Saturday, January 31, 2004

Writing A Book With Template Toolkit?

Here's an interesting article by Dave Cross on O'ReillyNet that explains how the new Perl Template Toolkit book was actually written using Template Toolkit.

I'm using DocBook to write my book, which is quite nice, but it's quite impressive to hear the kind of things they were able to do with some custom TT macros. I'll definately have to pick up their book, once I have some free time again, as TT seems like a really powerful tool.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Arch vs. Subversion, a Response

So a while back Tom Lord, the author of Arch, posted a mail to the arch-users mailing list detailing everything he thought was wrong with Subversion.

Lots of people seem to have agreed with him, to one extent or another, and if you search the web for the phrase 'diagnosing SVN' you can see a number of replies.

Greg Hudson, one of the Subversion developers, has crafted a reply which is well worth reading. In my experience Greg is almost always right, and he seems pretty much right on the money with this one.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Fun With Docbook XSL

So I really wish I had found Docbook XSL: The Complete Guide when I first started messing around with Docbook XSL for the book. It's answered pretty much all the questions I had been wrestling with for quite some time. I may even buy the hard copy version.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Are You Atom Enabled?

So I just discovered that a web site I read from time to time, which has never had an RSS feed available (and believe me, that always pissed me off), actually has an Atom feed.

This is the first time that something I want to keep track of is accessable via Atom but not RSS. I hope it won't be the last.

Of course, this would be considerably cooler if NetNewsWire, my aggregator of choice, had Atom support, but I'm told it's on it's way, so I'll just have to wait patiently for the time being.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Damn Users

You know, sometimes every post to feels like it ought to begin with "I haven't read the documentation, and I totally lack any common sense, so will you please solve all my problems for me?"

I am so totally not cut out for tech support that it isn't even funny.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

The Morning's Amusements

Just a few things that popped up in my morning weblog reading, so I thought I'd share...

First, Tim Bray posted his first cut at the API for his Genx XML Writer C library. My first impression is that it looks simple, easy to use, and it will be quite useful when it's done. I'm already thinking about how I can wrap it up in a C++ API so I can use it at work.

Second, Justin points to an article on how to criticize computer scientists. Makes me wish I was back in school again...

Oh, and for those who were curious how my writing went this weekend, I made it through about 85% of the chapter I was meaning to finish. I got hung up at the end by the fact that I ran into a section of Subversion that I didn't understand all that well, and I had to slow down and actually think for a while before I could write anything that made sense.

Hopefully I'll be able to finish it up tonight, and then move on to the first appendix, which would put me just about on target to actually meet a deadline for a change!

Sunday, January 18, 2004


So the chapter I'm currently working on just officially became the second longest in the book, and it's well on it's way to being the longest, since I'm only about 2/3 of the way in to my outline.

Of course, it's not like I've had a chance to test if any of these examples work, or even if they compile for that matter, and it's likely that none of it makes sense to anyone but me, but at the very least there seems to be a lot of it, and that's something.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Lessons Learned

I take some small bit of comfort in the fact that the next time someone asks me to write a book about something I work on in my spare time I will at the very least know enough to say no.

Not that I don't appreciate having been given this opportunity, but as chromatic has said in the past, writing a book is something that is nice to have done, as opposed to something that is actually enjoyable to do.

(I am no doubt horribly screwing up what he actually said, but the sentiment is the same.)

Since I started writing this book, it has impacted my life in (at least) the following ways:

  • Kept me from spending time with people I care about.
  • Kept me from actually working on the software the book is about, something I used to enjoy doing in my spare time.
  • Conveniently divided my "free time" into time during which I work on the book and time during which I feel guilty about not working on the book.
  • Made me question my actual writing ability on numerous occasions.
  • Kept me from working on a variety of other interesting projects, most of which I have likely forgotten, and will not remember when I do actually find some free time.
  • Kept me from reading anything of substance in months.

It goes without saying that I am looking forward to finishing this damn thing just a little bit...

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Just In Case You Didn't Get The Memo...

Posting a patch to a development mailing list with something like

*** please do not ignore ***

at the top of the email is quite possibly the best way to get me to ignore your email.

News flash people! Open source developers review patches sent to mailing lists when they have the time. They're not going out of their way to ignore anyone, and implying that your patch is somehow special and deserves to be dealt with rightfuckingnowdamnit instead of when the developer has time is just egocentric and rude.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

It's the Little Things...

I think the thing that impresses me the most about The West Wing is the way they consistently pick really good music for all the episodes.

I mean the writing is fantastic (well, not so much this year, but in previous years anyway), the topics covered are always interesting, and the acting is great, but it still continues to impress me that they find such great music for each episode.

For the record, the music that prompted this blog entry was the Aimee Mann cover of "Shed A Little Light" (a James Taylor song) at the Rock the Vote concert in season 4.

Unfortunately, that particular recording of "Shed A Little Light" does not appear to be available anywhere, but the original was available at the iTunes Music Store.

Monday, January 12, 2004

There's a Special Place in Hell...

For all the people who've ever worked on Lotus Notes...

It's truly remarkable what a piece of crap that software is. It continues to amaze me on a regular basis with how much it sucks. There are simply no words to describe it.

Monday, January 5, 2004

Hey, Who Doesn't Hate The Autotools!

So for everyone out there who has a fun-filled GNU Autotools horror story in their past (and what programmer doesn't?), you might want to take a peek at MBuild, a C# based build tool from one of the Mono hackers. It's not done yet, but what's there has a lot of promise, and it certainly sounds better than "that better begin with a tab!" or "write your makefile in XML!".

Friday, January 2, 2004

How Much Is Too Much?

So just for the record, spending approximately 10 hours watching Queer Eye because your friends who are your ride back to your car don't want to leave yet is just entirely too long.

I was told that the post new-years recovery plan was to watch the Indiana Jones Movies Jessica got for xmas, and this was pretty much as far from that as you can get...

I guess you can't get truth in advertising anywhere these days ;-)