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Journal of nicholas (3034)

Friday August 20, 2010
04:37 AM

Will parrot be the last one standing?

I'm a bit behind the times here, but I read today that one of the two remaining developers of IronRuby has left Microsoft:

Overall, I see a serious lack of commitment to IronRuby, and dynamic language on .NET in general. At the time of my leaving Tomas and myself were the only Microsoft employees working on IronRuby. l*

So if Microsoft's interest in dynamic languages is wilting, and Oracle's litigation scares everyone away from Java, will that leave Parrot as the last one standing?

* yep, that's a formatting bug. I assume that it's not worth reporting while the site's future is unclear.

Wednesday July 28, 2010
02:50 PM

Some you win, some you loose

So, my attempt to avoid 3D Secure was successful, but seems to have had the unintended side effect that I sold my soul for 3 days.

I feel that I have to categorically deny that my product roadmap is in doubt, and that the rumours of forking me to regain control are completely unfounded, and unworthy of any further comment. :-)

See you all at YAPC::Europe next week. Right now, there's another free ticket up for grabs, thanks to Shadowcat.

Wednesday April 21, 2010
04:10 PM

Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead!

$ git show --stat 75108aefc8b50fcf
commit 75108aefc8b50fcf2f053da2df34756c7b269a1f
Author: Nicholas Clark <>
Date: Mon Apr 19 20:35:54 2010 +0100

Remove Switch from the core distribution. Get it from CPAN now.

 MANIFEST                |    9 -
 Porting/  |   10 -
 dist/Switch/Changes     |  121 -------
 dist/Switch/MANIFEST    |    9 -
 dist/Switch/META.yml    |   14 -
 dist/Switch/Makefile.PL |    7 -
 dist/Switch/README      |   26 --
 dist/Switch/   |  875 -----------------------------------------------
 dist/Switch/t/given.t   |  272 ---------------
 dist/Switch/t/nested.t  |   35 --
 dist/Switch/t/switch.t  |  272 ---------------
11 files changed, 0 insertions(+), 1650 deletions(-)

It's taken about 2 years, from the original idea on how to smoothly migrate modules out, getting agreement from Andreas and Jos in the buffet queue at YAPC::Europe 2008, a lot of "fun" re-ordering @INC, coding by Andreas, Jos, BinGOs and David Golden, and Jesse getting a 5.12.0 release out, but finally, now Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead.

Albeit only in blead. Not even in a dev release yet, let alone stable. But these things will come...

03:58 PM

Random thing to phase Dean

It seems that I haven't seen The Sound of Music recently enough*. I can't remember more than a couple of lines from any of the songs, despite being confident about the tunes. Hammerstein would be frustrated. Rogers, I assume, happy enough. Dean Wilson likely will comment that I have too much time on my hands, as seemingly surreal blog entries like this one seem to perturb him.

* I don't know whether this is a bug or a feature.

Sunday April 04, 2010
03:22 PM

Rocket fuel review

So, mostly conclusions without much justification. Of the recent consumption:

Weston's Vintage Special Reserve
I didn't like this as much as the first time I had it. It feels like it's over doing it somehow.
Thatchers' Katy
Nicer than the Special Reserve.
Weston's Perry
Want more. Seriously drinkable. Seriously dangerous*.
Brother's Festival Cider
I didn't like it that much. It has a slight rough undertone, like there's a trace of scrumpy in it. But I wasn't trying to drink paint stripper (this time).

Unfortunately I have run out of Katy and Perry. There will have to be a third place drink-off between the Special Reserve and the Festival Cider. Carefully. And not on a school night.

* Trumps Apple Hooch in the "danger" category. To me, Apple Hooch tastes like Appletize. Problem is that I know that Appletize is non-alcholic, and don't pace myself. Only Apple Hooch is (well, was) 5% ABV. Weston's Perry is 7.4%.

Thursday April 01, 2010
09:14 AM

svn to mercurial?

Dear lazyweb...

We're using Trac at work. It's made of software, but some software is more equal than others. In particular, we're planning to move from subversion to mercurial, because Trac seems to work nicely (enough)* with mercurial, unlike git.

