Signal Boosting – MA Cohousing Tour – May 16th

30 04 2009

Forwarding some information about the upcoming MA Cohousing Tour:

Come join us for a May tour of 4 cohousing communities on Saturday, May 16th, led by Laura Fitch, a cohousing architect and 15-year resident of Pioneer Valley Cohousing in Amherst. We will travel by bus and visit Camelot Cohousing and Mosaic Commons, 2 recently completed projects in Berlin, MA, then move on to tour New View in Acton and finish up at Jamaica Plain Cohousing. The tour meets and ends at the Riverside MBTA station (on the Green Line and just off Route 128 in Newton). You will have a chance to see 2 active cohousing communities and 2 which have just been completed, and visit with members of each. A fact sheet about each community will be provided and plans are in the making to have lunch at one of the just-completed communities in Berlin!
Cost is $105 per person and includes lunch. For more information and registration, please the cohousing.org ‘tours’ webpage

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Kingdoms Live – Army Invite Codes!

25 04 2009

Oh, and I also appear to be playing Kingdoms Live on the iPhone. It’s a lot of fun, pretty straightforward play, and enjoyable. Limits moves so you don’t spend your entire life on it. Not sure how far it’ll go, but if you’re playing, and you have an invite code, comment here, and expand your army!
My code is VNS22





Cohousing Day #28 – Superinsulation Works!

25 04 2009

Super Insulation in ActionToday we had 2 more houses move in (well, technically, only one – since the second is still unloading items from the truck as I type, and it’s 9:30 at night.) Tomorrow we have another household moving in, bringing our grand total to 7 so far. That’s seven families that have pulled up everything, and moved here. And there’s more to come.

But that’s not what I came here to talk to you about.

When we designed our houses, we put great emphasis on Superinsulation. The idea that a house should be insulated far beyond what ‘code’ calls for, to the point that it can stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer with a minimal amount of work by heating / cooling systems.

Today we were able to put that to the test. It got incredibly hot today – hot for April in New England, topping out at around 95 degrees according to my indoor/outdoor thermometer (see above). (Note that wunderground history for today says it only got up to 89. But it was still damned hot). According to the thermometer, it got up to 95 outside, but stayed at or below 79 inside the house.

Note that we have no fans running, no AC, in fact all the windows were closed. The house kept in the cool air from the night before – all day long. Even with traffic in and out.

That, my friends, is energy efficiency.

How many other people turned on air conditioners today? We didn’t have to.





Perl Coding Standards – Wish there were some!

23 04 2009

Some day some bright light will come forward and lay down the law about how Perl code should be formatted. And, just as likely, they will be roundly ignored, primarily out of sheer spite, but with a grain of “perl lets us do what we want. We don’t need no steenkin standards” tossed in just to muddy the argument.

Today’s annoyance is cleaning up some long forgotten programmer’s way of of formatting blocks of code. Only slightly edited, here’s a sub in one of the cgi scripts:

sub _getMediaList( $ $ $ ;$ )
{
my ($carrierId, $contentType, $contentIds, $formatted) = @_;
return undef if (!defined($contentType)); # Charts can have no contents and thus no content type
my $gpd = GPD::getDbh();
my @mediaList;
foreach my $contentId (@$contentIds)
{
my $resultList = mediaSearch(dbh => $gpd,
carrierId => $carrierId,
contentType => $contentType,
id => $contentId,
showdown => 1);
next if (!$resultList->[0]); # Shouldn't happen
push(@mediaList, $resultList->[0]);
}
if ($formatted)
{
foreach my $media (@mediaList)
{
$media->{title} = "$media->{artist} - $media->{name} - $media->{album}";
}
return formatMediaListColored('[%s] [%s] [%s] %s [%s] [%s] [%s] [%s]', [ 'id', 'isrc', 'upc', 'title', 'genre', 'label', 'relate
d_content_isrc', 'release_date'], \@mediaList, 1);
}
return \@mediaList;
}

Now, I’m not harping on the code itself – this is pretty innocuous, if slightly braindead. But what annoys me is the overuse of newlines to stand off functional blocks. They’re not necessary, the indenting is painful, and it makes the code hard to read. How hard is it to rework it like this:

sub _getMediaList( $ $ $ ;$ ) {
my ($carrierId, $contentType, $contentIds, $formatted) = @_;
my $gpd = GPD::getDbh();
my @mediaList;
return undef if (!defined($contentType)); # Charts can have no contents and thus no content type
foreach my $contentId (@$contentIds) {
my $resultList = mediaSearch(dbh => $gpd,
carrierId => $carrierId,
contentType => $contentType,
id => $contentId,
showdown => 1);
next if (!$resultList->[0]); # Shouldn't happen
push(@mediaList, $resultList->[0]);
}
if ($formatted) {
foreach my $media (@mediaList) {
$media->{title} = "$media->{artist} - $media->{name} - $media->{album}";
}
return formatMediaListColored('[%s] [%s] [%s] %s [%s] [%s] [%s] [%s]',
[ 'id', 'isrc', 'upc', 'title', 'genre', 'label', 'related_content_isrc', 'release_date'],
\@mediaList, 1);
}
return \@mediaList;
}

To me this is far easier to work with and understand where teh blocks are and how they work together. In my opinion, there’s a couple basic rules about code layout:

  • Consistent indenting – 4 spaces or 2, I don’t really care which, just use the same thing EVERYWHERE.
  • Curly braces to open a block go on the same line as the introductory keyword (if, foreach, sub, whatever).
  • Lines longer than 80 characters should be broken into sane sub-lines. Just hit enter and indent, folks. Not that hard.
  • Declarations at the top of the block when the variables are used across the entire block.
  • Separate declarations from functional code by a newline.

Now, this particular piece of code has no comments in it, so I’ll leave comments for another rant. But I think these basics sure would make perl code a lot more maintainable if everyone at least marginally followed them.





Uncomfortable Plot Summaries

19 04 2009

When I was a kid I remember reading TV Guide in it’s glossy mini-magazine format – it was like an up to date glimpse of the future at my fingertips. (Anyone reading this who was born after 1995 – this was before the Internet).
Occasionally their summaries of movies and shows would be completely off the wall. One I remember pretty clearly was:

Wizard of Oz – Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first person she meets and then teams up with three strangers to kill again.

Fortunately, someone has written an entire page full of them.
Thanks to Ellen for the pointer.
ETA – Well hell. That wasn’t TV guide. According to IMDB , it was written by Rick Polito of the Marin Independent Journal. Oh well. TV Guide was still pretty cool.





Cohousing day #20 – Spontaneous Outdoor Meal!

17 04 2009

image1766156110.jpgTonight we had one of those cohousing moments everyone talks about, but this really was experienced first hand.

Cat and I were home doing normal work on the house, the kids were out doing kidstuff around the site. We bump into Diana who mentions she’s making tacos, and would we like to join her and the kids? Well this went further into ‘it’s such a nice evening, let’s eat on the common house porch!’

So we did!

Diana made tasty tacos while I got out the furniture and set things up. Cat finished up the work she was doing on the house, and the 3 adults and 4 kids sat down for a lovely outdoor dinner.

We had a visit from the fellow doing work on Beezys house, and our soon to be neighbor Ken came by as well. Later after we had finished and were lazing around chatting, Kai came by and shared some quiet time as well.

All in all, a nice end to the week, and we got to use a common house resource for something shared and pleasant.

I like this place.





My next project: Fibre Channel

16 04 2009

image402486551.jpgThere are times I realize there are big holes in my tech-savvyness. In particular, my experience with more enterprisey storage systems, while it exists, doesn’t have a lot of ‘hey wouldn’t this be cool…’ to it.

Recently a friend asked if I’d be interested in a fibre channel disk array and associated accessories that he was disposing of. After a few seconds deliberation, I said ‘sure’ and a week later, here it is.

This is a 10 slot fibre channel chassis, hub, and a pair of HBA’s to round it out (the rackable box on top is a different project). The array has a mere 7 18 gig drives in it. In modern desktop drive land, it’s pretty pitiful. But FC drives on eBay are going for $30 for 73gig, so I can kit out this box with some pretty fast storage for very little.

For now though I have to learn about HBAs, GBICs and all the other tech that slipped by me.

This should be fun.