Thursday, October 25, 2007

catching up on this week

this week started out bad - i got completely derailed from my integration work into investigating customer issues with a new release. I must have burned 2.5 days nailing this stupid thing down. the usual problems getting things setup and reproduced - and of course the debug build didn't show the problem. eventually i found it - a measly little off-by-one error where one of my predecessors compensated for the null byte of a C string twice. In just the right circumstances, the source string would exactly fill the allocated storage, and attempts to copy out that extra byte caused an access fault. first i had to decode the algorithm though - turns out its some hashing variation from Sedgewick - it completely avoids compacting in return for quick response. I just wonder how quick it is now compared to the more standard implementations such as STL. And of course this is legacy code with no test cases.

iPhone Tech Talk on Tuesday was moderately interesting. Much of the technical material now available online, at least in video format, but it was good to have some discussion around it. I thought the UI portion was particularly good - advice for general UI design, with a slant toward mobile devices.
Very customer-centric and conceptual - sometimes develoers et al have a hard time with drilling down into "features" a bit early.

Also, we had a good trails-planning session last week, and should have some awesome work planned for Grand Forest East this weekend. Come help! see for details.

Oh, also last week, SeaJUG hosted Daniel Shore talking about Agile Development implementation, quite a good discusson on both the technical and structural/social aspects of implementing any agile methodology.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


things are kind of busy as usual, have the following projects going on recently:

on the technical side:

Learning about ASP.NET 2.0 Http pipeline, and how to insert modules into it. Pretty slick, and a lot easier than writing ISAPI filters in C. I've been working on an authentication layer for a legacy application using this stuff, and there's a minimum of hacks required.

Trying to learn enough DreamWeaver to maintain an existing school web site, and enough CSS to apply it to a revamped design.
So far so good, thanks in part to DW providing basic CSS templates I can hit the ground running.
Its all pretty static content, all client-side, but there are monthly meeting updates that need to get posted, so it changes enough I want to make it easier. Already I've gotten rid of the tables, and all the little pixel-GIF hacks (and replaced them with CSS pixel hacks I guess!)

Have to read another chapter of the Erlang book this week - Mnesia database is next.

on the local side:

a good walkthrough on Grand Forest East yesterday. Trying to get a feel for future maintenance work and possible reroutes.
Nothing firm yet - current goal though is to "overlay" a new trail network on the old one, providing something easier to maintain and more suitable for all users. None of it is easy, but over the years both volunteers and staff have put a lot of time into maintaining the old trail network, that started out as logging roads of course. Now if we could just get some of the many equestrians who use those trails to help out...

attended the North Madison open house. sheesh, you'd think it would not be a big deal to widen a shoulder on the uphill side, and install a pedestrian path on the other. There seem to be a couple of arguments against it,including "preserving the rural ambience" and 'keeping it safer by keeping it narrow". My thought is that there are enough walkers, joggers, and cyclists that keeping this arterial as a no-shoulder road is foolish, not safer. Its only preserving the "rural ambience" for people driving, those of us to walk or cycle along it just put up with it. Frankly, I think much of the energy is being driven by people who, over the years, have incorporated part of the existing right-of-way into an extension of their own property, and now don't want to give it back. Everyone seems afraid to say it, but given the folks who attended this meeting and were the most loudly opposed, it seems pretty obvious. In any case, its time to realize that if we want to build a safe route for someone other than auto drivers, roads have to change to accomodate multiple users safely.

enough for now.