Mar 16, 2009

Apparently applications should be prepared to lose 60 minutes of data to work around the file system now.

Of course the notion that application should have explicit load/save operations is a nonsense already. Now we should “fix” one of the few places that never had this (ever seen a browser where you have to save your bookmarks explicitly when you quit?) to expose this implementation detail in a data-losing way again.


Mar 16, 2009

It’s a shame that it’s basically impossible to compete with Amazon when it comes to online book selling, because their website is so horribly awful to use. Not fair.

It's not just atol(), Nicholas

Mar 14, 2009

Nicholas Nethercote warns us against atol(). Sadly, he recommends using strtol() instead. This interface is almost as bad. If atol() is impossible to get right, strtol() has to be classified under the obvious use is wrong.

As a perfect example of how horrible strtol() is, let’s look at his example code:

int i1 = strtol(s,        &endptr, 0);  if (*endptr != ',')  goto bad;
int i2 = strtol(endptr+1, &endptr, 0);  if (*endptr != ',')  goto bad;
int i3 = strtol(endptr+1, &endptr, 0);  if (*endptr != '\0') goto bad;
bad: /* error case */

Can you spot the bug? What about an input like “,2,3” ? Nicholas does mention that this code is broken for underflow or overflow (you must wrap every singe call like this: “errno = 0; strtol(…); if (errno…)") but either missed this or considered it irrelevant. It’s just too hard to get right.

Just use the *scanf() family (yes, that’s hard to use too). Be suspicious of any code using either strtol() or atol().

Heston Blumethal's Feasts

Mar 9, 2009

I’ve just watched last week’s episode of this series, Heston Blumenthal’s Victorian Feast. The guy is the epitome of the mad scientist (his dessert was strawberry, elderflower and absinthe dildo jelly with earl grey ice cream).

I had one of his inventions a while back: strawberry, olive and leather vanilla sundae. It was pretty nice, though the rather more staid chocolate wine popsicle was much nicer.

You should watch Tuesday’s…

Tomcat on Centos 5.2: just don't

Mar 7, 2009

If you were thinking of trying to use CentOS 5.2’s tomcat packages: don’t. You just get a silent 400 Bad request error on the holding page for no reason. Download it from upstream, and use that directly. It’s very poorly documented, sadly, so to get started:

  1. Install the Sun JRE and set $JAVA_HOME appropriately - gcj is … lacking
  2. Grab the Tomcat ‘core’ tarball and unpack it in place
  3. edit conf/tomcat-users.xml to add a user that has the ‘manager’ role
  4. start Tomcat with ./bin/
  5. Go to http://yourhost:8080/ and log in to “status” with the manager user you added
  6. This will list any of the apps you installed (by dumping their .war file in webapps/)

I also set up a virtual host with Apache (for OpenGrok) like this:

<VirtualHost *.80>
ProxyPreserveHost On
ProxyPass /
ProxyPassReverse /

Gas no gas abadie pizza please

Feb 27, 2009

Well this makes no sense:

Me: “Hi, your letter said I needed to arrange a visit with you to check the gas safety of my flat.”
Them: “That’s right, what’s your details?”
*gives them*
Me: “There’s no gas supply in the building, but apparently you have to come see that in person yourselves.”
Them: “Yes, that’s true. …. OK, we’ll send you a letter with the appointment details.”
Me: “Uh, I can’t just do any time, it needs to be arranged.”
Them: “That’s OK - if you can’t make the appointment on the letter, then you can ring us up after you receive it and tell us.”
Me: “…”

Holocaust deniers

Feb 25, 2009

Somewhat unpleasantly, I’m a vague acquaintance of a couple of holocaust deniers (in the sense that I’ve been in the same place as them once or twice). Really weird people:

  1. They always bring it up at parties. Seriously, what? If I were a terrorism expert, I’d tend to keep off the subject at parties, since people might see it as a little sensitive. Even if I was just a huge fan of He-Man or something I’d probably only mention it if we were talking about 1980s kids' TV. Why do they always start talking about it?
  2. It’s never a slight correction. It’s always some ridiculous figure they claim, like “zero” or “thousands”. Surely if the figures are really dubious, they’re not going to be 6 million off? It’s equivalent to claiming that nobody lives in Libya.
  3. They appear to believe in either the most expertly executed hoax of all time, and their only apparent response to this is to moan about it to people they don’t know. How does that make any sense?

Javascript off

Feb 21, 2009

cdfrey: the fact that you’ve disabled JavaScript in your browser automatically qualifies you as irrelevant for anyone designing a modern user interface - sorry.

Dear Everyone

Feb 21, 2009

If you have a blog, and you ask questions in blog entries, have some way to leave comments, won’t you?

All TV should be like this

Feb 19, 2009