Search Results: "barry"

12 May 2006

Barry Hawkins: Debian Women s youngest recruit

Caslin in her Debian onesie This is my daughter, Caslin. We finally managed to get a picture of her in her Debian onesie before it has spit-up on it. This’ll be a great photo to hold on to in case she grows up and works for Microsoft or something equally ironic. Saturday I am scheduled to leave for DebConf, to be gone for 10 days. This will be the first time I have travelled away from home since she was born. At only 4.5 months, lots can happen in 10 days. That just hit me in the last couple of days. This reminds me once more why I took measures to change my work situation to all but eliminate travel. I look forward to meeting so many of those whom I only know via email, IRC, and DebConf5 videos.

8 May 2006

Barry Hawkins: A successful round of catch-up

Despite having been sick and having my wife and child get sick as well, I got caught up on some Debian work that’s been on hold for almost six months. The last part of my Philosophy & Procedures phase 1 went out last night (well, this morning really, around 3:00 in between sessions of soothing my now-sick 4-month-old daughter), and I updated all of the packages I comaintain to fix a few bugs, update the standards versions, and correct my uploader email address. The java-package update is pending Jeroen’s arrival in Mexico for Debcamp. I am glad to have these backlog items cleared before heading to DebConf; now I can tackle newer stuff while I’m there ;-). With all the life change in past 6 months, I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever catch up.

3 May 2006

Barry Hawkins: Bruce Sterling and the Internet of Things

I recently started syndicating the IT Conversations RSS thread on my site and saw that an mp3 of Bruce Sterling speaking at O’Reilly’s Emerging Technology Conference was available. It’s an interesting listen; if you’re a cyberpunk fan at all, then it’s even more interesting.

28 April 2006

Barry Hawkins: Nokia USA, TigerDirect, and caveat emptor

So I have been loving my Nokia N90 phone as far as functionality goes, but there are a few design issues that bug me. One is the rather primitive battery cover, which I managed to re-fasten a number of times until it finally came off without me realizing it. Beside that, a piece of the metal inlay by the camera button keeps popping loose on one end. I figure US$650 is way too much for a phone with pieces popping off, so I contact Nokia to send it in under warrantly. And that’s where we pick up in the story… I bought the phone from TigerDirect; they had the best price on an unlocked Nokia N90 that I could find while still being a store I knew of and felt I could trust. When the phone arrived, to my shock it had a UK charger. Weird! But, it was 2 days before I was going out of town for 10 days, and I had the phone rushed so I’d have it before leaving. I popped over to Radio Shack, bought an adapter, and got on with life. So I am on the phone with Nokia USA support, going through the steps for a warranty repair scenario. After they run my serial number, I am placed on hold for several minutes. The representative comes back to chide me for having bought a non-US phone, and says that if I ship it they will return it to me unrepaired. He goes on to explain that less-honest retailers will purchase overseas unlocked GSM phones and then sell them here. Purchasers of these phones basically forego any support or warranty for these phones except in the phone’s country of origin. Who knew phones could have nationalities and be refused care when not in their home country? Perhaps Nokia should set up embassies for these poor, displaced phones. Well, as you can imagine I am totally ticked by now. I call up TigerDirect and start in on them. Right now there’s an agreement of working out an exchange, though I am having to reiterate in every paragraph of the conversation that I do not want another UK phone. Heck, I didn’t want a UK phone the first time. My “case” is awaiting manager approval; I have to call back my phone’s social worker tomorrow.

26 April 2006

Barry Hawkins: Getting caught up

Just finished a slightly overdue book review of Head First Ajax for O’Reilly, and now off for 4 hours sleep. Everything takes me longer now that my daughter is here, but it’s certainly worth it. The next thing in my queue is the long-overdue update to java-package; that should be hitting unstable by the end of the week. Sorry for the slowness, but life’s been busy. I’ve certainly missed hanging out on #debian-devel, and I’m looking very much forward to seeing many of you in person at DebConf.

