Sunday, July 31, 2005


I'll be the first to admit that it has been kind of warm lately, but personally, I don't think it's hot enough to justify the fact that my DVD player keeps shutting itself off, complaining (very briefly, as it shuts down) about something or other inside it overheating.

This is especially annoying since it loses its place when this happens while you're watching a DVD, so actually getting back to the place you were at is a bit of a pain.

Grrr, if this keeps up I suppose I'll have to replace the system (which also means getting a new surround sound setup, since my DVD player is part of my stereo), what a pain in the ass...

Friday, July 29, 2005

OSCON Todo Lists

It's only a few short days till I head off to Portland for OSCON, and as usual, I've got a bunch of things I want to get done in the meantime...

  1. Read over my presentation again, and do a couple of practice runs. It's been a while since I looked at it, and actually remembering what slide comes next makes for a much better presentation in the long run.
  2. Finish up the example for my new O'Reillynet article so I can actually write the thing. Note to self, when writing an article it's always best to actually have a working example to write about.
  3. Get some work done on Lucene4C, since it's been kind of stagnating lately and it'd be nice to have something mostly working so I can try to suck some other people into helping out.
  4. Read over the conference schedule so I can have at least some idea what presentations I want to hit.
  5. Find out where the conference hotel is, since they changed it this year, and figure out what the best way to get there from the airport is.

And of course, I've got another list of things to do at the conference itself...

  1. Find a replacement for VQ so we can resume the yearly tradition of taking over a convenient bar and drinking until far too late in the evening on as many nights as is practical.
  2. Track down brian d foy and other like minded individuals to talk about a non-perl specific magazine along the lines of The Perl Review.
  3. Make a concerted attempt to show up at the JSAN BOF/Hackathon.
  4. Make a trip to Powell's and try to get out without spending all of my money.
  5. Hang out with all the people I only see at conferences, and continue to add to that set of people.
  6. Actually go to some conference sessions and maybe even learn something ;-)

Friday, July 15, 2005

Now In Korean

Apparently my book has been translated into Korean.

I'm amused that the first I heard of this was when I got home from work and saw a little "Hey, your package is at the office" slip from UPS on my door ;-)

And since I'm too lazy to take a picture, here's some "proof". Judging from the URLs on the dead tree copies I got in the mail, that's the web site for the company that did the translation, although oddly enough that isn't the actual cover from the Korean version, the actual covor is green, and has largely Korean text on it, plus a picture of a guy sitting at a computer, with his back to you. It also comes with a CD-ROM, which the english version doesn't. Do they think that people in Korea don't have internet access and can't download Subversion for themselves or something? Weird.

I'm still rather amused by the idea that some company in Korea just translated my book. Crazy.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


I love W. Richard Stevens' books. All of them.

Yes, even volume 3 of TCP/IP Illustrated, which everyone else I've talked to about it seems to feel is worthless.

The man was a genius, and there's a reason his family got a standing ovation at USENIX when they accepted his lifetime achievement award for him the year after he died. He touched generations of unix hackers with his writing, and despite the age of the books they remain as worthwhile today as the day they were first released.

Even so, some of them are starting to show their age, so when Bill Fenner and Andrew Rudoff updated volume one of Unix Network Programming I was overjoyed. They did a fantastic job of bringing it up to date with everything that happened in the unix networking world since the last version was released, and I'm confident that the next 10 years worth of unix hackers will be well served by that volume.

That left only Advanced Programming in the Unix Environment (APUE) as truly in need of updating, and today I saw on slashdot that the new edition of it was out. I stopped at B&N on the way home after work and snagged a copy, and so far I have to say I'm quite pleased. It's slightly thicker (and heavier) than the original, and they've added a few chapters that seem useful, although honestly I haven't had time to do more than skim them so far...

But the absolute best part of the whole thing has to be the cover, which bears one of my favorite Dilbert cartoons, the one that ends with the stereotypical bearded unix hacker telling Wally "Here's a nickel, kid. Get yourself a better computer."

Worth the price of admission, no question asked.

It's a Small World After All...

So yesterday I saw a friend of mine on AIM who hadn't been online in a while. She recently moved back to her home town and didn't have a network connection at her new place yet, so she's been living with public terminals in libraries and occasional trips to her parent's house to borrow their dial up connection, oh the horror.

In any event, we spent some time catching up, and she mentions that she's working in a local artsy theater as the snack bar girl, and that while it's a bit of a change from her previous life doing graphic design for big name companies on huge budgets she's really enjoying it. Plus, they have really good cake and don't mind her "I'm not getting older damn it" bright pink hair.

At this point I comment on how much I miss the Spectrum (which has apparently expanded since the last time I was there, since it's now the Spectrum 8, not the Spectrum 7, although both domain names work) back in Albany, and that they had the best cake...

And amusingly enough, she replies that they do indeed still have the best cake.

Apparently that's actually where she's working. Small world.

So if you're in Albany and end up at the Spectrum, and you see a girl at the snack counter with bright pink hair, tell her I said hello ;-)

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Making Javascript Bearable with JSAN

So with all the activity around doing interesting things with Javascript and DHTML lately, it seems like an awful lot of hackers who haven't really spent all that much time playing with Javascript in the past are starting to look at it more seriously now.

