Older blog entries for kjk (starting at number 7)

The last few days were marked by increasing obsession with watching Noah climbing up the d/l list at PalmGear. I was wondering whether it'll get to Top 50 monthly before end of April and it did. Makes me happy for some reason.
Preparing 0.65 release - a lot of people complained about performance so I've improved it. It was so easy that I should have done it in the first release but it's kind of hard to get the real feel for speed when you're running under the emulator. And it didn't help that freaking POSE has profiling broken so I don't have hard numbers on speed-up. But it should be much better and it certainly feel better. I actually wanted to make it 0.70 relase and include FOLD (should be pretty easy) but I decided that it will be better to concentrate on Webster for now. Means it's time for some loving the perl-style.
This is one of those strange moments: I just wanted to write a rant about my oh-so-wonderful idea that I had a few years back but never bothered to implement. The idea was so good that I couldn't believe that no-one has done it before. Wouldn't it be cool, I thought, to have a your-favourite-mpg3-player plugin that shows the lyrics? All we need is a bit of programming and lyrics data enriched with timing info and you can go wild (star-wars like scroll, anyone?). I was just to lay out this idea in this e-diary and here's what I find: an article in linux.com about XMMS mentions this plugin. At least it looks like having this idea is somewhat connected with being Polish.
The same guy is also working on a (YA){mail,news}reader. I really would like something better that Netscape and neither Balsa nor Evolution look like they're ready to rock-and-roll (with different levels of not-readiness). But that's not my point. I used to have an Amiga (the only computer that I've enjoyed using but that's not my point neither). My point is: check those screenshots. Am I really the only one to think that Gnome/KDE/X just plainly sucks as far as visual and usability goes? Compared to both Amiga and Windows. And the guy who forced X users to do copy/paste by highlithing and pressing the 3rd mouse button (that I don't have on my laptop btw. plus I was never able to configure 3-button mouse to work as a 3 button under XFree - I guess that's how you find out that you're not nearly as smart as you thought you were) was a pervert.
Go and see Time code for the reason of it being truly amazing. I didn't fell in love with the story (I rarely do) but picture this: screen is divided into 4 parts and there's a separate story going on in every part. Try to watch 4 movies at the same time - simply mind-blowing. Of course the stories and people mix so it's more of a one story that you can watch from different views and angles at the same time. Only one out of four images can have sound otherwise it would be incomprehensible so you tend to concentrate on the one that you can hear. Anyway the point is: if you can pull such a movie without making it a completely boring, sleep-inducing crap (think French movies) you're a genius and that's how I think of Mike Figgis now. And the cast was good (maybe beautiful would be a better word, the name of the character that one of the actresses played in some previous Figgis' movie is listed in IMDB as "supermodel").
I wish I had more dictionaries for Noah.

The only thing that I had the time for today was to fix some brown-bag-style crash in Noah which of course meant another release 0.61.
I've also answered all the "support" mail from users. Some of them have nice ideas for Noah that I haven't thought about, which is nice. Will keep me busy for a while.
Finished the last movie: Fallen Angels. It was depressing. I don't think I like depressing movies anymore, time for some comedy. Scarface was depressing too but at least had some good lines in it (I've read somewhere that it's one of the top movies if we sort them according to how many times a word "fuck" is used). Oliver Stone was depressed, maybe?

Go: leaves you with a smile on your face.
I have to watch my other two movies. Now.
Someone offered to help me with Noah. I'm extatic!
Fixed the memory overwrite (brute-force method didn't work (of course), looks like gdb for Palm emulator doesn't support watchpoints) so after an hour of waiting I had to revert to intelligent method. Took 5 minutes to figure this out. When I finally did I decided that it's time for next release, so I did the necessary stuff (did the screenshots, updated web pages and manual, zip'ped all of this and finally uploaded release 0.60 ("True men don't kill coyots" release) to PalmGear. This is a fourth release within five days. I have to slow down a bit otherwise those Palm folks will hate me for forcing them to download 4MB every other day. Next release will include Webster.
Making all those releases takes a lot of time. Well, I've wasted at least 2 hours due to my stupidity (spelling mistakes in the text displayed). I do the screenshots/zipping under Windows and all the rest (Emacs'ing, Gimp'ing etc.) under Linux so I had to switch 3 times back and forth to fix them all (makes me want to buy VMware). But it's worth it - the word is spreading, downloads are flying and the program is still young (5 days). Some guy from some firm has contacted me. They make FlushPlug, an 8 MB mem extension for PalmPilot that goes for $139 and want to see Noah supporting it. Hell, why not. But I've got to get my TRGpro first! It's kind of strange not to be able to use a program one has written.
I managed to only see "Pi" today. The best thing I can say about it is that it was interesting: black & white pictures, trance-inducing soundtrack. But when you translate this to common speech it just means that the movie was crap. I think I'll try to kill the pain with "Go" later tonight. After all who said I need to be at work early?

