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Agile Development [] is a fantastic repository of useful development stuff. Focussed on agile type stuff, it has info that good for people not using agile methodologies, like the database refactoring page which is a great checklist of ideas to run over your db design.

The advanced XML page is a good intro to XML namespace schemas and the like.

12:38 AM, 22 Jun 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Life is on another world when you have $US 20 Million to throw around. That's how much Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft) has poured into a venture with Burt Rutan/Scaled Composites to put the first commercially finded vehicle outside of the Earth's atmosphere.

There's even a commercial space race—the Ansari X Prize offerin $US 10 Million to "the first privately financed team to build and launch a vehicle capable of taking tourists into space".

Where do I buy my ticket? (Thanks to my reading friend The Economist for bringing me up to speed on this essential 21st century issue!).

01:44 PM, 21 Jun 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Language is brain food []

According to The Times (reprinted here by The Australian), some recent Canadian research shows that learning to speak a second language helps to prolong the life of your brain and proetect against age related brain disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

Bilingual older people have faster reaction times than those who speak only one language and are less easily distracted while completing mental agility tasks. The findings add to growing evidence that taking part in activities that stretch the mind has a lasting effect on brain health.

If I want a real challenge, I guess it's time to learn Danish ;)

I wonder if this extends to knowing more than one computer language? According to my CV I am fluent in about a dozen, but that doesn't count programming my HP48 ;)

02:40 AM, 19 Jun 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Perl and AOLserver []

Was chatting with Jim on IRC who pointed me to his old-ish project perl-aol - looks really nice.

I'm going to do some enhancements because it could be the solution that gets me the best of both my dev worlds (OpenACS/AOLserver and mason/mod_perl)

10:26 PM, 17 Jun 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Mmm - Internet advertising works...for someone

Not sure why I bother having Google AdSense ad's clutter my page design - from 36,538 page impressions I have had 61 clicks. Yes - that's 0.2% I can change the statistics by clicking on my own ad once a month, and that's depressing!!

I guess I'm just not feeling lucky.

11:25 AM, 17 Jun 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

From Leonardo Davinci's diary:


Those who are in love with practice without knowledge are like the sailor who gets into a ship without rudder or compass and who never can be certain whether he is going. Practice must always be founded on sound theory, and to this Perspective is the guide and the gateway; and without this nothing can be done well in the matter of drawing.

12:16 AM, 17 Jun 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Whooee this is nice. Let's say you (like me) have A Linux box, a Windows box and a mac laptop all side by side on your desk.

Traditionally you have two solutions to your keyboard and mouse problems:

  1. Use an expensive KVM switch (I guess in this case it's really a KM switch...) and remember to switch back and forth
  2. Have three keyboards and mice (or two and strain your back reaching for the laptop)

Synergy is an opensource project that lets you drag your mouse across all three (or more)! Yay! Your keyboard enters into whichever system currently has the mouse on it's screen (And yes, there is a solution to the ever present Ctrl-Alt-Del problem - just hit Ctrl-Alt-Pause - except since my Happy Hacking keyboard has no pause key I'll have to patch the code...)

Even better - as you move around, the clipboard follows you :)

At last - some software that does what you want. I'll report back when I have it up and running at two sites. (This one will be fun, because all three are on differen subnets with firewalls...)

Update: The current 1.19 release is a bit smoother it seems, and the clipboard copying to MacOS X clients also appears more reliable.

The scroll wheel support for the Mac client is still way too slow.

I hacked COSXScreen::fakeMouseWheel in lib/platform/COSXScreen.cpp to speed it up. Just before the call to CGPostScrollWheelEvent, I added the line wheelIncr *= 5; and that seems about right.

02:59 AM, 16 Jun 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (2)

A thousand words... []

I came across this site ( ) when David Chin (the founder and maintainer) emailed me inviting me to submit one of my photo's with a 300 word essay.

Amusingly I only saw his email subject fleetingly before my anti-spam filter whisked it away, but something told me to investigate.

Essentially, David's site contains a (nearly) daily photo with an accompanying 300 word essay by the photographer.

Quite a nice low bandwidth way to take in some different creativity each morning. I will be sure to submit something.

08:59 AM, 15 Jun 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

SQL Transaction Misunderstandings

Well, it appears that my understanding of transactions in PostgreSQL and Oracle is somewhat deficiant, but at least I'm in good company.

This recent OpenACS forum thread contains a good discussion - basically being inside a transaction does not guarantee that your view of the database will not change during the time of the transaction.

Yeah - that's what I said as well.

So, it looks like I'll be doing a few more select for update's in the future, but the serializeable level needs to be higher for the behaviour I usually expect. Of course as pointed out by my friend Russell, that will lead to a much higher percentage of aborted transactions, so my code will have to get more robust as well. While that's a good thing, it looks like a traditional RDBMS does less of my work for me than I thought...

Related links:

08:42 AM, 11 Jun 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)


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