Personally, the thing that bugs me most about Javascript has always been that the standard way of sharing code has basically been cut and paste off of other web pages. There's no built in module system, so you're basically just #including swaths of code, and there are few good resources for finding decent code.

Fortunately, this is all starting to change. There are some great open source Javascript libraries out there (Prototype, Scriptaculous, and more) that can serve as both fantastic examples and good ways to avoid reinventing the wheel, and people are starting to build tools that work around the lack of a built in module system.

This weekend, I spent some time playing with JSAN, an attempt by some members of the Perl community to bring some of the better parts of the Perl world (namely the module system, test libraries, and CPAN) to Javascript land.

So far, I'm impressed. The test libraries and module system are quite slick, and the infrastructure for uploading new modules is starting to fall into place. Work remains to be done, but it's clear that progress has been made and they're on the right track.

After playing around with this stuff for a day or so I'd say there are a few places that still need some work.

First, there's no tool for automatically installing the packages, so you are basically stuck just downloading the tarball and copying the .js files into place manually. This isn't a huge problem, but it means that dependencies are kind of a pain in the ass.

The dependency problem rears its ugly head most noticably in the testing world. If I want to use the test libraries I basically need to bundle them with my module, and for the life of me I can't figure out how to make use of them via manual inclusion of the .js files, so that means I'm also stuck bundling a version of JSAN.js.

Finally, and this is only going to affect people who are actually writing and releasing modules on JSAN, the upload server (JAUSE) doesn't give you much visibility into what's going on. I uploaded my first module last night (well, really early this morning technically), and it hasn't shown up yet, and I have no way to tell if everything worked or not. In CPAN land the upload server seems to give more feedback to the user, via email and the ability to look at log files for the PAUSE daemon.

In any event, despite any current problems JSAN appears to be a big improvement over the existing Javascript world, and I'm sure the current problems will be worked out in the near future.

Saturday, July 9, 2005

Amusing Jewelry

For some reason these rings amuse me way too much.

Thursday, July 7, 2005

Interesting Changes...

So I noticed something interesting when I was at home over the weekend.

I've actually managed to reach the point where I can make reasonably intelligent comments about the Red Sox.

For those who think this isn't anything strange, let's just be clear, I am so far from being a sports person that it isn't even funny. I never payed attention to sports as a kid, and payed even less attention to them in college, but somehow in the past few years I managed to start caring, and now we can see the result, I've hit the point where I can comment about Fouke sucking lately and there's a reasonable chance that I actually know what I'm talking about.


I find it particularly ironic that this has happened just in time for me to move someplace where you can't actually see Red Sox games on TV without buying some extra special cable package...

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

cd ~

So I made it back from my trip to Cape Cod last night. For the record, Seat Guru rules, the seat I got had the most leg room I've ever encountered on an airplane before. Unfortunately, due to the popularity of that particular flight (Jet Blue only has one flight in each direction between Boston and San Jose, and apparently everyone wanted to fly the day after the 4th) I got stuck in the middle seat, but those are the breaks.

At least there were no screaming children sitting behind me this time...

Cape Cod was fun, as usual. The fireworks were great, got to see the family which is always good, and just generaly enjoyed relaxing a bit. Sorry I didn't get a chance to make it to Ernie and Tania's party, I was kind of out of it when I got in Saturday morning, and I just never got motivated enough to drive from Onset to Clinton.

I managed to finish off Quicksilver (yes, finally), so now I'm on to its sequel, The Confusion. Once you get past the first few hundred pages of Quicksilver it actually gets pretty interesting, and The Confusion appears to start right at the interesting part, bypassing the boredom entirely. I'll write up a better review of Quicksilver when I get some free time.

Other than that I spent a fair amount of time hacking on my new Rails based project. No details yet, but I think it's coming along pretty well, and hopefully I'll have a working version online somewhere reasonably soon for people to play with.

Anyway, time to finish going through the bloglines backlog and head off to work.

Friday, July 1, 2005

Mac Mini: First Impressions

Man, opening the box to upgrade the RAM is a royal pain in the ass. I'm so glad that I'm maxed out now so I'll never have to do that again. I was positive I was going to break the thing the first time I tried to open it, and then I was positive I was going to break it when I was getting the case back together after I was done. Fortunately, it all appears to be in working order now, but I was a bit scared at the time.

Speed is pretty good, although not spectacular. More than adequate for what I want the machine to do though.

Tiger seems nice, although it's kind of lame that the machine actually came with 10.3 preloaded on it, so I had to do an upgrade myself.

The new totally failed to handle my mail archives. The things sat there at 100% CPU usage for hours before I just gave up and went back to Thunderbird. Sorry guys, I wanted to give a chance so that Spotlight would work with my mail, but rendering the entire machine unusable while the indexing process runs just doesn't cut it.

The RSS support in the new Safari is pretty cool. I'll have to build myself a cutting edge WebKit one of these days just for kicks. Haven't had time to try the new podcasting stuff in iTunes 4.9 yet.

All in all, I like the machine quite a bit. Highly recommended.