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New Java Resources 
For those who are not part of this weeks class on Java, feel free to ignore this post.

For everyone else, in order to demonstrate a few Java 7 annotation concepts, Friday’s labs will require additional libraries:

Java 1.7: SDK 7.17

Spring: Version 3.2.1

Log4J: Version 1.2.5

Commons-logging: Version 1.1.1 (rename to commons-logging.jar as desired)

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Technical Staff Ascessments - Good or Evil? 
I make my living training & consulting on extremely technical topics. One would think that I would want everyone in the world have their technical staff analyzed. -Yet, when the topic came up linked-in recently, a sense of enlightened self-interest - rather than brutal-self interest - simply had to take over.

I thought I would share my answer here.

Question: "How important is it for companies to conduct staff technology assessments?"

Response: "The question should be asked, why does anyone feel the need to conduct a staff technology assessment?

If one is looking to to train, then doing so just might barely be a good idea - but why not just ask them what type of training they want, instead? If one is looking to judge others as static quantities, then doing so can be not only offensive and / or intimidating, but almost evil. Why? Because people are dynamic. People can learn. Ultimately, no one likes to be judged.

So the answer is: The value of whole-staff technology assessments depends upon the intent behind them. If one is motivated to help someone to learn technology & become better... or not.

In general, in tough economic times such as these, at a minimum I would say that it is a very bad idea simply for reasons of morale. Indeed, if one is looking to better their staff, simply anonymously ask if they would like any technology training - find the critical mass - then train them in topically-sorted order?"

More Ideas

We should resist the idea of people even keeping records of previous test scores. Why? Because what one did not know then, one can certainly master, today. Moreover, even if one is prepared to keep track and re-take every test one has ever taken, old-scores will still be mentally used against someone for many, many years.

This problem of test-score permanence becomes even worse for Internet tests. --Who is going to expunge older test results from blogs (a celebrity’s pre-school tests), or Google?

Cleaning up Internet inertia may also bump First Amendment issues. (Unlike many elected representatives sworn to protect it (promise breakers?) I for one support the Constitution of the United States as one of the most inspired documents since the Magna Carta: If you are an American, then tell your Congressman that you do, too!)

So while exams are important, there are also good tests, as well as bad tests. Experts know that any single test score is of absolutely no importance unless a common class experience, in-depth student profiles (*), as well as a mode, median, and / or cross-test population mean - are also shared.

Hence, no mater the reason for giving any assessment. -In an age when even our governmental identifiers cannot be adequately protected by places whose very business depends upon data security, who wants the results of a 'bad test' forever stuck in any database... let alone forever 'searchable across a WORLD-wide web?

(*) Why student profiles? I recently tried to teach a batch of mixed-in welfare-to-work folks - who had neither the aptitude, nor desire - to learn how to program. Despite over 12 weeks of 10 - 12 hour days on my part, private mentoring by other company employees, and even successfully lobbing for company-gifted laptops to all, none of their number would even complete a handful of remedial exercises on-their-own.

Needless to say, while those of the class who had previous programming experience did well, for the rest - from cheating & legal threats, to outright character assassination & false-witness collusion - did not.

The experience was a perception-challenging exercise for all concerned. (i.e. While a well-documented part of a child's mental-recovery process, when the stakes are preconceived to be as high as one's entire financial future (not the case here - company said as much), even "Denial" fallout over test-taking results can be excruciatingly painful for any employer.)

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EzLog4J Updated - About Time Started 
One of the nice things about owning our own time is that, in-between bill-paying activities, one has the ability to make cool things for others to use.

For me, I am finding that the more busy I am, the more I need EzLog:

You can download the latest version from here.

What's New

Note that a version of EzLog4J is morphing into a tool called "About Time." Before I split the product officially, I am making (mostly graphical) changes that both products will benefit from.

Going forward, in the future:

EzLog will be more about documenting what we work on every day. Best for Employees & Consultants.

About Time will be more about tracking the progression of multiple, overlapping, tasks. Better for Managers & Scientists.

So the new upload today is a toast raised to our busy-times ... as well as to those precious moments that we all have to create & share things with others.



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