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Showing posts from June, 2006

Why I don't like Oracle's Database

Oracle is fast (especially if you throw enough hardware at it) and has a lot of great features, but what I really hate about it is their error messages. Looking at my résumé I guess that I first encountered Oracle around 1995. At that time I was writing the connectivity to several databases like IBM's DB and Sybase's DB-Library when I got to Oracle I thought it would be a breeze. What I found was that their DLLs didn't have version information so I would have to write extra code looking at the date and size to guess the version of the DLL. And at the time, if there was an error you would just get an error number. You needed to look up a file to find out what that error meant. There was a way of pointing Oracle to the write error file so that it would look it up, but I never bothered. Obviously, some client wanted a way to get their database errors in their language and Oracle set up this system or error numbers and files to point to.
The side effect of this was a laz…

The Sesame Street Brrring Aliens (Yep Yep)

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I'm a little embarassed that I've been looking for this clip (off and on) for a while and found it on youtube.

My take on greenhouse gas emissions

I think that we are probably very close to the peak oil peak or have already passed it. By that I mean that oil will only become more expensive over time. As it becomes more expensive a variety of methods will arrive to make living with expensive oil possible:
Greater use of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, some of these cars can go up to a 100 MPG (0.43 l/100 km) because most nights you'll plug it in and be able to drive around just on the amount you charged at night. You'll still have a motor and gas tank for those longer trips. Still, the biggest expense and weight are the batteries, however.
Smaller and closer electric power plants. Some energy is lost because transmission through wires, this is reduced if the plant is closer. Smaller electrical plants are more likely to use newer and more innovative technologies.
Increased use of wind power. People claim that there could never be enough wind (or solar) power to offset our addition to coal and oil. This is not true…

Python in the top 3?

By carefully manipulating the weights I can get Python to be a top language:
1.0C gcc196.71.2D Digital Mars157.91.4Python141.31.4OCaml140.11.4Python Psyco138.31.5Ruby132.721.6Forth GForth125.811.6Lua LuaJIT124.01.6Lua121.6
Great Language Shootout . Basically I said that Time, Memory and Program size and startup time matters. Then I put in only the programs that did well in the tests.

I knew CORBA was bad, now I know how much.

ACM has an interesting article about CORBA which I'm forced at times to use at work. I have always hated CORBA, but know I have a list of reasons why:
CORBA's object adapter requires more than 200 lines of interface definitions, even though the same functionality can be provided in about 30 lines?the other 170 lines contribute nothing to functionality, but severely complicate program interactions with the CORBA runtime....some of the OMG's early object services specifications, such as the life cycle, query, concurrency control, relationship, and collection services, were not only complex, but also performed no useful function whatsoever. CORBA provides quite rich functionality, but fails to provide two core features: Security & Versioning. Design flaws in CORBA's interoperability protocol make it pretty much impossible to build a high-performance event distribution service. The on-the-wire encoding of CORBA contains a large amount of redundancy, but the protocol do…

10th Anniversary

Well today Renata and I are celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary! This is using the Canadian wedding date. Happy Anniversary honey.

Google Earth for Linux

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I can state that Google Earth for linux works great. I installed it on my Ubuntu (Dapper Drake) desktop and had no problems. If you don't run the install program as root it will install it in your home folder. As a bonus I noticed that the satelite images of our farm is greatly improved. Now I can see the tennis court and the two swimming pools. Before I couldn't even see the river.
Coordinates: long: -44.297743, lat: -19.958745
I believe that google earth is benefitting from the effort they made to bring Picasa to Linux (which I haven't tried yet)- update: I'm wrong, it's a native port. Basically, Google (and CodeWeavers) have beefed up Wine so that it supports everything required for Picasa and Google Earth. This is good news for the Linux community since a better Wine means more windows programs that can run under Linux.
For photo managment I use F-Spot and I'm quite hapy with it so I don't see myself moving to Picasa just yet. Also, Picasa doesn…

