Tim Hentenaar's Blog

On Matters of Style

Since the dawn of man, people have had varying methods of doing things, and have always been quick to beat each other over the head in favor of their own preferred method. As an engineer, I hear lots of discussion on "coding style," and the level of analness exhibited by various people, from colleagues to random bloggers on the web can be quite shocking. Is there really one, true way to write code? I think not. It's an issue that's been written about, danced around, debated, rebelled against, shot down, and reborn about every decade. These sort of discussions were taking place even before the standardization of ANSI C. The issue of brace placement in particular has plagued the languages that use them for at least three decades. Let's take a look at how some of these things are regarded in a couple of different development ecosystems, and then even though I ain't Jerry Springer, I'll conclude with some final thoughts...

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Published on: Apr 01, 2014

In Search of the Perfect Calculator

gcalctool xcalc

As an engineer, I find the often underrated calculator application to be an invaluable tool. From double-checking simple calculations, to working with large numbers in different bases, it tends to be the constant companion of my pen and paper. I had been using gcalctool but recently realized that, in Programming mode, it takes up almost 1/3 of the width of my screen. Why the hell does a calculator need to occupy that much space on my screen? I wrote a patch to add the functionality I needed to xcalc and couldn't be happier with the results. The calculator is nice and sleek, and takes up less than 1/3 the space of gcalctool.

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Published on: Mar 22, 2014

Hacking PC/GEOS 1.x to run on DOS 6.22


Why doesn't PC/GEOS 1.x work on DOS 6 and up? Recently, I've felt compelled to investigate and solve some of those lingering mysteries that I didn't have the time to solve way back when. I decended to my dark chambers to begin working my tried and true arcane magic upon PC/GEOS, and as with all things that I reverse engineer, it inevitably yielded to me it's long-kept secrets...

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Published on: Oct 18, 2013

New Blog (Finally)

Welcome to my new and improved blog. Yes, the one I only update about once a century. You'll notice quite a few changes. I've moved away from my previous CMS, Serendipity, in favor of a home-grown solution written in Ruby. I've also abandoned my cloud server, in favor of a Heroku deployment, and I'm using DNS Made Easy for DNS.

There were a few factors that prompted this change. For one, I wanted to test-drive Heroku's new Cedar stack, and could think of no better way to get aquainted with it. Also, my blog was rather dated, as it had remained relatively unchanged since around 2007/2008 or so. I wanted a cleaner, more minimalistic look and feel, and I got absolutely red-assed over all the comment spam I was getting on a daily basis.

I spent a good portion of the previous weekend test-driving a couple different Ruby CMS solutions. One that I really liked was Nesta for its simplicity and RDBM-less design (since there's not much content here which would require one anyhow.) After not being able to get it to play nicely with will_paginate, (which really, really should be integrated out-of-the-box) I got the red-ass, and wound up rolling my own using a similar file layout, and hell, I even cannibalized and heavily modified the Clean theme to suit my nefarious purposes.

It's not perfect, and keep in mind I ain't no fancy web designer, but for an hour or so worth of effort I really can't complain. Who knows? Maybe I'll polish it up a bit and throw it up on GitHub. It's worthwile to note that I also took a peek at RadiantCMS and the demo looks promising, but I'm the only one who's going to be adding content, and I didn't want to have the overhead of all the Rails stuff that I'm not even using; nor did I need the admin interface, really.

The most laborious part of the move was porting over the old posts (by hand.) Thus, I only moved the more interesting, or still-relevent ones. I also wrote some stuff to automatically redirect the old permalinks. I still have the feeling that I should add some stuff on the left or right sides of the main content area. Maybe a GitHub activity feed, twitter widget, or some more info about myself.

Enjoy! Suggestions or comments welcome.

Published on: Nov 26, 2012