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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Asaf Bartov's LiveJournal:

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Tuesday, May 20th, 2008
2:46 pm
Monday, May 19th, 2008
11:06 am
HTML 5, Real Soon Now(tm)
Here's an interesting preview of features planned for the HTML 5 standard.

It's all very nice, but here's the problem:
Work on HTML 5 is rapidly progressing, yet it is still expected to continue for several years. Due to the requirement to produce test cases and achieve interoperable implementations, current estimates have work finishing in around ten to fifteen years.
Say what? Look at what the Web has done to overcome the problems and limitations of HTML 4 (now a decade old); remember that the Web is proceeding a lot faster today than it did in the nineties; do you really think HTML5 coming out in fifteen years could possibly have any value for the Web? Could it possibly solve the problems that'd interest us in fifteen years?

Unless it's a joke, these guys should get a reality shot, quick. They must publish and promote HTML 5 in no more than two years for it to be at all relevant.
Sunday, May 18th, 2008
4:03 pm
Monday, April 28th, 2008
5:25 pm
A Microsoft Moment
The System process is a special type of process on Vista called a “protected process” that doesn’t allow any access to its threads or memory. Protected processes were introduced to support Digital Rights Management (DRM) so that hi-definition content providers can store content encryption keys with a reduced risk of an administrative user using DRM-stripping tools to reach into the process and read the keys.

-- Mark Russinovich, "The Case of the System Process CPU Spikes"
Thank you ever so much, Microsoft.
Sunday, April 27th, 2008
2:57 pm
Lately, legitimate, manual e-mail I've been sending through the benyehuda.org server (to project volunteers and users) has been bouncing or getting rejected due to blacklisting. I'm reasonably careful in my server setup, I know for a fact it is neither an open relay nor 0wned nor backscattering. So I've been wondering what made whoever-it-was blacklist my server.

After digging around a bit, I found that the UCEPROTECT network has a "Level 3" blacklist on my server, but it's entirely not my server's fault! What's the deal? It is this: (bear with the spelling, they're Germans)
What means listed at UCEPROTECT-Level 3?
GAME OVER. We and our users have seen enough spam and heared all possible excusions why some lazy providers think to be not responsible for what their customers are doing.

We are not just another blacklist. We really know better. Massive spam is always a problem tolerated by the provider.

We have very bad news for you: It is not you, it is your complete provider which got listed.
Your IP was NOT part of a spamrun, but your provider seems to believe that spam is what the internet was made for.
By tolerating your provider doesn't care about spammers you are also supporting the global spam.
If all people would boycott spammerhaevens, spam-friendly providers wouldn't even exist.

Please send a compliant to your provider and request him to fix this problem immediatly.
Think about this: You pay him for, that you can use the internet without problems.

If he ignores your complaint or claims he can't do anything, you should consider to change your provider.
Don't accept to be fooled. If your provider really wants to stop spam he would install preventive measures.
Dang. benyehuda.org is hosted by the Shenkar college, themselves hosted on SMILE-ASN Euronet Digital Communications, (1992) LTD, Israel. Good luck talking them into behaving! So can I just unlist my own IP? Nuh-uh:
Can't you make an exception for me?
We never make exceptions. Requests are futile. Only your provider can fix this problem.
Bummer! Any ideas? (Other than moving my server to a compliant ISP, a move meaning we'd start to pay for the Int0rnetz. It's not out of the question, but naturally I'd rather not.)
1:26 pm
All Hail Prototype!
I never liked writing user interface code1. I particularly abhor user interface code on the Web2. I have succeeded in avoiding any kind of Web UI work in my professional software work, not writing a single line of JavaScript for my employer.

But these days I'm working on a little web app to facilitate collaborative work on producing an electronic version of (part of) Eliezer Ben-Yehuda's classic Hebrew dictionary, driving a streamlined process of allocating small images to type, typing, proofing (multiple rounds), and publishing. Since it involves a modicum of image editing and requires some immediate responses to the user, I am brought to use the accursed thing3.

