Search Results: "capitol"

18 November 2017

Matthieu Caneill: MiniDebconf in Toulouse

I attended the MiniDebconf in Toulouse, which was hosted in the larger Capitole du Libre, a free software event with talks, presentation of associations, and a keysigning party. I didn't expect the event to be that big, and I was very impressed by its organization. Cheers to all the volunteers, it has been an amazing week-end! Here's a sum-up of the talks I attended. Du logiciel libre la monnaie libre Speaker: lo s The first talk I attended was, translated to English, "from free software to free money". lo s compared the 4 freedoms of free software with money, and what properties money needs to exhibit in order to be considered free. He then introduced 1, a project of free (as in free speech!) money, started in the region around Toulouse. Contrary to some distributed ledgers such as Bitcoin, 1 isn't based on an hash-based proof-of-work, but rather around a web of trust of people certifying each other, hence limiting the energy consumption required by the network to function. YunoHost Speaker: Jimmy Monin I then attended a presentation of YunoHost. Being an happy user myself, it was very nice to discover the future expected features, and also meet two of the developers. YunoHost is a Debian-based project, aimed at providing all the tools necessary to self-host applications, including email, website, calendar, development tools, and dozens of other packages. Premiers pas dans l'univers de Debian Speaker: Nicolas Dandrimont For the first talk of the MiniDebConf, Nicolas Dandrimont introduced Debian, its philosophy, and how it works with regards to upstreams and downstreams. He gave many details on the teams, the infrastructure, and the internals of Debian. Trusting your computer and system Speaker: Jonas Smedegaard Jonas introduced some security concepts, and how they are abused and often meaningless (to quote his own words, "secure is bullshit"). He described a few projects which lean towards a more secure and open hardware, for both phones and laptops. Automatiser la gestion de configuration de Debian avec Ansible Speaker: J r my Lecour J r my, from Evolix, introduced Ansible, and how they use it to manage hundreds of Debian servers. Ansible is a very powerful tool, and a huge ecosystem, in many ways similar to Puppet or Chef, except it is agent-less, using only ssh connections to communicate with remote machines. Very nice to compare their use of Ansible with mine, since that's the software I use at work for deploying experiments. Making Debian for everybody Speaker: Samuel Thibault Samuel gave a talk about accessibility, and the general availability of the tools in today's operating systems, including Debian. The lesson to take home is that we often don't do enough in this domain, particularly when considering some issues people might have that we don't always think about. Accessibility on computers (and elsewhere) should be the default, and never require complex setups. Retour d'exp rience : mise jour de milliers de terminaux Debian Speaker: Cyril Brulebois Cyril described a problem he was hired for, an update of thousands of Debian servers from wheezy to jessie, which he discovered afterwards was worse than initially thought, since the machines were running the out-of-date squeeze. Since they were not always administered with the best sysadmin practices, they were all exhibiting different configurations and different packages lists, which raised many issues and gave him interesting challenges. They were solved using Ansible, which also had the effect of standardizing their system administration practices. Retour d'exp rience : utilisation de Debian chez Evolix Speaker: Gr gory Colpart Gr gory described Evolix, a company which manages servers for their clients, and how they were inspired by Debian, for both their internal tools and their practices. It is very interesting to see that some of the Debian values can be easily exported for a more open and collaborative business. Lightning talks To close the conference, two lightning talks were presented, describing the switch from Windows XP to Debian in an ecologic association near Toulouse; and how can be used with bisections to find the source of some regressions. Conclusion A big thank you to all the organizers and the associations who contributed to make this event a success. Cheers!

