Archives: February 2010

Non-Stop News

My work colleagues and I just spent an intense day and a half effectively locked in a room, talking about our work together and vision for where we want to be. I was reminded of this piece by Ken Auletta on the current state of the media vis-a-vis President Obama. A lot of what he has to say about the impact of the internet, the pace of the news cycle and the breakdown of the 20th century business model around journalism is part of my daily grind.

History in smells

David Owen’s piece The Dime Store Floor is a bit of nasal nostalgia. The sense of smell is a vivid memory evoker. A couple of summers ago I walked into a lumber yard’s warehouse and had a sensory hit so vivid that for a moment I was 8 years old in my great-grandfather’s woodshop/garage next door to the house where I grew up. Something about the old wood and sawdust and heat. The force of that memory surprised me. Owen’s piece is like that too.

New Yorker

I rarely have time to read these days, but when I do I read The New Yorker magazine. It’s the public radio of magazines: eclectic, in-depth, personal, funny, thoughtful. The average length of the pieces and the editorial tone gives writers the freedom to stretch out and find a rhetorical stride that is smart, engaging and wide-ranging.

Ok, enough plaudits.

I’m starting this new category to take note of pieces I want to remember later.

The Apple Store

I was at the Apple Store just now getting a bad RAM chip replaced in my MacBook. All in all it was a very pleasant experience, and aside from the inconvenience of having to drive 40 minutes round-trip for a 20 minute errand, pretty painless.

I took the bad RAM chip, which I had identified and yanked from my machine a couple of weeks ago, in an anti-static bag I had in my desk drawer. My desk is full of them, along with spare parts and adapters and such, many for machines that haven’t been manufactered or supported for over a decade. I’m a packrat for old computer junk, though to my credit I have tossed/recycled lots and lots of old “beige” computer parts in the last few years, especially now that the city/county has good recycling for that kind of thing.

Anyway, when I handed the bag with the bad chip in it to the young man at the Apple Store, I didn’t think anything of it, but on returning the bag to me he joked that it was a vintage piece. I chuckled and replied, Well, I’m feeling kind of vintage these days.

The bag had the original label attached: 32MB Apple Quadra and Centris Series.

The chip I had replaced was a standard-issue 2GB size, roughly 1000x more memory than the bag had originally held.

You know you’re getting old in this business when you can distinctly remember the thrill of a 32MB chip of RAM and how much pure computing power it held.

Frozen Perl 2010

It’s been a long week, culminating today in Frozen Perl 2010, a Perl conference for and by Perl hackers, here in the Twin Cities. I gave two talks at today’s conference, one on Swish3 and the other on Devel::NYTProf and Search::Tools. Both talks seemed well-received.

In the process of preparing the talks I also released a few new, related modules to CPAN this week:

Search::OpenSearch
OpenSearch server glue for KinoSearch and Swish-e 2.x via SWISH::Prog. There’s a demo Plack app and ExtJS, using both search engines as part of the slides for my Swish3 talk.

I think OpenSearch is very cool and look forward to doing more with that spec, including adding more features (e.g. facets) to Search::OpenSearch.

Search::Query
Search::Query now has support for SQL and SWISH Dialects. I hope to add KinoSearch and Xapian dialects soon. The Search::Query::Parser now has (undocumented and experimental) support for range queries, so that you can say:

foo=( 1..4 )

and that’ll be expanded to

foo=( 1 OR 2 OR 3 OR 4 )

when the Dialect query object is stringified. Handy for things like ranges of dates, which is how I am using it as $work.

Search::Tools, SWISH::API::*
New releases of these older modules as well, with some bug fixes and refactoring to support the Search::Query.

So, yes. A busy week.

I enjoyed hearing other folks’ talks today at Frozen Perl. There was a good variety: pack/unpack, Unicode, i18n and best practice-related presentations. I met some new people, renewed friendships with folks I already knew, and drank lots of free coffee. The cookies were good too.