blarg?

September 14, 2003

Like A Shot In The Arm

Filed under: Archives — mhoye @ 12:00 pm

A little poking around has failed to produce
anything even vaguely round, shiny on one side and
Cop-Shoot-Cop coloured on the other, as I had hoped, but Phil Puleo, CSC’s drummer,
keeps a few mp3s
of the band’s music available on his site. Those of you who have any
doubt at all about what I have said here should immediately download Turning
Inside Out
and listen intently to it while you snarl at passersby. She’s
Like A Shot
is also on the highlight reel, being the
love song that makes Trent Reznor stare at the ceiling
at night wondering why he can’t write songs that good. And Low
Com Denom
? Jesus, it’s like somebody put speed in Tom Waits’
coffee. It’s great.

Really, you should just get over there and download whatever you can. I’m
going to email Mr. Puleo and see if he can still make those live CDs. He
should really get some of my money.

September 11, 2003

Release

Filed under: Archives — mhoye @ 12:00 pm

Last night, on the way around the TV dial, a commentator assured me
that the footage that he was about to show me of a rabid elk sexually
assaulting a Dodge Dart was “completely unrehearsed”, just to give you
an idea of the kind of world we live in right now.

A few months ago, I found an album by a group I had not heard of before,
“Cop Shoot Cop”, called “Consumer Revolt”. I put it in the CD player,
it sounded a a little too reminiscent of trying-too-hard indie rock,
and I put it aside. I revisited it recently, however, and listened
to it a little more seriously, and here’s the verdict: I don’t know
what the hell I was thinking, this is an absolutely amazing album. It
is difficult, using your puny, flavorless human “words”, to describe
how good this album is. It is crunchy, wholesome and bitter, it is
lyrically and rhythmically more interesting than anything else I’ve
heard in a long time. It even has a guy in the band whose job is to
grind and cut large chunks of steel during the shows. And, apparently,
it’s not even their best album.

I’ve been trying to find a copy of “Release”, apparently their strongest
album, for weeks, and I’m getting absolutely no traction at all. None.
None of their albums are still in stores, they’re not downloadable…
They are, effectively, gone.

Has anyone out there even heard of this album, of this band?

September 9, 2003

Fukui-san!

Filed under: Archives — mhoye @ 12:00 pm

“Fukui-san!”

“Yes, Ota?”

“Chef Hoye-san seems to be opening two enormous cans of kidney beans,
chili powder, chili flakes and crushed tomatos!”

“He has also cut up some mushrooms and onions. I wonder what he’s going
to make?”

“Um, well, at a guess I’d say he’s going to make chili, Fukui-san.”

“Wit, it looks like he’s going to make… No, wait, you’re right. He’s
going to make chili.”

“Fukui-san!”

“Yes, Ota?”

“I’ve just got word from one of Iron Chef Kingston’s colleagues! Apparently,
the only thing he knows how to make is chili!”

“This had better be pretty good chili, then.”

“I believe I’ve also heard that he makes very good spaghetti sauce.”

“It certainly doesn’t hurt that those dishes are almost identical.”

“And very lucky for him that today’s theme ingredient was ground beef.”

“Fukui-san!”

“Yes, Ota?”

“Why do we have a competitor here who can only cook one thing?”

As you might have gathered from that, I cooked chili this weekend, and
Arlene is now warning me that if she has to each chili for the rest of
her life, she’ll never forgive me. So it might be time for me to learn
how to cook a few other things.

Kingston was, as per usual, outstanding. The food, always good; even
the stuff that I made turned out acceptably, though I believe that
the words “chili powder” are Kingstonese for “tasteless red sawdust”,
and it came out a little on the bland side. I was hoping that it would
do more to clear out Arlene’s system: she was sniffling up a very small
but snot-intensive storm, so most of the weekend was spent on whatever
the antihistamine-equivalent to holding back the drunk girl’s hair is,
basically watching her deal with the hard-biorhythm-reset that seems,
curiously, to happen to people who take Neocitran at 11:00 AM and
Non-Drowsy Sudafed in the evening.

