServerConnection.invoke(mbeanName, method.getName(), args, null);

And now we need a factory (or perhaps just a static creator method somewhere) to tie together the Standard MBean interface, the MBeanClient helper, and the proxy:
package com.andrewgilmartin.common.management;

import java.lang.reflect.Proxy;
import javax.management.JMException;
import javax.management.MBeanServerConnection;

public class MBeanClientFactory {

    private MBeanServerConnection mbeanServerConnection;

    public MBeanClientFactory( MBeanServerConnection mbeanServerConnection ) {
        this.mbeanServerConnection = mbeanServerConnection;

    public  T create( String objectName, Class... mbeanInterfaces ) throws JMException {
        T mbeanClient = (T) Proxy.newProxyInstance(
         new MBeanClient( mbeanServerConnection, objectName ) );
        return mbeanClient;

Now, connect the client and create the proxy

// connect to the mbean server
MBeanServerConnection mbeanServerConnection = ...

// create the mbean client factory
MBeanClientFactory clientFactory = new MBeanClientFactory(mbeanServerConnection);

// create the mbean client for the server's mbean
HugsMBean hugs = clientFactory.create("com.andrewgilmartin.hugs:name=hugs",HugsMBean.class);

// use the mbean client
while ( ! hugs.isHappy() ) {
  hugs.addHugs( 27 );
System.out.println( "happy with " + hugs.getHugs() + " hugs");

Post script: Here is how to connect to a JMX server running on localhost at port 9999 using RMI:

JMXServiceURL url = new JMXServiceURL("service:jmx:rmi:///jndi/rmi://localhost:9999/jmxrmi");
JMXConnector jmxc = JMXConnectorFactory.connect(url, null);
MBeanServerConnection mbeanServerConnection = jmxc.getMBeanServerConnection();

A vi command line helper

A great command line file editing helper is to combine find and vi so that you can skip specifying paths. For example, the command
vif IndexerTool.java
effectively is the same command line as
vi ./java/org/crossref/qs/citationdocument/index/IndexerTool.java
(for a current project.) The script is
[ -z "$1" ] || vi $(find . -name $1 -type f)
You can use wild cards too. For example, this will edit ALL your java files
vif \*.java