19 September 2014

Paul Tagliamonte: Docker PostgreSQL Foreign Data Wrapper

For the tl;dr: Docker FDW is a thing. Star it, hack it, try it out. File bugs, be happy. If you want to see what it's like to read, there's some example SQL down below. The question is first, what the heck is a PostgreSQL Foreign Data Wrapper? PostgreSQL Foreign Data Wrappers are plugins that allow C libraries to provide an adaptor for PostgreSQL to talk to an external database. Some folks have used this to wrap stuff like MongoDB, which I always found to be hilarous (and an epic hack). Enter Multicorn During my time at PyGotham, I saw a talk from Wes Chow about something called Multicorn. He was showing off some really neat plugins, such as the git revision history of CPython, and parsed logfiles from some stuff over at Chartbeat. This basically blew my mind. All throughout the talk I was coming up with all sorts of things that I wanted to do -- this whole library is basically exactly what I've been dreaming about for years. I've always wanted to provide a SQL-like interface into querying API data, joining data cross-API using common crosswalks, such as using Capitol Words to query for Legislators, and use the bioguide ids to JOIN against the congress api to get their Twitter account names. My first shot was to Multicorn the new Open Civic Data API I was working on, chuckled and put it aside as a really awesome hack. Enter Docker It wasn't until tianon connected the dots for me and suggested a Docker FDW did I get really excited. Cue a few hours of hacking, and I'm proud to say -- here's Docker FDW. This lets us ask all sorts of really interesting questions out of the API, and might even help folks writing webapps avoid adding too much Docker-aware logic. Abstractions can be fun! Setting it up I'm going to assume you have a working Multicorn, PostgreSQL and Docker setup (including adding the postgres user to the docker group) So, now let's pop open a psql session. Create a database (I called mine dockerfdw, but it can be anything), and let's create some tables. Before we create the tables, we need to let PostgreSQL know where our objects are. This takes a name for the server, and the Python importable path to our FDW.
CREATE SERVER docker_containers FOREIGN DATA WRAPPER multicorn options (
    wrapper 'dockerfdw.wrappers.containers.ContainerFdw');
CREATE SERVER docker_image FOREIGN DATA WRAPPER multicorn options (
    wrapper 'dockerfdw.wrappers.images.ImageFdw');
Now that we have the server in place, we can tell PostgreSQL to create a table backed by the FDW by creating a foreign table. I won't go too much into the syntax here, but you might also note that we pass in some options - these are passed to the constructor of the FDW, letting us set stuff like the Docker host.
CREATE foreign table docker_containers (
    "id"          TEXT,
    "image"       TEXT,
    "name"        TEXT,
    "names"       TEXT[],
    "privileged"  BOOLEAN,
    "ip"          TEXT,
    "bridge"      TEXT,
    "running"     BOOLEAN,
    "pid"         INT,
    "exit_code"   INT,
    "command"     TEXT[]
) server docker_containers options (
    host 'unix:///run/docker.sock'
CREATE foreign table docker_images (
    "id"              TEXT,
    "architecture"    TEXT,
    "author"          TEXT,
    "comment"         TEXT,
    "parent"          TEXT,
    "tags"            TEXT[]
) server docker_image options (
    host 'unix:///run/docker.sock'
And, now that we have tables in place, we can try to learn something about the Docker containers. Let's start with something fun - a join from containers to images, showing all image tag names, the container names and the ip of the container (if it has one!).
SELECT docker_containers.ip, docker_containers.names, docker_images.tags
  FROM docker_containers
  RIGHT JOIN docker_images
     ip                   names                               tags                   
                /de-openstates-to-ocd         sunlightlabs/scrapers-us-state:latest 
                /ny-openstates-to-ocd         sunlightlabs/scrapers-us-state:latest 
                /ar-openstates-to-ocd         sunlightlabs/scrapers-us-state:latest    /ms-openstates-to-ocd         sunlightlabs/scrapers-us-state:latest    /nc-openstates-to-ocd         sunlightlabs/scrapers-us-state:latest 
                /ia-openstates-to-ocd         sunlightlabs/scrapers-us-state:latest 
                /az-openstates-to-ocd         sunlightlabs/scrapers-us-state:latest 
                /oh-openstates-to-ocd         sunlightlabs/scrapers-us-state:latest 
                /va-openstates-to-ocd         sunlightlabs/scrapers-us-state:latest    /wa-openstates-to-ocd         sunlightlabs/scrapers-us-state:latest 
                /jovial_poincare              <none>:<none> 
                /jolly_goldstine              <none>:<none> 
                /cranky_torvalds              <none>:<none> 
                /backstabbing_wilson          <none>:<none> 
                /desperate_hoover             <none>:<none> 
                /backstabbing_ardinghelli     <none>:<none> 
                /cocky_feynman                <none>:<none> 
                /stupefied_fermat             hackerschool/doorbot:latest 
                /focused_euclid               debian:unstable 
                /focused_babbage              debian:unstable 
                /clever_torvalds              debian:unstable 
                /stoic_tesla                  debian:unstable 
                /evil_torvalds                debian:unstable 
                /foo                          debian:unstable 
(31 rows)
OK, let's see if we can bring this to the next level now. I finally got around to implementing INSERT and DELETE operations, which turned out to be pretty simple to do. Check this out:
DELETE FROM docker_containers;
This will do a stop + kill after a 10 second hang behind the scenes. It's actually a lot of fun to spawn up a container and terminate it from PostgreSQL.
INSERT INTO docker_containers (name, image) VALUES ('hello', 'debian:unstable') RETURNING id;
(1 row)
Spawning containers works too - this is still very immature and not super practical, but I figure while I'm showing off, I might as well go all the way.
SELECT ip FROM docker_containers WHERE id='0a903dcf5ae10ee1923064e25ab0f46e0debd513f54860beb44b2a187643ff05';
(1 row)
Success! This is just a taste of what's to come, so please feel free to hack on Docker FDW, tweet me @paultag, file bugs / feature requests. It's currently a bit of a hack, and it's something that I think has long-term potential after some work goes into making sure that this is a rock solid interface to the Docker API.

