Older blog entries for Johnath (starting at number 18)

Been a busy month.

CT is now in full swing. It's been slashbacked, it's been k5'd, and it's now got well over 500 books, and coming up on 1200 votes. Nice. It is also actually useful now - I've managed to find books in topics I wasn't familiar with that are agreed to be standards (dude, Blacksmithing?) Now it enters the next phase - slower growth, plus some time for me to work on incorporating suggested features and fixes. In this form, it will incubate for a while, followed maybe by a re- announcement down the line, when it's all polished and useful.

School is winding down - 6 things left, 3 weeks left, then it's all over. Man. I don't yet have anything to say about that.

Apartment hunting is going very well, we think we've found The Place - at least for a year or so, till we can pick up a mortgage on a condo. Good location (Yonge & Finch, for any Torontonians reading) - significantly north of the downtown core, but still on the subway line, still very much *in* Toronto. The building itself rocks hardcore, our suite will be a little small but very workable, and hey, right now I live in a 12'x18' basement with no kitchen, so you know, I'll cope.

Still very jazzed about IBM. Very. I have already decided that in May, I will be reading many many books on Java, I will be steeping myself in Java, I will, by the end of it, grok Java in all its infinite glory. And XML. Middleware at IBM means Java + XML, it seems. In a brand new lab facility. Ubiquitous wireless LAN. Multiple on- site cafes and restaurants. This rules.

Birds are coming back, and when I walk across the iced- over grassy parts of campus, the ice is at that stage where everywhere you step, it cracks through, and little fountains of brown meltwater soak your shoes. It tried to snow today, but I think this is just winter throwing a final tantrum; spring is coming very soon, which also rules. Spring is it for me. Except for the rain, I am all about spring.

I have been watching way too much of the cooking channel lately. I am looking forward to having a stove and to being able to cook without a microwave. Anyone recommend a good cooking knife? I want a good cooking knife. Ming Tsai has these really cool looking ceramic knives, all white, and apparently they hold their edge much better than steel, but they're wicked expensive. I'm thinking just a good set of Henckels.

CanonicalTomes.org is up and running. This has been on my mind for the last month or so, since a conversation about it in an earlier advogato discussion spawned multiple offers of free server space. It's getting hits, I'm getting feedback - it's even been trolled a couple times, which had to happen, and which I am still, for the moment, on top of.

Man it feels good to have that done. I'm still obviously going to be very tied to it, with upkeep and so forth, but the site's simple - even the troll removal is pretty straightforward. The hardest part was getting people to notice, and between a kuro5hin article about it which seems to be getting the votes it needs, and hopefully an upcoming mention in a slashback, it should begin babysteps towards usefulness now.

Feels really good.

School is in full swing now, and I just finished off the first segment of my natural language programming course-long-assignment. Man, perl is good at a lot of things, but when you use it for the purposes it was originally designed, gathering, extracting, and reporting data, it absolutely glows.

CanonicalTomes.org is still being hosted on my home system, but is about to move over to reactor-core.org (thanks JW!) and from there, ideally, explode. Everything works now, it's simply a matter of adding extra features where appropriate - and I must say, the whole idea of having a site that may actually take off... has me rather jazzed. By all means, head over and poke at it if you haven't yet. But no submitting to slashdot. :) Actually, the /. guys (well, timothy and hemos) have both been quite cool about the prospect of posting it, though they say they'll hold off till it has some more content - which makes sense.

Life is moving along about as well as can be expected. House-hunting with Amy was cut drastically short when we found out that banks won't issue a mortgage to people who are officially employed "on probation". Now, my position with IBM is a permanent one, not a tentative 1yr contract or anything - but the contract does have the phrase "9 month probationary period" in there, which - I'm assured - is as far as the bank will read before getting out the NO stamp. So we'll rent. I guess a year of renting won't kill me - I just resent building someone else's equity instead of my own. On the plus side though, this means not having to sink myself into some temporarily nasty debt on downpayments and stuff - which means I can actually purchase furniture, and food, and Stuff, which is nice.

Hacking is pretty much solely on canonicaltomes right now which, considering I had to pick up perl and postgres on the fly, is not an insignificant thing, but with luck, the hackery part of it should now be gradient- fading into the maintenance and evangelizing phase. I've got a couple other website thoughts in mind - I think next time I'll try PHP, just so I can compare the feel of external code vs embedded code. Zope also looks very cool. beep is still getting hits, which is great - but it's pretty wrapped up for the moment, barring overwhelming re-architecting (which is a silly word for a 9k program).

