The Art of Computer Programming

Posted on: Mon, 15 Aug 2016 16:23 By: patrick

Here's a line of code that I recently sighted when I had to dig through ancient Excel VBA cruft at work:

Falsch = True

For German speakers: The code works because it uses a non-keyword (Falsch) as the variable name. For non-German speakers: "falsch" is German for "false", so the original code can be translated to:

False = True

After a moment of disbelief, I couldn't help but admire the amount of badness that is compressed into this single line of code - there is even a philosophical statement here! It's so fabulous that I consider it to be a real piece of computer programming art!

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Between journey 1 and 2: Power Play

Posted on: Wed, 26 Aug 2015 13:23 By: patrick

As recounted in the description of my first exploration journey, I had travelled in a decently equipped Asp Explorer. For the next journey, though, I wanted to improve some of the modules, most importantly I wanted a class A frame shift drive so that I would be able to make longer hyperspace jumps. To earn the necessary credits, I decided to check out how Power Play works.

The first journey: Dipping my toes

Posted on: Wed, 26 Aug 2015 11:26 By: patrick

As mentioned in the conclusion of the previous post, space exploration in Elite: Dangerous has fired my imagination and my space romantic spirit. Abandoning all restraints, I have decided to celebrate my career as a galactic explorer as fully as possible - for my own enjoyment if not for anyone else's - by creating documentaries of each of my trips. Let's see where this leads.

I would like to begin the series with a brief report of my first journey, where I dip my toes into the space-cold waters of the galactic unknown. The goals: Leave the bubble of inhabited space, sniff the galactic wind, maybe find an unclaimed star and try to make it back alive to report the sights. Also, earn a few credits :-)

Elite: Dangerous - First impressions

Posted on: Tue, 25 Aug 2015 21:16 By: patrick

A few months ago, Elite: Dangerous (or ED for short) came out for the Mac. I immediately bought the game, for old time's sake (I have been playing both the original Elite on the C64 and Frontier on the PC) and because it promised to be a playable game - as opposed to the perpetual alpha status that Star Citizen has been in now for years! After the break, I try to give a few of my first impressions from the time when I started to play the game, together with a summary of what ED means to me now after having played the game for a bit over 3 months.

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Little Go 1.2.0 released

Posted on: Wed, 24 Jun 2015 18:46 By: patrick

Yesterday Little Go 1.2.0 has been published on the App Store. This is a major new feature release that took fully 9 months to complete - in the end the release was dragging out for much longer than intended due to stability issues with the new iPhone 6+ user interface design. Hopefully I nailed all those pesky bugs.

This time I won't bore anyone with a repetition of the changes that are in the release. You can either read the App Store update notes or hop over to the GitHub release page to see the changelog.

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Configuring OpenLDAP, or what the @#$% !!!

Posted on: Fri, 06 Feb 2015 11:52 By: patrick

OpenLDAP 2.3 (released in 2005) introduced a new way for configuring the slapd daemon. The traditional method was a configuration file (/etc/ldap/slapd.conf on Debian) that could simply be edited with a text editor. The new way follows the Eat your own dog food maxim: The configuration is stored in a set of LDIF files (stored under /etc/ldap/slapd.d in Debian) which cannot be edited directly with a text editor. Instead, all changes must be done via LDAP operations. Funny enough: In order to configure the daemon, the daemon must already be running.

slapd-config, as the new configuration method is called, may be a technically cool feature, but from a casual sysadmin's point of view it is nothing but a major pain in the butt! So you want to quickly change slapd's log level to diagnose some authentication problem? OK, first check the documentation to see where the log level option is located in the configuration schema, and how its attribute is called. Then query the running daemon to look at the current value(s). Then write an .ldif file that contains the change. Then issue a complicated ldapmodify command that requires more cryptic options than tar and cpio combined. Of course the .ldif file contains an error, so diagnose & repeat. After maybe 20 minutes the job is done. Phew, only 20 minutes to change the daemon log level, I am such an LDAP wizard!

Actually when I did this just now it took me more like an hour because I am so not used to the procedure (another explanation might be that I'm just stupid, but hey, I think that's not it). Since I don't want to repeat the experience, I have started to write up some recipes on my wiki. Here's the link in case you are interested.

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Spammers are getting better

Posted on: Fri, 16 Jan 2015 12:13 By: patrick

Another 19 months have passed since my last report from the spam front. This time the news is not so good.

Although the overall spam rate has dropped again, for the third time in a row, and is now at 11 messages per day (down from 14 messages per day), the other side of the medal is that SpamAssassin's recognition rate has also dropped for the third time in a row. This time the drop has been so marked that it has overcome the benefits of the spam rate drop, causing the average number of spam mails that have made it into my inbox to increase to 1.6 messages/day (up from 1.4 the last time).

This is the first increase of that all-important figure since I switched to greylisting almost 5 years ago! This turnaround is slightly scary because it means that for the first time ever spammers have actually become better in getting their junk into my inbox. I refuse to be overly alarmed at this point, and I hope that this trend will not continue, but if it does I will have to consider new measures, such as starting to use blacklists.

For more statistics details, see this wiki page.

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Little Go 1.1.2 released

Posted on: Sat, 20 Sep 2014 00:02 By: patrick

Little Go 1.1.2 has just been released to the App Store. This is another bugfix release that contains a couple of fixes for potential crashes (#243, #247), one drawing bug (#245) and one regression (#246).

The harmless seeming drawing bug #245 probably was the root cause for the crashes that so many people experienced in version 1.1.0. The quick&dirty bugfix that I shipped in 1.1.1 (#242) merely turned a crashing bug into a drawing bug, but with the release of 1.1.2 the root cause should now be fixed as well. Since I am not 100% sure, I didn't have the stomach to remove the quick&dirty fix yet.

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Little Go 1.1.1 released

Posted on: Sun, 17 Aug 2014 19:45 By: patrick

Little Go 1.1.1 has been released to the App Store yesterday. This version contains an urgent fix for a crash that sometimes occurs while a stone is dragged around the board (#242). The crash was clearly affecting a lot of people because after merely 3 days I had already received over 400 crash reports - almost double the amount of reports that were sent over the last 6 months.

Fortunately, the crash reports clearly showed me where the crash was happening, and why (initializing an NSArray with a nil object). Unfortunately, the actual root cause that leads to the error condition did not became clear, even after several hours of detailed analysis. Due to the urgency of the problem, in the end I had to implement and ship a quick&dirty fix. I am not proud of this, but at least it seems to be effective: Now that the bugfix release is live on the App Store the crash reports have stopped pouring in.

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