Older blog entries for AlanShutko (starting at number 26)

welisc: Having been forced to figure out some of Lincoln's code, I wish he would have tried to learn a new paradigm... I've found that scientists who look at programming as "just another skill" are more likely to produce bad software than those who try to learn more about the discipline. Their software may work for their purposes, but is often wasteful and fragile. (Why should I need a gig of swap to read in a 30MB sequence, huh?)

In other news, clients playing yoyo with the schedule. No time to work on anything personal.

Work continues on Preview-Latex. David Kastrup does all the heavy lifting, but I'm keeping up on the build-related stuff. I haven't had a chance to do the mega-gs stuff (allowing configure to choose the best image type supported by both Emacs and gs, and checking if the installed gs supports antialiasing) but the more critical things are getting done. Nice to work on.

I'm doing more LaTeX stuff myself right now, but since it's a cookbook [currently] without pictures, I don't have anything for preview to preview.


The basic "configure;make;sudo make install" does work in most cases. It works perfectly for me, on a basic Linux box, and has for at least 6 years.

If it's not working for you, it's a bug the maintainers would really like to hear about.

First, a few specific suggestions:

  • make bootstrap is not required if you get the source tarballs, only if you download to CVS. If you don't know much about futzing with Emacs source, you should probably start with the source tarball, even if (at the moment) it's hard to get at. (It sounds as if you did have the tarballs, but some people on gnu.help.emacs got CVS and wondered why it didn't work.)
  • If you aren't getting happy X things, it's likely that you don't have all the development packages installed. The configure script gave a nice list at the bottom of what it thinks you do and don't have. You probably need to install the -dev or -devel versions of the relevant packages, then rm config.cache and rerun configure. Emacs can't list the required packages for all Linux distributions, because they all have different names, but if you can come up with text in the INSTALL which would have helped you come to the right conclusion, submit it as a bug.
  • If you still have problems, send as much detail as you have to bug-gnu-emacs@gnu.org. If you have a working emacs of any version, M-x report-emacs-bug will set things up for you.

I don't really know what your specific problems are, since ./configure && make && make install have worked for me on all boxes I've tried (Linux and HPUX), unless they didn't have the development packages installed. If you can figure it out, report it and they'll fix it. If you can't, try posting to gnu.emacs.help with details.

Doing lots of real work and trying to hack when time permits.

djcb: With a revived love of TeX and Emacs 21, you sound like a perfect tester for preview-latex, which will insert previews of math, figures, and tables directly into your Emacs buffer. It's been the only free software I've had time to help with lately, and it's really neat.

The biggest problem about Code Red so far is the huge amounts of concern it causes among people who run "personal firewalls" and are freaking out about lots of ARPs and failed port 80 hits. Especially those who have ZoneAlarm set to pop up a window every time something tries to connect to port 80. They complain "This is ridiculous, I can't get any work done because I have to keep closing this popup! Make these attacks stop!"


There's little more frustrating than learning new things without the chance to use them.

I've been reading all sorts of guide to good programming. Design Patterns and the like. Unfortunately, I'm currently in a job where nobody's heard of SDLC, nobody has time to apply it, all architectural work was done years ago, and it's a matter of adding a business rule here and a report there. OO? Not even a consideration. We can't even come up with a decent set of internal tools, either because nobody will agree on them, nobody is given time to implement things people agree on, or they are still-born because "you can't teach all [five] of the developers to do that."

Now, while rigorous software design could surely help this company, it's hard to convince other people of that where average projects need to be done in a week and there are vast expanses of code that are so fragile that any attempt to modify them break... even when the person doing the modification has been with the company for >10 years.

This has taught me something: you must keep some distance from customer demands. Part of our problem is that we try to provide extremely short turnaround on customer requests, quoting them a price and due date before getting anything more than a vague request. There are no requirements drawn up, yielding the expected iteration of code, test, deliver, repeat. There's no time for reflection, to think whether the architecture needs to be changed, or how this should be generalized.

Regression testing was attempted and abandoned before I arrived at the company, and internal documentation is of the "Ask Bob" variety.

Combine this with the report that ebizo mentioned, and it amazes me that any software works at all. Where are the companies that follow good practices? (And are any on Long Island hiring?)

8 Jun 2001 (updated 8 Jun 2001 at 01:11 UTC) »

I think you should be happy about the fact that the iBook finally has a halfway decent resolution LCD even if it did lose the annoying color scheme. As a Thinkpad toter, I'm rather happy bith my black slab, since it's bigger and faster than an iBook, which means I can have more fun with it. (Of course, it also cost more....) If you're more concerned with appearance than what's inside, get a can of spraypaint....


Time for me and my black slab to do a crosscountry trip, unfortunately the only hacking I'll likely do will be work-related. But it did give me an excuse to pick up a power inverter so I can charge in the car.

Have the new replacement for Springies set up, which is good. Still need to set up the CD-RW, which will involve tithing for a new SCSI cable.

No substantial hacking on anything lately... real life has intruded.

Note to self: It's nice that your laptop can go till lunch on battery, but it would be even nicer if you remembered to bring the power cord so it didn't have to!

This just hasn't been my morning. I'm out of Dr Pepper at work and I forget my power supply. Duh....

Not much hacking done lately. I'm putting a replacement together for my home server, to replace the 6.5 year old Pentium 60. It still works, but it's gotten to the point where I'm afraid to open it up for fear it won't start up again. The new machine is a PowerEdge 1400SC from Dell. It's not running the factory RHL install since I'm switching machines over to Debian. The only unhappiness about that is the server agent won't work... but Dell doesn't supply kernel modules for any recent kernel anyway. They really should wake up and see that not even RH thinks 2.2.16 is a good idea anymore.

Picked up a USB joystick to play old Wing Commander IV. So I have my first USB toy and it already works under Linux. Very good, anyone who had anything to do with it!

One fewer sourceless project on sourceforge. Scrapbook has been released. Don't let the high version number induce thoughts of stability or features! But since the app has worked for me for a couple years, I felt it deserved the version number of 0.02.

Wow. Been busy lately.

Got my domain name working, so everyone can visit my incipient website. I haven't maintained a website in at least 3-4 years, so this is from scratch. Learning CSS and catching up on HTML4 so that it hopefully sucks not as much as other sites.

While I'm doing this, I've started a sourceforge project for Album (now Scrapbook). I intend to do a quick replace of the names and upload CVS onto there, then do a quick release of things as they are now. It isn't a perfect app, but it works for me and hopefully more users will induce me to spend more time improving it. I'll post a link to the project as soon as it actually has something up... at least a minimal webpage or something.

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