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Programming

Journal: Does Blogger Hate Me?

Journal by Toy G
I was going to post this thing there, but it seems like Blogger decided it was "upgrade time" for my poor stuff... Anyway, just to report that Jon Udell politely explains here the same thoughts I had about Sam Ruby's efforts.
User Journal

Journal: Welcome to 2003 2

Journal by Toy G
Someone just discovered the marvellous world of Messenger spam...

Actually, it works this way: windows 2000/xp have this small service enabled, called "Messenger". Careful: not MSN Messenger (the MS version of instant messaging a la ICQ), just Messenger. It's basically the Windows version of that old unix tool that broadcasts console messages through a network: a small service sits listening for messages broadcasted via netbios (the MS network protocol), and when one of these messages comes, it opens this small "alert" box. All wonderful, but...

Today, to be a spammer is an hard job. I mean, competition is increasing, and email filters get better and better. You need new markets. So, why not broadcasting netbios messages through the net? After all, 99% of windows users don't even know what a service is, let alone a network protocol...

By the way, blocking this spam is easy: Control Panel/Administrative Tools/Services, right click on Messenger, Properties, set activation to "Manually" and stop the service. It would be MUCH better from a security point of view to disable netbios at all, when on the net: it's the first thing the script-kiddies look for to 0wn your machine. But you know, MS likes to make things easy, thus blocking netbios could create many problems at your Windows network configuration.

Oh well, windows is such a good operating system, you won't mind a few hacks, will you? :P
User Journal

Journal: Mediterranean Stories

Journal by Toy G
From the Guardian, one of those stories reminding you of how this world is made of people, and things like "nations" and "armies" are just crazy concepts made up by someone with too much spare time... Dino Buzzati knew everything many years ago. :)
User Journal

Journal: Finally!

Journal by Toy G

At last, my tutor is happy of the report! =:) I knew it was a good piece of work. I wouldn't have put it online if I didn't think it was worth. Next week, I'll have to fix all the logbooks. And now, I have to do the second report, that it's more difficult because... the program was too easy! :\
whatever, I'm just celebrating now :)))

Programming

Journal: Ever wondered what I am really doing at UCLan?

Journal by Toy G
Here it is, simple technique to make two-way databinding with ADO 2.0 and MS Hierarchical FlexGrid 6. As I said, it's all VB6 (dead? maybe not, ask the people), and it's nowhere else on the net. Enjoy.

(attention zealots out there: It's XHTML1.0 strict, and it validates).

BTW, the Word97-Dreamweaver couple sucks big time. I had to correct so many things, I learnt how to correctly use regular expressions. Unbelievable.
User Journal

Journal: Paul Graham knows

Journal by Toy G
Hackers and painters. Go read it, it's worth. Maybe it's just what a "working-class programmer" want to hear, I don't know, IMHO is a good piece.

----

It turns out that the HTTP commands PUT, TRACE and DELETE in Micro$oft IIS 6 should be managed by default by the WebDAV component (webdav.dll). WebDAV! Nevertheless, in IIS 5 you can manage the verbs directly, and direct it to a script engine or other components. Thus, a pure REST approach is still possible, if your favourite script engine supports all the HTTP 1.1 verbs. You never stop learning ;)
User Journal

Journal: One Answer, Many Questions

Journal by Toy G
What does it happen if something sends an http DELETE command to, say, IIS? I'm pretty sure Apache would know how to handle it, but how about other webservers, mainly used to POST and GET requests? And interpreters, like ASP and PHP ones? Need investigating.

And btw, I'm going to put my MSc miniproject on the net. It's about VB6 components and ADO. Don't laugh, it seems that this stuff is only in costly manuals, I've sorted it out by myself and I'm willing to make it available for free.

(home! at last!)
User Journal

Journal: Oh, I'm SO immature... 1

Journal by Toy G
...I continue wasting time I should better use to catch up with my course stuff... My excuse is, at 24, it's not so easy to carry on a job, a serious relationship with a girl mad about filmmaking, and an MSc course, in a place so different from where you grew up... I'm not saying that's impossible, it's just that these days I feel, like, full of ideas about doing other.

