Michael J. Radwin

Tales of a software engineer who keeps kosher and hates the web.

Monthly Archives January 2003

Palm Zire

palm-zire.jpg I bought a Palm Zire at Fry’s Electronics last night. It was on sale for $89.

I lost my trusty old Palm V in November and have been miserable without it for the past 6 weeks. One of the reasons it took me so long to get a replacement was that I saw it as an opportunity to purchase some hot new technology. I toyed with the idea of getting a Dell Axim X5 for a while since I’ve been meaning to play with a handheld Microsoft OS, but I already know the Palm Desktop user interface and I’m too lazy to learn how to use Outlook. Hard to teach an old dog new tricks and all.

In the end, there’s nothing hot or new about the Zire. It’s a monochrome device with a wimpy 2MB of RAM and has absolutely no expansion capability whatsoever. The other extreme would’ve been to go with the Tungsten, but it’s kinda absurd to spend more on a handheld than you do on a desktop computer.

Busy at work this week

I’m in the SF Bay Area this week for work and I’m really busy. I don’t even have time to write anything amusing for my blog.

Now that I’m officially a pointy-haired (in the Dilbert sense) manager-type, there are lots of meetings. Some intersting new projects are on the plate for the coming year.

Speaking of the coming year, it will be interesting to see if 2003 is the year that Yahoo! Engineering really starts to move en masse to PHP, or whether properties will wait until 2004, when our infrastructure group cuts off support for yScript.

Adding content previews to MT Main Index

mt-logo-small.gif I’ve got a 30-second improvement to the Main Index template for MovableType. In the Recent Entries section on the right-hand column, I have added HTML title=”…” attibutes so you can get a sneak preview of the content before you click.

I simply changed this:


href="<$MTEntryPermalink$>"><$MTEntryTitle$></a><br />

to this:


title="[<$MTEntryDate format="%x"$>] <$MTEntryExcerpt$>"

href="<$MTEntryPermalink$>"><$MTEntryTitle$></a><br />

If you’ve got a modern web browser, simply hover over the links and the first few words of the entry will appear in a tooltip.

I am a grad-school dropout

ucla_seal_color.gif This makes it official. Today is the first day of the Winter 2003 quarter at UCLA, and I’m not enrolled in any classes. My short career as a part-time graduate student has come to an end.

I enrolled in the MSCS program at UCLA last year in part because I was hoping to round out my undergraduate education. I actually even considered doing a PhD, but I couldn’t really make up my mind as to whether I was more interested in artificial intelligence or computational theory. (I figured that if I was going to throw myself into a 5- or 6-year program, I should have a much stronger sense of what I wanted to research.)

Instead of rounding out my education, it felt more like I was re-hashing the same stuff I learned as an undergrad. Don’t get me wrong; UCLA’s Computer Science faculty is superb, and the department and university have some really good resources. It’s just that after working for 5 years in the industry, academia seemed to me like it was dealing with rather marginal problems.

Perhaps I didn’t give it my best effort. I was only in the program part time (I was too chicken to give up my full time job) and maybe if I had taken more classes and devoted more energy to the program I would’ve gotten more out of it.

Maybe doing a PhD would’ve been a better choice. A Masters degree wouldn’t have gotten me a significantly higher salary or qualified me do more innovative research. The best I could’ve gotten out of it was the ability to teach CS at the community college level.

Or, perhaps I got such a fantastic education at Brown that I don’t need me no mo’ learnin’. 😉

It’s hard to say why it didn’t work out. Apparently, I’m feeling a little melancholy about the whole thing.

Reading List for 2003

The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition I finally finished reading Fred Brooks’ The Mythical Man-Month this past week as I was recovering from a nasty chest cold. Even though the book is now 25 years old, it’s still got some fantastic insight on why software projects are perennially late, over budget, and full of bugs.

Still on my software engineering kick, I picked up my copy of Free as in Freedom (which was included in my registration tote bag at the July 2002 O’Reilly Open Source Convention). I’m about halfway through it, and I’m even more convinced than before that RMS is considered harmful. (Apologies to Edsger Dijkstra.) I’m enjoying the book nonetheless; Sam Williams writes well, and the story is fascinating nonetheless.

So since it’s a New Year, I may as well publish my (optimistic) reading list for the upcoming twelve months:

Looking at that list, it seems to be mostly comprised of Computer Science, Judaism, and science fiction. Ariella says that compared to most people, I read way more non-fiction than fiction. I guess she’s right. I wonder what that says about me?

After all, it’s just a perl script

Someone at work volunteered to port and maintain our proprietary package-management tool to Solaris. All twelve thousand uncommented lines of it. Good luck.

I’m sure someone is going to notice, and they’ll want to spend the next 3 months of their time doing a Linux port, too. It seems to me like it would be a better use of their effort and port their app to FreeBSD instead.

We’re a FreeBSD shop. Always have been, and probably always will be.