Why Nintendo is cool

I bought the Nintendo DS for me and my son and I'm quite impressed. For those who don't know, Nintendo is the #3 manufacturer of video games consoles. The #1 and #2 are Sony and Microsoft.
I liken Nintendo to the old chestnut of Fox and the Hare. The biggest dichotomy between the fox chasing the hare is that the hare is running for it's life, but the fox is only running after it's lunch. If Nintendo can't sell games and game consoles, they are out of business, since that is all that they do. If Sony or Microsoft can't sell their games and consoles, they are just losing money: they make lots of money from other sources.
Perhaps because of this dichotomy, Nintendo seems to be creating some really innovative hardware. The Nintendo DS has two displays (DS is for Dual-Screen), in which one display is touch sensitive and the DS also has WiFi connectivity. Nobody has anything like this, and using a standard wireless network instead of creating their own proprieta…

$100 Laptop (OLPC)

I listened to Ethan Zuckerman on IT Conversations who heads Geek Corps. One thing I agreed with Ethan was that he said they had much more success helping the middle-class in urban cities than trying to help the rural poor.
When I hear people complain that the OLPC project will never work because the poor in Africa don't have electricity let alone internet connections, but they are talking about the wrong Africans. At the start the OLPC project should go after the children on the edge of tecnology. Those who can almost afford a computer at home, say, but don't have one yet. I feel that these children are more likely to take advantage of what the computer offers. The children in middle-class families are more likely to graduate and enter a white collar job than lower-class families. Eventually, as more and more of these laptops are bought they should be spread out to every child, but this may take years.
Ethan's blog has even more information about the latest from the OL…

PyLab & SciPy

Every time I go back to trying out Matplotlib and SciPy, I have to re-learn everything. Part of the problem is that the versions there are different names for SciPy:
Numeric (pdf) - it no longer being supported, but is required for Matplotlib (or an least I couldn't get it to work with numpy on Linux or Windows). Also, it appears that some programs on Linux that I have installed use Numeric, so I can't uninstall it. To make things even more complicated, the PDF version SciPy documentation is for $$ only, so they point you to the Numeric pdf for documentation.
Numarray which is as far as I can see a faster version of Numeric made by the Space Telescope Science Institute. I believe there was a split between Numeric and Numarray because of the speed difference (Numeric is faster for small arrays and Numarray is faster for large arrays). The SciPy page claims that numarray will merge with scipy sometime in the future.
NumPy is supposed to be the new numeric. If you look at the li…

Java, Python and Tiger Woods

I'm not a Java fan, but I use it at work. Whenever I can, I try and use Python, or C++, but Java is often what I'm forced to use. I'm not bitter, I'm glad they're paying me to learn this language, since I wouldn't have learned it on my own. There's an interesting article by Stevey on how to choose a programming language, he's going to use Java and Ruby.
Eric Sink has a Java rant complaining that Java should have been opened sourced seven years ago. He argues that Sun needs to stop thinking of the owner of Java but the proud parent of Java (and that's where the Tiger Woods link comes in).
Finally, an older article about Java generics by Bruce Eckel complaining that Java's generics aren't.

Funny quote: When C++ is your hammer, everything starts to look like your thumb.

On Sony and AllofMp3.com

Here's another damning article about Sony Corp:
Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. One of life's more satisfying ironies, however, is that the same fate often befalls those who fixate on history. Consider the coming train wreck of Sony's PlayStation 3.
The article goes on to list some of Sony's failures, like Betamax, DAT tape, and the MemoryStick. They are not only failures, but attempts by Sony to tie the customer to their (and only their) products. The article goes on to explain why the PS3 costs so much: blue-ray; which is yet another attempt to for Sony to lock you in. Now there are rumors that the PS3's "Cell" processor is seriously broken. All in all it doesn't look very good for Sony, and I would say the problem is systemic. That problem is greed.
It's even worse in the music industry (of which Sony owns it's fairshare). The music industry knows that some people would pay a lot of money for an album from their favorite…

My Webcam works!

Two versions back I installed the SPCAXX linux drivers for my webcam and got it to work after much fiddling. Then came Breezy Badger and my web cam stopped working, worse it would take the whole machine down if I used Camorama!
Yesterday I installed the Dapper Drake and I tried Camorama program and it failed with an error message (much better than killing the machine). On this page it says that it should just "work". I looked at the camera and thought, shouldn't there be a little green light that is on? Sure enough I followed the wire and the USB port wasn't plugged in. Plugged it in and started taking images right away! Now I'll go play with StopMotion.