Archive for the 'Life' Category

Bad communication

Some lady with an email address very similar to mine posted a Craigslist advertisement about a certain item. This posting is quite popular, and contains a  serious typo which the lady does not deem necessary to fix.

Thus, I have found my inbox being flooded with desperate, poorly written emails begging for more information on the item. How bad is it? I had to go through four or five of them before figuring out what was going on.

Is capitalization too much to ask? Maybe a simple press of the enter key every now and then? What about a complete sentence that didn’t look like it was generated using a Markov chain? Not to mention people who sent the exact same barely legible email multiple times with no subject.

I’m not sure if the internet is destroying communication, or if it just removed an barrier to entry that kept out the riffraff.

Project Daydream

So, I’ve signed on as the third developer of Project Daydream.

Project Daydream will be an open source, cross-platform, networked physics simulation sandbox. We’ll be implementing the base layer and online support. Users will be able to script and extend the sim with LUA. The (extremely) longterm goal is to make it an MMO.

Since we’re all busy students, this obviously isn’t going to be complete anytime soon. But we’ll hopefully have something interesting to demonstrate sometime in the next few months.


The title of this post, AbiWordBigChecklist, also happens to be the title of a Tomboy note which has been permanently opened on my desktop. It’s essentially a todo of all the bugs and features I know about in my GSOC project, and I’ve been whittling it down steadilyish over the summer. As of right now, I’m leaving for school on the 10th, so I need to complete as much of it as possible before then; that’s about 1.5 weeks.  >_<

Bold items are urgent, italic items don’t affect usability as much and are considered less so.

  • Pretty blue selection not shown after first row/Backspace does not erase letters after the first row
  • Cursor messed up on up & down arrow keys
    • ::getPageYOffset ::_findPositionCoord ?
    • The cursor is almost literally just moving up and down without regard for horizontal pages.
  • Scrollbar fix for fit to page width zoom. Unneeded if auto-tile is the only mode usable, ala Microsoft Word.
  • Normal page view needs a little work; page separator line not getting erased properly
  • RTL
    • Earlier pages in same row not redrawn properly. (Though they work fine when opening an existing doc or when forcibly refreshed by moving another window over AbiWord when not using Compiz.) Related to redraw issues above?
      • I’m handling RTL right now by just having pages start at the left and then moved a space to the right when the end is reached and a new page is started. This allows minimal code changes from LTR mode, but I don’t think AbiWord redraws older pages to start with. Also, this happens on the first row, meaning it’s probably not related to the above urgent. Crap. I need to write stream-of-consciousness more often.
      • I initially tried drawing the page at the right side of the screen, but it was kinda flickery and felt sluggish and hackish when the window was resized. I’m running out of time to make this, I may have to revert back to this and submit some patches after summer of code ends.
    • Make RTL use document preference (easy fix?)
    • Bottom of page shadow cut off when col > 0
  • Top ruler (figure out how left ruler is moving and mimic that. once this is located, easy fix?)
  • GUI for using this feature (I have several ideas for how to implant it, the simplest just being a View menu entry for “Multiple page view.” Still working out how menus work.)

So, yeah. I’ma be spazzing out over this until I leave. Packing for school is pretty straightforward, anyway. 🙂

Save coinage on your semesterly educational bibliotheca

There are many ways to achieve the goal stated in the title of this post. Crime is one option. Several student bodies hold that organizations such as campus bookstores engage in it on a frequent, if not regular basis; though we can hardly blame “them.” We can, and do, blame semi-anonymous people on the internet however. People like “Thor”, who shoot lighting from their fists while cutting up cardboard yogurt boxes for use in shipping illicit materials via our great nation’s postal servicemen.

Allow me to elaborate. One of the used textbooks we bought off Amazon arrived today with the phrase, “EXAMINATION COPY” plastered in large, unfriendly letters across the front cover. An explosiony star-burst encouraged instructors to “keep the cost of textbooks down!” by “See back cover.” It was an intriguing invitation, though I am but a student. Yet, must not all good instructors frequently lower themselves to the status of student in order to expand their mind and return to professoring refreshed anew? Having thoroughly rationalized my position in the matter, I flipped the tome over. There were several lengthy paragraphs to which the star-burst indubitiously referred, but as the son of a lawyer my eyes were immediately drawn to the small print at the bottom.

Behold! Engraved in ink was a message from the publisher informing me that dissemination or resale of the work was prohibited.

I sensed irony.

In which I become a terrible diplomat

A new wifi network appeared this morning, “Punknet.” Yes, Punknet. Seriously? I’m tempted to treat as I would an insolent newbie speaking in leet who endeavors to build a castle on a previously undiscovered tiny island just off the coast of my magnificent kingdom. Namely, by leading a raiding party party out to investigate and extend it either a boon of friendship or notification of doom. In this case, the signal pretty weak, so my glorious civilization and his rather less glorious might-be-mistaken-for civilization will probably be at peace. But one can never be too careful about anything with the word “punk” in it.