22 July 2013

Daniel Pocock: Winning at any cost

It's not every day that a student messing around with keystroke loggers comes to fame through slashdot. Nonetheless, systematically rigging an election and getting sentenced to 12 months in a dorm with bars has helped raise 22 year old Matthew Weaver's profile well above that of the average script kiddie. Now let's stop and reflect on poor Weaver's future. You may be thinking that with an exchange program like this on his academic record he won't be so popular with employers. Given that he was busted by campus security rather than the FBI he won't even attract the interest of those companies who hire ex-hackers. So where could he go? How is it done in Australia? Not too long ago, when I was a student myself, one of our prominent universities was subjected to a very similar scam. Four members of the Tin Tin for NUS ticket at La Trobe University were implicated in stuffing the ballot the old fashioned way. The incidents even share the characteristics of chronic stupidity: just as Weaver had been caught voting for himself 259 times from the same IP address in a campus computer lab, team Tin Tin had tried to hand their bag of manipulated postal votes directly to the deputy returning officer rather than discretely posting them through the internal mail. According to an official report by the Deputy Returning Officer, Karsten Haley, all four candidates were charged with Dishonest Conduct and Interfering with Ballot Papers. Unfortunately, the report notes that
La Trobe University SRC Electoral Regulations do not empower the Returning Officer or Deputy to enforce charges or disciplinary procedures and the charges were never faced by the accused.
Given the seriousness of the matter, Haley did not give up his attempts to hold them to account. He escalated it to the Dean of the college and then to the University Secretary. He reports that "their disinterest was extraordinary" and that nobody would involve the police. Young Labor suspended Just over a year later, in 1997, the ALP's youth division for the state of Victoria, Young Labor, was suspended after attempts to rig the ballot to elect the Young Labor leadership team. The guilty parties were never publicly named. Nobody was formally suspended or expelled and this simply left them with more time on their hands to invest their energy in other elections. The suspension of Victorian Young Labor remained in effect for a number of years. The specific allegations about the Young Labor ballot suggest that those people particularly keen to win had printed fake student cards and given them to stooges who would impersonate other Young Labor members who had not attended to vote in person. Where are they now? It is no co-incidence that these students were (and still are) members of Labor Unity, a powerful faction within Australia's ruling Labor Party, the ALP. Most political organisations would presumably express concern about these allegations. The ALP does things differently. One of the students who withdrew his nomination in La Trobe, Mr Larocca, subsequently became Mayor in the City of Moreland, one of the ALP's strongholds. Even more remarkably from an outsider's viewpoint, another of these figures, Stephen Donnelly, is currently employed as the Assistant State Secretary of the ALP in Victoria. Communications like this newsletter reveal that he is one of the key figures in the party's pre-selection process. He has recently been appointed to direct the ALP's 2013 federal election campaign for the state of Victoria. Another co-incidence On the same weekend that Weaver was in the news for his antics, Donnelly's latest employer, the ALP's Victorian branch, was conducting pre-selection ballots to choose candidates for the upcoming federal election. So it's no surprise that Monday's newspaper headlines report fresh allegations of voting irregularities. Sadly, I've seen some of Labor Unity's bad behavior first hand. About 10 years ago I was living in South Melbourne, which is in the federal electoral district of Melbourne Ports. A young female friend of mine, a member of the local Elwood branch of the ALP, had spent election day handing out brochures for an ALP candidate in a marginal seat rather than assisting the controversial local ALP candidate, Michael Danby. A few days later I was witness to an incident where Danby aggressively confronted this young woman and demanded to know why he hadn't seen her handing out his own leaflets on polling day. He stood within centimeters of