Older blog entries for dancer (starting at number 73)

New Year's Eve

Closure. Specifically, with my ex-fiancee (now married to one of my best friends...I'm now married to his ex-fiancee...this all happened about ten years ago). She dumped me...or, more correctly, she dumped the person I was...and rightly so, too. I cannot (and at the time, could not then) fault her choice.

A few unmemorable sentences were exchanged new-year's-eve, and love is there once more. It never left, of course...but it had become overlaid with awkwardness. In that moment, we set the awkwardness aside, and all is well again. We love each-other, and are happy at the way things worked out...both for ourselves and each-other. Uplifting.

In other news: The pool was green when we got there. Hours of effort were required to bring it up to swimability. It was _still_ green, when we did, but it was a much paler colour and all the tests showed good. Much time mixing and pouring chemicals and stirring with a pole.

Was handcuffed to (variously) a leggy czech girl, her husband and Tesric.It complicated the evening, but the complications were amusing.

Water balloons.

Got a cute little bleeder on my forehead. Got grazed by the seam of a volleyball while stretching out to snag a frisbee out of the air (I caught it).

Mother came down with a hospital-strength flu. Much of that visiting was at a respectable distance. She presented the sort of dichotomy that I've come to expect, viz: (a) She could find nothing aesthetically wrong with my hair and had to agree that it looked nice....However, (b) she knows in her bones that people with hair that is long (or too short) are Not To Be Trusted. Same goes for beards. Same goes for people not in suits. *sigh*

All in all, however, New Year's Eve was a huge success.

The turn of the century

It is not only the beginning of the 21st century, but the 100th anniversary of Australian federation. What the media circus ultimately did with it is this: a) Focused on the whole federation thing, mostly ignoring the new century. b) Breathlessly announced the start of the new Millenium (shamelessly ignoring that they did all that last year), and c) Showed all the same documentaries over again...While I was in Brisbane I was more-or-less treated to the same programming in the same timeslots as last year, except for the centenary thing.

As far as the centenary thing went, I'd like to give you some highlights. Problem is, there don't seem to be any. The events themselves seemed poorly concieved, and any merit they might have had was reduced to thin drivel by the media circus. Charles Dickens couldn't have written a story about it. Notwithstanding that, the media gets to run with this one until July. Federation wasn't instantaneous here. I can see myself shaking my head sadly in front of the television for the next several months.

apgarcia: The Epimenides paradox.

Four weeks since my last entry. Where have I been? What have I been doing?

Under some kind of rock, apparently. But a nice kind of rock. I've had visitors, whom I have entertained naked. In fact, it's far easier to entertain people if you have no clothes on. Leastways, someone is going to get a laugh, right? It's that time of year. I rarely wear anything over summer. Although I almost walked out to the mailbox without dressing. Bad Dancer!

I've left the house only twice this week, for brief periods. The third will be to head to the airport in a few hours. Every year we all try to get back for our scheduled New Year's Eve party in Brisbane. We've been having the same party in the same place since about 1985. Why stop now? We get to start before noon on the 31st, hit the pool, and generally grind our brains and livers into silly-putty by 4am, the following morning. By 8am, we're quiet, but cheerful and back in the pool before a late breakfast.

We have all manner of delightful little traditions, but I'm not going to talk about them now. I've got to get a few short hours sleep before my flight.

See you in the 21st century.

Dancer interviews himself

Question: Hasn't it been a while since your last entry?

Answer: Yes, it's been a while. No, I haven't forgotten you.

Question: Just how hard can it be to lay hands on two 8-port 100Mbps full-duplex switches, 25 metres of UTP, and a half-dozen patch-leads? I mean, not difficult kit, right? How long could it take to grab these items?

Answer: 8 days, so far. 11, if everything goes right from here.

Question: Aren't you apalled by this?

Damn straight.

Question: How long does it take three servers to be delivered?

