Archive for December, 2008

Japanese Podcasts

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

I finally decided to subscribe to Japanesepod101.  I need to do something to improve my Japanese listening skills and the podcasts I have listened to so far do seem useful. Compared to the cost of my Japanese lessons the service is not expensive at $25 a month.

They provided a way to import these into iTunes but I am running into technical problems.  Some of the files just stop downloading with no errors and others give me errors that seem to be related to invalid URLs.  iTunes also keeps losing my password for the podcasts even though I checked the box for this to be remembered. I have never tried to do this before and I had expected it to be much easier.  So far I have 1830 files – sounds like a lot but this has been running for around 24 hours now and there are still another 2400 to go.

Travel Planning

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

It’s nearly 2009 and I’m starting to plan my conference travel.  I need to find a balance between conferences I want to go to and realistic amounts of travel.  I am tempted to attend Frozen Perl at the start of February.  I’ve read the schedule, looked at hotels, the city, and even checked the price of flights.  But I will be travelling in January and the conference is much too close to my return to Tokyo.  It would exhaust me to go.

I really like living in Japan but it’s so far away from most of the conferences I want to attend.  I have actually fallen asleep at conferences because I was suffering from jet-lag.  I didn’t expect it to be so difficult for me to travel when I moved here but I am going to try to be realistic in my future travel plans.

I will attend YAPC::NA and YAPC::Europe.  I will probably attend YAPC::Asia but at the minute I’m not sure when it will be or if it will be in Tokyo this year.

Christmas Day in Japan

Friday, December 26th, 2008

Yesterday was the third Christmas Day we have spent in Japan and it still felt strange.  It’s not really possible to have a Western style Christmas here.  Not only because of the food – which is hard to get – but also because Christmas is about family and our friends and families are not here.

We had a great dinner in Roti.  They make the moistest turkey I have ever tasted. I wasn’t overly fond of the dessert choices, as they didn’t have anything I considered traditional, but they were still good and the rest of the meal more than made up for that.

We know that we need to make new Christmas traditions here. The first year we were in Japan we went to the cinema in the afternoon so we decided to do that again yesterday. We saw “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and it wasn’t a bad choice for a Christmas movie. Not too serious and not as bad as many of the reviews have made out. We also went to see the lights at Roppongi Hills which are really beautiful. Most of the Christmas decorations are taken down here on the 26th, in order for the New Year ones to be put up, so Christmas Day was the last day to see them.

Christmas Parcel Tree

Christmas Parcel Tree

We came back home after dinner and opened our presents. We have done this on Christmas night since we first got married. I really don’t like to be rushed when opening presents and love the opportunity to take my time looking at every gift.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 25th, 2008
Christmas at Roppongi Hills

Christmas at Roppongi Hills

Christmas Comments

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

My friend Norwin left the following as a comment to one of my earlier entries.  As not everyone reads the comments I thought I would post it on my main blog.

T’was the day before Christmas,
And out in Japan
Karen was having odd food with her man.

While they waited for bedtime
And stifled their yawns
They feasted on chicken
With white sauce and prawns.

Because of the timezone, and physics, and fuss
They will see Santa long before us,
But from faraway Belfast, in dubious rhyme
Happy Christmas to the Pauley’s!
Have a jolly nice time!

Christmas Strawberries

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

I’m supposed to limit my intake of goitrogenic foods – one of these being strawberries.  But it’s Christmas Eve and I wanted to eat strawberries and drink a glass of champagne.  Since I won’t be eating strawberries that often, Marty bought me the very expensive ones they sell in Japan for Christmas. They are the most amazing strawberries I have ever tasted.  They are huge and full of flavour and nothing like the small watery things they call strawberries in Northern Ireland.

Japanese Gift Strawberries

Japanese Gift Strawberries

Christmas Chicken

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

Today is the national holiday that celebrates the Emperor’s Birthday.  As it’s the start of our Christmas break we thought it would be fun to order some Christmas food from KFC.  We didn’t get our order in on time for the Roast Chicken Barrel but we did manage to get premium chicken breasts filled with a strange white, vegetable and shrimp sauce.  I wasn’t sure about the sauce at first but it was actually quite nice.

Christmas Dinner KFC Style

Christmas Dinner KFC Style

Swaying Building

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

I thought earthquakes felt horrible in the last apartment but here they make me feel quite sick.  The whole building sways from side to side.  I’m lying on the bed watching the bedroom light sway hoping that the quake will stop soon.  And that I’ll stop feeling dizzy.

Cold Evening

Friday, December 19th, 2008

I felt so cold this evening.  The mild weather is starting to disappear in Tokyo in preparation for winter.  I got Marty to put the heating on but after half an hour I was still freezing.  I was starting to worry that there was something wrong with my medication, as it can affect body temperature, when I realised that something was blowing cold air at me.  Marty hadn’t put on the heating. He’d put on the air conditioning and was cooling the room down.  No wonder I felt so cold.

The Self-Organizing Nature of Open Source Projects

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

I’ve just finished reading an interesting paper called “Latent Social Structure in Open Source Projects“[pdf].

The authors looked at open source projects to discover if the project members self-organize and how successful the self-organization is. They also tried to determine if the ways that open source projects self-organize could provide useful lessons to aid in the building of commercial software teams.  A nice change from open source projects trying to learn from more traditional software projects.

I was particularly interested as one of the projects they looked at was Perl; the other four were Apache HTTPD, Arache ANT, PostgresSQL, and Python.

The authors detected community structure by data-mining the mailing lists used by the projects’ developers.  They are aware that developers use other methods of communication, such as private email and irc channels, but they considered mailing lists to be a good place to start.

There are a some things in the paper that I am not sure about.  They describe Perl and Python as being examples of projects that are monoarchist with a project leader.  I can’t comment on the Python project but is Larry Wall really “at the helm making informed important decisions”?  The paper contains a chart showing the development community structure in Perl from April to June 2007.  They have taken out the managers from this chart so I can’t tell if Larry was involved in any of the development being shown.  (Larry would fall under their definition of a manager as a person with intimate knowledge of large parts of the project who would link various sub-communities together.)  I am aware that Larry is still involved in many aspects of Perl development but I do feel that the project is much too big to think of any one person being at its helm.

I did find the chart showing Perl development fascinating though I have no idea what aspect of Perl development the sub-communities they show are involved in.  There is a sub-community of Paul Marquis and Xiao Liang Liu.  Another with Jonathan Stowe and Pelle Svensson.  One of the communities showing active development contains Arthur Bergman, Leon Brocard, H. Merijn Brand and Jarkko Hietaniemi.

They also gave some information on the data gathered to work out the sub-communities.  They looked at Perl mailing lists from 1st March 1999 to the 20th June 2007 (it doesn’t state which list or lists.)  They counted 112,514 messages with 3,261 participants.  They also extracted information from code taking the author, time of commit and the filename.  They then matched the author to the email addresses.  For this period of Perl they say that there were 92,502 commits.  But the figure that really shocked me was that for all these commits there were only 25 developers.  So we have a mailing list with 3,621 people on it but only 25 people actually making any changes that were agreed!

I assume that they were looking at the core Perl language and I am aware that Perl modules are being developed by thousands of developers but I’m still fascinated by the concept that so few people are committers on what appears to be a vast project. I would love to know more about their data.  Which list did they use, how many messages are there per month, is this number declining over time?  Maybe I’ll write and ask.

A lot of the things in the paper didn’t surprise me but one thing intrigues me. Do developers work better if they get to choose who to work with?