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User Journal

Journal Journal: Kellemes karácsonyi ünnepeket és boldog új évet

Today is the day most Hungarian families have their big family celebration of Christmas. So we are heading out to go ice skating as there should be no crowds. Tomorrow is our big day.

I hope that you and yours have a great holiday.

Personally I enjoy Christmas for the break from work and the time with family. I also enjoy it as I believe the birth of Christ is one of the more significant events in world history. I know he wasn't born on December 25th but I do appreciate advent and the time that is set aside to think about what happened and the implications.

I am tossing around the idea of going to tonight's mass at St. Steven's basilica. Don't tell my folks, they are good baptists and would have a cow. They already feel bad enough about my other 'liberal' tendencies. :)

Java

Journal Journal: Java Swing fonts - 64 bit Fedora 16 2

They suck.

Same software that looks atrocious on my 64 bit Fedora 16 box looks fine on my 32 bit Fedora 17 box. Is it Fedora? Will an upgrade help me? I hope so because I'll be moving from 16 to 18 next month. If it's not - if this is a 64 bit java issue I'm gonna feel unhappy. Because I'm not ripping out that processor and rolling back. And the 32 bit Fedora machine is over 6 years old. It's the last 32 bit machine pc I own.

Other than that - I got nothing. Hope you all have a good Christmas if you celebrate it now.

Python

Journal Journal: My Python Regex Editor 2

So I made a lot of progress this week. I'm pretty happy with it. (The progress. Proggy itself has a long way to go.)

I ran into a weird thing today that I'm sure is related to the Python system path but I for the life of me can't figure out how I ought to do this. When I get further down the road and closer to thinking about packaging then I'll figure it out.

I have a directory where my main file for the application sits. Then under that is a directory with other modules - called modules. So I have the main module importing stuff from the modules directory and this works fine. For example there is util.py in the modules directory. So in my main module I can just say "from modules.util import *" and everyone is happy. Now sometimes a module in module will import another module already in modules. I figured I wouldn't need the directory name there - but I do. I assumed it would always be able to successfully import from the directory the calling module is in. Now it is ultimately coming because of a call from the main module - so maybe that is it. But the Kodos application that I'm porting doesn't have to do this. So I'm not sure what the difference is. Though I have it installed and so I've got files for it all over the place.

I'm out of time to check for today but I'll look at it later.

If you want to check it out - https://github.com/bittercode/pyrrhic-ree

Lots of stuff doesn't work yet and it's gonna throw errors like no tomorrow while you type in your regular expression if it has say parentheses in it. Each time you make a change the program tries to execute what you've got and there is no error handling so it will all barf out. But if you click on Help -> About that will work. Oh vanity. Though even that wasn't easy. The way stuff works with PyQT has changed since Kodos was written and launching a new window is not the same. It took me a while to cypher it all out - though a stupid mistake did make it a lot longer than it should have been. And that's where I ran into the import issues too.

I have a goal of getting this sucker presentable and then having it replace Kodos in Fedora. I think that would be pretty awesome. Though the trick is not only do I have to get it to a somewhat finished state - but I'd have to maintain it. That's the part I'm not so sure about. We'll see. But Kodos hasn't been touched in forever and at some point supporting QT3 is going to become more of an issue. I've been thinking about that more as 5 was just release. Life keeps on moving.

Android

Journal Journal: More Nexus 7 stuff

So last night it worked perfectly on my wi-fi at home. Go figure.

Something I kept meaning to say but kept forgetting. It charges by using micro usb. This is nice because I have lots of these cords and power supplies as it is also what powers my phones, raspberry pi, other tablets, etc. The one drawback is it is on "upside down". Now - it really ticks me off that Apple always has to use their own connectors - but making one that is indifferent to orientation is pretty much genius. So - on pretty much everything I own the "up" on the port is the side with the screen. On the Nexus 7 it is the side away from the screen. Stupid.

