Happy System Administrator Day
Posted in General
Forenoon watch, 1 bell (8:47 am)

Well, to me, anyway. Start bringing offerings or you may mysteriously lose network connection.

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A Glass of Bear
First dog watch, 2 bells (5:01 pm)

Sarah, one of my cow-orkers, pointed out a funny comment on a web forum:

Have a glass o bear!

The difference between this post and my previous one is that this guy doesn't pretend to be a journalist.

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Professional Journalism
First dog watch, 1 bell (4:34 pm)

It never ceases to amaze me when a journalist uses the wrong word. I mean, it's their job to pick the right one, right?

Case in point: this article from a local paper.

A young man, Kyle Jarvis, taking a short cut to catch a bus found the truck in an abandoned barn. The barn’s door had been closed. Jarvis knew that was unusual and peaked inside.

So, as the Pacific plate slowly crashed into the North American plate, Mr. Jarvis was pushed to the highest altitude he had yet attained, thus he peaked inside the abandoned barn.

Even after leaving a sarcastic comment, it remains uncorrected.

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Apple Annoyance
Forenoon watch, 6 bells (11:00 am)

I've been annoyed ever since I got an iPhone with the fact that iTunes doesn't pay any attention to the multimedia buttons on my laptop. I finally got around to Googling the issue and found a solution: Control iTunes with laptop media buttons

So as much as I wish my iPhone would die in a fire, at least now I can listen to some podcasts and stop/start them with the extra buttons like it should have worked all along.

PS Apple's Google-hating is really pissing me off. I will totally switch to an Android-based OS next chance I get…

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A Tornado WHERE?
Posted in Strangeness
First dog watch, 1 bell (4:33 pm)

For Coeur d'Alene via National Weather Service:

A Severe Thunderstorm Warning remains in effect until 515 PM PDT
for northeastern Spokane... northwestern Kootenai... southeastern Pend
Oreille and southwestern Bonner counties...

At 423 PM PDT... National Weather Service Doppler radar continued to
indicate a severe thunderstorm capable of producing quarter size
hail... and destructive winds in excess of 70 mph. This storm was
located near Oldtown... or near Newport... moving south at 15 mph.

Other locations in the warning include but are not limited to
Blanchard and Spirit Lake.

Precautionary/preparedness actions...

Doppler radar has indicated some weak rotation within this storm.
While not immediately likely... a tornado may still develop. If a
tornado is spotted... act quickly and move to a place of safety in a
sturdy structure... such as a basement or small interior room.

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Happy Birthday Tess and Trevor
Posted in Warm and Fuzzy
Afternoon watch, 8 bells (4:15 pm)

Today is my sister-in-law Tess's birthday. It's also her son Trevor's birthday. Happy birthday, guys!

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Go On, Read It
Forenoon watch, 3 bells (9:42 am)

Today's pictures for sad children is funny.

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Another MUD Update
Posted in MUD Development
First watch, 2 bells (9:08 pm)

Yeah, you're probably getting bored of these. You're probably wondering: "Jacob, what exactly is a MUD, anyway? Well, at least some of you are. But I'm not going to get in to that. The Internet is a big place, you can find that on your own. Suffice (for me) to say, it's my current hobby, a "pet project" of mine spanning nearly a decade. Off and on. Okay, so mostly off, but some on.

On with the update! If you keep up with this blog (and I can only assume you do if you read this), you know I've run in to issues with unstructured text files and saving complicated data objects to a storage media and then restoring them. I began a search for the right solution—a white whale, a magic bullet, whatever you wish to call it. My first instinct was to leap to XML because it can surely solve this small problem with ease. Right?

Wrong! XML is complicated, both to read and write (by machines anyway). Yes, there are libraries to help with that. Oh there are such libraries that you have no idea what you may be getting yourself in to (most of you, anyway).

Throwing out XML, and going with a cow-orker's recommendation of implementing JSON, I began writing a proof-of-concept program to save and restore data, but quickly ran in to a serious issue: JSON doesn't support multi-line strings.

