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Journal of Kake (3534)

Monday August 16, 2010
04:54 AM

Eek! I wrote some Perl!

I haven't written any Perl in a long time, but some fell out yesterday so I thought I'd mention it here. It's to do with Chinese text, specifically ways to grep in a traditional-simplified-insensitive way. More details on my regular blog. (Comments are enabled here, but preferred there — you can use OpenID or just sign your name so I know who you are.)
Monday September 10, 2007
11:18 AM

YAPC Europe

So I figured I should probably write something here about why I didn't go to YAPC::Europe this year, even though I was supposed to go and moderate a hackathon.

The problem was that I was supposed to moderate a hackathon.

For various reasons, there are some things that I find very very difficult, even though my skills and experience mean that I should be quite capable of them. Doing things in person at specific times comes under this. I'm not going to go into details, but I don't mean reasons like "is too disorganised to prepare a presentation in time", or "doesn't feel like getting out of bed in the morning" — it's more systemic and less easy to overcome than that.

The thing is that because I should be quite capable of things like running a training session, giving a live demonstration, moderating a hackathon, or indeed working full-time, it's very hard for other people to understand that these things are more difficult for me than they would be for most other people with my skills and motivation. This means that when I say "no, I can't do that", other people hear "I'm scared to do that", or "I need you to talk me into doing that", and hence they proceed to try to talk me into doing it. Because I am a nice person, and I like to oblige, this sometimes leads to me agreeing to do something that I really shouldn't.

(I do want to say here that I'm absolutely not saying anything against the people who encouraged me to propose the OpenGuides hackathon at YAPC. With most people, what you did would have been absolutely the right thing to do. The reason I'm writing this now is that I recognise that my situation is unusual enough to require documentation.)

So, when I found myself at the point where the situation had been affecting my work and personal life for months, and I was seriously contemplating cutting up my passport (and perhaps more) so nobody could make me go to Vienna, I realised that I had to pull out. So I did.

Some people have wondered why I didn't just cancel the hackathon and go to the conference anyway. Because of the way I am, I have spent far too much of my life apologising for dropping out of things. I've had people call me rude, lazy, stupid, inconsiderate, and unprofessional, and I'm sure there are a number of people in the Perl community who consider me unemployable. So I hope people can understand why I didn't want to go to Vienna that week, in that context, as a failure, again.

This postscript is for the people who are going to pop up and suggest that I try therapy or drugs or NLP or something to "fix" myself.

Over the many many years that this has been the case, I have indeed put a lot of effort into trying to "fix" the "problem", but with time I've realised that this effort could be better spent somewhere else — for example, in doing things that I actually can accomplish well and efficiently. And in this, I am mostly succeeding. The work that remains to be done lies not in wasting more energy trying to change myself into a "normal" person, but in getting better at saying "no" and sticking to it.

Sunday June 10, 2007
06:47 PM

OpenGuides hackfest.

Hello. Long time, no write. (I'm mostly writing on LiveJournal these days[0][1].)

[0] Mostly friends-only, so get an account or an OpenID, and poke me, and I'll add you.
[1] ObTwitter

We had an OpenGuides hackfest at our house this weekend, focusing on clearing out all the cruft in our Trac bugreps. You know how some bugreps just sit and fester? Well, we got fed up of having festering bugreps, so we got a pile of OpenGuides hackers (old and new) together in our living room, talked each rep through, assigned them to various people, and started hacking. Commits happened, bugs got closed, and new people got familiar with the codebase. It feels like a fresh start.

The weekend went so well[2] that we plan to try and fit another one in between now and the hackathon that will be happening at YAPC::Europe in Vienna in August.

[2] The only thing I regret is the fact that the meatballs I made as part of the buffet lunch on Saturday were a bit dry. I think I'll add some lemon juice and vegetable stock next time.

One of the best things about it was that new people came along and got stuck in: Andrew, Anne, Ilmari, and Pedro. Hurrah to all of you, and of course hurrah also to the usual suspects, Bob, Dom, and Ivor.

P.S. If you read this, do say hello.

Thursday June 17, 2004
12:17 AM

Yet another reason for sleeping with me.

