Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A grab-bag of two-week memories

This is really just a quick grab-bag about various things that happened with me in the last two weeks.

Been to Croatia a week ago. Went on workdays - thursday and friday (and saturday). Kids were at wife's relatives, wife was working on these days, so my absence had minimal impact on family :-) It also had minimal impact on work, as I took my laptop with me and stayed at a friend who could provide me with internet connection, so I worked during the day and visited friends in evenings. I even called into the work-related conference calls during these days, although calling US numbers from a Hungarian cellphone while romaing in Croatia earned me a call from T-Mobile customer relations next monday asking whether there's a chance my phone was used unauthorized as they registered calls worth 300$ in a single day on it. Whoops, here comes my record phone bill. Anyway, it was really great to visit childhood friends and go for swimming at sunset in the same lake I swam in every day of every summer of my childhood. This was my very first return to that lake in fifteen years - since I had to leave the region because of the then-war. Yes, I'm being sentimental. A bit.

I desacrated my MacBook Pro by installing Windows XP on a small 8GB partition on it few days ago. I guess I just couldn't watch my copy of Far Cry gather dust on the shelf anymore knowing that I didn't complete the game before I switched to the Mac. I have to report that all is peachy with it. It even takes advantage of the two CPUs reasonably well (i.e. it runs with over 50% CPU utilization). After few hours of installing XP, Far Cry, and all patches for Far Cry, I even got a chance to play with it for about an hour :-) Far Cry BTW is one hidden gem of a first-person shooter - it brought the same graphical excellence and gameplay experience to the market as Half-Life 2 did, only Far Cry hit the market about 9 months earlier than Half-Life 2 did. It is somewhat underappreciated compared to HL 2 though, unfortunately.

Been re-watching Futurama Season 1 lately as work-unwinding. It stuns me as a bit boring and predictable - well, maybe because I already saw it once, but still. I don't have the same feeling when rewatching The Simpsons. Pausing it a lot though to spot various not uncommon easter eggs that are visible for only a second or so. Speaking of work-unwinding, I'm trying to cram in at least half an hour of cycling or running lately in the evenings. I noticed that a bit of a physical activity after an all-day sitting in front of a computer really refreshes me for an evening of Uno with kids :-)

Been listening to "Kite" and "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" much lately. Not going to explain it - if you're a close friend, you understand anyway.

Oh, and here's your movie recommendation: make sure you watch "Hoodwinked!". It's an indie CG animation feature "loosely based" on Red Riding Hood. Better said, it turns it a bit upside down and is absolutely hilarious. It being indie shows at the CG models and animation, which are few years behind the big-budget Holywood state-of-the-art, but believe me it wouldn't diminish the experience at all - the lovable and zany characters, the twisty story and the jokes, provide for over an hour of fully immersive fun. My wife generally doesn't like animation, but even she said this was a cool one.

On professional side, few things are moving. Just asked Norris Boyd today to pack up the current Rhino CVS HEAD and release it as Rhino 1.6R3 - last release was over nine months ago, so it's about time we give people a bunch of bugfixes in an officially blessed release state. Watch the Rhino download page to see when 1.6R3 pops up for download. Shouldn't be more than a day.

I'm still trying to find myself a bit of a time to learn a new programming language. No specific reason, just trying not to narrow my view too much on Java and try a language that forces me to adopt/discover new ways of thinking about software architecture. The only problem is, there are too many candidates. LUA, Haskell, Ruby, to name just a few. There's one particularly interesting new language that seems to get lots of publicity lately: Scala. A fully OO (every value is an object, no primitive/object types dualism as in Java) and at the same time fully functional language, that also natively compiles to either CLR or JVM bytecode, allowing it to be used within a .Net or Java system seamlessly. This is quite an advantage since it makes it possible to use any Java library with it, something that I can maybe readily and easily introduce into daily work if need be. I sometimes find myself in a situation where an otherwise elegant idea takes quite a verbose and/or awkward code to be expressed in Java, and think that a language that is more friendly toward designing internal domain-specific languages (Ruby, as Martin Fowler demonstrated it nicely during his presentation at JAOO last year), or even comes standard with macro preprocessor of some description (yes, I know C macros are evil, but I don't generally use them in evil ways) would really help reduce clutter. Maybe Scala? Don't know yet. I did download its full documentation - something to print out and then read on my vacation in Italy next week. Wife is going to kill me for it, though :-)

1 comment:

Chris Double said...

Great, I look forward to the new Rhino release!

Scala is an interesting language - I've started playing around with it recently too. I like the fact that they were able to add lightweight concurrent actors and Alice style futures, lazy evaluation and promises with libraries only - no language changes.