pne's Journal pne's use Perl Journal en-us use Perl; is Copyright 1998-2006, Chris Nandor. Stories, comments, journals, and other submissions posted on use Perl; are Copyright their respective owners. 2012-01-25T02:19:33+00:00 pudge Technology hourly 1 1970-01-01T00:00+00:00 pne's Journal Speedera vs Akamai <p>I was reading up a little on Speedera just now.</p><p>One thing that amused me a bit was <a href="">a snarky press release</a> jabbing at Akamai.</p><p>Basically, they are saying "Hey, Akamai is making a good offer to Speedera customers; sucks to be an existing Akamai customer though and having to pay overpriced fees". Go read the release, though<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:)</p> pne 2003-10-01T13:48:02+00:00 journal My trip to YAPC::Europe <p>There's <a href="">a writeup of my trip</a> in <a href="">my LiveJournal</a>.</p> pne 2003-07-28T05:29:38+00:00 journal Computers are made to serve you <p>I saw a link to some O'Reilly books here on use.Perl and, on those pages, saw a link to "Register your books".</p><p>I went through the process of signing up (even though I don't have my books with me right now), just because I was curious. This brought me to <a href="">a page</a> which invited me to enter the ISBNs of O'Reilly books I owned -- <b>with no dashes or spaces</b>.</p><p>Um.</p><p>Come on. How long would it take to sanitise input with a little Perl script which simply discards dashes and spaces, or simply all non-digits? It could even validate the checksum at the same time. Heck, even in C, which is not known for its native string-processing capabilities, chucking out dashes and spaces sounds like a piece of cake.</p><p>I think that doing so would have made the site more customer-friendly. After all, computers are supposed to help us; we're not there to help computers. Especially if the canonicalisation of user input is so trivial as here.</p><p>I get similarly annoyed when my bank requires that I enter bank sort codes as eight digits without spaces. Sort codes in Germany are usually displayed as 123&nbsp;456&nbsp;78 - eight digits grouped as three, three, two. Requiring eight consecutive digits, and making the field maxlength=8, means that I can't copy and paste a sort code in standard format from an external source, say, an email; my browser will truncate at 8 and give "123&nbsp;456&nbsp;", and even if it didn't, the web form would complain about the spaces.</p><p>The customer shouldn't have to care in which format the bank stores its information. Rather, in my opinion, the site should adapt to accept non-standard input and clean it up. (Certainly if it's only a matter of stripping spaces - and perhaps slashes and hyphens from the bank account number, which is a bit less standardised.)</p> pne 2003-05-27T15:12:12+00:00 journal Punctuation Poem <p>While we were talking about the maths limerick, I also remembered having seen a punctuation poem somewhere; I thought it was the Jargon file. I've managed to find it again, in a couple of slightly different versions. Here are some links:</p><ul> <li> <a href=""></a> </li><li> <a href=""></a> </li><li> <a href=""></a> </li><li> <a href=""></a> (Set to music!)</li></ul><p>Enjoy!</p> pne 2002-09-24T08:37:56+00:00 journal This website is really silly <p>I picked up the URL from someone's LiveJournal.</p><p><a href="">Have a look if you're interested.</a></p> pne 2002-09-23T09:28:23+00:00 journal Perl for shareware <p>This YAPC, <a href="">SANFACE Software</a> had a talk entitled <em>Can a Company Use Perl to Develop - and Sell - Commercial Tools?</em>.</p><p>I was interested in that. I knew of their application txt2pdf, which is shareware, from reading comp.os.linux.announce digests, and was interested in hearing what they had to say about their experience about making money off software which comes with source code.</p><p>However, I was a bit disappointed with the talk. To me, it seemed like mostly whinging about how "the Perl community" (whoever he is) wouldn't let them advertise their product because "the Perl community" doesn't like shareware or payware, and also about how they were disappointed that no-one wanted to learn from their experience with this marketing method.</p><p>Another piece of payware which provides Perl source code (as I understand it) is <a href="">Radiator</a>. I wonder whether they've ever compared notes with them?