Sunday, 12:04 pm, 19 June 2005

Something's Different

Although it probably looks no different to you, the reader, the method of putting Barbalet's Log together has changed. The largest part of the change is FreeEngl, a spell checker I wrote about three weeks ago. I'm thinking about combining Freeengl with logtrack to make the ideal weblogging utility. Ideal for me at least. The main issue is my progressive disenchantment with my old Macs and a general sense that the platform has finally died through jerky unproductive changes.

Part of this narrative comes through going through all the CDROMs I own in the final stages of our unpack into the new apartment. Through the CDROMs more than half featured Mac Classic software. I thought about selling them on eBay to collectors. But really my disenchantment grew. The narrative history of recent Mac OS changes has come through the following narrative timeframe.

I converted all my own software to Carbon from late 2000 to 2002. This took about eighteen months of part time development with the reward that my programs could run on Mac OS X. You need to appreciate that this took away from my general development because Carbon was the feature I was implementing. Not something new, but the basic ability to run on the new Mac OS which was almost completely back-incompatible.

In part thanks to this effort, the Noble Ape Simulation was picked up by two Apple engineers and displayed at Apple's WWDC 2003. The substantial part of these changes are now worthless with the chip change.

Up until I left the UK, I maintained a lot of Mac Classic (ie non-Carbon) software I purchased through the 1990s, mainly because these programs had either been discontinued or were incredibly expensive at the time and through to this day.

I figured eventually I would have to throw out these programs. The direction shift between Classic and Carbon and the forced lack of back compatibility with Classic meant, after a period, there would be no machine I could purchase new that would run Classic applications.

The main issue I have with this is fundamentally a class narrative. In buying a Mac, you are in fact saying you have enough disposable income to pay above-the-money for everything. By not maintaining any back compatibility, you have enough disposable income to pay for new above-the-money software and hardware in frequent cycles. Preferably every 18 months but at most every 3 years. A new Mac with updated applications - I do some audio and image editing which are high priced products (although I am progressively moving to WinTEL open source alternatives) - I'd estimate about USD6k per cycle.

In contrast, and this I find stunning to write explicitly, Windows and the Wintel route enables you to maintain machines for roughly double the time, for on-the-money software and hardware. Which honestly is still pretty expensive. From my wife's machine purchase experience, it is about USD3k per cycle. Everything is cheaper on WinTEL. RAM is my big killer price on a Mac - particularly the miniMac. But I digress.

So for a WinTEL you spend about USD3k every six years, for a Mac, if you maintain the optimal update route you spend USD24k in the same period. With leaner software and hardware updates, probably around USD12k. Whilst I probably do have that kind of money to spend on computer hardware and software, I don't want to.

This narrative, up until now, related to prior to the INTEL Mac shift.

With the INTEL Mac shift, I'm a fool for buying any new Mac hardware in the next 12-18 months. All the work done optimising the Noble Ape Simulation for the G4 and G5 is wasted time. As the threading models seem quite different, I have pulled threading from the Simulation and am working on my own wait-and-see strategy with that.

These kind of directional shifts just bore me as a developer. I'd like to spend my free development time productively.

Any CDROM my wife's WinTEL machine couldn't read off the bat got a pass-card for the time being. But any CDROM containing Mac Classic software. Even Classic games, got the bin. Pragmatism reduces idealistic musings - in the mind, but not the Log.

I am now writing Barbalet's Log with FreeEngl corrected US English on a Window XP machine. The times are a changing.

Good afternoon.

Sunday, 11:31 pm, 12 June 2005

All That Ish

From 18 January to 11 June, we packed our lives up in the UK and waited. Waited some more. Got sick of waiting and forgot.

All our stuff from the UK arrived yesterday. Quite overwhelming on a number of levels. From about 2,300 sq feet to 700 sq feet. Book shelves have become our friend. Assembling them is achieved slightly faster as more are constructed. I mused today as I was screwing the bolts in along the directions that shelving has once been a slow labour of devotion in the shed. Wood was specially selected and I spent many hours cutting it and assembling shelving perfectly to spec.

Now we just go to Target and grab 2 x five shelf and 1 x four shelf. Charlie isn't taking the additional junk and unpacking all that well. He had a tantrum today which involved aggressive clawing of packing paper on the ground. Even in anger, he is the cutest thing going.


Reading through the INTEL Mac documentation, initially described on my alternative log, I am struck by a sense of hopelessness. The whole Mac mentality has been in contrast to INTEL for more than two decades now. Reading about utilising INTEL instructions, particularly with all the effort that Nathan Slingerland and Sanjay Patel put into getting the Simulation to run on a G5, the about-turn seems stunning. Good in some ways - the prospect of cheaper hardware (maniacal laughter to follow). The prospect of third party hardware and the prospect of a wide suite of INTEL compatible devices and scaled down applications...

I am left with the sense that it will reduce Apple's market share even more. As a developer who ported his applications to Carbon, went through some G5 changes and feels bucked around by directional shifts... I don't know... Disenchanted might be the word. Such a rapid about-turn. It just better cost a dramatic amount less. I don't want the Mac to be an expensive PC, again.

My Mis-Spent Yoof... Just Spark One For Barba-lit

Tuned in to WeFunk on Friday, as I tend to do. Good start to the weekend. I caught L.L. Cool J.'s Mama Say Knock You Out which was one of the first and only single tapes I owned in Australia. Followed by Young Black Teenagers. I never owned a YBT tape but I liked their scratch work and it reminded me of a time when Muggs via Cypress Hill was producing dripping scratch work too.

