Wednesday, July 18, 2007


The last week or so has not been conducive to sleep, nor blogging. After getting back I've been trying very hard to get Mulgara version 1.1 out the door. This involved cleaning code a little, but mostly getting documentation right, administering Subversion, updating web sites, looking for source code for obsolete libraries we haven't updated yet (there's something I could use some spare time for), and a hundred things I can't remember right now. And to think, I only took on the administration role to expedite my desire to continue developing for the project.

Shortly after release, there was an awkwardnessful* moment when someone found that the Ant build was broken when a command-line Subversion was unavailable. Fortunately, Ronald fixed this rapidly, and all was well.

Speaking of Ronald, I should mention that a number of other people were involved in this as well. Ronald did some fixes and added a few features. Andrae did some amazing architectural work and implementations. Amit arranged for some of Andrae and Ronald's time. David followed through where few would dare to tread by checking the legal side of our licensing and the libraries we use. Even Brian (who has been MIA until recently) did some proof reading for me. Many thanks to all of these people.

So this leaves me with the rest of my professional life to get back to.


So much to talk about, so little time.

I've been talking with a number of people lately on IRC, and IM, about some of the ideas I've had lately. I want to blog this stuff, but with the amount of time I've had lately I'm starting to wonder if I should just post the conversation logs (this was first suggested to me in Twitter by Peter). In the meantime, I hope some of the technical stuff is evolving to a more well thought out plan before I get it all written.

On the other hand, this may also be working out for the best. Some of the blogs I want to write are just rants. This may or may not be justified, but it wouldn't hurt me to get a full night's sleep before indulging in such a diatribe!

In the meantime, tonight I'm just writing something to remind people I'm still here.


With an impending tax refund, plus some frantic saving, I've finally convinced Anne to let me get a piano. One of my lifelong dreams is to own my own baby grand (but that needs more money than I'm likely to have any time soon, plus a bigger house than I'm likely to live in!), with a backup plan of a nice upright. Unfortunately, a decent upright piano is still too expensive, and much too heavy to get up our narrow stairway.

A good compromise at this stage is a digital piano. Now, I've never been a big fan of digital pianos (ironic, coming from an electrical engineer), but I have to say that you can get some pretty nice ones now. The one we finally selected has a very realistic action (essential for proper playing) and very nice sound, achieved through dynamic sampling. This is a fancy way of saying that they recorded every key being hit with varying amounts of force, so the sound played back is a completely different one, depending on how hard you hit the key. It's a great idea, and sounds really good.

But digital piano designers have never really seemed to understood harmonics. Sigh.

All the same, it's almost like the real thing, and it's been an amazing sense of relief to be able to play it. I haven't been able to play now for a few years, and it's always been one of my most enjoyable ways of relaxing the mind. Last night was the first time I got on the new keyboard, and I didn't fire it up until I got the Mulgara fix done (and then I had to spend time assembling it). So I was tired by the time I got to sit and play. But that didn't matter. Two hours later, my right hand was cramping, the fourth and fifth fingers on my left were too exhausted to respond properly, and my back was aching. But I felt so happy that none of that seemed to matter. :-)

Tonight after just a short warmup, I struggled my way through the first movement of the Pathétique sonata. This is way beyond me at the moment, but still fun to struggle through (no, I didn't do the repeat. I could already feel my hand tightening up by the time I got to it). By the end, I was feeling pretty much like I did last night, only now my brain felt fried from trying to read such dense music. Well, it was dense for someone as out of practice as I am.

The fried-brain feeling was unusual. I got to the final page of the first movement (it's 10 pages long) and I started looking at chords and triads that I knew I was capable of understanding, and yet my brain refused to decipher them. I had to stop and look away for 5 seconds before I could look back and understand it. I've never had anything like that happen to me before. I guess I was just using paths in my brain that haven't been used for a very long time. It should get better soon.


After 2 years (1.5 in Chicago) at work, I've finally received a computer! Admittedly, I avoided asking to start with, as the standard desktop was Windows (and I've done enough of that, thank you very much), but 7 months ago I realized I was wasting too much time on my slow old PowerBook, so I put in the request. Fortunately, by this time, it was agreed that new Mac would be appropriate, and so I've been waiting ever since.

The order just went in 2 weeks ago, and the computer was supposed to arrive yesterday. However, after 7 months of waiting I wasn't really surprised to get an email forwarded to me from Apple which said that the shipment had been delayed. I was worried it wouldn't be here until after I've left for San Francisco next week, but then it showed up at lunch time today.


I used a firewire cable to bring over as much as I could from my previous machine, but there are a few things that aren't working. The first thing I had to do was to get the latest in Java SDKs and documentation. After that, I've been trying to get up to date on the various PPC binaries that I've compiled through Fink. It hasn't been all smooth sailing (the firewire transfer took several hours, during which time I had NO computers available to me), but it's nearly there. I have to say though... it's fast!

Looking forward to actually getting some real work done in the office now!

* 10 points to anyone who can say where this word comes from. You can prove it by providing the other word in the same category. :-)


Anonymous said...

The term "awkwardnessfull" is used in the book Gödel, Escher, Bach, by Douglas Hofstadter (and other sources)in describing words that are autological, or self-descriptive. The idea of autological words is involved in the Grelling–Nelson paradox. Another autological word is pentasyllabic, although there are many other great examples of autological words.

Quoll said...

Yes, it was GEB. I know that Hofstadter sourced it from elsewhere, but his is the most famous.

Of course, you are quite correct that there are many other words in this "set of words". In this case, I was really looking for the other word that Hofstadter referred to (demonstrating that you'd know the context to which I referred), which you got in one with "pentasyllabic".

I haven't read this book in about 20 years. I'm not sure why I was thinking of it when I wrote that blog entry, but I always liked that particular adjective.

Francis said...

Though modern era has replaced and modified all our cultures and traditions, we welcome it for our development. We made some best quality digital pianos preserving the traditional design and tune and adding all other digital advantages. Our instruments are high standard and cheap.