Older blog entries for ncm (starting at number 182)

24 Jul 2007 (updated 28 Jul 2007 at 00:09 UTC) »

I'm just back from the C++ Standard meeting in Toronto. For the next ISO C++ standard, the Standard Library will have regular expressions, threads, and sockets, and the language will have lambda (i.e. code in brackets passed as an argument) and auto variables (i.e. the variable or argument declaration takes its type from the value used to initialize it). Equally interesting, but mainly to library authors, is concepts, which allows writing (even more!) powerful libraries that give actually-readable error messages at compile time if you misuse them. I say "even more" because with concepts the library can compile to different code if it's passed (e.g.) a literal string than if passed a pointer. The combination of regular expressions, lambda, and concepts means we can write yacc as a C++ library, and offer both better error messages and faster parsing than yacc can.

I'll be in Toronto (actually Markham) next week. Anybody who wants to visit, come to the ISO C++ Standard meeting. Or write to me.

10 Jul 2007 (updated 10 Jul 2007 at 22:34 UTC) »
OpenMoko is shaping up as way cooler than iPhone. There's no way I'd ever buy an iPhone (<grumble> AT&T carrier-locked </grumble>), but I am seriously considering an OpenMoko, come October, even at the (sigh) new US$450 price. The extra $100 appears to buy wifi, another 192M of flash, 3D video acceleration, and a pair of 3D accelerometers. Wifi is pretty significant, but I suspect the accelerometers will make all the difference in how much fun can be had programming it. They go a long way to make up for not having added more buttons.
8 Jul 2007 (updated 9 Jul 2007 at 05:41 UTC) »

Got, ostensibly for my wife, a Sandisk Sansa e250 2GB music player (not e250R, not c250!). Actually, I got a Creative Zen V Plus first, for US$40 less, but couldn't mount it, and libmtp couldn't see it, so took it back. I promptly installed Rockbox. It was distinctly ugly with the default theme, but given a third-party theme (e.g. "Sansa e200" from rockbox-theme.org), it's wonderful.

The great surprise was the completely programmable equalizer: I can tune it to match exactly the response of my ears, which suffer a sharp dropout around 3.9KHz. The only real problem happened when I turned on "clear backdrop", just to see what it was, and now can't read the menus to turn it off. I will probably need to hand-edit the config file. Also, the Doom plugin fails on startup. I wonder why there's no Tetris plug-in... One of the nice things about Sandisk players is the microSD slot allowing memory expansion; Rockbox supports that now. [Update: copied the "backdrop" line from the theme file to the config file, and all is OK now.][Update 2: thanks to sneakums: tetris is "rockblox" and Doom needs WAD files. BTW, that 3.9KHz dropout is called "4K dip" by pros. Rockbox needs a hearing test plugin.]

14 Jun 2007 (updated 14 Jun 2007 at 22:37 UTC) »

I spent too much time trying to configure X (via /etc/X11/xorg.conf) to look good on a Samsung SyncMaster 225BW 22-inch 1680x1050 LCD monitor connected via an analog VGA cable. In short: that monitor sucks. It had an HDMI cable, too, but I didn't try it. Somebody else plugged one into an iMac via the HDMI cable, and it looked a little less bad. My old ViewSonic VX2025wm is a bit smaller, but I appreciate it a lot more now.

With more experience, I can now say that the Epiphany browser has only one real advantage over Galeon: it runs Javascript code faster. It might also be less leaky. Against that, it lacks important features, such as rejecting cookies. It crashes just as often, and the same way (which might be Gecko's fault; but Iceweasel doesn't). However, it might be that its plugin interface allows its shortcomings to be fixed.

Built linux-, patched with Suspend2 and the current bcm43xx wireless driver, for my Dell D620 laptop. Suspend sometimes hangs when "trying to free 24M", unnecessarily.

5 Jun 2007 (updated 12 Jun 2007 at 18:08 UTC) »

Today a rare moment passed: 07-06-05 04:03:02.01. I slept right through it.

Sunday was more significant: my son rode a bicycle by himself, without training wheels, for the first time. He said "I feel the most big-boyest feel ever." My daughter insisted on having hers removed, and is well on her way. Now I do too.

