12 Mar 2001 robey   » (Master)

Well, i'd started writing a diary entry last weekend, but PG&E decided that last Sunday night would be a good time to hit Eazel with a random power outage, so the entry got lost before i submitted it. Yes, PG&E does this even when there's not a power crisis. My lost entry started out saying that it's still raining all the time, but in the last week, it's dried out and warmed up, so most of last week was very nice. Hope it stays this way for a while.

Finished reading "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius", and it was pretty good, but i often got tired of his overly pretentious writing style. I think that may be unavoidable in anything done by my generation (and the author had obviously read David Foster Wallace stuff before). The Modern Humorist website mocking the book ("Harry Potter and the Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius") is laugh-out-loud funny.

Nautilus 1.0 ships this week and it's been completely insane around here. As usual, the installer is the flakiest part of it all, and not heavily tested until the last possible minute. Since it takes more time to track down and solve an installer bug than a normal bug (because of the way it's built and the elaborate methods needed to reproduce bugs), it always ends up being a disaster. This time, there were several bug reports about the installer exploding at random -- these were extremely aggravating because they're almost impossible for me to reproduce, and seemed to be non-deterministic. The pressure around all of this was driving me up the wall (we haven't had any downtime since the last pressure-cooker situation around the PR3 release).

Maciej saved the day by casually mentioning that he thought static-linked imlib was buggy, relating to a visual problem in one of the dialog boxes. After i got a few stack traces for the random installer crashes, they all seemed to be crashing in imlib, so i bothered Maciej about it again, and gears started turning in his head. It seemed hopeless to me: if a fundamental piece of gnome is fundamentally broken (and this happens more than i'd like), how much can we do with less than a week left? But Maciej stayed up all night and hacked imlib out of the installer, cut-n-pasting a bunch of code and removing a bunch, and the next morning we had something that seemed to work! The week improved considerably from that point on (which also coincided with the end of the continuous rain).

Eskil continued to work at a steady (and, for anyone else, unsustaintable) rate on other weird glitches, and suddenly we've reached a point where i think what we ship won't be so bad after all -- in fact will actually be pretty good. It's been even weirder because most of the rest of the Nautilus team has been finished for a week or more, so they've already started unwinding from the crunch (and got suckered into helping on the installer from time to time). Looks like i'll get a few days off next week for my own unwinding, and i'm having warm-fuzzy dreams of just waking up, wandering downtown, having coffee, reading a book, and pretending not to speak english.

Eli just dropped by my cube and pointed out that he never gets mentioned in my diary entries. I was going to say something sarcastic now, but actually he's been a good first line of defense, trying to narrow down installer bugs and delay people from filing them while i tried to machete through the pile i already had. Now to keep them at a minimal level until Monday.

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