July 2010


Dream a little dream of me

Posted on Saturday, 17 July 2010

Last night I had a lovely meal out and then saw Inception with Rike and some friends.
I've really enjoyed all of Christopher Nolan's previous films and I think he does an excellent job of creating surprising and compelling stories.
I'm not really going to say anything about the plot, other than to advise you avoid reading anything about it until you've seen it - not because there's anything particularly secret, but because it's nice to not have any preconceptions about what might happen.
For me, the best films have me leaving the cinema totally caught up in their world, my mind reeling with the possibilities of what they have explored. Inception achieved this, and I want to see it again, although preferably at home on Bluray so I can hear every word of dialogue properly - a surprising shortcoming of one of London's flagship cinemas.


Random puppetry

Posted on Wednesday, 14 July 2010

I was talking to a colleague earlier about Puppet and its ability to install packages. I'd not really given it much thought beyond using it to install packages on classes of machines, but he mentioned one particular package which gets updated quite frequently, but is extremely low risk to update - tzdata. By setting this to "ensure => latest" rather than "ensure => present" I can forget about ever having to upgrade that package again \o/

Simple really, but it hadn't occurred to me.


Pick a letter, any letter

Posted on Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Earlier on my laptop suffered a slight mishap which resulted in a key popping off. I examined the mechanism and it didn't obviously go back on by itself, so I googled around a little and landed on the helpful chaps at laptopkey.com. I watched the video that pertains to my exact model, figured out which bits of metal had been slightly bent and a few minutes later I had everything back in working order.
It's almost a shame I didn't need to buy anything from them in return for using their helpful video ;)


Who wants to see something really ugly?

Posted on Tuesday, 6 July 2010

I think it should be abundantly clear from my postings here that I'm not a very good programmer, and this means I give myself a lot of free rope to do some very stupid things.

I'm in constant need of debugging information and in Terminator particularly where we have lots of objects all interacting and reparenting all the time. We've had a simple dbg() method for a long time, but I was getting very bored of typing out dbg('Class::method:: Some message about %d' % foo), so I decided to see what could be done about inferring the Class and method parts of the message.

It turns out that python is very good at introspecting its own runtime, so back in January, armed with my own stupidity and some help from various folks on the Internet, I came up with the following:

# set this to true to enable debugging output
DEBUG = False
# set this to true to additionally list filenames in debugging
# list of classes to show debugging for. empty list means show all classes
# list of methods to show debugging for. empty list means show all methods

def dbg(log = ""):
"""Print a message if debugging is enabled"""
stackitem = inspect.stack()[1]
parent_frame = stackitem[0]
method = parent_frame.f_code.co_name
names, varargs, keywords, local_vars = inspect.getargvalues(parent_frame)
self_name = names[0]
classname = local_vars[self_name].__class__.__name__
except IndexError:
classname = "noclass"
line = stackitem[2]
filename = parent_frame.f_code.co_filename
extra = " (%s:%s)" % (filename, line)
extra = ""
if DEBUGCLASSES != [] and classname not in DEBUGCLASSES:
if DEBUGMETHODS != [] and method not in DEBUGMETHODS:
print >> sys.stderr, "%s::%s: %s%s" % (classname, method, log, extra)
except IOError:

How's about that for shockingly bad? ;)
It also adds a really impressive amount of overhead to the execution time.
I added the DEBUGCLASSES and DEBUGMETHODS lists so I could cut down on the huge amount of output - these are hooked up to command line options, so you can do something like "terminator -d --debug-classes=Terminal" and only receive debugging messages from the Terminal module.

I'm not exactly sure what I hope to gain from this post, other than ridicule on the Internet, but maybe, just maybe, someone will pop up and point out how stupid I am in a way that turns this into a 2 line, low-overhead function :D


My python also spins webs

With Terminator 0.94 released I'm turning my little brain onto an idea I have for a web service and obviously I'm sticking with python.
Clearly writing all the web gubbins by hand is mental, so I'm playing with Flask, a microframework for web apps. So far I'm really liking it, but it's taken a while to figure it and sqlalchemy out.
I'm not at all convinced that this is going to be in any way scalable, but it's a nice way to test my idea :)


A good day

Today has been about creating, not consuming. Apart from half-watching Primal Fear with Rike, I have spent the day fixing bugs in Terminator and playing with the Akai Synthstation app on my iPad. I suspect I'm not going to be ruling the clubs anytime soon, and the UI is pretty dreadful for composing music, but it has a good library of sounds and synth mangling knobs :)
I even filmed myself playing some of the parts and edited them together into a little music video, but it's really very poor ;)
Rike's going to be out for most of tomorrow, so I have to decide between doing more of what I've been doing today, playing PS3 games or going out myself. Tricky!