Archive for January, 2008

And, we’re back for another semester of poking and prodding the Microsoft Source Server for use with the Mozilla debug symbols.

First order of business is to clean up as much of the symbolstore.py patch as possible and then the next step would be to start writing a pdbstr.exe replacement that can be distributed. Also, there’s the issue of Mozilla 2 and mercurial

Looks like there was an involved process in choosing the next generation VCS for Mozilla 2 and so now I am wondering whether I should be continuing to work on my 0.3 or start working on something that will make source server work with mercurial.

This week I’ll be trying to pull together a solid list of what I hope to accomplish this term for my 1.0 release, i’ll post more soon.

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Today was the first class of my BTP600 Design Patterns class. The teacher talked about how there are 3 ways to go about learning to write larger, non-trivial programs.

  1. Try + Fail + Fix
  2. Read the code of other (superstar) coders to see how they did it well
  3. Design Patterns

I like this class. It’s very hard to see how I will ever write something large and non-trivial but I know that’s what we will accomplish by the end of BTS and this course as well. When I look at the mozilla code base, I can’t see how something like this came to be. What do you write first?

The teacher mentioned that Kernighan (sp?) and Richie write really great code and so I’d like to read some. Anyone know of a good example? I welcome tips on code that you may have found exciting to read.

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Something that I have come to appreciate about Mozilla is that its chat channels on IRC are incredibly positive, helpful and relevant. As there are so many areas in developing and using Mozilla projects, several channels exist that allow you to join a channel when it is specific to your area of discussion.

Recently I went to the Joomla channel because I am working on a project for a friend in Joomla. Now, this is my first time working with Joomla. I have attended a brief “Hands on” workshop at the Ontario Linux Conference and I’ve read some of Dan Rahmel’s “Professional Joomla”. I was having trouble understanding the way that Joomla uses plug-ins. Basically there’s a plug-in that can recognize a snippet of custom code in an article – ie: {images view|gallery} or something like that. What I wanted to do was to be able to put that code in a module so that I could position it on the page in the way that modules can be positioned. I can’t find a way to position articles.

So I go to the Joomla channel in the hopes that talking with real person will help – much as going to the mozilla channels has helped in the past. I know that the #seneca channel is special because it is targeted at students who are learning, but the Joomla channel said at the top “Be patient, as your question – if no answer, try giving more info” (paraphrasing). I assumed that I could ask my question and get at least one person to talk it out with me.


What I got instead was a big fat nothing. NO response. NO acknowledgement. I asked politely if I should provide more information, and someone (who had been talking away about someone being gay) said “Oh, i didn’t see the question”. So I rephrase it and ask again – then nothing again. What?!

In frustration, I ask “is anyone here knowledgeable about plugins?” and a half hour later, at which point I had moved on to other tasks since there was no reply yet again, I get a private message from someone who says “ya, what you want?”. I didn’t bother responding. I created an html workaround to what I wanted to accomplish and moved on.

Needless to say, this experience was disheartening for a moment. But then I saw the positive side. I am a small part of a channel or two on the mozilla irc that is friendly, helpful and welcoming. So that’s nice to notice and appreciate.

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Today was the first day back in the hallowed halls of S@Y. I managed to clear up the conflict signing up for DPS911 and am now officially registered.

I’ve gotten some great feedback on the bug I filed for the source server so there’s lots to get started on. First rewriting the patch better and then the grand task of writing a new pdbstr.exe that we can distribute because the Microsoft version cannot do so.

Anyway, that’s the short, glossy version.

I’m looking forward to getting back in the game. As the last few days of the holiday whip by I’m also working on some websites for friends, training to be a tutor in the Learning Center, helping some friends paint and trying to finish another pair of socks.

Yesterday at a New Year’s brunch I spent some time with a friend who has recently lost a large amount of her vision. She is almost (but not quite) legally blind and her vision will continue to deteriorate at an unknown rate. She’s a visual artist as well as a teacher and we had a lively discussion about software and adaptive technology. I’m determined to find a way to develop simple, well designed, as open source as possible programs for the Mac. This is a challenge since a) I have been informed that there is no money in writing adaptive software and b) apple development is a mystery to me and c) I’m not sure if it’s even possible to write open source programs for Apple.

Learning about this will be the sidebar on the to-do list for the winter you know, in my spare time 🙂

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