Category Archives: Software

Joel Simon — Evolving Floor Plans

Evolving Floor Plans

Evolving Floor Plans is an experimental research project exploring speculative, optimized floor plan layouts. The rooms and expected flow of people are given to a genetic algorithm which attempts to optimize the layout to minimize walking time, the use of hallways, etc. The creative goal is to approach floor plan design solely from the perspective of optimization and without regard for convention, constructability, etc. The research goal is to see how a combination of explicit, implicit and emergent methods allow floor plans of high complexity to evolve. The floorplan is ‘grown’ from its genetic encoding using indirect methods such as graph contraction and emergent ones such as growing hallways using an ant-colony inspired algorithm….
The results were biological in appearance, intriguing in character and wildly irrational in practice.

Fixing problems

So I use the Scribefire plugin for Firefox to post on the blog sometimes. It’s pretty handy if you happen on a page you like, you can blog right from there with out having to got to your site, and open up admin, etc…

But, for a ouple ofmonths now, I’ve been getting this error message:

The server returned a malformed response. Please check that your blog and API URLs are correct.

I searched everywhere for a solution, but the Scribefire people kept saying it wasn’t there fault. Well it turns out they were right. Today I had some time to track stuff down, and finally found out it was one of my other WordPress plugins screwing stuff up for me.
The plugin was Open Web Analytics, and it was using GET instead of POST to get stuff from the API. I deleted it, and installed a different one (myStat–which is prettier anyways). Problem solved.
Yay, me!

The End of Gaming?

Probably not but according to
this article on Shacknews, it looks like the end of many gamers dreams, and jokes. 3D Realms, the makers of DuKe Nukem, which was my boys’ favorite game at one time, and which has been devloping it’s newest version of the game (Duke Nukem Forever) for 12 years (Which has led to may jokes, parodies, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Wired’s Vapoware survey in 2004.) has closed it’s doors, and laid off its employees.
This is the end of an era, and the annual jokes will be missed.. Duke Nukem R.I.P.

Financial Software for the home user and Linux

The state of financial software for everyday people on Linux is abysmal.
I’ve been using Monyedance for my finances, since I moved over to linux/Ubuntu completely 3 years ago, and am very happy with it, except for one niggling problem with dialogs lately.
The problem with Moneydance is that it is not free, either money wise, or open-source wise. (At least some people consider that a problem.) I don’t mind that I had to pay for it, or that it’s closed source, but the problems with the dialogs (which is due to it’s use of java, and will, I hope, be fixed soon).
Anyways, since I was irritated by this, I decided to look into open-source alternatives, and give them a go.
I decided against Gnucash, because it’s such a monster, and really more than any non-business individual needs.
Homebank doesn’t have the ability to do investments, at least from my reading on their website.
Grisbi doesn’t seem to be in active development, so I passed on it, although it does look nice.
So I tried KMyMoney2.
Yep I tried it, for 1 week.
First problem was importing the QIF file that I generated with Moneydance, I had to try 3 QIF profiles in KMymoney until I finally got the date format right, and it actually imported stuff. This is after making the correct accounts so that it would import the the accounts in the file, which I had to do every time, because KMM didn’t save the accounts that I made during this. (I finally smartened up, and made the accounts first–making sure they were written exactly like I had them in MD.)
OK so I imported them, and the balances didn’t match (I’m sure it’s because I used $0 as the stating balance when I made the accounts, so blame it on me, but it didn’t seem this hard when I moved from MS Money to MD, three years ago.)
So I did some adjustments, to fix things, great, everything is fine, until I look and see double transactions in several of the accounts, so I take out the duplicates, and readjust my adjustments.
OK, this is fine, now everything looks good, I’m ready to go.
So I’m going along fine for a couple of days, and things are looking good, it’s a nice looking program, and seems to be taking care of business.
Then I see that my scheduled direct transfer for my mortgage is on the wrong day. I figure no problem, I’ll just go into the schedule, and change the date we’re good, I get on with my life. A would that it were that easy. this is a loan, a mortgage, and there is no way in hell that I can change that date using the GUI. I can change everything else on that mortgage, if I want, but not that date, no way, no how. So my next step is to see if I can edit the .kmy file, which is quite easy to do actually, since it’s xml. I find where the schedules are, find the date change it to the right one, and voila, everything is fine–at least with my scheduled bills.
Then I notice that my checking account numbers are off, by about $50, and I had made no changes to my checking account. So I figure messing with the xml file messed up my account somehow. Being the smart man that I am (having learned this through the many beat downs I’ve gotten from various programs in the past.) I had made a copy, and saved the old file, so I got rid of the new one, and reinstated the old, and I was back where I started, except the checking account was still messed up.
OK, well one thing at a time. I deleted the Mortgage schedule, and then made a new one from scratch (schedule that is, I kept the mortgage account), so now that’s fine.
Next step, go through the checking account, and see if I can find out why is says there’s 50 odd dollars more in it than I really have (this is after reconciling ti by the way), and I can’t find anything. Nothing. Nada.
I open up Moneydance and plug in everything that I’d entered into KMM in the last week, and reconcile it, and everything is correct. And that is what I want.
I want accurate, easy, finances. No dicking around in a text editor changing dates for scheduling bill payments, etc. No unexplained variances in my totals. Just accurate, easy to use software.
So I’ll continue to use my proprietary, java based software, with the one minor problem of unreadable dialogs every now and then, and hope that sometime in the near future Open Source developers get their act together, and build an as good, or better product. Other OS projects can do it (GnuCash is good, it’s just way too much for what I, or any individual really needs.), I don’t get why KDevelopers can’t