Older blog entries for k (starting at number 69)

22 Mar 2006 (updated 22 Mar 2006 at 06:20 UTC) »

Ah, yay.

Updates:

* still owe a lot on my credit card. Wow, who would've thought financial planning was so crucial. :)
* bored at work. There's stuff to do, but its not challenging. Sigh.
* studying psychology/linguistics at UWA. Yes, I'm a second year (ie, not a first year). I gave up studying CompSci - first and second year stuff just frustrates me and I don't need frustrating things whilst I'm working full time.

What I'm currently working on:

* I'm a programmer for an online MUD. No, I won't say which. Its nifty though - it uses a proprietary engine and a crazy syntax which is the bastard child of C and BASIC. Very good for writing MUD code in.
* I'm still tinkering with fast network application frameworks: check my homepage for the CVS repo. "projects/col" has what I'm working on.

Life:

I finally got paid for a couple of things this week. I burnt $3k on something I purchased as a middle man - the situation was stupid but now I have well and truely learnt my lesson. My credit card is nearly half of what it was at the beginning of the week.

I have to be careful - I still have a long way to go before its paid off.

I also have the last few years of tax returns to do. 2001-2002 is really the only one I need some help with since the others are simply blank (I was working overseas, I paid Dutch tax.)

University:

I have the forms I need to re-enrol for next semester. I might finally get around to finishing first year CS.

Geek:

I found a 3rd year CS assignment which I'm doing because it looks interesting. I'm doing it in C rather than java as, well, I'm still not in third year.

Family:

My brother is going into hospital on Tuesday. He has a lump in his left buttock. Poor guy. Its quite a big lump too. Understandably everyone is a little upset but things aren't as bad as they were when he found out. If all goes well he'll be out of hospital a couple of days later with some painkillers and instructions to lie down for a month or so.

davidr

Yup, I can sympathise with him. Something similar, albeit with a shorter-term relationship, happened to me last year. My girlfriend at the time, Karen, was quite supportive and I thought she understood and accepted that I worked a lot. After three weeks of working inside radio towers and a couple of weeks being very very ill she left me.

She told me afterwards that she was dropping all kinds of hints which I obviously didn't pick up on. I think she associated "getting hints" with "paying attention" and "caring".

I've now realised that, at least for now, I had to make a choice between a love and a passion. I know a lot of you out there will hmph!, citing that there are plenty of examples of people who keep up active passions and a healthy relationship.

I'll simply note that I am not them. Oh, and I have too much on my plate already.

2 May 2003 (updated 2 May 2003 at 12:20 UTC) »

Music:

Wer Bisto - Twarres
K's Choice - Favourite Adventure

Only one person on the planet will understand why. :)

I sat down at my piano again today. 10 minutes of tinkering with it left me with a warm fuzzy feeling and a big grin.

Life:

Exercise is good. More of it is good.

Geek:

Nothing much on this front, I'm afraid. I'm using a PM3 at work to terminate a few L2TP DSL connections. Damn, Cisco's are expensive, not much else is supported in my neck of the woods and the open sauce L2TP implementations are quite average. Hm, I might have to look into writing a business case.

Geek:

I installed Apple's X server yesterday. Wow. All they really need to do is have individual X applications somehow pop up in the dock and it'll be lovely.

Gimp under MacosX + X is .. nice. Cheer.

Another thing I've noticed is the size of processes. Under XDarwin I found that the Xterm was 4 meg / 1 mb RSS. Xterm under Apple X is 14meg / 2mb RSS. I have a feeling that Apple is doing a lot more shared memory magic.

Terminal is about 50meg/14meg. Hm. I might start using Xterm again. :-)

Car:

Sometimes I think my car is taking me for a ride. Case in point - the alternator/regulator was very .. crap. It turns out that Bosch made a very dodgy regulator (016) which made its way into quite a few models. Including my EA. Replaced it with an (019), fixed up the contacts in my alternator and my car is ok. Again. For now.

Ah, I wonder what other geriatric parts will be found. After the engine rebuild I can't imagine ... :)

Music:

"The War of the Worlds" by Jeff Wayne. Yes, the musical. I think its absolutely brilliant. My favourite track is track 4, or "Forever Autumn" - not just because of the song itself but because of the visuals it seems to evoke.

