Wednesday, 25 February 2009


Hmm, nearly been 3 months since last I poked a few bytes onto this blog. Sure has been a hot summer around here - nearly 2 straight weeks over 40 - topped 46 one day. After that, even 35 feels pretty comfortable. Fortunately no fires around here, but that might be more luck than anything - we've had no rain to speak of since December - which is reasonably uncommon even for this, the 'driest state in the driest continent', as the beer ad said. I had a good few weeks off over Christmas - and spent most of the time playing ps games or outside wrecking my back yard - only just starting to get back into hacking.

Work has been pretty dull - ongoing maintenance, documentation, bug fixing and testing - you know, all the great stuff you put off till you can't put it off any longer. Unfortunately, the bell tolls for me. At least i'm doing the doco using Lyx -- that's come along a bit since I last looked at it. Pretty comfortable environment for pumping out documentation, much better than any crappy word processor -- faster, easier, and better quality output. Although their 'WYSIWYM' mantra is bullshit - none of the character formatting is semantic based (c.f. texinfo for instance), and defining your own styles is overly complex.

On the home hacking front, after playing around with C for a little, i've been poking a bit around Java again. I like the simplicity, things just make sense. It's still a fresh of breath air after all that c-hash rubbish.

I thought i'd look at re-implementing the CMS i'd been poking around with in C for the last few months -- but not really going anywhere -- in Java. I was going to do all UML stuff just to give it a go, but the tools around all suck, and emacs and a bit of pseudo-code solved my problems more easily. Oh well, maybe later. The Berkeley DB Java Edition is really nice - maps very nicely to Java, so removes all the boiler-plate and marshalling I needed to do in C. Also simplifies the index setup by automating some of the fiddly details. So it was pretty trivial to re-implement the database part in Java. Although it certainly helped that i'd done it before and knew the schema I wanted. I also worked out a way to simplify the schema significantly, whilst keeping all of the major features of the design, from 5 tables to 3, and fewer tables to manually maintain. I looked through and old document I wrote about it previously and it didn't read particularly well, and is probably before I got the previous design working, so I might write the new one up one day.

Now i'm working on the texinfo parser bit. This needed doing from scratch since the C version used flex and I didn't want to copy it - it was needlessly complex and fragile anyway. And it turns out a hand-rolled parser and lexical analyser is really quite simple to write and should be easier to maintain and extend. I guess I may go back and convert it to C at some point as well, which should be trivial (a C version would be handy for me for various reasons). I've got most of the basic parser framework done, although I still need to implement output translation, and meta-data capture. Oh well, no rush.

Hmm, I woke up from a stupid nightmare 19 hours ago, how come I'm not sleepier?

Oh the economic side-show has been interesting so far, I wonder when we're getting to the main event? Idiot pollies are still going around here either making out everything's hunky-dory, or illogically blaming the other side for any problems we're facing or going to face. Japan's massive drop in export income might just be the action point that drives the fact home that we're helplessly at the mercy of the rest of the world's use of our expensive dirt for our own prosperity, and local labour laws or arguing about how much money is being splashed around will have little to do with any long-term outcome.