Older blog entries for amk (starting at number 2)

Took care of the various things I did during the California trip; pyexpat.c patches, Distutils scripts for some bits of Zope, Web page changes.

Last night, went w ith a few friends to see Eric Idle in concert with a few friends; it was mildly amusing, but not great, and not worth the shockingly expensive ticket cost ($55! -- I found out the cost after agreeing to go) The few bits of original material were the high points for me, since they were actually new -- a song about the Getty Museum in LA, a gender-reversed version of the Noel-Coward song from Meaning of Life (oh, you know the one I mean). Seeing yet another performance of the argument sketch, or the Lumberjack song, was familiar and boring, though at least Peter Crabbe and Mark Ryan, two of the accompanying troupe of actors, did pretty good approximations of Cleese and Jones.

Book review: The Practice of Programming, Brian W. Kernighan, Rob Pike
A discussion of the stylistic side of programming, covering how to structure programs, and how to debug, test, and optimize them. While there's some material worth reading here, this really should have been a 50-100 page essay and not a 240-page book. Chapter 2, 3, and 9, on algorithms, a sample Markov chain program, and on notations, could have been completely dropped from the book without losing anything very important or interesting. The chapters on testing and portability offer little beyond a few generalities, while the debugging coverage is quite good, emphasizing the importance of carefully tracing causes and forming a hypothesis to explain a bug, and the style chapter is a modernized and greatly condensed restatement of Kernighan and Plauger's The Elements of Programming Style. Worth a quick skim, paying more careful attention to the more interesting chapters, but not of much long-term value.

Mostly wrote test suites at work, and completed the first run at coding our existing access control system in Python, along with a bit of sysadmin stuff like recompiling kernels and creating a new mailing list for the Matisse project. In the evening, made a second pass at the Python 1.6 document, and began preparing for my visit to Berkeley next week.

Book review: The Victorian Internet, Tom Standage: This little book skilfully draws parallels between the rise and fall of the telegraph in the 19th century and the rise (so far) of the Internet. Many of the parallels are pretty apt: the early days of telegraphy enthusiasts who faded away as the technology became commercialized and the machinery more automated; the far-flung communities that chatted during quiet periods; romances, marriages, and crime taking place over the wire; and the inexorably accelerating pace of life mandated by the increased information. At around 220 pages, this book provides a few hours of entertainment, and a fair number of insights.

Argh, yet another annoying compilation glitch turned up in the PyExpat module (didn't work with 1.5.2, only the 1.6 CVS tree); issued a test release of the XML package to see if it's fixed. Announced the existence of Quixote, a foolish attempt to tilt at the windmill of Yet Another Web development framework. Decided to begin copying from my diary entries onto Advogato.

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