Colin's Journal

Colin's Journal: A place for thoughts about politics, software, and daily life.

January 23rd, 2006

Fixing faults

Dome of the ReichstagSoftware has a curious property, in that it never decays or weathers, and yet requires maintenance to be useful. If you install a new program, it may stop an existing program from working. If you try to open a recently produced Word document into an old version of Word, it may fail to load. If a piece of software held opinions, it would see this as a an environmental change.

Software maintenance is the opposite of physical world maintenance. In the physical world you replace the bits that are damaged, the broken pane or the cracked paving stone. In software maintenance you take code that hasn’t changed, and alter it to suit a new environment.

Stories have the same maintenance property. Books may decay over time, but if the words are carefully copied from one book to another without error, the story itself will remain unchanged. However a changed environment can cause faults in our understanding or appreciation of a story. Stefan Geens ponders whether the manner of story telling will return to that of the Greek myth. Does a modern audience appreciate a world of restricted communication, or do they have more in common with Greek gods?

Over a year ago, I decided to stop maintaining my own RSS/Atom aggregator. Although I’ve not been making fixes since then, I had continued to use it out of nothing but momentum. Over the year various bits of other software on my machine has been upgraded, and the Atom file format has evolved into a 1.0 specification. As a result several problems started to appear in TALAggregator, and I’ve finally decided to stop using it. I’m now getting used to the Sage feed reader extension for Firefox, software that is actively maintained and developed.

January 1st, 2006

The end of 2005

Notre Dam Cathedral hiding behind trees.
Quote of the day “I cannot imagine achieving anything meaningful over a 45-minute lunch.” – Alejandra Moore, a communications consultant.

In the first half of 2005 I did little travel. In the second half, particularly from November onwards, I’ve been dashing off all over the place. It started in mid-October with a week long trip to Pune for work. It was my first time in India, and I greatly enjoyed it. The food was generally good, with a couple of restaurants really standing out. Getting around town in the evenings in the motor-rickshaws is fast, cheap, and exciting/dangerous. Getting to work in the morning and getting back in the afternoon takes a while, bouncing along in the back of a four wheel drive van.

Two weeks after getting back from Pune we went to Paris for a weekend, my first time there, and only my second trip on the Eurostar. Starting in the middle of one city and ending in the middle of another is a huge advantage; I could leave work at the normal time, and when we returned our delays in arriving into London meant only a short taxi ride to get home. Paris itself was a lot of fun, though we’ve only scratched the surface of the city.

Berlin was next, also an excellent trip (the architecture was particularly interesting as much of the city has been rebuilt after the war), but marred slightly upon return due to the Stanstead “Express” (45 mins) being replaced by a coach (1hr – and you’re still only at Liverpool Street), not fun at 1am. Berlin was my first trip to Germany in three years, and so it was a strange coincidence that I needed to go to Frankfurt later that same week for work (of which I saw very little).

Two days after getting back from Frankfurt I was off to Pune again, another enjoyable trip at a much more relaxed pace. Exactly a week after getting back from Pune, it was off to Toronto. The reason for the trip was Shana’s defence, although we also got some time to relax and visit friends. We got back on the 18th of December, and then headed to Venice for our Christmas break on the 22nd.

I don’t normally do New Year’s resolutions – but I think I need to try and spread out our travel commitments more.

Photo: Notre Dam Cathedral hiding behind trees.


Copyright 2015 Colin Stewart

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