Winners don’t do drugs, kids. Just say no, especially to Sudafed. And
stay in school, while you’re at it. You know who does do drugs? That’s
right: tiny narcoleptic insomniac asian medical residents who will cut
the circulation in your legs clean off without the slightest
provocation, that’s who.

This term’s going to go well. I’m also putting together a
LATEX version of my independent study report,
my successful and very simple distributed processing system,
which I will make available as soon as it’s completed. I’ve got a
programming contract, I’ve got a part/flex-time job here at school,
and life is really looking good. I’ve finally got a debian-based system
back on this laptop, too, and on that front I think I’m finally home –
I’ve found a distro called Knoppix
that installs as painlessly as it possibly could, tells me the truth
about what it’s installing, handles my wireless NIC, usb-key and
usb-ethernet dongle out of the box and without anguish, and that fills
me with the simple, as-it-should-be joy that apt-get provides without
a selfish thought. Geek heaven.

Soon, as soon as I can find the time to make a stylesheet that doesn’t
look as asstacular as the default that ships with it, I’m shifting
over to Movable Type, a weblogging system that allows you, the reader,
to inject your heartless sarcasm directly into my meticulously crafted
website, without so much as a by-your-leave. You will know the comment
functionality by the little clickable widget that bears its name,
and click upon it you will.

Boy, though, that default stylesheet looks awful, like the bastard
child of a hospital recovery room and a Starbucks. Whoever you are,
you can’t possibly have thought that was a good idea.

September 4, 2003

I Think That’s A Felony

Filed under: Archives — mhoye @ 12:00 pm

Work makes for some interesting conversations, especially with the
renovations happening all over the place.

“Sorry, we won’t be able to get this computer set up.”

“Well, can I get my phone set up?”

“Well, no. Sorry.”

“Why not?”

“Well, you have no power outlets, no network drops and no phone jack
anywhere in the room.”

“What? I had some over there!”

“No, there are no plugs in that wall. Or any wall, as far as I can
tell.”

“What?” (brief pause…) “Somebody stole my wall!”

“Er, what?”

“Somebody stole my wall! I had a wall there, with a phone jack and a
computer jack and everything! They stole my wall!”

All week, she’s been muttering about the jerks who stole her wall,
which did make her look like a crazy person. However, that could not be
further from the truth; later in the week, after consulting a floor plan,
we found out that in fact the previously-resident wall had been removed,
and a second one a foot over had been put up in its place, with none
of the required jacks. I guess sometimes the crazy people are right.

Bite The Future

Filed under: Archives — mhoye @ 12:00 pm

There are some people out there on this inter-web thing who insist that
things be done Their Way regardless of pretty much anything up to and
including Ragnarok. Also included in the list of things not cared about
are any new tools have shown up on the market since the ossification
set in: I’ve lost track of the number of conversations I’ve had and
witnessed that go precisely like this:

Guy: Does anyone out there know how to get flint out of the ground
easily? I need to make fire, and I use rocks.
Guy 2: I have a Bic, a “lighter”. They are cheap, plentiful, and
they make it easy to make fire.
Guy: We were talking about rocks here, asshole. Get with the
program. I didn’t ask about “lighters”, did I? Sheesh.

On the other hand, when I see articles on how ridiculously hard a column
layout is with CSS
and suggesting that the way to deal with that
is to beef up your stylesheets by grafting an ugly JavaScript hack into
your web page, I feel the same embarassing tug at my attention span that
I get when the channels flip past RealTV. I know I don’t want to
see whatever that was, but I thought I saw… they’re not really
going to… no way. Are they? You mean, I can completely hose the layout
of a website by turning off javascript? Wow.

I’m hardly a crusty veteran of the medium, but I distinctly remember
a time when the clean layout of N arbitrarily-wide columns was
approximately as challenging as opening a door. I know we’re not in the
future yet, but I wonder who decided that getting to the future
should be as awkward and difficult as possible.