Mercifully, some clever folks brought forth upon this Internet a new framework, conceived in good sense, and dedicated to the proposition that all programmers should be rid of mucking around with the DOM. That framework is Prototype. And it is good. And I get to keep my sanity.

1 Alright, I kinda liked Borland's OWL, back when I was excited by the discovery of event-driven programming. We're talking thirteen years ago. But, really, I don't like implementing UI. Too repetitive.

2 Beside being too repetitive (am I being too repetitive?), Web UI work also features the profound brokenness of HTML, and the exigencies of the stateless nature of the Web. Then there's the doomed battle for perfect cross-browser functionality. Gah!

3 Yes, I know, JavaScript is actually very feature-rich and has lambdas and things. And hey, Yegge chose it even for server-side work at Google. But, you know, it's not the language I mind, it's the operating environment (browsers and the DOM, that is).

Current Mood: happy
Wednesday, September 19th, 2007
7:10 pm
Wednesday, December 27th, 2006
3:28 pm
VS.NET's "solutions" suck
(what else is new...)

Has any of you worked with a Visual Studio .NET "solution" which included "projects" from some orthogonal branch, such that you wanted to *parameterize* the path (rather than use an absolute or a relative path) to that other project?

Essentially, I want to support working on branches, in the svn/Perforce style, i.e. branches have different filesystem paths. So my Solution should include:


Where CUR_BRANCH is some environment variable set to "v1.3" or whatever. The snag is that unlike Visual Studio "projects", where this approach works nicely, the "solution" files do not seem to interpolate environment variables in the entries for their constituent project files themselves. Thus the solution can't be branch-conscious and load the correct (branched) project files.

Have you encountered this? Got an idea to circumnavigate this? I'm having weird ideas (remember SUBST.EXE? :)), but I feel this should be simpler.

Current Mood: annoyed
Thursday, September 14th, 2006
2:10 pm
Mark-Jason Dominus on Patterns
MJD makes a good point about patterns and programming languages. He gets a little verbose in the latter half of the post, but the point is worth taking.
Thursday, June 22nd, 2006
11:18 pm
New Machine's Linux Distro
So I'm getting a new machine, a high-end powerhouse (spec to be posted in a few days).

I want its primary OS to be Linux. I love Debian, and am running it on several servers I maintain (the BY project, and a couple at work), so it's my natural choice for the new machine as well.

But I don't have much experience with Linux at home, so I'm wondering whether the Debian-based Ubuntu would be better than plain Debian for home use (including multimedia, games, etc.).

Also, do you have some advice on partitioning for a basic Linux-for-work-and-general-use-and-Windows-for-some-games-and-occasional-compatibility-problems scenario?

Thanks in advance!
Tuesday, November 1st, 2005
1:53 pm
Russinovich on a DRM Rootkit
It is always worthwhile to read Mark Russinovich's blog about Windows internals. His latest entry, on a DRM Rootkit, is particularly instructive, and refers to several free tools by Russinovich that belong on your executable path.
Sunday, July 17th, 2005
1:01 am
Companies Wanting to Sell
There's a company named "Tom Sawyer Software". They make all kinds of graphing and graph analysis tools. To view (not even download!) a demo of their product, they make you "register" and milk you for company details etc., including mandator phone number and e-mail fields, complete with an annoying we'll-email-you-to-verify-you-gave-us-a-real-e-mail-address-before-we-let-you-see-anything shtick. (Yes, I know about, and use, the mailinator; do you?)

I mean, do they really think this would increase sales? Pfft.
Sunday, February 13th, 2005
2:25 pm
Firefox-proof Machine
I've always preferred Netscape Navigator and Mozilla (and Opera) to Internet Explorer. I've been using Firefox since before it was Firefox, and I am very happy with it.

Some time ago, I've decided to try out the CPU-optimized Mozilla builds offered by moox. They gave me trouble right on -- some UI elements stopped functions (like, uh, copy into clipboard) -- but it was performing much faster, so I stuck with it for a while. Also, I was experimenting with developing Mozilla Extensions for a while, and so fiddled around with my Firefox's XUL a bit.