her and was literally looking down on her as he demanded some kind of apology to sooth his bruised ego. She looked terrified and barely responded. Within moments one of his handlers approached and physically moved Danby away from this young woman, I dare to think where things would have gone otherwise. Eye for talent Remarkably, at the same time, the infamous Stephen Donnelly had started shadowing Danby in his movements about the district. Fresh out of university, his talents had been recognised by Danby and he was employed in Danby's office, enabling him to continue honing his skills on a full-time basis with a tax-payer funded salary. What a remarkable contrast to the story of Weaver. Can anybody imagine a US congressman collecting Weaver from the prison gates and deploying him to an office on Capitol Hill? The biggest bankruptcy in student history Around the same time, Donnelly's Student Unity, the student arm of Labor Unity were successful in taking over the student union of my own campus, the University of Melbourne. Not long after I graduated I heard that they had been accused of skimming off $1 million from catering providers and a high-risk $46 million property transaction that put the organisation into liquidation. Unlike Mr Weaver, who's scheme at Cal State barely got off the ground, none of those involved in the Melbourne University incident has faced criminal proceedings. One ALP figure, Andrew Landeryou, spent several months in Costa Rica while wanted for questioning in the Supreme Court. His wife has just been endorsed for a seat in the Senate with support from various Labor Unity figures including Danby. The Gillard questions In 1996, around the same time that Donnelly & Co. were romping around student unions learning the tricks of the political trade, a lawyer quietly departed from the firm Slater and Gorden after an internal investigation into a property transaction linked to a union slush fund. Like Donnelly, this lawyer's next move was to take employment in the office of a Labor Party MP. More recently she was backed by Labor Unity to become Prime Minister. The union slush fund remains under investigation, frustrated by the disappearance of documents. The $60 million heist Recently I blogged about Gillard and Abbott, leaders of the two main political parties in Australia, agreeing to take $60 million of taxpayer money to fund their parties' campaigns in the upcoming federal election, giving themselves an obscenely unfair unadvantage over all other contestants. Where would that money end up? In the case of the ALP, does it appear likely that figures like the Victorian ALP's federal campaign director, Mr Donnelly, would be involved in the expenditure? National shame With this background, it becomes easier to understand the quality (or lack of it) in Australia's national leadership. When you consider that the generation responsible for the La Trobe incident, the Young Labor suspension and the MUSU bankruptcy are now growing into positions of greater responsibility in the ALP it leaves me feeling the quality of leadership is only going to get a lot worse before it starts getting better. For example, the recent incident where coloured people were fed to the sharks has nothing to do with the worldwide refugee crisis and everything to do with maintaining the dumbed-down level of political discourse that Labor Unity thugs and their followers can cope with. Real issues like climate change and energy policy, for example, appear to be beyond the pay grade of Australia's political class Ranjini - coloured, indefinite detention It is startling that up to her own recent demise, Gillard herself had repeatedly begged the public to stop asking questions about her own past and remember that Labor politicians are innocent until proven guilty - yet she had a pregnant coloured woman thrown into a concentration camp on unfounded fears about "national security". No evidence has ever been presented that poor Ranjini committed a crime, but the houses bought with money from trade unions, transactions handled through Gillard's own office, seem to be as solid as bricks and mortar. If only poor Matthew Weaver had been an Australian, how much further would his star have risen? Update: please sign the petition at asking La Trobe university to re-examine the report and refer it formally to the police. If you are concerned about the plight of poor Ranjini and other people subject to Australia's domestic rendition program, please take a moment to see Letters for Ranjini

