B.E. (Comp. Sys. Eng.)
also known as zed
& handle of notzed
JDK 20, foreign-abi
Finally updated the foreign-abi branch of nativez, zcl, and jjmpeg
to the OpenJDK 20 API for foreign native access. It's very much
untested and probably buggy but it compiles and a few things run
so it should be on the right track at least.
Most of the changes were pretty straightforward and some of the
API changes simplified a few things.
It was mostly a learning exercise to find out what has changed in
the API but I thought I may as well do them all at the same time.
I'm sort-of more interested in vulkanz but it's been so long since
I worked on it I've forgotten where I was at. So maybe i'm not
that much interested in it!
Cancelled FSF membership
So after 15 years of financial support I decided to end my Free
Software Foundation membership this year, I think it expired
There are a few reasons but none are any reflection on the FSF as
Primarily it's because i'm not working at the moment as mentioned
in previous posts. I'm not struggling financially or anything but
need to consider my budget. I more or less got the membership as
a birthday present to myself one year and i'm about to turn 50 in
a few days so it seems like a good time to consider the future a
bit more closely.
A lesser part is that it's an organisation based in the USA and
their political action is necessarily focused there - given i'm in
Australia it has a fairly weak impact locally.
I also feel (rightly or wrongly) that when I joined the focus of
the FSF was primarily on the GNU project - i.e. the software
required to achieve their political goals, and now the focus is
more on the political side of software freedom in general. I
acknowledge this is reflecting a change in the software and
political atmosphere over the last few decades; and further
something that needed to happen. However I think my time and
resources would be better spent elsewhere.
I guess I also think $US 3500+ was a pretty significant amount of
money and I think i've more than done my part as a lowly pleb of a
private citizen given there are multi-billion dollar corporations
who owe their existance to what the GNU project has wrought.
Update 1/20/2023: So the bar manager decided to try to use
it, but in the end gave up. Chrome has a rendering bug in print media
that pushed the gin list to the next page immediately after the title.
Given the css and html is so simple there isn't anything I could do to
fix it. Even without that the process of generating HTML, then
printing to PDF, then running it through a bootklet generator before
finally sending it to the printer is just too much hassle.
I was at the pub a few weeks ago and saw the bar manager
updating the drinks list. The process seemed tedious and error
prone, he seemed to be positioning page elements by hand, so
that alterations required more work. I don't even know what
software he was using - he later mentioned google docs but it
would have to have been the slideshow program because none of
the others work like that. Looking closer at the menu there
were multiple formatting issues - inconsistent margins,
indenting, even a few typos ("Rosè" being the most onerous).
Seemed there should have been a better way ...
But after working on the problem quite a bit over the last few
weeks i'm not sure there really is. I have some solutions but
they require different skills to use.
My first thought was using latex to generate the menu. I've
played with it over the years but never used it much so it took
a bit of trial and error but eventually I came up with something
that worked pretty well. It could read the price lists from
tab-separated-values files, I had some macros to control layout
of individual items, I used the options package to allow
fine-tuning on individual sections and so on. I even wrote a
editor in Java to simplify its use and worked out how to get
it all running in windows.
Latex can be frustrating as fuck, there's some weird
environments that don't nest, arithmetic is messy, it's hard to
read. But you can also do some cool shit, e.g. I created a
brand logo that will properly typeset in any font because it can
work with the glyph metrics directly.
I had to disable or work around many of latex's typesetting
facilities such as hyphenation and paragraph layout but it
produced high quality output and could create an A4 booklet
But to be honest, it's just not a good enough user-experience.
It demands far too much knowledge to modify anything but the
list of prices and even though it's simple to adjust things like
font sizes the absolutely useless error reporting from latex
just doesn't make it practical. And I also found out they don't
really have the setup anyway (although i'm not sure if that's
just a miscommunication since I seem him using laptops with
windows all the time).
So I went back to the drawing board. I tried using HTML+CSS but
Firefox didn't seem to support enough fine control on formatting
for the task - and always added unacceptable headers and footers
at print time.
