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inkdroid (3294)

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inkdroid is a person, not a robot. however, inkdroid likes ink. inkdroid likes perl too.

Journal of inkdroid (3294)

Monday November 17, 2003
05:02 PM

Pragmatic Version Control

I emailed the Pragmatic Programmers (Dave Thomas and Andy Hunt) to see if they would send copies of the Pragmatic Starter Kit to our group for review. Next day I got an email from Dave saying that the first two volumes are on the way. I just got Pragmatic Version Control, and Pragmatic Unit Testing last Friday, and I quickly devoured the first. In fact, the review is finished as well.
Wednesday November 12, 2003
10:22 AM

electronic voting

EFF's Action Center gives you a quick way to send your House Rep a fax or email letting them know that you want to cast your votes using an open system, not a blackbox that could be riddled with bugs and security holes. On the EFF site there is more information about the issue. Included is a link to a paper by some folks at Johns Hopkins and Rice who review the Diebold system that was used in Georgia state wide elections in 2002, and is getting more and more business since the last Presidential election. Diebold's source code was obtained and posted to the net by a hacker who exploited a vulnerability in a webserver (any guesses) and gained access to their corporate "intranet".

Our analysis shows that this voting system is far below even the most minimal security standards applicable in other contexts. We highlight several issues including unauthorized priveledge escalation, incorrect use of cryptography, vulnerabilities to network threats, and poor software development processes. For example, common voters, without any insider privileges, can cast unlimited votes without being detected by any mechanisms within the voting terminal.

I like the idea of voting electronically...but if we're going to do it, let's do it right.

Tuesday November 11, 2003
06:56 PM


I've been working off and on with Jane Jacobs at Queens Public Library in New York City to help them with some data munging. QPL has lots of patrons who speak Russian, and a large collection of Russian materials. Unfortunately their catalog data has transliterated titles, authors, subjects etc. This means the original Cyrillic has been romanized so that cards (and more recently records in a database) can be sorted and displayed. Now that there's Unicode, these Cyrillic characters can be sorted and displayed pretty easily. So I used Perl with MARC::Record to detransliterate their data, which was then imported back into their online catalog. Now patrons who read Russian can search for and read bibliographic records for Russian titles in Russian. It's kind of neat to see your name in the news, even if it is just a tiny blip in the days events. I just wish they mentioned Perl in the press release :)
Wednesday November 05, 2003
11:34 AM


Last night's meeting went very well. Lots of new faces, and people with interesting backgrounds...and I learned a thing or two about command line switches that I had forgotten after reading Data Munging with Perl. Andy's presentation should be available soon here. I spent some time after the meeting encouraging some people to volunteer to talk at a future meeting: in particular I'd really like to hear hachi talk about POE sounds like he's involved with some interesting work with it at Also, there was a guy (I'm terrible with names) from Northwestern who is doing some interesting genetics work with BioPerl, GenBank and some slime. Steven Lembark volunteered to talk about debugging Perl next month, which should be interesting as well. Jason, Steven and I had some beers at a nearby microbrewery. They had a nice India Pale Ale, which helped since Steven got talking about the differences between swapping/paging until my brain hurt :) All good fun. Having the new space with the projector (and pool table) really helped alot. I think this marks the beginning of good things to come.
Friday October 24, 2003
02:24 PM


I got an email from Patrick Hostenbach at Los Alamos National Laboratory asking for me to tweak Net::OAI::Harvester a bit. His OAI-PMH repository is particularly strict and it turns out N::O::H was ocassionally passing a name/value pair that caused problems.

I'm really happy to hear LANL is using the module since Herbert Van de Sompel at LANL was one of the chief architects of the OAI-PMH. It was devised partly as a way for people to harvest metadata from the arXiv eprint archive.

Wednesday October 22, 2003
03:51 PM


I've been working with Martin Emmerich at the Max Planck Society to get the Net::OAI::Harvester docs up to snuff. We've even turned up a few not so minor bugs, and added some missing unit tests. It turns out their eDoc server has an OAI-PMH interface. eDoc is "an easy to use electronic platform to document, share, manage, archive, disseminate, publish scientific information" of the Max Planck society. Thanks CPAN.
Tuesday September 16, 2003
11:13 AM


I didn't manage to make it to last night's meeting. But I did happen to visit Michael Graham's website. Michael was visiting from I learned about the Album-a-Day project, which is kind of a neat idea. If you are looking to listen to some random/free music it's worth a visit. I didn't see it, but Spin did a writeup on the project. I also happen to use Michael's Palm::Progect, which works pretty well for me. Thanks Michael.
Saturday September 13, 2003
08:36 PM


On a tip from autrijus I took a look at psh again (perl shell). Last time I looked it didn't catch my fancy...but my how things have changed. The full power of a familiar shell, (cmd line completion etc) plus all the power of Perl at your fingertips. I feel like psh is going to make the amount of one off programs that are scattered all over the file system rapidly diminish.

Just as an example, I wanted to look at the comments inside some image files I had.

% use Image::Magick;
% $i = Image::Magick->new();
% forfiles *.jpg ( $i->read( $_ ); print $i->get( 'Comment' ),"\n"; }

That's all from the command line, and this is just the tip of the iceberg! psh is the most fun I've had in Perl for a while.

Friday August 29, 2003
06:29 AM

eff & sco

Thanks EFF for making this easy.
Thursday August 28, 2003
09:21 AM

mjd on patterns

I just discovered mjd's piece "Design Patterns" Aren't....I need to really read the GoF book before I can make an educated comment, but it seems to me that MJD is right on about the larger meaning of Alexander's work.