31 January 2012

Paul Tagliamonte: python-sunlight (or: get at some awesome US Political data programmatically)

I ve spent a few days during work, after work and on the weekend working on python-sunlight, a unified API implementation of a few Sunlight services. This is very unstable, and not released yet (so please don t rely on it yet), but it will be shortly. Be sure to sign up for an API Key, and dump the key to ~/.sunlight.key there s a simple script to help with some of this in bin/, but nothing solid yet. I do, however, encourage you to use it and play around with it, and report your bugs. Contributions (in the form of code) are also very welcome, so please do fork the project and play around with it. Just to give everyone a taste of how cool this is this will pull up a list of twitter IDs of people who mention free market more then anyone else according to the congressional record:
from sunlight import capitolwords
from sunlight import congress
for person in capitolwords.phrases_by_entity(
    phrase="free market",
    n = congress.legislators( bioguide_id=person['legislator'],
        all_legislators="true" )
    if len(n) >= 1:
        n = n[0]
        if n['twitter_id'] != "":
            print n['twitter_id']
And the output:
Have fun! Show off what cha got, and please let me know if you do something cool!

4 August 2011

Aigars Mahinovs: Debconf 11 postmortem

Another year, another Debconf and now it is passed. Pictures are processes and all are now uploaded. We are still missing 25 names in the Debconf 11 group photo. With 265 people and 86 Mpix it is the highest resolution image we have had so far (Spain image had a bit more pixels, but a lot of them were outside the actual photo) and the largest number of people (Edinburgh photo had 248 people). The video team produced hundreds of gigabytes of footage, we had very interesting talks and debates and sometimes the AdHoc meeting room on the side was overcrowded with people in BoFs that were not on the initial schedule. It has been a very special kind of conference. As it always is. :)
As always, there were also some problems. I did not read the debconf-team mailing list, but I hear there was plenty of fun discussions to be had in the run-up to the event, some information on getting to the venue was not quite clear (that was quickly fixed as first people arriving to Debcamp were documenting their experience), the organizational dance with the food tickets was more elaborate than usually, both the day trip and the formal dinner were more self-driven than expected, vegetarian complaint level was about the same as usual (which is considered high by some) and the wireless in the hotel was very weak, also Saturday weddings are quite loud and run very late apparently.
To compensate for that we had: very sunny Debcamp, cheap beer (!!!), great quality accommodations, very good looking venue, good network at the venue (after initial scalability issues with the wireless), good food (that did sometimes run out, though), short distances to all locations, oh and did I mention cheep beer? What do we learn from this for next year? I am told that Debconf12 team has already had some meetings specifically to identify and learn from some shortcomings and strengths of this years conference. However, I think everyone of us might have an idea or two to add to the mix as well. For example, I think that BoF rooms are great and we should expand and solidify on that concept: take a page from unconference playbook have a board on-site where people can book slots for their BoF in one of the two rooms for tomorrow. Not far in advance and without moderation requirement of penta scheduling. In the evening the stickers can be taken down and tomorrows BoFs can be added to the schedule at that point, so the people can see online what is going on.
Also I think that we need some kind of coverage of the BoF room(s) from the video team. Even if that is in a form of a single self-service omnidirectional microphone where people could just walk into the room, press a single button and the audio would start streaming and recording.
In addition we could have a screen with the IRC channel of the room projected onto a screen on a side of the stage, to simplify getting questions off the channel. Recording that channel (as a text log) could also be useful.
It feels like post-conference assembly of the talk lists, presentations, links to the relevant recordings, photos, chat logs, ideas, comments, for every talk is very problematic in penta, should we perhaps just use wiki for that?
Any other ideas? And to finish off some more personal travel-inspired rambling. After visiting Paris, Zagreb, Banja Luka and (very shortly) Vienna on this trip it was very interesting to see similarities and draw some parallels, especially with the added context of Berlin and Riga. The similarities in city planning, street shops, brands and the way people go about their lives in these capitals are quite remarkable. I would even say that a trend can be seen where capitols of countries/regions that had troubles in the past (Bosnia more recently; Riga, Zagreb and East Berlin a bit more into the past) are now moving from their different pasts and converging towards the vision of the European capitol city living we see in cities like Paris. If you look at individual pieces you can even recognise milestones along this route and see when specific cities reach them (possibly in a different order than others). With that in mind you can even try to predict what might come next, like looking at Banja Luka and thinking that they might reach the point of upgrading their buses in the next 2-3 years, or comparing Riga and Zagreb we can see that Riga needs to soon choose a street and close it to car traffic to have more caf s, beer gardens and shops concentrated in that area. Or looking at Paris we might find a compelling idea, like clustering a lot of businesses of the same type (such as kitchen design) in the same street, so the customers know where they can go to have all the best choices available within a block. All in all this years Debconf for me was one with the most diverse experiences and the one that felt closest to home. I hope to see you all good people again next year! P.S. I do hope that Debconf12 dates are nailed down in the next 2 months, so we can start talking to air plane companies for group discounts immediately.

