I've decided to retire this blog — I don't really see myself updating it any time soon, and haven't for over two years anyway. I intend to leave the content on-line for the forseeable future, but have converted it to a static site. As a result, dynamic things like search and comments aren't really going to work.

You can find me on Twitter or on Google+ if you like. Alternatively, I'm usually on IRC as LawnGnome on Freenode.

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Archive for December, 2006

Adventures in Databases

Friday, December 29th, 2006

Today’s the first day I’ve really gotten down and dirty with PEAR DB development. The important bug I wanted to jump on was bug #9599, which meant that error handling was broken in PHP 5.2 for people using DB with mSQL, SQLite or Sybase databases.

Although my earlier post indicated that I was going to try to have DB 1.7.7 out before the New Year with this fix, that now won’t happen, mostly because I can’t test the release to my satisfaction here at home. I’m back at the office on Tuesday, however, and hopefully the release should be out next week.

For the particularly adventurous, I’ve packaged up a 1.7.7 release candidate from CVS, which you can get here. I’m reasonably confident it’s OK, but I’m not going to release this through PEAR — there’s just too much that can go wrong, since I haven’t even looked at some of the drivers yet, nor have I done much testing with PHP 4.

…Maketh the Man

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

On Tuesday night, I went looking for a mobile phone as a Christmas present. As per usual for the week before Christmas, the shops were packed with people seeking gifts, and as I’ve come to expect from phone shops, I got roundly ignored by the sales staff.

Seriously, what is it with phone stores? Most stores have sales assistants who will at least come by and tell you they’ll be right with you, but phone store staff seem to delight in leaving people to their own devices. Maybe they just focus on the cashed-up teenagers who they think they can interest in the latest million-SMS-per-month deal.

Anyway, I decided to conduct an experiment tonight. On Tuesday, I looked as I typically do over summer: T-shirt, old jeans, about a week’s worth of facial hair. (For me, sadly, that doesn’t actually mean a hell of a lot.) So I figured that today I’d dress up a little: better pair of jeans, shirt with a collar, clean shaven.

I didn’t even take two paces inside the entrance of the (just as busy as Tuesday) phone store before a sales guy came over and started asking me how I was doing, and what I was looking for. It was actually quite incredible. It was as though he stopped whatever it is that mobile phone salespeople do when they’re not serving customers (ie about 97% of the time) and came straight over… because my shirt had a collar!

I’m going to use this. If I can harness the power of the collar, I can save hours of time by jumping straight past the slovenly members of the proletariat and getting straight in with the salespeople. I could use the time freed up by that to rule the world!

Wait, that would be the same world that still seems to be sending the message your appearance matters way more than anything else, such as what sort of person you are loud and clear. Screw it.

Dropping Eaves Like Flies

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

Why does it have to be so hard?

One of the interesting things about walking through a crowd — in this case, Christmas shoppers — is that you often pick up tiny snippets of conversations. The aforementioned quote was something I heard said (well, whined, actually, in the unmistakable tone of a 14 year old girl) tonight at the shops.

I wonder what she was talking about? Was there a genuine reason for the tone of voice, or was it just a bit of tiredness at the whole Christmas shopping experience? How did her mother respond?

Maybe there’s a story there.

The Future of PEAR DB: No, Really

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

A little while ago, Daniel Convissor announced on the PEAR developers mailing list that he was looking to step down from maintaining the PEAR DB package, due to a lack of available time. Out of pure self-interest (I work on projects that use PEAR DB every day), I offered to take over maintenance of the package, and Daniel was nice enough to agree to let me take the reins as of a few days ago.

DB is deprecated in favour of the shinier, newer and more featureful MDB2 package, and has only been receiving bug fixes and security updates for a while now. This policy won’t be changing. As a result, I’ve spent part of today sifting through the open bug reports and feature requests for DB in order to take out the requests which are no longer appropriate.

I should note at this point that I mean no offense to anyone whose ticket has been marked as Won’t Fix. Many of the feature requests were well thought through, good ideas, and often even included working code. I would have liked to see a couple of them myself. Unfortunately, including them would have meant that DB was undergoing fresh development, which is a risky proposition given how many people rely on PEAR DB behaving the way that it does — not to mention that, as noted before, MDB2 is really a better alternative now for new development. Many of those requests would be great to see in MDB2, and I’d encourage the people who suggested features and contributed patches to look into implementing their features for MDB2 and submitting them.

That doesn’t mean that DB will never be changed again, though. Bug #9599, which causes problems with error handling in PHP 5.2, will be fixed quickly after my CVS karma has been approved. There are also a number of other bugs that need to be dealt with at some point; I’ve spent a few hours today going through the open bug list, and those that remain open are likely to get more attention in the near future.

At this stage, my plan is as follows:

  • Release DB 1.7.7 as soon as possible with a fix for bug #9599.
  • Fix as many of the remaining open bugs as possible.
  • Release 1.7.8RC1 as a beta for DB users to check that none of the bug fixes have caused inadvertent regressions.
  • Release any further RCs that are required to deal with regressions, then release a 1.7.8 final with as many of the open bugs as possible fixed.

Karma permitting, 1.7.7 should be out before the new year. Beyond that, I’m not going to commit to any timeframes, but I’d certainly hope to have 1.7.8RC1 out in January or February — the exact timing will just depend on my work schedule. I’d rather take a little longer to get a good release ready than to rush it — the fact that DB is the second most downloaded PEAR package is somewhat intimidating!

Finally, I’d like to note that I’m quite happy to receive feedback, suggestions, bug reports, flames, patches and anything else DB users would like to send me. You can get me by e-mail at aharvey@php.net, or on EFnet/#pear, where my nick is LawnGnome.


Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

Apparently PHP developers swear more than other language users. I’m not particularly surprised by that, but I am surprised that C++ was as low as fourth. Seriously, how many times can you overload each keyword and operator anyway?

Now excuse me while I go cut a blue streak on some PHP.

I’m Telling You Why

Monday, December 18th, 2006

Why Go?


You Complete Me

Monday, December 18th, 2006


Last university related post for a while, I promise. I just spotted the above on my course information page on the university enrolment system. The fact that my projected course status is Complete (albeit not for another eleven months or so) is very, very odd after so long in the twilight zone between “degree started” and “degree complete”. It’s also rather motivating, I have to say. Sure, that motivation will drain away after about two lectures next semester, but for now, I’m gung-ho!

Is There a Network Diagram Symbol for “Mildly Shocked”?

Saturday, December 16th, 2006

In reference to an earlier post, I got the 20% I needed on the exam, which means Project Management is done with. Thank $DEITY for that.

This Page Intentionally Left Blank

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

Watch Your Head

Watch Your Head is generally excellent (and, for my money, the best new strip for some time), but today’s really killed me. Simple concept, good gag, well executed. Plus, the look on Quincy’s face in the first panel is gold.

If only the West could get some comics of Watch Your Head‘s quality in to replace a couple of the incredibly tired strips that are run (Cathy, Ginger Meggs, I’m looking at you). Not that the West appears to care much about the funnies anyway — why bother when another insipid Sudoku takeoff can be squished onto the page?

OK, Now I’m Offended

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

Apparently I didn’t make the list of Perth’s top 100 A-listers. What a terrible, terrible mistake! Why, I’ve been so busy rubbing shoulders with the city’s glitterati that I hadn’t even had time to read the article until now! There’s only one thing for it; I’ll have to call my social secretary to task.

Wait. What’s a party again?