Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Joy of Perl

[reading: Christopher Brookmyre, "One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night"; recently Peter Hamilton, "Judas Unchained", Joss Whedon, "Serenity: Those Left Behind"]

Ah, the joy of Perl.

I've previously set up a system so that our trace files contain a dump of the version numbers for all of the code files. A few internal bug reports later, it's clear that this is going to be useful, and moreover, we're going to need an easy way to recreate the codebase that corresponds to a trace file.

120 lines of Perl later, I have such a beast. For a while I thought I would have to reinvent a chunk of Perl for parsing RCS logfiles that I'd previously written (but under the auspices of my old gig, so I don't have it any more). In the end I remembered to go to CPAN rather than re-re-inventing the wheel and found a nice module ready for reuse.

[A:37385 B:3218 C:346 D:9187 E:8073 Total:58209]

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Busting Out

Went out fencing for the first time in a while (I've been fairly busy with other things, cutting in to my Copious Free Time), but I didn't get to fence that much—the zip went on my breeches. Bugger. There's starting to be a running theme here.

In the old days I'd just have carried on with tracksuit bottoms, but of course we're not allowed to any more. On the plus side, the breeches might be repairable (which is good, given how expensive a replacement would be…for some reason I have a preference for the higher safety versions)—even though Kevlar is stab-proof and bullet-proof, you can apparently still get a needle through it. On the minus side, I have a nasty suspicion that a repair would be treating the symptom rather than the cause….

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Went out to the 100 Club again last night, and several of the competitors from some TV dance show were there. You could tell who they were because they were wearing stage costume rather than normal clothes ("Wow, that's a dress and a half. Or, actually, half a dress"). Given previous disappointment with the authenticity of the dance styles on the show, it was nice to see that they could actually dance socially in roughly the appropriate style.

The TV folk also went round putting up notices that said that by attending the event you were consenting to being filmed and shown on TV ... which was a bit unfair given that you could only see the notices after you'd paid your money to get in. (I wasn't quite feeling obby enough to make a fuss about it, given that I didn't really want them to offer me my money back and have to go home. I just avoided the cameras, being a shy and retiring type.)

And then today has been spent almost entirely in Microsoft Word, trying to persuade it to do a nice layout for a factsheet. As well as the Word-wrangling, it's also time-consuming (again) to get things presented exactly right. Basically, anything semi-artistic seems to be an NP problem: it's easy to decide whether any particular iteration looks good or not, but it's hard to generate good-looking stuff from scratch.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Six Degrees

[reading: Christopher Brookmyre, "Quite Ugly One Morning"]

OK, I think that's enough stick figure stuff for now.

[Now with serialization, noddy load/save, ability to move & rotate the figures (click on the joint at the base of the spine in edit mode), ability to add and delete frames from the sequence.]

Friday, May 12, 2006

Double jointed

[reading: Peter Seibel, "Practical Common Lisp"]

A bit of sneaky playing with the toy stick figure thing today—a basic edit mode that allows the joint angles to be modified:

(Click near a joint to highlight it, then frob the circles in the top left to change the angles; the larger version is rather more usable.)

[A:37385 B:3218 C:346 D:9187 E:7601 Total:57737]

Thursday, May 11, 2006


After four days pretty much full time, I think I've now got a reasonably robust install package for Qlockwork. Installers always seem to fall under Hofstadter's law: they always take longer than expected, even when you take Hofstadter's law into account. At least we didn't leave it until right at the end of the project, which is a classic blunder (albeit not quite as famous as 'Never get involved in a land war in Asia').

And as far as I can tell, there's no way to install an Outlook COM add-in as a non-admin user (which actually makes the installer easier, since that makes it legitimate to insist on an admin-only install anyway).

Monday, May 08, 2006

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

[reading: Frederick P. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"]

Is it just me that finds it a little bit peculiar that a tool for generating Windows Installers comes as a Zip file?

[A:37385 B:3218 C:346 D:9187 E:6992 Total:57128]

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

On the List

A first for me: I got into a gig on the guest list last night. Thanks to my brother and Vonnie Debrett.

(It's a bit less cool when I have to admit that it was a free gig anyway. But we got to use a separate entrance. Or at least we would have done if we'd known it was there.)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Day 364: The End of Slack

It's been almost exactly a year, but my Copious Free Time is now at an end. Starting today, workingProgram is going full time for us both.

As with the first six months, a quick pause to consider what I've been up to:

Monday, May 01, 2006

Day 363

[reading: Bob Stayton, "DocBook XSL: The Complete Guide"]

I'm not much for politics, but this snippet induced the old coffee | nose > keyboard.

Of course, there are rather better reasons why the man should have been sacked some while ago.

[A:37385 B:3218 C:346 D:9187 E:5851 Total:55987]