Wednesday, 10 November 2004

Prax

Wokays, so I'm finally back from Bombay. Actually, I returned this Sunday, as I had univ pracs on Monday and Tuesday.

Monday was Network Programming Lab, and I got to do a UDP echo client/server thingy. Which was done is fairly quick time. The writing part, i.e. After typing out the programs (client and server) and compiling them, everything seemed fine. The first execution cycle brought out a segmentation fault, which was easily enough debugged. The second execution cycle is where my problems began. For some vague, obscure reason, sendto() gave me a "Network Unreachable" error. When I pointed this out to the teacher, she was totally nonchalant about it and said something to the effect of nobody else having any issues. But hey, minor things like this don't bother me at all. What to do next?

Engineering solution ahoy! Since my lab only requires me to run both programs on the same machine, and the teachers looking at your program execution care only about the output, and not too much about the code itself, all I had to do was hardcode the localhost address into the program, and nobody was the wiser. Messages were echo'ed nicely enough after that :)

Of course, there was another problem with multiple users somehow using the same port numbers, but that's silly enough to be considered only transient...

Tuesday was Software Development Lab, where I had to demonstrate my project to the external examiner person. Fortunately, a few days before the exam, we were informed that there wasn't any need to prepare transparencies for the OHP, which came as a great relief. Money saved is money spent on eating! Woohoo!

Anyways, the actual thing was quite awful. First the lab proxy wouldn't let my program connect, so once again I had to hardcode the proxy address into the program, and re-compile and build the entire thing again. And as lots of developers will - and should - agree, MinGW is really, really *SLOW*. Throw into the mix the wxWindows API and Bloodshed Dev-C++, and you have a killer development platform, but one that absolutely, completely *CRAWLS*. Microsoft Visual C++ 6.0 is a total speed demon in contrast. Someday I really have to download the wxWindows Installer for VC++...hmm...maybe for the final year project...

But I digress. Once I got through the proxy, I discovered that the ftp:// and the dict:// portions of my project wouldn't work at all. Upon enquiry, the SysAdmin informs me that only http:// connections will be allowed. Can you believe this? So does this mean nobody is allowed to do programs that use FTP and other protocols? So I request him to just allow everything through the proxy for about 10 minutes, which is supposed to be the duration of my presentation, and he says ok. When on a trial run of this solution, we discover that he has absolutely no idea what to do to allow the connections. I was given the thumbs-up, but even a commandline foo:\>ftp ftp.cdrom.com wouldn't connect. So yeah, he basically told me that he'd take responsibility for the mess, and tell the external examiner (who, incidentally, was from Crescent Engineering College, which is somewhat significant) that the proxy will not accept such connections. Hokay, I'm down with this, as I had the foresight to take screenshots of the functional FTP and DICT thingies at my place. And the demo itself was okay, except it lasted all of 3 minutes! Which left me mega-frustrated! Dude! One full day wasted for 3 minutes! I ask you!

However, I had an inkling of the circumstances and somehow managed to squeeze in some funda sounding terms like "Ghostscript library", "endian-neutral" and "subclassing". Yeah, yeah, I can see all you programmer studs shaking your heads in pity, but college life is basically about being able to suitably impress thy superiors.

Now, about the significance of the Crescent thingy - now, most of the students had downloaded their projects from various places, some had flicked other students' projects, and a small number had actually - wonder of wonders - done their own work! [About my categorization - your call ;)] Anyways, the bottom line is that G.D had taken her project from a Crescent guy, and the examiner was asking her questions like - Did you do this project yourself? Are you sure? So right now, she's plagued by a lot of doubt about her showing in the 'exam'.

Apparently, most people were given rather low marks in the latter exam. Rather low, for practicals, that is. I heard lots of rumours about completely decent people getting only 80s...which is slightly worrying for me. My aggregate is 80.12%, which is borderline. And this can be kept up only if I hit 80 every semester from now. And that's possible only if I get large-ish practical marks...

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