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Journal of johanvdb (1872)

Friday March 19, 2004
08:03 PM

Perl and robots ...

At last I could force myself to get that old 486 from the attic - my first gateway - to serve a new purpose ...

If all goes fine, I'll be setting up a PXE environment (via a netboot disk, as the BIOS is too old and the network card is ISA) next week, so i can comfortably boot a new kernel onto the box.

My intent is to get RTAI (RealTime linux) working on the box and see if I can do something with the Perl bindings for LXRT. My goal is to control a hobby servo with a signal generated from Perl ...

I'm not sure if this is possible, or even desirable, but i want to get my feet wet on RT linux!

On the hardware spectrum of things, I've updated my site about robots to include my latest contraption. Killerbee is the name of a nano sumo robot I build, which normally would compete at robolympics if it was finished in time. Deadline to finish it would have been last monday as it needed to be shipped from Belgium to the US also ... a pitty i did not make it in time. Anyhow, here's the Killerbee site:


Tuesday March 09, 2004
07:18 AM

Mobile blogging from a Palm ...

At last ... I've put my mobile blogging app, mo:Blog, to the test on Palmgear ...

This is a major deviation from Perl software development, but if I knew the use.perl API, I would surely put it in there ... so i can feel good about having some linkage to Perl ;-)


Thursday March 04, 2004
08:09 AM

Komodo, vs. KDevelop, vs. Eclipse ...

I wonder which IDE is the best to develop Perl projects ...

I've been working with eclipse lately, spitting out some java code, and I have to say I'm pretty amazed. It has these wonderfull search mechanisms, it can provide you automatically with the 'import' statements, integrated debugger, unit tests ... and it is free. Now, I just found out about the existence of e.p.i.c (Perl support for eclipse)

On the other hand, KDevelop seems to support Perl as well, but I do not know how far this goes.

I also know about the existence of Komodo, and which seems to sport a whole bunch of features ...
but that is commercially available and a bit above my budget.

My Perl development setup is just vim, occasionally spiced up with 'perl -d', on a 80 char wide console. A bit archaic, but it serves me well.

However, i noticed that I have to walk alot through code finding class names, methods when a project gets rather big. If I could have a java/eclipse like behavior for Perl ... that would be an interesting feat ...

I'm off testing epic now ...

So, anybody here who has found the panacea of Perl IDEs?


Tuesday March 02, 2004
04:41 PM

Give up e-mail address ...

I think I need to give up my main email address after 6 years. Why? SPAM! I get 400+ spam messages a day, and thanks to spamassassin I can manage that quite well ...

But now, spam has entered a new phase ... I get a lot of bounced and rejected mail from mail that got sent with my email address. These mails seem to contain virusses and who knows what else ...

This all started one week ago ... maybe I'll let the storm pass by, but I think it is better to bounce all spam mail for a short period, including the bounced ones ...

If this does not help, I'll need to shut down my old email address ...

Does this phenomenon sounds familiar to anybody? I wonder if I would shut it down for a month, that I would get back to the old - 5 messages a day - state ...


Monday January 26, 2004
06:13 AM

Multithreading maddness ....

Oooh boy ... I've been working on a SMS gateway some time now - which I intend to open up to the public in early february - but I bounce against a wall for the moment.

The problem ... concurrent access to a database (sqlite). I looked into the DBD::SQLite code and it does implement the CLONE method. I wonder ... what else can I do to get this DB multithreaded?

For the moment I have 3 types of threads. An incoming SMS handler, some request handling threads and an embedded webserver thread for the web based UI. All three use the DBD::SQLite via Class::DBI to store application data. All went fine until I added a table to communicate status from the components to the UI. My first implementation did not use a DB for this, but classes could subscribe themselves to a singleton status object and the UI thread could query the singleton, which would delegate the status method to all registered objects ... but ... that does not work, as 'complex' variables can not be shared in Perl threads. So I reverted to a database in which objects 'put' status information in a timely fashion ... not as clean as the subscribe/query principle, but at least it should work.

Well ... my plan is to look into DBD::SQLite and try to get it multi threaded ...

And ... in the end ... I wonder if Perl is fit to develop this type of applications in, with this type of application architecture (multi threaded). I deem it too javaesque ... I better could have used POE or use forking. I'm not sure if it will fit POE, but it surely will fit a forking strategy and it should not take too much time to do so ...


Tuesday December 23, 2003
10:53 AM

Perl herds electric sheep

An article at O'Reilly talks about an upcoming presentation about a collaborative effort to breed electric sheep.

These electric sheep are bred using a screen-saver like application, just like SETI@home.

The electric sheep are fractal like images, but they do actually evolve from a rudimentary form of DNA.

So far, so good, but the real fun thing is that the server code is written in Perl!

On the electric sheep site, we can read the next comment:
"The server version 2.3 source code tarball contains 3900 lines of multi-threaded perl. The flame library, the expat XML parser, and the mjpegtools mpeg2 encoder must be installed separately."

... 3900 lines of multi-threaded Perl ...



Wednesday December 17, 2003
07:40 AM

YAPC::Flanders ...

Anyone interested in a YAPC::Flanders or a "perlworkshop-flanders"?


Monday December 01, 2003
12:27 PM

Wall-Mart sells crap ...

Nothing to do with Perl ... and probably just something I want to get out of my heart ...

Anyhow ... during a business trip to Boston I had a brief window to do some shopping. High on my shopping list was an RC plane from I wanted to buy for me and my nephew.

I grabbed two RC planes (SkyRangers), paid for them and went back to the hotel. The day after, at my hotel room I checked the goods and to my astonishment one of them was already used. Probably somebody at wall-mart - probably personell - had been playing with it until it was beyond repairs and quietly changed it with a new one in the store.

A pity, I did not have the change to go back to the place-delict, the Wall-Mart in Framingham, MA, otherwise I would have gone back and made my point clear.

Now, I had to travel back with one broken RC plane, which I payed 30$ for!

Well, first impressions count they say, and this was my first trip to the US. One thing I learned, never thrust a store in the US, especially not Wall-Mart!

I send them an email, complaining about the matter, but why should they bother? They never answered ...


Monday November 24, 2003
05:41 AM

Cross platform bogus

I wonder why everybody thinks Java is a cross-platform language? Ok, you can fairly easily write win32 apps and run them on a *nix system .... as long as you have a processor that is supported by a VM. Seems that a lot of processors have bad JVM support. PowerPC, XScale are among these. So where is the portability?

As long as you have a C compiler that is ANSI compliant, it seems that that gives the best portability you can get. As long as this C compiler compiles Perl, you are a doing fine ...

I wonder which are the most exotic platforms Perl has been used on? Any change on getting some field-stories about this?


Friday November 07, 2003
08:55 AM

ActiveState Perl

I just looked at the activestate website to see the status of activestate Perl. The Changelog entries told me that either Perl is getting more stable, demanding fewer releases, or that ActiveState Perl begins to lag behind ...

This is the release frequence of ActiveState Perl:
2000: 13
2001: 5
2002: 3
2003: 2

With only a total of 3 5.8.x releases ...

I really hope Sophos keeps the ActiveState Perl product alive!