Mon Nov 30, 2015

Its been a while since I've written. This time mainly as a result of lack of time, and energy. I've been busy enough that its gotten to the point where I needed to cut something in addition to sleep. Honestly, I'm unsure that blogging was the right choice, but there you have it. This piece is just going to be a journal entry, mostly non-technically related, to get me caught up.

What the hell have you been doing?

Mostly work. Seriously. Like work-work, not fun-work. This short guide has been helpful more than once. I can't go into the details, but there was a porting project that I'd been part of which required a lot more time than had been alotted to it in various related planning sessions. Combined with some minor extra-curriculars, this effectively burned enough time and energy that I haven't had any left over for writing. And, I have to admit shame-facedly, that it has also started to affect my intellectual output at the weekly reading group.

It's mostly cleared up at this point, and the parts that aren't are finally someone else's problem, so I might be getting to the point where serious thinking can happen that's unrelated to work-work. That would be quite nice.

The work-work I've been doing since has involved developing a serious understanding of Rails and the Ruby dependency/package ecosystem. The project itself is a small standalone service that does some moderately interesting things I'm not sure I'm allowed to write about (I'll ask, but no promises), with a minimal JSON-based web API. So this is effectively the first time I've built a rails project from mostly scratch. I maintain my opinion that Rails is a giant pile of garbage with some good ideas haphazardly mixed in. ActiveRecord looks like it's on the level of CLSQL in terms of a database layer (though it seems to perform worse in certain contexts; I'll keep you posted if benchmarks ever happen), and rspec is a passable testing framework (though I still prefer prove in most ways, and seriously need to look into one of the Ruby quickcheck ports before too long).

That's... about it.

It still relates certain otherwise separate parts of a system on the basis of filenames, it has an object-based routing mini-language that seems more confusing and less flexible than writing out route maps manually, it still has very little compile-time support for catching the sorts of errors that I kind of thought web frameworks are supposed to prevent, and its "convention over configuration" mantra still tends to boil down to "memorize this please; understanding is superfluous. Also, boilerplate everywhere". Sufficed to say that I've been trying my hardest to touch the framework itself as little as possible. I get the feeling that that particular dead horse has already been thoroughly beaten, so I'll say no more about it.

Actually interesting things have been pretty limited. I still haven't found time to work on Starfish. Or cl-notebook. Or LLTHW. All of which I'd very much like to pour some hours into. I have been struggling through the first 12 chapters of PFPL, but "struggling" is the operative word. This is nothing like my SICP experience, where I at least had a few years with the underlying language under my belt. PFPL focuses obsessively on the math and logic aspects of programming languages, and presents most of its code in the form of raw ML/Haskell-style datatype definitions. There are some interesting insights here though, and weight of material aside, I'm hoping I can make it through all the way.

Kickstarter Update

It's been a while since I've started using Kicktracker to find out about new boardgames coming out. Long enough that the first cluster of them has been delivered, and I just wanted to share the experience briefly.

The most common experience so far has been "production delays". I've gotten one thing precisely on time, most of the rest of the pieces with at least minor delay, and one delivery I was expecting is still outstanding. Oh, and then there's this thing. Seriously,Ryan Laukat is a fucking machine. Not only does he do the concept, game design and art for his games on his own, he also delivered his last project about two months ahead of schedule. No idea what kind of planning, intensity and ouright luck that takes, but he's got it.

The delays haven't prevented me from backing lots of games, of course. I'm up to 19 total at this point, 8 of which I wouldn't have found through Rahdo's video channel. I guess I'll call that a "win".

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