Re-learning java for alt.binaries.unpack

Monday, 6 August 2007

Ever since I completed an introductory CS course in Imperative and Object Oriented Programming at my university, using mainly the Java programming language and a little C for the imperative programming part, I have been thinking about applying this knowledge to a useful programming project.

Since I did not feel much like reinventing the wheel, and considering the vast number of projects currently being developed this seemed almost inevitable, I have not done much programming these past few years. But I hope that is going to change.

Because one thing that continues to really annoy me, is the lack of decent GUI unpacking tools for Usenet binaries. In essence, something like the integrated unpacking utilities in GrabIt (alas, its unpacking features do not work in Wine), or more specifically something like AutoUnpack.

I have tried, and not without some success, to write a shell script which offers much the same functionality. But it needs to be invoked from the command line, and besides using the inconvenient cron scheduler, I don’t know how to make it run in the background like a daemon process. So instead of improving it I have given up on it.

Command line programs are simply not my cup of tea anyway, I don’t like using them as I constantly forget what options I need to use, or what the command is called, etcetera. Plastering the entire wall behind my desktop with cheat-sheets and man-pages is not my idea of user-friendly computing, thank you very much.

I need to write a program once and be able to run it anywhere, and of course it also needs a proper GUI. Mainly the first argument represents Java’s core strength, but Java will meet the second condition with equal satisfaction.

Yet, so far all I have is a rough idea. I haven’t even the faintest clue how to begin prototyping this project. Years have passed since completing the introductory programming course, and consequently my Java knowledge is dusty.

So first I must reacquaint myself with the language-formerly-known-as-Oak. I still have the original textbook I used: “Introduction to Java Programming”, third edition, by Daniel Y. Liang

Together with the freely downloadable e-book The Java Language Specification and using the Java API, I hope this is enough to regain sufficient knowledge of Java to make a fine beginning with my project.

And for the time being the project will be called “alt.binaries.unpack”. Not the shortest name, I know, but it is the most appropriate one I can think of right now.