Saturday, 22 August 2009

Bloodstock 2009

This year was one of the best Bloodstocks ever, which surprised me as the line up didn't look too strong. I haven't come away with a list of bands I want to buy all the albums of, but I did enjoy a lot of the performances.

Insomnium[6] sound a lot like Swallow the Sun and Paradise Lost. They put on a very good show. I find a lot of old thrash bands quite boring, but Sodom[5] were quite good. They could have done with a second guitarist and the bass broke in the first song and it seemed to take ages to get it fixed. Saxon[8] gave us some some classic traditional heavy metal. Solid, as expected. The best bit was, following the guitarist standing on a monitor, Biff Bifford ripped off the sign saying "DO NOT STAND" and showed it to the audience. Once their sound was sorted, Arch Enemy[10] stole the show. They turned out not only to be the best band of the day, but of the festival, but then that's what you'd expect from Arch Enemy. Carcass[4] were very disappointing. They played some stuff from Heartwork, but none of their set had the best sound. Arch Enemy should have been on last.

Just like all the other folk/battle metal bands Battlelore[3] were, bland and rubbish which was not helped by the poor PA setup. Wolf[7] were much better than last time I saw them at Bloodstock (when they lost sound part way into their set). Still the same old Slayer/Metallica/Maiden wannabes though. With the Haunted [1] I just didn't see the point. To stoner like for me maybe. I haven't seen or kept up with Entombed[7] for ten years or more. They're great. Especially A Damn Deal Done. Lots of fun. Candlemass[2] seemed to play quite well, but are just not my sort of thing. I was hoping Enslaved[5] would be great from the off, but all they really managed was ok. Good fusion of black and death metal, nothing new. Kreator[8] are like Deicide and Like Slayer, only better. Loved it. Band of the day. All I can say about Apocolytica[1] is nice idea, but the only thing that makes this metal is the drummer. I'm sure some love it, but I don't. I wanted not to like Blind Guardian[5] as their Twyst in the Myth album is rubbish, but they weren't too bad. What can I say about Cradle of Filth[4]? They were half an hour late to the stage. They were really loose, but better than the last time I saw them. Then they called it off after Paul A got hit on the back by a gob stopper fired from a catapult bought on stage. Not very metal, especially when Dani Filth had been goading the crowd to throw full drinks rather than empty ones. To be honest if the Bloodstock organisers are going to book a band like Cradle of Filth to festival many of us believe represents true metal, what do they expect? I Hope Cradle of Filth never darken Bloodstock's door again.

Beholder[6] gave us some straight up metal and despite the singers verbal diarrhea Surprisingly good. For Agonyst[9] I was in a tent full of familiar faces from the Marquee in Norwich, including Louis Coates on the stage. Totally superb progressive death metal with a great sense of humour. Girlschool [4] were disappointing, but then they probably weren't good musicians 30 years ago either. Equilibrium[8] are a great band! They want to be death, folk, black and battle metal, but I like it! Anathema[9]: Wow! Another band I haven't kept up with for 10 years. Opened with my favourite song and did a stonking set of old stuff. With Martin Powel (ex My Dying Bride, ex Cradle of Filth) and one of my favourite and best drummers in the work, Nick Barker (ex Cradle of Filth, ex Dimmu Borgir) on drums and finishing with an iron maiden cover of Phantom of the Opera, Anathema are the second band of the festival. Wish I'd kept up with them over the years now. Turisas [6] weren't quite as good as expected. There was a bit more music and less larking about this time though. Good entertainment none the less. Moonspell[8] were very good as expected. Just wish I knew more of their stuff better. Amon Amarth[9]: Death Metal! Wow! As good as expected. Loved it. I was a Viking for an hour. Satyricon were very enjoyable to watch, but they've only really got one sound, not that it's a bad one. I enjoyed them more at the last Download. The singer is a great entertainer. Europe [5] didn't have a good sound, at least where we were standing. The bass swamped everything. I did wonder if maybe they'd turned it all up to try and feel heavier to a metal audience. Joey Tempest always proclaims John Norum as a guitar god and he just isn't that good. I was horribly disappointed as prior to today I rated them as the second best live show I'd ever seen (after Wasp performing the Crimson Idol and closely followed by Roger Waters, Pink Floyd, The Mission in 1995 and Fish performing all of Misplaced Childhood). I'm hoping bloodstock get a decent headliner next year after three duff ones this year.

There's rumours of Threshold playing again next year. I suspect the best they can hope for is a special guests slot, but even that is unlikely. If they play it'll just be superb. The organisers need to look at the tshirts people are wearing. I'd love to see Lamb of God, Deicide, Behemoth, Vader, Nile, Hypocrisy. Cradle of Filth and Europe just aren't what Bloodstock is about.

Century Rain

by Alistair Reynolds (978-0575076914)

Alistair Reynolds is still by far my favourite author and he never fails to amaze and surprise me. I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again, but nothing else he's written, for me, gets anywhere near as good as his Revelation Space series. I'm sure it's just the lack of scope of a stand alone novel compared to a series.

I enjoyed Century Rain, but I don't think I'll read it again. The ending was rather cliché and I think I'd rather have seen the bad guys win for a change, although it wasn't clear to me when they were trying to wipe out the ALS, I probably missed it somewhere. This book is a lot easier to follow than the Revelation Space novels.

In a few books time I'll be reading House of Suns. Hopefully this will live up to Revelation Space.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

ACCU Conference 2010 Proposal (1): Enterprise Web Application Development in Java with AJAX and ORMs

Type: case study
Duration: 90 min
Speaker name: Paul Grenyer

Speaker biography
Paul has been programming in one form or another for over 20 years. After several years using C++ and a brief period using C#, Paul is now happy somewhere he hoped he'd never be, programming in Java.

After time in industries such as marking machinery, direct mail, mobile phones, investment banking and Internet TV, Paul is currently working for an exciting new company based in Norwich where he heads up an ever growing team of senior and highly skilled people.

He has been an ACCU member since 2001, a regular publications contributor, including the now well established Desert Island Books column, creator of the mentored developers and a committee member for most of that time. When he's not programming and family life allows, Paul thoroughly enjoys science fiction, heavy metal and cycling.

Recently Java enterprise web application programming has been leaning towards a more classical J2EE approach. Traditional Java Server Page (JSP) programming, and even libraries such as Struts, are being replaced by new AJAX libraries that make GUI programming more straight forward, robust and easier to unit test.

In this session I will look at what an enterprise web application is and why you should choose an AJAX based library for GUI development over traditional JSP libraries and an Object Relational Mapper (ORM) over traditional JDBC for the Data Access Layer (DAL).

I will look at an AJAX library and an ORM Library and present simple examples of how and where they should be used. I will then look at how to integrate the AJAX library into traditional Spring MVC and how to use Spring Security to authenticate users of the application and secure individual Remote Procedure (RPC) calls made from the client application, running in a browser, to the server.

In the final part of the session I will take a more in-depth look at the ORM library and explain how to use a registry to abstract away Data Access Objects (DAOs) so that the real DAOs can be used in production and integration testing while seamlessly substituting mock objects for unit testing. I will also explain how the tools provided by Spring make integration testing of DAO objects very simple.