CanonicalTomes is a step closer to being done. I'm still hosting it on my own server, because it's still in development, but if people want to play with it a little (http://johnath.com/~ct) I wouldn't mind any feedback that comes in. Be nice, it's running on a p100/32M RAM, so no submitting it to slashdot, but by all means, log in, submit books, submit topics, vote, and tell me what you think (johnath at johnath.com).

(For those who don't know what the hell I'm talking about, CanonicalTomes arose out of a thought of mine that leaked onto an advogato discussion a while back, and which subsequently became an actual Undertaking of mine. It's a DB-driven site - perl + postgres - which aspires to catalog, for each topic of interest to its users, the Bibles of the topic - its Canonical (standard, normal, dictated-by-law) Tomes (books, especially big, important ones) as it were. I don't know how excited this makes people, but it's something I know I would like to have.)

Please, in addition to the site, if you have the time, take a look also at the Privacy and Free Use of Data policies, and let me know what you think on that score. In short the policies are, respectively, "Never give away or use any personal information ever. Never never never." and "Make regular exports of all non-private databases available (i.e. book and topic information) freely to everyone."

Or, if this ain't your cup of tea, ignore what I'm saying here. :)

PS - I put this in diary, not frontpage because I don't want to use advogato for self-promotion that shameless... here's hoping this is good enough to generate a little beta- tester traffic.

Well, with joakim@ximian and reactor-core both making me put my hacking where my mouth is - I'm actually building CanonicalTomes.org. I don't own the domain yet - I'm still not sure the site will come into its own, but there is, at least, a beginning there.

Still have to add in support for creating new user accounts, suggesting new (sub-)topics, and adding new books to the list. On the plus side though, the basic DB stuff is working fine, as does logging in (if one could create an account, that is), voting on already-submitted tomes (those being the ones I hand-INSERT) and actually generating all the topic pages.

I've seen a couple pokes (which I assume are from the advogato crowd) but thankfully, no serious traffic, since there is still officially Nothing To See Here. With luck, this will change soon enough.

Oh, and then there's school, I have to finish CT and get back to that soon. :)

my last semester of university

Pretty odd, finishing school (at least, formal schooling) but I'm trying not to have the standard crisis about it all and succeeding pretty well - I'm looking forward to starting with IBM, and looking forward to a new place to live.

A New Place. Amy and I have been talking about getting a place together. Dad also suggested that he could spring for downpayment, and we could split a condo. The former's been going through my head for longer, and the latter, well, I don't know if my pay would be enough for mortgage plus expenses. I guess there's also an independence thing there with moving in with Dad, but I feel no particular need to exert my independence, I'm comfortable enough with it, and dad is one of the more sane roommates I could envision. Still, he needs to find a place ASAP, and I'm still meandering on the path to insight, so I think he will find a place of his own, and I will get used to the notion that a 22 yr old shouldn't expect to be able to stomach a $160,000 mortgage plus maintenance fees straight outta senior year.

Last semester is going to do weird things to my brain, hacking wise. Only taking one CS course, and it's really more of an AI course - Natural Language Processing. They're teaching it in perl, which feels strangely right for some reason - and you have to respect a course one of whose textbooks is The Camel. Couple that with the fact that I will be re-acquanting myself with all of Java, in anticipation of IBM work, and you make for an interesting term. Of course, I'm taking other courses too - Intermediate and Advanced Symbolic Logic oughta be fun, Minds and Machines definitely will be, and one cannot go wrong with Philosophy of Science.

I will be TA'ng again. Java, again. What can I say, I like teaching that course. I'm guessing the students will be suitably impressed to hear that Java can get you a good job - seems they come in treating it like a toy language. Show me another toy language with excellent crypto, DB connectivity and multithreading support.

I wonder if other people reading these diaries get irked, and feel that diaries at advogato should really be hacking- related only. I hope not, if so, I apologize, but will probably keep writing here, as the spirit moves me. Maybe as school finishes and work begins, my life will automatically become more hacking-oriented; in the meantime I hear it's good to have a life too. :)

#include <boy_it's_been_a_while>

Done half of my exams, two more to go. So sleepy. I've spent 14 of the past 48 hours marking CSC108 - Introduction to Programming (in Java) exams. I think some of my favourites were:

  • if (x != x) break;
  • public String toString() { return "My name is " + toString(); }
  • and the winner:
    String line = in.readLine();
    if(line.equals(line.indexOf(line))) {...}

So now I am very tired - but happily so - it has been an excellent week.

