Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Reading list

Recently I've had a chance to read books for fun. I've read Dick Francis: Under Orders. Our family used to read his books when they came out, my mother particularly enjoyed them. It was fun to read one again.

Another book I've read is Magyk, Book 1. That was a pretty good book as well. I'll be checking out the rest of the series. One of the most unusual is a book we read with my daughter: The Secret Order of the Gumm Street Girls. That book was a lot of fun, I hope the author comes out with another one.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Good peer-reviews

"This isn't a scientific paper." Reading this not-so-ringing endorsement of my first attempt at a peer-reviewed paper was a great way to beat down my ego, but it didn't do much to make me a better paper writer.

"Why didn't the author's use the CMU code?" This part of a scathing review made me want to crawl through the Internet and strangle the reviewer. I had an entire section that detailed why I didn't use the CMU code. From the comments, it was clear he/she didn't read the paper.

In a peer-reviewed conference or journal, each paper is given to 3-5 people that rate the paper. The best rated papers make it in. This system is not perfect, but it is a good one.
Can you make it better? Yes. If you are invited to peer-review a paper here are some suggestions:
  • As you read through the paper, keep notes. I like reading the paper on one monitor, or on paper, and keeping notes in a simple text editor. Do this the first read of the paper.
  • For each note, refer to specific parts by section, paragraph, line, whatever.
  • Number each point
  • Point out things with the paper that you liked.
  • No matter how bad the paper is, find something nice.
  • Be specific. If there are common problems throughout the paper, find a specific example.
  • Make suggestions on what would work
  • If you don't have time to read the entire paper, don't do a review on it.
I've had several reviews that itemized very specific items with my papers that have been a great help. Because I really remember the bad reviews, I've tried hard to pattern any review I do after the good ones.

The goal of peer-reviewed publications should be to further humanity. So if reviewer feedback doesn't help educate the writer of the article, it is pointless. Great publications may come from those who originally submitted poor work. If constructive feedback is not given, the author may never become great.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The hidden files in Vista

Somehow I have 'hidden' files in Vista. No, not hidden as in the attribute 'hidden'. But hidden in some manner I'm unaware of.

A file dialog in notepad:

A file dialog in Notepad++, with three more files:

This is what I've noted:
  • I'm looking at the same directory
  • Doing a 'dir' at the command prompt doesn't show the hidden files
  • Doing a 'dir' at the command prompt run as admin doesn't show the hidden files
  • Both processes are run as the same user
  • From the file dialog in Notepad++ I can copy a hidden file, then paste it. It will show up in Notepad and other files.
  • The files are visible to apache/php, as well, andwill be served.
  • If I:
    • click on an invisible file in notepad++
    • select properties
    • select security
    • Click 'edit' to change security
    • I'm told I don't have permission
    • If I try to take ownership, it says the file does not exist:

The owner for the hidden files is the same as the person I'm logged in as. If I create a new file, it is created with that new owner and visible.

I can't see the invisible files running as admin either. Just Notepad++ and Apache can see them for some reason. I've got no idea how those processes are accessing the file system differently.

Controlling svn access via active directory

After much effort, I've finally got our department svn server to bind to the active directory server. Now students can log in with their own username and password.

I fought this for a long time. Our college uses an internal domain that is not That took a while to figure out. Debugging why something failed required using wireshark to trace the traffic.

I got DSID-0C090334 errors until I finally got proper username/password. My login is paul.craven, and I thought that was my username for a long time. Nope. I had to use ldapsearch tool to find my real user name, which is really long.

Then I would bind to the domain, and when I ran a query it said I wasn't bound to the domain. I was doing a 'null bind' because I hadn't added OU=Simpson College to the ldap url. Finally, I've got it. Here's the file:

# Uncomment this to enable the repository,
DAV svn

# Set this to the path to your repository
SVNPath /localpathtosvn

AuthType Basic
AuthName "Simpson CS Department"
AuthLDAPURL "ldap:// College,DC=sc,DC=loc?sAMAccountName?sub?(objectClass=*)"
AuthLDAPBindDN "CN=Paul Craven,OU=users,OU=Faculty,OU=Simpson College,DC=sc,DC=loc"
AuthLDAPBindPassword thisismypassword

require valid-user