Monday, 22 June 2009

Terminator Salvation

Terminator Salvation is a big disappointment. Maybe it's the lack of Arnie (well except for a short scene that was almost certainly superimposed from a previous film) and a story line, but it just didn't feel like a terminator film. It wasn't going anywhere and it never got to the part where John Connor sends Kyle Reese back to save his mother. There is also way too much of a gap in story line since the previous filem. We need more action, more story and more Helena Bonham Carter, please!

It really seems like the Terminator producers are writing perpetual sequels which never actually get anywhere. I was asleep by the end.

Steel Panther

Finally a band that might be able to take over where the Darkness left off. Steel Panther sound enough like Poison, Motley Crue and Def Leppard to be radio friendly (in the US at least) while are heavy enough to get away with calling themselves a metal band and singing about metal.

Musically Steel Panther are great. What lets them down is the lyrical content and it let's them down big time. Death To All But Metal is amusing and genius, but just about every other track on the album is either embarrassing toilet humour or unnecessarily derogatory towards women. It's not big, it's not clever and I'm sure they could do better.

Putting the lyrics aside this album is a great listen and just what the rock genre needs at the moment to combat the current crop of bland rubbish such as the Kaiser Chiefs.

Here's hoping Steel Panther pull it together for their second album and grow up a little.

Effective Java

Item 44: Write doc comments for all exposed API elements

The item does not even attempt to justify or explain it's reasoning. It just states that "If an API is to be usable, it must be documents". This is complete rubbish. A good Java developer can use and API by reading it!

It then the proceeds to make the frankly ludicrous statement "to write maintainable code, you should also write doc comments for most unexported classes, interfaces, constructors, methods and fields." The lack of maintainability of code is most of my problem with this item. Adding comments in the fashion simply duplicates what is already in the code, increasing the maintenance the code required. History dictates that developers are very good at updating and fixing code, but not the associated comments. Good code only has comments where it is necessary to say why and never how.

The item also states that "The doc comment for a method should describe succinctly the contract between the the method and its client." No! That's what the method name and signature should do.

In general, but not always, comments are a bad thing and should be used sparingly. The only time I can see doc comments being a good thing is if you're writing a library for someone else to use where you don't want them to have to look below the public interface.

The remainder of the item describes the details of how to write doc comments.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Pushing Ice

By Alistair Reynolds (978-0575078154)

Having read all of Reynolds' Revelation Space series I was a bit disappointed by Pushing Ice. Obviously there is far less scope in a standalone novel compared to a series, but the story took quite a while to get going and didn't really contain any new science fiction.

The book draws heavily from both the Space Odyssey and Rama series and even steals the "First Ones" concept from Babylon 5.

Reynolds successfully induces a sense wonder and makes you want to read on to find out what's really going. The ending is a little week and there are many questions left unanswered, but the scene is set for two possible sequels. If he writes them, I'll read them!

If you're new to hard science fiction or to Alistair Reynolds then this would be a good place to start.