October 29, 2004

Sometimes things break a little...

Yep. For those who have noticed that this blog sometimes produced funny results, like you post a comment and the whole entry page disappears for an hour, the reason is simple: the filesystem holding this blog was pretty much full, and the attempt to rebuild the pages effectively removed them.

Sorry about that - I've tried to free some space on this filesystem, and I'll see if a way can be found to avoid such situations in the future :)

Posted by roam at 06:33 PM

October 28, 2004

"a := 5" in C? :)

When Nacho showed me yesterday's The Daily WTF, we got to talking about...

No, wait. Go read yesterday's WTF. Really. A Pascal and C programming background would help.


So, now that I assume you've read it, here's the gist. Nacho mentioned that one could also do #define := = and later on use Pascal-like constructions of the form a := 5. The only problem was that GCC does The Right Thing(tm) and rejects := as a macro name, since a macro name must be, well, a name - that is, a well-formed identifier - you know, letters, numbers, underscores, the works.

Next thing you know, Nacho says that it would be hard to patch GCC to accept a #define := = construct - and what do you suppose yours truly does? That's right, I was right on it like a swarm of stray tomcats drunk on valerian :)

As a result, here's patch to the GCC preprocessor which parses := as a valid identifier. Thus, the following program becomes purrrr-fectly valid:

#include <stdio.h>

#define := =

int main(void) {
  int a = 0;

  a := 5;
  printf("a is %d\n", a);
  return (0);

And here's the result:

[roam@straylight ~/c/misc/foo]> cc -o pasequ pasequ.c
[roam@straylight ~/c/misc/foo]> ./pasequ
a is 5
[roam@straylight ~/c/misc/foo]>

The patch (not that I would ever expect anyone to use it :) was made against the gcc version 3.4.2 [FreeBSD] 20040728 - the one that is in FreeBSD's 5.x branch for the last couple of months. It may not apply cleanly to other 3.2, 3.3 or 3.4 versions, and it will not apply at all to 2.x, since cpplex.c does not even exist there. Still, it Works For Me(tm), and that's enough for the whole why-the-hell-not fun part :)

(and yes, when I told Vasil Kolev about it, his comment "that's sick!" *might* have been spot-on :)

Posted by roam at 01:39 PM

OpenFest 2004 / BSDCon (Bulgaria)

Updated 2004-10-29: added a link to Irina Marudina's story, as kindly provided by Silvina Georgieva on Georgi's blog.

Some of you may have noticed the OpenFest banner on my blog; as a matter of fact, I *know* that some of you have noticed it, judging from some questions asked off-line last week :) Well, it's actually gone by already - it took place on Saturday and Sunday, October 23th and 24th, that is, last weekend. And it was great!

I was planning to write a long entry with my impressions from all the lectures, but it looks like this may not happen all that soon. So here's the gist: as I've already mentioned in comments on other blogs, it was an amazing experience - and for an outside observer it would have been very, very hard to believe that the splendid organization, the insightful talks, the well-known speakers and guests, the demo machines, and all the rest could have been put up together in just a week or two by pretty much a handful of volunteer organizers. And that's a fact - a couple of actual outside observers said as much :) Of course, there was the usual amount of networking/socializing in the hallways and in the "Krivoto" pub after the talks, too - but that's the norm for such a gathering :)

More OpenFest impressions may be found in other blogs, mostly in Bulgarian - Yovko Lambrev and more, Vasil Kolev (in English, too) and more (in English, too), Yasen Pramatarov, Dafcho Tabakov, Bogomil Shopov and more, Hristo Iliev and more, Rossy Dimova, Silvina Georgieva, Kaloyan Doganov, Irina Marudina, and last but not least, Georgi Chorbadzhiyski and more.

The organizers have also made available the presentations for the talks (again, mostly in Bulgarian) and some photos from various sources.

I am certainly not counting myself among the organizers, unless that's the organizers of the Bulgarian BSDCon that took place on Sunday in parallel with the main OpenFest track. That one didn't go all that well, although it is my humble opinion that as the first public event of the Bulgarian BSD community (small as it is for the present - at least in terms of people who actually *speak up*), this BSDCon was actually a success - maybe not a great one, but still a success. Yes, there was some time mismanagement, there was a speaker who pulled out a couple of days before the 'con, there were various other issues - but as a whole, I'd like to think that we managed to demonstrate that, contrary to popular opinion, BSD is not dying :) We managed to gather up all kinds of interested parties, if only for a while, and hopefully to introduce the FreeBSD Bulgarian Documentation Project and the FreeBSD-BG site with its mailing lists - a bit more popularity never hurt a software or community project, I think :) Let's see if the translation project gets many new volunteers as a result of Dimitar Vasilev's talk.

