Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve

I'm spending New Year's Eve with a few friends. We are having dinner at Chinese buffet restaurant then ring in the New Year at my friend Rob's house, which is just around the corner from the restaurant.

I for one will be glad to see the back 2009, the worst year I've ever had. Unfortunately, all I have to carry me into the new year is a somewhat deflated positive spirit. Lets here a big "Yay!" for 2010.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Too Much Bad News

It seems we are not going to get out of 2009 without even more bad news. There's still one day left. What more could possibly go wrong? Best not to think about it too much...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

3D Woes

It looks like my plans for a New Year's Day BZFlag game are in trouble. I configured the server a few days ago and it works fine, no problems there. The client side is a different story. The client is crashing hard, like it takes down the whole computer. I can't even login remotely.

Since I don't run 3D applications very often, the problem may be BZFlag, a kernel problem, a library bug, or a zillion other things. And, since is is a hard crash, there's nothing running that can write a log message or any sort of a clue. I hate it when software gets this complicated.

Unless I can figure this out soon, I guess the game is off. Sniff. Wipes a tear.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Doctor Who: The End Of Time Part 1

Thoroughly enjoyed part one of The End Of Time. The cliff hanger ending was so unexpected that I'm still still reattaching my jaw. However, the cafe scene was by far the best in whole episode. I wish it could have been longer, but unfortunately the plot waits for no one. It was great to see Donna and Wilfred back but it is still not clear why they are so important. I guess we'll find out in part two which I have to wait a whole week to see... Damn!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Too Relaxed?

Can one be too relaxed? If so that would be my current state. I'm at that point where I'll actively look for stuff to do, so that the relaxed mood doesn't turn into boredom. There's a fine line, though. If I dive into a project with too much gusto, suddenly I'm no longer relaxed and lately I have found that state is not so easy to achieve without the help of family and family.

As you may have noticed from the last couple of posts, there's not much going on around here. Yes folks, it's the mid-holiday doldrums. ^_^

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Slow Is Good

Took it easy today but still sorted through my projects, deciding which were interesting enough to continue and which could be retired. I also discovered the Firefox Java plugin is broken when I tried to run the AniDB applet to update my anime list. The plugin doesn't work on any of the test sites I tried, so I have no idea what might be wrong there. Mutter, mutter.

There were a lot of other things I probably should have done, but it was suppose to be a slow day. ^_^

Friday, December 25, 2009

Awesome Day!

Another Christmas is over and I had an awesome day with the family. If you walked into one of our gatherings, your first impression might be that a fight had broken out. It is chaotic and noisy, with too much going at the same time. It is oddly stimulating and relaxing at the same time.

All the memories of I have of parties in Cape Town, whether hosted by my parents, by relatives, or by friends, where like this. That's just how it is when South African's gather to have a good time.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Where's That Holiday Feeling?

Damn! I'm just not getting that holiday feeling yet. After I finished baking the koeksisters, I found that I still had a long list of things that I needed to get done. I have such a happy-go-lucky bachelor lifestyle. Yeah, right!

Fortunately, I'm having Christmas dinner with my family, so tomorrow will be completely relaxing, in a chaotic, noisy, stuff-your-face, kind of way. If that doesn't put me in a holiday mood, nothing will.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Crunch

I'm not buying gifts this year. I know, I know, I'm a bad person, but there are extenuating circumstances. Anyway, I decided to bake some koeksisters so as not to show up completely empty handed. But Christmas is on a Friday which has made my schedule a blooming nightmare to get the baking done. Might have been easier to buy gifts... Or maybe not. Tough call.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dates Start With One

Why is it that everyone seems to ignore the the fact that dates always count from one? There was no year zero. There was no century zero. Therefore the year 2000 was still the 20th century and 2010, not 2009, is the final year of the decade now dubbed "the noughties."

This is an example of how inaccurate information becomes accepted as a fact. Unfortunately, I see no way to correct this misinformation as long as everybody keeps spreading it around like a virus.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Another Busy Weekend

My youngest grand-nephew was one year old today and that's as good a reason as any for a family get together. Not that South Africans really need a reason for a knees-up. It was kind of like a curtain raiser for the main event next Friday.

