Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Arrr!

Avast! Today be International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Actually, I was curious about what the word avast actually means, so I looked it up, and this is what I found:

–verb (imperative) Nautical: used as a command to stop or cease

So there you go. I kind of got that vibe from all the times when I've heard that word used, which, apart from when watching "Pirates of the Caribbean", is fairly seldom. I had great plans for introducing many a poor, unsuspecting soul to this annual feast of piratical sculduggery, but alas, my plans came to naught.

On a side-note, I was checking out the wonderful selection of shirts over at ThinkGeek when I came across a site entitled How To Think Like A Flower. Driving back home from the train station today (and I'll leave the name of the station to your imagination) it occurred to me that everything would make a bit more sense if it turned out that slow drivers were actually all part of a cult. That would explain why there are so many of them who, by working together, can occupy all 3 lanes of a 3-lane road while managing to stay 20 kph below the speed limit. I'm relatively confident that it's just my sometimes overactive imagination talking here, but I think it deserves some more investigation.

Friday, September 15, 2006

You are a bogan (and not in a good way)

Thankyou to "anonymous" (whoever you are) for leaving a completely irrelevent comment to my post on the 12th of September. I do not have the slightest interest in what you found while you were looking for, as you so eloquently put it, "different ways to earn money". I can't imagine what would make you think that a blog entitled "dang about stuff, ey" would lead you to money-making information, but as far as I can see, (according to what you said) you're already having quite enough fun making money. I would suggest, however, that you find yourself a real job instead of meandering aimlessly around blogs, in the hope that some desperate soul with too much spare cash will all of a sudden have the urge to give it all to you.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Black Stump (and no, I don't mean the restaurant)

I thought it would be appropriate to comment on my excitement about the upcoming Black Stump Festival 2006. I missed out on it last year, given that I was over in Canada at the time. It was kind of a last-minute decision to go over there, and if I was back here in Australia instead, it would have made this my third time at Black Stump. As it is though, this is only my second time.

What else can I say really? I've bought a nice shiny new tent (although it's not actually shiny), a sleeping bag and a butane cooker with 4 butane canisters. I found a nice old(ish) frying pan to take with me and now have to plan what food I'll be taking, etc. It's going to be excellent, and our numbers in the group going this time have jumped from a very respectable two, to a non-heinous four. If my efforts to convince several others to come hadn't failed miserably, I'm confident I would have achieved my aim of getting ten people in our group, and getting a $10 per-person discount. Yes, you people who decided you had better things to do know who you are, and I hope you feel appropriately guilty.

Anyways, the programme for the weekend is now online and although I've only had a brief glance at it, I've already decided on a few of the sessions that I'll be going to. Actually, in all honesty I've only decided on one, but it's a doozy. If you think you know which one it is, leave a comment...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Thanks

I've been incredibly slack about blogging over the last week. Although it's been a fairly slow week as far as news goes, I will say that I'm jolly glad that God kept me safe as I was driving up to the Mountains on Monday morning. After only having 3 hours of sleep the previous night (actually, it was more like that morning, from about 3:30am to about 6:30am) the drive was actually pretty good, only being about an hour and a quarter each way. By far the most annoying thing about the whole trip was that when I actually got there for the meeting, none of the stuff that I was taking up there with me actually worked. This probably requires a little more explanation, so I think I'll take this opportunity to start a lovely fresh new paragraph.

The aim of the meeting was for me to show the new version of a program I'm putting together for tracking work, etc. It's actually working brilliantly (if I do say so myself) under the right conditions. Those conditions are as follows: 1. The devices that the software is on (in this case an iPAQ hx2410 and an iPAQ h4540) are able to use the wireless network; 2. The device that the server program is on (in this case, my trusty old Dell Inspiron 8000) is also able to see the aforementioned network.

Unfortunately, even though I was all ready with static IP addresses assigned to all necessary devices and everything working wonderfully here at home, problem #1 upon arrival up there was that my access point (which I took with me) was not visible to any wireless network cards (and yes, I had turned it on) whether on my notebook or the PDAs. I figure that there could be a number of reasons for this, but the one with the highest probability was that my access point was using the same channel as the wireless network they already have set up there. As it turns out though, I'm not entirely confident of that being the reason, because they were having all sorts of trouble with the wireless network anyway, and I'm not sure it was even running. So the fix for that would have been really simple - use a wired connection to change the channel being used by the access point. But silly me (being silly me) forgot to take my network card with me, (my trusty old Dell Inspiron 8000 doesn't have an inbuilt wired network adapter).

