I like to travel by train. It's a bit fraught in the UK, we may have invented mass rail transportation but there hasn't been enough investment in the last century to keep up with modern standards.
We are planning on going to Scotland on Holiday this summer. It's a long way so we decided to go by sleeper train. We should have known to steer well clear when the web site said that they could sell tickets for parties only of the same sex... So I was forced to phone them and on a very noisy line I spoke to some heavily accented Scottish person. Two days later the tickets arrived, only they didn't sell us the correct ones! They will cancel them and give us our money back but they can't correct the booking error they made.
Like trains, hate train companies! I can't think of anything nice to say about any of the train companies I've dealt with since privatisation - they are all nasty money grabbing idiots with no idea about customer care!
On Saturday morning out AEG Santo 2642-6 KG fridge freezer decided to stop refrigerating. We had a mad panic eating everything that had defrosted - a month's supply of meat in two days! Now we are just waiting for a replacement thermostat to turn up.
This was brought to my attention: Yesterday still matters.
Waiting for a Tube train this morning, Sneak was confronted by a large advertisement for Microsoft Office 2007, bearing the slogan, "Forget about yesterday. It's a whole new day". This is a bit of a questionable sentiment: Sneak for one would quite like any and all documents carefully prepared yesterday to still be available today, whether or not Microsoft's software can be bothered to remember where it left them.
I keep thinking I should try to learn another programming language. I taught myself Pascal, Shell and Perl a long time ago, and have been very happy with Perl in particular. At work I use ABAP (COBOL+SQL), and I keep trying and failing to learn Java.
Python is supposed to be a good language to learn as is Ruby, both have been influenced by Perl and in turn have influenced Perl 6. They can't be any worse than ABAP or Java...
Long time commentator Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols makes an interesting if impractical suggestion to Mr Gates: "save Vista, opens source it". It's very unlikely that Microsoft would even consider this, but Steven has made some fair observations on the rather lack-lustre performance of Windows Vista.
Vista just isn't selling well: it's expensive and slow, and the only people getting it are people buying new computers - and even then people are now asking for Windows XP in preference. Both Mac and Linux are continuing to increase in market share and both of them are proving to be more secure, easier to use and much prettier. Other than Microsoft's monopoly, Windows doesn't have a lot going for it.
Even a tame Microsoft shill: The Guardian have an article out this week advocating Linux over Windows, because it just works... "Read me first : Why Linux is the perfect system for people who hate computers".
Apparently in the French edition of PBP this phrase comes out as "fusillade auto-podale".
Someone noticed this word this week in PBP by Damian Conway. Some digging suggests it may mean "To shoot oneself in the foot", from the Latin: pedes viator = a traveller on foot and sagittarius = a kind of archer.
Interestingly I've done quite a bit of that this week in both Perl and ABAP... I could do with arrow-proof footwear now.
In his April essay: Microsoft is Dead, Paul Graham claims that Microsoft is a "dead man walking". It's an interesting read, the basic theory being that start-ups no longer fear Microsoft because though they still have more money than sense they don't know what to do with it. Therefore the world is safe for start-ups.
He claims that Google were the first start-up to not fear Microsoft and now that they have challenged and survived Microsoft everyone else is having ago.
I don't know if I believe it, but it's not dissimilar to an essay I read about SGI. It was written by a visitor to the SGI campus who had the feeling that while the company was still making a mint, the smell of decay lingered every where. He was perplexed as to why the investors hadn't noticed that SGI was a "dead man walking". As is often the case the City/Wall Street is often the last to notice that a company is/is not going places...
Today Debian GNU/Linux testing, code-named "Etch" has become the new stable release of Debian.
It has taken a tad longer than originally expected but it's done now, and Lenny is the new testing version of Debian. The freeze for Etch took place back in December, with a very aggressive release time table.
While Debian 3.0 (Woody) was around for far too long, Debian 3.1 (Sarge) has been stable for a sensible period of time. I've already upgraded most of my production boxes to Debian 4.0 (Etch), just my home server remains on the old version.
Today I spent most of the day tinkering with a scratch ABAP program. We have an old 2.3k line report that doesn't do quite what we want. It turns out that the info-sets that it reads it's data from have been borked so the report doesn't give a true picture of the business...
My scratch program is currently just under 200 lines of code and seems to get all the right numbers is about as quick. Once I've added some optimisation and extra rigour it should provide the correct results which the original doesn't, run faster and give a prettier result. Best of all there will be a chance that it will be maintainable too - being much simpler.
ABAP coding isn't as much fun a Perl coding but it's better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, plus it pays the rent.