On the other hand, my wifi network is named after our cocker spaniel, so I suppose I can’t complain much about stupid names. Except that spaniels aren’t stupid. They’re amazing. How amazing? Cry  ‘Havoc,’ and let slip the dogs of war!

Summer Day Two: slow decent into madness

Woah, so this is what sleep is like. *ahem*

Everything is all over the place in room. Most of my textbooks are about a fraction of a centimeter too tall to fit anywhere in my bookcases neatly. Random books I never use, various burned CD-Rs, and paper scrap litter various elevated surfaces; this is partially due to my philosophy that the easiest way to clean up a book case is to take everything off it, then put everything back on. The other part is due to the current complete lack of floor space. >_<

Summer of Code marches on! Except not. The new router I set up for family which seemed to work so nicely over Christmas break now seems barely capable of transmitting a signal which I can receive consistently. I get disconnected from our home network and reconnected to our neighbor’s stupid “linksys” signal every ten to thirty minutes. And just forget about it if someone is using the cordless phone or the microwave. A reconnect every ten to thirty minutes doesn’t seem too bad- and I keep telling myself this. And [sic, don’t care] it woulden’t be, if I didn’t happen to be conversing with someone about how to fix it, or downloading an eclipse update, or something of that nature every time it happened.

Seriously! NetworkManager is driving me crazy. Why on earth can’t I easily blacklist this “linksys” network? It’s freaking weak, weaker than the signal I want to stay connected to. Wicd won’t connect to my network at all. It’s really rather messy. To compound the frustration, the wifi tool in XP seems to have a slightly longer timeout that NM, so I can stay connected in Windows but not Linux. The irony!

Also ironic: the IDE situation on Linux, which is usually my development platform of choice. I installed Arch Linux half way through this past semester because of issues with Ubuntu, and I’ve been absurdly busy since then. Thus, I’ve just been using Gedit and a terminal window with gcc, guile, or whatever compiler/interpreter the situation called for. No sense mucking around with a full fledged IDE for 200 line homework assignments. However, AbiWord has a lot of code. This is by far the most complex project I’ve worked on.

So, after getting thoroughly overwhelmed (and reminding myself that this was the planning/research phase and I didn’t have to start coding in earnest for another three weeks), I decided to take Eclipse for another spin. Problem: it won’t spin. After figuring out how Subclipse worked and getting things syncing off the AbiWord SVN, my wifi connection died, taking Eclipse with it mid-checkout. Now Eclipse freezes on the loading splash screen.

In between the lack of IDE and lack of stable internet connection, I’m getting pretty frustrated. So, I need a plan.

  • Teh Internets
    • Construct a Pringles ™ antenna, slap it on the router and point it in the general direction of my laptop.
    • (Plan B) Install OpenWRT (or something similar) on the WRT54G router, then pump up the transmitting power. Pray that the router doesn’t overheat, the FCC doesn’t show up at my door, and that the router doesn’t brick. Any of these are bad as they mean potentially making the internet situation worse. Gah!
  • Eclipse (Ideally, after fixing the wifi situation. It’s hard download packages and/or to flame people on IRC when one’s connection drops every other thing.)
    • Visit #archlinux. Complain. Get connection dropped. Be ignored by everyone. (Accomplished)
    • Run Eclipse and get some sort of terminal output. There must be a console debug argument or log or something somewhere.
    • If Eclipse won’t run at all, I’ll fall back upon the “pencil and paper” approach and try drawing out the relationship between things. You laugh, but it’s worked before.
  • General Sanity
    • Unpack from school and get boxen out of room.
    • Find mouse. Battling my laptop’s touchpad is not aiding my mood.
    • Unruly mob! Unruly mob!
    • Get something done on AbiWord. Seriously.

That said, I’ve got quite enough to keep me busy right now. Over and out.

Facebook Chat

So, Facebook got a new feature, Facebook Chat. It looks a lot like Gtalk, but it can only be accessed online on the facebook website. It also comes with an annoying gray bar which covers the entire bottom of the screen and can’t be permanently removed. Joy.

So, I thought it would be a great idea to have Jabber support for this thing. I told them as much.

Will Facebook chat support Jabber in the future?

It would be a shame if it were browser-only or used some proprietary desktop client not compatible with Linux.

They replied.

Hi James,

Thank you for your interest in Facebook Chat.  Unfortunately, the features offered by Facebook Chat do not necessarily match those of other chat clients.  Additionally, Facebook Chat cannot currently be integrated with third party chat applications.  We will keep your suggestion in mind and welcome your feedback as we continue to improve this feature.  Let me know if you have any further questions.

Features? Facebook Chat has features? Additionally, I distinctly remember the word “future” being in there someplace. Meh. Open standards! Interoperability! Pretty please?

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