Richard Jones' Log

Thu, 26 May 2005
Interview

I asked Toby to interview me. Responses are below. Instructions for furthering the meme:

  1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
  2. I will respond by asking you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
  3. You will update your weblog with the answers to the questions.
  4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
  5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

1) What's the most important thing you've learned from competing in 48h game programming contests?

It reminded me that programming can be a helluva lot of fun. Programming in the day job can get pretty dull when you're worked on the same thing for more than a year (my current position is a record at over 2 years). Even my hobby programming is getting a little tired -- I've been working on Roundup for over 4 years now.

The game competition gives me something totally new to work on for exactly 48 hours, no more. At the end it's tools-down and move on.

The competition also reinforces for me that it's easier to write a game (or a novel) when there's external motivation, reasonable constraints and a reasonable timeframe. But we all know that.

2) Have you ever taken a good photo with a flash? How!?

Nope. I've only ever used built-in flashes though, not any sort of fancy-pants clip-on directional flash. I guess I'm far too much of a reflex photographer to start thinking about flash setup, which is why I've never invested in a decent one.

This means I've tended to err towards natural lighting, and it's just a habit now. When we went to Europe we took a single, very fast lens for the SLR (50mm 1.5) which we took all our photos with. Being 50mm meant less fiddling with zooming and stuff too. It was also really light and compact (for an SLR) which helped. I was even snapping shots in a poorly-lit restaurant at one point.

When I finally came to buy a digital camera, the ability to take natural-lighting photos was high on the list of required features (right next to AA batteries and cheap storage.)

3) What do you remember most about Europe? If you were to take a holiday like that again, where would you go?

The coolest part was seeing and touching history. It was a similar feeling to seeing the Aboriginal art up in the Northern Territory. We just don't get the same sense of history in Melbourne - the place is just too young.

I also remember that it was very relaxed; we could decide to stay the night in some little village called Newland which we picked entirely because we know someone whose surname is Newland.

I was struck by how familiar Europe was (in contrast, my recent trip to Washington was a bit of a culture-shock).

And a bazillion other little things, of course.

I want to go back, and I want to take Abbey. I want to see the UK again, and actually see more of the countryside that we didn't get to see last time. I want to go to the Deutsches Museum and spend a week there. I'd love to see some more Nordic countries.

4) What's the best thing, so far, about being a father?

Abbey constantly surprising me. Watching her growing up and learning new stuff is pretty damn cool. And having her clown around because she knows she's being funny.

5) Does lambda really deserve to die?

Not yet. I find it's still useful for, amongst other things, sort() functions and "switch" mappings. I use it in both situations on a semi-regular basis.

Now, if you were talking about the built-in functions "map", "reduce" and "filter". Yes, they can die. Or at a minimum be moved out of the builtin namespace. Haven't used any of them for a long time.

Thu, 12 May 2005
Response to "All quiet on the Bugtracker front"

I was directed to "All quiet on the Bugtracker front" by Chris Ryland (sponsor of the Subversion - Roundup Integration project). There didn't seem to be any way to reply to that post, or otherwise contact the author, so here's a reponse.

In short, Roundup fulfills all criteria you specify. Without breaking a sweat.

Tue, 10 May 2005
Melbourne train system...

This will probably only make sense to Melbournians. I was riding home last night in one of the ancient Hitachi trains. 13 degrees (Celcius for foreigners ;) outside, but we had to have the windows open anyway to get some fresh air in. On the window is one of those stickers "Fare Evasion Is Stealing". Someone had scribbled under it "Making us pay to ride in this crappy train is robbery."

Thu, 05 May 2005
Ubuntu is really cool

In the last few weeks, I've installed both Fedora Core 3 and Kubuntu 5.04. Some observations:

  • Kubuntu required me to download and burn a single CD. Fedora Core 3 required me to download and burn 4 CDs.
  • Kubuntu installation was very fast and seemed easier. I think it took me about 30 minutes from start to finish. The only messy bit was the text-based interface for handling disk partitions - Mandrake does this sooo much better with DiskDrake.
  • KDE 3.4!

Kubuntu is a re-packaging of Ubutnu which uses the KDE (personal preference) desktop instead of Gnome. It's a separate project from Ubuntu, but has their complete support. On the FC3 machine I set up, one of the first things installed was an apt layer for the native RPM system, making it effectively look a lot like a Debian system. I was therefore a little familiar with apt-get, but had to ask a friend how to actually search for a package (the non-obvious "apt-cache search" does the job). I've previously been using Mandrake's urpmi approach which seems a little messier.

I noticed that I was only getting around 1,000 fps or so from glxgears, so I "apt-cache search nvidia" and installed the binary nvidia drivers (and while I was at it, a k7 kernel). Including reboot, that took about 5 minutes, maybe less. Now glxgears reports around 11,000 fps. Much nicer :)

The only hiccup I had was that the KDE Mailer decided to move its mail directory again - previously I'd temporarily lost all my mail because they renamed "Mail" to ".Mail". This time, they moved ".Mail" into ".kde/share/apps/kmail/mail" (or similar, this is from memory). Sigh. Once I'd also reinstalled spambayes (not using a package, as this was before I'd learnt about the "apt-cache search" doohickey) my mail worked fine again.

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