Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Vie De Merde

I told you I was an insomniac.

Ok. Firstly, this blog is currently hideous to look at. I know. I must do something about this, just as soon as I wake up and think - yes - today I will sit there and wrestle with style CSS until the word 'hideous' no longer applies. If you came here for design loveliness I fear you will be disappointed.

Via MeFi we learn of, but it's so much better and funnier somehow in the original French over at Article (in English) about it from

Eg - Aujourd'hui, mon copain a créé un nouvel album photo sur Facebook intitulé : "Ma chérie et moi". Il s'agit de soixante photos de lui et de... sa guitare. VDM.

Awesome and not quite translatable. The best thing about it for me, as an only sort-of French speaker, is that each vignette is really really short, so even if I don't understand something on the first read there simply aren't that many words to look up each time and completely sideways from the original purpose it's actually a fantastic resource for learning bits of French, especially slang and such, that you really won't otherwise pick up without living among French speakers. Dear Internet - merci.

In other news, I discovered today that some software I wrote seven years ago and completely forgot about is being distributed (or has been) with Damn Small Linux. Now that would be fine if the code in question was actually functional or fit for purpose or what have you - a heads-up email from the DSL people would have been nice but not essential - but actually the code is a complete pile of shit and I'm really embarrassed.

Here's the thing.

About seven years ago I had a brainstorm one night, me and my shiny new C++ book, and I spent a few hours playing around with the FLTK library writing a desktop GUI calculator, which I pompously called flminicalc. I got as far as realising that actually such things are not as trivial as they first seem - you need a proper arbitrary precision maths library for a start and it turns out there are other even more arcane progamming issues to solve, mainly to do with FLTK, which is probably great once you have your head wrapped around it but which is not something that someone mainly used to writing Perl rather than C++ can grasp in a single night. Like a damn fool I uploaded a tarball to my old site - what the hell was I thinking - and basically forgot about the whole thing until this afternoon, when I received a bug report from a DSL user.

I'm not surprised. Without an arbitrary precision maths library it's really easy to make it do funky things by just mashing on a key. Numbers like 123456790 are too big for it. Calculations like 1512000 / 2132 are beyond it - too many digits. It was a programming exercise and nothing more, and I had naively hoped that giving it a version number of 0.0.1 would make this clear to anyone. In any case, dc provides everything I need from a Linux desktop calculator thingy so there is no itch to scratch here, just hubris.

Apparently no-one at DSL tested it much before including it in their distro, which is a real shame, as DSL is otherwise a really excellent minimal Linux distribution which I have used in the past to make old laptops useful again. I can see why a cursory look might have made it seem attractive - the binary is indeed tiny - but it doesn't actually do the job, and the two facts are not unrelated. I had a brief look this afternoon to see if there were any quick fixes but couldn't find any - making this thing useful will require far more effort than I am prepared to put in right now - integrating a proper maths library will basically mean a complete rewrite and in any case it is not something I have a personal need for, so it isn't going to happen any time soon.

The moral of the story is this - do not release software which would embarrass you if someone else started distributing it under the mistaken impression that it is actually useful.


Oh, and here's a video of Hadar and me playing at The Troubadour last year.

1 comment :

Dazza said...

Welcome back mate!