Should I or Shouldn’t I?

The new version of this blog software, WordPress 2.3, is out. And evidently it breaks some plugins. Many of the plugins I use haven’t been updated in years, and aren’t listed on the list of “known broken” or “known working” plugins. One I like a lot is listed as broken, and hasn’t been updated in a while, which makes me think that if I upgrade I’m going to have to do without it. Also, my theme is heavily customized, so I’m not sure if it will work.

So do I wait, or do I upgrade now and accept that lots of things are going to be broken?

MRI’ll Do Whatever You Want If You Let Me Out Of Here

On Monday night, I was supposed to have an MRI on my elbow. However, once they got me in the tube and took a series, they said that my elbow was too close to the edge of the tube and they couldn’t get a good image. So I was scheduled this morning for an “Open MRI”.

An Open MRI is a gigantic upright cylinder that looks like a Mayan ruin with a slot in the side that they slide you into like a pizza into an oven. There’s barely enough room for them to slide you into this slot – later on I discovered that I could get my good hand up to my face, but only just. But before they slid me in, they put your arm into a ring that is plugged into the device – I suspect that’s some sort of focusing magnet. The tech said “I need to open your elbow up”, and so she put me into an extremely uncomfortable position, and then put weights on my hands and arm to keep it in that position and filled the space in the ring with cushions “so you don’t move too much if you start spasming”. I should have taken the hint and left immediately.

Anyway, after they peg you down in this uncomfortable position, they said “ok, this is a 2 minute series”, and you hear some thumping and whirring noises and then some pulsating noises. Then it stops and before you can say “can I have a second?” they say “ok, this is a 2 and a half minute series” and it starts making noises again. Each series got progressively longer until the last one, but because there was no time to flex my arm in the interim my elbow was getting more and more painful, my hand was going numb, and my upper arm muscles were spasming after about the second series. Before the 4 minute one, I yelled out begging for a break, but they either don’t hear you or don’t care. By the end of it, I was crying. I tried pinching myself or biting my lip or anything to distract me from the pain in my elbow, but nothing worked. By the end of the 4.5 minute one I was ready to tell them anything they wanted to hear. By the end of the 5 minute one I was ready to swear there wasn’t anything wrong with my elbow any more, or ever if that would make them happier, so we might as well stop right now.

But it’s over now, and I might regain the use of that arm in a few hours. I hope it was worth it.

Gwit? W00t!

On the revelation that my boss had a skunk works project going to prototype a new client/server version of the user interface in Flash, I was appalled. So I suggested that he investigate Google Web Toolkit (GWT). I hadn’t actually done all that much reading about GWT, but it seemed like a really cool idea – you write both client and server side of your app in Java, test it in an Google Hosted Browser and debug it using your favourite Java debugger, and then when it’s ready, compile the client side to AJAXy Javascript.

My boss came back with a counter proposal – why don’t I investigate GWT, produce a small prototype, and he’ll evaluate it side by side with the Flash project. Of course, the person doing the Flash project has a 3 month lead on me, but hey, I’m up to a challenge.
Continue reading “Gwit? W00t!”

Everything goes better with RAM

I discovered that I had just barely enough money in my Paypal account to afford to replace the two 512Mb RAM sticks on my Powerbook with two 1Gb RAM sticks. It sucks when you’re on the downside of the technology curve where memory is getting more expensive over time instead of less expensive.

Thanks to the new RAM, I can now have Firefox open AND other apps at the same time. So far I’ve only noticed two improvements – videos play better in iTunes, and I can actually open Eclipse without bogging the whole system down to unusability. I’m looking forward to firing up Photoshop some time and seeing what happens.

Anybody want a couple of PC2700 DDR333 CL2.5 512MB SO-DIMMs? One is Kingston brand, and the other, which came with the machine, is Micron branded.

Put up or shut up time!

I asked on the developer list why we’ve evidently decided to use Flash for the next version of the GUI, when we’re all Java Linux developers. I suggested that the powers that be have a look at Google Web Toolkit which would allow us to develop in Java and cross compile to AJAX-y Javascript. And it’s all free and open source and all that good stuff.

So the development lead who is pushing Flash today came to me with a challenge – produce a demo that does everything his Flash demo does and looks as pretty doing it using Google Web Toolkit. I’m sure I’m going to be judged on how good it looks and how long it takes me , so I’ve got to hit the books pretty hard and learn everything there is to know about this toolkit, Javascript, CSS, and maybe a few other Javascript libraries while I’m at it.

And here I was just the other day opining that one sign of my advancing age is not that I can’t pick up new languages and technologies, but I’m afraid to even try. One thing I took away from my Google interviews was that all these young punks expect you to have memorized every single class in the Java API document. I, on the other hand, am content to remember where in the document to find the sort of class I’m looking for. I think I have “multiple language syndrome” – I think that one of the languages I use regularly does NOT allow C-style

if (cond)

statements and requires the “statement;” to be in braces, but I can’t remember which one it is so I use braces all the time. Whether that makes the Google geeks better coders than me is a subject for debate. I tend to think not, but I’m biased.

But with that aside, I need to come up with a nifty way to show the status of our file server, our management system (main computer) and a bunch of distributed computers that connect to the management one, with the status of each one visible and changing in real time. There is a variable number of distributed computers, so I’ll need to be able to dynamically place them. And he also wants some way to show (like by line thickness or whatever) if big file transfers are happening between the management system and the distributed computers. If anybody has any ideas on this or better ideas than this, please let me know.