September 2, 2003

Forced Reboot

Filed under: Archives — mhoye @ 12:00 pm

This machine is a nest of snakes.

It says that PCMCIA starts OK in the bootup sequence but lsmod tells me
that pcmcia_core, which I have been led to believe is the core
of the functionality of the PCMCIA, hence the name etcetera,
is nowhere to be found. Equally absent are yenta_socket and ds, which I
also am informed are important. So, basically, this machine is lying to
me again. Absolutely infuriating. So, to get PCMCIA working at all, I
have decided to invoke the module gods with the following incantation:

cp initrd-2.4.20-8.img initrd-2.4.20-8.img.OLD
rm initrd-2.4.20-8.img
mkinitrd /boot/initrd-2.4.20-8.img --with=pcmcia_core --with=yenta_socket --with=ds 2.4.20-8
reboot

That seems to do the trick, as far as loading up goes. “pcmcia stop”
and “pcmcia restart” are completely boned, but hey, I’ll take a widget
that’s hard to stop over a tool that never starts any day.

There’s a trick with a knife, as the line goes, that I’m
learning to do. I this case, that trick is to get a Knoppix iso, getting
it to do the hardware discovery for you and then coaxing
it into pointing apt at Debian-Unstable and releasing the
hounds. This is how I’m going to spend tomorrow night. This
similar problem
, still marked “new” after four months in the tank,
doesn’t fill me with confidence. I’m just throwing more of my life down
the drain, reinstalling again, but I will not be patronized by a machine.

August 27, 2003

Let’s Geekqualize – Updated

Filed under: Archives — mhoye @ 12:00 pm

This is going to be an all-geek article, so those of you who don’t use Linux
can just skip it. I’ll be more entertaining next week.

A few days a go this
guy
wrote a neat bit about how to install WinXP in five hours or
less
. I thought that was about right, but I knew that I had a
Linux reinstall coming due, so I thought I’d take my own notes on the
process. The end result, if you don’t want to read all the way through,
is that it takes about four hours on a very slow machine, but that it
doesn’t really care much what options you do or don’t pick, ’cause it
apparently knows better.

So, here’s the story:

I’m due for a reinstall, because things aren’t working the way I
want them to, and uninstalling things in RedHat has been a bit of a
disaster.

Here’s the spec:

The Hardware: An old Transmonde laptop, PII/266, 512K L2 cache, 128Mb
RAM. Well-supported trackpad, C&T 65555 2MB video card driving a
1024×768 LCD. Four gig hard drive. No problem; It’s run Linux before,
and it will again. Basically, I’m looking for a system that gives me a
decent network experience, useful terminal-window functionality, MP3s,
gcc, vim, make and not a hell of a lot else, and does those things at
something better than a snail’s pace. Linux, as is its wont, promises me
all these things, as well as clean teeth, the fragrant smell of fresh-cut
flowers, low total cost of ownership and, I’m told, the moon.

So, booting from RedHat 9 CD#1,
go.

  1. Boots up to text mode. Upgrade or install Linux in graphical
    mode
    , that sounds about like what I’m going to be doing. Enter.

  2. I speak english good. My keyboard is a standard U.S. english
    keyboard.

  3. My mouse does not have three buttons. Sure, I’ll emulate that last
    one, whatever that means. I hope that’s OK.

  4. Let the installer remove all the partitions on the system. Go
    ahead. Yes, 98 Meg for /boot, 3556 for root and the last 256 for swap
    seems fine. Take the machine’s word for it.

  5. Wait a few minutes while it formats everything.
  6. Set the security level to medium and allow incoming SSH, because
    I don’t want a repeat of the X-out-of-disk-space
    disaster
    from a few weeks ago.

  7. Set my time zone.
  8. Set my root password.
  9. Enable MD5 and shadow passwords.
  10. Choose some packages. This part is going to be straighforward, but I
    know from previous experience that it absolutely has to be done right,
    because RedHat’s “Add/Remove Applications” GUI tools (and, in fact,
    RPM underneath them) are a digital atrocity, the State Machine of Lum
    the Mad. I don’t know anyone who even pretends they’re functional;
    getting them to actually add/remove stuff is just as simple, easy and
    fun as wiping your ass with a pit bull. Here goes.

