Miscellany for March

published: Sat, 20-Mar-2004   |   updated: Thu, 27-Oct-2005

Yowza! I've suddenly realized that it's been a long while since I've posted anything on my site.

Well, I have good reason: things have been moving apace in the Bucknall world, and I've finally found an hour or so to let you in on them.

First, I have a new job working for a great company with a bunch of interesting people. I'm Senior Software Architect for Falafel Software, working with people like Lino Tadros (my boss) and Steve Tiexiera and Charlie Calvert and Brian Long and Jim Cooper and... the list goes on. Lino asked me for a brief bio, and it turned out to be longer than anyone else's.

In case you didn't know, Falafel are a consulting and training company, targeting (but not to exclusion) C#/.NET, Delphi, and Java.

The great thing about this job is that I can work from home, with less traveling. Those who know me know that I've been weekly commuting on planes for 22 months, mostly United, so the ability to commute from my bedroom across the landing to my office is a joy to experience. That doesn't mean that traveling is out, of course; there will be many opportunities to rack up the miles as I visit clients.

Another great thing about this job is the ability to work on interesting applications using the latest technologies. We'll see if I can't talk about some of my architectural/development experiences (names may be changed to protect the innocent, or something).

One of the things that Falafel encourage is to blog and they've set up a public blog, posted to by employees. It's called Flogging with the Falafel Software Team, which sounds a bit like a weird cooking procedure. Holy cow! I'm now going to be writing two regular blogs? Robert Scoble would be proud of me. (Actually, I've already posted a couple of entries on the Flogs page; do please take a look.)

What I'll probably do is to write smaller articles for Falafel, leaving the larger, more detailed ones for this site's blog.

Second in the list of things that have been happening is that I've been writing a component product for .NET in C#. Man, this has been an eye-opener for me. It's a bit like the first time I wrote a component for Delphi 1 in the far-off days when we started Orpheus at TurboPower. So much information to assimilate. So much research to do. So many classes to peruse and review. The interesting thing is that I'm writing the component using TDD (Test-Driven Development), something we never did at TurboPower ("Does it work? It looks like it. Let me randomly change some properties to see. Oops."). And I have to say it's going really well. I can make really fundamental changes to the code, adding new classes, splitting older ones, moving stuff around, and my tests have been my safety net, catching some nasty problems I hadn't seen or considered.

The work, as you can imagine, has been very intense; hence one reason for the lack of blogging. By the way, I'll reveal more about this component when it's more stable.

Third is writing articles for The Delphi Magazine. After my Microsoft hiatus (when I couldn't write for TDM), I started writing some more articles, this time with a more .NET bias, targeting Delphi 8. So far, the February edition had my article on the CLR's Garbage Collector (for which I got the cover!), and March's had part 1 of a series on System.Collections. There's another part already written and sent up (possibly for the May issue, we'll have to see), and I'm finishing off part 3 hopefully this weekend.

Other snippets:

  • My book is out of print, but there was someone selling a used copy on Amazon for $140+. Of which I get exactly zero, of course.
  • Just finished Extreme Programming Adventures in C# by Ron Jeffries. Great fun. It's an Extreme Programming project (lots of TDD stuff) to write an XML editor, written by someone who didn't know C# at the start. It's fascinating seeing an XP expert go down blind alleys, refactoring code, learning as he's going. It gave me confidence to attack my component project using TDD.
  • This site is now getting more than 400 unique visitors per day. Good grief! If this continues, I'll have to upgrade to the next hosting level with TDMWeb.
  • If you're on the lookout for some computer equipment, monitor TechBargains.com. They post details about one-day specials at companies like Dell and so on. A recent example: Dell had a Dimension 4600 Performance Desktop P4- 2.8Ghz HT-Technology/800Mhz bus, 256MB Dual Channel DDR 400/40GB HD, 48x CD, Word Perfect, XP Home for $469. Shipped free, no less. However, I've seen more memory and more disk for $349.
  • One of my foibles is that I collect older Hewlett-Packard calculators, acquired mostly through eBay. And, boy, are there some idiots on eBay. You'd think that if you were selling an HP 42S, mint examples of which sell for $350 or more, you'd actually take some photos of it and post them to show off the calculator and engender some enthusiasm for it. Not this nitwit: "Fine working condition, comes with softcase. Manuals are long gone, but I have been using this as a back-up for many years. Very clean and guaranteed to work fine. All buttons work with no sticking. Tiny ding just below display window. [...] I will post a picture of it as soon as I can." And he never did, and it sold for $195 with just 2 bids. I would reckon he lost $100 by not posting a photo. (A counter example: I posted an eBay auction for one of my HP 28S calculators. 7 photos, including one of the chip out of the plastic near the battery door. I asked for a higher than average price with Buy-It-Now, and sold it at that price within 6 hours of posting.)
  • I've now subscribed to about 100 blogs. I use their RSS feeds of course (I don't visit all 100 websites everyday!) and I use Nick Bradbury's FeedDemon to manage it all. An excellent program, well worth it. I'll talk about which blogs are good in a technical sense in a later post.
  • I've also converted to using Mozilla Firefox 0.8 for my browser. Brilliant. Works extremely well, less bugs than IE, better download capabilities, much better adherence to CSS standards. Well recommended. My site looks and works better in Firefox, because IE6 has some nasty bugs that are shown up by the way my CSS is structured.

Finally, some more search phrases used to access my site in March:

  • fundamentals of algorithms bubblesort complex: no, it's not complex at all, just inefficient.
  • baknell: jeez, it's Bucknall, all right?
  • slot machine hackers: I'm not one of them, but I've heard that if you press the third button from the left, four times in quick succession, while standing in front of the machine totally naked, you could hit some kind of jackpot.
  • improved bubblesort c#: yes, it's called quicksort.
  • casino software loopholes: there are probably lots, but I'd guess most of casino theft is perpetrated by employees. So, work for a casino.
  • porsche 355 spider: are you giving one away? Please? Pretty please?
  • my name in cyrillic: dunno about yours, mate, but mine is "Джулиан М. Бакнелл".
  • delphi bubble sort: enough already!
  • lewis carroll jabberwocky tove definition: it's a nonsense word. However, Carroll did state at one point that a tove was "A species of Badger. They had smooth white hair, long hind legs, and short horns like a stag; lived chiefly on cheese." Furthermore, in the preface to The Hunting of the Snark, we're told that it's pronounced to rhyme with "grove." (Martin Gardner, The Annotated Alice)