Anyway, yesterday I successfully compiled my first JDOM experiment (meanwhile trying to help Stefi, gone mad after the DV interface on our camera stopped working... a problem of cable, hopefully, otherwise our camera would be already useless). I'm going to write a servlet implementing a REST interface for storing bookmarks in a OPML file. I will use some kind of pattern (probably Factory) to allow, in the future, an easy swap between different storage systems (like RDMS). Now I'll download the latest Xerces and Tomcat (the versions I use are more than one year old), and... will go back to my assignement (damned MSFlexGrid). I decided to abandon the idea of a custom-built blog engine: after all, the world is already full of those. I was thinking of giving a chance to Movable Type, using frames to show my Java experiments on mycgiserver. It's a bit of a lame solution, but it should be quicker than build an engine OR learning perl.
User Journal

Journal: bah

Journal by Toy G
Holiday times are going to finish... too bad!

I would really like a good project to work on. Sadly, next weeks will be so full I can't even think of completing the ongoing stuff, let alone new things...

I'm probably going to use Giulio's "Coffee" blog engine for a new blog, tweaking it here and there. Thanks pal ;)
User Journal

Journal: All around the world, yeyeyea...

Journal by Toy G
Note: this has actually been written yesterday, going from Preston, UK, to Bologna, Italy. I would have posted this last night, but Slashdot was unreachable. Anyway now is there. Enjoy it. I said enjoy it, tolerate it. I said tolerate...
-----------
So, I'm on the road again. The english countryside, here between Preston and Manchester, is all the same, a big humanised landscape made of small terraces, malls, and lands where soon no one will grow anything, because of the globalised commerce world we live in. When Chilean salmon is cheaper than the Scottish, why the hell should we grow anything at all? Without the big fat cheque this country blackmailed the EU for, "English farmer" would already be a forgotten concept.

As Manchester slowly approaches, more towers appear, and you can feel the urban landscape of a modern metropolis all around you. Nevertheless, everywhere it's full of imperial memorabilia, old buildings refusing to let the new shiny towers to win. It's, obviously, a lost battle: this city is growing fast, house prices skyrocketed (well, in England, where didn't they?). And, suddenly, I feel like being back to Milan: large streets, high buildings, and it's beautiful. I like big cities, and Manchester is quickly selling me the dream.

Ristorante don Antonio, Ristorante Bella Roma. All the world is the same, italians everywhere. We were like rabbits, the last two centuries: dirty, growing, and escaping from killing ourselves. Wherever there was a chance to live, there was an italian. In the '20s, our beloved Benito Mussolini even traded human beings, selling them to Belgium, Germany and other countries looking for cheap labour in mineral and heavy industry. Oh, "great dux", you were so good, it's obvious why Italy now wants you back so badly. What a fucked country I was born in.

I like traveling. It's probably because my parents took me all around europe when I was a child. My first travel was Hungary, but actually I never saw it, being just inside my mother's belly. Dad said it was this horrible mood, police everywhere watching you, controlling you, reminding you what you can see and what you can not even think of seeing. As today, probably, things are changed, but nobody knows that. No one talks about Hungary, in the Perestrojka years it was a small notes at the end of big columns about Chzech 'velvet revolution' or Poland Catholic-inspired riots (absolutely loved story in a place morally ruled by a Pope from Warsaw). I wonder if the police is still there, watching unwatched. It's not difficult to guess: capitalism loves police, it means stability, and stability means business.