And here's another bit of stupidity. It hit me yesterday - hey this thing has a 7 inch screen - it might be good for reading comic books. Well as I mentioned earlier - getting files on their from my linux machines is a total pain. I decided to try using google drive as a means of transfer. This has not worked well with some comic book files I have. Drive puts them in a strange location and either I've picked a reader that doesn't function correctly or something damaged the file in the process of moving it via drive. I'll try other methods when I get a chance.

But I thought hey - how about the amazon kindle app? So I went on there and grabbed a comic book. I can't zoom in enough to read the text. This is a huge amount of interface fail on the part of Amazon. I can double tap a panel and it sort of pops out but it doesn't zoom in enough to make a difference. The pictures look nice, but I can't read the text. I ought to be able to do the normal pinch to zoom stuff. The comic book I got was a free preview and I'm glad I didn't pay for one. On the Nexus 10 it would probably be perfect but they need to get it to work well on the 7 inch tablet. I wonder if they do something to make it better on a Kindle Fire. If not I'd be ticked off if I owned one.

Android

Journal Journal: I have stuff to tell you - Python Regex Editor, Nexus 7 1

I've had time to work on my port of Kodos. It's fun as I'm achieving my two primary goals. I'm learning more about Python and about Regular Expressions. More specifically I'm learning about the python re module. At some point, once I have enough of the old program working - I'll need to try and get some people to try it out because I don't know enough about regular expressions to test it all that well. Unfortunately it will probably have lots of bugs. (And I haven't even started dealing with error handling yet. I'm just talking about bugs that mean you don't get correct output.)

Moving to Python 3 has popped up in a couple places in interesting ways. I don't need to import types to check and see what something is. (The findall method of an re object returns a list or tuple and it matters which.)

The bigger adjustment I've had to make is that I want to display some data a little differently. So where Kodos handles things one at a time, I want to get them all. Unfortunately with re and groups this means doing some looping. And with named groups I'm a tad stuck as the information is all there but tying it together is eluding me. I'm getting there slowly. I think maybe this is why Kodos did it the way it did. It's a little easier just grabbing a certain set of groups rather than all of them.

This is vague and rambling and I'm sorry - I'm just poking around in the dark a lot - reading lots of documentation and trying stuff out. Which is good as that all comes back to the learning part. I did kill some precious time on a typo - I really hate that. I had a missing closing parens on one line which caused a syntax error to be thrown on the next line. Argh.

The Nexus 7 wifi problems are pretty wide spread. They've got to get that crap figured out. I have friends on Facebook who aren't technical at all who just consider their device broken. And I guess they are right.

Later I'm going to see if I can find a good app for reading comics on it. This brings up my second Android super annoyance. I think I'll end up using email to get the comic book files on the device since I can't access it via usb from my linux box. Totally ridiculous.

User Journal

Journal Journal: The Hobbit (Spoilers) 4

I went with my family to see the Hobbit this afternoon. We all liked it quite a bit.

There were some points where the film diverged from the book and I really didn't understand the choice. Why is it better that Frodo falls early on fighting an orc rather than being knocked off a dwarves shoulders? Although now that I think about it - maybe it was so that he wasn't in the rather spectacular escape scene from the mountain. Couldn't have had him on someone's shoulders through that. I would have enjoyed it if the dwarves had had hoods and all been properly introduced. Though the two reviews I read said the film starts too slowly so I guess they would have really hated that. My 9 year old said those reviewers were wrong. Apparently he has a longer attention span than they do.
 
The added depth to some of the characters is nice and I find myself really looking forward to the necromancer story line. I would have enjoyed Saruman having a more positive role though. Radagast was amazing though the bird poop on the face was rather disgusting.
 
I did not see it in 3d or with the high frame rate. As it was we couldn't find one in the original setup either. We watched it with the original soundtrack but Hungarian subtitles. This is fine, though anything said by elves or orcs that wasn't in English - we didn't get to see translated. My kids were a bit miffed about that. I told them to be happy they got to see it at all and that at least it was better than if it were only being shown dubbed. I like going to the theater here. When you buy a ticket you buy it for a specific seat. No sitting in a theater for 45 minutes watching commercials. It is fine to show up right before the film starts.
 
