Minority Opinions

Not everyone can be mainstream, after all.

Archive for March 2013

Therapist Hacking

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As intriguing as Dwarf Fortress is, it’s almost unplayable on its own.  The two main utilities for improving it are Dwarf Therapist and DFHack.  The former offers a convenient interface for managing job assignments, while the latter fixes various bugs.  (Both also allow you to cheat in various ways, but that’s beside the point.)  They mainly accomplish these feats by fiddling with the memory of a running Dwarf Fortress process.

Linux frowns upon letting processes fiddle with each others’ memory, because it’s usually a security risk.  Almost no legitimate processes want to.  DFHack works around this by swapping a certain library out from under Dwarf Fortress, causing DF to load the DFHack code into its own process space.  Dwarf Therapist, on the other hand, simply tries to find a running DF process.  For a time, that worked, as long as both programs were run by the same user; however, more recent Linux distributions have closed even that loophole.  This forces the user to do one of three things:

  1. Run Dwarf Therapist with root privileges.
  2. Re-open the ptrace loophole, either at boot or each time you run Dwarf Therapist.
  3. Run Dwarf Therapist as a parent process of Dwarf Fortress.

The third is least risky, but the Therapist doesn’t run any programs itself.  This has required me to use launch scripts that exec themselves into it after launching DF in the background.  All worked well, until I tried to stuff DFHack into the equation.

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Written by eswald

26 Mar 2013 at 7:26 pm

Supporting Artists

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My daughter was recently given a set of videos with deceptive packaging.  At first glance, the pictures and titles are easily mistaken for some fairly famous works, but closer inspection reveals that they’re all significantly different.  There doesn’t seem to be anything illegal about them, particularly given that they’re all based on ancient stories, but the collection as a whole feels fishy.  Immoral, even.

This has made me once again reconsider my beliefs on copyright and related intellectual property laws.  Less recently, I considered articles from Jonathan Coulton and New Music Strategies; the former also has links to even more insightful articles.  Unfortunately, I failed to come to a strong conclusion.

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Written by eswald

19 Mar 2013 at 7:03 pm

Inconvenience Class

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I learned Java in college, and even preferred it over C++ for a while.  Since learning Python, however, I have barely touched it.  That might change if I get GLX working on my LFS box, so I can run the Android SDK, but I’m not exactly looking forward to it.

It’s not just the language that bugs me, though there are plenty of sharp edges to cut yourself on.  No, what really baffles me is the culture that has grown around it, full of excess verbosity.  Public getters and setters that do nothing but get and set a private variable, just in case they might sometime need to do something else.  Factory classes, because you can’t just pass a class.  Thousands of tiny methods that obscure where the real work gets done.  Hundreds of files, because each individual class needs its own.  Deeply nested hierarchies, just in case your code gets used with something that might have a conflicting name.

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Written by eswald

12 Mar 2013 at 7:35 pm

Posted in Employment, Technology

Discrimination of the Future

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My spouse has been looking at the feminist community again.  Like the vegan community, it’s one we don’t delve into much, because certain members are far too quick to jump on those who aren’t perfect.  You have to say and do all the right things.

Granted, feminism has done some wonderful things for our country.  Particularly the first wave, who removed political, educational, and cultural barriers that many women today never even think about.  Marriage today isn’t a horrifying prospect, even if the workplace still discriminates far too much against those who have taken time off to care for children.  And, to a lesser extent, against women in general, partly out of concern that they will take more time off.

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Written by eswald

5 Mar 2013 at 7:19 pm

Posted in Lifestyle, Politics