Answer: 5 weeks to fill out the consignment note, about a minute to get the shipment completely confused with another one, perhaps another few seconds to omit the network hardware (see the previous question), and about 48 hours for them to get here. (A touch bent in transit. Some reassembly required)

Question: What have you been doing with yourself?

Answer: Depends on who you talk to. Working, resting, that sort of thing. Nothing much to speak of.

Question: How's that Exult whatsit going?

Answer: Very well. We released our first alpha (most projects would call it a beta - probably a third or fourth beta). We're on track for a second alpha in a week or so. Our popularity soars, and the team could probably win a US presidential election, if we could afford a few lawyers.

Question: Wasn't that a cheap shot?

Answer: Well, I'd hope so, but possibly it wasn't.

Question: Any other plans in the forseeable future?

Answer: Well, it's been suggested that I go to a linux event with Telsa. Some people think I could pass for Alan, in such company. I dunno, though. I'd have to cover the grey in my hair...but if anyone saw me awake before 9am, they'd know I wasn't the genuine article. Although the Scooby Doo DVD would probably throw people off the scent for a while.

Question: Why do you ask yourself such odd questions?

Answer: Well, I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition.

Thank you, and good-afternoon.

Been a while since I posted an entry here. Been occupied with things. All of which are now much more organised since I got myself a PDA (a blue Handspring Visor deluxe. Tasty). I owed myself a birthday present, in any case.


Issues with transshipping of hardware. Been working on whatever I have to hand...which turns out to be a 486SX/25 pizza-box that runs at a glorious 12 bogomips. It makes working somewhat of a pain. Thankfully, it's only temporary, if all goes well the transshipment should be here any day...but I have some doubts about that. Information to hand would suggest that perhaps the servers have not left the building, and have simply moved to some other location in the building. We shall see.

Installed Redhat 6.2 for this. Redhat installs like a dream, I found...This is the first time I've used it. Unfortunately, after that point, it starts to get a bit nightmarish for updates and installs of packages. I've gotten too used to debian's no-brain apt-get and dependency resolution. Redhat is Very Scary in this area.


Netdancer has joined the project to do documentation for us. Now we are 8. We now have debian packages and the framework for RPMs (though not any built RPM packages yet, I think).

We've finally got a game we can play, and we're playing it. Amazingly, we're really enjoying it. Familiarity does not in this case breed contempt. The game rocks. Yes, we're finding bugs and issues that need to be sorted, and occasionally introducing bugs with our fixes, but we're proceeding steadily towards 1.00. Muchly proud of all the people who are pouring effort into it. Kudos particularly to the people out there who are spending long hours playing, testing, and enjoying the game...their feedback and reports are vital.


Submitted a bug report to bugs.gnome.org. I found the cause of a whole slew of issues with esound, and reported it. Hopefully that will fix a number of people's problems.


There's been a big push at work over the last week to move things in behind the firewall. Unfortunately, that ended up including the SSH and VPN gateways that we remote workers use to work. Good one, guys. Can we have them back now?

Emailed SH@$OLD_JOB as previously arranged, to see if they've figured out what (if anything they want me to do). Waited one week and sent a followup yesterday. No answer. I assume this means that $OLD_JOB is either (a) Not able to answer my basic question ("what do you want me to do?") or (b) SH is too frantic to answer email. Either would be a bad sign.


There's been a flurry of forward progress just recently. And eek a fan recognised me from my days writing and selling interactive fiction. Scary.


apgarcia: Not at all. There's nothing really noble about wrestling with segmentation faults, memory allocation and null-termination simply because your pride is hurt by someone testing and tuning facilities before you got there. The average C++ programmer in my experience is a miserable hack with no clear idea of what he (genderless) is doing or why, and shouldn't be allowed near code that other people will use or maintain. Good C++ programmers are hard to find....that's why we get paid a fortune. And it's not the language's fault. It's all about attitude.