11.05 (GMT +0, British Summertime): check-in done, I'm wandering inside Manchester's (better, Chester's) shiny new airport. Well, actually, it seems like shiny new, but alas, airports rarely seems something different from that. Anyway, it's beautiful. I'm always a bit scared of these places, so tremendously post-human, and Stefi knows that: the first time she took me to a Milan shopping mall, I was frightened by how enormous things were, and how clean. Don't be fooled, I already knew that sort of things: Bologna was one of the first cities in Italy to have a very big mall. And I've seen the past glory of Agrigento's 'Temple Valley', and Rome with its imperial public buildings and its amazing churches, and London, and Paris, and everything that has been really big in the past. Well, those places have never been big and clean. They could resist two, maybe three years, before being corrupted by weather, pigeons, and people living under them. Maintenance could have been carried on every once in a while, but only San Francisco's Golden Gate and some other metallic bridge here and there are kept in good conditions.
These new temples, sacred to the commerce gods, are always shining, their coloured lights sparkling all around, no matter how many people they contain each day, trading stuff, consuming goods, consuming them. Post-humanity is here, everything is now done without real materials: real stones, real wood, real flesh.

Have I got a problem with this? Am I one of those freaked out anti-globalisation guys regularly beaten by police, and armies, all around the world? No. I chose to live inside this, to let the past go and find a new place, one where temples have still to be built. Australia, New Zealand, Far East: the future is there, and I would like to catch it as soon as possible. Nevertheless, there is always something in my mind saying It's not real, it's fiction, everything is going to collapse in few years, the Earth is going to take its revenge above all you puny humans.

As I said before, I like traveling, and I traveled a lot with my parents, and alone as well (not so much as I liked to, but I'm young). I like to see different places, observe people, hearing different languages all around me. I like to write about this, as you can see, while waiting for the next train, the next bus, the next plane. I can be a very gross observer, missing the subtle details that good travel writers will spot in seconds. Much of what I'm writing is just plain rubbish, things said and said again and again and again. But I simply don't care, because I like this almost above everything else: hanging around writing rubbish and spotting new places around the world. Now, if just this airport had a wireless connection somewhere... ;))

13.24 Up above the clouds! :) And suddenly everything seems a big SimCity session... I love flying, I just wouldn't like to have to fight my stupid body each time, stoning me with drugs to avoid travel disease. I hope I won't fall asleep in the middle of this writing ;DD At the airport, I bought Michael Moore's "Stupid White Men", just for fun, to know what is all about. It has been one of the greatest literary cases this year in the UK, topping the charts all around. I thought it was yet another Democrat rant about how Gore was the real president, and all the (true, but a little boring after more than two years) same old stuff. It turned out that yes, it's a rant, but it can be amazingly funny. Moore's writing, posing as "the man on the street", always pointing out to Dubya that "c'mon, bud, we know you made it, just don't pretend, willya? I mean, at least your father was a big CIA guy! Look at you, forcrhissake!" is real entertainment, and I found myself laughing loud in the airport lounge. And it turned out that Kevin, Bush's cousin (son of Dubya's mother's sister), basically made Moore what it is now teaching him all the cinema stuff! Sometimes, life is just much, much stranger than fiction...

I love this world so much, I want to see how round it is. I want to see everything. What a strange thing, this "space ball" full of gas and fire, where we live alone, ignored by the universe. A place where we desperately look for somewhere to hide, where we can shape our dreams as we want, creating fictious reproductions of how the world should be (operating systems, internets), because we are not having fun with the real world itself.

Battery level at 48%, it seems playing loud Beth Orton consumes this iBook's life like watching an action-packed DVD (ok, I've never done that on this machine, so it's actually not true). Actually it wouldn't be so bad if Apple didn't insert this small systems that resets the date settings when you turn off the machine whith battery under 15%. What a stupid thing. The only "solution" is to put the iBook in sleeping mode, and find a plug where topping up the battery, but you must be careful in the first place not to shut it down.
(oh, it seems I've eventually typed some geeky stuff, after all. I like it, let's continue)

