Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Taste of Linux...

About a fortnight ago before the holiday break, I finally got a Linux box set up at work with the specific version of Ubuntu that the project product would operate in. Among other considerations for this setup, was the fact that this project already had a fair amount of code, and much of it using some old/obsolete versions of packages which are practically impossible to easily get for Windows or that were difficult to compile without a lot of porting work first.

Now, although I'd worked with Linux (Fedora) in the COSC labs before (and previously with a flaky partial install of Cygwin on an old computer at home), this would probably have been my first real Linux box where I could actually go through and play with setting things up (i.e. /me has admin rights). Here are some thoughts/findings so far...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas

A belated Merry Christmas to all! 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Noo.... not another shake

Jeepers! We've just been hit by another sudden jolt this afternoon, a few minutes ago. It's been a good few months since the last significant event that I felt!

It went on for a half a minute or so, and was followed by a few smaller aftershocks in quick succession.

Thankfully everything is fine (though some things did get knocked over). More details later...

- there is the constant sound of sirens coming from the mall, and heavy traffic moving around.
- Geonet reports it was a 5.8 quake out at Lyttleton. Crap, this means we're going to have a few more sleepless nights for a while again.

EDIT 2: (3:28pm)
We've just had a second, even more destructive quake - it felt much worse than any of the others so far. Deja vu all over again (June 13th).

Was watching some cabinets just swaying violently, stuff clinking around, and the house jelloing for a while afterwards.

After over an hour, Geonet now reports this as a 6.0 @ 6km deep. Gah!

Garden Flowers and Hungry Beaks

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Strawberry Platter

This year is turning out to be quite a bumper season for the strawberries in our garden. These were all harvested the other day...

PyGTK - Collapsible Panels

Mwahahaha... last night I finally managed to coerce PyGTK into giving me collapsible panels that looked the way I wanted.

Avoiding Degenerative Coding Practices - My Coding Style Guide (C-Style)

I'm quite pedantic about many aspects about how code looks. After all, you're going to be looking at, and editing it quite a bit, so it does pay to spend some time making it more pleasant in the long run.

This particular guide applies to C-like languages. I have another one for Python-code which shares some similarities, but also some differences.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Diagramming Tools - A call to action!

It has been bothering me for a while now, especially after each and every frustrating, multi-hour-long session: the world's diagramming tools suck. Big time.

It's really a wonder that after over two decades and countless billions of dollars being pumped into research and development, that no-one has really managed to create a diagramming tool which can match the immediacy or flexibility of pen and paper, let alone bring anything "new" to the table in terms of "enhancing human intelligence".

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Moar Pretty Solar Garden Lights

After seeing how beautiful the two birdie garden lights were, we decided to get some more. Unfortunately, there were no more of the birdie ones, though perhaps that wasn't such a bad thing after all ;)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sunday, December 4, 2011

When the Santa parade comes to a street near you...

As a result of the quakes we've had here in Christchurch, this year the Santa Parade had to be moved from its usual route down Colombo St in the CBD to none other than the main road passing by a few blocks away from home.

Although the weather forecasts had predicted heavy rain for today, the sunny weather we've been having for the past week held until after the parade was over.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Link Dump - Some interesting articles...

Recently I've been doing quite a bit of reading instead of active coding in the evenings (the product of having spent the rest of the day being productive on other projects I guess). So this afternoon, on a warm sunny summer day with a slightly overheating computer (post compile), here are a list of interesting links...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

PyGTK Documentation Rant

So, continuing on my series about PyGTK, today I'm going to be discussing one of those issues which every new users of some tool or toolset comes across (hopefully, if it even exists): documentation.

Fortunately, in this case, they DO have some documentation. Heck, they've got some tutorials and a reference manual. On the surface it's all well and good, until you start running into a few things which start to become gradually more annoying as time goes by.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

GTK Quick Tip - Toggling icons on toolbars

Just a quick tip when using GTK to try and set up a toggle button, with an icon that changes appearance when the state changes.
When initialising the images for use on the button, remember to do ".show()" on BOTH of the icons, otherwise, only the one visible on the button on startup will be visible later on.
Disclaimer:  I'm still getting my head around GTK (PyGTK), so the following code snippet may not be considered "best practice" in these cricles.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Vala - Interesting hybrid language

Earlier this evening, I stumbled across an interesting programming language in development in the Linux world: Vala.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cathedral Sq. Walkway

This weekend, the officials finally opened up a walkway for us to walk around the heart of the CBD - down Columbo St to Cathedral Square, and stand in front of the damaged cathedral (or as The Wizard called it, "auld stumpy")...

Of course, the usual disclaimers about "danger", "distress", and limited access (300 people at a time, for 1 hour max) applied, but that didn't stop the crowds of people who showed up for the blink of an eyelid.