I have some time to write this diary entry: I'm trying to find a bizzare (well, they only come in this flavour) memory overwrite in Noah and instead of doing it intelligently I took a brute-force approach: I've set a watchpoint in gdb. It slows down the emulator to a crawl but no wonder: every memory write has just become a bit more expensive.
Since I'm in a dictionary business now I'm looking for some free dictionary data. There is WordNet, which I have already incorporated, there is Webster 1913 edition and nothing much else. Or so I though. There was this guy, Samuel Johnson, who almost single-handedly wrote a dictionary in 18th century. I think it was even before Noah Webster did. Some guy who e-mail'ed me and looks like he's even more of a dictionary geek than I am (he has 7 of them, including antique edition of said Samuel's dictionary) said that this is his favourite. Amazing thing is that this dictionary is now in public domain (albeit it's probably even more outdated that Webster's). Another amazing think is that no one has e-text'ed this. There is a cd-rom version of first & fourth edition combined (which I've of course ordered immediately from Amazon (mind you, I'm all for a boycott, I just couldn't help myself and it's not sth. you can just buy in your nearest B&N)). I've also ordered paper 1836 edition from www.abebooks.com (one of the 3 sites I know that let you find out-of-print and antique books). It was strange, because the price of it was incredibly low $25 while there were editions from around that time that costed up to $2500. I'm puzzled. I'll see in a few days what I've actually bought.

Which leads me to another thing: believe it or not, but it's easier to find a dictionary from 18th century than out-of-print book by a contemporary, fairly succesfull SF author. You don't believe me? Try to find "True Names" by Vernon Vinge. I've found only 2 copies at www.bibliofind.com while there was at least 10 different editions of Johnson's dictionary. I'll hold off, though. According to Amazon a new edition of this book with foreword from (among others) RMS is slated to be published in April 2000. And don't tell me that IT IS April. I know, god damn it! I'm not holding my breath, either. Originally they were to publish it in September 1999, then in January 2000 and now in April 2000. I no longer care and they've just lost a costumer. When it comes out I'll just spend a day (or two) at B&N and read the book in one of their comfortable chairs.

I'm in a full swing of updating Noah. Last three days are marked by addiction to download count at PalmGear. Ah, vanity. As one could expect the number skyrocked (around 1300 d/l) during the first two days when it was still listed as "new" software on the first page. Now it's down to 150 d/l per day. I wonder what will be the long-term average. So far the biggest complaint was that the database is too big. It is (5 MB is a lot in the little PalmPilot world) but I find such arguments kind of silly. After all in case of a dictionary size translates into quality: better definitions, more entries take more space. But who am I to tell users what they really want? My task is to code and make them happy. So I did. I was lucky enough to have a quite reasonable list of popular english words and I've used it to produce a 3 abridged versions of the original database. Maybe this will make those people give me more that 2 stars in reviews (all 3 reviews I got so far are almost the same: great idea, too big). I'll release it tomorrow. This will be 4th release during 4 days.
The next step will be converting Webster. This is going to make my head hurt. The markup is a stupid html instead of a markup that actually means something. I think it will evolve into some kind of AI. I'll have to use perl (which I hate) to do the first pass over the data. So far I've written the converter in LISP but its syntax for regular expressions is too cumbersome for the job and the job will mostly consist of regex'ing.
I went to to video store today. Found "Pi" which was nice since I've read that this is a good movie but couldn't find it. Then I had a moment of doubt. There is a category of movies, you know, those independent ones, that always get rave reviews but do badly in box office (there is, of course, an counter-category, excellent box office and completely flamed). I tend to watch such movies a lot (that's after I'm done with the "box office" ones) and it happens too often that those movies are real crap. At least as far as I'm concerned. That made me rent Go too - it's less risky choice. I figured out that if Pi is a piece of thing that likes to hit the fan I'll immediately console myself. I stayed for a while instead of going straight to the check-out line. And that, let me quote Jet-Li here, was a mistake. How can you resist renting Scarface when you've been wanting to see it for a month now? (well, the clerk said he didn't like it, but is there a chance in hell that a movie written by Oliver Stone, directed by De Palma and featuring Al Pacino and young Michelle Pfeiffer can be bad?) And what about Fallen Angels that you missed when it was being played in a small theatre two months ago?
The end result is that I now have 4 DVD's to see and only one weekend. This is going to be an overdose even for me.

Ah, and I ordered my TRGpro today. They say it should come mid-May. A hell-of-a-wait but at least I will be able to test Noah on some real hardware and not the emulator (which is quite handy during development, I must admit).

You shouldn't really expect me to say in my first diary entry that this is my first diary entry. It would be so common, so uninteresting, so boring... Hell, sounds like me.
If you happen to own PalmPilot don't walk, run to download the freshest version of Noah , my english dictionary. It's the biggest kid in the town (based on WordNet 1.6 database, which means 122k entries) and amazingly enough barely fits in 8MB. It has a few rough egdes but that's why I call it version 0.50 beta2. More is to come (especially when my TRGpro arrives, so far I've been developing solely under the emulator).
During the development I've developped (every english teacher out there must be grinding its teeth already) a very unhealthy attitude towards those [self-censored] who wrote the PalmOS. It's not fun spending a night trying to work around stupid limitations of list implementation (like max. number of items is 2^15) and then trying to make all versions of the OS feel happy about it (after all who said that you should expect the same behaviour when you're going from 3.3 to 3.5)?

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