When I wrote DIYBlog it occurred to me that what I was writing would translate into a blog aggregator pretty easily, and so I’m working on making that so. I’d like to start a little community of Java developers who are working on small free and open source software Java programs, so we can start to communicate through our blogs and help each other out with thorny issues e.g. how to get our programs working with an all free software systems (more on that later).

For the moment I’m working on aggregating my own favourite feeds, which you can see here: Planet Andy. All this is/will be running on pure FTP web space, with a little cron job running on my own machine to keep it updated. Of course, that does mean it only works when my machine is turned on…


Been discussing with Alex about the dangers of re-implementing – he wants to simplify the command-line arguments code in FreeGuide, but rather than modifying the existing code, he’s re-written it. The problem with re-writing is that old code usually has lots of non-obvious bug fixes in it which you will have to re-implement all over again as they are reported. Alex has re-written a few things, and generally he’s improved the code structure, but we have both then had extra work to do fixing the bugs that are inevitably introduced. That can seem like a waste of time if they’re bugs that I have already fixed in the past.

It always feels easier to write your own new version instead of understanding what’s already there, but in reality, unless you’re changing the output, it’s never a good idea completely to re-write the internals. There’s a good article by Joel Spolsky on this.

Honestly my last post about my viva

…for a while.

Woke up at 4.30am today having awful dreams about how none of the code worked. My dreams transposed the problems I am trying to solve at work onto the code I need to write for my corrections. I couldn’t stand it any longer so I got up and started work on it, and I’ve launched an experiment now which should hopefully provide all I need in terms of experimental work. So, it’s not as bad as my dreams…

The idea of getting back into the writing part also terrifies me. I guess another few weeks of getting up in the small hours might get it done, but I’m likely to lose all my friends. Obsessing about this is already making me totally inward-focussed. I am trying to make an effort to think about what other people might be feeling, to try and keep my self-pity in check.

Viva today

Today I find out whether I get a PhD. I’ve been strangely not-nervous about it, although I’ve woken up pretty early this morning. It’s difficult to `revise’ since most of what we’ll be talking about is what I wrote. I’ve been trying to refresh my memory of papers I cited (especially those of my examiners…) and of what I wrote, but it’s been so boring I haven’t done much. Let’s hope I don’t regret it later.

I’m fairly hopeful about passing – I would hope my supervisors would not have let me submit if it wasn’t going to pass, but I see the viva as being both a rite of passage everyone has to go through (i.e. a horrible experience that my examiners had to go through, so they want to inflict it on me, and a negotiation process about how many corrections I need to do.

I’m not worried about having a hard time today: I tend to stand up reasonably well under face-to-face pressure like this, and I hope I can robustly defend points of which I am confident, and give way in places where I should refine my thinking. I’m more worried about the corrections. I just can’t imagine getting back into writing my thesis – I’ve left it so far behind my thinking, I’m so sick of it, that the idea of writing another chapter or two is horrific. It was bad enough the first time.