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Monday, August 27, 2007

Resurrection of libgmp-ruby

Hello Kitty Sponge cake by Rubyran from flickr (CC-BY)
I've just republished tarball of libgmp-ruby (Ruby bindings to GNU Multiple Precision Arithmetic Library). It's a very old package (literally Ruby 1.6 old), but the server hosting it died and I never quite got to republishing it before.

It is available for download in tarball format. To compile the package use:

$ ./extconf.rb
$ make
$ make install
It used to build Debian packages. I don't know if they still build or if some tweaking is necessary. GEMs are not provided, as the package is older than Ruby Gems. Some day I'll get to updatng it and providing DEBs and GEMs.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Dynamically typed road traffic

Cloud the kitten by taw (public domain)I moved to London a few weeks ago. I live at 82 Mildmay Road, Islington, London, N1 4NG, I code Ruby on Rails at Trampoline Systems, I have a beautiful kitten girl Cloud (the blue-eyed white furry creature above), and I use a MacBook.

Let's start from the culture shock part. The British start working at saner hours than Polish, somewhere between 9:30 and 12:00 instead of 7:00 to 8:00. They start their day by eating "English breakfast", which consists of fried eggs, oversalted beacon, sausage made of 50% recycled plastic bottles and 50% soy protein isolate (and definitely no meat), baked beans, half-cooked mushrooms, black pudding (no idea what it is made of), tomatoes prepared in a way that makes them lose the tomato taste, semi-sweet toasts, and a few other weird things. The whole thing is huge, hard to digest, and completely unsuitable for a breakfast. At least that was what I thought at first - now I kinda like eggs, baked beans and semi-sweat toasts.

The next culture shock was in moving around. Pedestrians don't care about traffic lights. On the continent it's expected for people to wait till the light is green before crossing the street. In London nobody does so - people just check if the road is free and if it is they go. As most streets in the city center seem to have pedestrian islands in the middle, it is enough if just a single lane is free from traffic. At first I thought it will certainly lead to huge increase in traffic accidents, but it seems the British roads are actually safer than most of the continent. That's lot like static versus dynamic typing - instead of statically checking "type" of road (RedRoad or GreenRoad) you check if it responds correctly to :pedestrian message and cross if to does. Much more efficient after some getting used to.

Switching from Ubuntu Linux to Mac was weird. Macs have one big advantage over Linuxes - TextMate. As far as I can tell it's the only advantage. Other than that:

  • They lack single package management system like apt-get. One needs to use a mix of fink, port, gems, binary packages, hand-compiled packages, and I still couldn't install Amarok.
  • No copy & paste by select and middle-click is annoying.
  • Safari sucks almost as much as IE4, Macs are pretty much unusable without Firefox.
  • Macs are not a very good Unix. Packages are outdated and unupgradable (Ruby 1.8.2 from 2004 on a laptop sold in 2007 - wtf?). Basic utilities like find and cp don't accept standard GNU flags. Locale is very annoyingly not UTF-8 without some work. There's no good terminal (neither the builtin one nor iTerm are anywhere near konsole). Filesystem is case-insensitive (yuck). There's no strace and debugging options are limited compared to Linux.
  • There's no good music player. iTunes is a stinky pile of donkey shit compared to the most awesome Amarok.
  • There's no good iPod client. iTunes sucks compared to even gtkpod. iTunes sucks compared to everything.
  • MacBook screen is very small. MacBook trackpad is horrible (not unlike trackpads in all other laptops). Control vs Command distinction is annoying even after a few weeks (Control-D but Command-C, huh ?).
Did I mention TextMate ? The good things are TextMate, TextMate, magsafe connector for power supply, and TextMate. I've tried pretty much every Linux text editor out there and
TextMate is far better than any of them. Maybe even good enough to make me say on Mac.