Wednesday, 21 June 2006

CORBA Post Mortem

I don't usually blog links, but this article on why CORBA failed, while not surprising, is a useful and concise reminder of the perils of development driven by a consortium's consensus specifications.

It's a tricky issue. We need multi-vendor specifications to break down the network effects that encourage monopolization in markets of interoperating software. But we have to avoid falling into the traps of design by committee. There is hope; the Internet itself is an example of the process working successfully, although the fundamentals of the Internet are a lot less complex than what we're trying to do on the Web.

The Future Is Now

I've recently done some work to modify Gecko's paint invalidation architecture to work with SVG foreignobject. I've also brought SVG foreignobject up to date with SVG changes and fixed some related bugs. The result is that the foreignobject demo I did at XTech last year is now fully functional on trunk cairo builds! In fact, it's more functional than last year since, thanks to Blake Kaplan's hard work, the caret is now painted correctly in transformed content.

There are still many bugs related to transformed content. Among them:

  • Popups (e.g. SELECT comboboxes) --- actually it's not 100% clear how these should work
  • Some theme problems
  • Scrolling
  • Some painting problems on Windows (apparently)
  • incredibly SLOW performance; some for reasons we understand and can fix, some for reasons that are fundamental (rotating images is slower than just drawing them normally), and probably some for reasons we don't understand yet
  • Seams between rotated rectangular areas (e.g. visible in the Google logo in the screenshot below). These are fundamental with cairo's coverage-based antialiasing strategy, and we may have to move to FSAA to get rid of them.

At least now we are at the point where we can test and fix some of these issues.

Download a trunk nightly (warning: these can be very unstable!) built with cairo (Windows should be), and try this testcase.

Obligatory screenshot:

Rotated All Blacks haka

Sunday, 18 June 2006

The Wild West

Today a friend of ours was baptised. Being a tramping, outdoorsy kind of guy he wanted to get baptised in the Piha Stream out on the west coast near Auckland. Great idea, but today turned out to be windy, wet and cold. Thus twenty-odd of us ended up trudging along a muddy, boggy track in the rain for half an hour to get to the ideal spot. Actually, since we were dressed well, it was a lot of fun! I'm glad we had a good excuse to do something crazy like that :-).

On the way there, we stopped at Piha beach. The wind was blowing in hard at high tide and I've never seen it so wild. The surf was roaring, with waves and white foam running hundreds of metres offshore. Waves were hitting the rocks hard, throwing up towering plumes of spray. It was utterly awesome in the best sense of the word.

Piha Surf

On the beach there were a lot of very strange blue organisms that I'm pretty sure I've never seen before. They looked a lot like little blue water balloons with a stringy organic appendage. Furthermore they felt just like balloons --- the same feeling when squeezed, the same immediate return to their original shape when released, as if containing water or air under pressure. And when I stepped on one, it popped loudly. I'm not even sure if these were plants, or perhaps some variety of anenome or jellyfish, although part of them looked like it might once have been attached to the sea floor. Perhaps they contained water under pressure because they live fairly deep, and the storm happened to wash them up. Whatever they were, it was quite remarkable.

Piha Surf

Sunday, 11 June 2006

Duder Regional Park

Today our family went to Duder Regional Park near Auckland. It's a lovely spot, a farm on a peninsula near the islands of the southern Hauraki Gulf. It's winter now, so it was cool (about 10-15C) and a little wet, but still a great walk to the tip of the peninsula ... and we only saw about six other people the four hours we were there. The drive out there is also beautiful, passing through rural areas and right next to the water's edge around Maraetai. It also passes through Auckland's eastern suburbs, which have a high concentration of Asian immigrants and hence there are great places to eat on the way there or back.


Saturday, 10 June 2006

The Future Of Western Civilization

I'm been expecting this for a while now: the meeting of MMORPGs and pornography, two of the most fashionable modern addictions rolled into one extraordinary package. I think I know what a lot of multicore CPUs and GPUs will be simulating. I predict the first group to get the total formula right will reap billions of dollars, and tarnish millions of lives in the process. In fact, if I was an evil mastermind (something I think I'd do rather well!) I'd be doing it myself. Actually, I'd also pull in another great addiction, gambling. People will figure that out soon enough.

If this takes off the way I think it might, the impact on the world at large could be very significant. We're doing a grand experiment on ourselves. More than ever, us Christians will have to look for God's help to "be in the world but not of it" ... raising kids is going to be an adventure too. Fun times.