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RubyX - a ruby based Linux distro   25 Sep 04
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(Source: ruby-talk, Andrew Walrond, Oct 24, 2003) Rubyx is a ruby based linux distro. It is also the name of the script which creates Rubyx the distro and handles the package management In light of the recent rubyx/lunar threads, I thought it sensible to make the rubyx source available for scrutiny by the ruby community. You can get it using Bitkeeper like this:
bk clone bk://
cd rubyx
bk co
You'll see three files:
rubyx - The man script
init - The ruby based init script
strfile.rb - Some code shared by rubyx and init
Important! The build machine must be capable of running the generated code, How it all works will require further discussion, but if you want to get involved, it would be a good idea to ask rubyx to download the sources. To get everything, you'll need 4Gb and broadband ;) For just the basics, it's a fraction of that but I don't have the figure to hand. Do this as root...
mkdir /my/rubyx/dir  (or something like)
./rubyx --root /my/rubyx/dir --download base net disk (for the basics)
./rubyx --root /my/rubyx/dir --download all (for everything)
If you don't have broadband, you might want to use --dj 1 to reduce the number of parallel downloads. I wrote this in part to learn ruby, so any comments/suggestions on the code or style are welcomed. Although I am writing this in Kmail on my laptop running Rubyx, rubyx is still very much work in progress, so don't expect too much. Lots more to discuss, but this will do for starters :)

Using the right hammer ..   25 Sep 04
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(Source: Robert Martin (UncleBob) in the pragprog-list) As a contractor you must do the best job you can for your client. This includes picking the best language for the situation. I agree that there are situations in which Ruby might be the best technical solution, but the worst political solution. In that case, you cannot use Ruby — you must use a technically inferior, but politically preferable language. There are other situations — more and more of them — in which Ruby is politically acceptable, and technically superior.

[ANN] 0.1.1   25 Sep 04
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(Souce: Sean O’Dell) Battery is a unit testing framework for Ruby. It captures all standard error and output and reports the entire summary of all tests formatted as valid YAML, for easier reading and parsing. Another key feature is that all tests run in the order they are added to their batteries, rather than arbitrarily. See the homepage for more information and documentation.



[ANN] linalg-0.3.2 -- Ruby Linear Algebra Library   25 Sep 04
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From the README:

Major features:

  • Cholesky decomposition
  • LU decomposition
  • QR decomposition
  • Schur decomposition
  • Singular value decomposition
  • Eigenvalues and eigenvectors of a general matrix
  • Minimization by least squares
  • Linear equation solving
  • Stand-alone LAPACK bindings: call any LAPACK routine from directly from ruby.

[ANN] rpa-base 0.1.0 "kitanai"   25 Sep 04
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(Source: Mauricio Fernandez)
 The Ruby Production Archive (RPA) will provide packages of Ruby
 libraries and programs in a form that allows production use, engineered
 through a stringent process resembling FreeBSD's or Debian's.

 rpa-base is a port/package manager designed to support RPA. Its scope and
 purposes are different to those of other systems like RubyGems.

 rpa-base 0.1.0 is now available on .
 Please keep in mind that this is *not* a RPA release (that is, a release
 of the repository) but just a release of the rpa-base tool itself. We
 have provided several sample ports/packages for testing purposes, but
 they don't formally belong to RPA. Read below for information on the
 libs/apps packaged so far.

 rpa-base requires Ruby 1.8.1 (certainly 1.8 at least, it might work on
 1.8.0); it has been tested on several Linux distributions, FreeBSD and
 win32. We would appreciate feedback (both positive and negative) under
 those or any other architecture.

 It takes but a couple minutes to install and will allow you to do

 rpa install instiki ruvi

 (NOTE: ruvi, the cool pure-Ruby vim clone, won't work on win32)


 rpa-base is a port/package manager designed to support RPA's client-side
 package management. You can think of it as RPA's apt-get + dpkg. It
 features the following (working right now):

  * sane dependency management: rpa-base installs dependencies as needed,
    keeps track of reverse dependencies on uninstall, and will remove no
    longer needed dependencies
  * atomic (de)installs: operations on the local RPA installation are atomic
    transactions; the system has been designed to survive ruby crashes (OS
    crashes too on POSIX systems)
  * modular, extensible design: the 2-phase install is similar to FreeBSD and
    Debian's package creation; rpa-base packages need not be restricted
    to installing everything under a single directory ("1 package, 1 dir"
  * rdoc integration: RDoc documentation for libraries is generated at install
    time (currently disabled on win32)
  * ri integration: ri data files are generated for all the libraries managed
    by RPA; you can access this information with ri-rpa (currently disabled on
  * handling C extensions: if you have the required C toolchain, rpa-base can
    compile extensions as needed
  * unit testing: when a library is installed, its unit tests are run; the
    installation is canceled if they don't pass

R.W. Hamming on Round-Off   25 Sep 04
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Sven C. Koehler has started to read "Numerical Methods for Scientists and Engineers". He was so kind to send me a few quotes he likes from the introduction.

 Most books on computing stress the estimation of roundoff,
 especially the bounding of roundoff, but we shall concentrate
 on the avoidance of roundoff.  It seems better to avoid roundoff
 than to estimate what did not have to occur if common sense and
 few simple rules had been followed before the problem was put on
 the machine.