I'm looking forward to the next films. I'm really looking forward to Smaug. I like Dragons. I've been re-reading the Pern books in chronological order. I'm a sucker for big flying lizards whether they are good, evil or indifferent.
 
Well I thought I've had more to say - but I'm tired. It's late. I'm going to surf a bit more and then go to bed. Maybe I'll think of more and post it later or if you want to talk about the movie - comment below.

Slashback

Journal Journal: A Major Award 3

I won a free Slashdot t-shirt. They weren't interested in shipping it internationally though. Not that I blame them. So if you bump into a guy in his late sixties in the Phoenix area wearing a slashdot 15 year anniversary t-shirt it is probably my dad. I didn't enter anything to win it - they just sent me an email and said I'd been randomly selected.

Android

Journal Journal: Google Nexus 7 5

A brand spanking new Google Nexus 7 arrived in the office today. I told the person who brought it to go ahead and mess with it and try it out- so the first thing I did was a factory reset and then it updated to Android 4.2 Very nice. So I've been messing with it a couple hours and here are my very first impressions.

It feels heavy for it's size. I guess they want to get as much batter packed in there as possible. Google says it weighs 340 grams and it probably feels heavy in part because I'm used to holding two devices in my hand - my kindle which is 170 grams and my phone which is 133 grams. I still think the kindle is unparalleled for reading black and white text.

The lack of a camera on the back is a bit of a bummer - just a front facing camera. People taking pictures with tablets look stupid - but it could still be handy and this wouldn't be as bad as doing it with a bit 10 or 11 inch tablet. Though I'm even more concerned about the lack of expandable storage. That's probably the biggest reason I wouldn't buy one for myself. (This one is for testing out some things we hope to do on college campuses with our staff using the Nexus 7)

It's not too wide to hold with one hand. Any interaction requires two. The screen is a bit glossy and fingerprints show up really well - this is something that needs to be figured out because it looks horrible. The display itself is pretty sweet and the sound is not bad either. I just watch a short film, La bÃsqueda via a streaming app and it was pretty much awesome. I've also played a couple games including Steam Birds which was very smooth and looked great.

There is a new thing in the interface - app folders. Basically I can take app icons and "stack" them. It becomes 1 icon, that when touched opens up a little window with all the other app icons in it. Sweet. With a decent in car mount and a good gps app that doesn't require data - this would be an amazing in car gps/computer system. I may try it out when we go to Slovenia over winter break. My Garmin has been acting up and I don't want to replace it. I want to find a good android based solution. But google maps wont work because it requires data and shortly after I leave home, I leave Hungary and then I'm roaming. Which on a completely unrelated note is totally ridiculous - there should be EU data plans.

That's mostly it so far. I'll post more as I use it more.

Python

Journal Journal: Pyrrhic REE Update 1

My little project, Pyrrhic REE is coming along.

As a review - it's a rewrite of Kodos, the Python Regular Expression Editor. (That's all I'll say - more info. over at TFA.)

It's not close to as functional as Kodos, but it does do a couple things now. Entering text and then a pattern to match against that text will generate results that are highlighted in the context of the original string. It's not earth shattering and I've got a long way to go before it is a replacement for Kodos - but I've learned a lot and had fun. Basically right now you can see the results of using re to do a search and findall against a Regular Expression Object from re.

Phil had created some custom controls for displaying data and done some interesting work to highlight results in some of the output. I'm staying away from custom controls as I think that will make it easier to fork if someone should want to do that. I'm doing the highlighting the results using the qTextBrowser and html markup. It's a little simpler and again, I think a bit more portable. I also decided to stay away from KDE controls even though some seem awful handy. I always use KDE but I don't want to make it a dependency for people who don't.

