Older blog entries for kwoo (starting at number 26)


Well, I asked Ellen, and she did come up with two more points on the Blister suite's feature list. The feature list now looks something like:

  • seed tracking (source, info, germination rates, number planted, etc.)
  • garden organization (what goes where, beneficials, cross-pollenation, etc.)
  • crop rotation and fertilization
  • comprehensive labelling (mostly for seed starting)
  • a foods and recipe database
  • animal ancestry tracking (to avoid line breeding, etc.)

I also thought of one more point earlier, but I seem to have forgotten it.

The list also doesn't include common infrastructure -- user tracking, authentication, etc. When I add it all up, it is fairly compelling to adopt a web infrastructure for it, or at least a XML-over-HTTP architecture. I need to look into the default support for XML and CSS2 for common browsers on OS X, Linux, and the BSDs, which form the majority of my machines.

It's also tempting to use it as an avenue for exploring XSL. Is anyone still doing anything with XSL? I remember it (the early versions I played with a few years back) being rather on the obtuse side, but I need to have another look and see if it makes sense to me now.


I re-read the first section of The Ruby Way, in preparation for doing some prototyping work for Blister and for an on-line bartering forum. The parser is a little more hairy than I remember it being, but it does what I expect for my coding style. Though I am usually a bit put off by an enforced coding style in a project, I definitely see the point with Ruby -- there are a few gotchas that can be defeated by sticking to one style (begin-end and curly bracket subtleties, determining the receiver of a function, the unary '*' operator, and a few others).

Other stuff

My hand is doing much better now. Another couple of days and the burns will be gone.


The feature list for Blister has been growing and growing. I'm starting to have second thoughts on trying to integrate it all, and have several smaller programs instead. So far the major divisions are:

  • seed tracking (source, info, germination rates, number planted, etc.)
  • garden organization (what goes where, beneficials, cross-pollenation, etc.)
  • crop rotation and fertilization
  • comprehensive labelling (mostly for seed starting)

I'm sure if I asked Ellen, she would add another two or three points to the list.

I've decided on an XML back-end to the whole mess, simply for ease of parsing, and because it can be edited by hand. If I'm careful with the DTD creation, I can have a tagset that will compress well.

Other stuff

I have to hack together a XML tutorial for Ellen tomorrow while she's at work. She's a WordPerfect 5.1 veteran so the idea of tags is not entirely foreign to her. She's also a real trooper, learning Mac OS X and basic Unix -- she decided it was time to organize her system tonight, and she mastered the columns mode of the Finder in no time.

I also managed to burn my mousing hand preparing dinner this evening. The pain is keeping me awake, but not alert, so it's quite frustrating. Well, off to bed I go in hopes of sleep...

Re-install mania

Got frustrated with having no decent web browser, so it's back to Linux on the iBook. I must say that jigdo is a real life-saver -- it read the unchanged files from the old Debian CD, and downloaded the new ones. Much better than the multi-hour download session the first time through.


Currently frustrated in this area as I keep trying to find a job. If anyone knows of an opening in the lower mainland of Vancouver, BC, Canada, please let me know at kwoo@cpan.org.


Not a lot of work on Blister as of late. I did make the decision to shift from being CGI-based to FLTK-based, as I didn't want to hack together state saving for CGI (even if it isn't hard, it still isn't fun).

Learning about FLTK is great, though -- it's exactly what I want from a GUI library. It made more sense in the first hour than Motif did after a full day with the Motif Programming Manual (O'Reilly and Assoc.).

I've also been playing around with parrot again, now that my laptop is running OpenBSD/macppc. There are a few little issues, but so far it's still fun (as opposed to being annoyed by strange inconsistencies on Mac OS X).


Okay, so I'm an idiot. In my thrashing about trying to find a compromise between availability and usefulness in languages for Blister, I completely forgot about C++, which will save me a lot of time writing string and memory handling code.

In my own defense, here is the order of languages I considered:

  • Common Lisp (clisp, specifically)
  • Scheme (gauche or guile)
  • ML (O'Caml)
  • Objective C (using the Foundation framework)
  • Objective C (using frameworks of my own creation)
  • C

I should have considered C++ before C -- after all, I don't know of one non-embedded platform that lacks a C++ compiler. I do have a known fetish for complexity (it's often what keeps me interested in a project), but writing a lot of unnecessary code that has already been written by other (much smarter) people is just pointless.

