Monday, September 29, 2008

Code release: Evergreen Customizeable Bib Records

This won't mean much to most of the people who read this, but I just thought I'd point to a bit of code I've released as Free Software, it is a modification to the Evergreen library information system that UPEI runs. This code lets an Evergreen administrator easily customize what information about a book gets displayed when looking at an item in the catalog.

The project page is here: Link.

I really love the fact that I'm being paid to work on open source software as my day job. It's a feeling that your work is meaningful beyond making a client more money while toiling away in silence under an NDA.

I'm surprised how long it's taken for libraries to get onto the open source bandwagon, but UPEI is one of the ones at the very front of the pack, which is making it a very exciting place to work as a software developer.

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By al - 7:55 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, September 26, 2008

Memos: September ember ember

A few things I've been up to lately..
  • A few friends and I went to the Dayboat restaurant on Wednesday and all decided to go for the tasting menu. We were told by the chef before-hand to skip lunch and wear loose pants. I'll say after just the second course, which was goat cheese stuffed into little baby tomatoes, I was sure it was going to be in my top meals I've had my whole life. The wine we had recommended was Teddy Hall chenin blanc 2007. Next, they brought some teasingly delicate shrimp and scallops in a light batter and garnish that complemented it just about perfectly. There was also a beet salad that, just like most of the rest of the ingredients, apparently all were grown within about 20 minutes of the restaurant. The main course was a pork dish made au torchon, not sure what that means but it must have something to do with it being the softest, tenderest cut of pork that is physically possible to make. I'll say pretty confidently that the Dayboat is now the best restaurant on the island, ,hands down. Last year I never checked it out mostly because the menu, while all the local ingredients sounded amazing, just didn't have any dishes that I could get excited about. This year they've kept the focus on local food but the new chef has jazzed up the dishes considerably.

    The funniest part was while we were all enjoying the great food we kept coming back to talking about comfort food we all liked as kids and still do, like lipton noodles and which kind of no-name chocolate chip cookies were the best to the utter pointlessness of 'golden oreos'. Perhaps it was the pleasure in eating such good food that brought back genuinely pleasant memories of food taht wasn't fancy but still had pleasing qualities to it.

  • My thought about the US financial crisis is that the one thing Republicans know how to do well, and that helps them win elections, is to destroy hope. And they're shooting the moon on this one. The wave of Obama's enthusiastic supporters must have been so scary that nothing short of destroying the entire economy was enough to put a stop to it.

  • I just re-read Infinite Jest. Sad that it took the tragic occasion of David Foster Wallace's suicide to get me to do it but I am glad I did. The themes of sadness and human struggle in the face of addictoin and bleak societal cynicism leave me shaking my head but feeling hopeful at the same time. The quest for genuine experience and expression, he seems to be saying, is what leads people to ever more harmful behaviour patterns. There's a 30-some-odd page sequence near the beginning of the book where a character overthinks himself into a state of paralysis while waiting for his pot dealer to show up that grabs you by the gut and forces you to experience the powerlessness of addictoin and the mental acrobatics we try to do to deny it.

    I want to some day either find or perhaps take some time and write a comparison of DFW's depiction of Americans and that of Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut's insitence on small words and straightforward sentences would seem to be anathema to DFW's embracing of esoteric technical terms, unapologetic use of precise jargon when talking about the progression of a tennis match or how a radio transmission works, but I had the same feeling when reading the two that this was the truly most expressive and full-bodied expression I had ever read. I want to find waht it was in both of them taht triggered my empathetic reaction in that wawy.

  • I just got some paintings I ordered from back from the framer today, I'm very pleased with them, The Studio on Queen St. Sure I could have crazy glued and ebay'd my way to framing them myself but these are going to be on my wall for years so I think having an expert do the framing is probably the best way to go for me.

  • I spent the last couple of days adopting some pretty heavy JavaScript code to work on IE 6. And, while I still fully embrace the new movement to just plain drop support for the ancient browser in favour of more standards-compliant browsers, I am still glad I did it as it at least forced me to go over the code again in the same way a rejected article should proof-read every sentence of his work before re-submitting it. So the work is better in the end, even though my cruel master of an editor is the browser world's senile, stuck-in-his-ways boss who makes you write for an audience of reality-TV enthusiasts.

  • Heroes season 3 premier verdict: I'm still gonna watch, but the writers better break out of the arc they seem to be heading in and not repeat the same inter-character and internal struggles of the first season's main characters. I hope they still go ahead with the prequel series that they were talking about towards the end of the first season. Sylar is still my favourite character. "Eat your brain? Claire! That's disgusting!" : best one liner of the whole series so far.

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By al - 5:19 a.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Funny Politicians on Twitter Moment

This is a copy and paste from my twitter stream:
Elizabeth May ElizabethMay is going home
jessamyn west jessamyn Richard Stallman's auto-reply mesage is totally strange. Why am I surprised?
Elizabeth May ElizabethMay is watching the news.
Jack Layton jacklayton the interview with Peter Mansbridge on CBC TV
Jack Layton jacklayton
I'm just imagining Elizabeth watching the news, seeing Layton on there, and getting mad and going home. Sorry, that's what happens when you take a gamble and throw all your eggs into your own riding, people forget about you nationally. I mostly just posted this because of the funny synchronisity, though.

As for the two of them, I get the impression that Jack Layton seems to grasp the potential for Twitter in keeping people interested in his campaign, I wouldn't have known about him appearing on CBC without it, for example. On the other hand he has fallen off of using it just to twitter about random thoughts like regular people use and love Twitter for. If I get the impression that they're just getting some intern to post their updates I'm going to sour on a candidate pretty damn quick.

Elizabeth, on the other hand, just seems like she is using it because someone in her circle told her it's what the kids are into these days, but maybe just hasn't crossed that line you need to to really 'get' it. There is a bit of an art to being engaging with your little updates, to the point where I would want to still follow you even after an election.

The most important thing that they are not doing is to @reply to people when they ask them questions. The mini-conversations on Twitter are what make it a social networking site and not just a glorified .plan file. (Bonus points if you know what that is. Triple bonus points if you used to have one. Mine just said "You have new Mail.")

Oh, I just discovered , I am in instant love. How do I get on this train?

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By al - 11:46 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Testing Genius

Starting point: Sleater-Kinney - The Fox

Rilo Kiley? Really? *shrug*. It still ended up being a playlist I could get behind, though, but then again all my music is good to begin with. Enjoying the rest of iTunes 8 so far. New Apple Stuff days are so much better when there's software we can all download involved.

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By al - 6:20 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

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