I discovered that texlive has
an online formatting service
so started working toward a solution that would utilise that. I
installed a local copy of
software (seems unmaintained and insecure but it works well
enough) and worked out how to invoke it.
Then I basically went on an epic side-quest to catch up on about
20 years of web development that i'd thankfully missed during my
software engineering career. What a weird collection of
technology, bizarre toolkits, and shitty jargon (e.g. pollyfills
= fills cracks in walls vs pollyfilla fills cracks in a
Along the way I learnt about a bunch of technlogy:
- IndexDB (neat ... but not really suitable);
- Custom Components (because of the way templates work
they're not anywhere as useful as they could be);
- DOJO (Wwhy? Just ... why?);
- PetiteVue (It's sort of cool but the documentation is miserable).
Although I still skipped some of the more prominent stuff like
node.js or jQuery.
In the end I chose to use PetiteVue and modules came up with all
the parts I'd need to make an application of it:
- A spreadsheet-like table editor;
- A graphical layout editor using drag and drop;
- Various I/O like saving/loading locally, cut and paste;
- Tabbed panels.
But then I ran into a mess trying to combine these parts into a
single scope with petite vue and the lack of documentation
became a real problem. I did manage to solve the problems but
it became tedious and boring and I simply lost interest.
Another issue is it still requires hosting somewhere.
Google Apps Script
So I looked into various was of using google apps. I'd rather
just use Free Software but it would be interesting to contrast
with something proprietary anyway. This was still frustrating
as fuck as there are two apis for everything (e.g. Spreadsheets
vs SheetsApp) and trying to navigate the documentation just
sends you around in circles. Worse is that the documentation
page renders wrong in firefox and with the fonts I use so it's
hard to even read.
I spent about a week creating an apps script project that could
talk to a collection of files - a spreadsheet with data, a doc
with templates for items and a doc with the overall layout -
only to find that it's simply impossible to insert a column
break in a document programatically. This is a total
deal-breaker as there is no other way to control the layout so
it would break the formatting - e.g. splitting a pair of rows
that should be presented together like the drink name and a
A workaround would be to have put both columns into a table and
tables but I was trying to avoid having to special case template
handling in the code. And I was so pissed off with finding out
the limitations I basically turned it off and went for a walk
and haven't revisited it.
One thing I found is that the google docs api isn't really
geared to this type of thing - it's solving the very different
problem of a distributed multi-user editing environment. This
impedence mismatch made it a pain to work with.
The other pain is the abysmal fucking editor you're forced to
use in Apps Script projects. It fucking pops shit up over your
text almost every time you press a key, and even if you learn to
ignore that incredibly irritating obstruction you have to hit
escape all the time anyway as otherwise the cursor keys aren't
moving the cursor but sliding down a menu - so you're CONSTANTLY
hitting escape to close that shit out of the way. And then when
complete joke and the popup documentation is either missing or
hard to read. The formatting tools are miserable. It doesn't
seem to know what the fuck a tab character is. It doesn't
handle primary selection at all.
And anything apart from editing is so slow and takes too many
And I still I was wasn't sure how to turn it into a standalone
app, hosting, and the authentication stuff is weird.
Google Sheets and Apps Script and HTML5
I decided to revisit HTML and see if i could get enough control
to generate a good printed output via CSS. And it turned out
you could - well mostly could anyway. It fucking also has
issues with column breaks but they could be worked around. And
you need to edit about:config to stop Firefox adding headers and
footers - but hardly anone uses Firefox these days anyway.
I first implemented it as a web-app associated with the
spreadsheet. I ran into all sort of issues because the apps are
run inside a sandboxed iframe. Made it hard to debug and
completely breaks printing.
But I suppose the long story short is I got it to work. In the
current version the apps script pops up a dialogue box which
inserts a html file. The HTML file does all the processing to
insert the data into the page template which is a html template.
A button opens a new window with a printable version or lets you
save it a a standalone pre-formatted html file.
It's pretty slow - it takes longer to retrieve the data than it
did to run latex - but the output is acceptable.
