Doing the journalist’s job for him

September 3rd, 2004

Well, I just watched the Bush speech. Definitely full of spin, but then again, which politician’s speech isn’t? But my problem isn’t really with the spin; I’m equipped to cut through it. What I’m worried about is the content of the speech. This is something journalists rarely talk about. Post-speech commentary from MSNBC was the same asslicking you’d expect from a delegate on the RNC floor. The “journalists” rated the speech’s performance, not its content.

If I wanted to read performance reviews, I’d go to the A&E section of my newspaper for the latest blockbusters. I don’t care whether George W. Bush was “stiff” when he delivered his speech, or whether he fumbled his lines. I don’t care whether it was eloquent, or whether it was impressive for someone who “let’s face it, is no Winston Churchill.” Yes, there are moments when oration matters. I do love the poetic nature of Shakespeare’s Saint Crispen’s Day speech in Henry V, and I do get a tingle down my spine when I read the line “…We few, we happy few, we band of brothers…”, but we are talking about a platform and set of policies for our country, not some morale-lifting speech to troops before they enter what seems to be a hopeless battle.

For more analysis of the speech, read on….

Good chair for bad back

July 27th, 2004

I want it!

Check out this neat demonstration.

UPDATE: I received it, and it’s pretty sweet.

Mbox de-duper patched

July 27th, 2004

I wrote a quick patch for the mbox-dedup.pl script I found online awhile ago. Basically, the author wrote a script that takes an mbox and creates a new mbox with all duplicate messages removed. I have to deal with duplicate e-mails constantly due to some weird incompatibility between Evolution and my Argosoft Mail Server (Windows), which I’ll have to figure out some day soon.

This script is just a temporary solution. I modified it so it now creates three files: $f.bak, a backup of your old mbox; $f, your new, dupe-free mailbox; and $f.dup, which is a mailbox which ONLY contains messages detected as duplicate. You can probably get rid of f.bak and keep f.dup around in case there were any mistakes in duplicate detection (which is what I’m doing). How annoying through. Anyway, if this bothers you, download the script, but use at your own risk.

Good article on programmer productivity

July 23rd, 2004

Read it here. It encourages programmers taking breaks to think about the bigger issues and reduce code bloat.

I understand now why programmers end up so conflicted. They have to work to meet deadlines, but often problems could be solved much more elegantly if there were extra time.

If I ever did run a software development company, one of the rules would be that everyone runs Workrave, a great free tool that forces you to take breaks from your computer every once in awhile. Not only does this reduce your chance of RSI/Carpal Tunnel, but it also provides a way for you to sit back and think about a problem in the abstract, rather than code your way through it.

I know deadlines are a reality. But in a perfect world, programming projects would be done “when they’re done.”

It actually crashed

July 20th, 2004

Man, Linux actually crashed. My little Workrave window was about to come up telling me to take a break, and before it could be drawn by GTK, the whole computer hard-locked. That teaches me to run a development kernel (2.6.6-rc2) when there is a newer, stable release out.

Luckily I didn’t lose anything since I constantly save my work. But hard-locks are exactly why I switched away from Windows, so this was disheartening.

Once August rolls around I’ll upgrade my kernel to something more stable. crying

Unfahrenheit 9/11?

July 2nd, 2004

So, Christopher Hitchens has written this response to Fahrenheit 9/11. I just finished reading it.

(Silly side note: I bookmarked this link before I saw the movie, so I that I could read it afterwards. I really didn’t understand the title at all, until Olivia informed me that it’s meant to be pronounced “Unfair – enheit 9/11.” I felt silly, but I guess it comes from the fact that I pronounce it FAR-EN-HEIT, rather than FAIR-E-HEIT. Apparently, I’m not so insane, since my pronounciation is Dictionary.com’s recomendation, as well. They recomend pronouncing the “a” like “father” or “pat.” Not that this means anything in particular, I just think an editor could have come up with a better title!)

So, for the most part, Hitchens’ article does present some of the problems with Mike’s film. We all know (all of us who have seen it) that it was a bit dramatized, a bit over the top, and a bit of propaganda. It was meant to be an emotional rollercoaster: to get us angry and sad, riled up for election time. In this sense, the film was effective. But I can see why you might find it unfair. Mike shows us every clip he can find of how the Iraq war is horrible, of how Bush is a horrible president, etc. without ever throwing in clips that speak to the opposite conclusion. I guess the problem with Mike’s film is that it is not “balanced.” It is simply not the way I would have set out to direct a similar documentary. But, in all honesty, Hitchens’ article is similarly flawed…

Spike in the geekiness curve

July 1st, 2004

Just got back from Northampton today. Was able to do some work remotely but not as much as I wanted, so I’ve been working late into the night. Still much to do, but at least I got JavaMail working properly and am finally, finally, finally finalizing my form design with JSP/Servlets on the UAC project. In the meanwhile, in Noho I was able to use my notebook to put together new form designs to be plugged in later.

