Older blog entries for Dacta (starting at number 35)

Internet

Registered www.ThisIsNotTV.com today. Why? Because I can and it's not. That will go well with my other unused domain name www.CorporatePropaganda.com. One day I'll get around to doing something with them, I swear.

Standards

There is some interesting discussion on the RSS-DEV (can't find the link at the moment) and Syndication lists at the moment. They are both trying to extend the RSS syntax, which is weird because Netscape (who originally created the format, so probably has the only real case for ownership) isn't involved at all. Now we have the case where no one owns the standard, so no one can really have the final say. No one can even agree what RSS stands for(Rich Site Summary, RDF Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication). Rael from O'Reilly posted a RSS v1.0 spec back in August, but that was met with a lot of disapproval from some sectors because it involved using the full (very ugly and complicated) RDF syntax, and had modularised extensibility. That's fine, but it's not really anything like the original RSS which is simple and easy to use. Originally, I was a pro-v1.0 spec person, but now I've changed my mind and thing the v1.0 spec should be the basis of a new RDF-based syndication format, with none of the baggage of RSS. After all, that is what it is, and the only reason it is called RSS is to make it sound more familiar to the users.

Other

Had a blackout here last night, from 7:30pm until 1:00am or something. I went to bed at 9:00 and started Kim Stanley Robinson's The Memory of Whiteness by the light of my nightstick bike light. Gee, that thing is bright! When I ride with it, it scares other cyclists because they think it is a car coming up behind them - now I see why. It's brighter than my normal reading lights. TMOF is a good book (going by the first 45 mins reading / 47 pages, at least!) - as you would expect from KSR.

decklin: That's a pretty bad story. I'm glad you got your computer back, though.

mathieu: My family is in Jerusalem at the moment. Go easy on the bombing, okay? *S* (They are there on some church thing)

Actually, it was pretty funny (?). I rang them up the other night to see how they were. I spoke to my little sister, and I asked her how things were. She said that things were not too bad, and seemed to be calming down. I asked her what she meant, and she said, "well, we haven't heard any bullets today (!!).

The problem with the situation there is that neither side is totally right or wrong. Like normal, it is the extreamists who screw things up for everyone else. Did you know until the 1920's the Jews & Palistinans got along pretty much okay? The thing that wrecked that was a big influx of Jews who went and bought a lot of land from the Palistinans and started settling. Of course, some of the Palistinans got a bit upset about all their land being bought up and their towns and villages changing, and things have gone down hill ever since. You can't blame the Jews for wanting to return to what is, after all, their homeland. You can't blame the Palistinans for being upset about the places they have been associated with for the last few hundred years changing.

Just when things were getting better in Yugoslavia, too (my Girlfriend is part Serbian, part Croatian.) Why dies it seem everyone I know has to be involved in international trouble-spots? My (other) sister was in San-Sebastion, Spain when they found a car bomb there, too. Perhaps they are all involved in an international terriorist operation attempting to destabalize the world, and everyone knows it but me. Am I paranoid? ;-)

How do you randomize the seed used for

random_shuffle<>
STL function? At the moment it seems to use the same seed every time - or at least I'm getting the same sequence everytime. (VC++ 6.0, if it matters)

WoooHooo! I'm a kick-ass coder hero-man!

(Sorry about that...)

I'm finally doing some coding, and boy, it's nice. It's real coding, too - none of this wishy-washy Java stuff. I'm writing load balancing code in C++, and having great fun.

sohodojo: I wouldn't blame Freshmeat for not posting your spec. There are way, way to many free software projects that create a spec, a wonderful website, and then never do anything again. Have a look on SourceForge at all the unreleased projects that someone created, and then never did anything with.

Hi to Dave Hill, if you are reading this again. Dave is someone I knew/know in real life in Adelaide. I was just wondering if there was a single other Adealaidian who read this, when I get an email from him. It's a small world.

Doing C++ at the moment. As I pointed out in my last entry, I haven't done C++ for a long time. I decidied I had better learn STL, so I got Accelerated C++ after reading good reviews on Amazon. It's very different to any other book I've read - it is focused on writing programs using STL rather than teaching syntax. It's pretty good, but I'd have like it to have been a little more in depth. Still, I'd give it 8/10

Long time without writing, but I've been reading many times a day, while I was supposed to be writing a boring business document.

