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.

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Archive for the 'WTF University' Category

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.

What I Did With My Winter Holidays, Part 5

Monday, July 30th, 2007

My first classes for second semester are tomorrow morning, so it’s fortunate that I’m now not too far off having my Summer Winter of Code project at a releasable state. Since I need a decent night’s sleep before being up bright and early for Video Production (should be fun) and Internet and Java Programming (…less so), here’s the state of play in bullet form:

Things done since the last update

  • Switched to wxStyledTextCtrl for the source code display, which means that syntax highlighting now works, at least for PHP. (Side rant: Why is the documentation for wxStyledTextCtrl so lacking? The only decent source of documentation for it is the documentation for the Python binding, which is hardly ideal, and still requires a fair bit of piecing things together.)
  • Breakpoints and the current line are now shown by (differently shaped) markers in the gutter, rather than changing the background colour of the line(s), which should be far friendlier for everyone, especially people who are colour-blind.
  • Added a popup menu within the source viewer to provide another way to run to the cursor and toggle breakpoints.
  • Tooltips now work (mostly) when hovering over variable names in the source viewer.
  • Added the breakpoint pane to the main interface. At present, it supports function call and return and exception breakpoints, plus the usual file/line based ones set within the source viewer. Watch breakpoints are to get a different interface.

Things left to do before releasing 0.1.0

  • Come up with a better name than wxDBGp. Suggestions welcome. An icon might be a good idea, too.
  • Figure out some wacky method for making tooltips work in the call stack and properties panes, since mouse motion events don’t seem to be emitted after the pointer initially enters wxListBox and wxTreeCtrl controls.
  • Add a watchlist pane (it’s going between Output and Breakpoints).
  • Add an options dialog to expose the configuration options, along with the ability to save the current pane layout as the default.
  • Blackmail one of my more graphically gifted acquaintances into doing some better toolbar icons.
  • Add syntax highlighting support for more languages than PHP.
  • And now, the moment you all look forward to: more screenshots! (Well, I look forward to it.)

    Syntax highlighting and breakpoints and menus… oh my.

    Syntax highlighting now works. Mostly. For PHP, anyway, since I haven’t wired up the other wxSTC lexers yet with style rules.

    I’m sure Steve Jobs will be on the phone any minute now.

    No Windows screenshot this time. This is far, far better, as proprietary operating systems go. There’s a few graphical glitches, particularly in the toolbars (the alpha blending doesn’t appear to be actual alpha blending, for one), but it works entirely better than I expected, given that I’ve put very little work into a Mac version thus far.

    From here, I guess the remaining work will be done in minutes stolen here and there from uni assignments, but I’m confident it’ll be released — nay, unleashed — upon an unsuspecting world before the final date of August 20.

    Odds, Sods and Procrastinat… ods?

    Friday, July 13th, 2007

    Odds: My university marks should be out in the next 24-48 hours. I’ve got the whole bag this time: one unit for which I already know, give or take a couple of percent, what I finished with, one unit for which I have a rough idea, and one unit for which I have no clue whatsoever as the exam was worth 70% of the mark. I’m not particularly worried about any of them, but I’m still nervous. I’m always nervous at this point in the grading cycle.

    Sods: My car decided not to start tonight when I wanted to go and pick up a pizza. It’s definitely an electrical problem and the battery’s definitely fine, so I can already feel part of my tax refund slipping away getting it fixed. (Well, that or the Google Summer Winter of Code mid-term payment.) Will probably spend part of tomorrow morning looking at it myself before coming to the inevitable conclusion that I’m going to need to get some sort of professional to do so if I actually want it fixed.

    Procrastinatods (which I’m claiming as a word, dammit, if ginormous made it, so can this): I resolved to write my short film script for next semester during the break, along with a rough outline for the documentary proposal I have to do. Thus far, I have done neither, and classes start again in two and a half weeks. I also have plenty of work left to do on the GSoC project (more on that later). This isn’t looking good. Guess I’ll have to revise my estimates of sleep for the rest of the year down from two hours per night to 90 minutes.

    One Down…

    Thursday, May 31st, 2007

    Gentlemen and, uh, gentlemen, I think we have a final cut.

    – Me, three and a half hours ago

    After one of the most insane months (eh, no one of about it, on reflection) of my time at university, the visual cut on my film project is signed, sealed and delivered, which means that my role as editor is done. I’ve now handed the project off to our sound man for music and foley work and it should be in bright and early on Monday morning. That is, before the due time. Which, considering I thought we were toast four days ago, is nothing short of miraculous.

    Therefore, I go to Albany for a four day weekend with some friends. Back next week, when I will bitch about having to write a full-blown television script and start serious work on my Google Winter of Code project.

    Peace out, y’all!

    Deciding What to Buy Based on the Hotness of the Threadless Model

    Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

    I need more T-shirts. Of course, by need, I actually mean want, even though I don’t have room for them, but the Threadless sale caught my eye, and now I’m considering dropping a few dollars. Never a good thing, particularly given the search criteria I’m using.

    Really, I think the fact I’m considering it despite my poor student status is due to the fact that I feel like I haven’t slept properly for ages. The weather co-operated last night enough to allow for the final scene1 for the film project to be shot, so I now get to spend three crazy days in a cramped editing suite with the director and sound dude in a frantic attempt to get the visuals completed by both the due date and (more importantly) Friday morning, so I can go to Albany for the long weekend before panicking about my final TV scriptwriting assignment.

