We’re heading up to our cabin in a few hours, where we plan to stay through the 25th. Unless my mobile provider surprises me and has expanded their coverage area, I’ll have no Internet access until we get back. Just my laptop with the code on it and whatever time I have to look at it between battery and generator power.

Note to self: Windows Vista’s indexing service is not a replacement for grep. Alas, I am in the perilous situation of only having access to a machine running Vista for the next few weeks, due to “circumstances beyond my control. (mostly)” I’m in between on-campus housing and the start of a lease on an off-campus house in Duluth, and meanwhile am spending time elsewhere with the family and the girlfriend, so most of my stuff, including the linux system I’ll be testing on, is in storage. So here I sit with my recently “upgraded” laptop, going over code. I see an interesting call to a wfRunHooks function that, from comments, looks like it might be very pertinent to the upload validation portion of my proposal. I figured I could just index the contents of my mediawiki root directory to search for the file that declares that function. Surely the indexer can figure out a file is just text and index the contents? Nah. Indexing of contents is determined by file extension. In their infinite wisdom they put .inc in the default policy, but not .php. Okay, so a little clicking around and i figure out how to index the contents of php files. Vista knows the index must now be updated, but insists on reindexing the whole damn disk, not just the mediawiki directories. And, it seems it doesn’t want me to rebuild the index anyway because “If you rebuild the index now, the index will be unavailable and will not be rebuilt until indexing is restored.” What this says is clear: the index won’t start to rebuild until it’s done rebuilding.

Almost enough for me to go stick some little ntfs-reading linux distro on a usb flash drive or something. At least aero looks pretty.

This is my first…well, take your pick. First blog, but also first open-source development experience. Being as I’m such a newbie, I think WordPress’ default first post title is appropriate. I’m here thanks to Google’s recent annual efforts to get students off of their (figurative) a**es to benefit any number of open-source endeavours while gaining personal experience. I hope to do both…though I think in my case the benefit may be more mine than Mediaiki’s – I’ve got much to learn. Not that I feel over my head, I finally started going through MediaWiki code in ernest today, and after you get past all the fancy SVN concepts and buzzwords, its all the same stuff I’ve seen before. Actually, its quite refreshing. My past web-programming experience had all been either me doing everything from scratch (no fun on larger projects), or me cleaning up somebody else’s totally disastrous mess for some low-budget site or other. Seriously folks, there’s a lot of ugly code out there powering most any smaller proprietery site you visit. If you ask me it’s its own minor software crisis. I’d pretty much come to the opinion that Those That Knew What They Were Doing found better uses for their talents than making websites do things.

 I should have gotten involved with MediaWiki a long time ago. I actually considered it once years ago and was scared off by a lack of time, lack of ideas for cool contributions, and lack of confidence. It’s nice to see such quantities of comparatively well-organized code, so far with comments as necessary, in a (both human and computer) language I can read. And I think it will be much more fun to collaborate on a project for once rather than being stuck doing everything myself.

 What exactly am I doing, you may ask? Well, after spending the better part of a weekend some months ago drafting a GSoC proposal to WordPress, I decided on the (already extended) proposal due-date to skip math class and whip off another one based on a project suggested on the project ideas page. The focus of the proposal was to allow users to upload video in as many codec/container formats as possible and have them automatically and asynchronously recoded to Ogg Theora, appropriate for streaming to a Java Applet in-browser media player. “Whip off” might not be the right term – I had already done a lot of thinking and feasibility research about the idea, but had all but run out of time to actually write it up. In hindsight, I’m glad I skipped class. (And, thanks to Leslie/the GSoC program directors for extending the proposal deadline, I wouldn’t be here otherwise.)

For more details on the project, I give you my Original Proposal.