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 August, 2007

Some Sort of Giant Mechanical Atomic-Powered Grading Machine

Friday, August 31st, 2007

Bit of a catch-all post today, as I need to head off shortly for tonight’s installment of the fun game called Let’s Shoot a Student Film!*

  • Had a heart attack moment in Feature Film Scriptwriting this morning, as the first thing our lecturer/tutor said to me was so, Adam, where’s your assignment — which seems fairly normal for me nowadays, except that he was referring to the synopsis I’d handed in yesterday. I’m still not sure what happened to it, but he was happy enough to take a copy I printed out there and then, didn’t ping me for a (thoroughly deserved) late penalty, and promptly marked it in about fifteen minutes during the tutorial, complete with a page or so of notes. To top it all off, I even got a good mark. All’s well that ends well, I guess, but I really need to get better at estimating how long scriptwriting-related tasks will take — I seem to be prone to underestimating or overestimating severely.
  • Nineteen people have downloaded the source code for the WordPress Gopher interface code I posted yesterday. That’s… mildly disturbing.
  • I think the staff at the university’s café are actually starting to get concerned about the amount of coffee I’m going through this semester, judging by the look I got today when I went for a quick cup during a break in class. They may have a point.

* Fun not guaranteed. Please check the label before ingesting. Do not catch foot on extension cords for Gulliver lights.†
† Not that I would know anything about that last one. Ahem.

Port 70

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

For your viewing pleasure, this blog is now available through the finest client-server protocol of 1991: Gopher! Yes, gopher://✎.net is now active.

The hacked-up bit of Python that powers this can be had under the MIT license: wp-gopher-0.1.tar.gz. Time will tell if there’s a 0.2, but I wouldn’t hold your breath. Send any bug reports or patches to the e-mail address in the README. (Preferably patches.)

In related news, I think complete madness has now set in due to the stress of uni. Hooray!

Addendum: This is also available via IPv6 at gopher://[2001:5c0:8fff:fffe::6f6b]/. Is this the only IPv6 Gopher server on the Internet, I wonder?

Small, Brown and Furry

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Well, I got the feature film synopsis in only three days late (that was the assignment deadline I mentioned whooshing past a couple of days ago). I’m not especially happy with it, but I figure I’ll at least get to change it around completely before starting to worry about the scene breakdown.

It was nice to get that out of the way, but it was equally nice to come home tonight and be able to spend about half an hour watching a pair of quendas (bandicoots for you eastern state types) scoot around the back verandah eating whatever they could get their paws on. Mum had her camera to hand and grabbed a few photos, including this one:

Like a rat, but cuter.

I actually wanted to call my Summer Winter of Code project Quenda, but figured it would have been too close to Quanta.

Still, my thought for the day: At least I’m up to date on my assignments again. Until tomorrow, at least.

Take This Car and Drive Downstate

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

I decided yesterday that I really wanted to see the lunar eclipse in all its glory, or at least as much glory as could be gotten here in WA, which wasn’t as much as I would have liked, given that totality was reached not long after sunset. My initial plan was to drive a bit away from Perth’s lights and set up camp (metaphorically speaking, at least), with one of the hills around Toodyay being a prime candidate.

That was a great plan until this satellite image came to pass:

Hmmm, that cloud isn’t going anywhere, is it?

So, foiled by mother nature, I decided to get even and drive far enough northeast to get out from under the blanket of clouds that apparently ruined viewing for Perthites. Ultimately, I ended up atop Marshall Rock, which is near Bencubbin. You can view the approximate route I took with the help of some Google Maps goodness — while not the most direct route, it was largely dictated by me chasing the blue sky I could see to the northeast by the time I’d reached Dowerin. Took a darned sight less than 4 hours, 54 minutes, too. (Side note: I’ve thought more than once that storm chasing would be an interesting hobby to get into, but I don’t think I’d dare show my face now at any sort of storm chasing gathering with my first chasing experience actually being for blue skies.)

Once atop said rock, I met a lovely retired couple from New South Wales who were camping in the park and had decided to come to watch the eclipse from the best vantage point as well. So, we sat, we waited for the sun to go down, we worried for a while that it was all a giant hoax, then we discovered that the moon’s appearance had simply been delayed by what looked like some dust in the atmosphere combined with the relatively low brightness of the moon at that point.