</p><p>And besides, one of the people in the audience made a comment which I think was insightful -- "The Perl ommunity is not your audience. Not many people would buy your software just because it's written in Perl. Try marketing to your audience -- the people who would use the program." Maybe librarians or someone? At any rate, I think that's true. I somehow doubt that comp.lang.c is flooded with product advertisements justified with "it must be on-topic because the product is written in C".</p> pne 2002-09-23T09:13:42+00:00 journal The most important thing I learned at YAPC <p>(Bizarre, I could have sworn I'd posted this before, but I can't find it in my journal now. Here we go again.)</p><p>OK, maybe not the most important thing, but one of the more interesting things: <a href="">have a look here</a>.</p> pne 2002-09-23T09:06:51+00:00 journal Oog <p>Apparently, "Oog" is <a href="">"The funny little noise you make when your brain breaks."</a>.</p><p>That's the kind of feeling I got when I listened to Damian's talk on Perl6<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:). But it was still interested to hear what he was saying. The talks I listened to were also presented with humour, which I liked.</p> pne 2002-09-23T09:03:46+00:00 journal No dice <p>Pity. A colleague suggested restoring an older registry backup which Windows makes automatically after a successful startup, at most once per day, keeping five copies. But restoring Thursday's copy didn't make the PLKSCNR error go away, even though I messed with the computer on Saturday and it was still fine on Friday.</p><p>I suppose I'll really end up re-installing Windows.</p> pne 2002-09-17T06:25:04+00:00 journal The registry (again) <p>Tried to upgrade my BIOS on the weekend so that it would recognise larger hard disks. Result: Windows will no longer boot, giving some obscure error message about a device PLKSCNR. Google gives exactly one result for this search term -- apparently it may have something to do with the Plustek parallel-port scanner I have.</p><p>They suggest restoring an older registry copy. I'll try that and hope it works. If not, I'll have to reinstall Windows again. With the result that my registered shareware will become unregistered again, various programs will stop working until I reinstall them, etc.</p><p>Fortunately, the two programs I use most (MUA and news reader) store their configuration in good ol' text files, which can be backed up easily and which will not be deleted upon a reinstall.</p><p>What was the advantage of storing everything in the registry again?</p> pne 2002-09-16T09:26:32+00:00 journal Let's all give Dave a big hand! <p>If my calendar isn't misleading me, it's davorg's 28th birthday today! (Pick your own number base.)</p><p>While he may no longer be's Glorious Leader(tm), I think he still deserves a big hand. Support him as Chief Perl Monger! (Or whatever title comes with the station<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:)</p> pne 2002-09-07T09:59:05+00:00 journal True in a Nutshell <p>Saw this on Slashdot... hilarious IMO.</p><p> <a href=""> <i>True in a Nutshell</i> </a> </p> pne 2002-08-21T17:19:29+00:00 journal Undergraduate physics <p>This was linked to from UserFriendly today:</p><p> <a href=""></a> </p><p>A write-up of an experiment which failed to provide the results he expected; a little rant. Here's the abstract:</p><blockquote><div><p> <i>The exponential dependence of resistivity on temperature in germanium is found to be a great big lie. My careful theoretical modeling and painstaking experimentation reveal 1) that my equipment is crap, as are all the available texts on the subject and 2) that this whole exercise was a complete waste of my time.</i> </p></div> </blockquote> pne 2002-08-20T09:49:52+00:00 journal Goth vampires <p>I'm just reading Terry Pratchett's <i>Carpe Jugulum</i>, and was amused by his description of the vampire equivalent of goth: staying up until way past noon, dressing up in bright colours, wearing a corkscrew around one's neck, picking strange names such as "Tim" and "Wendy",<nobr> <wbr></nobr>...</p> pne 2002-07-03T07:43:00+00:00 journal Perl module thanks <p>My name appears in the documentation for the Image::Size module since I had submitted some doc nits at some point.