Latex is still king for generating printed output, but the user
experience just isn't there for anyone not prepared to spend a lot
of time learning how to use it which is an unreasonable expecation
for the general public outside of authoring books.
Web development still sucks donkey dicks. It's slow and
frustrating. The debugging experience is crummy. The online
tools are a pain to use. Everything is too blindingly white -
or if they have an alternative theme it's both too black and
do some pretty interesting stuff with it but it's so easy to
CSS is very powerful but still let down by implementation issues
no doubt due to it's complexity.
I'm mostly astounded at the amount of human effort that has been
put into 'Web 2.0' then 'HTML5', and this is what they
came up with? But that's what I think about C++ too.
Having said that, it had it's moments of fun like any coding
exercise - through exploration, implementation, and finally
refining the implementation and details.
I just upgraded the server from a rather out of date ubuntu to
debian. Seems to have gone mostly smoothly so far although I
haven't quite finished reconfiguring everythying.
This is more or a less a test post of blogz.
More on project panama
So i've continues to work on code utilising project
panama/jdk.foreign to bind directly to C apis. Most of the work
has gone into one of the vulkan bindings in panamaz - i started a
3rd one that creates the api directly from registry but utilises
templates heavily to be a bit less hairy than the first attempt.
It's still grown to be pretty hairy but at least it runs fast and
generates a good quality api. I might split it out into it's own
project soon as netbeans is getting a bit unwildy opening panamaz
with so source files to work with.
Now i'm going through the vulkan tutorial and using tha to refine
the api a bit further. I'm working towards using signed distance
fields for digital art of some sort. What? Who knows, i'm
Also my heart isn't really in it at the moment so it's a pretty
slow burn. I've stopped tracking the development version and i'm
just using openjdk 18 - the primary reason is that netbeans wont
open projects properly when i use my development builds so i've
kinda given up. The api has moved on quite a bit from jdk 18 so
it will be quite a bit of change when it comes to update
unfortunately. I'd been using emacs to get around this but
without code completion Java isn't a lot of fun.
I've been working on an update java.make which removes the JNI
bits and replaces whem with jdk.foriegn bits via an updated
notzed.nativez (jdk-foreign branch). I had made a couple of
mistakes: using .PHONY targets as dependencies just doesn't work,
and trying to hook everyting to the 'classes remade' sentinal
wasn't sufficient granularity. I've added a few more sentinal
markers which can be used as dependency targets and this has
greatly simplified the dependency setup and allows builds to
Long term i'll probably update jjmpeg and zcl
to use these new mechanisms but for now they are not a priority.
I have another background project going to try to optimsie the
build process. I have almost all the code done in both c and java
to handle accurate incremental builds, e.g. it can find out what
needs to be remade, what needs to be deleted and so on, run a
compiler server, and generate makefile dependency rules, but for
now i'm using javac with '-m'.
Along the way I ran into some performance issues with Netbeans and
java code completion. As part of the code completion it runs
through a routine which filters out the visible symbols based on
Java's scoping rules, but the routine uses an N^2 algorithm, and
to make matters worse the inner loop does a string comparision
based on output of CharSequence:toString() - which is very
expensive, genereates a ton of garbage, and by far the majority of
the time expense. Even the somewhat modest 3000 constants from
vulkan will slow the routine down to around 500ms on a ryzen cpu.
Oddly there was alreayd a solution to this coded up but for some
reason it was never hooked up to all uses of the visibility
reported it with some potential fixes and then found out jira
is no longer the bugtracker for netbeans. Sigh, it sucked but at
least it wasn't github.
Netbeans code completion seems more broken than it used to be as
well since they switched away from the gpl licensed nb-javac. It
wont really complete properly until you've added the import and
syntax errors (you know, the ones that exist as you're writing new
code because it's decided to repase it mid-phrase) will break all
sorts of things. Now i've got a codebase I can edit i might see
if i can at least build a local copy without all that tooltip
bullshit that keeps getting in the way of what you're doing. Be
nice to fix the slow performance of the output window too -
there's no reason it should be so miserably slow.
