Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Day 301

Somehow it seems against the spirit of the event to go out and buy extra supplies especially for making pancakes, but, hey, it's not like I'm going to be giving anything up for Lent anyway. I can only point out that this photograph of my current houseguest impressively tossing a pancake:
Pancake tossing
was immediately followed by said pancake hitting the floor.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Day 299

Got a house guest to stay for the next week or so, which should be pleasant. He's basically coming to stay because he now lives in the middle of France, in a chateau that has no central heating—so it's too cold to live there at the moment.

Even so, I'm slightly envious; he's got a moat, and a wine cellar, and a chapel. He's even got enough space he could put in some secret passageways (although I suspect that's a long way down the list of things to do, after "install central heating", "fix roof", "fix damp" and suchlike).

I've wanted to live in a house with a secret passageway for as long as I can remember, possibly as a result of being exposed to too many Famous Five books at an impressionable age. I've even got as far as figuring out that you'd actually need two secret passageways: you wouldn't be able to resist showing off a secret passageway to all of your guests—at which point it wouldn't really be secret. So you need a secret secret passageway, preferably off the main secret passageway so you can spy on the people who are hiding in there. And yes, I've thought about this way too much.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Day 296

So as I suspected, the RMT is planning ahead for 2012.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Day 295

[reading: Barbara Hambly, "The Emancipator's Wife"]

Everyone else's nasty deadlines seem to have passed, so I got some very useful assistance over the last couple of days on the insanely complicated configuration setup for stress testing Project Y.

We pulled the stress test up in the schedule so that we could get a sense of the performance of the thing—I couldn't really predict the performance from the raw code itself. Things look good so far: I had 300 calls running in parallel, which looked to use around 5% of a 2.8GHz CPU—so on an optimistic assumption of linearity, that should scale to a few thousand calls on the box. Not bad when O(100) calls was actually a fairly low priority on the original list of deliverables.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Day 289

The complicated configuration setup needed for testing Project Y rather got the better of me today. After I was bounced around six different people to try to get some help with it (ending with someone who was too busy to help), I eventually gave up and went back into the code to fix up a couple of minor spec changes that have happened in the meanwhile.

Still, the evening was more fun; we tried home-made rather than delivery pizzas for a change. It did illustrate an interesting point of semantics: what is the core Platonic essence of a pizza? At what point does sheer weight of ingredients change it from being a pizza to just being a large pile of food with a bread base hidden somewhere at the bottom?

Personally, I'd contend that to be a true Pizza, you should be able to lift a piece purely by the edge. Under which definition, all of ours failed—I think everyone resorted to eating with a knife and fork (how uncouth!), owing to structural instability.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Day 288

[reading: Roger Zelazny, "Manna From Heaven"]

So on to the testing phase for Project Y, which involves plugging it into a lot of other code. Reassuringly, the basics did work first time*, but there's a whole bunch of complicated configuration setup ahead.

* Well, the first time I tried the test with the code actually loaded, anyway. Oops.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Day 287

And I went up there, I said, "Shrink, I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill, KILL, KILL." And I started jumpin up and down yelling, "KILL, KILL," and he started jumpin up and down with me and we was both jumping up and down yelling, "KILL, KILL." And the sergeant came over, pinned a medal on me, sent me down the hall, said, "You're our boy."

I've got an idea for the psychological training of new soldiers: take them to Ikea. Half an hour in there and they'll definitely be in a mood to kill. Particularly useful if you want to invade Sweden.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Day 283

[reading: Andrew Hunt & David Thomas, "The Pragmatic Programmer"]

Hmm, maybe I should press on a bit more with my scribbles about software engineering; given that "The Pragmatic Programmer" seemed to attract rave reviews, there's clearly a market for Stating the Bleeding Obvious.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Day 281

As if to prove my point that I already had most of its contents already available, I sat down today and wrote the vast majority of the design document for Project Y. I listened to 6 CDs of Miles Davis playing Live at the Plugged Nickel in 1965, and churned out close on seven thousand words. That's nearly a thousand words an hour, or around 15 wpm.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Day 280

[reading: Charles Stross, "Toast"]

I think the coding for Phase 2 of Project Y is now pretty much done, which sadly means that the project as a whole is mostly code complete. In other words, from here on in the project will mostly involve testing, which is much less fun (particularly as system testing this sucker will involve quite a complicated setup). Still, I've still got the design to write before I completely descend into testland. (Not quite as bad as it sounds—it's more a case of writing up the design than just writing it from the code; I've got almost all of the contents of the design doc as handwritten text and diagrams in my notebook).

We also had another LAN party this evening, but I abandoned it and went home early. Partly that was because there were problems with the servers—every other game the ping time would leap up to several seconds, and the servers would need to be reset—but mostly because I got bored. Somehow the thrill of running around shooting people (or more likely: being shot by people) has palled.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Day 278

My heavens, I've been tagged. How very LiveJournal. Well, here we go:

Four jobs I've had in my life:

  1. Mathematician
  2. Software Engineer
  3. Er, that's it

Four movies I can watch over and over again:

  1. Aliens
  2. The Princess Bride
  3. Casablanca
  4. The Matrix

Four places I have lived:

  1. Swindon
  2. Redcar
  3. Egton
  4. Newcastle
Given that I didn't use all four of my job slots, I guess I can add:
  1. Stockton-on-Tees
  2. Durham
which I think covers things up to age 13.

Four TV shows I love to watch (on DVD):

  1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  2. Firefly
  3. The West Wing
  4. Yes Minister/Yes Prime Minister

Four places I have been on vacation:

  1. Japan (1999)
  2. India (2000)
  3. Peru (2001)
  4. Australia (2003)
Four websites I visit daily:
  1. Slashdot
  2. BBC News
  3. The Register
  4. Boing Boing
Four favourite foods:
  1. Crispy Aromatic Duck
  2. Cheese
  3. Eggs Benedict
  4. Filet de Boeuf Écossais glacé avec Roquefort

Four vehicles I've owned:

  1. Yamaha SR-125
  2. Yamaha Virago XV-535
  3. Triumph Trident 900
  4. Ducati M600 Monster
(And that's almost the complete list—the only other vehicle I've owned was a Suzuki SV-650 that got nicked about four months after I bought it).

Four albums I love:

  1. J.S.Bach, Cello Suites (a double album really, but I'll count it as one)
  2. 16 Horsepower, "Hoarse"
  3. Miles Davis, "Kind of Blue"
  4. The Smiths, "Hatful of Hollow"

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Day 274

[reading: Charles Stross, "The Atrocity Archives"]

Urk. Feeling distinctly under the weather today, with shivers and headache and aching sinuses—some kind of flu-like thing I guess. At least I don't have to feel guilty about not showing up for work—given that I'm effectively a contractor, I don't get paid for sick days.

In the meanwhile, this article from Philip Greenspun is interesting from a Copious Free Time perspective. I liked:

"Publish a public Web diary of what you do every day, thus discouraging you from wasting time because you'll be ashamed to admit that all you accomplished yesterday was a 15-minute oil change and a trip to Target (my own, but never implemented)."
which is precisely the reason this thing originally came into existence.