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The great digression: Or, who are you??

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Figured I'd explain who I am, what I do and where I live.

Firstly, who am I? Well, I'm a 23 year old undergrad student taking a joint Computer Science/International Relations degree. Why such an odd mixture? To be honest, I have trouble answering that question. It seemed like such an interesting melange at the time, but in retrospect I think I would have been more happy doing another science (math, physics maybe). That's not to say that IR is not a science: don't want to offend anyone ;) But there is always the fact that given an event E and say, three schools of thought X, Y, & Z - X, Y or Z can explain matters using their own paradigms and without referring to the other schools at all. I suppose this bothers me: if only because I like facts and factual knowledge - the idea that we should revel in our ignorance because it means we are on the path to (eventual) enlightenment just doesn't sit well.

However, as to the other half of the degree, Computer Science - so, hence the Axiomatic reasoning and so forth. I love to program: let's get that on the page for the record. That said, I will admit that I have a bad habit of thinking of a great idea (obviously the greatness of the idea is subjective) -- figuring out how it would work and finally implementing it to the point that I am satisfied that my hypothesis was sound and then leaving it. Hence, unfinished projects :(

Still, you could argue that this is because hobby projects don't -really- have any incentive behind them. It's much easier to get something completed when you know other people want to see it.

Still, I'm in what may be the final year of undergrad for the joint degree, though I have been offered the opportunity to do honours work for another year. This is something I have a hard time deciding; while I don't really feel the press of age, I do notice the void in my pocketbook and after having lived for four years with 'just enough to get by', it becomes a little...draining, to use a local term.

By now, some observant people have noticed that I tend to put 'u's in words where US citizens would tend not to - this is explained easily in my profile...yes, I am Australian - not a Brit. An obligatory G'day is probably warranted here, and yes - I do use that term day-to-day (though not intentionally :S). So, G'day to all the other aussies hanging around the site!

So, where in Australia? Hobart, Tasmania to be precise - you can see more of our tiny state here if you like. It's the middle of winter here right now - and while I like the cold, it'd be nice to see the sun sometime soon. *looks out the window at a gloomy grey sky*. It is, however - not so bad as London. Having visited the 'Old Country' before (during winter), I can safely say that Tasmania (or Tassie, as locals call it) is nowhere near as cold and nasty ;)

Other more (or less) interesting information about me: I work at a laser-tag spot called 'Zone3' - in relation to this, I play for the state laser-tag team and we are heading to Nationals in Campbelltown NSW (outside of Sydney) in late July. Before I get the usual, here's a FAQ: Yes, it is a sport, yes lots of nerds play it, but you'd be surprised how competitive it gets. Interestingly, there's also an international competition - though Australia doesn't compete in it, there's just something about lasertag that sponsors don't like :P

Finally, to wrap up, I'll let you see something I worked on before - I apologise for the horrible website - it was a hack job created in photoshop (though not by me, CSS Zengarden all the way!) and may break if you use something other than IE or Firefox.
Site in question: RBuilder

For those who can't be bothered/don't have time to look, a summary: Distributed build system using C# (1.1, 2.0 was in beta during development) and C++. This was (meant) to be a final year project. Obviously, I wasn't in final year because I'm still stuck in undergrad (degree schedule and all), but effectively - the University asks the local IT businesses if they need something done...and my team (five people) ended up drawing the straw labeled 'Distributed C++ compilation system'.

For the skeptics or people who think such a thing is not worthwhile, I refer you to previously successful projects on *nix systems such as distcc, or for Visual studio people: Incredibuild
Difference between these things? Well, architecture, platform (Incredibuild allows remote build of Xbox 360 XDK stuff and full support for Visual Studio 2005).

So, I'm guessing the question on everyone's lips is 'Why are you reinventing the wheel?'. Well, it's not quite so simple. The client wanted a distributed system for Borland CBuilder. Hence, existing tools were inadequate. We went off, did the work and now the client has an in-house tool that can approximate the performance of Incredibuild for Borland. The coolest thing about the system is that the back end is customizable - hence, any language that has an intermediate stage (i.e., like an OBJ file) can be compiled - using any compiler/linker combo. Hence, Rbuilder works with VC++ -- we just tailored it for Borland :)
What did we get out of the job? Hm, personally I would say - experience, other than that, nothing ;P
Couple of the team members are still working on the thing in house for the client but I've handed over maintenance to them. As may be obvious by now, the IP for the job doesn't belong to the dev team anymore, so no releasing this publically I guess.

So, hopefully that gives people a bit of an insight into who I am and what I do.

~Akram Hameed, aka Shiny.

NOTE: the RBuilder website implies that the Rbuilder system is not complete -- this isn't the case (lack of website update) -- we delivered the product (and IP) after (roughly) 4.5 months of hard work.
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G'day from this Aussie! Nice to see another journal here too. Best of luck with your projects!

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