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Journal: 24/192 Audio Redux

Journal by msobkow

A while back I put my laptop into forced 24bit/192kHz output mode in order to be able to play some Grateful Dead tracks that were recorded in that format. I've left it at that setting on the Windows 7 laptop because it plays back lower resolution audio just fine.

In fact, it seems to upsample lower resolution audio rather nicely. So while CDs and MP3s still are far from as clean sounding as the Grateful Dead tracks, the upsampling prevents "digital fatigue" and sounds more "musical" than 44.1 Hz output does on my Linux box. So I find myself spending more and more time listening to my music under headphones plugged into the laptop (a rather nice set of Sony noise cancelling full-cup headphones that cost nearly $300 15 years ago -- a gift from good friends.)

For the life of me, I do not understand people who claim they can't hear the difference between 44.1 audio and higher resolutions. They must be deaf. The difference is obvious as night and day, if you know what to listen for.

User Journal

Journal: MSS Code Factory 1.11 has been released to production

Journal by msobkow

This day had to come eventually. It was just a matter of patience, persistence, and time.

Today I released MSS Code Factory 1.11 to production.

This is the first time I've ever released a piece of software because I honestly believe it's ready to be released rather than because some marketing/sales rep or management had set an arbitrary delivery date.

This release was 4 years in development. The project itself was started 18 years ago.

But my baby has all grown up, and it's time to send her out the door into the wild, wild world.

If I were to die today, I'd die knowing I accomplished something with my life.

This has been the mountain I had to climb; the ocean I had to sail; the desert I had to cross. It has been my mission ever since I first conceived of the idea of manufacturing code by reversing the logic of a compiler/parser way back in my University days.

For those of you who are programmers, please download and play.

http://msscodefactory.sourceforge.net/

By the way, as a side effect of the testing and validation of MSS Code Factory itself, I produced CFUniverse, a conglomerate business application model project that is nearly 14,000,000 lines of source code. To put that in perspective, the biggest project I ever worked on was about 1.5 million lines, coded by a team of over 150 developers over a 3 year period. Were you to print out CFUniverse at 100 lines per page, double-sided, you'd need 5 cases of paper plus another 20 reams to do it.

I'd love to dump that sucker on someone's desk for a code review!

User Journal

Journal: MSS Code Factory 1.11 is almost done

Journal by msobkow

Within the next week or few, I should be releasing MSS Code Factory 1.11 to production.

1.11 has been a 4 year effort, kickstarted by some rule sets from previous versions of the tool. Each of the earlier versions encountered problems which sent me back to the drawing board to resolve the issues I encountered, going so far as to migrate the core engine code to C# at one point, and then back to Java again, all in an effort to clean up the last bugs in the core technology (the effort was successful, but it was a good two years of my time to do it.)

As I write this, I realize that it's been roughly 18 years since I created the 1.0 version of MSS Code Factory using Java JDK 1.0. I've believed in the "write once, run anywhere" philosophy since day one, and bought into the "Network Is The Computer" concept as well. Hence my decision to focus the efforts of MSS Code Factory on Java, rather than diverging into other languages such as C# or C++ (although there is absolutely no reason I couldn't produce code for those languages, sharing the same database models and stored procedures that the Java code relies on.)

18 years.

My precious is almost an adult.

Just a few more weeks of database script testing, more to find and correct issues with the Business Application Models than with any expectation of long-term problems with the database installation scripts as manufactured by the tool.

At the point of release as a side-effect of testing, I'll have created CFUniverse 2.0. A mammoth general purpose database/schema/application comprising 366 tables and nearly 14,000,000 lines of source code.

Top that, 'ya slackers!

User Journal

Journal: 16/44.1 vs 24/192 audio

Journal by msobkow

Some people insist the difference between 16/44.1 and 24/192 audio files is "all in your head", because some idiot mathematician says you shouldn't be able to hear the difference. Well, human ears aren't mathematicians, and I can most emphatically hear the difference even with these aging ears when using a $500 set of headphones.

