Posts for February 2013

2013-02-01: First 2013 Powell's haul

I lost my will roll against placing another book order a couple of weeks ago. There are just too many people writing too many fascinating things that I want to read!

Elizabeth Bear — Shoggoths in Bloom (collection)
David Graeber — Debt: The First 5,000 Years (non-fiction)
Eric Hobsbawm — The Age of Revolution 1789–1848 (non-fiction)
China Miéville — Kraken (sff)
John McPhee — Annals of the Former World (non-fiction)
C.E. Murphy — The Queen's Bastard (sff)
C.E. Murphy — The Pretender's Crown (sff)
Steven Pinker — Words and Rules (non-fiction)
David Roodman — Due Diligence (non-fiction)
Rebecca Skloot — The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (non-fiction)
Richard G. Wilkinson & Kate Pickett — The Spirit Level (non-fiction)
Fumi Yoshinaga — Ōoku: The Inner Chambers #1 (graphic novel)

As you can see, mostly non-fiction. Which is, of course, the type of book that takes the longest to read. I'm so smart about managing a backlog. The Pinker was recommended by one of my favorite Teaching Company courses (Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths of Language Usage by John McWhorter), and I was interested enough in linguistics to want to read something a bit more intensive. John McPhee's Annals of the Former World is about geology, something I've wanted to know more about for a while, and won the Pulitzer for general non-fiction. It's also huge. It might take me a while to get to that.

Of the fiction, I read the first Murphy a long time back, but it was a borrowed copy, and I want to re-read it before reading the second volume in the duology. I remember really enjoying it, but don't remember anything about what happened. Ōoku is manga that won the Tiptree award, so that sounded too interesting to pass up. And since I own just about everything else Elizabeth Bear has published, I figured I should keep the streak alive, even if I'm a bit behind on reading it.

2013-02-05: WebAuth 4.4.2

When I was testing C code coverage analysis tools using WebAuth, I really should have investigated the segfault that I started getting in the test suite before releasing 4.4.1. But since valgrind didn't report any problems, I thought it was something specific to code coverage.

Nope, uninitialized variable inside the WebKDC code. Which valgrind didn't catch at all for some reason. Now fixed, and I did check for similar issues, but it's sort of disturbing that valgrind completely missed it, particularly for a variable whose address is taken and therefore which I wouldn't think would be optimized away.

Since I hate to release WebAuth to only fix one thing, I also tested out-of-tree builds for the first time in a while and fixed a pile of issues around how the Perl module builds work. There's got to be a better way. Maybe sometime I'll try to come up with some patches to teach Module::Build how to handle VPATH. I also imported some additional Autoconf glue that will hopefully help Hurd builds proceed farther, although I didn't promise anything in NEWS since WebAuth has not yet successfully built on Hurd.

You can get the latest release from the official WebAuth distribution site or from my WebAuth distribution pages.

2013-02-07: Still here

Well, I had a very nice run at the start of this year in writing journal entries nearly every day, and then I seem to have gotten much quieter. This is not actually because less stuff is going on, but I started working on larger projects without meaningful daily progress, and I also got drawn into some very rewarding creative work that has kicked my schedule in the ass.

Schedules are something that I've always struggled with. I'm fairly convinced that I have even more than the natural human tendency towards a longer than 24-hour schedule. (I lived in 28-hour days and 6-day weeks for one full quarter when I was a college student and rather liked it, but it wasn't practical enough to stay with.) This means that, without applying a lot of discipline, I tend to stay up later and later because I'm engaged in interesting things and don't want to stop, and then drift further and further out of sync with the world.

When I was just out of college and working as just another member of a team that wasn't very close-knit, I just shrugged and let it happen. I used to get into work at about two or three in the afternoon and work until well past midnight. It had some lovely properties, such as getting to work most of my "day" after everyone else had left and the building was quiet. Unfortunately, it's really not compatible with a lead position that requires interaction with people and quite a few meetings and other types of coordination.

Given that I can't just let my schedule go wherever, I realized a year or two ago that I do much better if I can stick to a fairly reliable and consistent schedule and go to bed at a regular time, even if I'm involved in something. It cuts off my evenings in a way I don't like, but it makes mornings much more pleasant and it makes it easier to schedule and stick with various chores like exercise. But it's remarkably hard to get back into that mode once I've gotten out of it, particularly when I get caught up in things in the evenings.

This meander is mostly my way of getting these thoughts out of my head and on a screen in front of me so that I'll think about them and build up enough willpower to go back to a regular schedule. It really is worth it; I was keeping one through most of January and it had a lot to do with why January was awesome.

Hopefully a more sustantive update tomorrow.

2013-02-22: Surfacing

(Wasn't that the subject of the last journal post I made? Oh, no, it was just similar.)

Hi. Sorry that I've been a bad correspondant! I owe lots of people mail and I'm rather behind in various things. Over the past couple of weeks, I've dealt with a couple of ant invasions, a compromised credit card number, and then a respiratory infection that completely knocked me on my ass. I'm still only back up to about 80%, although I did manage to do a complete day of work today for the first time in over a week.

More normal posting and communication should hopefully resume shortly.

The System of the World is a very long book, and is not, so far, all that horribly interesting, but I'm going to finally finish this series if it kills me, and illness thankfully let me get a solid start on it. Finally finishing Stephenson's Baroque Cycle so that I can stop thinking about it was one of my reading goals for the year. (I would have considered just not finishing the series, but it won an award, and I have a thing about eventually reading all the winners of certain awards so that I can judge them fairly.)

2013-02-27: podlators 2.5.1

This is a quick, test-suite-only release to handle a new warning in Pod::Simple 3.26 that broke the test suite. Pod::Simple now warns if the =item elements seem to mix different types of items (bullets, numbers, and text strings). This triggered a couple of times in the test suite: once where I was explicitly testing the Pod::Man handling of that case (now moved to a separate test suite where I can suppress errors), and in several other places where I was testing item tag widths in formatting and was using =item 1 as the test for a single-column tag. That's now disambiguated with Z<>.

There are various other changes pending, but alas I don't have time for a proper release at the moment. (Particularly since I'll probably be tackling coding style changes and a switch to Module::Build in the next release.)

You can get the latest version from CPAN or from the podlators distribution page.

Last modified and spun 2017-02-20