OSX can be very, very beautiful. great interface, absolutely not invasive when you get used to it. A bit of confusion about the disk hierarchy, but it's a thing no one really still got it right, and anyway you can comfortably live remaining in your user ("home") folder, sure that will always be in a precise point, under harddisk/Users. Microsoft is doing an horrible work with XP, putting "My"s everywhere, hiding the real stuff going on, I'm almost lost in the XP start menu - and I use Windows since the 3.11 version! Bad, bad, bad interface. e.g. this thing of "My Documents", that is on the top of the tree but also inside "Documents and Settings" in "C:", is just plain silly. People needs just one entry point to the filesystem? make just that one. But they liked it so much, maybe because it added some kind of Unix desktop flavour to the Good Old Windows interface, they basically took this principle as the platform for redesigning the XP interface. Resulting in an absurd mess in the Start menu. "Those who don't understand Unix are damned to badly rebuild it again and again" (Ken Thompson; I know he's biased, but he's Ken Thompson, forchrissake: he's the frigging Charles Darwin of modern computer science!). It seems to me Microsoft tried to "embrace" the *nix-oriented networking culture, without changing its old "C:\" paradigm. Apple is a little more honest about this: they are doing Unix as best as they can, but it's still Unix and as this it must be used.

I don't know why, but I still find this iBook uninspiring for programming. Maybe it's the strange keyboard, with all those stuff not in their usual place (and let's thank God they switched to QWERTY after all). Maybe it's because this interface is so graphic it almost stops me from doing anything else than playing with 128x128 icons, wallpapers, and trying to convince myself Flash is not so bad after all. Maybe it's just that I use fonts too small in my editors. Maybe is just that is a new thing, and that I continue to use win2000 at work because I can't choose. Take this diary. I begun to write it yesterday, thinking about the Bernabeu and all the things I always liked to write about it and never had the time or the willing required. And now, I find myself unable to close this crappy TextEdit (oh-so-lame) and fire up jEdit or Eclipse for some serious work.

BTW, Eclipse runs better the more horsepower you put under its JVM, obviously, thus it runs much more straightly on this G3 800Mhz than the old, slowly dying P3 550Mhz at home. Eclipse scares me to the bones, I have to admit it. It's so huge in everything it does, so complex, I continue to find excuses to not try it seriously. Sorry Giulio, I know you're waiting a serious review ;)

Another half an hour left, and the battery is still there, fighting with us to not fall asleep :)
David Gray playing, I got all his albums ripped on this machine before leaving. I know how much Stefi likes him. These deays I found myself ripping all the things two times, one on the PC and one here. The reason? The new Sony NetMinidisc we bought works with windows-only software, a crappy WMA clone interfacing the PC with the MD. Dear Sony, dear Apple, could you please find a way to cooperate? Many thanks, your users. Anyway, iTunes works very well, I like it. The Sony crap, OpenMG (what an ugly name) is, well, crap. But as things are now, you can't do anything but play ball with it. Did you say iPod? we couldn't, for many reasons.

16.50 Finally (?) at home... the plane was early, anyway, British Airways is great, even in the low-fares-really-not-so-low class. I'm tired. I think I'll sleep as soon as the adrenaline from tonight goes down. Hope you liked this. I enjoyed it. I said "enjoyed", well, I tolerated it. Actually, it was like that time when I was hit by thousands of bees on my scrotum. Apart from that, well, I could be Mark Lamar. I would enjoy it. I said "enjoy", I would tolerate it..
User Journal

Journal: Real Madrid 3, Manchester United 1

Journal by Toy G
It was born as a small comment about the stadium. It ended up being a full chronicle of the match. Well, the introduction is general-purpose, the rest is football.
(Note for the Americans out there: this football is what you call soccer. Sorry but your football is not really appreciated here, even less these days...)

First minute - The 'Santiago Bernabeu' stadium is, in my opinion, the most beautiful 'football temple' in the world.
It can be smaller than the brasilian Maracana', less modern than San Siro, less beautiful than the old Wembley arena (yes, it shouldn't have been destroyed). From outside, its fascist appearance can be irritant. It can host one of the most (rightly) hated club ever, Francisco Franco's favourite Real Madrid, winner of more Champions' Cups than everyone else (thanks to Franco's looting of all the young spanish talents, and his money alluring DiStefano).

Nevertheless, in my heart, the Bernabeu has a special place. There, Italy won its last World Cup in 1982 in one of the most exciting finals ever played. There, it took place an heroic 1-1 draw between the merengues and one of the strongest team in italian football history, the Milan that was going to win that semi-final's second leg 5-0, and to gain the Champions' Cup 1990 beating Steaua Bucarest 4-0 (4-0!) in the final (in the final!) few weeks after, shaking the entire football world. There, almost every european club going to be serious about the Champions' Cup/Champions' League had to show off what they really could do, or else.

