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the new IT boy - Blather, Rinse, Repeat
January 24th, 2009
02:02 pm

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the new IT boy
A while ago, I was hosting a boardgame night and playing a free-form game where part of gameplay is to make up cards to play on other people. One of my friends made a card that was something like negative 500 points to all IT employees. Most of my friends looked at each other and shrugged it off. My friend that made the card was confused. To her, anybody that works with computers is in Information Technology. To most of the rest of my friends, IT is this odd subculture of folks that support the rest of the company - useful, to be sure, but not how we define ourselves.

That said, I've spent the past 5 hours or so bringing up a couple of Linux machines (trying to install a 64-bit version, and failing). They're currently functional, and they might even survive a reboot and remain functional. Hard to say how much of the configuration will persist.

I'm also installing software on one of my Macs. That's a completely separate adventure.

See, earlier in the week, I had a discussion with a friend about this Genetic Algorithm thing that I'm doing, and he encouraged me to ditch Python and rewrite it in a compiled language. I probably would have gone straight for C++, but I'm using a library from Amazon to route messages to one publishing process, and that library exists in Python, PHP, Ruby, Perl, C# and a few other languages. Not C++, though. So, I wrote a ga-solver gizmo in C#, and it was unpleasant, but it worked... until it submitted results to the Amazon libraries, and the publisher process started consuming the results - turns out, there's some sort of mismatch that keeps the C# messages from being read by Python. Weird.

I fiddled with things a bit, and ended up wrapping the C# tool in a Python shim that does the message routing - Python to Python works fine, of course. However, if I'm going to go to these lengths, I could have written it in C++ to begin with, and it'd run natively on Mac and Linux, after a simple compile step, which I'm pretty comfortable with.

Rather than rewrite it in C++ just now, I decided to bring up as many of my Linux boxes as I could, including some older machines that aren't up to date. These aren't very old, and they're probably about as powerful as any other machine in the house, so they'll help in my distributed word search project. I got Mono installed on those machines, which has proved to be an effective way to run C# programs in the past, so now the two new(ish) Linux boxes are part of the team. I'm also (re)installing Mono on the Mac.

And then to lunch.

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