    Choosing packages, I do the following:

  11. Turn off Gnome and
    anything that has anything to do with Gnome. I’m keeping gdm, ’cause it looks pretty and
    that’s nice, but Gnome has all the lean, graceful efficiency of Jabba
    the Hutt. It’s painfully, onerously slow. I’m going to get something
    useful later, but for now I choose KDE.

  12. Under X Window System, I ditch XDM, Switchdesk (figuring that I won’t
    need to switch desktops on the fly) and anything that says “print”,
    “gnome” or “gtk” in it. Lose xisdnload, too. Ponder briefly over who
    in the world might actually use ISDN.

  13. Ponder why clicking anywhere in the name of a thing toggles the
    associated checkbox, as opposed to the way it works everywhere else in
    the universe, where you have to click the actual checkbox.

  14. Uncheck “GNOME”. Under KDE, keep autorun and kkdeadmin. Lose the
    rest. Under Editors, get Vim and Vim-X11. Silently blame the Emacs
    people for screwing up the keyboard shorcuts in terminal windows for
    the rest of us.

  15. No Engineering and Scientific stuff. We can get that later. Likewise
    “Graphical Internet”. I get Konqueror for free with KDE, and I’ll
    get Mozilla soon enough, a much more recent version than appears on
    these CDs. Get Lynx, though, in case of emergency. Get rid of all
    the rest of the stuff in Text-Based Internet, because this isn’t the
    freaking bronze age anymore. We might go back for SLRN later.

  16. Uncheck “Authoring and publishing”. If I haven’t had to know
    what DocBook is yet I don’t need to know now. I’ll get it if and when
    I need it. Which is to say, later. Likewise “Graphics” – don’t need,
    so for now don’t want.

  17. For the love of God, ditch Open Office. This instantly cuts half
    a gigabyte out of my install-space requirement, and there’s nothing
    quite as satisfying as waiting five minutes for a “productivity tool”
    to get running. Take the xpdf viewer and GhostView and walk.

  18. Pick your poison as far as sound support goes, I’m not going to
    be burning anything here so I’ll stick with cdda2wav, cdp, cdparanoia
    and XMMS. I’ll have to get mpg-123 later. I make a note.

  19. Take “kdegames” for some dumb little amusements out of “Games and
    Entertainment”, and deselect the rest. They’re all to beefy for this
    little video card anyway. OpenGL? What’s that?

  20. Accidentally uncheck “Servers Configuration Tools”, and then go
    back and reset the whole thing, because Red Hat doesn’t remember your
    settings. Nice work, guys. Nice. So, deselect redhat-config-bind,
    -httpd, -nfs, -printer, -printer-gui, -samba, -mail, -mail-gnome,
    -printer and -printer-gnome.

  21. No Mail server, no Web server, no Windows fileserver, no name
    server. I want to be able, I say again, to SSH into this machine in
    a crisis, and that’s all. No News server, no SQL server. Go into the
    “Network Servers” bit at the very end and deselect them all. Keep DHCP,
    in case somebody wants to do some crossover cable networking. Make a
    note to be sure it’s turned off by default.

  22. Pick your poison again, as far as development packages go. I’m making
    sure to pick up the kernel packages, and a few other things. Avoid GNOME,
    as usual, and I feel confident saying that I won’t need to compile any
    ADA95 or Fortran anytime soon. Out of the System tools, I’m keeping
    ethereal and nmap.

  23. We’ll come back to this later, but I’d like to reiterate that I
    have deselected the “Printing Support” options.

  24. Moving on.

  25. Install. Wait an hour, occasionally pop in another CD.
  26. No, I don’t want to make a boot disk. Yes, I’ll reboot.
  27. Using my inner voice, express serious doubt and consternation
    about the fact it didn’t ask me about things like a hostname or X
    configuration.