Problem #2 is that the software I'm writing is for PDAs, with an integral part being the ability to scan barcodes for input. Now, that is entirely possible, and I've previously written many programs in embedded Visual Basic to accomplish just that. But I am writing this software in embedded Visual C++. A fairly important part of writing software for specific hardware, I've found, is to actually have the hardware present when writing the software. Unfortunately, barcode hardware (I suspect due to its fairly limited target market) is quite expensive, and I have no desire to spend hard-earned money on hardware that I'm not actually going to use most of the time. So I've been managing to get by finding other ways to input data to the PDA. The best way I've found to do this is to have a connection between the server program I'm writing and the PDA, and then have the server able to send data to the PDA, to be treated as scanned input (if that makes sense). This works really well here with my wireless network up and running, but when problem #1 occurs, it kind of stuffs everything up. But back to the point - problem #2 occurs when what you thought would work turns out not to work at all - in other words, I thought that the program I had written would accept input from the barcode reader, but in reality, it didn't.

So overall, 2.5 hours of driving and then 2.5 hours of trying to get everything to work after 3 hours of sleep made for a frustrating morning, compounded by the fact that within about an hour of getting back home again I had it all working the way it should have while I was in the mountains.

But the main point of this wasn't to gripe about work, my intention was to give thanks to God for keeping me safe while travelling. And the fact that nothing really worked right that morning isn't particularly noteworthy next to all the good things that have happened. And right now, one of the great things I'd like to mention is that dinner tonight was thoroughly enjoyable. So thankyou to my lovely wife, and thankyou to God for creating her.

Monday, September 04, 2006

dang again

Well dang, today was one of those days where you hear something in the news and it just seems a bit surreal. It was actually a website that I was looking at (can't remember which one it was now though) where I saw that Steve Irwin had died today. It happened when Princess Diana died too. You hear the news and think "maybe I misheard".

Regardless of what people might have liked to say about Steve Irwin - particularly with regard to the impression of our lovely country, Australia, he gave to all the many visitors going through customs each day - I am sure that we will only hear positive things for quite a while to come. Not having spent any time whatsoever watching any of his shows, etc, I am nevertheless sure that there will be a re-release of his film "The Crocodile Hunter" (from 2002) and that sales of the aforementioned will be remarkably high.

Of all the things I might say about him from my position of relative ignorance, I will say this: when coming back from overseas I can't think of many people who could make a quarantine warning enjoyable to sit through while there are a plane full of people itching to get out of their seats after a 10-hour flight, but as far as I'm concerned, he did a great job.

Friday, September 01, 2006

dang

hi all, and welcome to my blog. this is my first post, so hopefully it's not a disappointment. i just wanted to vent a bit about software development for pocket pcs. when it comes down to it, i can't think of a better word to express my feelings than 'dang'. it has that ring about it.

back in the earlier years of this century, I was writing software in embedded visual basic, and i must say it was quite a pleasure to be able to work in a familiar development environment (being that at that stage i had been using visual basic for a few years) and then see programs working on small devices with a 240x320 screen, and an even smaller usable area. but sure enough, shortly after i started writing programs in embedded visual basic (in all fairness, it was a couple of years) microsoft announced that they were planning to cease support for embedded visual basic in the near future. that near future came to pass with the arrival of pocket pc 2003, which only support embedded visual basic programs with a seperate downloadable runtime. and surely enough, they followed that with no support at all in windows mobile 5. i can understand that, and am quite happy to have moved on, and I thoroughly enjoy writing better desktop and mobile software with visual C++ 6.0 and embedded visual c++ 3.0 respectively. well, to say 'thoroughly enjoy' might be a slight exaggeration...

i must say, in my development i have come to take a lot of things for granted. we see plenty of dos executables floating around that work perfectly well under windows. as far as desktop software goes, i must say that i'm actually pretty impressed that for so long newer operating systems were able to run old software. maybe not particularly well sometimes, but more often than not you'll get a promising start. not so with mobile development however - much to my dismay, all the database access which i've been doing under previous incarnations of windows ce mean nothing to windows mobile 5, as far as i can tell. and for someone who doesn't particularly want to pay hundreds (if not thousands) for development suites which will (like msn messenger) have far too many useless little add-ons that get in the way, and of which there is no way to remove, there is really very little left to do. in theory, much of what is possible to do with embedded visual c++ 4.0 is documented, and i'm sure there are plenty of samples somewhere, but true to form, all this veritable feast of information is hidden in a dusty, crumbling mess of a bookshelf sitting in the depths of some dark, dank dungeon over in redmond, washington where no-one who actually needs the information will actually find it.

so here ends my first post. i will, before i go, say a big thankyou to dr maya vale whose lower-case formatting i stole. i decided that i'd try it out for myself and see how i like it. i'd also like to say a big thankyou to the friendly folks over at the macquarie shopping centre whose "fun-loving" (annoying and frustrating) antics in the carpark gave me the urge to create this blog in the first place. until next time, i bid you all farewell...