Content from 2010-01

Paktahn 0.8.2 and other news...
posted on 2010-01-14 04:36:33
The last week has been thoroughly insane in ways both good and bad. As a gift, I had my thoroughly aged Nokia 6010 replaced by a shiny new Nexus One. Much as I would've liked an N900 they aren't subsidized by any carrier and so will remain out of my price range. I've also switched service to T-Mobile and thus far been quite satisfied. Then again, coming from a phone without a data plan I have no way of evaluating the 3G I'm getting.

The holidays were good. I have a skateboard again so when the weather clears up I can get back to enjoying that.  Time with mom was really good as was some peace and quiet and time to reflect. I took the opportunity to discover some new music as I usually do and also to read two novels by Vernor Vinge that I thoroughly enjoyed: A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky. Careful, those wiki links have spoilers. As for the music, I've considered compiling a top 5 favorite albums of 2009 list but haven't gotten around to it. Besides, last.fm should tell you most of that. I will say I've been deeply enjoying Jon Hopkins, Ametsub and Minus the Bear this week. It's kind of an odd mix.

Moving on, I got back into code last Tuesday after a long holiday absence. I really needed the break to recharge. 2009 was a full year. I spent the bulk of the second half of last week and the weekend writing code, reading code or screwing around with configuration files...which are all things I enjoy a good bit. Over the break I had fooled around with a new window manager (StumpWM in lieu of XMonad) and started using clbuild instead of asdf-install. I also spent a little time adding a lot of projects to clbuild in case I felt like playing with them. In the course of all this fiddling, I made a fresh archlinux install in a new partition with essentially nothing but Lisp and C compilers, a tiling window manager, Chromium, Emacs and a music player. To some degree, I'm fleshing it out still. It's a dumb diversion but every now and then I just have to rip my system up a little. It's hard to explain.

On Sunday, after 3 months of work Leslie and I finally made the Paktahn 0.8.2 release. For all intents and purposes, the wait was worth it. A lot of new features and fixed bugs are present but there is still so much on my Paktahn.todo list. And of course there are bugs to fix. It's hard to explain why I'm so invested in Paktahn. Part of it is the work I've put in to date, part of it is how pleasant it's been working with Leslie and how much I've learned. Another large part is that there is great joy in having written some part of my day to day software and having a (relatively) deep understanding of it. It's kind of silly because AUR Helpers are a dime a dozen (or two dozen) but I'm still having fun.

The Paktahn release was not without some drama though. Almost immediately after the release I started having odd issues building paktahn with sbcl. The resulting executable would exit as soon as you ran it complaining of a fatal error and a lost gc invariant. Not what you want to see. The bad thing was the error was intermittent and I couldn't isolate the cause. I had issues with it in my old archlinux install as well as the new one, with old and current checkouts of my code and with a checkout of Leslie's tree. I'm pretty sure I tried it with a fresh, recompiled sbcl and also tried removing all fasls and recompiling. I got very confused in the course of all that trying to figure out what happened. I should've been taking notes. At this juncture, it builds fine again and I can't get it to act up. :( Ah, well. At least I can get back to developing. It certainly gives me some impetus to finish the CCL port I started Dec 28th.

So on to school this semester. I'm interning at a company called Kloudshare and have begun work on open sourcing a portion of their code. It's good fun and I hope to have more to share on that note very shortly. The administrative person I spoke with before break failed to get the internship registered in SPSU's system though so I spent a good deal of Tuesday getting that worked out with her. Then I had the unpleasant experience of learning that online courses are *substantially* more expensive than offline ones. Apparently, the state doesn't subsidize them because they can be taken advantage of by anyone or something like that. In my case, I was just trying to avoid an hour and a half commute both ways and try to find more time to code. I guess you really can't have it all. Now I have to jump through more financial aid hoops. Joy.

Soon I hope to have some code to show here. Maybe I'll spend 10 minutes and just throw my dotfiles up on github for the hell of it tomorrow. Other than that...I miss long form writing, poetry, essays...but my focus is elsewhere. Plus I'm tired. The rest will have to wait for another day.
2010 Already?
posted on 2010-01-02 04:07:07
It's hard to believe it but the new year is already upon us. 2009 was a big year. Dad's death was a serious blow but I have to recognize that a lot of good came my way too. I started genuinely programming, moved into an apartment with Teresa and finished half of a BS in CS at SPSU. One more year like last year and I'll at least have a diploma...but the further I go down the programming rabbit hole, the more ignorant I realize I am. It's not like I'll even approach competence at the end of 2010. Oh, well. That's how it is and I can deal with that. Hell, I think that's part of why I like what I'm doing.

Speaking of programming, I haven't done near enough of that over the break but I'm trying to get back on top of things this week before classes start. At least my classes this semester require code. I also have a cool internship lined up. Yet another reason to get coding. I made a number of resolutions last year, some successful, some not. I blogged regularly but I didn't exercise enough. I maintained a 3.5 or better GPA the first two semesters but didn't excel during the fall. Some of that may have had to do with Dad's death, I really hadn't expected him to die in 2010. I think more of it had to do with burnout (on SPSU, not CS) and not liking any of my classes/professors. I also spent virtually no time reading HTDP and little time sampling my music.

My predictions weren't half bad. I was wildly optimistic about the drop in SSD prices but much closer than I would've guessed about the game console war being almost a draw by the end of 2009. Apple has continued to infiltrate the mainstream but I think Linux had more progress in 2008 than 2009. Sadly, neither of my IP Law predictions came to pass and that area needs progress as much as ever.

I'm not going to bother with predictions for 2010 or resolutions either. I think it's better to work, enjoy what I'm doing and see where it takes me. Happy New Year. And good night.

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