Tuesday, October 24, 2006

NULL as the Absence of Value

I'm quickly becoming a fan of SQL. Not just because of the revered database query language's utility (in all its incompatible dialects, natch), but because it reflects a well-thought-out design that makes sense beyond the usefulness of the language down to the philosophy of computer languages in general. Let's take, for example, IS NULL.

In C++, to check if something is NULL, you can compare it to NULL. Or zero. Or false. And, according to the language, these are all actual values: if "int a=0;" then "a==false", "a==0" and "a==NULL". I don't like this.

See, the null set, ø, is not just a set with nothing in it. It is, quite literally, the set with no thing in it. Comparisons between something that "IS NULL" and something that has a value shouldn't even make sense. Thus, in MySQL, Oracle et al, you have to use "WHERE a IS NULL" instead of "WHERE a = 0" or "WHERE a = 'false'".

"NULL IS NULL" is true.
"0 IS NULL" is false.
"NULL = 0" is also false.

I like SQL.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Album Artists in iTunes 7

Oh sweet, sweet iTunes 7. Aside from all the graphical glitz of its "cover flow" view, and gapless playback goodness, music can now hold three different authorial tags: Artist, Composer, and the brand-new Album Artist.

See, with the cover flow view, you get a bunch of duplicate albums in the display when you browse by album. For example, Tranceport by Paul Oakenfold contains a bunch of songs that aren't by Paul Oakenfold. Not only do you lose the Paul Oakenfold credit when you tag "Time" as being by The Dream Traveler, you make browsing by artist a nightmare.

Enter the Album Artist tag. Set all the tracks to have the same Album Artist, and iTunes will wisely group them together, despite being by different artists. Hooray, now your music collection sucks less.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Defcon on the Mac!

Want to play Introversion's latest hit, Defcon, on your Macintel but don't have the license nor the inclination to install Windows via Boot Camp?

Not to worry, Defcon works perfectly under the new version of the CrossOver for Mac beta. Just download the Defcon client installer, select "Install unsupported software..." and install it into a Win2K or XP bottle.

Viola, now you've got Defcon, the world's first Genocide 'Em Up, running natively on the Mac! (Well, "native" in that it's not being emulated.)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

New Wallpaper, Three New Songs

What on Earth is happening with the weather here? Something big is up, because not only is it unseasonably warm, but I've updated Khakionion.com!

Head to the graphics page for a new 2D wallpaper, Numisma. At the music page, you'll find three new songs uploaded:
  • Betwixt, a simple, soft piece featuring piano and guitar.
  • Alien Elements, a song intended to be used for the game ContraBand (now sadly retired).
  • The ContraBand Theme. Self-Explanatory, yes?
Hopefully, the next update interval won't be so prolonged. Check 'em out!