</p><p>Today, I (and the other people whose names are in the Credits section) got email from someone who uses that module, thanking us all for contributing to that module. It was kind of nice to receive such feedback, even though I hadn't contributed that much<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:)</p> pne 2002-05-21T09:40:45+00:00 journal Radical re-design of regex metacharacters <p>The <a href=";mode=nested&amp;tid=30">article on "Perl6 Answers"</a> said that</p><blockquote><div><p> <i>we're going to propose a radical re-design of regex metacharacters</i> </p></div> </blockquote><p>When something like this came up previously, someone commented that Perl's regular expression syntax had become the <i>de facto</i> "industry standard", and several other languages and libraries were emulating them and advertising "Perl-compatible regular expressions". It'll be a bit weird if Perl itself will no longer offer "Perl-compatible regular expressions".</p> pne 2002-05-21T09:17:39+00:00 journal Blossoms are pretty <p>I was walking to work from the bus stop the other day and saw some blossoms on trees. I thought they were pretty... nature can show us such beautiful scenes sometimes.</p><p>That is all.</p> pne 2002-05-06T06:53:10+00:00 journal Please don't leave without telling me <p>Customers who go on holiday without advance notice can make things inconvenient, especially if you'd like to telephone them to clarify the specification.</p> pne 2002-04-25T08:21:53+00:00 journal Residence permit, take II <p>So, this time I decided to get there *before* the doors open... and I was glad I did so.</p><p>The office opened at eight, and when I arrived twenty minutes earlier, there was a long queue of people standing in front of the door. They opened the doors at ten to eight, and people slowly filed in and pulled numbers from the machine. I got number 33, which was better than Tuesday's 45... but today they were only open to the public for four hours, so they didn't have as many numbers anyway. (They were exhausted just before eight o'clock -- so anyone who arrived *after* the official opening hour had to come back on Monday.)</p><p>After about 2:45 hours' wait, it was finally my turn. This time my paperwork was sufficient and I now have a permanent residence permit for Germany. Yay me! Now I don't have to go wait around there for hours on end every five years. *Phew*</p> pne 2002-04-12T12:31:04+00:00 journal Residence permit <p>So, I set off this morning to renew my residence permit, which expires in a couple of weeks... I arrived in the office about 45 minutes after it opened, pulled a number and sat down. It turned out that that was the last number issued before someone came and pasted a sheet over the machine saying "no more numbers today -- and people without numbers will not be served".</p><p>Four hours later, it was finally my turn; nearly everyone else had left. At first, people went in at a rate of around 10 an hour, but towards the end large time periods went by without any perceptible activity. Some of the few people left wondered whether the civil servants were taking time off for a break while people waited outside.</p><p>When I finally got in, I found I didn't have enough paperwork with me *sigh*. But at least I now know what I need, so I'll try again in a couple of days... only this time I'll try to be there as soon as the office opens. And the civil servant who processed my case said that I could very likely get an unlimited residence permit when I renew my current (five-year) one, which means no more such trips. (Unless I live outside Germany for more than half a year at a time, if I remember correctly -- then I might have to reapply upon re-entry.)</p> pne 2002-04-09T14:27:28+00:00 journal The Sims: Vacation <p>So the latest expansion pack for "The Sims" just came out in the US yesterday or so, and it looks interesting. Reports on the newsgroup have sounded positive (as in "it works great", as opposed to some of the problems people faced with some of the patches Maxis had posted to previous expansion packs).</p><p>And today SimFreaks's Stine showed me some screenshots someone else had made -- the two threads entitled "Vacation Screens" on <a href="">this EZBoard</a>. Hm, sounds interesting.</p><p>Now I just need to find the time and money to get a hold of it... I'm only just beginning to get around installing my copy of Hot Date that we got for Christmas: since my registry is hosed, see my journal <i>passim</i>, and the game doesn't remember it's installed, I thought I might as well install all the packs through Hot Date when I reinstall the game. Previously the highest pack I had was House Party.</p><p>Argh. So little time!</p> pne 2002-03-27T15:02:48+00:00 journal (Windows Registry)-- <p>So I finally got around to re-installing Windows on my computer after it had crashed four weeks ago. A little nudge in the form of renaming the existing WIN.COM into XIN.COM took care of persuading the OEM version to install over the existing operating system.