February 18, 2010

Oh LaTeX how you taunt me

Here's a good one. Since I'm currently unemployed and looking for a job, naturally I've been sending resumes out. I've used LaTeX to generate my resume for years now, and it has always worked out quite well. However, today I had a need to print out my resume, and when I did, I noticed that the font seemed slightly too small, and that the right margin seemed a bit too big. It looked fine on the screen in my PDF viewer, but not on the physical printout. Hmm. As it turns out, I accidentally generated the PDF file with A4 size paper and all of the electronic versions I have sent out thus far have been this A4 version. Grrrr!

I must have come across and handled this issue before, but at least on my Ubuntu installation, PDF documents generated by sequential latex, dvips, and ps2pdf commands default to A4 size paper. In order to get the correct US style letter paper, I have to explicitly use the "-t letter" option in dvips. After rooting around a bit, the command "texconfig paper letter" has changed my default system paper size for dvips, dvipdf, xdvi, and hopefully I'll never make this mistake again!

P.S. Metric system? One day we will give in to your logical structure and simple unit conversion. Clearly, though, that day is not today.

February 15, 2010

Still Playing Ultimate

Repeat visitors to this blog may be wondering: what happened to my frequent ultimate frisbee status updates? Well, the status updates may have petered out, but that doesn't mean I'm not still playing. I'm still very much attending the regular Monday, Wednesday, and Friday lunchtime pickup games in Burlington. It's business as usual in that department. In fact, I'm kind of regretting not signing up for the BUDA winter indoor hat league that's currently underway in Milford. It's probably for the best that I missed the boat on that though as while I really loved playing in that league the previous times that I've done it, that indoor turf can be pretty brutal on the knees and feet.

Anyhow, one other bit of ultimate news is that Walter Fredrick Morrison has died at the age of 90. Morrison is regarded as the "father of the frisbee". And to reinforce the notion that the sport is dominated by geeks, the story was picked up by Slashdot and hit the front page a couple days ago.

I always thought that Marty McFly invented the frisbee in 1885 though...

February 4, 2010


As I mentioned previously, I do intend to continue working on Project Darkstar part-time at least while I search for new employment opportunities. Not only will it allow me and whoever else is interested push along the original goals of the project, but it will also give me a perfect place to keep my skills sharp while I'm out of work. Selfless and selfish reasons, molded into one. However, it does not seem appropriate to continue working using what are now Oracle's resources and contributing code to Oracle's official repository. Not only are there questions about outside contributions, but there are also no guarantees about how long Oracle's official repository will remain active. So I am going with an equally reasonable and open-source-y alternative.

I have established what I hope will become an official community fork of Project Darkstar. This fork will go by the name RedDwarf and is hosted as a sourceforge project. I cannot take credit for the new name, as it was dreamt up by the original instigator of Project Darkstar at Sun Labs (Jeff Kesselman), but I do hope that it will become an even more well known name than Project Darkstar ever was in the games industry. So without further adieu, here are the new community guidelines:
  • The sourceforge project is used to host what were once three separate projects on java.net. The reddwarf-server, reddwarf-shared, and reddwarf-java-client all live in the same subversion repository, but under completely separate sub-trees, each with their own trunk, branches, and tags.
  • The development process should remain largely unchanged from Project Darkstar. All commits to any trunk repository must undergo a thorough review by at least one other committer, and commit privileges are earned. Review requests should be sent to the mailing list: reddwarf-develop on sourceforge.
  • All design, support, and informational documents should go in the Trac instance hosted at sourceforge.
  • All issues and bugs should be filed as a ticket in Trac.
  • Forum discussions should continue as usual on the sourceforge hosted forums.
  • Releases will be done periodically as appropriate. All releases will be published to the central Maven repository rather than the java.net Maven repositories. (This is my first task and may take some time). They will also be published as files for download on the sourceforge site.
Progress will be much slower than before, but I think it's very important to maintain the structure and code quality standards that we had established as a fully funded project. Will anything come of this effort? I'm not sure. But I think it's the best chance for coordinated progress to continue with Project Darkstar.

February 3, 2010

Shocking News

It's been a while since I posted anything on this blog, and I wish my return was the result of better circumstances but no such luck: my position at Sun Microsystems has been eliminated, and as a result I have been let go. It is ironic that the European Union's lengthy delay in approving the Oracle-Sun acquisition gave the Project Darkstar team and community such a long, uninterrupted stretch of time to make some unbelievable progress towards our goals. However, once the deal did finally close, the decision had already been made that Oracle will discontinue investing resources in the project, and so here I am: newly unemployed.

I must say that the shock and disbelief of learning that you've been laid off is a predictably emotional time. Of course I didn't think it would happen to me, but it did: proof that job security is all but an illusion. They say losing your job is like dealing with any other type of loss, which is absolutely true. Knowing this doesn't make it any easier though. Despite this difficult situation, however, I have received nothing but support from my family, friends, colleagues and even people who were previously just casual acquaintances. Thank you to everyone who has been there so far; I know for a fact I'll come out the other side of this a strong person.

As for my future, and the future of Project Darkstar? Well both are uncertain. I have already started ramping up and preparing for a full scale job search in the hope that I will find something even better than the best job I've ever had. In terms of Project Darkstar, a core group of former members of the team have already started exploring alternative ways to keep the project going. This includes both potential for-profit and volunteer efforts to carry out the original mission objectives laid out years ago. At the very least, after getting myself organized, I personally intend to continue working on the project on a part-time basis during my job search and hopefully beyond. More details to come...