I am absolutely in *glory* listening to The Grateful Dead's "Built to Last" album at 24/192 right now. The cymbals *splash* and the triangles *ring*. The maracas *rustle*. You can hear the *wires* of the snare drum rattling against the drum heads. And most important of all, the overall experience of listening is *soothing* instead of earache-inducing as with dithered audio. You should hear the sax I'm listening to right now -- that's one instrument whose sound I *know*, having played one for nearly 10 years in my youth.

My theory is that people who've been raised on digital audio have never learned to hear the difference between live instruments and digital dithering. They *can't* hear the difference, because they've never been exposed to and learned how to hear the sounds, much as someone who did not grow up amongst the Chinese can't hear the difference between some sounds in their languages.

The psychoacoustic training of one's ears is a very real phenomenon. If you've never learned to hear and listen for something because you've never been exposed to it, you grow to be *incapable* of hearing it without a *lot* of exposure.

User Journal

Journal: I am a T-Rex 2

Journal by msobkow

Smart ass punks think they know *nix history.

I cut my wisdom teeth on a VAX 11/780 running BSD in the fall of 1984.

I PRE-DATE the GPL -- Ricky Stallman was just touring campuses (including the University of Saskatchewan) with his "new" GPL idea when I was learning *nix coding and the ORIGINAL K&R 'C' language.

I've run, coded, and delivered systems on just about every dialect of *nix that ever existed. I AM A DINOSAUR! A T-Rex that will eat your OS/X crap for breakfast.

FORTRAN, COBOL, LISP, Algol, APL, PL/C, K&R 'C', ANSI 'C', C++ (from 1.0), Erlang, Java (from 1.0), Z-80 assembly, 6502 assembly, PDP-11 assembly, VAX assembly, -- hell, when I was programming the Z-80, I didn't even *have* an assembler -- I converted my code into hex and POKE'd it into the machine and saved the memory image to cassette tapes!

RSX-11, BSD on VAX, VMS on VAX, AT&T SVR4, VMS on Alpha, DEC Unix on Alpha, HP1000/A, HP9000, the first release of AIX on POWER, Minux, Linux from Red Hat 5 onwards (including RHEL/CentOS/OracleLinux, Ubuntu, Debian, SuSE, Slackware, and a couple other distros whose names escape me at the moment), every flavour of Windows from 3.11 onwards, Mach (which is merged into OS/X), QNX (now Blackberry 10), SunOS, Solaris, Amiga, Commodore 64, Commodore PET, Apple II, and a few more that I can't remember the names of at the moment.

So go ahead and try to "tell me", kid. I'll run rings around you in coding, hardware, and experience. I GREW UP WITH THE HISTORY YOU ONLY HAVE READ ABOUT. I've been programming longer than most of you pups have been alive!

(Can you tell I'm pissed that some 7-digit luser tried to tell me I'm "probably not even a programmer"? :P :P :P)

User Journal

Journal: Continuation on education 13

Journal by jd

Ok, I need to expand a bit on my excessively long post on education some time back.

The first thing I am going to clarify is streaming. This is not merely distinction by speed, which is the normal (and therefore wrong) approach. You have to distinguish by the nature of the flows. In practice, this means distinguishing by creativity (since creative people learn differently than uncreative people).

It is also not sufficient to divide by fast/medium/slow. The idea is that differences in mind create turbulence (a very useful thing to have in contexts other than the classroom). For speed, this is easy - normal +/- 0.25 standard deviations for the central band (ie: everyone essentially average), plus two additional bands on either side, making five in total.

Classes should hold around 10 students, so you have lots of different classes for average, fewer for the band's either side, and perhaps only one for the outer bands. This solves a lot of timetabling issues, as classes in the same band are going to be interchangeable as far as subject matter is concerned. (This means you can weave in and out of the creative streams as needed.)

Creativity can be ranked, but not quantified. I'd simply create three pools of students, with the most creative in one pool and the least in a second. It's about the best you can do. The size of the pools? Well, you can't obtain zero gradient, and variations in thinking style can be very useful in the classroom. 50% in the middle group, 25% in each of the outliers.