</p><p>So now I had a Windows installation that was sort of half-complete -- the start menu was pretty much the way it was before (except that the ordering had gone from the submenus), but most of the programs had some problem or another because they stored data in the registry, which was (of course) hosed by the new installation. Shareware programs had forgotten they were registered, other programs didn't know they had been correctly installed, and so on. Fortunately, my three most heavily-used programs (MUA, news reader, and browser) appeared to work fine -- the first two keep their configuration data in local files.</p><p>I don't know whether the file format of the registry is open or not, but that's secondary -- the point is that it's a binary format, and so it's pretty difficult to merge the original data with the current registry, even if I had saved it (well, it's on another partition somewhere inside a big tarball, but I don't want to overwrite the entire registry). Binary configuration files bad, mmkay?</p> pne 2002-03-25T08:23:27+00:00 journal I'm back <p>I'm back from a quick trip to England (Blaby, near Leicester) to attend the funeral of my grandmother. It was also an occasion to see my English relatives (such as some cousins once removed I didn't know I had).</p> pne 2002-03-21T10:49:14+00:00 journal Obedience <p>Yesterday, we talked about intelligence and truth. One of the points that was made was that intelligence is basically applied knowledge -- that is, it doesn't help someone if he knows a lot but doesn't apply this knowledge in his life. We also talked about how truth basically is the knowledge of unchanging principles.</p><p>An interesting parallel was drawn between knowing a gospel principle and knowing a secular principle such as grammar or mathematics -- if someone knows a gospel principle and applies it in his life, then that is often termed "obedience". Yet the action is basically the same as when someone takes a grammatical rule and uses it to string along words to make a sentence, or someone who takes two mathematical laws and uses the principles of logic to derive a third law from the two of them. In both cases, there is knowledge of a truth, and the application of that knowledge. So in a way, a person who writes a grammatical sentence is obeying a rule or an underlying principle in the same way that someone who observes a gospel principle is doing so -- or an architect who obeys certain rules in designing a structure, or (I suppose) a programmer who implements an algorithm.</p> pne 2002-03-07T16:02:34+00:00 journal hfb++ <p>Wishing Elaine all the best now that she's decided to stop smoking (as of yesterday).</p> pne 2002-02-26T09:09:41+00:00 journal All software sucks <p>Yesterday evening, Stella and I wanted to do our taxes, so I installed the 2001 version of the tax software we subscribed to. I already found it disconcerting that the installation involved several DLLs in the Windows system directory, including DAO components. It made me wonder again why software doesn't check whether those DLLs aren't currently there in a suitable version and if so, at least ask.</p><p>Anyway, after rebooting (???), I found a window open which appeared to consist only of a short titlebar which was blank. The corresponding button on the taskbar also had no text. Bizarre. Attempting to close that window didn't produce any results. Anyway, we went ahead and did our taxes; it looks as if we'll get a tidy bundle back from the government. [Side note -- the tax program attempted to register, but it appeared to send email automatically through a system that was misconfigured because I never use that way of sending emails. Why not open a socket to their server and talk to it directly or something?] After that, I read some mail and news.</p><p>Then I tried again to close the funny window -- and I got a white window telling me that my Internet connection software had a problem, with two buttons 'Close' and 'Ignore'. I clicked on close. Then my email program supposedly had a problem, but clicking Ignore didn't help; I finally clicked Close and then the same thing with my newsreader. When I attempted to shut down the system, I got the same window for 'Explorer' and the system hung. Sigh.