Violino Piccolo

While looking through the score of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto’s I ran across an instrument I had never seen before. It was called the violino piccolo and appeared to be written in a key other than C like the rest of the stringed instruments.

Evidently the violins were not very easy to play in the higher registers. The violino piccolo addressed the problem. The instrument was about 13 inches long and looked very similar to a child’s 3/4 size violin, but it was tuned a 3rd or 4th higher. The higher tuning allowed musicians to play the same notes as a violin lower on the fretboard which made it much easier to play. The smaller size and higher tuning gave it a brighter sound in the higher registers

As the design of the modern violin evolved the fretboard was extended toward the bridge. Better technical construction and new playing techniques eventually pushed the violino piccolo out of common use and violin piccolo parts are now played by normal sized violins.

Using Bluetooth and a Mobile Phone for Internet Access

Sony Ericsson T610 Phone (T-Mobile) In the past I’ve been stuck using Nextel for mobile internet access. Nextel service seems to work ok, but it is very slow, has limited coverage, costs $79 per month, doesn’t support Bluetooth, requires third-party software to work with OS X. So when I had an opportunity to switch to a different carrier I went with T-mobile because they have Bluetooth phones and because they offer unlimited internet access for $20 per month when added to an existing cell phone plan.
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New Sun Java Programmer Test for 1.5

The new certification test for Java 1.5 (or Java 5 or Tiger) is going to be coming out as a beta soon. According to Kathy Sierra’s weblog the new test is going to avoid the complicated “puzzle” type problems and concentrate more on your ability to accomplish specific objectives with Java code. It sounds like they are using a new type of test question that lets you drag and drop code (kind of like magnetic poetry) to make the code work or behave in a specific way.

The test is also going to cover some of the new features in the Java language like generics and autoboxing and spend more time on collections. lists some details about the exam. The beta version has 138 questions and gives you up to 4 hours to complete it. You can register for the beta exam at Prometric’s website for $49.

If you want to take the test a a discounted price, this might be a very good way to do it.

Actual Conversation on Amtrak

I took a train from Grand Rapids to Chicago to pickup a car. This is an actual conversation that took place two seats in front of me on the ride down:

Lady: …. this is my first train experience …
Ticket Man: Well then we will make sure it is a miserable one. Can I get you anything else?
Lady: Coffee?
(They don’t serve coffee because the pots might tip over)
Ticket Man: (Sarcastically)I wish. It’s pathetic.

I wonder if this is why most of the train was empty?

Comments in Java

One of the questions I ran into when preparing for the Java Certification exam dealt with how Java handles nested comments. Since this isn’t something I usually do in my code I wasn’t sure how it worked. It turns out the results were different than I expected.

First lets look at the double slash comments. Since they mark everything to the end of a line as a comment there isn’t really any way to nest them. You can do something like this:

System.out.println("hi"); // Comments // More comments

But the “More comments” is never evaluated because the compiler simply skips the rest of the line. However with /* */ comments can be nested. First lets look at what happens when you nest // comments inside /* */ comments.

1 /* //important comment */
2 class Comment {
3   public static void main(String args[]){
4     System.out.println("test");
5   }
6 }

So what happens in this code? If the compiler sees the // and skips the rest of the line then the rest of the code will be marked as a comment because the closing */ will be skipped. This will produce a compile time error. So lets try compiling the code and see what happens.
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