So you've 15 different streams in total. Assume creativity and speed are normally distributed and that the outermost speed streams contain one class of 10 each. Start with speed for simplicity I'll forgo the calculations and guess that the upper/lower middle bands would then have nine classes of 10 each and that the central band will hold 180 classes of 10.

That means you've 2000 students, of whom the assumption is 1000 are averagely creative, 500 are exceptional and 500 are, well, not really. Ok, because creativity and speed are independent variables, we have to have more classes in the outermost band - in fact, we'd need four of them, which means we have to go to 8000 students.

These students get placed in one of 808 possible classes per subject per year. Yes, 808 distinct classes. Assuming 6 teaching hours per day x 5 days, making 30 available hours, which means you can have no fewer than 27 simultaneous classes per year. That's 513 classrooms in total, fully occupied in every timeslot, and we're looking at just one subject. Assuming 8 subjects per year on average, that goes up to 4104. Rooms need maintenance and you also need spares in case of problems. So, triple it, giving 12312 rooms required. We're now looking at serious real estate, but there are larger schools than that today. This isn't impossible.

The 8000 students is per year, as noted earlier. And since years won't align, you're going to need to go from first year of pre/playschool to final year of an undergraduate degree. That's a whole lotta years. 19 of them, including industrial placement. 152,000 students in total. About a quarter of the total student population in the Greater Manchester area.

The design would be a nightmare with a layout from hell to minimize conflict due to intellectual peers not always being age peers, and neither necessarily being perceptual peers, and yet the layout also has to minimize the distance walked. Due to the lack of wormholes and non-simply-connected topologies, this isn't trivial. A person at one extreme corner of the two dimensional spectrum in one subject might be at the other extreme corner in another. From each class, there will be 15 vectors to the next one.

But you can't minimize per journey. Because there will be multiple interchangeable classes, each of which will produce 15 further vectors, you have to minimize per day, per student. Certain changes impact other vectors, certain vector values will be impossible, and so on. Multivariable systems with permutation constraints. That is hellish optimization, but it is possible.

It might actually be necessary to make the university a full research/teaching university of the sort found a lot in England. There is no possible way such a school could finance itself off fees, but research/development, publishing and other long-term income might help. Ideally, the productivity would pay for the school. The bigger multinationals post profits in excess of 2 billion a year, which is how much this school would cost.

Pumping all the profits into a school in the hope that the 10 uber creative geniuses you produce each year, every year, can produce enough new products and enough new patents to guarantee the system can be sustained... It would be a huge gamble, it would probably fail, but what a wild ride it would be!

User Journal

Journal: A Perspective on Privacy

Journal by msobkow

No doubt people who've read my posts realize I'm concerned about the NSA spying issue, especially in light of the global cooperation in sharing information between spy networks run by other countries including Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and the UK. Even here in Canada our CSIS uses information collected on their behalf by the US NSA. It's already being abused, with information being fed to the DEA and from there on to police departments in the US, which has nothing to do with the original goal of "catching terrorists."

As my own ISP, SaskTel, leases servers in Florida, my email is monitored. My Google and Yahoo accounts are also monitored. There is no way for me to communicate any more without being tracked.

I've always expected this day would come, because when the internet protocol was designed, one of the key requirements were headers that identified the sender and receiver of data packets. There was no way around this, and there is still no way to avoid such identification (though it can be obfuscated to some degree by protocols like TOR.)

As computers have gotten more powerful, it was inevitable that humanity would have the capability to monitor all communications and track all users. It was just a question of when would it happen, and I must admit I'm surprised that we've come this far in my lifetime.

Unfortunately, it would seem the corporate-led fascists are the ones who are leading the charge. Governments whose leaders no longer respect the will of the people, nor even listen to the concerns of the people, but instead spin the lies suggested by their corporate masters. The world is all about the money nowadays.

