Wading through Windows


There comes a time in your life when you have to get your hands dirty and face up to the fact that you just have to do the one thing you wish you would never have to do.

Installing a Windows operating system. On a brand new Dell desktop. It makes you shudder, doesn't it?

To be precise, I had to install Microsoft Windows 2003 Server x64 on a Dell Precision 690, which comes with a Dell SAS 5/iR integrated raid controller.

<sarcasm>As usual, you would not expect Windows to install cleanly and without fuss... Where would that warm and fuzzy sense of accomplishment that accompanies every successful install go otherwise?</sarcasm>

Munging video into an ipod

On my way to work this morning, two seemingly unrelated ideas crossed my mind and created a desire to learn how to do something new.

Both ideas originated from the circumstances I found myself in. I was sitting on a bench. It was cold and windy. I had a very bad cold, a very sore throat, and a runny nose. I was waiting for a delayed train to work. I had nothing to do but wait.

The first thought that crossed my mind was that time spent commuting is wasted.

Anatomy of a great day

What makes a day a _great_ day?

Well, it has to start with a healthy breakfast. I always make a point of eating healthily. Since breakfast is a very important meal, this applies to breakfast too. Breakfast was great because I had some of my favourite juice, apple juice, with my favourite cereal, sultana bran. Crunchy!

Travelling to work was great because the bus arrived as soon as I stepped out of the door. The bus stop is just across the street. The pedestrian lights turned green just as the door slammed shut, so I confortably walked and got on the bus.
I normally take the train to work. On the way from the spot where I get off the bus to the station, I pass by a different bus stop serviced by three bus routes that go by my workplace. Just as I approached this bus stop, the bus came, so I decided against the train and hopped on the bus to work.

Death of a deadline

They say the life of a software engineer is a very stressful ride through a thick forest of unmet deadlines and eerie technical problems.

It is not always that bad... but, sometimes, it is even worse. Like yesterday.

I worked on implementing a set of new features. I took hardly any breaks during my coding hours, slaved away in the office, and even worked over the weekend to try and make up for some time.

A few weeks earlier, I genuinely thought that I would be able to complete my tasks within two weeks, and I therefore committed to having the new features implemented in that timeframe.

Pie chart

Pacman chart

Either you find this picture incredibly funny or not funny at all.

I thought it was hilarious!

I have to admit that I did not come up with the idea, though.

The original is here.

By the way, do not look at the rest of the pictures on that website I linked to. Seriously, don't!

Incredible machine

I have always been fascinated by the domino effect.

Picture a complex arrangement of thousands of domino pieces, all neatly aligned and standing in an elaborate pattern.

Now imagine tipping one of those dominoes and marvel at the chain of causes and effects that bring all the dominoes down in an orderly and predictable manner.

I cannot put my finger on it, but there is something very appealing to me in long and elaborate sequences of events that cause changes to the configuration of mechanical systems by virtue of fundamental physic laws. Phew...

Hanging off a branch

During my random lunch-time browsing, I stumbled on Streamed Lines, an excellent paper on branching patterns and effective parallel software development techniques.

It is definitely worth a read, even for the experienced software engineer. The paper explores the many uses of various branching and merging techniques, and provides terminology to describe related practices and concepts.

I particularly appreciated the analysis of patterns categories and found a number of stimulating ideas.

Debian GNU/Linux and world domination

The power and flexibility of Debian GNU/Linux never ceases to amaze me.

My root file system suffered from an unrecoverable partial failure yesterday. That resulted in a number of files in the /sbin directory being inaccessible. I know, with all the non vital directories in a file system, why is it that the most critical ones get hit the most?
Well, better /sbin than /home, right?

Anyway, the first thing I did was to boot off Knoppix and back up the entire contents of the hard drive, partition by partition. I used a combination of tar and ssh, partimage, rsync, and good old dd.
"What, you did not have backups already?" - I hear you ask. Well, you know, real men do not keep backups :-)

Aerlingus and Ryanair

Aerlingus is under threat of being taken over by Ryanair. Ryanair launched a takeover bid of Aerlingus' shares, in an effort to acquire more than 50% of Aerlingus shares.

I strongly hope that Ryanair is not successful in its takeover manouvre, for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, having two great low-cost air carriers is certainly good for customers. Customers can only benefit from competition between the two airlines. Ryanair and Aerlingus happen to compete on many airport and routes that I frequently use, with obvious advantages to my finances.

The Dublin-Milan route is serviced by both airlines, and having two companies competing with lower rates, promotional offers, and ticket sales makes flying home to see family and friends cheap and fun.

Hello, World!

Hello, World!

Hello, World!

What a better way to start off my brand new blog than with my own exuberant Hello World post!

I am sure that all you techies reading this will have already noticed the extra care I took in adorning the hello, world statement with capital letters and punctuation -a distinct improvement over the first and original version of the historical hello, world program -

For those of you that do not know what a hello, world program even is, welcome to my blog! Please do not run away just yet.
I promise I will not just write about computers, information technology and software engineering. And when I do, I will clearly mark those technical posts so that you, the reader, can easily filter out those posts that, let us admit, only a handful of people would actually enjoy reading.

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