Work
Got it done (sort of - out of my way, anyway), on Friday. One of the bosses of the company came to me today and said I'd done a good job, and sort of apologised for dumping it on me, when I had no idea about the business or anything. shrug - I did tell them in my interview that I had no interest in business, or in writing business specs.... They are good guys for the most part, though.

So now I'm coding.... or trying to. I've never felt overwhelmed by any programming problem before, but this job is ominous. Lets review, for those who haven't been following:

I'm modifying a Java/Servlet/JSP/Sybase application to talk to a COM/MTS middleware layer, which passes calls to some weird-as-shit back end thing, which is written in C++, but seems more like a COBOL system than anything.

Now, I don't know Java, haven't done C++ for nearly 3 years, and have no idea about COBOL........ The things I get myself into! I managed to find a bug in JDK1.3 for Windows, too.

Family
Most of my family is in Jerusalem at the moment. Not really the worlds best choice of location, if you ask me.

Free
I can't stand the way free software people complain about MS FUD, and then go and claim stupid, wrong things like that Mozilla/K-Meleon start up time on Windows is good, but IE has a big advantage becuase it preloads or some crap! I'd like to point out that this arguement only holds water if Active Desktop is on - apart from that it is pure FUD. Please, please get your facts straight.

A copy of Andover's Open Magazine (the dead tree version) arrived today. Not too bad, but nothing special. A lot of it had nothing to do with open anything, though. Weird.

Music
I haven't got Kid A yet, but I've been listening to OK Computer a lot. Finally got around to getting U2's Actung Baby, to nearly complete my U2 collection. I remember when it came out, I didn't like it, but if I listen to it now (nine (!!!!) years later) I can't believe how fresh it sounds. Also Powderfinger's Odyssey Number Five - an outstanding album - maybe the best Australian album since... I don't know - for a long time anyway.

Very good post by rebecka in the Computer Science vs Engineering article (can't remember the real name, but that is what it's turned into). Read it.

Work:
I know lots more about coding than about business. I care lots more about coding than business.

Some thoughts I wanted to jot down before I forget them:

No form of technology, not matter how advanced or well implemented will change human nature. It is human nature to argue, and no automatic tools seem to be able to do anything about it. (see: Slashdot, K5 moderation systems, Advogato trust matrix, Wiki) Not that arguing is always bad.

Groupthink is a big problem on web discussion pages, and most techincal moderation solutions only increase that problem.

Early adoptors often adopt new things not because they like new things, but because they like the way things used to be "before everyone else came along". I'm not sure if this is true - I need to think about it some more.

Community feeling isn't scalable, but new people joining a community don't realise that what they have joined isn't the same as what it was before. Or maybe there is a critical point above which communities don't scale. Or maybe there is an event which triggers community collapse. Or maybe not.

bma: I'm a Delphi programmer by profession (or was until a month ago), so I'm with you on the Borland tools being much better than VB thing!

I said VB for the reason that you put forward - everyone hates it, but it does what it is meant to do very well (most of the time, anyway).

Rant
Flamewars in Advogato diarys, CPMers (my term for pre-DOS attack people) vs the new users on K5. What's up with the world? Slashdot is looking the sanest place to read at the moment!

aaronl, you should do an internship (with an open mind) at a VB programming shop. I'm not saying that to belittle you or anything - just that I believe that MS has done a pretty good job with ActiveX/COM (apart from the obvious security problems), and seeing it in use might be an eye opener for you. (Actually, I think most Linux programmers should do this, too).

Basically, component architectures allow not-so-talented programmers to build reliable, large applications quickly by using prewritten parts. It's like C programmers use libraries. Yes, there is some "bloat" associated with using genralised code, but the decrease in development time and the increase in reliability more than makes up for it in most cases.

I'm sure you already know this, but I wanted to point it out anyway.

kuro5hin has been.. interesting the last couple of days. There have been roughly 20 stories a day submitted, and most of them have been single paragraph adverts for peoples private website projects. Not good.

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