Not to mention that the object-oriented nature of C++ fits the problem domain much better (keeping track of plants and collections of plants).


Got a little more done on Blister. Nothing much, just some string-handling and the unit tests for it. I still need to work out a proper unit-testing framework, but I might just settle for a function or three to print out test summaries or just use good old diff(1).


Is there a naming convention for C functions in the open source world for destructive functions (that modify their argument(s))? I've been using the n-prefix (as per Common Lisp) and there's nothing wrong with that, but I'm trying to make the code as readable for others as it is for me.

Server-less CGI

One person e-mailed me regarding my claim that lynx (the text-mode browser) supports CGI without a webserver present. Just in case there are more people wondering what kind of drugs I'm on, grep the lynx_help directory in the distribution for lynxcgi, and that should answer the basic questions.

I still can't remember the name of the Mozilla-derived browser that does CGI on its own, though.


Am I the only one that got the spam for Hong Kong fax lines? They claimed they "found out about my company on Advogato.org". Admittedly, it's my own fault for posting my e-mail address here, but if they found my e-mail address, they should figured out that spamming the denizens of Advogato might not be such a hot idea.


Backed off the strict Mac OS X requirement for Blister. Indeed, I will be doing the UI in the GUI that I know best -- HTML 3.2. The benefits to making it a CGI application are arguable, but if someone really wants to run it stand-alone, there are at least two browsers I can think of (lynx and one Mozilla-derived one I can't remember the name of) that allow running CGIs without a web server present.

With that decision comes the decision to avoid dependencies on too many external things. Unfortunately, this means I can't count on folks having an Objective C compiler available, so development will be in ANSI C, using only ANSI and POSIX functionality.

Really, this means I've got a case of NIH, so I started writing CGI-handling code first. I find it somewhat amusing that although I haven't coded in straight-up C for a long while, I seem to be better at it than I was before.


My new personal diary is at http://slashdot.org/~kwoo/journal/. Say what you will about Slashdot, but they do have a nice journal interface, and I don't want to clutter the recentlog here with entries about gardening.

Badge of honour

A '1' from mglazer is a badge of honour to me. Especially since my Jewish step-family all think he's a nitwit, too. I ran the thesis of a couple of his entries by them to see what the average Jewish-Canadian household thought of his views, and they were appalled. It could be that my step-mothers best friends and their families are all Muslim. Three generations of Jews, two generations of Muslims, two generations of Christians, myself and my partner (both non-religious), and a dog gathered for a winter holiday dinner on Christmas day. I'll bet seeing that would send the poor boy's head into a tizzy.

Webspace problem solved

Thanks to rillian, my webspace problem is solved. I still had an account on one of his machines, and he was kind enough to offer the use of it. Thanks, Ralph!


I've been doing some playing around with the UI for Blister. I'm currently working to make it a little less cluttered, but I may have to bite the bullet and learn about tabbed interfaces. They may be easy as heck -- I don't know, as I've never used them before.

chalst's list'o'folks

I noticed that I am on chalst's list of folks (his 17 January entry), but I have no idea what the commonality between us all is. I'm trying not to burn too many cycles figuring it out, but I am definitely curious.

Someone mentioned a lot of GNOME-y folks there, but I don't think that's it -- I'm more of an Aqua/WindowMaker/fvwm fan and don't use GNOME for much. I also saw the suggestion that we all got '1' scores on our diaries from mglazer. That could well be. :)

What is it, chalst? Or if you only wish to give a hint, is the order of the list important?

Web space woes

Does anyone know where to get good web space without a credit card and without a huge setup fee? I'm unemployed, broke, and looking for web space I can access with scp or ftp-over-ssl. Access to CGI would be great, but not necessary. Please let me know if you have any suggestions.


Okay, I lost it and did some coding. Nothing to show off yet, but I will put a preliminary version up when I get some web space figured out. I did create an entry for it (called Blister) here, though.


If you take medication that suppresses endorphins, it becomes really hard to get to sleep if you have insomnia. Massages are a lot less pleasurable, too. If you have a choice, take the med just before you go to sleep. My advice to the world for the week.

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