This is the third weekend in a row I attended a get together, making this the busiest December I've ever had. I'm getting a little worn out and there's still two more gatherings to go. Phew! Huff! Puff!

Eurostar Vs Winter

It seems Eurostar channel tunnel trains really don't like serious Winter weather. It wasn't so much the cold, snowy conditions but the melting that resulted after the trains entered the warmer tunnel. And as we all know, water and electrical equipment don't mix. It is amazing that nobody considered this possibility in the designs. Is this an example of fair weather thinking?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Stealing History

I'm stunned that anyone could steal from anything Auschwitz, let alone the infamous sign above the gates. This is like stealing history itself. Whether it is a random act of vandalism or a deliberate acquisition by a collector, it shows how some have no regard for history and the lessons we may learned from it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dark Matter

So what happens if we confirm the existence of dark matter? Perhaps Douglas Adams already gave us the answer:
There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
The man was a genius!

Aussie Internet Filters Again

It seems that some people just can't give up on dumb ideas. The Australian Government wants to filter the Internet. Wow, nice to know Western democracies have so much in common with Communist China. Of course all the usual bogeymen are mentioned to justify the censorship. Think of the children!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Functional Programming In Python

At this month's PyGTA meeting we attempted to write a trivial application in Python using functional programming concepts. First, lets be clear: Python is not a natural language for functional programming. For one thing, the Python interpreter does not support the parallelism that a proper functional programming language will offer. However, it is possible to write in a functional style in Python, just don't expect much in return for your efforts.

The real difficulty was not Python itself but the group's lack of experience with functional programming. When you are used to using variables everywhere, it is actually quite difficult to write code that uses none. We commonly use varibales to save state and since functional programming is stateless, variables are a big no-no. In the end only Mike Fletcher got something that worked using functional programming techniques, but it still used a couple state variables, and so the program was not completely correct.

So what was learned from the experience? Functional programming is a lot harder than anyone thought. Next time someone waxes about how great a paradigm functional programming is, ask him to you show a real application he has written. If he hesitates, you can safely ignore everything he says.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Schumacher Returning?

Michael Schumacher may be returning to Formula 1 to drive for the Mercedes (formerly Brawn GP) team. Since this is strictly for marketing reasons, I sincerely hope it does not happen.

Everyone one has their time. Micheal has had his time in the spotlight. Now it is time for that spotlight to shine on the up and coming talent. It would better for the sport if Schumacher nurtured the new drivers rather than hid them in his shadow.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Sarah Jane Adventures Series 3

I just finished watching the third season off The Sarah Jane Adventures. The highlight of the third series, was a full story featuring the outgoing Doctor, played by David Tennant. However, the other 5 stories were really good as well. Oh, and K9, the famous robot dog, now has a permanent part after the rights to use the character name were resolved. All-in-all, a very entertaining season.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Competitor Returns

The Industry Minister has overruled the CRTC and given Globalive the green light to enter the Canada telecommunications market. That's great news for cell phone competition in Canada. Micheal Geist thinks it may even be a precursor to changes in the laws regarding foreign ownership.

I'll bet the incumbent telcos are fuming over all that lobbying money they wasted on the CRTC to get Globalive disqualified. Even now they must plotting their revenge, digging up dirt on Minister Tony Clement... What? You think they wouldn't? It's suicide for politicians to go against their corporate masters.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

BZFlag Again

I'm hoping to organize a BZFlag game for my friends on New Year's Day, similar to what I tried last time. The emphasis will be on "organizing" with an actual game time as opposed to just hoping people join in at the same time. That failed miserably which in hindsight should have been obvious. Everybody actually connected at least once but just never while some else was around. So everyone was interested but found they had nothing to do. Hopefully it will work out better this time.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's Here!

