Older blog entries for nullity (starting at number 28)

Writing
 
I have been dissapointed in the lack of response to the first chapter of my book (which I will shamelessly plug again!) Its not that I expected rave reviews and heaps of praise - what I really wanted to solicit was constructive criticism. I want to clean this thing up, because I know it needs work! Instead I have heard almost -nothing-. I begin to wonder if hackers are barbarians? ;-) It is odd, because within a few hours of putting my Nautilus theme up on my web site I was receiving lots of comments, even lots from people I had never interacted with. hmmmm.... (update: heaps of thanks to those of you who have begun writing me...more! more! :-)
 
Life and living
 
I am annoyed because Advogato ate my first entry today when it was already completed. This one won't be as comprehensive, because its always hard to get up the gumption to rewrite a longish segment...grrrrr!
 
Basically my family is returning to the US from the Philippines - and they've decided to move into this area. My father has taken a research position at Xerox PARC, and they are now embroiled in looking for a house. I'm not 100% sure how I feel about this, but I think I'm very glad on the whole. There are obviously downsides, the most noticable of which is friction I'm recently experiencing with my father.


 
The long and short is that I've recently become acutely aware of all his failings and idiosynchratic behavior. Maybe you're protected from seeing a lot of this as a child, but it has begun to bother me immensely (probably because I fear seeing it in myself). Comments that others have had the grace to make to me (if nobody tells me its hard to change....) I see applying 10x to him. So what's happened is that I have grown immensely over the past year being young and malleable while he has staid set in his ways, of course. Which means that I have trouble just accepting all the things that I've tried to prune from myself that I see in him. Maybe this is good, because it suggests that I've grown somewhat myself....
 
Hacking
 
#$%&**!!!! I'm sooooo tired of the symoblic link code. Gnome-VFS is incredibly imalleable in some ways, and I'm having to deal with all of them it seems :-) Its like I do one thing and the library just slaps me back. I'm making progress but its tedious and slow. In other fronts I did some trivial work that enabled the simple search bar in Nautilus. Hopefully when the symbolic link stuff is off my plate I'll take a crack at writing the unescape/escape code in Nautilus once and for all - just put that stuff to rest! I like that sort of coding because I tend to be working in environments where I can just write code - the interfaces to the functions are very well defined and narrow. I like architecture better, but if I'm just going to code this is what I want to do.
 
In other news, I'll now be moving into spending most of my time labouring over purify. I hate C. Its final. It seems ironic that the person most supportive of garbage collection and not having to do memory management will be tasked with cleaning up the memory leaks ;-) Of course, I knew this would be coming when I signed on but that doesn't make it any more fun now that its hapenning. The upside to this is that I hope to drastically improve my ability to read other's code. I have oft respected that in Darin and Pavel (and Maciej to a lesser extent, it probably develops with years in the field) and I hope to develop some of that in myself.<shrug>

Harumph! Advogato seems to have decided it didn't want to post this diary entry. Thanks, it was a long one that took a while to write.

I did some polishing work on the first section of my first chapter. Whee. What I've got so far is up at http://null.stanford.edu/book.html, including a cover design that I couldn't but help trying. Sorry, I just feel dumb putting out a page with only text, it needs some sort of visual introduction, even one that was slapped together ;-) I'm sorry if the first section is a little confusing, its meant to be. The next section should clearly things up a *lot*, at least I hope so, but that probably won't be coming for several days at least. Its 7am and this is hot off AbiWord so please forgive any spelling mistakes, grammar, or if I'm really tired and I ramble and suck in places ;-) I've written some amazingly bad papers late at night, I hope the stuff I've written tonight doesn't stick out like a sore thumb! (update: I've read it over again and it doesn't seem too bad, please send me any fixes)
 
In hacking news Maciej and I beat out a gnome-vfs module that interfaces with Medusa a couple nights ago. We were pretty pleased to finish the bulk of the code in one night. Granted, it mostly doesn't work (it does partly....cough), but... :-)
 
I've put "write advogato entry" in my Palm now, so lets see if I remember better! You'll notice I was really consistent for 3 or 4 weeks, but that was because I didn't have other things to do!
 