Yet more searching around yielded a link to YAML, which I posted about the other day. YAML is easy to read from a human standpoint, and even has a couple of C++ libraries to help read it. YAML supports everything I want to do. So I scrapped the JSON project and started a proof-of-concept for YAML. I quickly ran in to an issue reading YAML, but it turned out to be my own fault: I didn't understand how a part of the library worked. Shortly after that, though, I did uncover a bug in the yaml-cpp library with indicator characters used as scalars (this is where you non-technical people either stop reading, or stick your fingers in your ears—metaphorically—and ignore me from here on out). With that issue wrapped up, serious work began and the proof-of-concept grew wings and took off. Just like I hoped it would.

Now I'm in the midst of tearing out underlying serialization code (the part that handles the loading and saving of objects), and it looks like it may take many hours to get things back up and working again. But hopefully by that time I'll have a full-blown, ready-to-use system that will require very little future modification.

Since then I have also become aware of (thanks Keith) the Boost Serialization library. It does the same thing I'm looking at doing, but a little more generically, just like Boost always does. Now the dilemma is: do I go forward with the YAML code, or switch to boost::serialization? Perhaps another proof-of-concept program should be written to determine this, but I need to do a little more research. Right now I have no idea how the serialized data looks to human eyes, and I haven't found any examples yet. It's important to my project to have these files as easily modified by humans as by machines.

In summary, that's where the project sits today. I may have some time this week to work on it, but if it's anything like last week I'm not going to have the brainwidth (I just came up with that word!) to work on it. Fortunately, Lorien and I plan a vacation to see family in Oregon in another week, so I should have a few idle days to work on it then.

PS. And wouldn't you know it, I just ran across Google's Protocol Buffers, yet another solution for basically the same problem. I have my work cut out for me!

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-07-26
Posted in Twitter
First watch, 8 bells (12:03 am)
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Happy Birthday, Munchkin!
Posted in Warm and Fuzzy
First watch, 1 bell (8:33 pm)

The game Munchkin turned eight years old today. In two more years it'll win!

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Structured Files
Posted in MUD Development
First watch, 4 bells (10:19 pm)

I've reached the point with my MUD project that plain old text files make saving and restoring information prohibitively difficult. I need to add some structure to them. On the other hand, I'd like them to remain easy to read and modify by hand as well as by computer.

Enter JSON doesn't (excluding the hack of using Unicode newlines to separate your lines—DO NOT WANT!).

Anyway, I decided on writing a proof of concept for using YAML, and started it this evening. I haven't gotten terribly far, but far enough to run in to some issues reading files with yaml-cpp. Even reading the YAML 1.2 spec sample files. I'm not sure what's wrong. In any case, I hope to resolve this soon and that YAML works out. I'd really like to use it for the MUD!

I can parse the "complete example" code, though. Right down to each individual scalar. I used recursion to read the nodes until I hit a scalar value instead of their fancy operator>> overloading.

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Said Hi To Maya
Posted in General
Afternoon watch, 7 bells (3:41 pm)

I ran in to Maya last Sunday, totally not expecting to. I haven't seen her in a long time. We chatted as long as we could. She stopped updating her blog (I removed the link here when it went 404), so there isn't a good way to keep up with her unless you see her. I thought I had a phone number for her, but after checking my phone I realized I didn't. Of course, I did that after she left.

Her husband Josh is going to run for mayor of Cd'A.

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Posted in General
Last dog watch, 2 bells (7:19 pm)

My mom called earlier with the news that Ron's father passed away. My condolences to the Kuraharas.

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Late Night
Posted in General
Forenoon watch, 8 bells (12:15 pm)

We stayed out really late last night at the houseboat on Blue Creek Bay on Lake Coeur d'Alene to spend time with my sister-in-law and her family. They're moving to Indonesia for the next five years for her husband's work (Chevron). We had a nice dinner at Cedar's (they paid! It must have cost a small fortune!) and then boated back to the houseboat and played games until the wee hours. It was fun to spend time with them, and we wish them the best.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-07-19
Posted in Twitter
First watch, 8 bells (12:03 am)
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