Above all, inside the Bernabeu you can feel what this madness called football is all about. You can feel people, shouting and screaming and singing together. You can feel the field's history, the history of your father's heroes, and your father's father's. You can see good football on a perfect pitch, not too small or too large, not too long or too short, just right.

I have to admit, I don't like Spain. It shares too much with Italy, good things (food, weather, language roots, people's attitude to life) and bad things as well (corruption, fascism, people's attitude to life). Yes, I liked to travel to Barcelona (being a child, the Gaudi's Sagrada Familia cathedral was astonishing, a dream, almost disturbing), and in the wild north-west, so amazingly full of olive trees and nothing else, and even in Madrid, a city built from nothing to become an emperor's jewel. But apart from that, I know too much european history and mediterranean people to think I could spend the rest of my life there, fighting to have a piece of paper from the government every time I'm doing something, waiting for lazy labourers to deliver services, being frightened by people that would like to put back history and relax under a 'comfortable' dictatorship. No thanks; been there, done that.

Nevertheless, if I could choose a place where playing football, I would say the 'Santiago Bernabeu' stadium in Madrid, Spain. Every day of the week, every month of the calendar, every year of the 'football era'. For me, it's the only stadium worth.

This said, I hate Real Madrid, thus... go Reds! :)

12' - Oh-My-God. United started well, a good shot from Paul Scholes, a chance taken by Ruud Van Nistelrooy just above the post... and then, Luis Figo, as old as an old mule, but still a player that any manager would pick for his team, with a simply magic touch, scored. It was almost a cross pass, but it turned, and it turned, and it turned, and it went in one of those places where the goalkeepers rarely can be.

Luis Figo is an irritant player. Its career says that he's above all lazy, rarely a big winner outside Spain (he's Portuguese, but plays in Spain since the 90s). But when he's in the game, well, he can deliver pure magic. I hate him ;)

19' - Now Real plays relaxed. Rio Ferdinand stopped Ronaldo with his leg on the other's ankle, the referee didn't see but it was worth a penalty.

22' - United's goalkeeper has lost it. He used his hands outside the area, on an absolutely useless long pass from Real. The referee should have sent him off , but probably he wasn't looking, the pass being so long and useless, thus Fabien Barthez is still of the match. But he's not in the game, it's one of 'those' games for him.

27' - It goes worse. Man U's defenders (well, let's say it straight, Gary Neville, probably distraught by Figo) shared the goalkeeper's mood, and gave Raul a ball just to shoot behind Barthez. Two-nil, now United needs a miracle.

31' - Good save by Barthez, then a good opportunity for Van Nistelrooy. Scholes is fighting, like the dutchman, but they are outplayed in the midfield by the more effective Real team. Roy Keane is showing that he's now just a defender. Maybe Ferguson should change something, Nicky Butt and Keane are just looking the ball and United's game is too slow. And where is David Beckham?

37' - Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo are enjoying themselves playing show-football. Terrific players, a pleasure to see. Ronaldo? A Nike fake.

41' - United is alive and kicking, but Real is really relaxed.

45' - End of first half. Real did show how to kill a match before actually playing it. One shot (that didn't even seem so), one goal. One error by United's defence, one goal. Less than one third of the game, and it seems already over, with merengues playing as in trash-time, doing tricks, being dangerous without sweating, and the reds trying to put together some football. Ferguson will have to do better than just kicking shoes.

49' - Good shot by Raul, three-o. It has to be said, Barthez in Italy would sit on the bench.

51' - Ruud Van Nistelrooy does the thing he does best, scoring from inside the area after the goalkeeper rebounced a touch by Ryan Giggs.

53' - Another chance for Ruud, but Real's goalkeeper is on the ball. United is exploiting the post-scoring euphoria, playing quick and well.

55' - Real is alive again, and again Barthez makes some legs trembling.

