Thursday, October 22, 2009

Writing - Nightmares

I wrote this poem about 20 years ago.  I gave a set of writings to my friend to save on 3.5 floppies, which he recently discovered.  Since he thought enough of it to mail back to me I thought I'd share it with you.

Nightmare's Scream

You lay there in your coffin,
Tasting your own blood,
Cold waters rise around you,
dirt turns into mud.

You scream aloud but no one hears,
6 ft. under, filled with tears.
All alone in the night,
your dreams encased in horrid fright.

Why confined, and why alone,
Why buried beneath rock and stone?

Because you’re lonely, because you fear,
the wasting of your precious years.
You yearn for freedom and repost,
from boredom’s clutches and regret’s pale ghost

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Of Snarks and Bandersnatch aka Google Wave Gadgets and Bots

My friend, Kristian, sent an invitation to Google Wave.  Its a neat bit of tech for collaborators who need a convenient way to communicate, store the conversation in a searchable format, and add cool widgets to the communication.  Being a code hack, the widget aspect caught my eye first.

Widgets come in two forms, Robots and Gadgets.  Robots are participants in the wave.  You add them much like any participant.  They feed off the conversation and activities of other wave participants and produce output based on other's blips (an entered conversation in a wave).  They can either modify user entered blips or respond with one of their own. 

Gadgets are interactive bits of web stuff which wave participants interact with in some manner.  They are things like white boards to be placed directly inside the wave which allow participants to draw stuff for all to see.  Another example is a google map which allows folks to discuss locations or directions.  There are even gaming gadgets that let people roll dice and draw cards.

I'm interested in such things so I decided to set my environment up and create a robot and an ap for Google Wave.  Here are the steps.

  1. Get a gmail account.  While not technically needed I highly recomend it as it will be your gateway to all things google.
  2. Get signed up for Google App Engine.  You code has to go somewhere accessible by wave.  There are other places to store it but this is my recommended site for housing these aps.
  3. Consider signing up for Google Sites.  Its a great way to get a web presence, if you don't already have one, and its a very convenient place to test gadgets.  You easily add Gadgets to your site via the Google site editor.
  4. Consider downloading the Eclipse Integrated Development Environment (IDE).  Eclipse has plug-ins for most of today's computer languages.  Eclipse comes packaged many different ways.  I use the J2EE version but Eclipse for Java should be sufficient for your needs.
  5. Once you have Eclipse downloaded you have a decission to make.  Do you want to use Java or Python for your Google development?
  6. If you wish to use Java, install the Google Plug-in for Eclipse.  If you're not a programmer I recommend not going the Java route.  The upside is that Java has simpler integration with the Google App Engine through eclipse.  The downside is that Java is harder to learn.
  7. If you wish to use Python, you'll want to download the Eclipse plug-in for Python from Python is easier to learn, its creator works for google and, as far as I can tell, Google always supports it first.  On the downside, its a little harder to deploy a python app since it involves some command line work.
  8. You'll also need to download the Google App Engine Software Development Kit for either Java or Python.
After you have all of the above set up, work through the tutorials for either robots in Python or robots in Java or learn how to develop a gadget for wave.

Happy Waving,
Zack's Dad.

The Great Ubuntu Reinstall of 09

Well, as the old proverb says "all good thing to come to an end" and so it is with my association with 32 bit operating systems.  True, its been a fun, with lots of productive work and fun filled hours, but as we said good bye to horse-drawn carraiges, I must now say good-bye to Ubuntu 7.10, and old pentium 4.  RIP.

Hello AMD Phenom quad core, Ubuntu 9.10 (beta release), and a new 1.5TB SATA drive, let the good times roll.  Well, the rolling hasn't actually started yet but I'm sure some form of rolling will soon begin, at least I really hope it does.

I started my journey in Geek Mecca, Frys Electronics.  Since Intel rolled out some brand-spanking new technology, AMD slashed the prices of their existing hardware.  The quad core with mother board was bit north of $100.  Of course, that's not the end of it.  You can't have a smoking hot processor with stale old drives so I purchased a new hard drive and RW DVD as well.  Then you need memmory with fast access rates.  All in all I spend about $350 for the new system including my nemisis, the CPU fan.

I setup my workbench at home and removed my old mother board, CPU, and fan.  I planned to reuse my old drives so I left them in the box.  As I lowered my new mother board/CPU into its new home in my old box, I began mentally salivating as I thought of the speed of my new computer in old clothing.  

The new board went in fine but I hit a snag as I tried to put my old Intel fan on the hardware.  It didn't fit.  Cursing, I drove back to Fries to buy a new fan.  It didn't fit either.  Cursing more, I called Fries.  "It should work fine, sir" they said.  I didn't see how unless I took a drill to my new motherboard.

I called my friend Derek to ask his advice.  "You know," he said, "they'll install that system for about 60 bucks."  After having spent 6 hours, including travel time, this seemed like a deal to me. 

I took the computer to Frys service department and was again told the fan should fit.  I told them to go ahead and mount it and run it through POST (power on system test).  I had to wait a few days but it was worth the effort.

When I got the system back it had a different fan on it.  At last, my new system was home.

Since I'm using a beta release of 9.10 a few things aren't working quite right.  My Eclipse development environment is running a little odd.  For some reasons the buttons don't always work.  I've tracked down the issue to a problem with the gtk version but for now I can always just select the button and hit "Enter".

There is other oddness revolving around VM ware.  I haven't tracked that one down yet but everything else seems to work.  I'm very impressed with the speed of both my new system and Karmic Koala (Ubuntu 9.10). 

I hope to have VMWare working soon and with it my old Windoze VMs for when you absolutely, positively have to have a windows environment.  After that, I'll be cooking with nuclear fusion.