    Sleep deprivation ho, then.2

    Anyone have a shovel and some lime?

    1 Last night’s version of the make-up is at right (well, hopefully — your mileage may vary if you’re reading this via a feed), and it’s a far better photo than last time. We re-shot the scenes from Friday that I was in, so the different blood patterns are OK. Yes, the blood looks fake in that photo, but that’s due to it still being wet and being directly under a rather bright fluorescent light when the photo was taken.

    2 Obviously, I haven’t started my Google Summer of Code project yet, but the schedule I proposed didn’t have me starting until next week anyway. At this stage, I should be able to stick to that, even with the scriptwriting assignment running far, far later than I originally anticipated.3

    3 I’ve got to stop putting footnotes in my blog posts. Seriously, it’s sad.

    No Leaf Clover

    Thursday, May 24th, 2007

    Man, it’s hard to believe it’s been more than three weeks since my last blog post. May is that month of craziness at uni where everything becomes due seemingly at once, and it’s easy to get freight-trained by the light at the end of the tunnel.

    Still, I think the light now is actually daylight, mercifully. I’ve just finished writing my first ever breakdown for a television script (university assignment rather than paid, sadly, but baby steps…) and am a reasonable chunk of the way towards writing the final script for the same episode. Even my film project, which seems to be falling apart around me, doesn’t seem quite so insurmountable now — probably because I know that, one way or another, my part in it will be done in eight days.

    Incidentally, writing half hour scripts is hard when you’re used to short films and short stories. This hasn’t been helped by trying a few different screenplay writing tools, although that is an excellent form of procrastination. My short summation of the state of the screenplay is:

    • LyX with the Hollywood style: This is what I’ve used in the past. Has the advantage of being cross-platform and producing nice output, but it’s really restrictive in terms of formatting (no side-by-side dialogue, no easy title page customisation — although that’s got more to do with my weak LaTeX-fu than LyX itself), and it’s just not a great solution for larger projects since there’s no automated scene or character handling.
    • Celtx: Interesting open source project based on the fragments that should have formed XULRunner. (Sorry, different rant.) Not overly open sourcey, it has to be said — the Web site’s not chock-full of information to people interested in developing it. Promising, and does quite a bit besides just screenplays, but with some obvious issues: no side-by-side (hey, I needed it for a recent project, so I’ve started caring about it) and, more importantly, can’t generate production-quality PDFs without calling a closed source Web service.
    • Word + Simply Screenplay: Ah, the closed source part of the discussion. I only include this because it’s what the short film scriptwriting unit at my university uses. It’s unremarkable in every way and is really just another Word template that gets some of the way there. Very flaky, too, due to its heavy use of VBA.
    • Final Draft: I can’t really wrap up the discussion without mentioning FD. Closed source, only runs on Windows and OSX, but it’s an industry standard. And, honestly, it’s not a bad one. Pricey and less pretty than Celtx, but it is very usable, and provides a lot of useful extras.

    For now I’m using Celtx, even with its flaws. I want to like it a bit more than I do right now, but it looks like it’s going to be an excellent program in the long run, and a real open source Final Draft competitor. It’s just not quite there yet.

    Things That Annoy Me About Uni, 2007 Volume, Part 3

    Thursday, March 15th, 2007

    Opera students who decide that a busy café is the perfect place to run a few scales. Note to self: start retaliating with Opera Singer by Cake.

    (Bonus part 3.5: Completely incomprehensible lectures. This one wasn’t really the fault of the lecturer, but if neither he nor the author of the textbook can make the material understandable, then there’s clearly a flaw in the way it’s structured. I feel as though I knew more about lexers and parsers before I went to today’s lecture, which was supposed to be about just that.)

    Things That Annoy Me About Uni, 2007 Volume, Part 2

    Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

    Thanks for the new common room, guys. Any chance we can get one with working air conditioning and without the annoying rhythmic banging noises emanating from the ceiling next?

    How to Disappear Completely

    Thursday, March 1st, 2007

    Answer: Go to the first week of university.

    My apologies to those who have been waiting for me to fix DB bugs — I’m getting to them! Just as soon as I write a script, a pitch for a television drama and learn awk over the weekend.

    Things That Annoy Me About Uni, 2007 Volume, Part 1

    Friday, February 23rd, 2007

    In this, the first of what’s likely to be an ongoing series, the author discusses things that grate at university…

    Please be advised that due to low enrolments, the Tuesday 1530-1730 lab for FAV2203 Scriptwriting: Television Drama has been cancelled. You have been moved to the tutorial on Tuesday 930-1130.

    Yes, because there’s absolutely no chance that having only one tutorial time1 will cause students studying two majors to have a massive conflict with other units that they absolutely, positively have to get done.

    So much for my plan to do a three unit semester in the second half of the year so I could give due care and attention to my various final projects while still having a vague hope of sleeping a few hours a night.

    Oh, and a special thank you to whoever made this decision at lunchtime the Friday before classes start. Great work. Really.

    1 Seriously, who has one tutorial time nowadays? Surely it makes sense to have two tutorials just so that this doesn’t happen, regardless of enrolment levels.