"Never before in the history of the world had such a mass of human beings moved and suffered together. This was no disciplined march - it was a stampede, without order and without a goal, 6 million people unarmed and unprovisioned driving headlong. It was the beginning of the rout of civilisation. Of the massacre of mankind."

Everything in this track was simply leading up to this statement. Helplessness, panic, disorder. A love narrowly lost but perhaps safe. I love it.

22 Apr 2003 (updated 22 Apr 2003 at 23:44 UTC) »

Geek:

I decided to try a traditional 'sort' algorithm. This involves taking all the individuals, sorting them into order based on fitness and then looking at the top few/bottom few for a solution.

A few cute things showed up.

Firstly, when I replaced the 'cull' pass with the results of this sort algorithm (ie kill individuals until we're under the desired population) the solution time (in generations) dropped by about 2/3.

Secondly, no matter what I try I can't seem to coax the best solution out of the code. Admittedly with this kind of stuff you're looking for a good solution but I can't imagine this algorithm performing that much worse. The population quickly homogonises when I'm using the sorted array for reproduction selection and stopped a few bits short of a perfect solution. Very strange.

One interesting observation with the sorted algorithm - a higher population count does _NOT_ necessarily result in a quicker search. In fact with a population of 10,000 vs 1,000 the average fitness scores over time were significantly smaller and sometimes decreasing.

Gah, lots of work to do.

(Note: yes, I know this kinda stuff has been done before. Yes, I know it'd be easy to do a google search, grab someone's evaluation engine and go from there. It just wouldn't be as fun.)

19 Apr 2003 (updated 19 Apr 2003 at 05:13 UTC) »

Geek:

CSS is cool. I've been playing with it a little. Its about time I became a web developer. Unfortunately my site is far too inconsistent to properly benefit from a CSSing.

Note: contextual selectors are one of the simplest yet powerful things I've ever come across when designing HTML.

Geek:

After many hours of frustration with the apparent broken ports/install on a FreeBSD box at home I decided to forego the access -> ODBC -> Postgres idea and just play, for now, with Access.

I decided that I wanted to build a little 'generic object' construction tableset so I could describe all the objects that I owned. Then I could assign them locations, loan status and all sorts of useless information.

Building the tables was easy. Just create a table, set up the fields and tinker with their properties. Creating the references for referential integrity took a minute with the HLP file and a minute with Google but I finally found it - a GUI for, literally, drag-n-drop referential integrity definition.

It was gorgeous.

Now, before you call me a n00b let me just rant a little.

I know Access has its faults. I've used it in the past but thankfully it was 1996 and I've forgotten all of my clue. But it was simple. For someone like me who has spent a few years hand-building SQL tables, carefully crafting web-UIs for accounting databases, service management databases and all kinds of tedious code-stuff I was relieved to be able to just drag-and-drop stuff around. I could see, instantly, the relationship between my tables. And modify it. Admittedly the many-many RI linking is new to me. :-)

And here's the crux of today's post - knowing about "good" relational database design, understanding referential integrity and having experience hacking out mountains of code makes this kind of application development environment very powerful. I know that Access will take my queries and rewrite them into random gibberish, playing havoc with ODBC-interfaced databases unless I'm careful. I know all about Access' performance issues. But, that aside, it mostly works.

In short, I plan on having a whole heap of fun tinkering with database stuff. Because, after years and years of hacking, I realise that this stuff should be easier but easier doesn't mean you should forsake learning the actual theory and burning yourself first.

Now, on a side note, does anyone know of any opensource style schema/report engines that don't suck? I've come across a few written in Java which I'd pay the price on if they didn't require so much system resources just to run.

Then, does anyone know of any useful GUI open source form and reporting utilities? there has to be a better way of developing web-frontends for database applications without writing mounds of php.

khoerling:

Here's my take. You spend your spare time, which is valuable to you, working on this software you're giving away for free. You're expending your own resources - so why should money be any different? Its still a resource, right?

I guess it depends how much you love what you're doing. If you love it and you can justify spending the money on a download.com listing for some reason (feeling good about yourself, ego-feeding, one-upping your mortal enemy) then why not?

Think of it, say, as a car. You spend thousands of dollars on restoring, hm, say an old Mustang. Driving it every day wouldn't be cost effective. You'll still need to care for the thing. How much of your personal resources are you willing to spend maintaining and driving the car? Is it because you're trying to show off something or does it truely bring you happiness?

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