Maybe some day we'll see a resurgance of humanism and a more equitable social order based on socialist ideals ala Star Trek, where people work for perks, not survival, but I don't think we're going to see that in my life time. Perhaps we'll never see it, because the more entrenched the elite owners of the corporate world become in their mastery of individual country's governments, the less likely it is that they can be uprooted and removed from the halls of power.

Still, I haven't given up hope on humanity.

I'm just very worried about where things are going to go in my own lifetime, never mind the lifetimes of my nieces and nephews.

Despite the tracking that is possible, people insist on using pseudonyms and aliases for their web accounts. I think that's fundamentally wrong. If you've got any sense of honour, integrity, and personal responsibility, you should not be afraid of having your comments and articles on the 'net associated with who you really are. In fact, you should be proud of who you are, stand up as an individual, and rant with enthusiasm against the evils of the world.

Sure you'll make mistakes. You'll say embarassing things. You'll shove your foot in your mouth up to the knee from time to time. And those mistakes will not be erased from the 'net.

But so what? Everyone is human. If anyone is in error, it's those who insist on judging people by their past mistakes instead of realizing that people screw up, learn from their mistakes, and grow to be better people because of them. I've certainly never worried about being judged by potential employers or friends on the internet.

After all, if I am anything, it is honest and blunt with my opinions. I am the kind of person I want to be and would want for a friend: trustworthy and blunt. I hate double-talking backstabbers with a passion, and wouldn't want to work for a company that would judge me based on my internet social life instead of my job history and quality of my work.

So rave on, rave on, rave on, I shall.

Peace.

Mark Sobkow

User Journal

Journal: MSS Code Factory 1.11.6160 Beta 6 (Ok, so I'm not done with betas yet after all)

Journal by msobkow

Beta 6 implements the table id generators for the RAM implementation and corrects a defect in the implementation of the RAM deletes.

It also corrects the use of table id generators for all of the supported databases (DB/2 LUW 10.1, MySQL 5.5, SQL Server 2012, PostgreSQL 9.1, Oracle 11gR2, and Sybase ASE 15.7.) Previously the client-side code that is generated for objects which incorporate BLOBs (or TEXT for SQL Server) would not have properly used the table id generators, but instead would have relied on obsolete/incorrect code for schema id generators of the same name.

All of the RAM and database implementations have regression tested using the CFDbTest 2.0 test suite.

Beta 6 and the corresponding test suite are available for download from http://sourceforge.net/projects/msscodefactory/files/.

User Journal

Journal: MSS Code Factory 1.11.6008 - Beta 5 - The last of the betas

Journal by msobkow

I finally reached Beta 5 with my pet project. It now supports manufacturing of code for DB/2 LUW 10.1, SQL Server 2012, MySQL 5.5, Oracle 11gR2, Sybase ASE 15.7, and PostgreSQL 9.1.

I've finally achieved what I set out to do 15 years ago -- provide a multi/cross database coding tool that automates the mapping from an abstract business model to the specifics of the database while using all of the available performance tuning options of the database. This is far more challenging and complex than something like EJB3, which just generates dynamic SQL, not stored procedures and prepared statements.

Next up will be using the tool to write an application. I'm thinking of doing something simple and straight forward, like the core of an accounting system with general ledger, accounts, subledgering, and so on. During that development I may well add in the security support I've been planning all these years, but maybe not. Time will tell.

Regardless, I'm just peaking to have finally achieved this long outstanding milestone. :)

User Journal

Journal: MSS Code Factory 1.11.5365 Beta 1

Journal by msobkow

The PostgreSQL 9.1 implementation has been updated to make use of stored procedures, prepared SQL statements, and every other performance-tuning trick I've learned in 30+ years of database programming. Subsequent betas will be released as additional databases are brought to the same level of integration as this release for PostgreSQL.

The PostgreSQL code should run rings around EJB3 and similar technologies that rely on dynamic SQL.

MySQL 5.5 support is as complete as it will ever be, and basic DB/2 LUW 10.1 support is also provided.

Download MSS Code Factory Beta 1 from SourceForge.

