Older blog entries for dmerrill (starting at number 113)

The Roller Coaster of Life

I've been dealing with some serious health problems for months now. I was pretty much completely unable to work for awhile and lost my job. Didn't feel much like posting to Advogato either, as you might have noticed.

Things were pretty bleak and depressing for awhile, but they are getting better now. I've been on new meds for just about exactly one month now and they seem to have things under control. I am working full time again at a job I really enjoy. The downside is it's mostly Windows programming, although I have done some Perl/Linux stuff. Right now I'm learning C#. It's too soon to give any opinions about it.

Dave and I bought a new condo together and we're closing on the 28th, so we're really excited about that. I'm moving out of a townhouse, but Dave is coming out of a 5,000 square foot mansion, so for him it's a bit of an adjustment. But I refuse to live in the suburbs, and who can afford 5,000 square feet in the city, especially in a great neighborhood?

I moved in with Dave at his old house in February, and we closed its sale on the 3rd of March, so we're officially homeless atm. All our stuff is in storage and we're staying at Larry's. It's a bit cramped and we're starting to get on each other's nerves. Dave and I are not exactly slobs, but not exactly neat freaks either. Larry, however, is neurotic. Dave and I need to get into our own place while we're all still friends, let's leave it at that. :-)


I'm looking forward to getting back to work on Lampadas again after a long hiatus. Although I've been unable to work for awhile, I have not been unable to think, and I've done a lot of thinking and planning about Lampadas. It could be up to a month more before I am settled into the new house and have my all-important DSL line installed, but I'm eager to get back to work as soon as I can.

31 Oct 2002 (updated 31 Oct 2002 at 22:42 UTC) »

"david merrill is capable of churning out the yardage"


"linux documentation project is the place you should go when you someone tells you to rtfm"

but unfortunately,

"lampadas is a bloody mess".

Of course, you know that.


As always, lots of time spent working on Lampadas. The last couple of weeks I've been doing some pretty sizable rearchitecture, implementing a much more OO approach. I didn't realize when I first started this project how nice Python's object support is.

It wasn't a good time to rearchitect. I was trying to finalize a release for the Gnome Documentation Project. However, the weight of cruft had accumulated to the point that it was taking forever to fix each bug or add each feature, so I was approaching a GDP release asymptotically. Something had to change.

Making great progress in Lampadas development. My refactoring project is paying off.

I don't remember where I found the link originally, but I read through A Real War on Terrorism by Robert Wright yesterday and today. Much of it makes sense, unlike mglazer and his knee-jerk responses, based on what seems to be an inability to see shades of gray. mglazer will, of course, misread this and call me a traitor or something. Whatever.

Speaking of calling me things, somebody made a comment about "faggots" to me yesterday, not knowing I'm gay. That was worth a good laugh. I've never seen quite that exact shade of red before.

15 Sep 2002 (updated 15 Sep 2002 at 20:40 UTC) »

I've been doing a lot of code cleanup lately in Lampadas. The feature set is pretty complete as far as the meta-data management stuff, but have just a bit to finish.

Unfortunately, I have turned my attention to reworking several parts of the system, because they need to be more flexible. Make one to throw away and all that -- seems to apply in this case.

I've been rather driven by trying to get a beta out. Now that we are actually there, I don't feel as much time pressure, which means I also enjoy the work more. I can focus on the lower level system more and less on the UI and specific features.

The first real live Lampadas sites are up or going up. The home page, www.lampadas.org is running all the LDP documents as well as all Gnome documents in a database. The Gnome project is working on their own Lampadas database. The many hours of work on Lampadas are about to bear fruit.

We're finding lots of things that need tweaking, but that's not surprising during the first test rollout of a new system, especially a system as complex as Lampadas. Overall, it is shaping up very well. I'm happy. Life is good.

Installed and configured a Lampadas database (a temporary URL) to replace the LDPDB. Lampadas is not yet "finished" (not that it ever will be), but the meta-data capabilities are much better than the LDPDB ever was, and that's the immediate need at the LDP. The other stuff can be rolled out as it is completed, and it will be more solid for having been dog food.

And That's Not All! The Gnome Documentation Project is also ready to begin rolling out Lampadas on the same basis. Their DocTable has been b0rken for some time, so they really need something to help them coordinate their work.

It will be interesting to see what shortcomings of Lampadas are uncovered once these folks start actually using it for daily work.

The Joy of Certs
Certifying Bram boosted him up to Master certification. I don't know Bram personally, but he obviously knows his stuff and has more than earned a cert. So, bumping him up felt good.

Ill Health
Got very sick today. Very sick. Home from work waiting on a doctor to call me back right now, in fact.

My big project that I've been working on at various intensities for the past year (and based on what I did the year before that) is maturing into a beta candidate.

There's a test server running. Be aware that it is live code (not even committed to CVS!!!) that changes as I work and test my work. It goes up and down, especially when I'm working on a new feature or refactoring code. Stil, it almost always works. Only if you get the same error at a one hour interval should you consider it a real bug that I don't know about.

The test server has more information about the system, especially on the About Lampadas page.

Late night hacking run last night. I have to steal hours for Lampadas now that I'm gainfully employed again.

I rewrote the way Lampadas manages Makefiles, used when building the document output formats (text, html, omf from the sources (texinfo, wikitext, sgml, xml, text). I wound up writing a generic Makefile class, which simulates the behavior of `make` actually running a Makefile. I looked on python.org for a similar module, thinking surely someone had thought of this before, but nothing was to be found.

The benefit of this approach is that the user of the Python Makefile.py module can monitor what's going on and report success or failure and other pertinent data about the make process and each target in it.

Working out some kinks right now, but I made a lot of good progress so far. Hopefully I will wrap it up today, and Lampadas will have taken a big step forward.

I'm adding an asset management system to Request Tracker for my paid job. It's great getting paid to code FSS!

In my copious free time, I'm recoding the topic (or category) hierarchy for Lampadas. I had a hard-coded two-level system, which wound up falling short of the Gnome requirements. I'm recoding it to support arbitrary depth.

Now we really need to adjust ScrollKeeper categories so they will support both Gnome and the LDP, and other projects. Right now, ScrollKeeper's enforced topic hierarchy is heavily slanted towards Gnome. It's understandable, since it started as a Gnome project, but it will limit its usefulness if we cannot come up with a set of categories that handles documents from other sources equally well.

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