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.

Thanks for reading!

Archive for June, 2007

PEAR DB 1.7.12

Friday, June 29th, 2007

It’s about a month later than I originally planned, but PEAR DB 1.7.12 has just been uploaded to a PEAR server near you. If you’re using DB with PostgreSQL and PHP 5.2.x, you’ll want this version, due to a backward compatibility break in PHP 5.2′s pg_escape_string. Otherwise, there’s not too much that’s exciting, although hopefully the Fedora Extras packaging guys will forgive me for screwing up the test suite slightly in 1.7.11!

Note that DB will no longer install with PEAR installers earlier than PEAR 1.4.0, as it now uses the newer package.xml format introduced in that version. That being said, if you’re still using PEAR 1.3, you really should upgrade per the instructions on the PEAR web site, since it’s no longer supported and all.

As per my usual plan, I’ll release 1.7.13 at the end of July (hopefully) if any bugs are reported.

I Find Them To Be Very Reliable

Friday, June 29th, 2007

Every now and then, an advertising campaign starts running that’s so completely inept it’s actually entertaining to attempt to figure out how the hell anyone thought it was a good idea. The Federal Government’s Need Staff campaign is one of them. They’re all pretty bad, but this gem about the merits of older workers (Windows Media, recent versions of MPlayer should cope, although you’ve probably seen the ad by now if you watch any Australian TV) must win the prize for the most condescending ad of 2007, featuring such gold as the trick is not to pigeonhole people and I find [older workers] to be very reliable, with a hilarious emphasis on the very part that suggests that the subject is actually surprisingly reliable teenage glue sniffers instead of workers who (gasp!) might have a few grey hairs.

What I can’t work out is who the target audience for this ad is. Sure, I guess it’s aimed at employers, but the way I see it, you’ve got two types of employer when it comes to this ad: those that will employ the best person regardless of age (and hence aren’t the target) and those who will employ the cheapest person, which means the youngest. I’m not sure too many of the latter group are going to suddenly exclaim I’ve seen the light! Why employ fourteen year olds when I can employ these very reliable older workers for three times the cost! I’m going to call the Employer Hotline right now!

As for the thought process behind the ad, I can only assume that the marketeers were handed a brief and decided that instead of putting some actual work into making the ads appealing, they’d just reuse the draft they wrote the previous year for a series of public service announcements that went nowhere and find-replace a few words to make it fit.

Oh well. Just another example of our tax dollars at work.

What I Did With My Winter Holidays, Part 1

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

This is an edited version of the update on my Google Summer Winter of Code project that I’ve just sent to Derick, my project mentor. For those playing the home game, my project is to write a wxWidgets-based debugger frontend for PHP’s XDebug extension. This is a long (almost 1000 words) update and pretty dry, so you can read it after the jump if you’re particularly interested in the details. If not, the short version is that I started very late courtesy of my final TV scriptwriting project not being complete until the 15th, but reasonable progress has been made on the library that will talk to XDebug via the DBGp protocol.



Monday, June 18th, 2007
Bertrand Gugger

Bertrand Gugger, better known to many as toggg, passed away on Saturday night from a heart attack. Bertrand was a contributor to PEAR, jQuery, TikiWiki and SPIP, who have compiled a tribute page to him.

He was a strong, valued member of the PEAR community who was always ready with an opinion, a joke, and helpful advice. Indeed, last year, Bertrand was the first person to help me when I was getting involved with PEAR development, and I always enjoyed chatting to him on #pear. Like many others, I’ll miss his company and experience.

Bertrand is survived by his wife and four children, and my condolences go to them on their loss.

(Image from Flickr; taken by Olivier Gendrin.)

I Feel Like an Old Railroad Man

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

I wrote this on Sunday morning, mostly from the comfort of a table in Dylans, Albany‘s best diner-café-restaurant thing. No affiliation besides lots and lots of childhood meals there.

For the first time in fourteen weeks, I’ve managed to go two days without needing to work on (or think about) university. The clichés of clean country air and peace and quiet have worked their wonders — I’ve even managed to have two good nights’ sleep in the face of a sleep-talking roomie, so things must be looking up.

Yesterday we went on a hired minivan for a wine tasting trip. (We also took a trailer for the wine, which turned out to not be overkill as I thought, but just enough kill.) Our hosts, David and Anne, clearly know their wine, and we went to a succession of outstanding wineries, most notably Xabregas just outside Narrikup. While the cellar is encased in barbed wire and looks like a viticultural Guantánamo, the wine is fantastic. It’s even more fantastic when you realise that the riesling on sale for $50 a case is actually an outstanding wine in its own right — thank $DEITY for clearance sales! (Like I said, we needed that trailer.)

The last place we went was Zarephath Wines. It’s an interesting winery, as depending on who you ask, the six people who live there and run it belong to either a commune or a cult. Either way, they seem to have an unhealthy obsession with building and launching boats.

At any rate, despite a couple of slightly iffy moments (the guest book which asked for basically every personal detail except blood type and tax file number was an interesting take on the idea), the expected big push to consider their movement didn’t come, thankfully. Better yet, the wine there was pretty good too, if not quite as good as Xabregas.

Princess Royal Harbour, a rainbow, and an example of Albany’s fickle weather

Today most of the group have gone up to the Porongorups again to check out a bamboo farm before lunch, but I’ve decided to be difficult and have instead come into Albany by myself. The Albany Car Classic is on, which has caused a few annoying road closures (why can’t we walk down the eastern footpath on Aberdeen St, if no cars are crossing it?), but my mission was to come to Dylans and test out their pancakes once again.

Happily, Dylans is just as good as I remember. In fact, apart from a few minor things (such as newer posters on the walls), it’s really exactly as I remember. It’s actually a little weird walking in and seeing everything as it was fifteen or more years ago. For a brief moment, I felt eight or nine again. Still does just as good a trade as it did then, too.

I need to walk back up shortly towards Dog Rock to get picked up, so I’d better go while it’s not raining. (The sun’s shining now, but I lived in Albany long enough to know that’s just a sign that it’ll probably rain again in five minutes.) I’m looking forward to the rest of the weekend being just as relaxing as this; the only problem is that I’m not sure I’ll want to go back to Perth tomorrow and worry about my last scriptwriting assignment.

Damn. So much for three days without university-related thoughts.