 Another standard algorithmic problem both in mathematics and in the use
 of computation to solve problems is the solution of simultaneous linear
 equations.  Unfortunately much of what is commonly taught is usually not
 relevant to the problem as it occurs in practice; nor is any completely
 statisfactory method of solution known at present.  Because the solution
 of simultaneous linear equations is so often a standard library package
 supplied by the computing center and because the corresponding
 description is so often misleading, it is necessary to discuss the
 limitations (and often the plain foolishness) of the method used by the
 package.  Thus it is necessary to examine carefully the obvious flaws and
 limitations, rather than pretending they do not exist.

update: (sorry, German only;) A big thanks to Sven C. Koehler for this summary

 Ich habe es nun in den groessten Teilen ueberflogen.  Die Ideen sind nicht
 wirklich neu: Umformen von Gleichungen, Vermeiden ungefaehr gleichgrosse
 Zahlen von einander abzuziehen, Approximation.  Beim Loesen von
 Gleichungssystemen schlägt er z.B. vor, ein Verfahren einzusetzen, das
 kein wiederholtes Dividieren benoetigt, dann wird's auch nicht ungenau.
 Trotzdem mag ich das Buch, weil es in mir den Eindruck weckt, dass es
 sehr fundiert ist.  Es ist voll von mathematischen Formeln, die ich alle
 nicht wirklich verstanden habe, aber ich werde in jedem Fall wieder darin
 nach Erklaerungen suchen, wenn ich mal wieder ein Numerik-Problem habe.

 Ich glaube für dich ist as Buch eher langweilig, das meiste kennst du
 bestimmt aus dem Studium. :-)

Napkin Look and Feel   25 Sep 04
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Now I did it. I made a Java category in this blog. I think like Paul Graham about Java and C#, but oh well ..

I coped this from: Napkin Look & Feel is a pluggable Java look and feel that looks like it was scrawled on a napkin. You can use it to make provisional work actually look provisonal, or just for fun.

The idea is to try to develop a look and feel that can be used in Java applications that looks informal and provisional, yet be fully functional for development. Often when people see a GUI mock-up, or a complete GUI without full functionality, they assume that the code behind it is working. While this can be used to sleazy advantage, it can also convince people who ought to know better (like your managers) that you are already done when you have just barely begun, or when only parts are complete.

WebDav in 10 minutes: HTTP gave you read, now DAV gives you write access   25 Sep 04
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The stated goal of the WebDAV (DAV) working group is (from the charter) to "define the HTTP extensions necessary to enable distributed web authoring tools to be broadly interoperable, while supporting user needs", and in this respect DAV is completing the original vision of the Web as a writeable, collaborative medium.

But, people working on DAV have had goals which extend beyond simple web page authoring. Some view DAV as a network filesystem suitable for the Internet, one that works on entire files at a time, with good performance in high-latency environments. Others view DAV as a protocol for manipulating the contents of a document management system via the Web. An important goal of DAV is to support virtual enterprises, being the primary protocol supporting a wide range of collaborative applications. Importantly, a major goal is the support of remote software development teams. A final goal of DAV is to leverage the success of HTTP in being a standard access layer for a wide range of storage repositories — HTTP gave them read access, while DAV gives them write access.

Well, the website clains WebDAV in 2 minutes .. I think 10-20 minutes is more realistic :-). A good starter.

Apache2 already comes with mod_dav.

Root: An Object-Oriented Data Analysis Framework   25 Sep 04
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Sven C. Koehler, our hard-coding dataminer has sent me an email while his code was probably exploring the DNA of some beauty. I wonder whether it was the beauty the root-team uses in their logo? Hey, just because of the logo, one ought to give root a try.

 What I was impressed about:
 ``We started the ROOT project in the context of the NA49 experiment at
 CERN. NA49 generates an impressive amount of data, about 10 Terabytes
 of raw data per run.'';

 ``Thanks to the builtin CINT C++ interpreter the command language,
  the scripting, or macro, language and the programming language are
  all C++. The interpreter allows for fast prototyping of the macros
  since it removes the time consuming compile/link cycle. It also
  provides a good environment to learn C++. If more performance is
  needed the interactively developed macros can be compiled using a
  C++ compiler.'';
 ``The backbone of the ROOT architecture is a layered class
 hierarchy with, currently, around 310 classes grouped in about 24
 frameworks divided in 14 categories. This hierarchy is organized in
 a mostly single-rooted class library, that is, most of the classes
 inherit from a common base class TObject. While this organization
 is not very popular in C++, it has proven to be well suited for our
 needs (and indeed for almost all successful class libraries: Java,
 Smalltalk, MFC, etc)''.

Comment: Microsoft's rush to next-gen could see the Xbox take a tumble   25 Sep 04
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(Source: Gamesindustry) from the article
 Microsoft may be making a colossal mistake by trying to force
 the industry into a next-generation cycle before it is ready
 to move. Sony, with its enormous dominance of the market, could
 probably just about get away with it - if it moved, the industry
 would have to move with it, however much it hated the idea. But
 Microsoft, still a relatively small player in the games industry,
 just doesn't look like a company that has the influence needed to
 force a shift like this. It may be backed up by the biggest
 software company in the world, but publishers will still look at
 the bottom line - in this case, installed base and cost of
 development - and base their decisions on that alone. Herein lies
 the arrogance; Microsoft isn't used to making decisions as an
 industry small-fry, and it's trying to act like an industry leader
 in an industry it simply doesn't lead.


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