Print Story King of the World
By TheophileEscargot (Sat Aug 28, 2004 at 10:10:57 PM EST) (all tags)
Me. What I'm Not Watching. What I'm Downloading. Cups. What I'm Listening To. What I'm Reading: "Ancient Light" (with SPOILERS and ENDING). Web.

Contains great content EXCLUSIVE to loyal weekend readers!

Plus a super-multipoll!

Phew. Definitely need a three day weekend right now: feeling very abraded by the chaos that is work.

Latest joy was discovering because a certain piece of data is supposed to change at a greater level of granularity than normal, we can't rely on the existing code to set it (which it does nicely and automatically). So, I have to write a new code to do the same job.

Now you remember the "XML" that I was supposed to output, that turned out to be non-standard pseudo-XML? The way that I output this new data is that I put in a certain tag, then write binary data to the file for a bit, then put in an end tag.

Good way to move data around?

What I'm Not Watching
I know I've complained about not getting very far with reading lately, but I've fallen even further behind with the TV. I've got three unwatched episodes of The Shield on tape (or hard drive), plus one Six Feet Under. I abandoned Malcolm in the Middle this series after the BBC started showing an episode every weekday. I know in theory I could save them up, but that takes even more organization and energy and discipline. And lots of organized tapes.

Can't imagine watching the same show every day. I'm just not going to be in the right mood to watch it.

What I'm Downloading
Missed taping a couple of episodes of The Shield, so trying to download them. Is it just me, just these episodes or has Suprnova really gone to shit? Download rates on the torrents seem OK for the first couple of hours, but then drop to between 2 and 8 KB/s. I blame hit-and-runners.

King of Cups
My cheapo digital camera is playing up. I suspect water damage. Anyway, before my last clear-up of the controversial cups, I took a photo:

See, it's hardly a big deal.

The wall cartoon is here. Come to think of it, that seems to have annoyed at least one person as well.

What I'm Listening To
Audio books. Pretty much despairing of getting them in sequence, the latest audiobook I got is a Patrick O'Brian Aubrey/Maturin, The Fortune of War. Excellent so far, though the exposition at the start where he explains all the dramatic things that happened in the last book is inevitably annoying, since after a brisk round up of adventures with ice-mountains, mutinies, ship-taking, intrigues and romances you go straight back to a round of dissections, shipboard politics and Maturin's ill-advised attempts to play cricket.

Fortunately, the ship soon blows up and we're back on to shipwreck, cannibalism and a treacherous revolt by those perfidious Americans. Hopefully Captain Aubrey will sort them out in short order. It shouldn't take long: apparently the Americans have no ships of the line, and their frigates are absurdly heavy and over-gunned.

On my latest voyage to the library, I espied the preceding and succeeding books in paper format, which I cut out as prizes. Might have to finish the audio book first though, otherwise things could get confusing.

What I'm Reading
Finally got my way to the end of Ancient Light by Mary Gentle. (sequel to Golden Witchbreed). It was a struggle, but definitely worth it for the superb ending.

The first book was a pretty standard "wander round the strange planet" job, but this one is a lot more ambitious, as the Pan-Oceania Corporation starts to take an interest in the planet Orthe and its technological relics. It's a lot more plausible than usual, with the Company characters actually being realistically drawn people rather than evil stereotypes, making an effort to minimize the damage they do. The local politics are also realistic, with rival nations taking different attitudes to the offworlders.

I think the realistic complexity is one of the best features of both books. Usually authors love to simplify: desert planet, forest planet, feudal planet. There might be a couple of rival nations, but there's usually one or two convenient Supreme Rulers; and of course a single Earth Government.

In Gentle's future, Earth is still divided into similar power blocs to today, though the corporations are relatively more powerful. Orthe is also divided, and the different groups interact without much common purpose.

Be warned though: the ending is not exactly cheerful. Gentle describes a steadily deteriorating situation, leading inevitably to disaster as the outside universe disturbs the fragile stability of Orthe, despite the best efforts of the characters to contain it. Mary Gentle claims to still get hate mail about the ending, and certainly some amazon reviewers are unhappy bunnies about it.

Stolen from Metafilter: Fuck it: nice game.

Stolen from pHatidic on K5: Beware Wikipedia: "It's not the online version of an established, well-researched traditional encyclopedia. Instead, Wikipedia is a do-it-yourself encyclopedia, without any credentials." More on the debate here.

Stolen from slashdot: Inside a Microsoft bug fix and a good comment.

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King of the World | 7 comments (7 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Dumb question... by altserver (5.00 / 1) #1 Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 01:24:05 AM EST
The way that I output this new data is that I put in a certain tag, then write binary data to the file for a bit, then put in an end tag.

Is it possible for your end tag (or any other sort of tag) occur accidentally in the binary? Does that mean you have to scan the binary and delimit such things as part of the data?

There's not much binary data by TheophileEscargot (5.00 / 2) #2 Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 01:50:06 AM EST
So it's not very likely, though it's not impossible. It's also a fixed buffer length, so I expect at the other end they're relying on that.

It's not a big deal in terms of coding: it's just the philosophy of it that bothers me. It combines the fiddliness and lack of human-readability of binary data, with the masses of inefficient/redundant tag-data of XML, in a non-standard format that means you can't use a standard library or component (SAX, MSXML) to generate it.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Yep, seems wrong on several levels (N/T) by altserver (5.00 / 1) #3 Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 05:20:44 AM EST

[ Parent ]
Are you on a Windows box? by ti dave (5.00 / 1) #4 Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 08:44:01 AM EST
For the size of your .avi files, your directory seems a bit unwieldy.

How are you dealing with the size limits?

I don't care if people hate my guts; I assume most of them do.
The important question is whether they are in a position to do anything about it. --W.S. Burroughs

Haven't found any limits yet by TheophileEscargot (6.00 / 1) #5 Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 08:14:42 PM EST
But that's just my download directory, I move stuff out of it when I can be bothered.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Re the wikipedia debates by Dr H0ffm4n (3.00 / 0) #6 Mon Aug 30, 2004 at 09:53:05 PM EST
I don't see much debating...

Bah by TheophileEscargot (3.00 / 0) #7 Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 06:03:33 AM EST
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
King of the World | 7 comments (7 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback