... indistinguishable from magic
effing the ineffable since 1977


Recent Posts


E! A! G! L! E! S! Eagles!

... or, as Alexa puts it more or less, E! O! A! R! E! O! Tiggoo!

My blog has come over all Eagles-green to celebrate...


Weird Words, Wonderful Wives, and Wizzie Wigs

I'm not sure how to take this entry in Janene's blog. It's either the sweetest, kindest insult or the most backhanded compliment I've ever been on the receiving end of. I feel like the target of one of those "roasts" they do on Comedy Central. I contemplated trying to return the favor, but I fear I'm no match for her devastating wit. One favor I have no hesitation in returning is to wholeheartedly recommend reading her blog to anyone interested in the subjects she discusses (other new parents, for example). Oh, and by the way, Luke isn't the only one who goes gaga every time he sees you, poophead.

(Just for the record, I have never written an entry about people who eat dwarf bread. Nobody eats dwarf bread. They smash skulls with it, occasionally, but never eat it.)

Her entry did leave me wondering, though. When did WYSIWYG become obscure technical jargon? I obviously wouldn't have expected my father-in-law to know it, but Janene's hardly a computer novice. WYSIWYG is as much part of my vocabulary as "HTML" or "Server" (or "implementation" or "configure" as she so kindly points out) and it never would have occurred to me that I was speaking incomprehensible gibberish. To anyone I've confused with this or other overly technical terminology, I hereby apologize. For readers coming from Janene's blog and wondering what the heck a "wizzie wig" is, WYSIWYG stands for What You See Is What You Get, and means that you can edit something (such as a website) by looking at what it really looks like, instead of HTML code. She was specifically referring to the Telerik rad Editor that's included in NetReach's cmScribe software.

On an unrelated note, thanks to Mark Wielaard for setting me up a private debugging version of Planet Classpath to figure out why it was crashing on my feed. Turns out the planetplanet software can't handle an <!> tag in the HTML portion of the feed. Not sure whether that's technically valid HTML or not (I think it is) but all the other systems could handle it...


Billionaires, blogs, and bugfixes



I read somewhere that everyone hates "reality TV", but everyone has one reality show they make an exception for. Mine this year was the Rebel Billionaire. Ever since announcing Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson can do no wrong by me. Apparently the show was a flop, which is strange to me but not surprising. The hit reality shows always seem to include lots of yelling, conflict and pointless melodrama; conversely, I prefer watching shows where people mostly get along, and are civil to each other. I enjoyed the first season of Big Brother, too, which was a huge flop because all the people in the house joined in opposition to the producers of the show instead of against each other. I thought that turning of the tables of power was wonderful, but apparently America disagreed with me: subsequent seasons became reality-standard bitchfests that were (of course) huge hits.

Since nobody, apparently, was actually watching Billionaire, I guess I need to give some background if I want to talk about the finale. The show was like "The Apprentice" except that instead of selling lemonade the contestants had to perform a wide range of challenges, ranging from the physical (walk across a plank between two hot air balloons) to promotional (do a publicity stunt of your choice with the one getting the most publicity winning; produce an ad for Virgin Galactic) to organizational (find a way to improve life for an African village; decorate a hotel room) to psychological (climb into a barrel that's going to be dropped over a waterfall - the evil trick here was that the winner was the person who was smart enough to figure out that this was a really bad idea and refuse to do it).

One of the things I liked about this show was that I usually agreed with Branson's choices. The last two constestants were exactly the two I would have picked. Shawn was practically a mini-me of Branson himself: slightly brash and cocky with a flair for adventure and a canny business sense. Sarah demonstrated her courage and determination in the very first challenge, overcoming a fear of heights to not only brave the inter-balloon plank but then master an elimination challenge that involved climbing a hundred-foot ladder to a tea party on top of the balloon. She was also the only contestant that was never on a losing team. I supported both these contestants and in fact I couldn't choose between them which one I preferred.

The eventual winner was Shawn, which left me somewhat ambivalent, because I still felt that Sarah was equally deserving. The final twist was that Shawn could either accept an instant million dollar check or flip a coin for a chance at a "much greater prize". After much agonizing and captions like "30 minutes later", "45 minutes later" appearing on screen a few times, he decided to take the million, much to the dismay of all the viewers, until Branson revealed that this was in fact another test. "If you'd taken the coin toss I would have lost all respect for you, and wouldn't have offered you what I'm now offering" - presidency of the entire worldwide Virgin group (as well as the million dollars). Sarah got $750,000 to start a charity which left me feeling better about the fact that such a deserving candidate hadn't won.

But the thing that left me happiest about the outcome (yeah, I know it's just a TV show, but my dreams for the entire human race's future in space seem to be resting on Branson's ability to make good decisions) was that while agonizing about his final decision, Shawn asked Branson something like "is this another barrel-over-the-waterfall thing?" - which is exactly, of course, what it turned out to be. He clearly demonstrated not just the characteristics that Branson was looking for with the challenge, but enough insight into Branson's (twisted) mind to ask the key question. That, IMO, made him the best choice to fill Branson's shoes.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

... but it will be blogged. Any potential revolutionaries out there, make sure you have RSS feeds ;)

Free Alternatives to the Java platform[1]

Apparently the ecj developers read my last post and fixed the screwy dependency between "compiler" and "model". You can now skip step 3 entirely and remove all references to "modelhack". I'm working on trying to make further progress in a few directions before I update the instructions, but if I manage it, the next update to the instructions will be pretty cool.

[1]Apparently we aren't allowed to say "Free Java" for trademark reasons, despite the fact that it's the most concise and correct description of what we're trying to do. Perhaps we should coin a phrase ourselves that describes what we're doing without infringing Sun's trademark. "Alternatives to the Java Platform" is, I'm pretty sure, fair use of the mark because it's very clear that what we're doing isn't the trademarked Java thing, but rather an alternative to it. Should we start saying we're working on free AJPs?


ecj and ikvm

A goal of mine for a while has been to integrate a Java compiler with ikvm to provide a direct Java-source-to-.NET compiler. I haven't achieved that goal yet, but I have taken a baby-step in that direction and successfully compiled the Eclipse Java compiler, ecj, to run under ikvm. The remaining issues are the big ones: detect classes in .NET dlls so that the Java code can refer to them, and pass the result through the ikvm compiler to get a .NET executable or dll as output. These steps are still some way in the future if I manage them at all.

Just being able to run ecj under IKVM is a significant step, though, so I thought I'd post the instructions here in case anyone wants to try it.

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