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tinman (2063)

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tinman spent a few years mucking around industry before going back to school for a Masters. Currently not enjoying the weather in North England..

He wrote Perl that looked suspiciously like C code in 1998, while working as an intern, and has been trying to cure that bad habit ever since.

Journal of tinman (2063)

Saturday September 17, 2005
11:13 AM


I was trying to wrap my head around a small Tk UI I was whipping up for a project. This is a RPC app, but I was just doing the UI part inbetween writing a few documents.

On my Windows machines, I have ActivePerl 5.8.2 and 5.8.6 respectively. I tried the following:

print "You pressed $distroNames[$down->[0]] \n";

and it passed. No warnings, no errors. I was running with -w and use strict as usual.

The server-daemon was being written by someone else. He was working on Debian Sarge; with a packaged Perl 5.8.4. On that machine, the code above fails. Can't use a string literal..

Enclosing the inner arrayref dereference in single quotes fixes it in Debian. Either way, my ActivePerl installs didn't care. What gives?

Also, an aside but I can't believe I hadn't discovered Frontier::RPC before I was shown its' many wonders in that application. Now I'm left wondering how many times I reinvented that particular wheel instead of just checking CPAN.

Wednesday July 20, 2005
05:42 AM

greasemonkey has flaws

It's probably old news by now.. but Greasemonkey has serious, potentially fatal security flaws. The dev blog entry is here.

Having said that though, it's still possible (although not recommended, certainly) to use the old Greasemonkey safely. If a script isn't injected into a page, it can't be exploited. So, making sure scripts only execute on explicitly added pages (instead of using wildcarded includes) is one option.

Another, more obvious option is to install the update. And live without the fancy gm_ namespaced functions for a while.

Unless the specific sites that I use Greasemonkey for are compromised, I think I'm fairly safe. Famous last words? Maybe

Monday March 07, 2005
04:14 PM

borked wireless and other things

I've discovered a few things (quirks, if you will) about Ubuntu and laptops. I've just taken the plunge and added the Debian unstable repositories. So now my distro is a weird hybrid of Ubuntu and Debian/SID.

The newer ACPI tools and acpid fix some of the problems with monitoring, but on the whole, acpi is pretty much a dead beastie. For a laptop, that's not particularly good news, since I don't get any battery alerts and have to count the hours/minutes since I booted (or have the laptop suddenly shut down with no warning).

For some inexplicable reason, wireless refuses to work in Linux. Well, no. Let me qualify that. Wireless works, just that put in a WEP key of any size and it won't work. I've tried most of the standard fiddling with iwconfig and cousins, even edited the network interfaces, but nope. Encrypted wlan is a no-no.

Hmm. What else. The new XFCE 4.2 is tasty. But it won't run properly on the standard Ubuntu. Cardbus services seem to be a on again off again proposition. if I auto eth0, it takes nearly a minute to figure out a DHCP address, so I've resorted to leaving it off and explicitly turning on networking when I need it. Not very convenient, but considering how many times I boot to and fro, it's a timesaver. Upgrading to kernel 2.6.10 borked my soundcard and I haven't figured out why yet.

Remind me why I'm going through all this instead of running a perfectly reasonable Windows XP ? Because even with all of the hassle, I'm still ... somehow ... more productive on the Linux bootup than I am on Windows. I suspect that upgrading my command shell to something like 4NT might solve a few of the Windows woes, though. Am I just an apologist ? Someone who applauds the dancing bear routine? Maybe.

Wednesday February 16, 2005
07:35 AM


Been running it for about a week or two now. It's nice and neat. I dislike most of it's default options, but that's just me and I used Synaptic to pull in the ones I wanted. Hardware support on the laptop was dodgy, at best, but that's hardly a Ubuntu specific problem. It's more like a Linux wide issue with ACPI, "smart" batteries and the like.

Ubuntu backports is a nice addition though. I got myself the new Bluefish, the new kernel and a bunch of other goodies (a recent xfce! *drool*) from there. No problems at all. Overall, Ubuntu makes a nice alternative to the usual Fedora, Mandrake, Suse distros and it seems to have most of the basic stuff done right. And trying out Gnome for the first time since I abandoned it in disgust four years ago (1.4) was educational.

Tuesday February 01, 2005
05:00 PM


My latest exploration of alternative languages takes me here... Why o why is Perl not easier to embed ? *sigh* in Java, at least.

Friday December 17, 2004
10:53 AM

a notebook ?

W00t! Work (well, the research budget) allows me to get a cheap and nasty laptop for work. It's actually a desktop thinly veiled as a portable computer. In fact, it's got a bigger and better processor than any of my current desktops.

So, it's going to overheat, it's probably going to give me several successive hernias' trying to carry it around, and it's in all probability, going to make me envy the rich guys with superslim Toshibas and Vaios.

But... I still feel damn good.

Tuesday October 05, 2004
07:31 AM

say wha ?

Palm released the T-5. Not amazing, but I was definitely considering an upgrade when this struck me..

The T-5 uses flash memory. You know, the sort that has limited write/erase cycles. And they apparently have their OS and all the software installed on it ? How long do they expect the fancy flash memory to last ? one year ? less ? and it costs $400. I think I'll keep my existing Palm and buy a 256mb thumbdrive.

Am I missing something obvious or do they expect people to toss their PDA out after one year or two ? And it seems to require RealPlayer being installed on the desktop. To which I reply: hell,no. That just ain't gonna happen.

If this is the upgrade path I'm being offered, I will seriously start considering PocketPC. I cringe when I think of it now, but I will consider it. Thanks for nothing, PalmOne.

Tuesday September 28, 2004
05:47 AM

when I get money, I buy books ...

if I have any left over, I buy other things, like food and clothes ...

The Complete Far Side is available in the UK. *drools*

It's nearly £70, which is a bit steep. But it's got all the cartoons ever published. Aargh, starving studentship is terrible at times, I tell ya.

Tuesday September 21, 2004
01:04 PM

charging towards the finish line

interesting but perhaps obvious... when I really get into something, everything else, including keeping track of time goes out of the window. I've missed this level of absorbtion in something for a while now..Most of these days are spent writing thesis pages, drawing pretty graphs and diagrams and generally being busy.

Wondering about abandoning the Win32 desktop when I finish the thesis. I've used Windows as my primary desktop for all save 18 months of my computing experience thus far. I use Linux as a server, I am comfortable enough using a desktop in Linux to comment about KDE and Gnome; though I prefer XFCE. But recently, I've been taking stock of what software I will miss in moving fulltime to Linux. Turns out, there is less to miss than I previously imagined. Of course, I'd still need a dualboot to play games, but, but, but ... tempting. Having a nice usable and programmable command shell is certainly a huge plus.

Wednesday August 25, 2004
09:17 AM

burn out ?

It's strange. For the past few weeks, I've been curiously incapable of concentrating for more than a few minutes on code. I am in thesis writing mode, which for me is different from coding mode (if that even made sense to you).

Been trying to muster up the energy to do some coding on the side and it's just not working out. Maybe it's the bad hayfever that has been dogging me since the start of summer. I don't know. Becoming mildly alarmed. Maybe it's just sloth. That, I can both understand and identify with... entertaining all theories, no matter how whacky or wild they are.. Maybe I need to do something that seems new to me, like learn O'Caml as I've been promising myself for the past few years.