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Friday, September 24, 2004

  8:23 PM - Waiting for Perl 6
I've always been a fan of Perl. It's a productive language to work in. Not the best for GUI development, definitely not the best for embedding; but for a certain class of problems there is absolutely nothing better.

Somewhere along the line I tried to compile Perl 5.x (maybe 5.6, maybe 5.005) using Symantec C++ or Digital Mars C++. It didn't work. In fact, it failed miserably. Trying to add support for a different compiler got me looking at the hairy underbelly of Perl and that, quite honestly, made me shudder. But, I managed to put it out of my mind, went back to precompiled binary distributions (from ActiveState and later IndigoStar) and continued to enjoy Perl and gain value from it.

IndigoStar has been my preferred distro because I'm allowed to redistribute it without paying anybody. That's my Scottish heritage, I guess. However, I wanted to upgrade to 5.8.x this week, and IndigoPerl is about 6 months out of date. So I decided, I've got other compilers now, including MSVC, so I'll just build my own.

And it wasn't nearly as bad as trying to compile it with Symantec. The Win32 build process leaves something to be desired but I'm not helpless; I can figure stuff out. I compiled it with MSVC, but nmake test failed with some IO failures. So I tried dmake with MinGW. Same failures. Borland also had the same errors, plus a more spectacular crash. Perlio or stdio made no difference. The docs say that some failures are expected on FAT but not on NTFS.

Oh well, time to roll back the curtain again, forget what I saw, and go back to using Perl instead of scrutinizing its code and its build procedure.

But before I erase all of this from my memory, I thought I should archive this one thought: Perl, I now realize, is not a swiss army chainsaw after all. That's a common misconception, because of all the buzz over the years. No, it's a swiss army bumblebee: it can't possibly fly, and yet it does (very well) in spite of itself.
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Tuesday, September 21, 2004

  6:21 PM - Shipwreck Central Updated
The Shipwreck Central Interactive Map is now updated to include more detailed satellite imagery, and an optional larger map layout for display at 1024x768. The map now also includes countries and cities that you can turn on or off.

Meanwhile the team at ECO-NOVA has been continuing to update the site with data quality improvements, additional shipwrecks, and more underwater video footage.

Altogether, this is an exciting new development on the world wide web, not only for shipwreck enthusiasts and history buffs, but for all of us.
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Wednesday, September 08, 2004

  9:04 PM - Fun with Service Pack 2
I installed XP Service Pack 2 on my home PC last week. It seemed to work fine at first - there were minor compatibility problems, but nothing I couldn't fix.

Then I went away for the weekend, and when I came back, I noticed that my network properties no longer showed any adapters. The Internet still works, though, as long as I don't ever have to change my TCP/IP settings.

But I do occasionally like to do that! And I don't like when things fail mysteriously; sometimes it's the tip of the iceberg. I found some information online, including KB 825826, but nothing fixed it. I uninstalled SP2; it didn't come back. I performed a repair installation (which went into an infinite loop, but I was able to get past it). Even this did not bring back my network connections, although it did manage to break a few other things.

My network interfaces are still not listed in Device Manager, but do appear in the registry and the main one is in fact working. (The second one was disabled, so of course it does not appear in ipconfig.)

I removed the two NIC PCI cards (which of course caused XP to want to re-activate, which it couldn't do since there was no network connection), then rebooted, and re-inserted the main card, in hopes that plug-n-play would fix the problem. Alas, it didn't.

My advice: Unless your PC has a problem that SP2 is known to fix, steer clear of it!

Of course, I'm not following my own advice: I'm about to install SP2 again. It probably won't fix anything, but the damage is already done so I may as well have the latest.
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