4 Jan 2003 shlomif   » (Master)


I left you at last year, Dec 30, or maybe it was the Israeli Jan 1. So here's what happened so far.

Syscalltrack Home-site

I posted a request-for-comments for the Syscalltrack web-site on webdesign-l and received some useful comments. The web-design people are really professional, and the posts there are of very good quality.

Once thing I noted there is that they are recently littered with posts about trying to get CSS2-based layout to work. This makes me happy that I'm using table-based layout for all my site.

In a private E-conversation with Muli and Orna, it was made clear that Orna is our official web-master and has the final verdict on everything, and that I am just a web-technician. I also noted Muli that I might resume my efforts working on the Perl+Lex+Yacc configurator. But like I said to him, I could not promise anything as I have many other things to do.

Freecell Solver

I also worked on a detailed and elaborated to-do-list for Freecell Solver. The original TODO list found in the main distribution and in the CVS is very brief and may only be understood by myself. The reason I did was in accordance with what ESR says in Homesteading the Noosphere: "If one does one's braggin through the code, and then says 'Well shucks, it doesn't do x, y, and z, so it can't be that good", patches for x,y, and z will often switfly follow."

Whether it will indeed happen with Freecell Solver remains to be seen. A problem is that I feel that Freecell Solver is a fairly complete package that satisfies the need of most "hobbyist" and "professional" Freecell gamers. It will remain satisfactory even if no added-features development takes place (just like Perl, gcc, gvim, Mozilla or many other "complete" packages).

Many times when developing it and releasing a release version, I felt that "damn, after I release x.y.0, all I'd like to do with it is purely speculative, so I can just leave it at that." But I kept discovering more and more things to implement. I guess a project never ends, but I still can't see anything pertinent I'd like to add to FCS after I integrate Patsolve's state ordering. Except maybe Patsolve's mixed bfs-dfs scan and what Bill Raymond wrote for his solver (should he agree to convert it to the new Freecell Solver architecture).


Not to much in this direction. The autoconf-based installer is working and functional, but the functionality is still limited and the user documentation is non-existent. I think I'll now begin to write some lectures and use the quadp command line interface exclusively (in accordance with the using your own dog-food principle). That may give me motivation to improve it further.

I also have some craving to write my lectures using PerlPoint, because it is very brief. Maybe I should find a nice way to integrate it into Quad-Pres to create an hierarchy of pages. It has an API, but what could be a problem is that the HTML it creates is quite non-standard and does not match my conventions, and it places all the slides in one directory with names like "slide0003.html" regardless of their organization. But when there is a will, there is a way. The worse-case scenario is that I'll fork the code, or update the new version in CPAN.

I should also check other presentation tools (there are dozens of them around) and rob good ideas out of them to integrate into Quad-Pres. But first, I'd better release Quad-Pres 0.8.0 and then make other changes I have in mind.

Other Hacktivity

I started worked on a summary of a lecture about Vim. It's not just as much as the summary as is the full lecture without the fancy HTML formatting.


I read Programming Perl and finished the chapter about Perl Culture. This brings me to chapter V (which is the final one) which only contains reference to many elements of perl: special variables, functions, pragmatic modules, modules in the standard distro, etc. The perl meeting is quite close, so maybe I'll just browse through looking for interesting parts. After all, it is present in the man pages, and in Perl what you don't know, can't hurt you much.

One interesting thing I discovered about the book is that it is written in Perl POD. POD is nice, but I never expected one can write serious books with it. (that's what DocBook is for). Apparently it is possible, but I think I'll stick to DocBook for these things because it is more flexible. I'm still going to use POD for man-pages and such small-scope documents.

I also saw that there is a module in CPAN to convert POD to DocBook (and the other way around). This is very cool, and should prove useful.


Our united-states friend Ron and Carol Sekura sent us their new years greeting along with their usual summary of what they did in the past year. I discovered this yearly summary is a common convention among Americans. We usually don't do it in Israel, but I wonder what I would write in mine:

At January 1, I was hard at work finishing the winter semester, and also tying the lose end-points with Roy Glasberg's and mine IP-Noise Simulator project. We eventually were able to finish on time, and our project got a perfect 100 score, and it was considered to represent the Com-Net lab in the Technion-wide project excellence contest. (eventually another project was chosen and it won)

The spring semester came with many interesting computer-related subjects, that I constructed especially. They all turned out to be very interesting. Also, nother project of creating a web-interface for managing seminars Technion-wide. Roy and I did not have a lot of time to work on the project during the semester. After my tests were finished (which I did pretty well in them), we set out to work on the project together, thus "ruining" the summer vacation once again.

The project was finished, and we eventually were graded 94. Now started the winter semester, with many courses. My problem was that I kept changing my schedule, and eventually decided that I'd better take a year off because I've been studying consecutively for too long. After spending some time without scholastic responsibilites, I felt freshened up again to resume my studies, and so notified that I will return next semester.

Hah! and their cards are filled with trips and family visits, and other entirely recreational stuff. But this is the life of a Technion student, who is a computer nerd and does not have a dime for himself besides what his parents give him. Not that I think my life aren't exciting: by all means what I do in the Internet, and with my computer is very enlightening to me. I don't think you have to travel a lot in order to accomplish a lot.

Besides, I did not mention the numerous Haifux meetings, the Welcome-to-Linux series, my hacks and endeavours, etc. I don't know how many people who are not computer geeks would find them interesting.


There were a few good days which I took to bike in the afternoon and possible take a walk in the morning. It rained very heavily yesterday, though. Still, in the early afternoon it stopped and there was some sunshine, so I biked to the end of the University road and back.


Both of Chen Shapira's profiles are now certified as Journeyer. I'm the only one who certified here as Journeyer and the other people who did certified her as Apprentice. If I understand the Advogato trust-metric correctly, in order to be a Master you have to be certified as a Master by someone who already is one. If a Journeyer certifies you as Master, you will remain a Journeyer. (as is the case with me and mulix, <jealousy>who has much more Master certifications that I do</jealousy>) Likewise, for being a Journeyer, (certified as J by other J's or by M's).

Still, I'm surprised that Chen became a Journeyer with only one certification. I'm not sure this trust-metric is of any good to Advogato, besides turning it into a tightly linked Hypertext net. I also think that my certification was not always based on one's contribution to the free software community, but occasionally on his skills and knowledge as a programmer. I'm also a bit distressed by those people who certified me as Apprentice, or those people I personally know, which I certified, but did not certify me at all back.

Generally speaking, relying on approval of others for self-esteem, is a bad idea, as is known in Cognitive Psychology, and a person should strive to be independant of the bad effects of people disapproving of him or her. This trust-metric is a nice game, but should probably not be taken seriously. What matters is how I percieve myself, not how others approve or disapprove of me.

Latest blog entries     Older blog entries

New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!