31 January 2009

Adeodato Sim : Pete Seeger in the Capitol

Via this article in French (which I found a very interesting read, btw) I found out that the version of Woody Guthrie s song This Land Is Your Land that was sung in Obama s celebration was the unabridged one, and that Pete Seeger himself (aged 89 now) was on stage to sing it together with Bruce Springsteen. You can see in the video he was visible moved, and that rocks. According to the post in the Le Monde Diplomatique linked above, Obama also signed a couple years ago the petition to give the Nobel Peace Prize to Seeger.

21 December 2008

Ren&#233; Mayorga: Hello planet Debian!

just saying hi, if you read this post my name is Ren Mayorga, I live in San Salvador the capitol city from El Salvador, that was my raw introduction. So, hello, this is my first post on planet Debian, there is nothing more to tell about me, I m just following the tradition to say hello here :) I m currently at the NM process, and I here at this planet just to try to get to you guys the point of view from a random guy at central america :)..

6 August 2008

Christian Perrier: Holidays report

Sure, that sounds fairly formal to send a report for holidays, doesn't it? Anyway, as I have a few (often Debian/FLOSS related) friends around the world who are reading my blog entries, this might interest them so that's indeed a report..:-)...and I have time for it, so... I'm currently going back from Cahors to Maurepas (home), on my way to Debconf. We spent 10 days in Cahors with Elizabeth and the girls, finally joined by Jean-Baptiste on Sunday. We had great time over there, enjoying the richness of Quercy: So, I'm now heading back home, assemble stuff and will take off for Debconf on Thursday 7th (Paris Orly to Madrid, then Buenos Aires via Air Europa: IIRC nobody from Debconf is in the same flight). "Assemble stuff" here also means collecting cheese for the now famous Debconf Cheese&Wine party. That one will be tricky to achieve as most of us are coming from quite far away and...there are only 6 French citizens who attend DC8..:-)). Anyway, I already know that my fellow Nicolas Fran ois (namely nominated as Assistance CheeseMaster recently) will bring some good stuff. I haven't decided yet what to bring. I might be influenced by my holidays, so cheeses from South-West France are highly probable. Cahors wine will be the choice (prepare yourself: that is strong stuff). At Debconf itself, we'll have a quite busy schedule. I intend to mostly work along with Felipe, Nicolas, Grisu and others on I'll have to animate the i18n sessions for which I want to prepare some schedule instead of just "lat's gather and talk" which didn't work so well last year, IMHO. And I have that bloody keynote lecture which, BTW, could be rescheduled if I properly read debconf-discuss as, finally 9am for keynotes seems to be considered too early for the late birds at DC8...:-)... We'll see: I will certainly have something that's not very well cooked and prepared. Expect some improvisation: this year I didn't want to stress myself with a talk, slides and blahblah. Elizabeth will come back from Cahors on Saturday with the kids. She'll have a holiday week at her father's place whil ethe kids their stuff at Maurepas (this is what happens when kids are grown up). We'll gather together again on Aug 18th and I go back to work on 19th. Crazy, I know but I have a very busy and full work schedule for the upcoming next 2 months. September will be a hard time to go through: Jean-Baptiste will start his "Licence Profesionnelle" in Automated and Embarked Systems. He'll do it in shared time: half-time at university for classes and half-time working in a company (which turns out to be Essilor, the world leader for progressive glasses....and the company which Elizabeth is working for). He'll stay at my sister-in-law place during the week (30km away from our place but closer from university and work). Sophie, our 18-year old daughter, will spend the year in Toulouse, to prepare the admission in a Social Workers school. She'll have her own apartment, in the very center of the city, 20 meters away from Place du Capitole. Annoying, isn't it ? :-) So, we'll mostly stay with our "little" Magali, our 16 y.o. who will be attending High School, on her way to Baccalaur at. Tell us about shrinking families.... Now time to work on some slides for the Debconf keynote. Damn.

