Older blog entries for Johnath (starting at number 21)

Today I finished school.

Today's diary entry is brought to you by the word: Transition.

End - I submitted my last marks file today for the course I tutor. I've TA'd this course for 4 semesters now and it's been a lot of fun. I may have actually set a couple novice programmers down the right path. I'll have to find another way to teach now, I like it.

End - I am studying for the first of my 2 exams - Natural Language Programming. This is it - I write one wednesday, one in early May, and then school's done. I will come back, I will take other courses but in the larger sense, for the time being, school is over.

Beginning - I bought The Java Programming Language 3rd ed. the other day. That means I'm officially ready to start the Java binge that will occupy much of May. That in turn reflects the fact that I will be starting work for IBM in a month.

Beginning - Last Saturday Amy and I signed the lease. We are officially apartment owners now. We are officially roommates now. We even put a deposit down on a couch, chair and ottoman set we like. I don't know whether this, or the IBM job, is the bigger beginning.

Beginning - My 8" Sabatier Chef's Knife arrived last Friday, meaning the trip towards becoming a competent cook has also started. Of course, I can't do anything with it yet except take it out and look at it approvingly, or slice baby carrots with it - but you know, I'm still jazzed. :)

Goodness, my certs are slipping fast: from Journeyer down to Observer in a month or so. What's that about?

4 days left. I don't want to sound like I'm just waiting for school to be over, I've loved university life, and a non-trivial part of me still clings to the notion that these will not be my last days here, that I am just going on hiatus for a bit. Having said that though, in 4 days, I'll be 2 exams away from being a University Graduate, "with all the privileges and responsibilities of that rank." Man. 4 years of essay writing and formalized thinking have left me no better off for expressing how I feel.

May is going to be a really great month, I think. One day of interruption to write a logic exam in what will otherwise be a month of hacking and knowledge absorption. I will get to make some important upgrades to CanonicalTomes.org and maybe even some upgrades to beep, of all things. That, plus learning all there is to know about Java. We're talking immersion. We're talking remind-me-to- change-my-underwear-and-eat-occasionally immersion. By God, it'll be beautiful.

Amy got the IBM job. The ramifications of this sentence are myriad and complex, so if necessary, re-read it. It means that we can sign a lease. It means that we can buy furniture. It means she and I will be living together. It means we will both be in positions we like, at good pay, and insofar as the above contributes to one's sense of wellbeing in the universe, it means we will be happier.

I'm so in to cooking now. 4 years of living in an apartment without a stove has made me nutty. I'm all about cooking now. If May is Java-month and June is Getting- Established-in-New-Life-month, then so help me July through December will be Johnath-learns-how-to-be-a-badass-cook- month. I can't wait. Yesterday on impulse I picked up a Sabatier 8" Chef's Knife (forged, of course) for $15. It's an "Elite" which is a far cry from their nicest line, but an 8" forged high-carbon blade for $15 is tough to pass up. Or maybe I'm really obsessed with this cooking thing.

How cool is it that CanonicalTomes has precisely the books I will need for Java- and Cooking- months? It does exactly what I want it to. This pleases me.

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.

12 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!