Spooky is currently certified at Master level.

Name: Callum McKenzie
Member since: 2003-09-06 09:17:17
Last Login: N/A

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I am the current gnome-games maintainer and in my spare time I pretend to be an atomic physicist working on quantum information processing.

Recent blog entries by Spooky

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Work

Bah, I'm in late at work trying to get the data I need. It's not even real data, just calibration data. Nor does it help that I started looking in the wrong place, but that's why you do calibration runs: to make sure you're using the right parameters.

If one in two runs works, then I will be out of here in time for volleyball. Unfortunately only about 1 in 3 is currently working out. Bugger.

Romantic Stuff

Cushla and myself are now engaged. Actually we've been engaged for some time but hadn't actually gotten around to actually telling anybody. Since we bought rings a week ago we felt we'd better own up to it now. So there you are, we're engaged. No idea when we're going to hold the weeding or anything like that (well, Cushla knows what she wants to wear, and we're thinking about an evening ceremony on the beach with a bonfire, but nothing actually firm).

For those who want more details, imagine the circumstances surrounding jdub's engagement and then reverse everything. Yes, that does meant that she proposed to me. It also means that our families only knew after the fact and that it wasn't done on a beach. It also wasn't a complete surprise.

It did take us a while to figure out if we were serious or not (hence not telling anyone). We are serious about each other, we're just not that serious about marriage as an institution. At least not the traditional marriage thing.

20 May 2004 (updated 20 May 2004 at 03:27 UTC) »
GNOME with 64-bits

I've found the gconf problem (and filed the patch in bugzilla). It was one of those classic 64-bit vs. 32-bit problems, combined with endianess issues. An int* had been passed to a function which expected a gsize*. gsize is 64-bits long and so the function was filling out the int and then some. This wasn't the actual cause of the bug though, on a big-endian system the first four bytes, that the caller sees when it dereferences its int, are the top 32 bits of the size, i.e. zero for the small files gconf uses. So gconf assumes the file is empty and tells the app that there isn't any such key. Little-endian machines luck out and get the right half of the 64-bit number.

Moral of the story: Always make sure you pass the correct pointer to a function. Not doing so is always a bug.

The other bug I'm seeing (and posting bugs for when I notice them) is dodgy pointer arithmetic involving casting the pointer to an int, doing something, and then casting it back. e.g.:

pointer = (char *)((unsigned int)pointer - 1);

On ppc64 ints and pointers are different sizes. Doing this chops off the high 32-bits of the address. Fortunately on Linux the code is loaded at 0x1000000 and the program is question doesn't normally chew more than 3G of data so it works.

Moral of the story: Never, ever, cast a pointer to an int. In C, the compiler will either let you do the operation directly or it is a bloody stupid thing to do.

Spatial Nautilus

I avoided mentioning this on the desktop-devel thread-of-doom, but I have a hunch I know why a lot of experienced nautilus users hate spatial mode. File managers work best when navigating data you've organised with that file manager. Spatial mode encourages wide, shallow trees with easy access for the things you care about (actually it probably encourages easy access for everything because you don't want to spend time burying things you don't care about). The people complaining seemed to have very deep, 10 000 file, home directories. Maybe that is the problem.

I like spatial nautilus because it adds value over the shell. Browser nautilus didn't. In fact I usually used a terminal in preference to nautilus.

Colour-blindness

My current work involves me wearing glasses which cut out near-IR light. Unfortunately they also cut out a lot of red light giving me an artificial form of colour-blindness. Using a computer has been an interesting experience. There are some good bits, magenta is now an almost pleasant colour, but there are also some subtle things that catch you out. Like all the suits in aisleriot being nearly the same colour.

After the release of 2.7.1 I've been taking some time off gnome-games maintainance to focus on other free-software toys. The main project has been getting a full 64-bit distro running on my G5. This is basically Fedora for the IBM pseries stuff with a few tweaks. It now runs X and GNOME.

The good news is that most GNOME programs do vaguely sane things when gconf isn't returning anything. The bad news is that I discovered this because the new XML back-end (i.e. markup, not libxml) doesn't like reading files on a ppc64 machine. Tonight's project is figuring out why. Fortunately the libxml based oldxml still works.

After that I'll be back to gnome-games, making sure that it is 64-bit clean (I know of at least one bug that hints that it isn't).

Meantime at work I'm using the machine I helped build for my PhD. It's strange to be using it again after four years.

Reading about worms infecting Microsoft systems is sort of like reading about a civil war in some distant country. I know that it is bad and that it is wrong and that the people caught in the middle of it are hurting but in the end it is just so far from anything that affects me that I can't make myself care.

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