I accepted the IBM offer on Thursday. I am a proud new member of the IBM Toronto Lab's Application Development Technologies group, or will be, when school releases me from its kung-fu grip.

Thursday was also dad's birthday, which was cool since I got to see him again, and since the steak dinner was insanely great.

Thursday as well, Dad told me that I could pick up a digicam for myself as graduation present. Specifically, he told me I could pick up the FujiFilm 4700 Zoom, which is a gorgeous little piece of machinery, and 4.1 megapixels is once again, insanely great - I'll take octagonal CCD over rectangular any day.

This week my group of friends, who tend to keep in touch through an irc channel, migrated our channel over to openprojects.net, where things are just excellent. lilo, it turns out, is very helpful as an IRCop, and the random wanderers coming into the channel make for some excellent conversations.

And finally - I began teaching myself ML last night (as a result of one such conversation). What a pretty language.

6 Dec 2000 (updated 6 Dec 2000 at 06:40 UTC) »

I didn't get to sleep in today. The phone woke me. The phone call, from IBM woke me. The phone call from IBM offering me a job woke me. Actually, the phone call from IBM offering me three jobs woke me. So I didn't mind being woken up. :)

Seriously, I am quite jazzed about this. I have to decide now between ECD (E-Commerce Development), DB2 Tools Development, or Application Development Technology. The offer's the same any way I choose to slice it, and it's a pretty attractive offer I think, coming straight outta undergrad. The offer from Eyal (my psych prof) still beats it by about $20k, but there are a lot of other benefits to working with IBM. I have 2 weeks to choose.

Three days left in school, and in them I have to mark two batches of assignments, write a test, an exam, a knowledge rep. assignment, and a 50% term paper (which I should start). It's going to be lotsa fun - but that's okay - I derive some perverse joy from making my brain sweat. Months later, when I look back on what I did, I will say, as I always do, "I wrote THAT? I couldn't write that now - where did I get that from?"

Courses finishing up is kind of a shame - I had several very cool profs this semester, but on the other hand, sleep - long, undisturbed sleep, will be ever so sweet.

Today in class my cell phone was ringing almost non-stop. Thank goodness for virbrate mode, even if it meant my pocket was buzzing intermittently.

Got several calls from the bank. It seems the line of credit that they approved for me was using a previously assignment account number, which would have been humorous, since I could write cheques with other people's money, but probably would have a downside. Unfortunately, as a result, I have to sign a whole other wack of forms. I hate signing Permission to Perform Credit Check docs, but hey, when other people are giving you money, they get to set the terms I guess, all you can do is agree or go without - all the more reason I should become insanely wealthy in short order.

On that note - more calls from IBM today.

[IBM] Hi, I'm calling to book another phone interview for you with Enoch Ng, from another department. And if possible, there is a fourth department that would like to talk with you, possibly on the same day?

[ME] Uhh. Great! Sure! What?

[IBM] Oh, and I've been asked to tell you also that you will definitely be getting a job offer from us for some department, we just don't know which yet, You have a job here, if you want it.


Second last week of school, and barring head injury, I think I might get through it all. This has been a heavy duty semester, but I so thoroughly grok logic these days. I actually meant that as a positive thing. :)

28 Nov 2000 (updated 1 Dec 2000 at 05:47 UTC) »

2 weeks left in school this semester, and at least one thing due every single day. Splendid. But it's keeping my brain working, so I can't complain - that is after all what I'm paying tuition for.

IBM called today and wanted me to tour the lab and meet the department heads who are interested in hiring me. But on a friday when I have an assignment to submit and a test to write, and they wanted me there for the whole day. I told them no-can-do and that this week and next were pretty full. The HR person said,

"Okay, well I'll talk to the department heads and see if they want to meet with you much later, or just go ahead without meeting you."

I wonder what that means. Amy tells me that it probably means "go ahead and offer you the job without meeting you" and not "go ahead and pass you by for someone who will bother to show up." She's probably right, but I'll still feel better if/when offers start rolling in.

Of course, for offers to start rolling in, my cable would have to hold out long enough for me to pick up email. Given last weekend's 48 hours of 0 connectivity, we'll see. Anyone know how long sendmail will keep trying johnath.com before it decides that I'm dead, and returns the message undeliverable?

I'll soon be in the market for a digicam. What with christmas and new years coming up, and what with a trip to Jamaica (!) on the reading week horizon, it'd be a good thing to have. Anyone have recommendations or warnings?

Today's Psychology Tip: Don't believe anything Margaret Boden tells you about creativity. She's nutty.

9 older entries...

New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!