MOOC – E-Learning on Steroids

Hardly any industry is moving as fast as the IT industry. While your operational experience and knowledge of the vertical domain you are working in, is growing naturally along your career, it is not the same for IT. For example the airport environment, the underlying basics and physics of handling aircrafts, planning flights, etc. are exposed to changes, innovations and challenges, look at the A-CDM program, it took quite some years to take off and become main-stream, that is a much slower than any new general IT technology or platform soaring. Though this industry is picking up speed too and the boundaries between the digital and physical world start to blur more and more, airports are running digital transformation programs, though passengers still flying in the physical world.

But on the IT side of things, the speed is way beyond breath-taking and it is hard to keep a minimal overview over many areas of IT concerns as well dive into specific topics. How to stay up-to-date and tune into relevant topics ? Books (ink and electronic versions) and forums are certainly the traditional approach, on top of that you join conferences and in-persons seminars and training (which comes at a cost and time spent).

Since the 2000’s online courses came into the picture, as the successor for e-learning, and allow a much bigger audience to learn new technologies, skills and more. The very positive part, there are lots and lots of free courses, most platforms offer free and commercial courses, sometimes free to participate and only charge a fee if you want to get an official certificate (one can argue about the value of such certs) but most important, you can learn and move forward and update your knowledge with the click of a button.

The big challenge though is to identify what you need or interested in, find the right courses and, most important, manage your time. Using your spare time you have to choose wisely, you can’t run for every course out there, even they are so many you are interested in and you are temped to sign up for a dozen of courses, only not to finish any of them.

Todays key-/buzzword for this is MOOC or Massive Open Online Courses. This is like e-learning on steroids, in the past you had to look at dull corporate slides pretty much by yourself, now we look at videos, reading material online and offline, interactions with the organizer, mentor, trainer or your virtual peers at various levels.

Not only the organizations that started online learning, like schools and universities, are into the game, as well companies operating specific online course platforms and now book publishing companies offering courses and finally professional social platforms like LinkedIn.

I attended online courses at Coursera and Udacity, which offer a broad range of topics, and now started with some specific courses on HCI and UX at Interaction Design Foundation which solely offers courses on UX, HCI, Visualization and related topics. Though the courses are unattended (except the rating of your text answers or comments) but repeating, you still have a motivation to participate and go though the lessons because you pay money and they help you pacing the whole course by releasing the lesson packages over time.

Stay tuned for the results.

Build a RESTful Webservice in less than 5 minutes

There are quite some tutorials around about building and exposing a RESTful Webservice, but some of them are outdated and make you wade through complex dependencies and tinkering with deployment descriptors and web.xml files. But using RESTeasy, the JBoss implementation that is fully compliant with the JAX-RS 2.0 JCP specification, and Eclipse you can build a simple webservice (“hello world”) with less than 10 lines of sourceode with annotations and no web.xml used in a few minutes and run it on Wildfly.

Lets build a webservice that creates random numbers.

Continue reading

PostgreSQL Replication Express Setup

The system I work on we deploy almost solely on the Amazon AWS platform. Even I try to design the architecture in a way not to be locked-in too much into Amazon, I make use of the Amazon tools and products as much as possible (EC2, VPC, S3, SNS). PostgreSQL is our reference DB and the only DB product in production environments, still we run dedicated instances with PostgreSQL. I am quite delighted about AWS recent offering staring RDS with PostgreSQL. While is is still in BETA and I did not started yet with a conclusive test and migration plan, I need to maintain our existing instances.

There are plenty of books and tutorials about setting up PostgreSQL replication with on-board tools, without going into the details I share the express setup in this tutorial based on Streaming Replication which is part of PostgreSQL since version 9.0. I highly recommend to review the parameters and settings from the below tutorial as your project might have different requirements.




  • The tutorial is based on PostgreSQL 9.2 running on Ubuntu Server
  • Paths and settings are all the PostgreSQL defaults.
  • This is async setup, the master will not wait for feedback from the salve and continue to work even the slave is not available


  • 2 Server running the same PostgreSQL version (9.0+)
  • Backup your data or use a sandbox environment.
  • In the tutorial I refer to
    MASTER (ip: and
    SLAVE (ip:



  • Create a replicator user
    sudo -u postgres psql -c "CREATE USER replicator REPLICATION LOGIN ENCRYPTED PASSWORD 'mypassword';"
  • Add the slave ip to /etc/postgresql/9.2/main/pg_hba.conf
    host    replication     all         trust
  • Modify parameters in /etc/postgresql/9.2/main/postgresql.conf
    wal_level = hot_standby
    max_wal_senders = 3
    checkpoint_segments = 3
    wal_keep_segments = 3

    Review these parameters and set them up according to your requirements

  • Start the PostgreSQL instance
    service postgresql start


  • Modify parameters in /etc/postgresql/9.2/main/postgresql.conf
    wal_level = hot_standby
    max_wal_senders = 3
    checkpoint_segments = 3
    wal_keep_segments = 3
    hot_standby = on
  • Stop the PostgreSQL instance
    service postgresql stop
  • Clean up the old data directory
    sudo -u postgres rm -rf /var/lib/postgresql/9.2/main
  • Copy the database from the master with pg_basebackup
    sudo -u postgres pg_basebackup -h -D /var/lib/postgresql/9.2/main -U replicator -v -P -x

    You can see the backup progress and it should result in something likes

    root@:/var/lib/postgresql/9.2/main# transaction log start point: 41/7D000020
    31524952/31524952 kB (100%), 2/2 tablespaces (/var/lib/postgresql/9.2/main/PG_9.)
    transaction log end point: 41/7D0002A8
    pg_basebackup: base backup completed
  • Create a recovery configuration file /var/lib/postgresql/9.2/main/recovery.conf
    standby_mode = 'on'
    primary_conninfo = 'host= port=5432 user=replicator password=mypassword sslmode=require'
    trigger_file = '/tmp/postgresql.trigger'
  • Start the PostgreSQL instance
    service postgresql start

    Check the pglogs.

