Older blog entries for AlanShutko (starting at number 8)

Ah, it's the weekend. Time to relax and figure out why my wireless access point periodically goes crazy and requires a reboot. Well that's the problem of playing with new toys, but it's really nice to wander around cleaning with a laptop near me at all times.


I'm not sure why you think using spaces instead of tabs will make source more difficult for someone else to read. At worst, it'll make them read it exactly the way you wrote it. How is that bad? If they don't like your style, they'll have problems anyway... there are more differences between C styles than tab stops.

If you only use TABS at the beginning of lines, you'll probably do alright with people using different tab widths. But sooner or later people will want to line up things which come after text... maybe variable names in declarations, maybe comments after code. That's when tabs are a big problem, because what lines up for you at 8 spaces per tab may suddenly not line up at 4 spaces per tab. Spaces don't have that problem.

Funny thing, I also have a MARC binary->ascii converter. I wrote mine as part of a larger project to make an EndNote-like app for X. My MARC converter also can display human-readable names for fields and subfields, btw.

My project has been put on the back burner, but if you're interested in something like that maybe we can get it off the ground.


Wikis don't seem to do all the stuff I want. First, AFAIK they require you to check the wiki all the time to see new stuff. This isn't bad when you're building a knowledge store, because then you can find new information when you need to look at it, but it isn't as conducive to a conversation.

Mailing lists are good because people can forget about them when they're quiet, but when someone posts, you're immediately reminded. You have big flags showing when someone is asking a question... you don't have that built-in on a wiki.

So, I think there are definate places for mailing lists. They haven't been replaced by wikis, and I don't think they will be. They serve different needs.

But I'm not just interested in mailing lists. Mailing lists are everywhere, and they're pretty easy to put up. What I'm interested in is the egroups infrastructure. It's insanely easy to put together a new mailing list, for one thing. But once you do, you get all sorts of tools:

  • A file area.
  • A calendar, which would make it even easier to schedule things than a mailing list.
  • Little flatfile databases you can use, with predefined schema for address books, recipes, FAQs.
  • Polls, included automated shutoffs, result counts, etc.
  • Automated mailing of faqs and such
  • A chat room

You get all this stuff for every list, without having to put the pieces together yourself. Now, most lists I've seen don't use all that, but it's there, and easy to use if the group decides to. And you can take advantage of everything without having the knowledge to set it up, and they all have pretty decent interfaces.

It's just like sourceforge. Sourceforge gives every project tons of tools, which they may or may not use, but they're more likely to because they don't have to develop or install those tools themselves. And the release of the sourceforge code means you can set up your own targetted project groupings on your own machine.

I want that kind of thing for free software mailing lists. A wiki isn't a replacement for all that, although it would certainly be a good tool to add to the list. (After all, people could want their own wikis for their groups... less wikiname conflicts.)

26 Jan 2001 (updated 26 Jan 2001 at 17:28 UTC) »

Checked in some minor fixes to gweather I've had hanging around for months, waiting for CVS write access.

Also playing with starting a list on yahoo groups (nee egroups, nee onelist). They really have a fairly nifty setup with lots of features. Things like the built-in flatfile db, the autoposting, file area, calendar and polls are pretty cool, and I could see them being very useful to a community. Unfortunately, egroups has two major problems:

  • Ads, which can be fixed by paying some money
  • Lack of control, which can't.

It would be neat if there were an open-source system which were similar. Right now, if you wanted to set up an in-office set of lists, you couldn't... you wouldn't want all your private info going through egroups and being archived outside your company. Or maybe you're a large institition like a university which wants to set up a tailored set of lists, give some groups more file space, allow others to run CGIs, etc.

I'm thinking something like the sourceforge software, but with the features from egroups. (Maybe even the sourceforge software: I don't know how many mailing lists need a CVS repository, but many projects would benefit from polls and the calendar.)

Of course, with my CFT I'll probably not get around to it for a few years... maybe someone else is interested?

Ok, so it never did inspire me. Things have just been a bit busy. I've done some stuff for home (updated my envelope printing cgi, came up with a logo for our apartment, more maintenance on album, which needs a new name since freshmeat has a project named that way) but nothing that should see the light of day. It's terribly hacked up, and needs massive reworking.

Yes, I know open source will fix it, but it's a matter of pride. I could fix it, and I don't want a potential employer to look at it and think that's all I'm capable of. (It's just all I'm capable of when letting a prototype grow into a monstrosity.)

But I'm looking into literate programming and I'm going to redesign my toys (whether they end up in cweb or something more universal is yet to be determined).

Gosh, it's been a while. I'm no longer a Corel Slut, but I still haven't had much time for hacking. The weather has been, overall, pretty good and I've been spending more time outside doing fun things than working on code. And other hobbies have begged for time. But now I have a new Thinkpad A20p and getting everything working under Linux has inspired me, so I may actually code something! Try to fix up some of the projects I've had lying around.

Anyone interested in working on a bibliography/reference manager?

Not much hacking lately... Corel's been making a bunch of releases, and as an official Corel Slut new stuff sucks up some time.

Ok, this is a test entry to see what's up with Kai's W3 problems... hmmm... I dunno. Let's see & <if> w3 mungles this.

Long time, no posts. Not surprising, because I really don't have that much to talk about, OSS-wise.

Recently, I've been getting back into FRPG and most of my time's been devoted to catching up, looking for a campaign, and that sort of thing. If anyone is in Long Island, email me. 8^)

I am working on a clone of TableMaster, a table rolling program. It is a useful tool, but has all the drawbacks of non-free software: it's limited in terms of platforms, it's been basically abandoned by its author (there's a website, but ordering it requires at least nine months of effort). I don't know if it's actually buggy enough to be commercial software though. Whee... it looks like the domain above isn't there anymore, so maybe they're officially dead.

Right now, I'm reimplementing it in C. I realized the other day that parsing it and doing the output would be really, really easy in Perl, but I don't know how to do any of the computation in perl (not so good with perl here) and I already have a bunch of C code for this, so I'm going to keep going this way. I'm rewriting my parser right now... the language is really not very lex and yacc friendly, and I've decided that the pain I was going through trying to make it so was not working.

Album is still around, but the couple people who've been interested in being my beta testers haven't had a recent enough version of imlib, so I haven't done much on it. Anyone interested in it, shoot me an email. I'll probably toss it up somewhere once I find a home for it (my current web space is at my old uni, and it could go away at any day).

Ok, took a look at gPhoto. It's really oriented at being a glorified camera download program, and mine is a picture management program (since I have a Mavica and don't need a camera download program). I'll try to throw something together and find some web space for it.

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