</p><p>After a hard reset, Windows ran Scandisk for me (of course) -- and then refused to start Windows because VMM32.VXD was missing. WTF? I had a look for that file but found it nowhere on C:. A look at SCANDISK.LOG told me that there were four files in C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM with illegal characters in their filenames and that those directory entries were removed, and also that some orphaned FAT blocks were found which were converted to free space. Frustrated, I turned off the computer.</p><p>This morning I though "ah, but I've got all of the CAB files on the disk, so I'll just extract that VMM32.VXD file", which I did; then I tried to restart Windows. Only to find that about three dozen files were missing, all of them *.VXD files in the directory C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\VMM32. Arrrgh.</p><p>I'll probably end up re-installing the system. Software sucks.</p> pne 2002-02-23T09:30:03+00:00 journal Snow, Snow, thick thick snow[1] <p>Once again, the forces of nature had a contest with public transportation. Nature won.</p><p>After waiting at the bus stop for ten minutes without seeing a bus, I decided to walk to the station, which took about half an hour. There, I managed to catch another bus which was surprisingly on-time.</p><p>It's almost predictable how things break down as soon as we have five or ten centimetres of snow.</p><p>[1] STR</p> pne 2002-02-22T09:58:10+00:00 journal Perl modules <p>I finally decided to get off my behind and submit Games::Dice to the PAUSE. I was rather shamed when I saw that the files were dated April 1999... they've been sitting around my hard drive here at work for a <strong>long</strong> time. But I decided it was probably best to "release early, release often" so I cast it loose. And as I remember the docs were fairly decent and the module worked last time I touched it. It doesn't have any tests beyond the one h2xs gives you, though (but testing random things is a tad difficult, anyway).</p><p>It used to be that I had one module on the Module List but not on CPAN and several on CPAN but not on the Module List... well, now my Module List module is also on CPAN. I uploaded v0.02 the next day after minor tweaking (changing my email address and adding a licence); v0.01 will probably go away again. I do wish that I got some reaction to my request for registering the other modules. appears to be a black hole at times... but that's another story.</p><p>I also had a go at implementing <a href="">yEnc</a>. For that module, I really did "release early, release often": v0.01 of Convert::yEnc had no decoding, v0.02 had no prerequisites listed in Makefile.PL and v0.03 still has no decent docs or tests. But at least it compiles! Maybe I'll get around to working on it some more later.</p><p>I'm also wondering whether there are any modules dealing with "metric time" (100 seconds to the minute, 100 minutes to the hour, 10 hours to the day) or with the 28-hour day (which you can read about in a couple of places on the web; briefly, it divides the week into 6*28 hours rather than 7*24). A quick glance at didn't unearth anything likely.</p> pne 2002-02-21T12:35:04+00:00 journal Weird feeling in my left ear <p>I had a 90-minute phone call with a customer this morning which left me with a weird feeling in my left ear (where the receiver had been) and eight pages filled with notes which I'm now in the middle of typing into the computer and sorting out a little.</p><p>After the phone call was done, I felt like "whew!". But it's been productive; I learned a fair bit about the job which we will have to do. I got answers to the questions I had and also background information that the customer volunteered himself, which was extremely useful.</p> pne 2002-02-21T12:22:11+00:00 journal English phonetics <p>Today, while practising English verbs with my wife, I remembered something I had read somewhere -- that English distinguishes word-final voiced consonants not so much by the voicing but by the length of the vowel.</p><p>And when I think about it and consider minimal pairs such as <em>bag</em> and <em>back</em>, or <em>send</em> and <em>sent</em>, the word ending in a voiced consonant does have a considerably longer vowel sound. Yet I never used to think about it and thought the only difference was in the voicing of the consonant.</p><p>Perhaps something to think about for people such as Russian and German speakers who devoice final voiced consonants -- if they lengthen the vowel properly it might make up for their difficulty in voicing the consonant.</p> pne 2002-02-20T07:57:13+00:00 journal