You might also be interested in my nautilus theme, which is at: http://null.stanford.edu/icons.html"

Ah... It has been far too long. :-) I'm not entirely disillusioned with the art of the public diary, though I have realized that I must compensate for the lack of physical and description and life-story narration with more of the ecletic jumble contending with reality for my mind in fragile equilibrium. Oh yes! I am indeed teetering on the edge of insanity.
 
And in the land of dark hackery I have little of note to report, being caught in the doldrums of bug fixing. Upon the distant horizon I see hopes of spending meager amounts of time on a drag bar (e.g. an alternative to cut-n-paste), but we shall have to see. A lot of what I am doing is writing testing tools to verify others', erm, less than perfect implementations. Not the most terribly exciting stuff in the world, but it does engage my time :-)
 

This was a while back, but it does have some reflection on directions my life may be heading in the near future. I talked with Rebecka Schulman (sp?) for quite a while one night while we both worked late at Eazel. It was somewhat disheartening for I found that she has shockingly similar interests to mine...but developed several more years (e.g. I am at the beginning of my undergraduate experience, and she has already done graduate studies for a while). So the more I discovered similar interests and goals the more I became disheartened by her apparent disillisionment with much of computer science. This is not to say that I was merely depressed by her lack of enthusiasm, because she is doing many very interesting things with Medusa in great earnest. Rather her perspectives as somebody who has sampled my dreams already was worrisome - simply because it robbed me of some measure of foolish idealism. The issues she raised I have already heard, they are obvious. But hearing "myself" in a sense uttering them, or rather somebody who I sense would have similar views as myself with a great deal more experience (eg Rebecka), I was forced to actually consider them, and I found much of it to be true.
 

Computers are a rather trivial pursuit. If you are not doing something with them that makes them work towards other more worthy ends - you must acknowledge that what you are doing with your life is playing. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but in my particular case it is difficult to accept. I think this may mean that I need to find out why I'm doing what I'm doing. Part of it...is because I do derive pleasure out of architecting elegant solutions, yes. But is immediate pleasure sufficient impetus to purse something as my life? I don't know, but I think not. So now I am left with either attempting to deduce a meaningful rational for pursuing computer science theory, or I must supplement it with other pursuits...or I must shallow myself and accept it as is. I doubt I can do the latter, or rather I wish not to and so choose not to consider it a viable option.
 
Being therefore disillusioned concerning the nature of computers by talking too much with Rebecka...I have decided to pursue other venues of expression and general temporal consumption. Perhaps the most easily doable for personal edification is to write. Now I have engaged myself quite thorougly this summer in writing poetry, but as I am not exactly an epic poet :-)... this is a disjunctious process. So I have the grain of a novel and intend to start work on it. It is rather frustrating for beautiful sections of writing pass fleetingly through my mind as I work upon the mechanisms of the world itself...frustrating because I rather suspect myself to be at a loss for such passages once I apply myself to the pen (I don't much relish writing fiction at a computer for some odd reason, yes I know its silly but...I am a beast of whimsy and it makes me feel more, oh I don't know, more...poetic? to write in such a primitive fashion :-).

We (Nick Wei, and my roommate, and yes me) walked to Palo Alto tonight. Then we rented a movie, and found an unlocked projection room on campus and watched theatre style...but there were only three of us there. The sound wasn't quite as good, but the screen was really quite large, and the room was nice. Then we played Starcraft for an hour and ate pizza. Fun! Even though I'd seen the preview for True Lies like 20 times I'd never actually seen the movie ... which was really as funny as the preview made it out to be :-) We also watched Star Trek IV, which wasn't quite so exciting... Seen it too many times, and it really isn't all that great.
 
Actually took the day off other than helping some people on IRC :-) You should be proud of me! It took immense restraint...

