Monthly Archives: November 2009

Not much to report

I think I’ve mentioned before that one of the parks up the street from us is one of the only ones I know of that still has an old school carousel (I think that’s what these are called… feel free to correct me). Most of them have been removed because of kids falling off and cracking their skulls scraping their knee, and I guess that is too dangerous for the worry-warts that make such decisions, which is too bad, because my observation has been that kids will spend endless time on them. And they’re good exercise too — I bet Nefarious $5 that she couldn’t sprint around it, spinning us, for 32 revolutions, and she had no problem at all meeting the challenge and then some.




Oh, and wow… it’s the end of November and it’s still so warm here, nearly t-shirt warming. I don’t know if that’s global warming at work, or if it’s just an unusually warm winter, but wow. Pretty crazy. I am looking forward to the snow, and to sledding and skating.

I didn’t get a ton of work done today (not that I would expect to on a weekend) — all I wrote was a “de-Frencher” that takes input text written in a UTF-8 character set (which is what Kijiji uses) and converts it to standard 7-bit ASCII, although it only handles French characters (ie. cedillas, circumflexes, diaeresis, and so on). Assuming I don’t have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow that I’m blanking on, I’ll finish off the Kijiji code tomorrow and upload a new version of the search tool then. It’s nearly complete.


I saw the strangest “People of Walmart” strangest woman at the grocery store after the park. She was morbidly obese, probably approaching five hundred pounds, and was dressed up like a Ren-fair princess. Very strange… The girls got a kick out of her outfit.

When we left for the park, the band next door was jamming, and when we got back hours later, they were still playing (must have been almost five hours in the end). Nefarious and Cassie and I played outside, with Cassie drawing in chalk n the pavement, and Nefarious rode her bike (I just got her some cool lights for the spokes — I provide the link because they were $3.71 including shipping and would make a great present for any kid), and I shot at pop cans with my pellet gun. One of our other neighbors came home and told us about her day performing trapeze, and Nefarious had a great time listening to the band as well. When they came outside with their gun as well, she had fun showing off her knives as everyone compared their toys. This is the first place I’ve lived where I’ve really enjoyed having neighbors.

Anyway… not really sure what this week entails other than doctor visits. I haven’t written much (other than code) in the last couple weeks, so I should do some book work… and then there’s a suspension party this weekend coming up that I’m looking forward too because it’s been so long since I’ve been at anything like that. Some time I also want to take molds off of a chess set and cast a few sets in white and regular chocolate, the idea being a set for kids where they can eat the pieces that they capture. Assuming it doesn’t already exist, I think it could be a successful product.

I am keeping my eye on Snape!

In addition to lots of playing at the park,reading of Harry Potter to Nefarious, and watching UFC 106, I’ve been taking my spare moments to patch in the Kijiji searching code (just USA and Canada for now, because if I remember right the other regions use different sections, languages, and layout, unlike Craigslist which is nice and consistent internationally), including a nice, easy to use interface that I’m quite happy with. The whole thing is sitting at over 3,500 lines right now, and because it’s nicely commented it’s well over 200k of text (making the final executable quite a bit bigger than the compiled program). Everyone teases me for writing in PowerBasic, on account of the “it’s a kid’s language” stereotype of BASIC, but it really is one of the most powerful compilers out there that produces beautifully tight and efficient software.

I hadn’t expected by the way that I would enjoy the Harry Potter books, but to my surprise I really have been, as has Nefarious. I think she likes as well that most of the chapters are so wordy that it can take us as much as an hour to read a chapter! And since I do different voices for all the characters, the ones that have lots of dialog from Hagrid give me a little bit of a sore throat. Today we read the chapter with the first Quidditch game — a shorter chapter — in which Snape seems to try to kill Harry. I expect to be woken up tomorrow morning by Nefarious asking to read a chapter before breakfast.



Oh, and also at the park I saw these big lumps below of leaves in the trees. I wasn’t sure what they were, whether it was some sort of phenomena caused by wet leaves blowing around or DIY bird habitats or something else. Nefarious explained to me that they are squirrel nests, and I looked it up when we got home and she was right. How cool is it that she’s getting old enough that I’m now learning from her at times? It’s amazing, I love it so much.


And the final “also at the park” were some nice kids from the local Catholic school, who did not seem particularly perturbed when Nefarious told the oldest girl that praying didn’t make sense because God isn’t real. The girl told her that since she was in third grade, she knew more than someone in grade one, and therefore was right. Zing! While it was no big deal to the kids, their granddad’s demeanor (he was who had brought them to the park) turned suddenly quite gruff and hostile. Meh. Although I did remind Nefarious on the way home that it probably wasn’t a good idea to tell people at the park that the things they believe in aren’t real, and that there are better times for such debates.