  28. This gets to be the fun part. Gaze in wonder at the startup
    messages. Cups, Sendmail and a bunch of their friends all start up
    [ OK ]. Things that I specifically told the selection
    process that I didn’t want.

  29. Close my eyes, so I can feel my pulse pushing my temples apart.
  30. Log in to a very grainy-looking GDM. Mentally prepare myself to fix
    the X display settings, but before I get there, I see the panel at the
    bottom of the screen. It contains:

    1. A Red Hat icon.
    2. A Mozilla icon that doesn’t work.
    3. A printer icon that does.

    Fuck you, RedHat. Fuck you very much. I have enough computer problems
    in my life without having to wrestle with an installer that lies to
    me
    . Especially when it won’t let me actually undo any of the damage
    later. Christ.

  31. Correctly set the X display settings, restart the server and log in again.
  32. Go into the service configuration utility to see what’s running. Hey,
    look, everything that I specifically asked not be installed is right
    there, running right now. Nice. Somehow, I’m flashing back to the old
    IIS/CodeRed debacle. Shut down cups, isdn, netfs, nfs, nfslock, portmap,
    rawdevices, rhnsd, sendmail and uncheck them all. Wonder what Lisa,
    described as “Lisa is a small daemon which is intended to run on”, does.
    Nothing quite like having to do the same job twice.

  33. On a lark, go into “add/remove software” and check out the situation.

    The situation there is grim. The print utilities are now thoroughly
    selected, despite my previous uncheck-that-box-related efforts, and it
    is impossible to deselect them. Uninstalling anything at all through
    this UI is absolutely impossible. I feel something akin to homesickness
    when I think about how well Debian’s apt-get treated me in the distant
    past. Well, once the services have been turned off I guess that’ll
    do. The drive space is a writeoff, I suppose.

    I hate you guys. Configuring peripherals, my ass.

  34. Go home, get dinner.
  35. Use the GUI to set up my USB Ethernet adapter. The GUI works for that,
    mercifully. Set the machine name to “Protagonist” while I’m in there.

  36. Ifup eth0 at a console, login to KDE and fire up Konqueror. Futz
    around looking for right-click/save-as, give up, try dragging
    and dropping in a second window which seems to work. Use this
    to get Firebird 0.6.1,
    linux-wlan-ng-0.2.0,
    rxvt and evilwm.

  37. That seems to work. gunzip, untar, Configure, make, make
    install. Move xterm to xterm-old and replace it with a symlink to
    rxvt so that EvilWM opens rxvt instead. We’ll get to that in a minute,
    but that seems to work.

  38. Compile and install linux-wlan-ng-0.2.0. Brace self for lots more
    manual-reading, because now that I’ve rebooted cardmgr doesn’t seem to
    be running.

  39. Scratch head.
  40. Install Evilwm, and set up gdm to respect its authoratah. I’ve
    done this before: it’s trivial, but non-obvious. Under
    /usr/share/apps/switchdesk/ copy one of the XClients files to
    XClients.evilwm and change the line that says “exec whatever” to
    “exec evilwm”.

  41. You know, that “switchdesk” that I deliberately deselected earlier.
    I’d like to reiterate that I haven’t seen any warning messages or
    other notifications about switchdesk being necessary to anything.

  42. Futz around with .Xresources files to get rxvt to look right.
  43. Get that right, finally, and go to sleep. Except hey, the machine
    doesn’t power down all the way now – it just gets to the last line and
    then tells me to push the switch myself. Sweet.

That’s where I am now. I’m not done banging my head against the
wireless stuff, but this brings my machine to a point that I’d consider
usable. I’m going to install some GDM themes, because I like some
pretty pictures every now and then, but aside from that my machine is
now sufficiently fast-moving and well-featured to my taste. I’ll have
more links in here this afternoon, but for now this is pretty much the
size of it. I’m still pretty pissed off that all that printing-related
stuff crept in there, but I guess there’s some kind of dependency
somewhere that requires it, or else it just thinks it knows better than
I do.