2 April 2006

Barry Hawkins: The unfortunate state of public transportation in Atlanta

My wife’s car was recently totaled and as a result we have been sharing one automobile for almost a month. As a result, I have taken MARTA a few times. MARTA is Atlanta’s implementation of public transportation, and its woeful shortcomings are burned afresh in my mind. For most people in Atlanta, public transportation serves three purposes:
  1. You have to go to the airport.
  2. You have to go to a concert or sports venue.
  3. You are poor.
This is primarily why public transprotation in Atlanta sucks. The first few trips where I was in Manhattan for weeks at a time, I got such a kick out of seeing everyone use public transportation. It was so refreshing. I wish Atlanta’s public transportation would shape up; I love the idea of not having to drive a car.

Barry Hawkins: Stop Breast Caners

I am trying to get the word out as soon as possible. Forgive the image quality, but I only had the camera phone in my Sony Ericsson T610 with which to capture this. I was walking from the Dunwoody MARTA station to the W Hotel for the No Fluff, Just Stuff conference when I saw this alarming message: Stop Breast Caner Research I don’t know who’s behind it, but these Breast Caners must be stopped. I, for one, am a staunch advocate of breasts, and I will not stand for the senseless caning of them. The last thing this heinous movement needs is funding to research their diabolical scheme to abuse breasts. Breast advocates, unite! Happy Friday.

Barry Hawkins: Defraying technical debt in java-package

I had so many plans for this weekend, but the first of them ate the entire two days. In working on the next release of java-package, I came across some serious issues with alternatives creation that had crept in under my watch when I first became involved with the package. It was one of those times where accepting a huge patch with tons of files introduced an error that I missed; that’s part of the trouble with some patches you receive; they are submitted with someone only thinking of a very specific problem for the moment, with no thought for the package-wide implications and any technical debt the suggested resolution may incur. There was nothing for it but to slog through the install and remove scripts for all 8 JREs and all 8 JDKs looking for the bug’s presence. Sixteen hours later I had corrected the issues and tested the install of all the JREs and JDKs on i386. I had a professor once who asked what was necessary to earn a PhD. After some of the more pompous asses in my class had spouted out their opinions, the professor stated, “a hard butt.” He said it wasn’t about being brilliant so much as it was about being persistent. The friends I have met since then who have shared their PhD stories have confirmed my professor’s allegation. I think Free/Open Source Software development is like that; what does it take to participate? A hard butt. On that note, my sore butt is getting out of this chair. Oh yeah, kudos to Mr. Burrows on aptitude 0.4.0; I love the changes. Control-T alone was worth the wait.

Barry Hawkins: java-package 0.27 released; IBM Java2 5.0 support added

Version 0.27 of java-package has hit the unstable archive today. Thanks to the encouraging (or maybe urging) ;-) of my colleagues in the Debian Java™ Packaging Project who still primarily run on PowerPC, support for the IBM Java2 5.0 JREs and SDKs (currently in beta) has been added with this release. Hopefully that provides some relief for PowerPC and s390 users who have been languishing in Java™ 1.4.2 land until now. Even if your JRE or JDK version was supported by a previous version, I encourage you to repackage it with this latest java-package. A massive revision to the alternatives installations has been carried out, and users should find that all of the expected executables in a JRE or JDK bin directory now have alternatives entries installed. The exceptions would be kinit, klist, and ktab. Our handling of system preferences for Java is still being and hammered out; quite an unwieldy thing what with the alternatives and all that.

Barry Hawkins: If your Debian menu in GNOME ever disappears

I recently had my Debian menu in GNOME disappear for reasons I could not explain. Since this is where the launcher for many of the applications one installs are typically housed, it was quite the inconvenience. I posted to the debian-user mailing list, and asked around on IRC in #debian and #debian-devel, but the most I ever received was a suggestion to run 'update-menus' from a command line. Having done that within the first 30 minutes of the issue’s appearance to no avail, I resigned myself to making do without the menu for the time being. Uninstalling and reinstalling the menu package was of no help. Reinstalling the gnome package yielded no joy, either. I could examine the contents of /var/lib/gnome and see that the menu structure was being built, it just wasn’t making into the menu. Through some poking around and talking with some folks who emailed me off-list to admit that they, too, had experienced this and were at a loss, the mystery has been solved. Apparently during some upgrade to packages, the menu-xdg package had been removed. Reinstalling it restored the menu to its formerly visible and altogether handy state. I posted a follow-up reply to debian-user in hopes of it helping posterity. This issue must seem like such a stupid or neophyte question that some people refrain from replying to a mailing list post about it. For those who knew the answer (I assume someone did), the question must have somehow seemed unworthy of reply. However, looking at the menu package, I don’t even see a Suggests entry for menu-xdg. It would be a shame if there are other people facing this issue with no resolution, so I am openly admitting that I had this problem in the hopes that it helps someone else out. Perhaps I should file some sort of wishlist bug, but my knowledge of the menu system is still narrow; maybe I will. I find myself periodically expanding the Debian menu on my desktop just to look at it and enjoy that warm, cozy feeling I get from having it back. 8^)

