January 29th, 2007

Not a Deer


I just spent about two hours tracing a bug in this old scheduling thing my research group uses to manage some local resources. Given that it's an entirely private internal resource, and there are endless bits of technical cruft that I've been working on, replacing it has been a low priority. Recently it's stopped allowing repeated reservations though, meaning scheduling all tuesdays at 4:30 for four weeks week requires people in my group to do that multiple times. The thing is written in PHP, and so like most PHP programs it's an ugly hack written by people who probably can't really program. It eventually traced to the software not being careful with its SQL and trying to insert an empty string into an integer field. At some point in the past, PostgreSQL silently converted that to an integer, and an upgrade fixed that behaviour, which unfortunately broke the scheduler (and revealed its utter lack of error checking). Just like some weird pointer bugs in C I've tracked down over the years, I have to repeat to myself that debugging builds character... even in PHP. At least now I can go back to programming interesting things in pleasant languages.. or working with brains.

I'm still hoping to hear back from some people who want to go see VNV Nation, Pirates of Penzance, and all that.

I have a growing hankering to eat at Abay again. Mmm... Ethiopean..

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Ghandi is an easy person to like - who doesn't like peace, in theory? Sometimes he had some rather strange ideas though.

Advice to the Brits in WW2:

  • "I would like you to lay down the arms you have as being useless for saving you or humanity. You will invite Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini to take what they want of the countries you call your possessions.... If these gentlemen choose to occupy your homes, you will vacate them. If they do not give you free passage out, you will allow yourselves, man, woman, and child, to be slaughtered, but you will refuse to owe allegiance to them."
An argument with a friend:
  • On January 15, 1934, an earthquake hit Bihar and caused extensive damage and loss of life. Gandhi maintained this was because of the sin committed by upper caste Hindus by not letting untouchables in their temples (Gandhi was committed to the cause of improving the fate of untouchables, referring to them as Harijans, people of Krishna). Tagore vehemently opposed Gandhi's stance, maintaining that an earthquake can only be caused by natural forces, not moral reasons, however repugnant the practice of untouchability may be.
Unrelated, randomly bumping into friends in SqHill is a great way to be cheered up.