As my email was up, I dropped DJ Static (aka Mike) an email. Noting that these two tracks reminded me of my mis-spent yoof.

Here is the on-air result.

This reminds me of the WeFunk 350th Show which featured the classic Loe Pesci line involving sparking *something* for Barba-lit. Try as I might, I'm just tuned in and dropped out.

The warmth the WeFunk folk show is always a plus.

Good night.

Wednesday, 03:17 pm, 08 June 2005

If you are reading this... are accessing the new webhost. I haven't added the total days down, but it feels like more than a week. The first weblog entry this month indicated all the sites were down because I couldn't put it online.

There was a period where I thought I could have lost the entire Log. It made me think about what the Log is worth in personal terms. Although the Log chronicles a very public face, it does contain some personal insights and general progressions. To me, I guess, the Log has transitional value. It shows a substantial move.

What is the delta between Tom of the Log and the real Tom? My wife has noted that Barbalet's Log represents the man she married as opposed to the man who currently exists.

I have been experimenting with an alternative log. The Mr. Barbalet Gets a Library Card tale offers the freedom that whim logging offers which isn't really represented in Barbalet's Log.

Broadband Connection

I can't under estimate how the broadband connection has changed my communicative life. Between chatting with my brother, Felix, Mridul P. and Alex 'Gurap' Brooks, I get a sense of comrade-ship which didn't exist prior to broadband.

The nature of this informal communication doesn't put my keys on the keyboard any more than I would through the Noble Ape development. In the past week, I have been spending a disproportionate amount of time trying to get all the files from one server to another associated with my sites. I get a sense that when things in Vegas return to some normalcy, there will be less broadband interaction.

But for the time being, it's nice to get a communicative sense.

Gutting Noble Warfare

With the sites down, I have been working through Noble Warfare to see where it and the Noble Ape Simulation are currently going wrong on Windows. I am returning to a command line version of Noble Warfare and working backwards. I suspect there are a number of problems which good error handling and debugging practices should deal with.

Stripping software down, back to it's basic elements, is one of the components I really enjoy in software development. There is plenty of work to be done with Noble Warfare.

Good afternoon.

Sunday, 03:42 pm, 05 June 2005

Everything down...

Every twelve to eighteen months my sites go down. This time my sites have been down for four or five days, coinciding with a major Freshmeat release. Ironically the second last server problems instalment coincided with the Noble Ape Simulation getting listed on Freshmeat.

A single card going down in New Jersey was followed with four days of finger pointing. In the end, the progressive migration of resources to a new webhost is the outcome.

My email remains down. For some reason whilst the sites are displayed, my mail accounts aren't connected.


If you need to email me, I can be reached through;

barbalet at yahoo dot com

Which is also the weblog contact email address.

No communication, but...

I used the time without communication to email folks who I hadn't heard from for a number of years. Make contact with some who I didn't know still existed online.

Kept my spirits up with extended messenger sessions with my man, Mridul P., my brother, Felix, and Alex 'Gurap' Brooks.

I also established an alternative log and a series of back up sites for reaching source code when all else fails. I have linked these through to my Noble Ape personal page. After all, you can't have the ideas of Noble Ape disappearing through a card burning out in New Jersey.

Old at 11...

My man in fur, Charlie, turns 11 today. Using the dog age formula, fourteen for the first and seven for each remaining, I make my man at around 84 in dog years. His presents included a large supply of breath bones and a small-medium dog sized ball. He loved the ball, but after about twenty minutes of play he was tuckered out.

I can only hope to be so wise and spritely at 84.

Good afternoon.

Wednesday, 10:45 am, 01 June 2005

A Little FreshMeat Helper?

I have written in the past about the ebbs and flows of download sites. I have also written about the emotion associated with doing regular releases of Noble Ape and the fact that bringing more people to a development increases a sense of pressure related to a development.

With the release of FreeEngl, I returned to FreshMeat to list both FreeEngl and Noble Warfare to get more eyes on the development with the view for beta testing and feedback. In both case, the pick up was far slower than with the Simulation.

I did carefully release the Simulation to coincide with 9am East Coast time. Particularly important to get the US workers/students coming in and switching on their browsers for the first thing in the morning troll. With both FreeEngl and the Noble Warfare launch on FreshMeat, they were released at about 2-3am East Coast time.

Even so, it begs the question, has FreshMeat stayed on top as the place where developers go for new projects. Or, as with more conventional download sites, is the competition such that another open source download site come along in the past six months?

SourceForge isn't an option, but moreover it lacks the immediate nature of FreshMeat's publishing update lists. VersionTracker has a different, more end-user focused, user base.

H'Air No!

For the past ten days, Michele and I have been sleeping on air mattresses. Mine has a slow leak which puts me close to the floor in the morning and in contrast, Michele's refuses to deflate to a comfortable level once it has been pumped.

Sleeping for long periods of time on air mattresses have really effected our waking hours. The nature of an international move and a final countdown for our UK stuff arriving in about ten days, leaves us on the air mattresses for the time being.

Productive Days

The past week has been extremely productive in the development of FreeEngl, predominantly developed on my Windows laptop. It makes me reflect what element maximises productivity. In the case of FreeEngl, it was the immediate nature of the need in part but also that it was considerably different to the development I have been doing with Noble Ape. A change is as good as a cliche.

Good morning.

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