27 June 2008

John Goerzen: Troops

Back in 1997, long before the days of Youtube, there was a film short called Troops. Troops is about 10 minutes long, and an absolutely hilarious piece of work. It's done in the style of Cops, but set on Tatooine in the Star Wars universe. Many people today credit it with kickstarting the fan film genre and inspiring what has evolved into stars of Youtube.

I remember giving a talk at the Air Capitol Linux Users Group (Wichita, KS). I brought with me my laptop, and had downloaded Troops onto it. I played it for the group. This was at a time when being able to play video on a laptop was something new and interesting, and under Linux no less, even more so. Also, at a time when video of this size may have taken a day to download. Everyone there loved it. I think I used xanim to play it (remember that?)

Anyhow, you can still download that same original file from Or, for the less patient, just watch it here:

6 March 2008

Ond&#345;ej &#268;ert&iacute;k: Sage Days 8

Between February 29 and March 4, 2008 I attended the Sage Days 8, hosted at the Enthought headquarters in Austin, Texas. This was my 5th time in the USA and it was a marvelous experience, as with all my visits in the states.

As usual, I had some adventures in Atlanta, that interested readers can find at the end of this post. Anyway, on the Austin's airport I met Peter and his wife Crystal, Fernando, Benjamin, Jarrod, Eric and Clement. We went to have a dinner and then me and Clement were staying at Peter's house:

You can see the neighbor's cat and Peter's dog Trinity behind the window. The next day we went to Enthought, that was providing us with a breakfast and a lunch each day - and it was delicious. After the breakfast, we gathered in the room and introduced ourselves. Enthought rents 3/4 of the 21th floor in the Bank of America building, so when I looked left I saw:

When I looked behind I saw:

and in front of me, I saw all the participants (I took photos of all participants together with names). As you can see, there were really good people in there, like Travis (creator of NumPy), William (main author of Sage), Eric (CEO of Enthought), Fernando (author of IPython), Jarrod (the release manager of SciPy), Michael (the release manager of Sage) etc. See also the Fernando's welcome speech and the video of each of us introducting himself.

The views from the windows are terrific. I enjoyed working on each of the 4 sides of the skyscraper with completely different scenery, or when the sun is going down, that's also very cool.

We spent the whole Friday doing presentations, some of which you can find here. Then we went to Eric's house to have a big dinner together.

On Saturday, Sunday and Monday we were all hacking on many different things. I joined Fernando, Benjamin, Brian and Stefan on ipython1, Travis was implementing a new type (gmp integer) in NumPy, William wrote a manipulate command in Sage, Eric did the same in Traits, Gary and Michael implemented parallel testing of Sage, ...