Christchurch CBD - High St

With the progressive reopening (sometimes temporarily only) of the CBD, us Cantabs have a new passtime over the weekends: roaming, gawking, and "reclaiming" our battered city.
Last weekend, I headed off on foot to an area I haven't seen in months, which is hidden from view to passing traffic behind copious amounts of chicken-wire fencing placed in odd arrangements and the odd army sentry holed away in one of the wooden huts manning the checkpoints.

Pretty Lights - Birdy Garden Lights

We recently came across some nifty little solar garden lights while wandering around the shops. Compared to the solar lights we saw in the past, these are fancy...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Silvereyes - Birdie on a branch (3)

A pretty pair of silvereyes visited late this afternoon, for some of IMO my best shots yet!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Silvereyes - Cluster of Flowers (2)

The light wasn't that great this time (cloudy and nearing sunset), but nonetheless, it was fun trying to grab shots of the birdies with a tripod-mounted and teetered camera, having waited several days...

Hackers Beware - SVN 1.6 vs 1.7

This morning I've been trying to debug why the "From Existing Checkout" option in DualitySvn isn't working on the office computer (despite it having worked on every other computer I've tested it on so far).

Apparently starting from SVN 1.7 (computer in question runs 1.7.1), the subversion developers have gone and changed the format of the internals of the .svn folders. Well, they were well within their rights to... after all, those folders are kindof "private metadata" that SVN uses, that we really shouldn't be dipping our toes into! Having said that, it was kindof convenient grovelling around in there in the past.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Return of the Silvereyes

After waiting for a few days, the silvereyes have finally come to feast on the bottlebrush flowering outside my window.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rainy Afternoon

After a week of mostly fine weather, today we've been having a bit of a southerly change.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

MARS-CT GUI Summer Project

Tomorrow I officially begin work on a summer project at the HITLab on a Summer Scholarship scheme offered by UC. I'll be working on designing a proper GUI for a "spectral computed tomography" scanner being developed by the multidisciplinary MARS (Medipix All Resolution System) group.

Monday, November 7, 2011

CBD Reopening

Last weekend, the CBD reopened again, well partially, after months of being off bounds. This weekend, I finally had some time to make the pilgrammage...

The skyline, or what's left of it

Johnson's Grocer in the temporary Cashel St Mall

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Performance Timing Tools

One of the more interesting presentations (so I've gathered) from the recent Blender Conference was a talk by Benjamin Walther-Franks titled "Performance Timing Tools". Although I haven't managed to find a recording of this to watch yet (it would've been on in the middle of the night here... far too late to watch realtime ;) I have managed to find the link to the the page for this:

Monday, October 31, 2011


A rant for the cats in the neighbourhood...

Enough is enough!

My garden is NOT a public toilet. Specifically, it is not YOUR (Knightly, light-brown turquoise, ugly-black-horny-rag, or the other sunbathing tabbies') toilet.
Public enemy #1 - "Knightley" just after doing the deed, and preparing to/contemplating do it again in another spot
What must I do to make this clear?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Weekend Outings - Ilam Homestead

The weather was nice and warm on Saturday afternoon, so I went out for a bit of a walk. Perhaps not such a great time for photos (being just after lunchtime with light), but on the other hand, it lends itself nicely to some dramatic results at times...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Doodle of the day

Monday, October 24, 2011

The turntable vs trackball wars...

It's taken just under 3 months, but I see that someone finally noticed that the change to the viewport rotation default.  For a while there, I was beginning to suspect that finally, after so many years of endless, heated debates filled with personal attacks trotting out well worn battle lines like the blasted blackbirds patrolling our garden do everyday, that finally we'd see some peace when this change occurred.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Saturday Afternoon Photos

Probing around the kitchen with a looking for interesting looking stuff again...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Blender 2.60 Released

Today marks a new era in Blender development, with the first release of the 2.6 series.

After a lengthy and tortuous period of bughunting and stabilisation following the initial 2.5 releases, we're finally getting back to a state of developing new features and improvements. It's great to see forward progress again, and hopefully as my own (increasingly busy) schedules allow, some cool new features too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Moodle is a crappy bugfarm!

... or perhaps just the current version rolled out on the servers I've used it on was (though I wouldn't be surprised if most of the bugs still held)...

Like many other educational institutions around NZ, UC has been getting in on the whole "online learning" thing with a Moodle-based CMS (aptly named after a naming contest yielded the "best entry" by some random unknown as "Learn"). As diligent COSC student, and also dedicated UI design (semi-)professional, paying attention to the small details of how computer systems work and present themselves to users is what we do, and is also where we can aim to score brownie points over our competitors ;)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Monday, October 17, 2011

Time for a break

Yipee! Assignments all done at last! Now off for a good rest before exams :D