More soon.

Update: When will then be soon? Now.

I’ve added some links to the above and polished it a little, but
that’s about it. I’ve got mpg-123
working, ACPI still doesn’t work properly anymore, and I’ll
be damned if I can figure out what I did to bone it. Getting wireless
working is, I’m sure, going to be it’s own private nightmare that
I’m not going to spend a lot of time on right now. Suffice to say
that cardmgr hasn’t worked right since the first time I rebooted, so
I’m probably going to have to do something scripty and gross to get
it glued back together. Elapsed time, from one end to another, about
three hours including compile time, though not dinner.

On the upside, there’s no registration problems, no screwing
around with turning dumb blinky stuff in the UI off. On the
downside, it’s hard to express how infuriating it is to tell
an installer that you don’t want some service whose name you’ve heard
before
only to find it running in the background after the first
reboot anyway, without so much as a note explaining that this service is
somehow necessary or important. I suspect I dodged a bullet by skipping
the KDE configuration completely in favor of EvilWM, but EvilWM will
still take some tweaking – control-alt-plus, a useful window-resizing
key, is dangerously close on my keyboard to control-alt-backspace, which
pulls the ripcord on my X sessions without asking me if I maybe meant
something other than “close all five terminals, both browser windows,
set yourself on fire and fling yourself off the nearest parapet”,
a well-understood default behaviour for X.

So in short, as compared to the aforementioned five-hour WinXP
install experience
, Mark had to spend a lot more time fighting with
the Microsoft registration, driver wizards, downloads and interface
tweaks, but on the other hand at the end of the process he actually got
what he had asked for. I think I’m going to have to figure out how to
get in on this Red
Carpet
action that Shaver
says he’s a big fan of. Because, when it gets right down to it, a program
that lies to you and silently decides to install crap you’ve explicitly
told it not to install is pretty fucking insulting, and there’s no way
I’m putting up with that bullshit again.

August 22, 2003

Signal, Noise

Filed under: Archives — mhoye @ 12:00 pm

A word about signals, noise, a certain brand of processed luncheon
meat and a certain class of “entrepreneur” who habitually enjoys carnal
relations with the creatures that purvey that luncheon meat, typically
while the luncheon meat in question can still push back. Though not,
perhaps, exclusively.

Paul Graham wrote an interesting
page or two about dealing
with spam
, in which he talked about the possibility of a “learning”
filtering system. The whole thing looks good, and I thought it was cool,
but the direct consequence of the Bayesian filters he has inspired is
that I’m now getting spam composed entirely out of random strings of
commonly-used words
, not advertising anything, presumably designed
to make the whole “e-mail” thing completely unusable for people who
employ those filters. Sort of the same way it’s completely unusable
for everyone who doesn’t use filters these days.

You evil bunch of pigfuckers.

August 21, 2003

Whatever.

Filed under: Archives — mhoye @ 12:00 pm

Ok, apropos the blackout. The good:

  • The local Pizza Pizza found themselves a generator and, being the
    only people for miles serving food, they made out like bandits.

  • Those local merchants selling staples like water and candles, who
    could overcome their primal fear of basic math also overcame the lack
    of cash registers and likewise did very well for themselves.

  • People were for the most part incredibly civilized about the whole
    thing, so much more than usual that I thought that they should turn
    all the traffic lights off every weekend. At major intersections that
    I passed everybody was being patient and had a good sense of how things
    should work and when their turn was, and it worked out pretty well.

  • The demo of my little distributed-processing toy, for which I was
    woefully unprepared, was pushed back to a later date, and subsequently
    well. I feel I am watched over by a long line of strange and powerful
    coincidences.

The bad:

  • Dear Idiot Teenagers: if you’re going to vandalize something, don’t
    choose the 24-hour bagel store which, under any other circumstances
    short of Ragnarok, would have two police cars parked in the lot virtually
    all the time. Civilized people do not shit where they eat. Smart people
    definitely don’t shit where on-duty cops eat. Morons.