Nefarious has finally stumbled upon the realization that Santa may not be real (although she is not yet totally convinced)l. That said, our neighbor (her friend, also in third grade), revealed it to her in a very sweet way, saying to her, “Santa Claus isn’t a real person — Santa is a spirit that lives in our hearts.” And I think as a metaphorical truth, you could say that’s quite accurate.


Since my latest doctor suggested it, I’ve been reading up as much as I can on the subject of muscular dystrophy, and my Internet self-diagnosis — yes, always an inaccurate and ill-advised strategy — says that I have myotonic dystrophy of the second type. This seems to be one of the most minor forms, and I match all the symptoms. It’s been interesting seeing the “why” of things like Gower’s sign in me — because I can’t stand up from sitting with my legs, I “walk” myself up with my arms to compensate. The reason it’s interesting, is that this all happened completely subconsciously and I never gave it any thought — it’s amazing how the body and brain adapt to damage, and even more amazing that your conscious mind is often not informed of it! Anyway, I’ve been reading a lot about physical therapy to see what I should be doing — weights, yoga, swimming, or what?

And now I unpause the PVR and watch Tito fight Forrest, and then hopefully fall asleep very quickly on account of the potential aforementioned morning duties.

ZenCLSH updated to version 2.02

I made a pretty heavy update to the Craigslist Search Harvester last night and this morning addressing many minor issues, including the ones listed below… But first of all, I decided to make the tool open source. If you’re interested, you can download the source code here (which compiles under PB/Win 9.02, a wonderfully fast and efficient compiler). Enjoy.

  • Slightly changed HTML output, including tagging the day’s downloads with “NEW”.
  • When saving CSV files and HTML files, you can output everything, or just today’s new entries.
  • Permissions-level bug in “view in browser” shell command should be fixed now [untested fix].
  • Collisions in listview no longer happen.
  • You can select multiple items from the results listview to output or view just those items.
  • Offers to add itself to start menu.
  • Added “About” dialog and moved the “visit website” button there.
  • Can now specify that search should be of titles only, not body text.
  • Can now specify that results should only include ads with pictures
  • Clicking on column headers sorts list by that column
  • Source code made public… I sure hope it’s not too embarrassing.
  • Search name can be specified on the command line — ie. “ZenCLSH2 searchname”



New Eyes, New Software

I got some new contacts, mostly for amusing Nefarious’s friends. They’re a little crooked in the photo below. I think one of my favorite parts of the day is picking her up from school, because at the end of the day all the kids come down from their various classrooms and hang out in the common room / foyer while they wait for their parents to come and get them (not that many of the kids take the bus), and trade whatever snacks they have left over from lunch. When I get there, Nefarious is almost always playing chess with a small ground of chess regulars — one of them, who I think is one or two years older, has an excellent sense of strategy, but they’re all quite solid for their age — and I join in or watch. I think today I’ll bring in some of the fairy chess pieces that Nefarious and I made for our games here and see if they want to introduce those.

It’s still got some issues, but I have released a beta version of my Craigslist search tool. The biggest improvement is that it’s incredibly fast in comparison to the old one, and can download full entries (also incredibly fast), not just the titles. I’m happy with where it’s going, but there is still a serious bug with “auto deep scan”, and I’m worried about a problem I’m having with a ShellExecute() call I’m making for the “view in browser” call. It seems to make the call, but then just hangs, which means that it doesn’t view the file, and it creates a thread that doesn’t terminate when you close the program. I think this is a Windows 7 issue though, because I have the same problem in some other programs that I have (Eudora, Windows Picture Viewer, etc.) when they make the same call themselves.

Edit: The deep scan bug is fixed, and the ShellExecute problem is because of a permissions error. ZenCLSH must have as high a permission level as the program being controlled (ie. so this is an OS issue).


La dee da da

Update: This tool can be downloaded here

I got pulled over by the police today because I forgot to renew my license plate sticker which has been expired since my birthday in September, but luckily I was driving a friend to his tattoo shop and his shop is right next to the ministry of transport building, so the cop said I wouldn’t get the ticket if I renewed my sticker today, which I did of course. It took this long to catch me because my spare tire makes the sticker hard to see.

I look forward to starting to smell better, as our building has been without consistent hot water for about two weeks, but today finally got a new boiler installed. Unfortunately this also comes with having no more excuse for not doing the dishes.

I have been fiddling with a complete rewrite of my Craigslist search tool. It is several orders of magnitude faster than the old version because it can run 24 searches simultaneously in multiple threads, as well as having various new features. I am still testing and improving it but I will release it in the next few days. It’s been optimized for police who use the tool to track stolen property.