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Change on the (Distant?) Horizon

January 8th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Meta-Posts

Well, I’m still not sure if this means I’m returning to regular blogging or not. Perhaps only semi-regular activity is the best I’ll be able to manage. But for now, if I can manage to at least write once a week it should keep the Perl Ironman Challenge bot happy.

I’m going to be changing some things around here, if I do in fact start spending time here on a regular basis again. The first thing I’m going to work on changing is the theme. I actually like the current theme, as I’m a fairly minimalist type when it comes to web design. But it isn’t set up to handle mobile devices very well, and that’s just a reality that every blog needs to embrace if it hasn’t already (and I haven’t). In a more perfect universe, I’d have both the time and the know-how to either hack this theme for better mobile support, or just roll my own theme. But I don’t have that know-how (or time), and to be honest I’m not in a hurry to learn WP theme development. But if you read this and prefer mobile devices, rest assured that making the site mobile-friendly is the top priority. Well, trying to write consistently is technically the top priority, but this runs a very close second.

Next, I’m going to do something about the near-astronomical number of spam accounts that have registered here (and continue to do so daily). I direct the mail notifications for this site to my Gmail address, and I do not exaggerate when I say that I average 100 or more new users per day. Of course, they’re (almost) all bots. I have a plugin in place that protects the site against login attacks, but I don’t have anything in place really that tries to prevent bots from signing up. That will have to change; I’m kind of tired of having over 100 new emails from WordPress daily… it makes accessing my Gmail account over IMAP a pain in the ass. (Yeah, I can filter them to a folder, but that doesn’t really solve the problem, it only masks it.)

(A side effect of the registration work is that it might impact legitimate registered users. I would prefer to purge the database of the fake users, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to without putting real accounts at risk in the process. If I do have to just blow away the whole database, I’ll warn users here on the blog at least a month or so in advance.)

Following that (or perhaps in concert with that effort) I’m going to re-visit the other plugins that I’m using here, and try to trim away those that aren’t really contributing anything useful and possibly add a few new ones that do. While I’m not much of a cheerleader for PHP, I do have a great appreciate for the flexibility and ease-of-use that WordPress provides. It has a hell of an ecosystem behind it, and I need to be taking more advantage of that.

In terms of content (presuming I do start writing more regularly), expect to see less of a focus on Perl. I’m not giving up on it by any measure (Perl has been very good to me over the years), but I don’t want to get typecast as only a Perl programmer. During the first half of last year, I started really seriously working on learning Clojure, which is just a really fun language to program in. (Well, assuming you like functional programming and aren’t irrationally allergic to Lisp.) So far I’ve mostly just been working through problems on Project Euler. I can’t seem to link directly to my “progress” page, but my user-name on PE is also rjray. So far, I’ve solved 87 problems and earned 6 of the problem-solving awards (haven’t gotten any posts in the forum to be made permanent yet, so no forum-post awards). It’s been quite interesting, but by it’s very definition PE is all about the math, so this hasn’t really exposed me to the full range of of Clojure’s capabilities yet. I hope this year to move beyond just PE and do some other things with Clojure that will push me to fill in the missing pieces that I haven’t yet used.

In that same vein, I am hoping to spend a little time dusting off my long-dormant C/C++ skills. I now work for NVIDIA, who is doing just amazing things with deep learning, machine learning, etc. using their GPU technology and the CUDA platform. And CUDA is pretty much all about C++ (well, there is also support in Fortran and Python, to be fair). My C++ is so rusty, that when I last used C++ they (the standards committee) were only just considering templates as a new feature, and hadn’t quite agreed on a standard yet. My role at NVIDIA doesn’t directly involve C++ (or else I’d be in a pretty bad spot in terms of being able to do my job), but CUDA and GPU programming look fascinating to me, so I’m hoping I can at least dip my toe in the water at some point in 2017.

And lastly (for now), you may even see some Python content here. While my NVIDIA role is primarily Perl, there is also a fair amount of Python floating around, and I’ve been slowly acquainting myself with it for the last couple of months in order to understand, enhance and fix things. But don’t expect to see me become a Python convert; most of what I have seen has me scratching my head at how the Python community can really feel so smugly superior to the Perl community. Most specifically, I’ve been listening to Pythonistas brag for YEARS about how much better the object model in Python is when compared to Perl’s. Having gotten a taste of Python’s object model, I can only assume I’m missing something big. Because I’m pretty far from impressed so far.

But that’s a rant for another time.

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