I have finally obtained an ultrasonic humidifier to go with my air ionizer (buying retail would have been cheating) and am ready to proceed with ionized-cloud plasma simulation experiments.

redi: It's never too late to revive a meme. When the sun has gone cold and all the earth is but dust, memes will lie quietly awaiting re-animation in the plasmonic brains of our far-distant successors.

The movie "Hot Fuzz" turned out to be better, in every way, than "Shaun of the Dead", despite reviews asserting otherwise.

It turns out Epiphany crashes in exactly the same way as Galeon does: on Javascript-heavy pages, clicking on a link sometimes pops up a separate page with no toolbars or menus, and the tab it was supposed to have opened in no longer redraws. Closing the new window crashes the whole browser. Does anybody not see this?

18 May 2007 (updated 18 May 2007 at 09:23 UTC) »

Finally switched from Galeon to Epiphany+extensions. (Without the extensions it would be intolerable.) Final thanks to the Galeon guys for your hard work, and thanks to the Epiphany folks for making yours faster. Now all Epiphany needs to be fully usable are a "clone tab" command, and NoScript. (But JS seems several times faster, so maybe NoScript is not so necessary, except in principle.)

Took my daughter camping for the first time, at Point Reyes. Was too cold for her. Spotted a bobcat, though.

My employer moved office to Emeryville, and now has room to hire people. We need system engineers. Are you one? Write.

In Vegas for the first time ever, for four days. Four days is four days too long. Never been anyplace so dull. Didn't even drop a quarter, but a colleague dropped $1500. Figured it out, though: the entire city is an enormous mini-mall.

Got the DVD of "Star Wreck: Imperial Edition", with completely re-rendered spaceship scenes. Looking forward to "Iron Sky", hopefully well before 2013. Supersonic Aluminum Nazi Hell Creatures from the Dark Side of the Moon, anyone?

Can't somebody please print bumper stickers that say "See Dick Fry"?

cinamod: There's no software solution to a worn-out battery. However, if you decide to buy something new, the Nexblack takes ordinary AA rechargeables, and a CF card, and plays Oggs. No Rockbox for it, though.

mjg59: your diary posting deserves to be an article. It's not too late to do that. Anyway, thank you; it was enlightening.

Contratulations to the Monotone folks on release 0.35. Onward and upward! Thanks to Matthew Gregan for improvements to socketpair, and for making it into a contribution to Monotone. Now I know two MJGs who amaze me. I wonder who the other 57 are.

13 Apr 2007 (updated 23 Apr 2007 at 21:52 UTC) »
"If God doesn't want us to eat other people, why do they taste like pork?"

That's what I say to people who make fun of my vegetarian dietary preference.

Congratulations are in order to all the Debian people here, on a uniquely smooth release: Well Done. Also, to the Monotone people, on their April 1 release 0.34, left curiously unnoted by LWN.

30 Mar 2007 (updated 30 Mar 2007 at 22:02 UTC) »
Chicago: The formula for a variable capacitor is C = kA, where A is the angle. (You're welcome.)

titus: Xerces-C++ sucks rocks, always has. For objective evidence, see how many (of what, 20K?) Debian packages depend on libxerces27. Not counting other libraries, I find: enigma, a game; anymeal, a cookbook database, and anon-proxy, an HTTP proxy daemon. It would be extremely unwise to make anything that matters depend on Xerces-C++. Among the first things I did at ITA Software, in 2001, was to replace Xerces-C++ in their system with libxml2. My current employer has just done the same.

lucasr: Python, Perl and Ruby really are the VB of the Free Software world. On the upside, people do get a lot of work done in VB. By the way, the value of a Paul Graham article halves for each mention of Lisp in it. The best ones don't mention Lisp at all. (That one has value 0.5.)

slef: Thank you for the pointer to ytplay. (It's an annoying script, but very fixable.)

Burgundavia: By the link you posted, it appears that most people don't do tech, and in particular don't do Free Software, in large part because they don't like meritocracies. The difference seems to be that men are much more inclined to identify as unlike (and, in particular, better than) others, and thus likely to find meritocracy appealing, offering a much larger pool to draw upon. Worrying about rudeness (which is far from unique to tech) just distracts us from the real problems.

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