Barry Hawkins: You, too, can install Debian

Last week while my network access and free time were at a quarterly low, O’Reilly published an article by Edd Dumbill on installing Debian. The article is titled Installing Debian, with the tagline It’s really that easy to install Debian! I am not surprised that people perceive Debian as more difficult to install than some of the commercial GNU/Linux distributions with their slick graphical interfaces for installation. Most people only know of the older way of installing Debian, which is admittedly less than convenient. Debian’s installer has greatly simplified installation, but most people I talk to aren’t aware that it exists, even experienced system administrators. If you are experienced with Debian, but the thought of mentoring someone through a “getting started” period holds little to no appeal, refer them to the article. Low cost evangelization and advocacy, sweet! Plus, extra visitors to the article mean increased visibility for Martin Krafft’s book, Debian System Concepts and Techniques. If you are someone who keeps contemplating an attempt to move to GNU/Linux, and the aims and guidelines of the Debian project appeal to you, check out the article. It may just be enough information to get you going. I haven’t been very productive in my open source work the last week, largely due to “real life” eating up most of my time; part of the ebb and flow for a F/OSS activist, I guess. It is particularly frustrating, since we are experiencing a significant period of productivity in the Debian Java project.

Barry Hawkins: Why make a free runtime for Java?

I was at my monthly Java ™ user group meeting tonight, and during the pre-meeting discussion our president Burr Sutter asked a question he usually asks: “So, anybody working on anything exciting?” This typically is taken as “does anyone have a really cool Java ™ project that they are working on right now that would be neat for us to hear about?” I usually sit there, not saying anything. But tonight, nobody had anything much, and I finally spoke up about free runtimes for Java ™. I told them that great progress is being made in the free runtimes for Java ™ arena, particularly in GNU Classpath and Kaffe. After my update, Burr asked a very good question: “Why would you work on a free, open runtime for Java ™ programming language?” My answer follows. You would work on it in order to have a free alternative to a platform governed by the SCSL. You work on a free runtime for Java ™ because a free alternative would be better than what we have now; a closely-guarded and largely ingrown platform. You work on improving a free alternative because you are free to participate without that project demanding (via a legally-binding license) that you can only work with them from here on out, and that nothing you learn while devoting your time and energy to them (without compensation) can be used elsewhere. If you do share it elsewhere, and that project finds out, their legal team will make an example out of your ass. You prefer a free alternative runtime for the same reason that you prefer the free alternatives to the non-free frameworks and platforms available for use on Java(TM). Why is Hibernate so popular? Why is Spring so popular? Why is EJB not? Because innovation by committee, while better than a ruthless, unaccountable corporate entity concerned solely with its own betterment, is still not as good as free, open cooperation and collaboration. Is this idea so new? Don’t we try to teach kids that sharing and honesty is the Right Thing ™ to do? I will probably flesh this out as an article at some point, but I wanted to get something written down tonight, while it’s still fresh in my mind.

Barry Hawkins: Emacs book review hits Slashdot

My book review of Emacs made it onto Slashdot today. It took a while to work through that book; all sorts of life events came up and it kept getting pushed farther out. Oddly enough, it was posted on /. on my dad’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Dad, and thanks for teaching me to stick with it when things get tough and to keep my promises to people.