Helped situate computers in their new home at Eazel's new office. The new office is really nice...except for strange purple/violet squares of carpeting every so often ... and the bathroom. the bathroom is freaky. Its a combined effect brought upon by small gleaming checkerboard black & white tiles, above which is placed a brilliant 4ft strip of purple paint. Then the mirror is perfectly round and placed in such a way that you are surrounded by this checkerboard/purple theme. Its freaky. Lesser things have driven men mad, enter at your own risk. :-)
 
I'm sleepy, so I'll probably be getting a good 10hrs of sleep tonight (wow!).
 
Eskil has plans for a game-room including a pinball machine, a foosball table, and pool (and the obligatory non-dart dartboard). The new office gives room for such amenities ;-) Hats off to Rick, Scott, and Jurgen for making the transition (computer wise) so smooth!

Put some dovetails and detail into my Java-based, multi-machine, multi-processing system. Or at least that's how it started... Flipped everything around to try a new model of remote messaging which seems to have some significant performance gains. Too bad...but this is no longer a "look mommy how amazing Java is, I only wrote 200 lines and I have a multiprocessing system" project. Instead I'll try driving it the point of being useful. Ah well ;-) Practicality will snag all of us sooner or later.
 
Feeling much better in other areas. Particularly nice is that I will get to move from my current place in the outback into the same cubicle as Ramiro, Gene, and Pavel. Let the learning continue!

So I finally finished my symlink support code... Now working on remaining bugs, and then probably adding support to Nautilus. The move is hapenning tomorrow, so I'm scrambling to get a working build setup at home.
 
I'm once again mired in a situation where I can't tell if everyone is just laughing behind my back...or whether people who are really nice actually are. It was easier before people grew up and became political... You know, like maybe I annoy everyone. Maybe everyone sort of mutually agreed that I sould be banished to the corner of Eazel in the new building. I don't know, I have to guess because people don't give me hard feedback. I'm getting tired of people rapidly again. It was so much simplet over IRC.
 
Eric and Anthony stood us up! Brian and I are wondering if they forgot or...(?) Maybe we had the dates wrong :) Brian's computer (well, HD) just bit the dust so we lost a bunch of contact information.
 
In further news...my wallet was taken. The story will come later, but basically it disappeared in a span of about 50ft and 1 minute (!!!). YARGH! that makes a bike, a Newton...and now a wallet taken :-( There wasn't much money in it, but now I get to deal with the hassle of notifying two banks, getting a new Stanford ID card - and worse I hadn't taken my Social Security Card out after hauling it to eazel to prove my citizenship (!!!). Fortunately I'm fine on cash until I get my new ATM/credit card because I have a couple checks I need to cash.
Hacking
 
Added all the missing pieces for symlink support in GnomeVFS. Finishing off the "test suite" that verifies symlink support is working 100%.
 
Finally availed myself of the In-N-Out located right by Eazel...yum! Must restrict myself to only utilizing once a week or so ;-) Of course...the great thing about In&Out is that their menu selection is limited enough (more than is posted, but not that varied) that you can't eat their too much w/o getting sick of it (or maybe not? is it possibly so good? ... nah).
 
Eric Pai, who lives in the area, will be coming over... That should breathe some social life into things (right).
Cooking was the highlight today...
 

Made biscuits again today. Yum. I forgot how fun baking can be. Tomorrow we will do cinammon rolls (sp?). Anyway...its nice to eat food that didn't come straight out of the package and into the microwave. Not that that's what we've been eating, but I think this is the fourth time this week we've actually used the stove...must do that more.
 
The primary issue is that we don't have a pot yet :) As soon as that occurs I'll be cooking vegetables, chili, pasta, etc. That should impove the variety of our diet significantly. Currently it consists of burritos, various sandwiches, nachos, and YOGHURT! We have like a huge pile of yoghurt. Brian (my apartment-mate) drank 2 jugs of apple juice in 3 days (!?!?). He was serious about really liking that stuff.
 
I glanced over gnome-vfs APIs for a while today...but spent most of my computer time trying to tunnel X through ssh with Rick. Partial success, but not enough to try builds off my home machine. Oh well, text-mode emacs is still emacs.

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