C++ when bundled together with STL is huge, daunting, and full of feeping-creaturism. Well, duh. Wait until you see the next standardisation of C. If the standards committees didn't learn something from C++, the next standardisation of C will be truly to be feared. This has an upside, however. C++ is full of scary, dangerous concepts, twisted-seeming features, and mazes of twisty-little-passages, sometimes to no clear purpose, all laid over the top of a very clean core language. BUT...in actual practice as an 'expert' C++ programmer, I've found a situation where each and every one of those only-a-mother-could-love-it features has been a simple, elegant and obvious solution. Yeah, people went overboard cramming things in...They were diverse people, with diverse work, and diverse needs. Each of those feeping-creatures was to address a real problem, and you may well need them someday to avoid true ugliness.

In it's simple form, however, C++ cheats you of excuses. You no longer have any excuse for a segfault. Not when you can encapsulate pointer-management and memory-management with trivial ease. In training other C++ programmers (some good...some the aforementioned appalling average) every time we've caught a segfault in code, it's been somewhere where use of STL objects (or [this is an important or] any form of equivalent structure) was avoided, for reasons of pride or uncertainty or habit.

Use STL objects. They do the things you need to do often. Deceptively simple things that are so very easy to get wrong. They even do them rather well....although STL is missing about 3 string classes IMO... :)

Travelogue - Days 13-15 - Wednesday-Friday

A comfortable round of meetings and code-reviews, finishing up with double-checking all those last-minute things I need to double-check before walking out the door...Security card, personal possessions, vpn info, all of that.

Next, off to a bar with Mark, Vasan and Danner. They have interesting ideas about how to mix drinks in the USA. Heavy on the spirits, and light on the mixer. I was getting served what were effectively doubles.

Back to the hotel afterwards, where I totally failed to pack, and watched TV instead. Eventually slept.

Travelogue - Days 16 and 17 - Saturday through Monday

Woke up feeling great. Packed, and watched cartoons until Mark and Anitra came to pick me up. Linked up with some friends of theirs Paul and Luke (one from Melbourne, one from NYC....but don't ask me to remember quite which is which). A good lunch at the Courthouse on Broadway.

Back to SFO then, arriving there at 1:30pm. Said goodbyes to Mark and Anitra, and got me checked in for the flight. Waited for hours...the flight was at 5pm. One of the advantages of checking in early, however, is that you get a decent seat. With 27 hours of travel in front of me, I definitely wanted one.

Waited. Flight was late, and there was a gate-change, necessitating leaving the chair I was in and camping on the floor by a pillar at the new gate for an hour. Finally we further boarded. An elderly Thai gentleman was in my seat, and the seat next to him was vacant. I attempted to explain that he was in my seat. Ah...he spoke no english. One of the cabin-crew came and tried to move him, or get him to show his boarding pass. He just hung onto the arms of his chair and yelled and looked frightened (perhaps presuming that they were going to throw him off the flight for some reason). Eventually they gave up, and I took the seat beside him. He then had to squeeze past me every five minutes to go to the toilet. Joy.

We landed in LA in good order about 7pm. My Thai friend was plastered against the window, so I didn't get to see anything of it this time either. I waited until the aircraft was mostly empty, grabbed my carry-ons and hustled to the international. Parked myself there for the next 2 and a half hours.

Boarding was late, but we got off on time. Got the window, this time (my Thai friend was on this flight also...and went through the same routine with someone else's seat somewhere behind me) but the flight path afforded me more or less no view of LA. I'm still wondering what the city looks like, and I've now been there twice. Wound up seated next to a fairly dour elderly couple from Florida. Proceeded to sleep through all the in-flight films (including a couple I wanted to see) and woke up just after the sixth and final film finished.

