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When Should We Test?   25 Sep 04
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Kent Beck, one of the people that invented extreme programming (XP) offers an economic model. The financial risk management community and the software development community can learn a lot from each other. Think of this article as: When should you put Risk Management into place?

Amongst other things this article tells you when best to have children :-). []

The Linux Incompatability List   25 Sep 04
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Saw this on /.

"The Linux Incompatibility list is a wiki project that attempts to document hardware that is incompatible with Linux rather than list what is compatible. In the wiki, it is possible to add alternitives so as to push hardware manufacturers to make good binary drivers, publish specifications, or even better, publish open drivers."

Wine-Migration   25 Sep 04
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At Linuxtag in Karlsruhe I met during lunch one of the authors of ganymede. I am the last person in the world to promote the use of the Win32-API, but it can come in handy, when you have to use some legacy software on Linux and do not want to pay license fees for the usual suspects like vmware. Having to maintain only one code-base is sexy, too.

I asked David Guembel, one of the fathers of the software to email me a short describtion:

 On an abstract level, the idea behind our ganymede system is simple: To make
 an application run under Wine (a free Win32-API layer and Windows
 executable loader), it is neccessary to know what parts of the Windows API
 are actually required by that particular piece of software. Software has a
 modular structure - in this context, a module is a Windows executable
 (.DLL, .EXE, .OCX etc.) - and every module provides (exports) certain
 functionality and requires (imports) functionality from other modules.
 Thus, ganymede internally creates a dependency graph of an application's
 binaries. This method is static and does not require anything but a fresh
 installation of the software to be analyzed.

 Before x-raying a Windows application, ganymede parses and stores an
 analysis of the soure code of one or more Wine versions. It automagically
 determines the implementation state of the APIs provided by Wine. During a
 software analysis, the functionality required by the Windows application is
 compared to what Wine provides, and missing or incomplete APIs are
 reported. By storing Wine versions and the dependency structure of the
 analyzed applications in a database, automatic or manual re-analysis with
 different Wine versions is possible. Via the API ganymede itself provides,
 the collected data is accessible in several ways. One application of that
 API is our tool named sysiphus, which uses ganymede and a GUI-based
 approach to semi-automatically determine the best possible Wine
 configuration while providing for the possibility to re-use already
 licensed Windows DLLs to fill the gaps Wine still leaves.

Software for Slackers   25 Sep 04
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I need this program to stop my internet addiction.

Are you a slacker? So am I. Do you browse the Web, read the news, and write email all day in stead of working? So do I. Does it make you feel miserable and apathetic? Do you tell yourself to stop browsing the fucking Web and get some bloody work done? Do you have absolutely no discipline? I know your pain.

But recent technological advancements have made it possible… There is a cure for your disease!

Years of slacking at the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology have resulted in a brilliant 461-line Perl script (which includes 130 lines of comments for free!) that makes it all possible! Your productivity will dramatically increase!

Today, I present Lockout: The Self-imposed, Computer-aided Work Enforcer. This program will help you get some work done by not allowing you to browse the Web. It won’t allow you to do anything but work. It’s a miracle! Your colleagues will respect you, your Ph.D. adviser will compliment you, and your boss, if you have one, will probably not notice the difference! It’s amazing! Scroll down! Read more!

Get the program

My LinuxTag 2004 photos   25 Sep 04
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Some photos from LinuxTag 2004 in Karlsruhe. I especially liked the Xbox booting Linux screenshots. pics

I need my daily dose of vim .. even in Mozilla   25 Sep 04
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Mozex is an extension which allows the user to use external programs for these actions:

  • view page source
  • edit content of textareas (possibly utilizing a spell-checker in the text editor)
  • handle mailto, news, telnet and FTP links
  • download files

Is Tableau the Next Google?   25 Sep 04
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example graphs

 Will this company be successful and become another Google?
 First, graphical data mining has never been a big hit. And second,
 there are lots of competitors in the business intelligence sector,
 including at least Business Objects, Cognos, Hyperion and MicroStrategy.
 So make your bets and wait for the next multibillion-dollar IPO.

Skolelinux: V1.0 with codename Venus is out!   25 Sep 04
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Skolelinux is made as free (as in speech) software, and is an overall computer solution based on school's resources and needs. It is based on Debian and runs very well on older hardware, too.
  • Skolelinux is a network architecture tailored for use in schools.
  • Skolelinux is designed to be easy and cheap to maintain.
  • Skolelinux gives the students their own usernames, home directories and services.
  • Skolelinux includes

Ender's Game and Software Development   25 Sep 04
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Very interesting entry by /\ndy Hunt. Ender is in reference to a novel by Orson Scott Card called ‘Ender’s Game’. Its part of a series of three books, all of which are well worth reading.

Test-Driven Writing   25 Sep 04
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(Source: Stefan Schmiedl)
 >An activity that I /do/ still have trouble with, however, is writing.
 > When faced with having to compse anything more substantial than an
 > email response, I feel the fear start to creep in and I get myself all
 > tied in knots.  Even after I start to put some words down, I often
 > find myself getting stuck because the thing isn't flowing and the task
 > of finishing seems overwhelming.

Yup, writers block definitively, as John Roth diagnosed already. But if you’re able to describe it in such flowering detail as above, there’s no need to have it.

 > So on my way home last night (after another frustrating couple of
 > hours trying to get some thoughts on paper), I was thinking about how
 > I could make my prose writing come as easily as my code writing.  I
 > started wondering if I couldn't somehow employ a TDD-like cycle in my
 > writing process.

I am often writing articles with my business partner, who’s<br>especially good at collecting lots of nice stuff on the web. The first thing I have do with the "drafts" I get from him, is to find the<br>structure fitting best to the available data. This is currently donein a Mindmap using freemind (freely available at, IIRC). For some<br>time I also tried vimoutliner ( for this, but found that for this process, the two-dimensional display of a mindmap is better suited to my brain.

When the outline is finished, I start to grow the flesh on the bones. That’s relatively easy, as I confine my work strictly to the current paragraph.>

The next step is easy, if I have the time: I let the stuff settle for a few days, then go over it once more and clean up the unbelievable mess I created then. If I don’t have the time, I need to play about two hours nethack, which erases my brain just as well…

So the steps are:

 - data collection
  - gradually by experience
  - by force (coauthor delivery)
 - data organization
   - mindmap
   - outline
 - draft
   - follow the map
   - work local
 - refactor or polish
   - grammar, spelling, rhetoric
   - present line of thought more clearly

I think that there’s a difference between code and prose showing here. You expect your code to give certain results for a given input, and you are free to not care about the implementation at all. With prose, implementation is almost everything. So the cost of providing a "working release" is higher with prose than with code. At least for me.

 >find myself getting stuck because the thing isn't flowing and the task
 >of finishing seems overwhelming.

Writing is like every other kind of art. It is never finished. Feeling better now?

Writing is like dealing with animals. Don’t be afraid of it, and it won’t hurt you.

Your fellow author in pain, S.


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