All entries for January 2007

January 25, 2007

Reality TV Racism

I just started watching Drawn Together and the first episode includes a scene where a Rich Woman makes a racism comment about black people. The authors clearly didn’t realise how relevant this would be to people. Mind it also includes a scene where two smurfs are trying to kill each other. Classic.


January 19, 2007

Javac

This week’s Xing (I nearly called it bugflug) will probably be trying to fix stuff on the compsoc website. This should be nice and accessible stuff that has obvious benefit to people. But, I am still interesting in running some more ‘exotic’ projects, so I thought I would air some thoughts on the proposed collections operations to be implemented in Javac, which I hope to work on again with Lamby and maybe more people if they are interested.

The essential idea of the for .. do loop is to be a variant of the map higher order function that can be found in both functional languages such as Ocaml and dynamic languages like Python. So the basic idea that was proposed last week was:

for do

Where the expr evaluates to a collections object. For example the following conversion would occur in Javac:

for this.list do m;

becomes

List newList = new Vector ;
for(ListElementType element:this.list) {
newList.add(m(element));
}
this.list = newList;

This conversion happens with the safety condition that the method m takes one parameter of type ‘ListElementType’ and its return type is of the same type, where ListElementType is the type of element’s of this.list. Some implementation effort has gone on with this idea, and I think it would be possible to finish it at the next LAN with some concerted effort and thought.

I was thinking the other day of some extensions to this basic syntax, for example by adding multiple parameters, so that:

for this.list1 this.list2 do m;

becomes

if(this.list1.size() == this.list2.size()) {
List newList = new Vector ;
for(int i = 0;i newList.add(m(this.list1.get(i),this.list2.get(i)));
}
this.list = newList;
}

Obviously this would be implemented for n number expressions, rather than just two. Similar safety conditions apply as the first example. The primary issue that I can think of is that one of the safety conditions has to be checked at runtime, which doesn’t really fit into Java’s paradigm.

There would also be the potential for adding non-list parameters to such a construct, that would be passed to every method call. For example:

for this.list this.variable do m

becomes

List newList = new Vector ;
for(ListElementType element:this.list) {
newList.add(m(element,this.variable));
}
this.list = newList;

Such things obviously add more complexity to java, but I think for very commonly used syntactic forms such as this, it might be a good idea to have such a construct.


January 16, 2007

Gryle & Fava

As Tim has already mentioned the weekend passed achieved two successful events: Xing and Qing. Xing was mainly spent with me & Lamby working on an extension to Java that allowed something similar to the Map function. Which was fun and also hard to implement. This will be finished off sometime.

Gryle, which is a java mp3 player with a simple user interface was put on Launchpad, and will probably be bug fixed and have proper releases made sometime. Credit goes out to both Lamby and Odd_bloke for working on this with me.

We were also using the bazaar distributed version control system. This has impressed me greatly. The only thing that it is lacking is an eclipse plugin, which I think would make a good idea for the next Xing/Qing.


January 13, 2007

Compsoc Stuff

So last night I went to the compsoc exec meeting. At which three exec members turned up, one of whom was unelected. There was a huge job list, most of which items haven’t been done. I had preemptively emailed the exec list in order to say I was coming along to talk about communications with WUGLUG. This state of affairs poses several questions:

1. Why the hell was attendance so low? Especially when only limited reasons for missing the event could be cited.
2. How the hell are WUGLUG supposed to communicate with the compsoc exec when the liaison officer isn’t in the vicinity and the majority of exec members don;t turn up to meeting when you have said that you want to talk to them?
3. When you advertise an event a considerable amount of time in advance and another member of the same society organises another event, at the same time as yours what can you do?

It was publically discussed, including with members of the exec committee, the message was clearly not passed on, and when I went to talk to them about the breakdown in communications, not at a WUGLUG meeting but at a compsoc exec meeting the people I needed to talk to weren’t there.

Since the compsoc newsletters tend not to reflect any of the hard, and interesting, stuff that is being done by wuglug members I’ll publicise them here.

1. Last night’s Xing turned into an all night hackathon where we made substantially progress to implementing the MAP higher order function in Java. lamby has an interesting blog entry with more details. This work will be continued and hopefully finished off tonight at Qing.

2. There’s probably going to be a trip to FOSDEM at the end of february. This is a Free Software Conference in Brussels and is very exciting.

3. Tim Retout has been working on taking the MightyD relational database and improving its codebase and functionality. Hopefully this will allow the product to be used as a complete Tutorial D implementation that can teach undergraduate students about truely relational databases.

4. Last term we attended Linuxworld down in London, despite general exec incompetence.

5. We have regular meetings, twice a week, with talks every other week.

If you are interested in trying GNU/Linux as an operating system, programing, personal freedom or generally having a chat with interesting people about these kind of issues, then details on what we are doing can be found on our website .


January 08, 2007

Analytics

Writing about web page http://www.google.com/analytics

About a week ago I hooked up google analytics to this blog. I will be posting random tit-bits of information from this now and again whenever I find something interesting. Apparently the top five sources (such as search engines and referral sites) for my blog (along with number of visitors) are:

google 16
(direct) 9
planet.uwcs.co.uk 4
sunion.warwick.ac.uk 2
warwickgamedesign.co.uk 2

The question is – who came here via the onion, or VGDsoc?


January 03, 2007

Petitions

Writing about web page http://petitions.pm.gov.uk

The PM’s office has started up a website for Online Petitions. I have no idea if he will ever read these, and several of them are horribly written. I’m sure many SIGs will be well catered for in terms of promotion, but I decided to start a facebook group about specifically IT or computer related petitions, which can be found here . Hopefully people can post interesting ones in the forum, etc.


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