Older blog entries for Dacta (starting at number 39)

Got an email today asking something about one of my diary entries. It's always nice to get feedback, isn't it?

I got out of bed and booted my computer to write this entry, because I couldn't get something out of my head. I'm reading Kim Stanley Robinson's The Memory of Whiteness. In it they are discussing music, and if anything can be gained by writing about it. That got me thinking.....

Is there anything to be gained about writing about software?
Lately, I've been submitting a lot (8 in the last 2 weeks) of stories to Kuro5hin. They have generally been well recieved, and generated interesting discussion. Now, I suddenly wonder if this is doing any good. I've always participated in forums like K5 and /. to learn and to pass knowledge around. I think I have a talent for finding things out quickly, and I have fairly broard knowledge of a lot of areas.

I've always wanted to share my talents to help things I believe in (free software, and communication between people).

I can write software - in fact, I'm fairly good at it, and I enjoy that, too. However, for some reason I'm not motivated to actually complete any of my myriad of software projects (Motivation is a problem for me at work, sometimes, too).

Writing isn't like that, though. If anyone had told me at school, or even university that I would enjoy writing articles more than writing code I'd have laughed. Now I find it is true - I even have the occasional idea of writing a book (if only I was half as good at writing as I am at coding, I'd make a start). But is it useful, or is it just ego-stroking? Does anyone who reads my (hopefully thought provoking) articles actually go away and act on anything they have read, and do their actions make a difference?

Or should I go back to bed, and tomorrow start YAIMP (Yet Another Instant Messaging Program)?

guerby: I'm in Australia, and I don't know a single person who works on shrinked-wrap software. I'd say 70% of the programmers I know here work on internal IT projects(1), and the rest work on applications sold to and customized for other businesses. I don't know a single programmer who works on an application which is aimed at the home user or even small business market.

Going by some online discussions, I suspect that it must be very different in the 'States. For instance, once on K5 I was discussing Java programming, and I said a large proportion of software for business is written in Java. People thought I was talking about MS Office type software, which I hadn't even considered(2).

(1) This includes a lot of outsourcing, where a company hires an IT consulting company to come and write something for them.

(2)Perhaps that was my fault for not explaining myself better, but I honestly hadn't even considered that when I said Java software for business people would think of Office type software.

srl: With regards to Open Source version of MS's Webtool (see my last diary entry), there is the Apache project's JMeter which look rather good (it is in Java though, which may be a negative for some people). I'll try it out sometime and report.

There is at least one other Open Source Java webserver load benchmarking tool (OSJWLBT ?!?!) available. I can't remember what it is called, but I tried it, and couldn't figure out how to use it, and then I switched to MS Webtool.

andrewmuck: Glad you found my post abotu e- Gold on K5 useful. I think you'll find that most discussion on stories on K5 happens while they are in the voting queue, unless they make the front page. If they make one of the sections, they tend to stagnate, which is a pity.

Did some performance testing of our website using Microsoft's Web Application Stress tool. It's a pretty nice gizmo, and I higly recommend it. It will let you interactivly record a web browsing session, and let you play it back. It records all the headers, cookies, everything. It will also let you load a (IIS) log file, and play that as a session. It has options for the number of similtanous sessions, etc (it's free, too).

I'm creating a version of our web application to get data from a proprietry backend system, via COM/MTS objects to our Java Servlet/JSP website and application server, instead of just hitting a database.

I'm pretty happy - it seems pretty much as fast as the database version at the moment, from what I can tell.


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.


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.


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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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