April 16th, 2007

Books

I hate octal notation. And the ternary operator. And ...

In response to an email which protests that no living unix geek hates octal, including an in depth explanation, because of course the only reason I could have to dislike it is to not understand it. Much like many other syntaxes I don't get I have read about it, I understand it a little, and I still find it annoying.

Thanks, that's a nice writeup. Want to throw it in the wiki?

Skipping the politics, I am bad with arithmetic and find the more cumbersome ugo+-rwx easier to read and clearer. Also, this is ancient stuff. Now we have ACLs and ACEs .. not that I have any intention of letting the customer in on that. :D

The politics? Style and preference. As a lousy programmer, I find shortcuts like octal and the ternary operator in C to be .. ugh. I'd much rather type three lines that make sense to everyone and make the types easier to find than to blast out a little (Perl-esque) nugget that works fine but is unintelligible. Portability, readability, maintainability make for useful code.This is, in fact, my only point of dislike of the Rails book. He uses stupid shortcuts in tutorial code for beginners to his platform that no one should ever use in production code.

It is similar to the ongoing difference of opinion about documenting your code (or your tickets). "If it's obvious to me why do I have to make notes?" is bad form for anything but personal hackery. In CS school they make you write your documentation headers first, and in XP methodology you write your docs and your unit tests first ;) Some people do not like this ..

You are correct that I should be fluent in octal. :)

Ed note: I also suck at binary, such as for subnets. We have software for this, people. Computers are good at math. People are good at other things. Gah.

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Books

Perhaps more interesting...

I read through Carpe Demon and am halfway through the sequel, California Demon. I'll likely finish it up today. They've been fun reads. The series follows Kate, a retired Demon Hunter who has become a stay-at-home mom. Many of the reviewers suggest it is what happen if Joss Whedon's Buffy grew up .. but I don't give that theory much credence. Kate didn't go to high school, much less college, and theres an awful lot of distance from the Vatican to the Watchers. The author writes well, and the book are very funny, except in a few places where they are heartbreakingly sad. It works well.

I've also read through the first delicious morsel of the Father Brown stories, "The Blue Cross", courtesy of MemoWare.com. Ah! quite an engaging little tale of smart thieves outsmarted by smarter still clergy. I also finally finished the fascinating online version of the classic IF Portal, which I heard about from malerin. Portal seems long, but is well worth the effort. Presented as a series of computer records, it tells the story of one astronaut's unexpected return to an Earth devoid of humans. The detail of the future history as presented is quite astonishing, and it reminded me of the Dune novels in depth and scope in more than a few places. I really would like to know more about the original presentation, as a game ...

Last week I played with a Wii and a DS Lite somewhat extensively. Both are quite fabulously designed, well executed, and huge time sinks. I am safe from Wii for some time, as North American availability is still quite limited. To keep me away from the DS I must rely on poverty and willpower. Yep, trouble brewing there.. The only hope is that I'm terrible at Mario Bros, which was the only card available there at the time.

I've a few books and other odds and ends in limbo due to having ordered them through Amazon Marketplace and the befuddling lack of mail delivery this past week. Still I think I may have enough parts to get started re-building my little testbed network...

I have had heart-burn (ie a pain of varying searing intensity in my esophagus) off and on since Friday. It's getting old, I must say. I quite look forward to getting home and chewing a couple of the remaining supply of candy (CaCO2). Nails are chipped a bit and could use some patching. Blister on fingers (from corset laces at con) have all but faded.

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