Older blog entries for mrorganic (starting at number 150)

2 Feb 2001 (updated 2 Feb 2001 at 16:26 UTC) »

10:30AM Update:

The U.S. continues its descent into the abyss of stupidity:


Sometimes I think chimps could run our institutions better than we do. Grrrr.....


Friday at last.

It's cold here today. I mean like 20 below zero Fahrenheit cold! Man was not meant to live this far north, I'm convinced. I pray for summer. However, this weather will give me some incentive to stay indoors and do some hacking this weekend.

I've been having a long discussion via e-mail with a friend of mine who is an ardent QT/KDE developer. Boiled down, his question was: "If you want to program in C++, why are you hesitating to develop using QT?"

Previously, my answer was, "Because QT isn't Free." But since TrollTech is now issuing QT (for X Windows, anyhow) under the GPL, that argument really isn't valid anymore. "I don't much care for the signal/slot weirdness," I say. But then callbacks aren't all that great either. And I must confess that the standard look'n'feel of QT is way better than GTK+, IMO.

So ultimately I started feeling a bit foolish. Here's this excellent C++ toolkit, which is Free (in both libre and gratis senses) and well-supported.

Realizing that I was acting rather stupidly, I decided then and there to give QT/KDE more of a fair shot. So this weekend I'll delve into the tutorials and HOWTO's and see if I come out any happier than when I went in. One thing I will say right off: KDevelop beats the pants off any equivalent GNOME IDE I've seen so far, even at this early (and rather unstable) stage of the game.

I wrote an OSOpinion piece some time back which was critical of KDE (particularly the fact that they eschewed CORBA for a home-rolled solution), but as my friend pointed out, many of my concerns have been addressed.

Who knows? I may yet find C++-happiness in Linux!

All that said, I'm still anxiously awaiting GNOME 1.4/GTK+ 2.0. There's a whole slew of interesting stuff coming down the pipe, along with a *major* clean-up of the API. (I'll be happy if they can just stop the annoying flicker on screen redraws!)

Work Stuff:

I'm just grinding away on a few different projects. It's not fun but it pays the bills. The "Inside ATL" book by Shepherd and King is pretty good; good enough to get me started, anyhow. I still think that forty bucks for a softcover technical book is highway robbery, but I'm old- fashioned enough to want a real *book* rather than a website or PDF file.


At some point over the next few days I'll be upgrading to the 2.4 kernel on my linux boxen. From what I've heard, the rewritten networking stuff is much faster, and there's a load of other improvements like USB support.

I'm thinking of using libglade for my UI work rather than coding GUI stuff directly. There's bound to be a speed- hit, but that will be offset by the increased maintainability. I need to hit libglade's website and grab the docs. Much reading to do!

My wife and I watched the Super Bowl yesterday, and it was one of the most inept and boring performances I can remember. My decision to ignore pro football this year has been vindicated.

I saw on slashdot that VistaSource, the owner of ApplixWare, may be going down the tubes. I liked ApplixWare (when I could keep it from crashing), but it's apparent that selling software at a profit for the Linux market is still not viable for most players. I anticipate a day not too far off when even MS is going to have problems selling Office -- if (say) StarOffice is good enough, there'll be no reason to pay for the MS product. The whole .NET project stinks of "well, Windows is no longer a cash-cow, so we need another way to bleed money out of our installed base".

I updated my base Debian install against the Progeny archives, and everything seemed to go fine. I'm running XFree 4.0.2 with no problems so far.

After some travail, I have Debian reinstalled on my box. With some trepidation, I elected to update against Woody. Everything seems to have gone well, but I had to pull down XFree 4.0.2 from XFree's site -- Woody still only has 3.3.6 as the standard install.

Enough futzing around with BeOS: it's neat, I wish it had more of a future, but I need to get back to my Linux stuff. So I scrubbed BeOS off the drive last night and reinstated Debian (although I'll probably apt-get Progeny later on so I can get a more up-to-date distro with glibc2.2 and XFree 4.0).

I've had several people suggest good C++ toolkits to me: QT (natch), but also JX, wxWindows, and a few others I can't remember. I've grown fonder of QT after using it a bit, and JX seems to have a lot going for it. wxWindows leaves me cold; it seems too MFC-ish for me (BEGIN_MESSAGE_MAP() and so on). However, it wraps GTK+ and is much more mature than GTKMM at this point.


I see that Florida has found a 13-year-old guilty of first- degree murder in the so-called "wrestling murder". Things like this give rise to a jumble of emotions: on one hand, I am aghast that we actually are considering putting a 13- year-old child in jail for life (even given the horrible thing he did), but on the other hand I am shocked at the brutality and cruelty that boy showed to the girl he killed. In the end I believe that we simply cannot jail a child for life. We would lose whatever soul we have were we to do such thing. It would be tantamount to admitting that we have no idea how to fix a society that is obviously very broken.