As to the grumblings from people who said that the mismanaged BSDCon brought down the quality of the OpenFest as a whole - I'd like to think that it was not so much a lack of BSDCon organization as a failure to keep up with the very high standards set by the organizers of the main OpenFest track :) We will do better next time - and yes, there will be a next BSD-time, even before next year's OpenFest.

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend, one that I would not miss for the world - well, okay, maybe that's stretching it a bit, but you get the idea :)

Posted by roam at 12:46 PM

October 25, 2004

She's back!

Yep, the Black Week that I've mentioned before is quite over indeed - late on Saturday evening[*], I met Iva at the airport as she returned from her week-long trip. Life is good again!

[1] ...while I was till somewhat under the influence of the first day of OpenFest 2004 (and yes, I will blog separately about this as soon as I'm finished with the nice guys at the FMI and arranging things for the Perl course).

Posted by roam at 03:37 PM

October 22, 2004

NoSoftwarePatents.com for Europe

Hot off NewsForge:

Red Hat, MySQL AB, and three German Web hosting companies have announced a partnership with software developer Florian Muller to support NoSoftwarePatents.com, an organization that hopes to stop the European Union from granting patents to what Muller calls a "cartel of patent superpowers" whose aim is to stifle competition.

Whoot! Read the full article for details, and then see the website itself for information on how to help!

Posted by roam at 08:10 PM


Well, well. Here's Russell Beattie lamenting the bandwidth/traffic strain that a 5 MB podcast placed on his hosting account. Sure, I get his point, and I agree that Something Must Be Done, but still - $99 for a 800 GB/month account? For $100, most Bulgarian ISP's would give you 20-25 GB/month, if even that - and yes, that's twenty-five, not two hundred and fifty there. As mentioned in the title, sigh...

Posted by roam at 06:42 PM

Not much to tell...

Less than 18 hours till the Black Week is over!

Nah, don't worry if you don't get it, I might even explain later. Still, this week hasn't been much - a less than stellar performance at the Perl course on Wednesday, a bit of help to George in his datalink lecture at the Network Security course yesterday, a couple of hours watching DVD's that might have been better spent doing something else...

One of the bright moments of the week was the meeting with a couple of former cow-orkers from SBND Technologies over a couple of beers yesterday. It was nice to see those guys (and gals) again after a couple of months, and it was sure interesting to hear what they'd been up to. We have to do this again sometime soon :)

And now back to your regularly scheduled office hours, especially as I still haven't quite finished the presentation I'm about to give at the OpenFest on Sunday...

Posted by roam at 03:17 PM

October 20, 2004

When Writing to a Writer...

Lorraine, Neil Gaiman's assistant, has compiled a top-ten list of things one should never, ever, ever send in a letter or a package to a writer. Although it is not very likely that I will find myself in either position - a Famous Writer or his Beautiful Assistant - anytime soon, I still can sympathize with both of them about some of the items on that list... :)

Posted by roam at 05:03 PM

October 19, 2004

"We're on a mission from God."

The Blues Brothers A piece of advice, if I may: if you have not had enough sleep for a couple of days, yet you are strung up from a rock'n'roll gig, picking up a copy of The Blues Brothers and watching it after midnight is a bad idea, mmkay? Not unless you want to stay up pretty much all night, tapping with the beat, singing along, and generally giving the neighbors a bit of a scare and having a hell of a good time.

Posted by roam at 05:06 PM

October 18, 2004

Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On at the NDK

Updated Oct 19th: moved to the Art category.

Yep, the NDK - the Bulgarian acronym meaning the National Palace of Culture - was really shaken by a rock'n'roll star, no, a rock'n'roll legend, NO, a rock'n'roll idol today - Jerry Lee Lewis came to Sofia! Not alone, either - he brought a band of merry men from Memphis, Tennessee, who did a great job of building up the mood with several songs, some old, some new. And then, the moment we'd all been waiting for - the side curtains parted and quietly, nonassumingly, the Killer walked on stage, sat down at the piano, his hands caressed the keys, and...

I think it was not just me, I think I'm speaking for most of the audience here when I say that we were more than half expecting him to open with Great Balls of Fire or Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On. However, the moment he struck the first chord we knew he'd done one better - in the hall that had hosted countless symphonic concerts and opera performances, Jerry Lee Lewis had the nerve to call out to Beethoven to roll over and tell Tchaikovsky the news; and judging by the applause, there *was* news to tell, too!

Y'know, the man's still got it in him - well, okay, so he slurred a little bit when speaking (not when singing, though!), so he called it quits after barely an hour - but one thing I know, I'd *love* to be able to sit at a piano and play like this "when I'm sixty-.." - no, not sixty-four, but just a couple of months short of seventy! A couple of times he even got physical, and even though those were none of the assaults on the piano of Way Back When, he did jump up, kick back his stool and do a couple of rock'n'roll steps, and he kept on playing all along.