Barry Hawkins: Book Review of Learning GNU Emacs, 3rd Edition

I finally got my review of Learning GNU Emacs, 3rd Edition from O’Reilly out the door last night. For those like myself who are coming into the Linux and Free/Open Source Software game later in life, books like this really help to backfill your knowledge/skill sets in a timely manner. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to move beyond the basic Gnome and KDE text editors into a more serious text editing tool that has both a GUI and console modes. That is, if you are considering Emacs. And no, this is not an invitation to an Emacs vs. vi flamefest. I use both. 8^)

Barry Hawkins: The longer I manage a technical team, the more I am in awe of the Debian Release Team

Just finished a checkpoint of my current development project at work. There are only six developers, and we only have about 18 dependencies on 3rd-party libraries. Even on something that simple, getting the bugs and unresolved issues (after developers had performed their final check-ins of code) cleared up in order to get a 100% pass on the suite of unit tests ended up taking 14 hours over two days. Coordinating changes to the persistence, business, and presentation layers and being able to see the big picture in order to isolate bugs requires intense concentration on my part. On my way out of the office at 20:35, I was thinking about the some 10,000 source packages in Debian and the coordination and effort required to get a release out the door. I am awed. Debian Release Team, you rock. Thanks for Sarge, and I look forward to the Etch release.

23 March 2006

Matthew Palmer: The Little Engine That Might Be Able To Later

By now, you would think that I would have learned that Breakfast + Freshmeat = mess. Today, we have an unimaginatively named program called "font manager". Some day, in the future, we may have a font manager -- but we don't yet. Here's the description, direct from the horse's mouth:
font manager is a font manager for GNOME. It cannot do any font management tasks yet, but is already useful for picking fonts.
It's quite adamant that font manager is a font manager. Yet it can't manage fonts. Interesting. I suppose this is an example of the curious issue of true identity -- are you who you are because of what you are called, or because of what you are? The author(s) of "font manager" obviously believe that your true identity stems from your name, regardless of what you may actually do. I disagree somewhat -- in a lot of ways, I identify more closely with the term "computer geek" than with my name -- I think it's essentially social conditioning and a need to be uniquely identified from all the other computer geeks out there that makes me remember to respond to a call of "oi, Matt!". An interesting book on this subject is Jennifer Government, by Max Barry (ISBN 0349117624), in which people's surnames are determined by who they work for (so take a guess as to who Jennifer works for). There's something very wrong with me when a quick scoff at a freshmeat article turns into pseudophilosophy and a book review...

17 March 2006

Uwe Hermann: Why you should better not use Kensington Locks

This seems to be pretty old, but I only stumbled over it recently: Just in case you were considering buying a Kensington lock to secure your laptop while you're away... don't. Some lock picker from (Barry Wels, it seems) has demonstrated how you can open such a lock within seconds, using only a roll of toilet paper and some duct tape. Watch the pretty impressive video (7.5 MB). Favorite quote from the video: actually you're militarizing the roll of toilet paper. Well, leaving a laptop unattended in a "hostile" environment is always a stupid idea (with or without a lock, with or without a screen saver with password). One of the many reasons for that is that your box can be owned by an iPod within seconds if you have a Firewire port... (via Boing Boing)

3 March 2006

Clint Adams: For Jane and Barry, staid and stoic

In the free space, between the notility and the wire
Did a spot cam be apple day
Yet urging on, like wind and fire
Reigned spotted chains of stained McCrae

23 October 2005

Benjamin Mako Hill: Darklight Film Festival Symposium

Next month in Dublin is going to be the Darklight digital film festival. In preparation for the festival is a now traditional symposium that has a reputation for bringing together a collection of interesting people to, "identify, profile and respond to the current transformations in the distribution of cultural production enabled by the proliferation of digital and wireless networks." I'm thrilled to have been asked to attend and give a speech there along with fellow Media Lab inhabitant Barry Vercoe (of course, he helped found the lab -- I've only been there for a month). I'll be talking about intellectual property and will try to describe some of the history of the current mess we're in, offer a rough classification of the types of solutions that are being offered and then go into some depth on the Free/Open Source Software model. I'll talk about the reasons Free Software has been successful and try to describe some of the benefits and limitations of applying this model to the production of other types of creative works. You can check out the symposium schedule and register now for a free spot in the audience. Please keep in mind that registration is limited. If you will not be able to attend but are in Dublin and would like to meet up (for keysigning, chatting, etc.), please get in contact and we'll work something out. I've never been to Ireland before am excited. The one (major) downside of course is that this talk will mean I will not be able to attend the most relevant parts of Ubuntu Below Zero conference and so am currently not planning to attend at all. I send my regards to the rest of the Ubuntu team. I'll see you at the next one am looking forward to the tsunami of new specs that will define Dapper and am looking forward to participating in whatever way I can from remote.