Joel Agrees

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

Anyone who has had the unfortunate displeasure of having a conversation with me about Computer Science education will have heard my views on how the education that the term “Computer Science” refers to has changed, for the worse. I tend to be a bit sensitive about it all, the reason being that I feel that the course I went into didn’t turn out to be what I expected. I learnt a lot at Uni and I hold nothing against the good academic staff from whom I learnt, and I hope that I helped those students whom I taught in turn (whom? who? I wish I really knew which to use when). I don’t think that CS at USyd is completely lost, it is certainly not as bad as what Joel describes.

When I read a recent posting from the seemingly highly regarded Mr Spolsky, who does write some things that I have a tendency to agree with, I felt vindicated of the pain I’ve inflicted on many people to read that Joel Agrees.

Sadly, I don’t hold my own views on CS education from a knowing position that Joel seems to be able to claim. I’m just a reasonably good CS graduate who felt that his CS education should have been better than it was. I can’t claim to know how it could be better or what it was once, I just know that I left with a feeling that it could have been something else.

Admittedly I wasn’t the best sort of student, and sadly I’ll always look back on my attempts at being a student as being mediocre. One day I plan to rectify this, return to university and do it properly – one needs some hope. Until such a time I’ll continue to feel academically inferior to most people I know, such is life.

Wendover Woods

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

I took my bike up to Wendover Woods (map) today (well, yesterday now) and went for a trundle. Wendover Woods is a managed reserve with a lot of trails leading through it, trails marked for walking, cycling and horse riding. Most of the cycling tracks were pretty solid, but there were some quite soft and muddy sections. I soon regretted forgetting to put on my other bike tyres (the fat knobbly ones).

The parking area is located right at the top of one of the highest points in the Chilterns, a parking permit costs 2GBP on weekends (1.5 on other days) and the area is closed to cars after 17:00. Of course, being at the top of the hill means that every ride ends with an uphill trek! Some of them were a bit nasty, and I was sliding around all over the place on the muddy stretches.

Overall it was good fun, and my first off-road ride too. I would guess that the trails are a walk in the park of more serious mountain bike riders… I’ll have to see what else I find while I am over here and try to work my way up to something less for beginners!

I took some photos while riding.

Enlightenment Tracks Me Down

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

Looks like the enlightenment I was going to seek sought me out courtesy of Sam.

So not a strange feature at all, an expected behaviour.

Oh, and the half a million character regex… it is not my fault! Really. I’m just working with what I’ve been given, same goes for XML – it just isn’t part of the picture. I have crazy huge regexes and textfiles with no trailing newline, this defines the bounds of my reality. However, I must say that it really is in the best interests of my employer (and thus myself) that people feel they need to do such things with regexes ;)


Regex, regex everywhere and
all the bytes did slow
Regex, regex everywhere but many more to grow

See what I have to say about my current mouse for a clue to my thoughts on the matter of switching to something more rodent based at this time.

Generation Gap

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

Now I know the meaning of the phrase… previously I’ve internally used the term to describe the differences between me and my own generation. Most of my life I have felt out of place within the groups I’ve inhabited, I suspect this is a fairly common way to be – but not the norm. Anyway, add my usual feeling of separation to the real meaning of the term Generation Gap and you may understand how unusual yesterday evening seemed to me. Add some culture shock on top of that.

Oh, and the British have a huge breast fetish. I don’t hold this against them at all of course… I’ve just amazed by how fixated they on the subject of massive tits.

I’d talk about the meals at this point, but don’t really feel like it. They were apparently pretty decent, I found them a little dull but it was good food. Better than most meals I’ve had since getting to the UK actually, all bar a couple of very good Indian dinners I have had.

I’m working on some code at the moment that requires more than 600MB of memory to compile and my machine has only 512MB… painful.

I believe I have the worst mouse on the planet. It seems to be tuned to be perfectly annoying, a completely dead mouse would be better. I’ll be selecting something and almost always the cursor will stop moving just before the last character of my selection, I’ll still be sliding the mouse but the cursor just jiggles on the spot. I bang the mouse on the table a couple of times and the mouse slips down, thus selecting the whole line, and then it wont go up! I have to release the button and thump the thing a few times to make it work again. Then there is a 50/50 chance of a repeat performance. We grabbed me another mouse from downstairs, but this one goes down and right at half the speed that it goes up and left at and often refuses to go right at all. So, since the replacement mouse is unusable (thus not an annoying mouse) I am forced to use the usable but terribly annoying one.

Strange But Universal(?) Editor Feature

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

I was wondering why some of my results were going wrong when doing some pattern matching in Perl. I have a file that gets generated by a script and has one big RE on a line that is read into another script and executed. For some reason the RE doesn’t match what it should… just then I accidentally discovered that it does match and then doesn’t match if I have had the file open in vim, so even though all I am doing is opening the file and then immediately doing a :wq (should just be a :q then I wouldn’t have had this problem, but I do also need to tweak the RE a bit at times) the file content is modified!

What is weird is I then tried the same thing in nvi and then in pico and they do the same thing! At this point I’m checking the difference using md5sum. Each editor spits out the same slightly modified file?!?!

What’s the difference? The file ends up one byte longer… all three editors add a ‘n’ to the end of the file without being asked to.

At first I thought it was something to do with line length (my RE is over 400,000 chars long) but the editors do this for files with a single line only three chars long too… so why do they do this? If three out of three editors tested do the same thing it indicates that it might not be a random decision. As far as I know the editors have completely different codebases, so it isn’t just a shared bit of buggy (unless something in a shared library is doing it). I have a suspicion that there is a reason for this and I wonder what it is!

For now I’ll just add the chomp to my Perl script (it should have been there in the first place) and seek enlightenment later.