Older blog entries for jlbec (starting at number 22)

13 Dec 2000 (updated 13 Dec 2000 at 17:30 UTC) »

It is confidence in the men and women who admin-ister the judicial system that is the true backbone of the rule of law. Time will one day heal the wound to that confidence that will be inflicted by today s decision. One thing, however, is certain. Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.


[December 12, 2000]

13 Dec 2000 (updated 13 Dec 2000 at 04:00 UTC) »

Long time, no diary.

Finally got off my arse to complete my CipherSaber. Being a masochistic fool, I did my version in PostScript. It isn't quite good at bookkeeping, so I'll have to clean it up, and it relies on /dev/urandom. Oh well, noone's perfect.

For all you true PostScript masters out there, I know that I didn't handle the errors as well as the language allows, and I'm sure it can be done in half the code, but I used this as a way to learn the language, so cut me some slack :-)


A couple things. First off, crypto++ does look nice after a quick glance. I couldn't see a C binding on the site. Does the package include C-callable prototypes?

Don't worry, I'm not an anti-C++ bigot, but I do use a lot of C, and a high-quality library that I can't use is, well, not useful :-)

On the subject of single Makefiles, I find that liberal Makefile including is even easier to read/handle. Rather than one large Makefile, which is kind of cluttered, I have a toplevel Makefile that is clean, and sublevel Makefiles that are clean, and no recursive make/missing deps to confuse things.

That's just a personal style, of course, but I offer it as a suggestion.


First off, I want to say how much I feel for you. Knowing only what you've posted, I cannot say I know exactly your situation, but I believe I know similarly, and I can only hope it gets better for you.

I don't think it is location. I spent the past three years in Research Triangle Park, NC, where the law mandates 1/3 of the property is trees and the buildings are no higher than the treetops. It is, bluntly, gorgeous. It didn't stop the corporate bullshit. It didn't keep me from being fed up. I was still making a lot less than kids fresh out of college and years my junior. In some ways the lack of "city" kept me more bored and frustrated than if I'd been in a larger area.

Now I live in Belmont, CA. It's Silly Valley alright, if not the Valley proper. You know what? Amy and I find it beautiful. There's some gorgeous views and walks just outside my door. Over the hills is the ocean, and I can't begin to tell you how I love the ocean. I spent three years in Miami with the same affection.

You can avoid the overgrown suburbia. You can hack free software or closed software. You can have great coworkers, great projects, and still be unhappy. If I knew the answer, I'd make a billion writing the book. Had I less morals, I'd write a book anyway, and maybe make those billions with no real answer :-)

I'd guess a change is in order. The move out here did wonders for me. The new job and new location are making me very happy. I can only hope something does the same for you.


squiggy: I too know where you are at. I was there. Lucky for me, my girlfriend Amy saw what needed to be done and basically forced me to make the change. I couldn't be happier for it. Take that time to get yourself ready, find that place you want to be, and go for it. The challenge is there, and you can have it without sacrificing everything else.

raph mentions the trip from Half Moon Bay to Pacifica. I love that stretch. I often just drive it for the sheer beauty, maybe stopping at the North State Beach in Pacifica for some time by the waves. I've only once driven from CA84 to Pacifica, though I suspect I will do it again.

I can imagine how beautiful walking it would be. I don't know that I'd ever find the time myself, but I wish raph all the luck and good mental state he can get.


Amy's parents and sister were in town, and we spent Saturday in San Francisco walking about. We then spent Sunday on the coast. I love this area, and let me tell you, I keep finding more to interest me.

What is it with Italian restaurants in Belmont/San Carlos? Near where we live there are a bunch of such restaurants, and every single one is rather pricey. Not $30 a plate, but more than I'd expect for a small place.

However, in the North Beach district of San Francisco are a ton of excellent cafes/restaurants with prices more like you'd expect. I guess we'll be going into town for Italian. The after-dinner options are better anyway.


raph posted a diary entry discussing the slipshod way many people use scripting languages. He makes many good points, some I've been bitching about for years.

My favorite is the error checking. I've spent a lot of time doing sh scripts for dummies. I've been doing sh scripts in m4 for a long time now, so that I don't have to type out

/bin/foo -bar
if [ "$?" = "0" ]
    do something good
    do something because we broke

every single time. People usually don't check errors because it is tedious. But those errors need to be caught.

My case was a fun one, because it was root-level sysadmin scripts that performed complex tasks. Some of the people I worked with didn't understand or know all the implications, and I had to have my scripts cover those cases. Lots and lots and lots of precondition testing and error handling. I'd have a 400-line script to handle 5 actual command calls.

My scripts never created untenable situations from bad user input or bad conditions. They just printed a nice error and said "try again when it's fixed". This is what a good script should do.

Why sh? Why not perl/python/name-your-own-religion? Because these admin scripts only called system commands. The semantics of Perl's system() or the equivalent are annoying when you just want to run mkdir(1). More complex items may find me in Perl, but these days I'm quicker to C.

As far as quoting goes, spend some time running commands via dsh(1), and you'll get your quoting right. Very right. Quoting isn't hard, you just have to learn the rules.

It occurs to me that the theme for the modern San Francisco nightlife has already been written. By some of the city's residents, no less.

Nothing's shaking on Shakedown Street
Used to be the heart of town

So, I have the possibility of acquiring two celeries. Do I go BP6? Does anyone else know of dual-celery boards? What do I look for wrt the BP6 and possible problems?

Help, anyone. jlbec at evilplan dot org

Golden Rule #1 correctly reads: Bryce is always at fault.

Some folks hate the Bay Area.

Maybe someday I will complain about it. Maybe someday I will itch to leave. Not yet.

I grew up in a city. I have lived mostly in cities. I love the outdoors and solitude, but on their own terms. Raleigh/Durham NC was a small city or a large town, but it was just too city-like to be solitude, and too small and boring to be a real city. Of all the places I've lived, it's the only one I've disliked.

It cannot be described how nice it was to drive into San Francisco the first time and see an actual skyline.

Why do I love this place? Saturday I had lunch in San Francisco with raph, Ankh, and Ankh's MOTAS, Clyde. The food was excellent. That evening, Amy and I went to dinner at another excellent place. Sunday I went to the beach in Pacifica, a mere 20 minute drive, and got egregously sunburnt. The drive out there itself was a feast for the eyes.

So what? The area is pretty. North Carolina can be pretty, as can many other places (my beloved Miami being one of them). There are beaches and water (a great weakness of mine). Lots of water in lots of places, though. Work is good. Good jobs can happen elsewhere. The variety and quality of culinary choices is excellent. This can also happen in various locations. However, not every location can provide all of this at the same time. And while many locations do provide this, guess what? They're all real cities.

No offense to Raleigh/Durham residents. I just like a greater variety of things to do.

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