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Before yesterdayNews from the Ada programming language world

Word, templates, rage

This is with Word 2019 for Mac. Why am I using Word, anyway? - because LibreOffice has stopped working with our membership database in SQLite, and wasn’t working at all well with a CSV export. Oh, and Word doesn’t work with SQLite either.

I managed to create a Word template by careful editing of the LibreOffice version; painful to have to work with CSVs, but better than filling in 100 membership letters by hand (most of our members have email, so a Python script using email.mime, smtplib, sqlite3 etc worked for them, leaving the diehards ...)

OK, the organisation has a new chair, time to update the template.

Where is it? Turns out, ~/Library/Group Containers/UBF8T346G9.Office/User Content/Templates. Well done, Microsoft.

And then, the challenge is to find a way of editing the template. Whatever I try, whatever tips I follow on the net, all I can do is edit a document based on the template, which is not what I need to happen!

I would look into PDFs via fpdf2, but I should only have another year in this post and the next person might have an issue with that. (The same applies to using SQLite, of course. Hmm.)

So I guess its back to LibreOffice.

Coding Guidelines


This is a rather self-satisfied document, written in the mid-1990’s, which may still have some relevance.

Coding Guide

Purpose and Scope

While it is hard to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear (to create good code from a bad design), it is all too easy to do the reverse.

The principle that clear, readable, understandable source text eases program evolution, adaptation, and maintenance is not dependent on the programming language in which the text is written. The purpose of this document is to indicate those language-independent techniques which can help you to produce source text with these qualities.

!DOCTYPE>Read more »
  • 19 May 2019 at 15:04

Mojave vs. GCC

After you've installed Xcode (or, my preference, the Command Line Tools via xcode-select -install) so that you can install and use GNAT, you may expect to be able to compile C code too.

Mojave may surprise you with

$ gcc casing.c -o casing
casing.c:1:10: fatal error: stdio.h: No such file or directory
    1 | #include <stdio.h>
      |          ^~~~~~~~~
      compilation terminated.

The reason, according to this question and its answers, is that Apple's developer tools, in particular the clang compiler, know where to find the include files under /Library/Developer; GCC doesn't (I'm sure it could be made to, but ...) and so we have to add an extra step to install them in the normal place:

$ sudo installer -pkg /Library/Developer/CommandLineTools/Packages/macOS_SDK_headers_for_macOS_10.14.pkg -target /
installer: Package name is macOS_SDK_headers_for_macOS_10.14
installer: Installing at base path /
installer: The install was successful.
You may need to repeat this after macOS or Command Line Tools (or Xcode) updates.

Mojave vs. GDB

Apple's software development tools are based on LLVM, and Apple don't seem to feel it necessary to keep GCC and friends up to date with changes in the Apple tools or security policies.

GDB has been particularly affected by this. You can see why a tool which is capable of interacting with running programs would have to be treated with caution.

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VMWare shared drive vs Debian Stretch

This note is about problems with VMWare shared drives failing to mount.

My previous setup was VMWare Fusion 8 and Debian 8 (jessie), with the VMWare-recommended open-vm-tools. After upgrading to VMWare Fusion 10 and Debian 9 (stretch), the shared folder (~) on the Mac was no longer visible from Debian (~/mac, a symbolic link to /mnt/hgfs).

After looking here, I added this line to /etc/fstab:

vmhgfs-fuse /mnt/hgfs fuse defaults,allow_other 0 0

but rebooting hung, and invited me to log in as system to fix the problem.

Other posts in the reference stated that you need to mount to /mnt/hgfs/mac: so, edit the /etc/fstab line to

vmhgfs-fuse /mnt/hgfs/mac fuse defaults,allow_other 0 0

and the system rebooted OK.

Now, make ~/mac a link to /mnt/hgfs/mac:

ln -sf /mnt/hgfs/mac ~/mac

and all is well again.

Incidentally, I found that copy/paste between host and client no longer worked: another Google search led me to

sudo apt-get install open-vm-tools-desktop

Reboot, and on we go!

Secondary Stack in Cortex GNAT RTS

In GNAT, the secondary stack is a construct used with indeterminate types. For example, if a function returns a String, it isn't possible for the caller to determine how much space to reserve for the result: instead, the called function allocates the amount of space required on the secondary stack, and on return the caller determines how much space to allocate on the normal (primary) stack, and pops the function's result from the secondary stack to there.

This note discusses how the secondary stack is managed in Cortex GNAT RTS for FSF GCC and GNAT Community Edition (was GNAT GPL).

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  • 14 June 2018 at 16:59