The aftermath of the Columbine massacre was the same: pundits try to find blame in violent video games or movies, or in the disintegration of the traditional family. We blame inattentive parents or lax gun laws. We blame an out- of-control media that sells consumerism and sex to kids. We look everywhere but within.

We are the adults who are supposed to be teaching these children, guiding them, and showing them the difference between right and wrong. We are supposed to be making them feel valued and needed in a world that all too often seems hostile. So why do children today feel more alone and more cut-off than ever before?

The failure is ours, not theirs.

Work Stuff:

Found an interesting bug in my middle-tier component. Well, actually it's not a bug; it was a behavior that all of a sudden the users decided they didn't like anymore and wanted removed. However, this particular behavior is pretty central to the object and consequently it will take some time to retool the software.


I spent a lot of money recently on new furniture. The good thing is that our house now looks a bit more like a home instead of an empty space where my wife and I store our stuff. The bad thing is that a new laptop is still a ways off in my future. Sigh.

I'll probably end up donating my old Mac to a school or charity somewhere in town (assuming they'll even take it). I may even check the homeless shelters -- surely they could use a computer? I don't want to stick it in a closet because it still works fine, but I also don't want it cluttering up my computer room once I get a new machine to replace it.

Absolutely nothing interesting has happened today. I do not expect interesting things to happen tomorrow, either. The peril of a middle-class life, I suppose.

I checked out SomethingAwful, which is always good for a laugh. I hope that site stays up forever. I've grossed-out my wife more than once by having her follow a SomethingAwful link! WARNING: this site contains profanity and some ruthless humor at the expense of idiots.

Presidential inauguration. Feh. Who cares? Why should we celebrate the fact that a man who lost both the popular vote and (probably) the electoral vote still gets to be President?

18 Jan 2001 (updated 18 Jan 2001 at 22:43 UTC) »

Afternoon update:

I just heard about the good Reverend Jesse Jackson's little indiscretion (he fathered a child with a Rainbow Coalition employee almost two years ago). The National Enquirer was apparently ready to break the story, so Rev. Jackson stole their thunder and apologized publicly in a press conference.

There's a good southern word for this situation: *sorry*. This is just *sorry*. I never had strong feelings for Rev. Jackson, pro or con, but this kind of thing makes me want to puke. It's absolutely infuriating to have someone lecture people about being moral and upright, and then find out that the smug bastard was doing everything he was counseling everyone else *not* to do. It reminds me not only of the Hon. William Clinton, but also of the Jim Bakker scandal so many years ago.

I feel badly for the many African-Americans who placed such trust in Rev. Jackson, because it is clear that his credibility is completely in the dumper. For a long time he has acted as the unofficial "voice" of the African- American community, but I don't see how he can continue in that role given this situation.

----------------- Work Stuff:

Full up build done, but I noticed some UI weirdness I'll need to work out.


I've been thinking lately about why the OSS community tends to simply re-create applications rather than inventing new ones. I think it boils down to R&D, or the lack thereof. OSS programmers simply do not do R&D well -- all the really interesting new stuff to come down in the last few years has either been done under government or corporate aegis.

Maybe that's the ultimate role of OSS -- to popularize and unencumber new technologies, rather than invent them. It makes sense to me.

Work Stuff:

Same old stuff. Took yesterday off, so I have some stuff to get caught up on.


Got most of my CD catalogue encoded into MP3 format. Don't know why I didn't do it before -- laziness, I suppose. iTunes made the whole process pretty painless, although my old Mac can only encode at about 2x (and this with a G3 upgrade; I would never have attempted it with the 603e CPU the machine came standard with). I really like iTunes, although it's nothing too earth-shaking. It's got a nice interface which allows *much* eaiser navigation than Real's JukeBox (my Windows player of choice).

So I expect my Mac will live out the rest of its life as an MP3/DVD player. There are worse ways to go out.

I need to buy a new laptop one of these days -- my old Toshiba 610CT is maxed at 24MB of RAM, and the 640x480 screen is completely inadequate these days. Any purchase is still several months away, and I'm leaning heavily towards the new Titanium PowerBook. $2500 is a hell of a lot to spend on a notebook, though; I'll need to compare with other x86 laptops and see how they stack up, given equal (or at least similar) feature-sets. I'm willing to pay a premium for Apple hardware, but not a *huge* premium.

I feel a bit guilty about neglecting my personal programming projects, but the simple fact is that I need a mental rest. And it's not like the world is waiting with bated breath to see my software. It'll get done when it gets done. (Hopefully sometime before the heat-death of the Universe....)

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