Ah well, I guess there's no avoiding it. The snow, I mean. The torontoist blog made a time lapse video of our first snow storm last night. I hope they plan to do this for all the storms. This one wasn't very bad, but the snow turned to rain and made it really hard to shovel. Wet snow is heavy!

This is only the beginning... A sign of things to come... ominous silence.

Revision Control

This month's GTALUG meeting consisted of series of short talks on four different revision control systems. Aaron Bentley was first and talked about Bazaar. Aaron used to be a core developer for Bazaar so his knowledge runs much deeper than the user level talk he presented. Christopher Browne talked about Darcs, the only one out the four that I've never used. Drew Sullivan presented git, in a rather, um, unstructured fashion. Myles Braithwaite gave a rather frenetic talk on Mercurial as he was running out of time.

Now far the fun part. Which one is better? The only honest answer is none of them. For any typical project consisting of a few dozen developers, there is nothing to choose between the four systems. It is interesting that whenever a feature was held up as a reason why one system was better, it was fairly easy for one of other the presenters to shoot it down. It was all for fun of course, since nobody could hold the high ground for very long and any differences was just splitting hairs.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Now That Was Fun

I laughed myself hoarse yesterday at the get together with my friends. We ordered some Thai food and played a few different car racing video games, probably the only type of game at which I don't totally suck. Well, more like we all sucked the same. It was great fun but all too short.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Boys Night Out

After the kerfuffle yesterday, I'm looking to forward to meeting with my friends this evening. One day I should write about how the group formed. It may surprise you but it wasn't for computers or anything technical at all.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

'Tis The Foolish Season

Good grief, that was some massive miscommunication! Jean's all day event is next week, on the 12th! I swear when she told me about it, she said the December 5th. It just proves the point: get everything in writing! Even Jean can't be sure of what she said.

The best part is, I showed up just as she was leaving with my other sister and brother-in-law in their car. I jumped in, hoping to find out what was going on, and we all had a good laugh over it. Ah, such foolishness!

The only remaining problem is, what am I going to do for the rest of the day...

'Tis The Season

Well, I guess it's the time of year for social gatherings. This weekend is going to be busy.

My sister Jean has her all day, drop-in-whenever-you-can event today for the first time in a few years. It's a pretty crazy idea if you ask me, which might explain why she hasn't had one in a while. Strangely I'm the only family member who actually goes, which tells you a lot about my family. Of course, I go for the "all day" part, and just hang out at Jean's for the day.

Tomorrow evening, my geek friends are having a get together, a retry of the one aborted last month. It is telling that we managed to arrange another date at this busy time of year.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Raikkonen Moves To WRC

It is awesome that Raikkonen will be driving in the WRC next year. First, he brings valuable media attention to a motor sport that generally doesn't get much coverage. Second, the WRC needs some fresh talent to shake things up a little. Third, and most importantly, he is very quick in a rally car, as he proved in Finland in last August. Now, he did crash out eventually but that was probably just inexperience. So, while he may not be a potential WRC champion, he could be on the podium a couple of times.

Raikkonen only has a one year deal with the Citroen Junior team, so he may return to Formula 1 in 2011, but who knows? If he does well next year, he could also remain in a WRC car. I wouldn't mind that at all.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Messed Up Day

I overslept this morning. So what, you might say. While it is true I can't be late for work, I do try to keep something resembling normal work hours. If you don't do this when you work from home, it is easy to end up working all the time.

Anyway, I overslept by a seriously long time. I don't understand why. I went to bed earlier than usual. I slept right through the alarm. Even the noise from the upstairs neighbour didn't wake me up. It was all very strange. I hope it was a one off thing because it really messed up my day.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Missing Coding

None of my work projects currently involve any programming whatsoever, so I've turned to my personal projects to get my coding fix. Note that this not necessarily a good thing because it means that the paying projects are quite small. But, hopefully, they will lead to other, bigger projects. That's the plan anyway.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Snow Record

Toronto set a record! We made it into December without any snow for the first time in over 160 years. Then they tell you Toronto only gets 8% of its snow in October and November. Kind of puts the record in perspective, doesn't it?