56' - Beckham, left alone and free inside the area, shoots wide.

57' - John O'Shea in, Michael Silvestre out. Silvestre is good for England (even better, for Portugal or worse), not for Europe.

60' - The anchorman on ITV1 says 'That's better, that's Nicky Butt'. That is, Manchester United is growing.

61' - Scholes is too soft. But he's not Figo, Raul or (heresy) Zidane. C'mon Paul, throw that leg in the tackle.

62' - Roberto Carlos shoots, Barthez saves in a dangerous way.

64' - The NikeFake strikes again and again. On a good pass from Raul, he shoots wide. Alone facing the goal, he loses the ball. If I was an Inter supporter, I would be happy he's gone for good.

/* now my girlfriend keeps on the phone for about 15 minutes... you know, they loathe football ;) */

79' - Is Gary Neville really shooting? yes, wide. Poor Gary, always being 'the one without talent'. It's not his fault, he just wanted to do the same job of his brother Phil. 'I mean, how much difficult can ever be?'

80' - Young players don't show respect to anyone, and there is their greatness. O'Shea stops Zidane without trembling like its old fellow Gary Neville does. The man of the month here in England, Wayne Rooney, is 17, and it's great because he's not worried of doing the wrong thing. He takes all the chances, he's not scared to the bones by his coach, and suddenly seems from another planet. He's not from another planet, it's that all the others are gone to another planet, made of pressing press (seems a joke, it isn't), greedy sponsors, and the like. Today, the biggest worry for David Beckham is not playing great football (he rarely does), but shooting good ads for Pepsi/Nike/etc. and not being injuried (banal injury = less press coverage = sponsors not happy). Rooney is still just playing football. Let's see how many months he'll resist.

83' - NikeFake out. Who cares? His place in football history has already been set as The Most Overvalued Striker Ever, or The One That Scored Only At The World Cup With Other 10 Great Players Behind Him And Went To Earn More Than All The Others.

86' - Gary Neville out, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in. Ferguson throws the last card in his hand. Figo almost punish him the same minute.

87' - Figo and Zidane in the wild, the referee could have allowed a penalty.

89' - Barthez is a goalkeeper... really? Meanwhile: Solskjaer tries something, Scholes gives up, Van Nistelrooy fights, Keane receives the only yellow card of the match (you must show you are there for something, don't you?).

92' - Ferguson wanted an away goal, he had it. Problem is, Real took three home goals as well. Now, Manchester United has to win 2-0, or by three goals at least. At Old Trafford (another great stadium, I admit it) will be a real fight for survival, because this Real Madrid is a constant danger. Today, they could have suffered a couple of goals, their defence being not good as their attack. They could be too relaxed, make mistakes... but China could send its first man on the moon tomorrow as well. This Real Madrid has so many pure talents, it's very difficult to play against it without being worried that one of those 'mad' forwards won't create something dangerous at any time. This year's United team is not the kind of team that goes out to take the match, it's full of experienced players that just 'sit on the river side' waiting the right time to bite. Against this Real Madrid, they need more young blood (O'Shea from the start?), more rage. They have three weeks very intense, with hard matches for the Premiership and the FA Cup; it could happen that they go from being able to win three trophies, to finding themselves without anything for the second season in a row. Anyway, who whins this quarter final will be a strong candidate for the championship.

Still, I hate those arrogant, better-than-everyone-else, beautifully-playing Real Madrid. What an italian I am :)
User Journal

Journal: My lovely half is on a plane...

Journal by Toy G
...and for the first time in ages I feel a bit lost... I can count on a small number of persons caring about me, and in a few hours all of them will be at thousands of miles.
When we moved to Preston it was different: we were together, we were coming from months of hard work "clearing" home, and we simply hadn't the time to think, having to find a new house and a new bank account (in England, the ONLY two things that really matter)...

Our house now seems so empty, I had to come here in the laboratory ...

Anyway, life goes on, I have so many things to do before leaving, one of them being to watch Man U - Real Madrid tomorrow night :)

Without life, Biology itself would be impossible.

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