A few weeks ago I also played a bit with the vector api which
allows one to access SIMD instruction sets natively in java. It's
a bit better than I thought it was when I first looked at it (it
seemed very clumsy), but it's also less abstract than I had hoped.
It's more or less a mapping to AVX intrinsics - you need to
specify the vector width and although you have abstracted
intrinsics you must code to the platform the same way you need to
with intrinsics otherwise the performans tanks. Also suffers from
the general problem of compilers over-usign registers so it's easy
to get spills if you try to unroll anything.
I was mostly poking around with graphics related maths functions
like matrices, one routine was a 4x4 matrix inversion using
gauss-jordan elimination. I tried to unroll the inner loops
entirely using SIMD selection logic to implement the row sorting
but it didn't create much speed-up. Oddly I tried a branchy bit
of code that generated some very odd hotspot output that executed
microbenchmarks quite a bit faster - it seems to branch off to a
sort of exception point, re-arrange the registers via memory swaps
and then re-enter the main loop through some hotspot function.
Kinda hard to follow what was going on with the assembler output.
I might post about this later if i revisit it.
After a pretty long break I started playing with the OpenJDK
panama branch again - this is the in-development mechanism for
Java to be able to call C functions using metadata rather than
requiring a C binding library via JNI.
Whilst I get the impression the developers just aren't very
experienced with the way C works and keep trying to shoe-horn C
libraries into a fixed and awkward model of how they think they
should work, overall it's much improved than where it was last
time I looked. Of course it's a moving target still so even the
updates i've made will break shortly.
Apart from updating to changes in the panama api the main changes
have been working on a more flexible api compiler utilising
programmable templates, and at least attempting to move away from
write-once perl. It's surprising how much more work this took,
about 5x the effort and you don't seem to get a lot of benefit out
of it initially.
I also have a vulkan wrapper that uses the vulkan registry xml
document as the sole source. This allows it to better group
various features and automagically generate a nice object-oriented
api. One feature it has is auto-generating 'nice' constructors so
using the api is pretty much equivalent to the C api, it can also
auto-imply some parameters like array lengths. This was an
earlier iteration of the code so is definitely write-once code,
i'm considering trying to covnert this to use the templating
framework from the other generator but it's a huge amount of work.
I'm still working on how ResourceScopes can fit with the various
api's generated. In some cases it's an ok fit, in others it's has
a very large impedence mismatch which is difficult to resolve in a
satisfactory manner. It would be nice if there was something with
a bit more granular control available as once you start using
scopes you're forced to use it everywhere, or just not use it.
They map to problems where you have a bunch of resources you
allocate incrementally and then free together, but there are many
scenarios in C apis that just don't work like this at
all. I've had some discussions on the mailing lists but so
far i'm not terribly satisfied with the offered solutions, we'll
see I suppose.
has a bit more info.
gcc export plugin
One tool that might be useful for others is the gcc plugin to
export all the available type information. It's a pretty messy
bit of code because it was mostly written by trial and error and
viewing the output of debug_tree(). I admit I didn't read the
gcc-internals documentation enough but it's pretty dense and hard
to follow, and gcc plugins are few and far between.
Getting the named parameters for function declarations was
particularly problematic - in some cases it's simple as you get
the parameters, then the function type itself. But an untyped
function pointer declared as a field, or as a parameter, comes to
the plugin in a different way, sometimes only being able to be
resolved after the plugin is finished. I still have some
'dangling' function parameters left over but they don't seem to be
important and even on a very complex set of header files like
ffmpeg all the fields and named parameters are being resolved
The output of the plugin is a perl hash which completely describes
all the structs, unions, function pointers, and enums found in the
Because #defines aren't available to gcc plugins a separate
programme is used to generate these from the output
cpp. Because #defines are just C it isn't trivial
to convert these to real values so the programme generates a C
file which is then compiled and executed to generate the perl
output. It uses some gcc features to create a pseudo-function
overloading to imply the type of #defines, and has flexible
filtering mechanisms to only grab those of interest. It's a bit
fragile but can be controlled to avoid some broken cases. Also
due to the need to execute the extraction step cross compiliation
will be difficult or impossible but that's a hurdle for later.
