Older blog entries for amk (starting at number 17)

Made a preliminary attempt at packaging up the Z Object Database, in order to make it possible for people to install it easily and then write software that requires the ZODB. Digital Creations seems to have no interest in making the software readily available outside of Zope, so I polished up my setup.py scripts, added MANIFEST files, and wrote some instructions.

Book review: Mike Nelson's Movie Megacheese, Michael J. Nelson
A collection of Mike's columns from Home Theater magazine. More entertaining than the Roger Ebert book I recently read, and a few absolutely side-splitting sentences are scattered through it: "Much of Twister was done in the digital domain, with 1s representing incompetence and 0s representing crap." (A sentence whose memory gave me serious giggles in a meeting today when someone mentioned a binary flag.)

Yesterday: Wrote a section on augmented assignment. Added a BerkeleyDB test suite from Stefane Fermigier; I really need to make a new release of the code. No actual discussion at book club, but luckily Martha brought a nifty game called Fluxx and we played two games of it; I'm going to have to get a copy.

Today: Released BerkeleyDB v2.9.1. Downloaded the latest version of LaTeX2HTML in order to make a new HTML version of "What's New"; the obnoxious fiddling required to produce good HTML from LaTeX never stops annoying me. The sooner TeX/LaTeX are dead and buried, the better; I think that will happen around 4 years from now.

Wrote most of the python-dev summary on the Metro in the morning (thanks to my new laptop), and posted it in the evening. Proposed writing a PEP for improving the CGI-related modules for Python. Got started on the job of hand-writing a natural Python interface for BerkeleyDB. (It's amazing how much cruft SWIG adds under the hood!)

Barbara and I finally took the Capital Hauntings tour on our second try; last week's was cancelled because of rain, and while it rained briefly during this evening's walk, it wasn't hard enough to make the guide cancel it. The Washington DC walk turned out to be better written and organized than the Ottawa one, with some care given to telling stories in a satisfying order that led to some sort of conclusion or overriding impression. However, the guide wasn't equipped with a cape and lantern, which would have added a lot to the mood on this cloudy and thundery day. The tour took about an hour and a half, but didn't cover much territory, only going over a few blocks around Lafayette Square and ending on the sidewalk in front of the White House.

When I got home, I then stayed up until midnight finishing off and posting the latest python-dev summary, and also setting up a temporary archive for them.

A bunch of minor check-ins at work, and we also roughed out an interface for adding base processes. I worked a bit more on translating the sequence builder to Quixote, but am still far from having anything functioning. In the evening I finished the Python emulation of the ncurses has_key() function, and submitted a minor cleanup patch to various modules to use the METH_VARARGS macro instead of the constant 1.

At work, I checked in the last bits of persistent sessions for Quixote and started trying to debug some JavaScript, which is always tedious and annoying. Earlier this week Neil proposed a far more Pythonic syntax for PTL, and today he implemented it using Jeremy's compiler code. Neil's syntax looks like this:

template equip_form(wizard, title, errors):
    from mems.ui import standard

""" <table border=1> <tr><th>Equipment</th></tr> """ wizard.text_field( "manufacturer", "Manufacturer" ) ... "</table>"

Basically it's Python syntax, but every expression is converted to a string and added to the output. Now, what to do with the old templating code? One of these days I need to wrap up Quixote for a 0.2 release (or at least get a licence for it and then put it on SourceForge).

Only Martha and I showed up for book club, so after waiting for half an hour, we gave up; maybe next week we'll finally finish Thucydides, after starting it back in April (feels like aeons ago). Knocked another item off my TODO list, a minor but useful fix to the gzip module.

Got back from my vacation yesterday; see my full diary for the details. Picked up Duncan from the vet's this morning.

Watched Earthshock, another unremarkable DW episode, but at least Adric got to behave in a vaguely mature fashion for his final appearance. Did some final errands, and I'll soon leave for the airport: up to Montreal to visit my parents & other relatives, attending OLS later in the week, and with a lengthy list of things to do. See you there...

Got up early and finished off a patch to add os.poll(). In the evening, did some work on my Python patch queue. My CD player is suddenly mysteriously stopping while playing; I suspect it's about to die.

You know, now that I'm watching them again, the early Peter Davison episodes of Doctor Who are really quite mediocre. While I still like Davison's breathless portrayal (and can behave that way myself when I've had enough caffeine), the stories aren't very interesting, "Four to Doomsday" being impressively bad, while "Kinda" and "The Visitation" are merely dull.

So much for having a productive day. The morning went well, with Greg and I roughing out a design for the process editor, and then starting to implement it; implementation quickly recursed down into working on the basic Equipment and EquipmentTemplate classes. Just before I went for lunch, the Leica technician showed up, and I wound up sitting in a cleanroom suit for 5 bloody hours without any lunch, in order to babysit him. At least we now have a working wafer handler, for automatically picking up silicon wafers out of a cassette, aligning them, and putting them on the microscope stage. The intention is to eventually support inspecting an entire cassette using the Remote Microscope system.

By the time he left it was 6PM, and I was so aggravated at losing the entire half-day that I just stormed out without trying to do anything else. My boss Michael handed out copies of this MIT Technology Review article on the MEMS-based optical switches that are really hot right now.

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