I kept flip flopping on what I'd use and I settled on Python 3 and PyQt 4. I know Qt 5 is on the way but I think 4 is fine for now. And I'd be more comfortable with Python 2 but I think 3 offers some real advantages so I don't want to be a part of hindering it's use. I really had a tough time picking between PySide and PyQT. I ended up on PyQT because I just know it better (though I don't know it all that well) and I could find a lot more examples to follow. It's not terribly different from PyQT but it is in some ways. There was some other issue I ran into as well but I can't remember what it was. How useless am I? Super useless! If I remember at some point I'll post about it.

The code is at github. I'm not going to worry about packaging binaries until it has a lot more features. If you think going to my little wordpress house I built to house my Python projects is unseemly - here is a link straight to github: https://github.com/bittercode/pyrrhic-ree.git

Android

Journal Journal: My phone has a barometer

I had no idea until I saw this slashdot story. I don't have anything practical to do with it myself right now but I still think it's crazy cool. I immediately installed a barometer app - so now I can know the barometric pressure any time I darn well please.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Linux path question - Never Mind 4

I swear I looked at this forever and I just finally figured out it was simply a matter of a typo when I added the directory to my path in .bash_profile. I put in linux_86 and it should be linux_x86. Stupid. I'll leave this here as a monument to my need to pay attention to details. Original JE below
*******************

I installed the Android SDK on one of my fedora machines. There are binaries I want to use that are in the location
/opt/android-sdk-linux_86/tools

So I added that to my path. When I check with echo $PATH I see it. When I try running one of the binaries there - android - I get "bash: android: comand not found..."

When I try "which android" it tells me,

$ which android /usr/bin/which: no android in (/usr/lib64/qt-3.3/bin:/usr/lib64/ccache:/usr/local/bin:/usr/bin:/bin:/usr/games:/usr/local/sbin:/usr/sbin:/sbin:/home/jr.peck/bin:/home/jr.peck/bin:/opt/android-sdk-linux_86/tools:/opt/android-sdk-linux_86/platform-tools:/opt/cordova-2.2.0/android/bin)

but if I type in from the prompt
/opt/android-sdk-linux_86/tools/android

Then it runs just fine. So what have I left out?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Tito liked villas 2

Josip Broz Tito is viewed as a good guy or a bad guy, depending upon who you ask. I don't have a strong opinion of him. As an American, I tend to not be in favor of dictators. But having seen the impact of some of the other options that were available at the time and how Yugoslavia turned out, I'm not so quick to condemn. So it's interesting to learn about, think about and in general when I'm around anyone who might have a strong opinion, keep my mouth shut about.
 
I do know this about the guy though, he liked to build villas. He built one villa in what is now Croatia that was pretty freaking huge and sitting in a rather beautiful area. You can see it right here on google maps. The big white building that looks a little like a game controller from above. If you zoom out a tad and look at the village just to the southwest, Plitvica Selo, then you will see little white dots that are good sized houses. This may put the scale of the villa in perspective.
 
Why do I mention it? Well my family and I were taking in the sites and spent this last long week-end (All Saints day here) staying in Plitvica Selo and our hosts took us to see the villa. After the war in the 90's it was abandoned. You can check out this little album of the pics I took. It's pretty much wrecked and it doesn't seem like it will be too many more years before the roof falls in. Very sad - as it looks like it was an amazing place and seems such a waste.
 
My host told me that the villa was built shortly after WWII, using slave labor consisting of axis prisoners from the war. He was an interesting guy, Milo, our host. His mother was a Serb, his father Croat and they had to abandon their home during the war as that area was Serb dominated. He has an interesting perspective, due to that mixed heritage on the more recent conflict. In regards to the time under Tito he seemed rather pragmatic stating that it wasn't the best but if you kept quiet you could do all right for yourself.