Have at it
I spent most of January working pretty solidly on this new
generator but i've not felt like working on it much for a little
while. The ResourceScope stuff is just about to be renamed (the
justification seems pretty weak to me but whatever) so it'll all
break but i'll patch it up when those changes settle down.
code, the git checkout url
I'm using the
A year down
It's been a year since I decided to quit my job, well yesterday
was to the day. Also a Friday. At the time I put two weeks
notice in but they completely stopped communicating with me after
one week so I just gave up.
It's been a weird year. In some ways it seemed to drag on, in
other ways it seems to have gone fast - I guess in general i've
just lost track of time since i've got nothing in particular to
mark the days. I've spent way way too much time (and money) at
the pub, and it's getting to the point that I have to try to move
on. It's making me feel like a total loser just hanging around
mostly drinking by myself - or worse drinking with some random who
turns out to be a total fuckwit (last one started telling me
Hitler was only trying to protect his country ... sigh) or someone
who gets funny on booze. And somehow my circle of friends keeps
shrinking, I can probably count on one hand 'friends' i've seen in
the last 6 months, and I might not even need another hand for good
aquaintances. I suppose the thing which most upsets me is I just
don't have any other way to socialise, and although I don't mind a
good booze-up, it's just too bloody much doing it almost every
day. I try to think of things but even without COVID making a
mess of group activities I really just don't like doing organised
shit anyway. Maybe it's my lot in life to live alone until I die
- it's certainly been a consistent experience so far.
I cut back on the pub a lot this week anyway and spent a lot of
time hacking on zcl/foriegn-abi and playing games. Going through
God of War, although I don't really how it turned into an
open-world RPG - it's just not the same sort of game anymore and
i'm a bit lost and well, basically grinding to get enough gear to
progress. Sigh. I also got Gran Turismo Sport because it was on
sale - bloody 120GB download (what for? shitloads of crap videos
i don't give a fuck about?), I dunno it's 'ok' I guess and the Mt
Panorama circuit has a tigher (narrower, more realistic) feel to
it, but it just seems like i'm playing GT3 again. At least the
license tests are easier.
I've continued to work on fitness and general health - been on
some long rides (many 60km, one 80km) and even started going for a
swim at the beach but it's been cold and windy all week so that's
dropped off for now. Down to about 76Kg which is about 'ideal
weight' according to probably-questionable sites I can find on the
internet (my old scales were bunk but I think I was around 88Kg 2
years ago when i broke my hip). Of course I look pretty skinny
but people are just oversized these days. I started having
insomnia troubles so I'm trying to fix that using sleep
restriction (CBT-I) with ... mixed results so far. I'm mostly
struggling to stay up till midnight every night if i'm just at
home alone playing games on the couch or using the pc. And so if
I nod off for a bit around 10 or 11 it makes it harder to get to
sleep at 12. Oh well it's an ongoing effort and maybe it's
getting a bit better, it's one of those things that's hard to tell
because you can't remember much from lack of sleep.
Fish as anti-deppressant?
I had to go the GP for something else and mentioned the insomnia
and a lot of anxiety i've been having lately ... and it just
boiled down to psychologist or anti-depressants. Neither of those
worked for me in the past and the 6(?) pills I tried either did
nothing (with shitty side-effects) or made things worse, sometimes
much worse. I took the script because I couldn't remember if i'd
had that one before and lo and behond - yeah, and it was another
failure. So I decided to try something else - eat fish every day.
Dunno if it was just a placebo but it had an immediate effect,
literally the next day my mood felt better. Well not the mood
exactly but it's like a mild 'warm glow' that settled into my body
below my stomach which makes it easier to just feel 'good'. Sort
of what one would hope of taking an anti-depressant although none
I ever took had such a significant, lasting and well, completely
side-effect-free result as simply having a couple of sardines or
mackeral once a day.
It's been 5 or 6 weeks since I started and it's remained - and
already helped me weather some shitty situations. Improved my
skin a bit too, although I was hoping it would fix my cold hands
and feet too but it hasn't. It was such a foreign feeling to
start with, you know, not feeling miserable all the time.