At some point, I wanted my copy and paste functionality back, so I decided to uninstall the moox build and return to vanilla Firefox. From that time, I have been unable to run Firefox, whether a moox build or an official build, on my machine here at work. Nothing helps: installing vanilla and overwriting with a moox archive; uninstalling vanilla, reinstalling vanilla, etc. The Firefox process just starts, allocates between 15MB and 20MB of memory, and nothing happens. It neither displays anything nor responds to additional Web requests or further invocations of the executable.

My machine is Firefox-proof! Help!

Current Mood: frustrated
Thursday, February 10th, 2005
4:36 pm
Scanner pains
Recently I've had use for a scanner. I dusted off Mom's old scanner (a Umax Astra 1220P, parallel port) and hooked it up to my Thinkpad, running Windows XP. It worked. That's pretty neat, all things considered (observe how the accumulated pain has taught me to expect hardware to not work with an OS it predates). But the TWAIN driver that's bundled with the scanner, some piece of crap called VistaScan, is so godawful horrific (and I was unable to find any free alternative driver for this model) I was actually tempted to write my own TWAIN driver to make the pain stop. I won't though. I'll just scan on Linux.

Current Mood: disgusted
Sunday, November 28th, 2004
6:31 pm
Of Log Lines Unsung (or unwritten)
Programming Conundrum: you have a log file shared between multiple (identical) processes, protected by a mutex. Conceivably, one process may fail to attain the lock in the specified timeout. What is the Right Thing to do with the unwritten log message?

There's no One True Answer, of course, but what would you do?

Current Mood: irritated
Sunday, October 3rd, 2004
6:07 pm
Greenspun on CS education
Philip Greenspun usually makes sense. His latest article on problems in current CS education compared to market needs is sensible and worth reading. To a great degree, it applies to Israeli CS education as well.
Monday, August 2nd, 2004
7:22 am
Some relief
Taught myself the Scheme language in 10 minutes. It really is that simple (at core, which is the whole idea, of course).

I feel much better!

Current Mood: relieved
Sunday, August 1st, 2004
9:40 pm
The hacker blues again
And once again I am seized by a fierce passion for hacking. It consists of two parallel desires: one is to code interesting software, the other is to educate myself in some of the disciplines I lack (e.g. Lisp [with SICP], modern assembly [a-la Steve Gibson], Linux and NT kernel programming, serious Perl).

It happens periodically; I never find the time. :(

Current Mood: frustrated
Monday, July 5th, 2004
11:56 am
Outlook Sucks, episode 2114
The company I work for has moved to a new Exchange Server machine. For some reason, our illustrious <*cough*> sysadmin chose not to preserve the NETBIOS name of the old machine (imaginatively called 'EXCHANGE'), although the new server has the same IP address as the old one.

My Outlook displays a polite error message upon startup, complaining that its server disappeared. I am allowed to click Ok; I do. The message-box disappears, and so does the outlook.exe process. Thank you for playing, come again!

How is one supposed to reconfigure the moronic thing?

Not to be moosed by a stupid computer application, I edited my hosts file to convince Outlook that EXCHANGE does exist. But sheesh!

Current Mood: relieved
Thursday, June 17th, 2004
12:52 am
Microsoft's Sweat
No, I don't mean their current sweat. I mean the sweat they perspired
back when Windows was attempting to grab market attention, in the DOS
days. From Joel Spolsky's latest column:

I first heard about this from one of the developers of the hit game SimCity, who told me that there was a critical bug in his application: it used memory right after freeing it, a major no-no that happened to work OK on DOS but would not work under Windows where memory that is freed is likely to be snatched up by another running application right away. The testers on the Windows team were going through various popular applications, testing them to make sure they worked OK, but SimCity kept crashing. They reported this to the Windows developers, who disassembled SimCity, stepped through it in a debugger, found the bug, and added special code that checked if SimCity was running, and if it did, ran the memory allocator in a special mode in which you could still use memory after freeing it.


Current Mood: impressed
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