User Journal

Journal Journal: systemd for Administrators

I've written before about the Fedora switch to systemd. I don't follow things like that too closely so I first noticed it when my system started telling me. Then I quickly brushed up on the new way I'd start and stop my db and web servers and moved on. I wasn't crazy about the change but with a little help and by taking the time to learn more I'm starting to see the value. This is primarily due to the efforts of Lennart Poettering.

He has been writing a series of posts about systemd for Administrators. There are 18 entries so far. Unfortunately navigating them via his blog is not all that easy. He may fix that but for now I'm going to post this list of links to each post with the title. If I remember I'll keep it up to date as more are added.

  1. Verifying Bootup
  2. Which Service Owns Which Processes?
  3. How Do I Convert A SysV Init Script Into A systemd Service File?
  4. Killing Services
  5. The Three Levels of "Off"
  6. Changing Roots
  7. The Blame Game
  8. The New Configuration Files
  9. On /etc/sysconfig and /etc/default
  10. Instantiated Services
  11. Converting inetd Services
  12. Securing Your Services
  13. Log and Service Status
  14. The Self-Explanatory Boot
  15. Watchdogs
  16. Gettys on Serial Consoles (and Elsewhere)
  17. Using the Journal
  18. Managing Resources
Education

Journal Journal: Coursera 4

I'm taking my first Coursera course right now. I'm taking the Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python course produce by Rice University.

Everything I know about Python I've learned on my own and I've never approached it in a very disciplined manner. So this class is structured for someone with no programming knowledge at all, but I am still picking up a few things here and there about Python. But mostly I needed it to be easy as my schedule is a bit crazy right now and I'm more interested in how the class is taught than the actual content. I just wanted to see what it would be like to use the Coursera system and try to learn.

So far I like it quite a bit. The instruction is primarily centered around two tools, lecture videos and on-line python environment/editor. The coding environment is CodeSkulptor which was put together by one of the instructors for the class, Scott Rixner. It's actually a pretty slick setup. Now - one thing I have found though - is that this combination works best in a multi-monitor environment. Normally I watch the video on one monitor while I have CodeSkulptor open in another. This way I can play around with the code, but also see notes and changes they make in the video. Doing this on one screen wouldn't work too well I think. Though I guess it could be possible if the monitor were large enough.

The week is divided into two parts. There are a set of videos that are followed by a quiz, then another set of videos followed by a second quiz. At the end of the week there is a mini-project. The first mini-project involved setting up some functions to emulate playing Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock. There is a very thorough rubric on exactly what is expected from the mini-project. This is important because the projects are reviewed and graded by peers. Each week after completing the mini-project, I have to review the projects for 5 other students by following the rubric. There is a form that I step through to do this and it is pretty easy, it does not take too long.

One thing I've found that makes the class work well, is that the professors are really working hard to make the videos easy to watch. I've done video to a camera when I'm alone before and it comes across like I'm depressed. To appear normal actually involves acting and doing things that feel like they are over the top. The instructors tell jokes, laugh, and in general make the video feel much more like a discussion. I'm impressed by how well they've done in that regard.

There is a little gui toolkit built into the CodeSkulptor environment. The class will involve making games with graphical elements. I think this is pretty cool, especially as it is all happening on-line without the need to download and install any software. I've done it all on my Fedora machines without any problems. They recommend using Firefox or Chrome, and repeatedly warn against using IE.

There are forums and pages with more information related to each week's topics

I'll take other Coursera courses as I can - to see how they vary - but so far I'm pretty impressed by the platform. I think it bodes well for on-line education. I think it's exciting to be able to learn from these professors at a school that is thousands of miles from where I live. Oh - and in the intro. video they say their expectation for enrollment is 50,000 students. Wow.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Click Monkey

Spent yesterday, spending today and will spend the rest of the week fixing stuff in a web app we have. It's just complicated enough that I have to pay close attention but it's also extremely repetitive (with small enough differences to make doing it by hand expedient) and boring. I haven't had to do anything this stupid in years - hopefully it will be at least the same amount of time before I have to do it again. Going to take a little walk to rest my brain before I go back at it.

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