Uruk is currently certified at Apprentice level.

Name: David Allen
Member since: 2000-02-12 01:24:59
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Homepage: http://opop.nols.com/index.shtml


I'm a graduate student in information systems, with a background in computer science. My turn-ons include flexible scripting languages, freenet, and generally free software. My turn-offs are glue, patents, and the religious right.


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Just for fun last night, I hacked together a small system to deal with questionnaires over the web. I'm partly doing it to help out the psychology dept. at my university, that does some research in a limited way over the web using questionnaires, and also because I'm considering setting up a portion of my site with a few questionnaires to poll whoever wants to be polled on different things.

It's kind of neat - I finally got around to using Perl's XML::Parser module which now allows me to use XML files as configurations for questionnaires rather than inventing yet another messy file format. So a questionnaire would be specified as something like:

<questionnaire> <question name="howareyou" text="How are you doing today?"> <option value="good">Great</option> <option value="bad">Not so great</option> </question> </questionnaire>

it's bit more complicated than that to allow for more flexibility, but that's the basic jist of it.

It is rather annoying to not have access to any validating parsers for XML in perl. I've heard that Apache is going to be releasing something called Xerces for perl, but so far, it's only available for Visual C++ kits under windows. (?)

Other than that, I'm up to about 24 credit hours this semester in an attempt to graduate in december so I can move overseas, maintaining gtkeyboard when I get the time, and hacking on side projects like a java program I'm working on that takes number sequences from number theory and maps them onto certain tones, writing the resulting "song" out in MIDI format. There's a snapshot of that software on my page but it is far from finished. So basically I've got my hands in about 8 different cookie jars right now. :) When is it ever not like that?

Started a very interesting project a few days ago - it's a program in java (unfortunately using swing) and the jMusic library (for manipulating MIDI files).

The basic jist of the thing is that it takes number sequences found in mathematics, (i.e. sequences coming from the 3x+1 problem or catalan numbers, what have you) and translating them into some type of scaled tones which is then written out to a MIDI file.

It actually works, although I've only got it working with a very few number sequences. I'll post the code sooner or later on my site under the GPL, but I want a chance to improve it some more.

It's kind of given me at least a few shreds of respect that I didn't previously have for java. I used to think the language really, really sucked. Now I think it's merely clunky. I guess that's an improvement.

The only problem with this program is that similar to gtkeyboard, it's a program that you can't just sit down and use with no instruction whatsoever. It's not like notepad or something, you actually have to read the help dialogs if you're going to have a chance of understanding why it does the things that it does. Which means more documentation that I need to write. Oh well. :)

Home sick today.

I've wasted the last 2 weeks of my life on Nethack which is quite possibly the greatest game ever written, bar none. I'm really starting to dislike it though, because I'm having so much of my time taken up by playing the game. (I mostly play male elven wizards)

I just read the article about ESR, RMS, Perens, the OSI, and all of that. The poster pretty much echoed my thoughts on the matter. People worry about others posting things that are too inflammatory, but it's only really inflammatory if someone else rises to the bait. And besides, I suppose this is for honest discussion, not watered down politically correct speech. But would I feel the same way if the article had been opposite to my views? Who the hell knows.

I'm currently reading "Le Ton Beau de Marot" by Douglas Hofstadter. Excellent book, highly recommended. It has nothing to do with computing whatsoever.

More XML work along with a strange thing happening to me...I'm actually starting to get interested in java again. I downloaded gcj and tried it out on a few of my older projects from school, and I'm quite impressed with it. Also, classpath and muave seem to be coming along slowly but surely.

Oh, and of course debian. I've been using debian at work for the past 2 months or so after being an exclusive redhat user before that. Not that I was bigoted towards redhat, more that that was what I had used, and I thought it was reasonably decent, and working on so many projects I didn't feel like learning the small differences between distros. (You know the story, none of them are different enough from one another to be hard, just be annoying as hell)

Well as it turns out I tried debian and it totally rocks. I'm getting a new box soon at home and debian is going on that, I'm finished with redhat. It's mostly because of apt, but the number of packages debian makes readily avaialble also puts redhat to shame.

I've been working quite a bit on Perl/Tk stuff recently on an in-house project for my company. Also I've been working with python and Tkinter. Python is quite a joy to program in as it's very clean and sleek, but sometimes I find myself wishing for the messy chaotic beauty of perl in the language too. Well, they are separate languages.

I've been developing a medium sized application recently through an outside consultancy to translate some really old crusty HTML to XML. Please don't ask for this code yet, since by XML's very nature, in order to actually convert this using a program, the code contains a lot of assumptions about the format of the source HTML. It has been an interesting project if a bit infuriating at times. For people looking at coding something similar, do not pass go, do not collect $200, read all the documentation for XML::Parser and HTML::TokParser before you even start.

gtkeyboard has not had much work on it recently other than a few small patches contributed by users recently, and a few bugfixes put in place for a really braindamaged segfault that was happening on Debian GNU/Linux machines (due to odd placement of the dictionary file on debian)

As for the perl/tk stuff and the python/tkinter stuff, things should be appearing on my page relating to them and downloadable code sometime between now and when I die. :) I'm working 1 full time job, 1 part time job, and I have 2 classes this summer, so I've got my plate a bit full.

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