So I dunno if i'll work again - if i live cheaply and nothing
major changes in my life I can probably afford to not work.
But fuck it's boring. And lonely.
So many hours to fill every day and not much to fill it with. If
I walk to the pub I'll spend 2 hours walking but there's still so
much day to go. A decent ride might be 3 hours or 4 if i'm really
keen. Can only read or playstation so much. Gardning. And yeah
people get sick of hearing how boring it is when they're too busy
to get any time to themselves (maybe that's why my circle of
friends keeps shrinking!). I can do some coding and so on but I
dunno what's the point?
The loneliness is the real killer at the moment. Sigh. Well for
now i'm trying to fix things one at a time - physical health,
check, insomia, work in progress, then?
Guess i'll go for a ride to the beach today, although it's set to
be warm the water will probably be too cold for a dip but I might
get keen. YOLO and all that.
I'm still suffering pretty severe burnout from my last job -
nearly 9 months after quitting although I barely had any work
leading up to it either (due to covid/shceduling issues with the
job) so it feels somewhat longer. A few weeks ago a mate got me
to do a little bit of consulting work - fucking python of all
things - and while I didn't hate it and the pay was ok i'm not
sure I can be bothered even putting an invoice in because that
just means more paperwork and tax crap to deal with. I live a
rather modest life and can cruise on savings/investments basically
indefinitely at this point assuming no big life changes.
Life is otherwise mostly ok. Still rather lonely and
isolated on the whole, I suppose it's just in my nature. The only
"friends" I see regularly are bar staff and other hospitality
people i've gotten to known over the years by simply spending so
much time at pubs. It has it's moments I suppose but every now
and then the pathetic-hollowness of it all eats away at me and I
bottom out for a week or two before I get over myself and get back
My leg still hurts from the broken hip, mostly it seems to be
tendons in the knee which wilted during the recovery and are
difficult to strenghen up. I've been walking quite a bit the
whole time but it just wasn't enough it seems. As the weather is
slowly improving I've been working harder around the house and
going for half-decent rides on the bike (2-3 hours) and that seems
to finally be making a dent.
Could do to lose a couple of kilos, mostly just to drop an inch or
two of belly fat so I can wear my utility kilts again! I've been
working on it anyway and generally getting pretty fit.
The COVID-19 vaccine roll-out in Australia has been a total
shit-show. Every time I've tried to use the shitty web-site to
book an appointment it's been at least 2 months away - if there
were even any slots available. Plus you can't do it without a
mobile phone number which is something i'm loathe to give out. My
GP ran out of shots when I tried calling them last month. Another
GP wanted a health record from my other GP first (not meant to be
required for a vaccine) - i.e. two bloody appointments. Just got
sick of fucking around and noticed a chemist I go to was doing
shots so just walked in yesterday and got an AstraZeneca shot.
See why couldn't it have been that simple from the start? It's
not the 'preferred' one for someone my age but it's much less
anxiety on that than all the time i've wasted looking up shots
over the last few months. So far no real side-effects apart from
a sore arm.
I suppose the main problem is I just feel like i'm waiting to die
and have been for decades. Nothing has really changed for me
lifestyle wise since about uni - except now I don't have to work
and I can afford to drink out. I don't like sleeping in so get up
no problem but most things seem to be just going through the
motions filling time. Be it reading or playing games, house or
garden work, even just extending walks because I have time to
blow. It's not all bad I suppose but it wears you down
eventually. I'm spending much less time alone in an attempt to
address that part, but it has mixed results I suppose. One
side-effect of this is hobbies don't hold much appeal since they
generally require alone time. I had been reading reddit/news obsessively for months and decided to finally bin that a week ago. This just means even more time to fill ... i've been going to bed early a lot! I can't say it's particularly liberating or anything but it's one less pointless thing I was doing I guess.
Oh well, life goes on.
Copyright (C) 2019 Michael Zucchi, All Rights Reserved.
Powered by gcc & me!