14 Dec 2001 rupert   » (Journeyer)

Hacking

Lots of work on alice, my speech controlled MP3 player for the car. More than one application can use the speech service simultaneously, and this functionality is handled by a small server-app that clients (like the MP3 player), connect to. I'd originally written the server to use a threaded model, with threads exchanging data via a globally scoped hash table, but performance was horrible, and the aquisition and release of locks was a nightmare to manage.

So I started over, and rewrote the server from scratch using the select module. It was actually trickier than I thought it'd be, but paid off in terms of performance. The server has gone from taking up 99% of the CPU time (Intel Celeron 466) when idle, to using 0.5% of it on the same CPU when serving a substantial load. I'm impressed!

Yule

My brother returns from the Army tomorrow, for a couple of weeks. It'll be very interesting to hear his news, and see how much he's changed. I need to go and pick up Yule decorations at some point. It seems as if interesting things could be done with light-ropes, especially in conjunction with some X-10 hardware for control. It's a pity that there doesn't seem to be a way to do per-light addressing in the rope. If that was possible, you could take a column of closely packed light ropes, and potentially use it as a crude display device!

Aircraft

My brother expressed an interest in military aviation, so a week or two ago, I took him over to the Western Aerospace Museum in Oakland. We spent a couple of enjoyable hours wandering among their collection of Navy jets. He was really excited to be able to get up close with the museum's F-14A Tomcat, and see how things worked on it. I spent some time doing museum restoration on a variety of USAF and Navy jets in Southern California a year or so ago, so it's neat to see that he shares the same interest.

family

I'm thinking of taking my parents up to the St. Francis for high tea this year. It seems like a pleasant way to end on a good note a year that has had more downs than ups for everyone.

--- Rupert

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