On Tuesday we had final status reports and people left in the afternoon. In the evening we went with Clement to have a dinner and then we visited some bars on the 6th street, having a beer in each.

On Wednesday I visited John and Roy from the Computational Fluid Dynamics Lab at the University of Texas, Austin, who wrote the libMesh library, that I extensively used and also created a Debian package of. It was very influential to see the libMesh "from behind", also John and Roy are cool people (not mentioning the Debian tradition of having good relations with upstream:). Then I visited some professors at the same campus, after which I went into the Capitol and then I took the bus to the Barton Creek Square Mall to buy some ipods and jeans, so that I can say I have jeans from Texas. BTW, the ipod works excellent in Debian - I plugged it in and it just shows on my Gnome desktop. It's true that naively dragging mp3 files on it didn't make it play, but these instructions made it work.

On Thursday I fixed the remaining release blockers in SymPy and made a new release. In the evening, I am going to meet Aswin, he also uses SciPy and also is a friend of Kumar, who is now maintaining python-numpy and python-scipy Debian packages with me (Kumar also knows Prabhu, the author of Mayavi2 hosted at Enthought, so it's all connected).

Anyway, the whole workshop was an excellent experience for me. I learned a lot of new things and being able to speak with people who wrote tools that I use almost everyday is important. We also extensively discussed the future of all the projects (Sage, SciPy, NumPy, IPython, Cython, SymPy). See my summarizing email to the SymPy mailinglist.

Another thing, that I find very interesting is that Microsoft is financing the windows port of Sage, that will make basically anything that uses Python/Cython/C/Fortran very easy to install on windows (just a spkg package in sage). I find it really cool that MS is not only supporting but even financing a truly opensource project.

Finally the promised adventure in Atlanta: we took off the Prague airport on February 28th with a 2 hours delay (due to some paperwork as we were told by the captain). As I had 3 hours in Atlanta for the connection to Austin and I had to go through immigration, it was clear that I'll miss it. But I was not surprised, last time I was flying through Atlanta, they canceled my flight to LA completely. We arrived in Atlanta an hour and a half before my departure, then I was waiting for about an hour at immigration, it was incredibly slow. When I had around 20 min to departure, I had to ask people standing in front of me if they let me in, they were very nice and did. I was leaving immigration 10 min to my departure, then I was running to get my luggage and myself through customs and screening, it was 5 min to my departure when I ran down to the display with departure times. Then I was sprinting like hell to the terminal D to only see the clerk doing some final paperwork with all the people already boarded and the jetway door shut. After a little persuading he let me in too, fortunately there was still one seat left, so I made it. You can imagine my pleasant surprise in Austin when I discovered, that my luggage made it too, considering that I handed it to the Atlanta's airport personnel exactly 10 min prior the departure.

18 January 2006

Eric Warmenhoven: You can use a coupon!

For a while now I’ve been thinking that I’d like to get my private pilot’s license, so I’ve decided that once daylight saving time begins, I’ll start taking lessons. Does anyone have a recommendation for a good instructor? I’d prefer one based out of Reid-Hillview, since I live just off Capitol. Also, how long should it take, and how much should it cost? (I know those answers are dependent on how much flight time I need before I feel comfortable taking the exams, but I’m just looking for an average.) Lisa’s dad has his license so he was able to give me a bit of an idea, but he got his out of Hollister so I’m not sure if there’s a difference. Also, I’d like to get my IFR and probably also multi-engine; but I’ve heard some people say that it’s a good idea to wait a while after getting VFR before getting IFR. Is there any merit to that? Lisa and I are also getting serious about buying a new home, and this time we’ve even got a realtor helping us find houses that we might be interested in. It’s sort of off to a slow start, since the market is kind of slow right now anyway, but I’m hoping it will pick up soon. Also I don’t think we’ve adequately explained to the realtor quite what we’re looking for, and how little work we’re actually willing to do to the house. We’re hoping to move sometime this year, but I’m not sure whether that’s realistic. Fortunately we don’t have any urgent need, so we don’t have to settle for something; but I’d still like to get it over with as quickly as possible.