10 Jan 2010 crhodes   » (Master)

I feel I don't get to do very much hacking any more.

I shouldn’t complain, really: I have a decent and stable job, which is mostly fun; I have a certain amount of freedom in what I do, as long as everything that has to get done gets done; I work with all sorts of interesting people, both formally and informally. But things that I want to do have to live a long way down the priority queue; preparing lecture materials, paper drafts, committee agendas, bursary agreements, course proposals, courseworks, exams, student feedback, paper redrafts, reports, meeting notes, grant proposal drafts, paper reviews, examiners’ reports, reading lists, grant proposal redrafts, and the like all seem to take priority over even the research on a funded project that I am part of, let alone the discretionary research that I might actually want to do.

So sometimes I have to be sneaky, and combine my hacking with teaching-related work instead. One of the more fun things I’ve learnt over the last couple of years is enough colour theory to be dangerous; it started off because I was casting around for ideas on what to teach students on our Creative Computing programme – and I do teach them about colour, among other things – but it’s sufficiently interesting as a technical area in itself that I can see writing code to illustrate aspects of it. So, here’s a (not very good) colour picker “application” for McCLIM, whose only redeeming feature is that it uses knowledge of the colour attributes of consumer-grade display hardware to present colours of the same intensity together. That’s a bit hard to visualize, so here’s a screenshot, where all the colours in the triangle should seem to have about the same brightness (viewers might need to adjust their viewing angle):

Source code is here; I’m not particularly proud of it, and it needs work in all sorts of directions (optimizing, generalizing, cleaning up). One of the reasons I had put off blogging about this is that I was hoping for a lovely literate-programming system to optimized for single-file Lisp programs to appear, generating HTML and PDF output from minimally-marked-up Lisp code. Sadly, that hasn't happened, and my best attempt can only be described as, well, deranged... so no impeccably formatted and indexed code snippets in this blog, not this time anyway.

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