Unfortunately, that dust/low brightness situation seems to have put paid to my attempts to photograph the eclipse, even with the usual night mode settings. In related news, I think I’m ready to accept donations to the buy Adam a camera that doesn’t suck fund. Fortunately, approximately eleventy billion people have posted photos in various places, so I shall instead point to this photo on Flickr by evilhamaya as a reasonable approximation of what I could see.

Except, you know, I was sitting on a giant rock in the eastern Wheatbelt. That has to count for something.

Speaking of, I do have one photo which at least shows what the view from the rock looked like before sunset:

The view from Marshall Rock, sans lunar eclipse.

Yeah, I know. It’s not the same. But still, the eclipse was awesome, I’m glad I went to the trouble of driving there (and back, since I have to be at uni at 8 am tomorrow and hence couldn’t stay the night in Bencubbin), and as an added bonus, the Milky Way looked even more incredible than usual, given the lack of ambient light out there.

(Satellite image © Commonwealth of Australia 2007, Bureau of Meteorology, originally sourced from here.)

Curse You, Douglas Adams

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

I’ve just had my first whooshing sound of the semester as a deadline whipped by at a rate of knots without the associated assignment actually being ready. Not a happy feeling, considering we’re still the best part of two weeks from the mid-semester break. Unfortunately, I just haven’t figured out yet how to juggle the seemingly insane requirements of the units I’m doing this semester, and consequently, two of the units (Feature Film Scriptwriting and the dreaded Internet and Java Programming) aren’t getting much love at present, let alone anything outside of uni.

Speaking of which, sorry, people waiting for a PEAR DB release. I haven’t forgotten about you.

Anyway, some things are happening, at least. The Computer Science project I’m working on is cool, and terrifyingly large in scope at present. (I’ll write a proper blog post about that later in the week, hopefully.) My latest film project has started shooting, and as we work our way through that process, I’m gradually realising just how much I’ve dropped myself in it as editor. The next time I write a script with that much chromakey work in it, I’m making sure that I don’t actually have to do anything related to said chromakeying. As things stand, I have to composite four — actually, it might be five, now that I think about it — scenes in post, including one against a virtual set which I’ve only had time to partially build so far. I mean, There are walls. There’s a screen. There isn’t anything resembling a door, though, and I still have to match the lighting to the actual set-up we’re using against the bluescreen, so partially built might be optimistic. Slightly built might have been a better phrase. Next time, we’re using flats, even if I have to spend all weekend painting them.

It’s interesting watching shooting take place for a script I wrote, though. I’m sure it’s even more fulfilling for Reuben, our director, since it was his story idea in the first place, but I keep feeling both proud of the fact that the scenes being shot are the ones I scribbled out, and worried that if we suck, it’s going to be largely my fault — you can talk about how the director is the true author of the film all you want, but JMS has referred to certain things on Babylon 5 being writer problems, and I suspect that most of the potential issues with this film are going to be in that basket.

At least I get the chance to fix them in post. (We’ll fix it in post is the film student mantra, it seems.) Of course, said fixing might require sock puppets…

That's all, folks!

Yep. Just like that.

Dubnium SVN

Monday, August 27th, 2007

I’m still working on the Trac installation for Dubnium (and since it won’t be ready tonight, I guess it could be a few more days before it’s done), but there’s now a public Subversion repository at https://svn.dubnium.info:81/ with the 0.1.0 code. Read-only access should work without needing to authenticate.

For those not yet introduced to the ways of SVN, the following command should get you the 0.1.0 release:

svn co https://svn.dubnium.info:81/tags/0.1.0/ dubnium-0.1.0

And for the latest trunk code (which at present is exactly the same):

svn co https://svn.dubnium.info:81/trunk/ dubnium

I’ll pop up another post when I actually have Trac working as it should.

What I Did With My Winter Holidays, Part n

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007


Well, it’s deadline time, so I’m going to push a release of the DBGp frontend formerly known as wxDBGp and now known as Dubnium out for GSWoC evaluation. Nevertheless, I don’t really recommend using this just at the moment, because this release is cursed.

No, really.

In the last week, I’ve shredded my left knee for the second time in eighteen months, rendering me unable to drive a manual car (again), unable to walk without pain (again) and, importantly, unable to sit at a computer for long periods (again, and it’s made finishing off a release difficult). On top of that, I’ve been wholly unsuccessful in finding hosting that doesn’t suck (which rules out Sourceforge) and actually works more than 43% of the time (rules out Google Code Hosting and its entertaining array of internal server errors). To top that off, I discovered tonight that the secondary DNS for the domain that would have been the fallback has apparently chewed up my carefully crafted zone file, spat it out, and replaced it with an old one — and, naturally, it’s getting used instead of the primary for some reason I don’t have time to figure out. I blame Virtualmin anyway. Oh, and my ADSL connection has spent the night going up and down entertainingly, which I suspect is a sign of imminent phone line doom (again).

