Alex's Alliterative Adventures

Thoughts on Programming, Life, and Travel

Archive for November, 2008


I recently discovered that spam comments have been building up on my photo gallery for over two years. I just ran a spam filter on my photo site, and I deleted over 20,000 spam comments.

I’m so sorry, internet. I’m so very, very sorry.

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I saw a physics show known as Physikanten last month, and they blew the crowd away. I couldn’t understand a word they said, but they made suitcases dance on a table, flames reach to the ceiling, giant smoke rings fly over the audience, and a whole lot more. This was probably the highlight of the show:

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Austria 9 – Hike

September 30, 2008

You can only spend so much time nestled at the foot of Austrian mountain ranges before you find yourself seduced by high altitudes and the thrill of the outdoors. We grabbed our gear and headed up Bärenschützklamm.

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Austria 8 – ChoCoPhonia

September 29, 2008

You just can’t have an Austrian vacation without a trip to the Zotter chocolate factory. We opted for a self-guided tour, feeling like Charlie let loose in the factory. We sampled, snacked, slurped, and became totally gorged, almost unable to move.

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If your non-trivial C++ code hasn’t been statically analyzed, you’re missing out. Your codebase is likely to contain subtle bugs. Fortunately, static analyzers can expose a large number of bugs without breaking a sweat.

Static analyzers scan your code for suspicious patterns that almost always lead to bugs. Reading from uninitialized local variables, passing polymorphic objects by value, probable buffer overflows, and other things that can easily escape your notice. The best of the bunch is widely accepted to be Lint (more specifically, PC-Lint/Flexe-Lint). These tools don’t come cheap (389 USD Windows / 998 USD *nix), but they’re arguably the best investment a programmer can make (since there are lots of free compilers available). PC/Flexe-Lint can also be used to clean up your source code by identifying unneeded header files, reporting on comment style, or enforcing const correctness.

PC-Lint is even smart enough to understand Visual Studio project files. Unfortunately it doesn’t understand solution files, so that’s where LintProject comes in. LintProject is a free, open source program that parses solution files and spits out a fancy html report. Unlike its counterpart, Visual Lint, it doesn’t integrate with Visual Studio, but it’s much easier on the wallet and it gets the job done. My patch to make LintProject do more parsing when reading incremental build directories was accepted a few weeks ago and will be included in version and later, so it will soon be one step closer to perfect.

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Austria 7 – Vienna

September 28, 2008

Breakfast at Café Central seemed like a great idea until we saw the prices. We walked away to avoid any noticeable change in the contents of our wallets, and unfortunately stomachs. Another restaurant was just a stop away, and with reasonable prices at that.

We followed breakfast with a trip to the World Press Photo Exhibition. The exhibit contains hundreds of photos from around the world, each more jaw-dropping than the last.

Next up: a walking tour of the city, including a visit to parliament and city hall.

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Austria 6 – Vienna

September 27, 2008

The day started with a stroll around Naschmarkt, Vienna’s largest flea market. The bizarre variety of wares being hawked included a lone controller for the Sega Master System, a viking helmet, and a box full of Marklin train tracks, the same foul beasts our real time trains bounced across for three long months.

I escaped the terrible stench of all things Marklin and landed safely in Do-an for breakfast. The Do-an breakfast (Frühstück) consists of eggs fried with pieces of salty cheese, which was a new and tasty combination.

We burned off our breakfast at Schönbrunn, Vienna’s castle.

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Land of the cheap

To ease my transition to Frankfurt, I grabbed a prepaid ja mobil SIM card from the local grocery store. Wireless internet from ja mobil costs €0.35/MB, which is about $0.53 Canadian. In comparison, Rogers (Canada’s only GSM cell phone provider) charges $0.05/KB without a plan. There are 1024 KB in a MB, so that works out to $51.20/MB. That’s right, wireless internet is almost 100 times cheaper in Germany than in Canada.

Hot damn.



Austria 5 – Vienna

September 26, 2008

Our borrowed GPS navigation unit guided us to Vienna, where we were greeted by Tina. Our dinner pub of choice was Centimeter, where Felix was served a small shovel of food.

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How to write the GRE

The following takes place between 22/10/08 04:00 and 23/10/08 01:00.

04:30 – Jack Johnson. Fuck.
04:31 – Snooze.
04:35 – There is no snooze button. Just turned off the alarm. Fuck.
04:40 – Shower. Cereal. Backpack. Snooze button fantasy.
05:25 – Gone.
05:30 – Bus stop. Bus doesn’t exist. Fuck. Plan backup bus route.
05:36 – Ghost bus. Revert to english.
06:01 – Train 1.
07:38 – 500 GRE words. Four still rusty.
07:43 – SIM card active. Gmail.
07:53 – Train 2.
08:02 – Code.
10:44 – Walking. Disoriented.
10:52 – Wrong street.
10:57 – Wrong street. Fuck.
11:04 – Wrong street. FUCK.
11:08 – English cashier + google maps for palm = contingency plan.
11:28 – Dropped train & GRE tickets. FUCK FUCK FUCKFUCKFUCK.
11:30 – Scheduled arrival time. Searching for tickets.
11:34 – Tickets were 0.5km back.
11:46 – Actual arrival time.
11:47 – Urinal.
12:02 – GRE.
14:49 – Done.
15:05 – Satisfaction.
15:14 – Life lacks purpose.
15:15 – Gmail restores purpose.
15:40 – The second street was right. Fuck.
15:50 – Train 3.
16:34 – Didn’t order the kangaroo strips. Tough choice.
17:20 – Train 4.
17:40 – Google maps lied. 400 street numbers off. Fuck.
17:50 – Streetcar 1.
18:04 – Gainful employment.
18:11 – Streetcar 2.
18:38 – Train 5.
18:42 – Train 6.
18:46 – Train station, 4 minutes late for train 6. FUCK.
19:02 – Wallet €66 lighter. Fuck.
19:42 – Train 6.1 beta.
19:50 – Mount Fuji.
22:00 – Code.
23:25 – Train 7.
23:32 – Train 7 actually leaves. Karma restored.
00:10 – Bus 2 left 5 minutes ago, next in 65. Fuck karma.
00:57 – Sleep.


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