  • Dear CBC: As you are no doubt aware,
    you are the freaking CBC. People turn to you
    for information. Please, for the love of all that journalists might
    possibly hold holy, don’t fluff out your programming in the middle of the
    largest blackout in North American history with insipid human interest
    stories. This is just one man’s opinion, but people might not care so
    much about home maintenance tips and the Indomitable Human Spirit when
    they have questions about whether the water’s safe to drink, where it’s
    safe to go for medical help and when they can expect the power to come
    back up. For a while there, I thought that Fox News had seized control
    of your transmitter under cover of darkness. I sensed a great cringe,
    as though a billions of neurons suddenly twitched reflexively, and were
    suddenly silenced.

  • Dear Right Wingers, My Brother True Believers To The North And The
    South: Good work guys, you were right, the whole mad scheme worked
    out great. For an encore, you can deregulate my left nut. Bunch of
    fucking idiots.

I’ve got me a new wireless NIC, an ASUS, and as usual trying to
accomplish anything with Linux that less than ten zillion other people
have also done with identical hardware is an unmitigated nightmare. I
thought I was off the reinstall treadmill, but I guess not. I’m
going to have to keep better notes this time, because I’m tired of
having this machine lie to me about what’s going on. Starting
PCMCIA services [ OK ]
my pasty-white ass. If it was [ OK ],
I wouldn’t have had to cobble this together and sudo it whenever I felt
like beating my head against the wall again:

[root@Protagonist sbin]# cat gocard
#!/bin/bash

insmod pcmcia_core
insmod yenta_socket
insmod ds

/etc/init.d/pcmcia start

I hate having to do crap like that. In addition to exposing my marginal
competence to the harsh light of day, it’s also a sign that I have to
employ said marginal competence to deal with the marginal competence
of a bunch of other people. It’s like the Yin and Yang of pissing me off.

August 19, 2003

I Am A Genius.

Filed under: Archives — mhoye @ 12:00 pm

I’m not one to let a line like that stand on its own, no sirree. Nobody
would believe me. They won’t anyway, but what the hell.

I’ve got to write a big honking report on it in the next little
while, but the gist of it is that I’ve finished up a working
Java-based task-distribution client that permits any computer
(cool bit: any OS, any processor, as long as it speaks
Java and Sockets) among a set of collaborators farm out fragments
of jobs to its peers, where the job fragments are run, returned
and reassembled. The basic gist of it is that task Objects are serialized,
shipped over the network
to collaborating peers, each fragment is run in its own thread
and sent back to its parent machine. The joy of it is that any machine
can inject a task into the system and expect to get it back.

It’s early, and it’s clearly not good code, but it works. Which is
to say, Booya!

The whole thing was inspired by this, the
legendary Amish Mobile Home. Many hands, the line goes, make light work,
and if you haven’t got some big iron to apply to problems that size,
sometimes you can get the friends you’ve got together to get the job
done just as well.

A few observations:

  • Java’s networking libraries are very shiny.
  • Their threading functionality is also pretty easy to work with.
  • It takes surprisingly little irresponsible threadwork to bury a WinXP system.
  • Use sleep(), kids, ’cause wait() just won’t do what you think it does.
  • I need more design experience.
  • It would be really nice if Java gave up on the syntax that looks
    like C, and went with a syntax that actually works like C. C’mon, guys:
    you’re damn near mugging everyone else for their functionality at the
    moment, why not get back to your roots? I realize it’s about a decade
    too late to fix it, but I don’t understand why “==” means “is the same
    object as”, rather than the more common-sensical “contains
    identical information”. Probably the same reason that the hashing
    algorithm apparently involves the object’s reference, which almost
    certainly involved drugs. Again, too-late-I-know, but maybe if they
    gave you the option of a non-reference-dependent hashing process,
    then you could get switch statements to work with objects. Like, say,
    Strings. Which would also be sweet.

  • There’s always the possibility that I’m just an ignorant crackpot, here,
    so I’m keeping that in mind.

    Source code soon.

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