But in more interesting news (not much more interesting)…. Wow! Lots happened while I stayed out of touch with the major news websites. Eclipse 3.0 (including new native builds) is well-received. Mono 1.0 was released. Java 1.5 (or, ahem, 5) Beta was released. Looking Glass was open sourced. Apple’s OS X Tiger was previewed and is now being scrutinized by Mac lovers. Wow, wow, wow, wish I had more time to explore all this good stuff.

Man, Dashboard is what gdesklets should be. sad Once we have a solid X system that is actually 3D accelerated in Linux, then we’ll be able to have more fun on the desktop.

Spotlight seems very cool, but I think Gnome Storage will be better. This may be an armchair code pundit speaking, but I think Linux geeks know how to do searching better than Apple geeks. Spotlight’s integration with Finder will look nicer, but Gnome Storage will actually find me my files. wink

Argh, gonna lay off this blog for a few days ’till I can say work isn’t bogging me down.

Levels of abstraction

June 26th, 2004

I think I must be doing the funkiest development on the planet right now. Connecting to a Debian Linux server running under VMWare Server under Windows 2000 Server as my test server, which is modeling the production server, a Redhat environment.

Locally, I’m connecting to this virtual Linux server via NFS, and plugging Eclipse right into the NFS exported directory, using uid/gid mapping to make sure permissions are okay.

Finally, running VMWare Workstation locally (for access to Dreamweaver/Photoshop) and connecting to the NFS mounted drive by connecting to the mount point on my local machine via SAMBA! That is, I have a mount point on my machine /mnt/server1 which maps to the IP of my server via NFS. And I made /mnt/server1 shareable via samba to my VMWare “Virtual Machine’s” IP address. So that means when I write a file from VMWare, it’s using the Windows SMB implementation which is interpreted by Linux’s SMB daemons, which are then sent over the Internet to my server using the NFS protocol and finally written to my server’s disk. All in milliseconds, no less.

Wow! That’s a lot of layers to peel off when something goes wrong. But so far, nothing has (this is very surprising for me).

MultiTail and syslogd’s heartbeat

June 26th, 2004

Just wanted to post this here in case anyone else runs into this little quirky thing. A lot of the time running Linux you want to see your log files (like /var/log/messages), and so someone has been nice enough to code a gdesklet called MultiTail that sticks the output of your log files on your desktop. This is useful for me not only for monitoring server output (like tomcat, apache) but also for monitoring things like apcupsd (my UPS daemon) and even error messages coming from Gnome programs, etc.

But I started noticing this annoyance, that every few minutes I’d see an entry that went was just — MARK — show up in my log, which unnecessarily cluttered MultiTail. Well, you can actual get rid of that (which is just syslogd telling you he is still alive) in the following ways.

Why don’t things just work?

June 24th, 2004

Nice follow-up to yesterday’s post. I’m frustrated with things not “just working.”

The light bulb for my torchiere light went out a couple days ago. Turns out it’s a weird bulb, so I had to buy it online (at topbulb.com), but then I stuck in the new bulb, and nothing turned on. Turns out the bulb didn’t die (though it seemed that way), the fucking light died!

Then I realized the recently-installed cheap CD changer still doesn’t play MP3 CDs properly. Better than before, but it still skips. And it can’t be a power issue anymore since it’s getting it direct from the battery. Grr. I hate stuff like that. I may just return the damn thing.

Oh yea, and Windows XP crashed while I was recording something off TV for Olivia. Nice. Luckily I rebooted and I think I only lost 2 minutes of commercials from the recording, so no harm there. But still.

On a final breakage note, yesterday I hit CTRL+ALT+BACKSPACE by accident went I meant to hit CTRL+ALT+DELETE. When running X, CTRL+ALT+BACKSPACE shuts down XFree86 entirely, if you don’t know (while CTRL+ALT+DELETE does nothing–I needed to send that command to my Windows server which I was VNC’ing into). Well, it turns out that somehow, by shutting down X at the wrong time, my Gnome panel’s clock applet wouldn’t start. Had to dig around the error message to find the solution, but in the end I had to copy my root account’s gconf entries for /apps/panel/profiles/default/ and then re-customize my gnome-panel. Havoc sure was right awhile ago when he said gconf can corrupt sometimes. I didn’t listen, and I had to rebuild my panel as a result. sad

Now I have to get to work. Let’s just hope things work while I work.