As if there weren't enough already. I just added a feature to OpenGuides that I'm fairly sure nobody other than Bob is ever going to use. He does however assure me that he doesn't just want me for my code.
Thursday October 09, 2003
04:18 PM

Programmer wanted to join OpenGuides team

I'm looking for another programmer to join the OpenGuides project. In particular, I'm looking for someone to overhaul the install process and make it simpler. Any volunteers? Comment here or mail me at or mail the dev list at Or do all three.

And please feel free to pass this advert on - stick it on perlmonks or livejournal or your local perlmongers mailing list or wherever.

Wednesday July 09, 2003
05:32 AM

CGI::Wiki front-end

jerakeen is wonderful. He's writing a CGI::Wiki front-end to work out of the box.

Oh yes, and Building Collaborative Web Applications with CGI::Wiki is now out, in this month's The Perl Journal, hurrah.

Thursday June 26, 2003
08:47 AM

The Open Guide to London

We finally moved the open community guide to London (previously known as grubstreet) from UseModWiki over to OpenGuides. Wow. It only took just under a year from deciding to rewrite UseModWiki in maintainable Perl to coming up with a complete specialised city guide application.

There are three Open Guides online now:

More info is available at the OpenGuides website - if your city doesn't have an Open Guide then why not set one up? It will work right out of the box for any UK city (after you configure it, of course). For cities in other countries, all the features should work fine apart from the location stuff — offers of assistance in sorting that would be greatly appreciated.

OpenGuides is based on CGI::Wiki and was written by me, Earle Martin, and Ivor Williams.

Thursday May 08, 2003
10:31 AM

Incomplete bug reports.

CPAN RT #2445 is really confusing me. I'm partly expecting it to turn out to be some kind of mystery shopper gathering data for a new CPANTS metric — maintainer patience in the face of “it doesn't work” bug reports.

Monday April 07, 2003
03:54 AM

Sometimes you just have to stop whining...

Sometimes you just have to stop whining, and write some code. I was spending far too much time and energy telling everyone that I didn't understand any of this RDF and RSS stuff, so I spent the weekend stealing other people's code and writing an RSS plugin for CGI::Wiki (see it in action on my grubstreet clone). Of course I still don't know what I'm doing, since XML::RSS is doing all the actual work, but at least I'm doing it.

My to-do list now has a home in cyberspace, appropriately enough on a wiki. The thing I will probably spend most of my next few spare evenings on is carrying on with the ChefMoz stuff that I'm doing in collaboration with danbri.

Monday March 17, 2003
11:53 AM

Making tests easier, finding things in London, and SnogWiki

I got around to writing CGI::Wiki::Plugin::Locator::UK. It's not as complicated as I was going on about in my last journal entry, because it doesn't actually need write access to the database tables.

use CGI::Wiki;
use CGI::Wiki::Plugin::Locator::UK;

my $wiki = CGI::Wiki->new;
my $locator = CGI::Wiki::Plugin::Locator::UK->new(
    wiki => $wiki );

$wiki->write_node( "Jerusalem Tavern",
                   "A good pub",
                   { os_x => 531674,
                     os_y => 181950

# Just retrieve the co-ordinates.
my ( $x, $y ) = $locator->coordinates(
    node => "Jerusalem Tavern" );

# Find the straight-line distance between two nodes,
# in kilometres.
my $distance = $locator->distance(
    from_node => "Jerusalem Tavern",
    to_node   => "Calthorpe Arms" );

# Find all the things within 200 metres of a given place.
my @others = $locator->find_within_distance(
    node   => "Albion",
    metres => 200 );

The only change I needed to make to CGI::Wiki was to put in an extra utility module to make it easier to write standalone tests that can be run at any time after the core distribution is installed. So you can write a CGI::Wiki plugin, use CGI::Wiki::TestConfig::Utilities , and your tests can be run on every backend that was configured for testing last time CGI::Wiki was installed.

But, anyway, the Locator plugin. Feel the shininess! Want to see everything that grubstreet knows about within 500 metres of Holborn Station? No problem.

Simon noted that the idea of linking wiki nodes using co-ordinates can be extended to all kinds of evilness, hence the title of this entry. $locator->find_chain_between will be written, but my primary motivation is really the more innocent one of pub crawling.