A. A. Klaf Calculus Refresher errata

In going through A. Albert Klaf’s Calculus Refresher, republished by Dover, I came across a mistake in Appendix A. The answer to question 7 on page 88 is incorrect. The question is:

7. What are the most economical dimensions of a right circular cylindrical tank made of steel of uniform thickness and of fixed volume = 6,000 cu. ft.?

And the answer given in Appendix A, p377 is:

7. r = h = 12.41 ft

However, that would give:

V = 6004.3392
dA/dr = 78.0307

I believe the correct answer is:

r = 9.8475
h = 19.6949
A = 1827.8966

If you notice any other errors in this book, let me know in the comments.

PMD XPathRule

Getting this exception when creating a custom XPathRule in a PMD ruleset file?

Oct 11, 2016 12:37:05 PM net.sourceforge.pmd.PMD removeBrokenRules
WARNING: Removed misconfigured rule: OldHadoopPackageImport cause: Missing xPath expression

Make sure your rule definition includes the property element and the value element inside it. For example:

    <rule name="OldHadoopPackageImport"
          message="Avoid importing old Hadoop mapred package, use mapreduce package instead"
            <property name="xpath" description="XPath expression">
                    //ImportDeclaration[Name[contains(@Image, 'org.apache.hadoop.mapred')]]

Avro Schemas in Multiple Files

Please don’t follow the advice given in the InfoQ article on building an Avro schema up from multiple files. The article recommends doing string replacement to mutate the schemas in order to combine them. The article was written in 2011, and clearly there have been some improvements to Avro since then.

A better (I’m not sure if it’s the best) way to do this, assuming you don’t want to or can’t use .avdl files, is to parse your various files into the same Schema.Parser object. It will give you a map of type name to Schema object:

        List<String> schemaResourceNames = Arrays.asList("avro/foo.avsc", "avro/bar.avsc");

        Schema.Parser parser = new Schema.Parser();
        for (String schemaResourceName : schemaResourceNames) {
            try (InputStream schemaInputStream = classLoader.getResourceAsStream(schemaResourceName)) {
                if (schemaInputStream == null) {
                    throw new RuntimeException("Resource not found " + schemaResourceName);
        return parser.getTypes();

Docker unable to pull images from Docker Hub registry

In AWS, my Docker-based ElasticBeanstalk apps were repeatedly removing & adding instances. This resulted in many “Adding instance ‘i-465f6382’ to your environment.” type messages. In the docker-events.log the message “Could not reach any registry endpoint” was repeated. I got the same message when running a “sudo docker pull ubuntu” manually on the EC2, even though network connectivity seemed ok.

As it turns out, Docker Hub has deprecated pulls from Docker clients on 1.5 and earlier. See https://blog.docker.com/2015/10/docker-hub-deprecation-1-5/ for more information.

Also, due to a bug in the ElasticBeanstalk console UI, I had to use the EB CLI command “eb config” to trigger an update of the platform.

Corrupted scala-library jar causes build failure

Had a heck of a time figuring out why, when I run “mvn compile” on my project that uses scalatest and scala-maven-plugin I always got:

[ERROR] java.lang.NoClassDefFoundError: scala/Function1
[INFO] 	at java.lang.Class.getDeclaredMethods0(Native Method)
[INFO] 	at java.lang.Class.privateGetDeclaredMethods(Class.java:2701)
[INFO] 	at java.lang.Class.privateGetMethodRecursive(Class.java:3048)
[INFO] 	at java.lang.Class.getMethod0(Class.java:3018)
[INFO] 	at java.lang.Class.getMethod(Class.java:1784)
[INFO] 	at scala_maven_executions.MainHelper.runMain(MainHelper.java:155)
[INFO] 	at scala_maven_executions.MainWithArgsInFile.main(MainWithArgsInFile.java:26)

The cause? A corrupted scala-library JAR in the local Maven repository. Once I deleted it and allowed Maven to re-download it, everything started working.

Implicit conversion of Strings

I recently replaced some code that looked like:

return "" + str;


return str.toString();

I thought I was fixing bad code style. Unfortunately, I forgot how implicit conversion to String worked, and I wasn’t thorough enough. I failed to write a test to check the behavior when str is null. Contrary to my intuition, the two statements are not equivalent. According to the Java specification a null reference is implicitly converted to “null”. My code, on the other hand, throws a NullPointerException. I can’t help but think this is a weakness in the language design. It makes printing null references easier but it causes at least two problems:

  • It hides the invocation of toString(). If you’re interested in a call hierarchy of toString() your IDE will need to be intelligent enough to also show you implicit casts. A call hierarchy of toString() might not be very useful anyway, but if you’re able to restrict the scope in some way, it could be handy. IntelliJ IDEA, unfortunately, fails to show implicit conversion of strings as invocations of toString()… I might suggest a feature to fix that.
  • It hides significant logic from the programmer. The implicit conversion performs something like:
    if (ref == null) {
      return "null";
    } else {
      String result = ref.toString();
      if (result == null) {
        return "null";
      } else {
        return result;