Thursday, September 12, 2002

Solutions creating new needs

You fill one need, and the solution creates another. With Straw, I can effortlessly follow a far larger number of blogs than I could without it — at the moment, I'm subscribed to 34 feeds which are easily read through every day (or many times a day.)

But it's not easy to cope with the information load. Now I need more tools to help me with that. One thing I notice is that after I've read through all the blogs in the morning, I have a lot of trouble remembering what was where. I remember there was something interesting somewhere, but finding it can be a pain.

So next up, functionality-wise, will probably be search functionality (free text search, with time limits) and possibly something like bookmarks. Nice to know there's no shortage of stuff to work on.

And another release

I don't think 0.9.2 really fixed the DB problem, 0.9.3 should be better.

New release, new home

Last night I released version 0.9.2. No new features, really, just a bit of UI polish here and there, plus hopefully a fix for the DB problem I described yesterday.

Straw has also moved: it's now hosted at Savannah. Here is the project page. And here is the new home page.

The development of Straw will now be more in the open than before. This will also allow for easier participation by others. There's now an open bug tracking system, patch manager, etc, and I can give access to the CVS.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Great literature

I usually don't much talk about books here, but one I just read is worth a mention: Neil Gaiman's American Gods, which apparently also won the Hugo for best novel this year, was an incredible piece of work.

Combine old gods and legends (you see here many of the same names which were seen in Sandman), new gods formed by the psyche of the modern man, and a touch of the american mythos, road movie style. The result is outstanding. I knew nothing about the book before I started reading, except the author; I never read back cover texts and I had heard nothing about this, but for the first time in quite a while, and from the very first pages, it was very difficult indeed to put this book down.

Highly recommended.

Will code for food

Well, not quite. But my (ex-)employer Noitatieto finally, after months of struggling, went bankrupt. Which kind of sucks. Civil service takes still 8 hours per day, but a daily income of 12,5 euros doesn't allow for much of a lifestyle.

So, you. Yes, you. Employer in the Helsinki region. Need a part-time software developer? Buzzwords: Python, Java, Common Lisp, Perl, PHP, Javascript, C. Zope, J2EE. XML-RPC, SOAP, CORBA. Gtk, GNOME, Swing. Linux, Solaris. Relational databases. Five and a half years of work experience. Contact me.


Seems the database of my local installation of Straw is pretty much FUBARed. I wonder what happened. Straw started to act a little weird after it got duplicate guids from Scripting News today; now Straw (or more properly, Berkeley DB) is telling me

DBRunRecoveryError: (-30989, 'DB_RUNRECOVERY: Fatal error, run database recovery')

and db3_recover says

db_recover: DBENV->open: No such file or directory

Not very much fun.


There was a definite bug in the handling of adding new items with duplicate guids, and I killed that one. I'm not quite sure though if this is the thing that caused the other problems, but it seems likely, even though I have no idea how.

Perfectly simple

At, there's an interview/conversation with Ken Arnold (the JavaSpaces guy) by Bill Venners. The subject is "perfect design" (aka "The Right Thing To Do", preferably with the stupid capitalization) and simplicity in design.

There's some really nice insights there, about how a design's quality and usefulness is context-dependent (meaning: there's usually no one right design), and how when designing systems to use by programmers you should regard the programmers as users and the design as an UI problem. And also remember that not every programmer is equal: there are differences in skills, experience and the amount of attention they are able and willing to give to your system. Sometimes something complex can be good, and sometimes not.

The part about "can a design be too simple" reminds me of the Einstein quote: "Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler."

Sunday, September 08, 2002

Climbing to fame

Ha, gives the release announcement of Straw 0.4 from freshmeat as hit number seven, at the moment. The stuff that is before it is totally irrelevant, obviously.