It hasn’t been a good few days.

So, with the venting and dire warnings out of the way, and the unhappy thought that I’m actually not really done with this and don’t actually consider what’s done releasable just yet, you can now get a copy of Dubnium for yourself. At some point I’ll get Trac and a public Subversion server set up for it, but for now, you’ll have to content yourselves with either a source tarball featuring a wacky SCons-based build process or an MSI that features absolutely no user interface, but which does actually seem to install and uninstall correctly. You can report bugs in the comments if you really want, but I’d wait for Trac.

Source tarball: dubnium-0.1.0.tar.bz2 (119kB)

Windows MSI: dubnium-0.1.0.msi (1.3MB)

Mac OS X users will have to wait a little longer, as I haven’t had time to whip the application bundle generation into shape (and won’t bother now that I’ve decided to scrap SCons as a build system and — sigh — move to more platform-specific systems) as will anybody wanting something that doesn’t suck. I’ll try to get a real release out the door when time permits, which with my courseload this semester, may be a bit further away than I’d like.

I’d say this will be my last (or next to last, if I decide to send through a post when there’s a home page for Dubnium) post on Planet SoC, so if you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. I’d like to thank Google once again for letting me have a go at this, and Derick for mentoring the project.

So, Dub on! Just… not until 0.2.0.

What I Did With My Winter Holidays, Part 6

Friday, August 10th, 2007

Another quick Summer Winter of Code update, since I have to be up again in about six hours to go to my feature film scriptwriting class. While there’s not much visible progress to report, some behind the scenes work has taken place — some of it feature and stabilisation work, some of it deciding what’s in and what’s out of the first release. (More on the upcoming 0.1.0 release later.) In bullet form, here’s what little I’ve managed to accomplish since the last update:

Things done since a week and a bit ago

  • Added a dialog that pops up with a property is double clicked and shows the value and type of that property, along with its children. The UI for this isn’t all that pretty (if only wxWidgets had a combo tree/grid control…), but it is functional, and the somewhat ugly nature of the dialog is something that can be dealt with after 0.1.0.
  • Rejigged the output in the call stack pane to be more useful without requiring either horizontal scrolling or a tooltip implementation that works. Again, this can be polished a bit more after 0.1.0; the important part for now is that it’s functional.

Things I’ve done but which are currently #ifdef’d out:

  • Support for saving a default pane layout. I had issues with wxAuiManager::LoadPerspective and wxAuiManager::SavePerspective the only other time I’ve tried to use them, too, so I’ve presumably misunderstood something fundamental about how they work.
  • Watchlist support. Actually, this is on a branch, rather than being #ifdef’d, but that’s mostly because it involved a bit of invasive refactoring of the breakpoint pane code to make it more generic. Said refactoring broke something, and I don’t think I’m going to have time to fix it before 0.1.0 — the priority of this went down considerably when I remembered that XDebug doesn’t actually support watch breakpoints anyway at the moment.

Things pushed to after 0.1.0

  • Watchlist support, as above.
  • Syntax highlighting rules for languages other than PHP.

The rationale for the above items is that 0.1.0 needs to be out shortly; given the ever-increasing workload of uni (including now having an actual final Computer Science project to do — it’s an interesting one, and I’ll doubtless blog about that soon, but it’s also going to chew up that little sliver of remaining spare time I had outside of film-related work), that means next week, regardless of the SWoC deadlines. Therefore I’m going to concentrate on the functionality required for PHP and XDebug right now, and revisit supporting other DBGp implementations after that.

So, what’s left before 0.1.0?

  • Finding a better name than wxDBGp and producing some sort of icon.
  • Add an options dialog for font and basic network (IDE key and listening port) settings.
  • Windows packaging.
  • Write some rudimentary documentation.

That’s now a pretty short list, which is obviously good, given the limited amount of time I have available to work on it now. At this stage, I’m going to try to get that done mid-late next week, so hopefully by this time next week, I can pop up a blog post pointing people to a tarball (and, with luck, an MSI, an OSX application bundle…) and simply stress about everything else.

No screenshot this time, but as threatened a couple of updates ago, here’s a scan of my initial UI design document for the main debugger window. Mark Greenaway can take heart in the knowledge that he’s not the only one with bad handwriting.