Catching up

My blogging seems to go in fitful spurts puncutated by days of inactivity...

The Tcl/Tk conference in Portland was great. It's quite possibly one of my favorite annual events. There are always interesting talks and presentations. Will Duquette, Steve Landers, Jean-Claude Wipler, Jeff Hobbs and many others are always doing really interesting work.

In the week since I've gotten back from Portland I've tried to get started on a NaNoWriMo entry for this year, but one week into November and I've only got a couple of pages written. I'm still miles and miles away from the 50,000 word goal with only one nagging problem: I don't have a plot idea that I'm terribly excited about yet. I suppose that might explain my sluggish writing so far. Anyone have plot suggestions?

I've spent quite a few evenings working on Project Eueler math/programming problems. As of right now I've solved 70 problems for a total of 959 (out of 1,607 possible) points. That puts me in 113th place overall and 3rd place among Tcl'ers.

On Wednesday night Shauna sprung on me the idea of selling our house and buying one a couple of streets over (in our same subdivision). I didn't tell her no; I suggested she look into it further and gather more information. Well, when Shauna wants to get something done she's not one to dilly-dally. Within less than twenty-six hours of her floating the idea we had a signed, sealed & accepted offer to buy our neighbors home on January 16, 2006. Rachael wants to see pictures. I don't have any, and Shauna hasn't joined the ranks of blogging family members, so perhaps Rachael can pester either one of our realtors...

— Michael A. Cleverly

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Blogging Tcl'ers

There is a list of Tcl bloggers being put together. I made it into the "blogs that never or rarely mention Tcl but are written by Tclers." Perhaps if there were more people blogging regularly about Tcl we could have our own Planet Tcl like the Planet Lisp folks have.

If there were a category for blogs programmed in Tcl, I'd definitely qualify, since I naturally just had to reinvent the wheel to my own tastes. I haven't ever added categories to tag specific posts with, but Google tells me that I do occasionally talk about Tcl.

— Michael A. Cleverly

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Another new meta-blog: m0smith's planet

I'm hosting another meta-blog in a format similar to Planet Cleverly: m0smith's planet. I work with Matt and he has more blogs than I have siblings!

Matt actively seeks to avoid Jakob Nielsen's 8th top blog design mistake: mixing topics. That's why incredible illusions are hosted on a different blog than (possibly) the world's first plot of a GEDCOM file.

— Michael A. Cleverly

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Still waters run deep

Still waters run deep

Growing up, once I was old enough to begin dating, I remember my Mom observing that "still waters run deep"...

* * *

In the spirit of trying to be a better Tcl Blogger I guess I should note that a comp.lang.tcl post I made last week was selected for this weeks Dr. Dobb's Tcl-URL! (first time since June). Cameron Laird wrote:

Michael Cleverly lucidly exemplifies one of the ways Tcl can take your breath away, this time by providing a remarkably expressive framework for parsing data that has no apparent connection with the language.

More impressive, though, is that Michael and others give at least four alternative approaches to the parsing problem, all of which Melissa Schrumpf trumps with her expertise in TestStand.

My "lucid insight" was in observing that the file the original poster needed to parse could, with a handful of supporting [proc] definitions, be thought of as completely valid Tcl code which can be [source]'d.

* * *

I've heard people refer to Tcl as The Chameleon Language before. On the surface of it Tcl seems rather simple. After all, there are only eleven simple rules that define the entire language. Seems almost like a quaint toy in the face of real industry-strength enterprise-capable languages.

But such simplicity is tremendously powerful. Tcl, though simple, really is deep in the sense that my Mother talked about. One can mold the syntax of the language like clay and cast it to be whatever he wants.

That's why when I look at a DHCP server's leases database file I see ready-made Tcl code staring back at me. Life really is too short for syntax, so it makes sense to add some sugar and let Tcl do all the heavy lifting for us. Not only breath-taking, but tremendously liberating, once you see things this way...

— Michael A. Cleverly

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100th place in the Project Eueler competition

Tonight I solved my 77th Project Eueler problem and am, for the time being, in 100th place overall. As per the scoring system, I'm now rated as being "67% Genius."

Project Euler, hosted at is an applied mathematical/programming contest. That's the sort of thing that a lot of people might find terribly tedious, boring, or down right scary, but I thoroughly enjoy the challenge. The goal is to write programs to solve particular mathematical problems or puzzles—a caveat being that programs should generally run in under a minute. (I confess that on a couple of occasions I've taken a brute-force approach that took longer.)

There are thirty problems I have yet to solve. To date most of my solutions have been coded in Tcl, though for some I've dusted off my C & Lisp skills (as atrophied as they are). In some cases the quickest route to an answer was to have Tcl code generate C code which could be compiled on the fly & executed.

If you are interested in programming & problem solving (in any language(s), some problems being very amenable to shell scripting even) I'd encourage you to sign up and take a stab at some of the problems. A complete list of problems is available on the website.

— Michael A. Cleverly

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A disappointing Saturday on the field and in the kitchen

Well, today was rather disappointing. There is only one college football game that matters each year (at least INMNSHO): BYU vs Utah.

A nailbitter through the fourth quarter, the game went into overtime after BYU kicked a field goal to tie things up at 34-34. The U. scored a touchdown in OT making their fourth consecutive win. But a 41-34 loss is much better than (another) 34-31 loss. Too many bad memories with a 34-31 score. :-(

Even more disappointing, Becca's "RED chili" was nowhere to be had. Just like a typical Ute fan to pull a bait & switch like that! ;-)

— Michael A. Cleverly

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Some people don't understand set theory, 'eh?

Via Point of Law I see that some of our neighbors to the north apparently do not understand even the basics of set theory as taught in grade school:

A federal government department has cancelled a three-day-old edict that essentially banned the hiring of able-bodied white men over the next several months.

The directive had said managers at the Public Works and Government Services Department could hire only the disabled, women, aboriginal people and visible minorities until at least the end of March....

A statement issued by the department yesterday suggested the policy had been "misconstrued by some as being non-inclusive. This was not the intention."

Truly a great moment in affirmative action...

— Michael A. Cleverly

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Getting rich selling pixels

Pixels just $1

When I read about a college student who is more than half way toward his goal of making a million dollars, and he is doing it just by selling pixels on his website for $1 each...

From the Wall St. Journal article:

It was just a few months ago that 21-year-old Alex Tew of Great Britain was stumped about how to pay for college. He'd filled a notebook with ideas before jotting down this simple, if rather audacious, query to himself: How Can I Become a Millionaire? . . .

Instead of selling banner ads, text links or splashy videolike ads that fill a screen, Mr. Tew opted to hawk the simplest graphical denominator of a computer screen: the pixel. A pixel is a tiny dot of light and color, and each screen has tens of thousands of them.

Mr. Tew created a home page,, where he divided the screen into 10,000 small squares of 100 pixels each. His plan: to sell the pixels for $1 a piece, with a minimum order of 100 pixels. In each space, buyers could put a graphical ad of their choosing that links to their own site when clicked on. The end result is a cluttered collage of ads in various shapes and colors all amassed on a single digital billboard. (Mr. Tew doesn't charge his advertisers anything when a visitor clicks on the ads.)

And it's working for him: "As of yesterday evening, Mr. Tew said he was $623,800 toward his goal, more than enough to pay for college and earmark some cash for his next entrepreneurial venture, he says."

... I wonder why can't I have dumb ideas that make so much money?? Why isn't my friend Little Jeff a billionaire yet???

— Michael A. Cleverly

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