So, what's the best way to convert a 20000 revision svn repository to mercurial? We have branches, which it would be nice to convert to real branches. I have some idea how to do this for svn to git, including branches and tags, but not for mercurial.

* svn vs. Trac - which sucks more? The ultimate cagematch.

Wednesday February 17, 2010
03:01 PM

So we're getting Calais back?

The ambitious scheme follows a move by the French to cash in on the London Olympics by rebranding their region ‘part of Britain’.

The ploy has helped them land contracts with a string of foreign teams to train in France ahead of the 2012 Games.

Boulogne and Calais now claim that the Britain no longer stops at the white cliffs of Dover.

‘I consider that we are the south of England,’ said Mr Dupilet. ‘And because we're the south of England it's normal that we would associate ourselves with this extraordinary event.’

Eh. This is putting pragmatism ahead of patriotism. Most unusual.

Mr Dupilet said people who wanted a comfortable commute to London would be far better off basing themselves in northern France than in other parts of Britain.

That is key, and I'm surprised that it's taken this long to get going. As (I think) Léon said 5 years ago, it's not 1h15 from Calais to London, and 1h15 back, it's only a 15 minute commute to London, thanks to the timezone difference. Which would really help the lifestyle. And it ties up with something Pierre Denis said. If your job allows you to live anywhere in France, you'll choose the south. Even 3% of the population being able to do this has started to massively skew property prices there. Whereas the south east of England is and has long been desirable as a location for those who commute to London, so there's no new skew as location unconstrained people increase.

Result - Kent is crowded and expensive. However, the Pas de Calias is much emptier, and much less expensive. All it needs is a commuter service. And of course:

‘Who wants to go to Birmingham?’ he said. ‘In the Pas-de-Calais the French lifestyle is better. And as for the food over there, well, forget it.’

From the Daily Fail, but not the usual fayre. And if you're wondering about my choice of subject:

England ruled Calais for more than 200 years after being besieged and captured by Edward III in 1347.

Tuesday February 16, 2010
01:03 PM

don't do this

It's just occurred to me that it might be possible to goto \&sub_ref out of a BEGIN block. After all, they're really subroutines at heart. So, does it work?

$ cat
#!perl -w
use strict;

sub sick {
    warn "Yuck!";

    goto \&sick;

$ perl
Yuck! at line 5.

Yep. Sure does.

Don't do this.

This is where someone points me at prior art from 10 years ago. There is, after all, nothing new under the sun.

Friday February 12, 2010
12:31 PM

Chip and Pin counterfud exposed.

So, Chip and Pin is broken.

But the fun part is in the comments. Comment 19 from the anonymous "Scrutineer" includes:

The attack was never successfully executed. To be successful it had to be done against a card that was reported lost and stolen. Nowhere in the report do they assert that they reported their cards they tested as lost or stolen! All they have done is prove a genuine card can be processed with odd and inconsistent CVR and TVR settings. Hardly compelling evidence.

Which of course misses the point - it's about the interval between theft and discovery of theft - the time that someone else has your card before you're able to successfully report it stolen. This attack changes the game from "the PIN protects you better than a signature - now if someone steals your card they need to guess your PIN" back to "They only need to steal your card" (and actually easier, because they don't need to learn to forge signatures).

But the best bit is comment 22:

The chap “Scrutineer” who posted comment 19 seems to have forgotten to sign it!
Anyway he’s not very good at anonymity:

$ whois
address: APACS (Administration) Ltd
address: 14 Finsbury Square
address: London
address: EC2A 1BR
address: England, UK

Pity APACS couldn’t get it together to put up a spokesman for Newsnight


Update: It's really someone at APACS. Not an exercising in framing, taking advantage of a proxy:

A spokeswoman for UK Card Association said the posts violated staff internet-use guidelines.

Monday February 08, 2010
04:00 PM

Not Your Father's Von Neumann Machine

I really liked this talk - This Is Not Your Father's Von Neumann Machine by Cliff Click*

It's well worth watching. It has really nicely presented explanations of:

  1. How and why a modern CPU executes out of order, and why cache misses are king.
  2. How memory architecture means that two cores can cause writes to be read out of order, and the implications (your code goes boom^WSEGV).

* Brian Goetz was co-author of the talk, and co-presented it on its first outing, but this presentation of it just has Cliff Click.