I don't think there's much more to tell. I was raised on this music, on Balkanton LP records of Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis, Mungo Jerry; the mere thought of actually hearing "Sweet Little Sixteen" and "Roll Over Beethoven" live, here, in Sofia, was - I dunno - not even a dream, but pure fantasy. Apparently I was not the only one, since the audience was pretty much evenly distributed among all age brackets, and when the lights went down at the beginning, there was even a bit of shouting from a small child whose parents obviously want to start him or her on the right track early on! Just behind me, there were a couple of Americans; next to me were three ladies speaking German; I think on the way out I passed a group speaking Dutch; but every time Jerry Lee Lewis broke into one of his wild solos, we would all shout and beat time as one. Yes - it *was* a dream come true.

Woof, it's been some time since I wrote a blog entry this long. Oh, and just for the record - he did play "Great Balls of Fire" and "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On".

Posted by roam at 11:31 PM

October 13, 2004

Ericsson Mobility World Developer Day

Today Yesterday (pfft.. is it 3am already?!) marked the first Ericsson Mobility World Developer Day in Bulgaria. "It happened at the Hilton", and it was actually the first conference-type event dedicated solely to mobile technologies that I've ever been to. This probably explains the fact that there were only three people I knew there - and of those, one was a former classmate from the 7th grade whom I hadn't seen since high-school, and the other works at MobilTel, so I wonder if they really count :)

It was pretty interesting, though - maybe the most interesting part was that I seemed to actually understand everything being said, and even managed to slip in a couple of questions and pass for a connoiseur ;) Of course, there was quite a bit of marketspeak and the usual amount of question-dodging, but still there were things to learn - or at least to note for later consideration - in all the presentations. Ericsson's Mobility World program looks like it could indeed help people write things to run on their phones, things to run their phones, and things that make other people run around holding phones.

I'm not exactly sure whether the two presentations from the Bulgarian government employees actually had something to do with Ericsson, but that was probably for the best - the focus of the conference was on mobile technologies and application development in general, I think, and both talks were probably interesting to foreigners looking at Bulgaria for investment or outsourcing. Still, the organizers had subtly rigged the schedule so that people would *want* to stay for the afternoon session - that's where the technical discussions were, after all! Pity that the 'application development' talk didn't happen - the speaker couldn't make it to Bulgaria, apparently - but the mobile positioning and location-based services one was great. Of course, Ericsson are not the only ones to have come up with the products and services shown in the various presentations, but at least they gave me something - several somethings, in fact - to think about, and some ideas about Things I Just Might Do When I Find The Time(tm). The CD's helped some, too - and some of them even have software that may run on OS's other than Windows!

The cancelled talk meant that I was actually able to get to work during office hours after all, and fancy me catching up on blogs and coming across the not-so-new-now news about Google SMS - a genuinely useful mobile service, albeit limited to the US operators :) I do hope that Russell Beattie changed his original opinion about the service, since exciting as they might be, smart phones are still a minority, and not just in Bulgaria, either. The results may not be perfect, but then what is, in this world? I know I've often found myself wishing for a quick search, away from a computer, much less an Internet connection... Of course, I cannot use the Google SMS service too, but here's hoping that some Bulgarian companies wake up now that yet another giant has made yet another move towards mobile content. More discussion on kasia's and John Battelle's blogs - and be sure to check out the 'Trackback' link on John's blog for even more opinions!

Posted by roam at 04:16 AM

October 04, 2004

A couple of minor but important things about DVD's

Jason Scott is keeping a wonderful blog on his great efforts to make a documentary of the history of the BBS's - technology, culture, everything. Now that he's close to completing it, and nearing the phase of actually producing the documentary DVD's, there's a great post on a couple of Do's And Don't's In DVD Production!

Posted by roam at 06:00 PM

Practical Perl Programming @ FMI

As noted over at my FMI blog:

Practical Perl Programming, camel and all

And yep, this ought to have been posted last week, to actually let people know that the first introductory lecture will be held today, October 4th, Monday, at 7pm in auditorium 200 at FMI. Since last week was a bit hectic in other ways, we kinda slipped our schedule with announcing this course, updating its website, and putting up notices on the FMI walls (actually, the latter two are still not quite done), and we just might have to do another introductory lecture on Wednesday, same place, same time - but try to be there today! :)

Of course, the Network Security course will also see the light of another semester, starting tomorrow, Tuesday, at 7pm in auditorium 325 at FMI.

Posted by roam at 11:36 AM
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