Then the fun...About an hour before we were due in Aukland, an emergency system triggered and we were informed that we were going to require oxygen. By the start of the second repetition of this message, the cabin crew were moving about making reassuring hand-motions. The flight-crew cut the message off before the third repeat. One crewmember filled a couple of us in quietly. Seems one of the passengers had tried to have a cigarette in the toilets during the flight. The smoke detector had triggered and the emergency systems treated it as 'smoke in cabin'. The crew decided to have him put off in Aukland, and other airlines were informed of the incident. (quote: He's going to have to swim home...nobody will take him now)

A two-hour wait in Aukland, then reboarded about 7:30am, localtime (Monday, now...we crossed the dateline). Several hours of flight time got me back to Melbourne (with no further incidents, thankfully).

The flight got in about a half-hour earlier than anticipated. Since I have no checked baggage, I was able to wait (again) until the flight was mostly clear, and still hit customs and entry well before my fellow rats.

Whew. Home. California seems like some strange sort of dream....

18 Oct 2000 (updated 28 Oct 2000 at 01:15 UTC) »
Travelogue - Day 11 - Monday

Wandered into the office fairly early. Found a task waiting in my mailbox, and got code cut for it before half the dev team wandered in around 11. Fun little job, although there are interesting ramifications about it that continue to appear in email, as different divisions ask questions. Won myself a shiny new task (well, two) to do before the feature-freeze on Tuesday.

Stayed for dinner (curry), then wandered back to the hotel. My legs were sore, which set me limping a little. Noticed at that point that I haven't been limping for about three weeks! None of that stiff-legged, lock-kneed staggering about that plagued me for more than a year at the old job. Hmmmm.

Travelogue - Day 12 - Tuesday

I am getting so much rest, it's amazing. Still dealing with the respiratory infection, but it's minor. Life continues at a very relaxed sort of pace.

Lunch at the office was burritos, which weighed in at about a kilogram each. Whew. The place has multiple kitchens, coin-free vending machines serving chips, chocolate, meat-sticks and other junk delights, drinks-fridges, assorted coffee machines (Keurigs, which are a thing of beauty all on their own. Gotta get me one of those...), oatmeal, boiled sweets, sachets of nurofen, sachets of multivitamins, dozens of types of tea, instant noodles, the list goes on. Plus doughnuts, lunches and dinners served on regular schedules. Mmmmm. HR people come around and hand out toys periodically. (A coincidental issue...the company colours are the same as the last three companies I worked at. Orange, blue, and white. Makes life easier...thankfully, they've avoided actually decorating in them, for a change)

Task one completed in good order (though not without two very minor hitches). Task two turned out to be impractical for technical issues. We wouldn't have had working code before the feature freeze.

Caught up with the elusive Marty for a chat today, and talked through a few things that needed talking through. Looks like I'll be back here four or five times per year, unless the travelling starts to wear on me. I also got a picture of some of the new development that we're working on, parts of which I'll get to do work on. Talk about reinventing the web for content-providers. This stuff rocks.

At the end of the day, lots of code got committed. Feature freeze. Now it's testing and debugging it until November. The next three days will be reviews and test-planning meetings mostly. Then Saturday, I'm back off to Melbourne.

Travelogue - Day 8 - Friday

Was mostly okay again this-morning. Sure, I slept badly, but I was able to take a grown-up attitude to the news, and thought it all through from end-to-end a dozen times.

Worked through two more bugs (well...three actually...investigation revealed that John had actually fixed one of the bugs he assigned to me, and forgotten it). Worked through tests and commits. Slate cleared at the end of the day. Promised another bug or two (and perhaps a feature) to work on next week. Feeling somewhat underutilised. That's probably a very good thing, all things considered.

Travelogue - Day 9&10 - Saturday & Sunday

Nothing. Nil. Zip. Nada. Shut myself in my hotel room for two days and didn't come out. Got lots of rest. Drank coffee, tea, etc. My little respiratory infection is on the way out now. Most pleased. Damn hotel beds are always too firm, though, and I always wind up with a sore lower-back after spending much time in them....and I spent a lot of time in bed.

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