User Journal

Journal: MSS Code Factory is moving right along 1

Journal by msobkow

As you can see from the MSS Code Factory project site, things are progressing steadily with my pet project. I've just finished spending a couple of weeks reworking the PostgreSQL database IOs to use PreparedStatements wherever possible instead of pure dynamic SQL. At this point, dynamic SQL is only used for cursor-based reads and index queries which reference nullable columns; all other queries and accessors use prepared statements (static SQL.)

I haven't tested the performance of this new layer with PostgreSQL, and don't intend to compare performance of dynamic and static SQL as it would require keeping copies of and debugging both versions of the code. I know from previous experience with DB/2 UDB that using PreparedStatements can result in an 80% overall performance improvement for something like loading a model into a relational database.

Unfortunately most of the performance benefits would be lost when using the code for a web server, because you have to releasePreparedStatements() at the end of each web page served, because there is the possibility that a particular vendor's implementation of PreparedStatements might have data associated with it on the server end of the connection, and the connection has to be released after serving the page.

One of the biggest advantages of switching to static SQL is that parameter binding with PreparedStatements can handle variables up to the maximum size for the type, whereas dynamic SQL is limited by the size of the statement buffer accepted by the database (which used to be a significant limitation with DB/2 UDB 7.2, though I've no doubt that limit has been expanded or eliminated.)

A key point of the use of static SQL is that the only difference between the different databases now is the specific SQL functions used to convert strings to date-time types, so I'm going to be rolling out the support for the commercial databases under GPLv3 after all, rather than trying to leverage them for profit. The differences are just too negligable for me to believe anyone would pay for the privelege of using a commercial database.

User Journal

Journal: I gave up and filed for disability

Journal by msobkow

I've been working as a programmer since the spring of 1987. I've travelled all over North America, worked in many cities and with some of the biggest names in technology. I've had an absolute blast working with skilled and intelligent people who were not only good at what they did, but became good friends.

But it's time to face the facts: I can no longer work "office hour" jobs due to chronic migraines. Even with complete flexibility to work from home and at odd hours, I was barely able to get in 24-30 hours per week at the last company that was willing or able to work with me on the scheduling issues caused by the migraines.

I've therefore filed for disability here in Saskatchewan, and am in the process of getting approved for the SAID program (Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability.) I used to pay twice as much in taxes per year in the '90s than I'll be getting under SAID, but at least it'll be subsistance living.

Don't make the same mistake I did of enjoying your income while you have it. Save and invest your money like it's going to be the last dollar you earn, because you never know when you're going to be hit by the proverbial bus and find yourself disabled. It's not fun, it's not a "safety net" as some claim, and it's a very depressing future to face.

But many of you will face that future, whether due to medical issues or accidents.

Good luck.

P.S.

I'm going to try to keep Singularity One Systems, Inc. alive because every once in a while I do find a few hundred bucks worth of offsite programming I can do for someone. With the company, I can "bank" that income, and draw the $200/month I'm allowed to on disability over time, as well as running a few expenses like monitors and part of my internet/phone fees through the company instead of paying it all out of pocket.

Who knows? Maybe some day one of my pet projects will turn into a money maker. I've always said I'd program for a hobby if I weren't programming for pay, and that's where life is headed: hobby programming to keep myself from being bored silly in "retirement."

Peace.

Books

Journal: History books can be fun (but usually aren't and this is a Bad Thing) 2

Journal by jd

Most people have read "1066 and all that: a memorable history of England, comprising all the parts you can remember, including 103 good things, 5 bad kings and 2 genuine dates" (one of the longest book titles I have ever encountered) and some may have encountered "The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody", but these are the exceptions and not the rule. What interesting - but accurateish - takes on history have other Slashdotters encountered?

User Journal

Journal: Joy oh joy 2

Journal by msobkow

My Ubuntu 10.04.1 partition developed a serious case of USB problems after this morning's kernel update. When I rebooted to try to reset the USB devices, the partition table nuked itself.

So I'm reinstalling WinXP. This is NOT how I planned to spend my day!

Needless to say, I am NOT a happy camper...

The universe does not have laws -- it has habits, and habits can be broken.

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