Test the replication

  • Open any table with pgadmin on the master and apply a change, it should be reflected in the slave within short time.
  • Try to change data on the slave, it will fail due to the hot-standby mode

Monitor the replication

  • The master instance will not alert you when the replication is down. You can check by yourself or create a little cronjob to do it for you with this sql statement.
    sudo -u postgres psql -x -c "select * from pg_stat_replication;"

    You get the status back (if it is running, otherwise the statement will return ‘no rows’).

    Check replication

    Check replication

Glassfish V3.1.2 and SSL

After almost 3 years (see previous post) I revisit the topic this time using the latest version og Glassfish 3.1.2 and GoDaddy as certificate provider. I created a certificate for a sub-domain ( this time and make use of the extremly cheap 5.99 U$/year offer (no wildcard included)

Let me summarize the key steps here: Continue reading

d3.js – From tree to cluster and radial projection

Some visualizations seem to be more sophisticated (to implement) than they actual are, specifically the radial projections. Starting from a tree representation with nodes and links it is quite easy to get to the radial version.
Remark: Of course there are more challenging radial diagrams like the bundle, but lets get started with something simple first !

“Standard” Tree
(I added few more nodes to make the visual difference more obvious)

Tree Visualization

We change 1 line of our sourcecode (see previous tutorial for complete code):

var tree = d3.layout.tree().size([300,300]);
var tree = d3.layout.cluster().size([300,300]);

Continue reading

d3.js – Most simple stack layout with bars

In order to understand the physics of various visualizations I walk through the samples and gists I find, dissect them and strip them down to the bare minimum. From there I explore my own variations. I took Mike’s sample for a stacked bar chart and changed it to chart reading from a matrix instead of the csv file.

Stacked Bar Chart

The matrix object

            var matrix = [
                [ 1,  5871, 8916, 2868],
                [ 2, 10048, 2060, 6171],
                [ 3, 16145, 8090, 8045],
                [ 4,   990,  940, 6907],
                [ 5,   450,  430, 5000]

The stack layout expects an object with an array of objects, each member of the array represents the values of one value group (eg. “all dark blue values”), and each object contains x and y value. It will process theis array amnd a y0 value (the offset to the baseline).
You can see this if you run the below code with the console.log output.


<!DOCTYPE html>
        <title>Simple Stack</title>
        <script type="text/javascript" src="libnew/d3.v2.min.js"></script>
            svg {
                border: solid 1px #ccc;
                font: 10px sans-serif;
                shape-rendering: crispEdges;

        <div id="viz"></div>

        <script type="text/javascript">

            var w = 960,
            h = 500

            // create canvas
            var svg ="#viz").append("svg:svg")
            .attr("class", "chart")
            .attr("width", w)
            .attr("height", h )
            .attr("transform", "translate(10,470)");

            x = d3.scale.ordinal().rangeRoundBands([0, w-50])
            y = d3.scale.linear().range([0, h-50])
            z = d3.scale.ordinal().range(["darkblue", "blue", "lightblue"])

            console.log("RAW MATRIX---------------------------");
	    // 4 columns: ID,c1,c2,c3
            var matrix = [
                [ 1,  5871, 8916, 2868],
                [ 2, 10048, 2060, 6171],
                [ 3, 16145, 8090, 8045],
                [ 4,   990,  940, 6907],
                [ 5,   450,  430, 5000]

            var remapped =["c1","c2","c3"].map(function(dat,i){
                    return {x: ii, y: d[i+1] };

            var stacked = d3.layout.stack()(remapped)

            x.domain(stacked[0].map(function(d) { return d.x; }));
            y.domain([0, d3.max(stacked[stacked.length - 1], function(d) { return d.y0 + d.y; })]);

            // show the domains of the scales
            console.log("x.domain(): " + x.domain())
            console.log("y.domain(): " + y.domain())

            // Add a group for each column.
            var valgroup = svg.selectAll("g.valgroup")
            .attr("class", "valgroup")
            .style("fill", function(d, i) { return z(i); })
            .style("stroke", function(d, i) { return d3.rgb(z(i)).darker(); });

            // Add a rect for each date.
            var rect = valgroup.selectAll("rect")
            .data(function(d){return d;})
            .attr("x", function(d) { return x(d.x); })
            .attr("y", function(d) { return -y(d.y0) - y(d.y); })
            .attr("height", function(d) { return y(d.y); })
            .attr("width", x.rangeBand());


My gist:

d3.js Playing with Selections II (flat vs. hierarchy)

Based on the previews experiments you will get a flat array with all selected elements.

d3.selectAll("tbody td");


Using a chained (nested) selection

d3.selectAll("tbody tr").selectAll("td");

we get matrix of cells

Nested Selection

Now we are in full control and can manipulate eg. the color of specific cells and rows

var td = d3.selectAll("tbody tr").selectAll("td");"color", function(d, i, j) { return (j<2 && i<2) ? null : "red"; });

Nested Selection