Friday, June 11, 2010

POSSE Worcester, Day 4

Day 4 started badly because I couldn't wake up on time. While I got on IRC to tell people not to wait for me, Mel is just too nice and waited anyway. So I held everybody up for about an hour. :-(

We did some more specialized discussions in smaller groups before lunch. Mihaela and I were walked through the details of the translation process as used in the Sugar project by Walter. I had used the web interface to this before to do some translations, but it was good to hear it all in context. (Future students beware: Walter convinced me that I can actually add this to a C course as well, given that gettext is completely pervasive on GNU systems. :-D)

I didn't have too much success with code, so I just did some more translation work before lunch. Lunch was at the WSC cafeteria again, I am still amazed at how good the food is there (for a university outfit). I just wish JHU would get their stuff together in this regard.

After lunch we were supposed to have a few more "split into groups" things but we actually got "distracted" (in a good sense) by Heidi, a guest from another local college. At first we just wanted to do a round of introductions, but this quickly diverged into a long discussion of how to put FOSS to use in the classroom (which is also the topic for the last day I think).

Mel then went into an overview/review of the various pieces of infrastructure for FOSS projects. I mentioned but I held back on recommending (I still think they have the best "basic" setup right now, but I might be wrong). I think I'll start using IRC more in the future, Mel pointed out that "being overheard" in a public chat is a Good Thing (tm) and I believe that's true.

Since it was "dinner night" many of us stayed on campus late. I went back to the Physics activity, desperately looking for something to fix in my favorite piece of Sugar. And I found something: The "grab and move" feature only worked with the simulation running, but not when the simulation was paused. Walter agreed that it should work, so I started hacking on that but didn't get far by myself. Luckily Mihaela stopped by and we started working on it together, and after a few hours we actually figured some of the pieces out. I started reading some of the library source code which promptly helped unravel the last mystery, and we got basic grabbing working before dinner.

The restaurant was somewhat hard to find, but it was certainly worth it as it seems to be somewhat of an "institution" in Worcester. The food was great, and we met "Michael" who works at Akamai and hacks on Sugar every now and then, our "special guest" for the night. Good food, good conversations, good beer, it was a fun evening.

After dinner I finished the patch for Physics and sent it off to the maintainer. I wasn't quite happy with it, but at least I had something to contribute. Gary emailed back pretty quickly that they were looking for that feature for a while, which provided additional motivation to make it better. The problem with my solution thus far was that you didn't get to move an object directly. Instead you clicked on it and then dragged a line to the future position you wanted; when you released the mouse button, the object would "pop" into its new place. It was actually quite straightforward (well, except for one synchronization issue :-D) to get a real "direct manipulation" drag to work, so I sent off another patch to Gary an hour later. I went to bed quite happy with myself for a change. :-D

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