Search Results: "eugene"

17 October 2009

Eugene V. Lyubimkin: Debian packages with big number of bugs

While working on Debian, I often don't realize how some important packages lack manpower to handle issues. Examples that touched me are 'apt' and 'perl'. As someone told many times, it would be good if someone with free time, especially newcomers to Debian, help triaging/reproducing bugs in the BTS, writing patches etc. This activity usually doesn't require helper to be a DD or DM, and will usually be more appreciated than preparing 11th web server or 30th window manager to Debian archive. Just ask maintainer(s). Also, you may want to read to get the wider picture.

I tried to quickly find a table with Debian packages with highest bug rates over the Debian BTS, but failed, so I constructed my own one, with the help of UDD. This list contains BTS packages with number of bugs > 100 and is available here. The top ten:

          source            rc_bugs   all_bugs 
 wnpp                             0       3024
 installation-reports            10       2119
 apt                              4        682
 linux-2.6                        0        617
 aptitude                         0        576
 iceweasel                        3        490
 openssh                          1        417
 evolution                        0        362
 util-linux                       1        344
 dpkg                             1        343

3 October 2009

Eugene V. Lyubimkin: cupt bits

I made an announce of Cupt. It resulted in some new people trying & testing & reporting bugs, plus several Linux/Unix-related sites picked up the announce and formed a news entry from it. And a bit sadly, though fully expectedly, most of comments played implementation language holy war.

Since first beta was uploaded, I have some time to perform usual round of optimization, and it appeared to be quite productive this time. Several minor optimizations were simple enough to go directly to master branch. With a usual bunch of bug fixes, they formed just uploaded first release candidate. Another few of them are more complex, so they live in various branches and, presumably, will be a part of Cupt 1.1 after some testing.

26 September 2009

Julian Andres Klode: Results of the APT2 config parser testing

Thanks to those who have tested it (and/or will test it). The results where helpful and resulted in Bug#548443 filed against localepurge and GNOME Bug #596429 against glib. The first one is a case where quotes where used inside a value, although this has never been defined to work, and the second one is a problem with GLib s GScanner not ignoring multi-line C-style comments although it was configured to do so. I also fixed some bugs in APT2, like the missing build-depends on libgee-dev and the configuration parser now accepts . , _ , + in the option name. I also talked with Eugene about some differences in the way cupt and APT2 handle quotes and about some other parts of the configuration format. Seems this was a good day. Posted in APT2

25 September 2009

Julian Andres Klode: cupt and how to write package managers

cupt is a new package manager written in Perl by Eugene V. Lyubimkin, who previously contributed to APT. And more than all, the project makes no sense at all. First of all, there is a language issue. Implementing a package manager in Perl has some major drawbacks. One of the features of APT was it being written in a lower-level language (i.e. C++ which really is below Perl), making it possible to write applications like synaptic and python bindings which in turn lead to applications like gnome-app-install or Ubuntu s new Software Store. Furthermore, writing a package manager in Perl means that Distributions such as Emdebian might not be able to use it since they have excluded Perl due to its space requirements. This becomes even more important considering that cupt depends on even more perl libraries. This means that cupt will never be able to replace APT. Secondly, a package manager should not be designed specifically for one distribution. This is another major drawback of cupt and other package managers such as yum or zypper. The smart package manager, written in Python and funded by Canonical Ltd. is an example for a distribution-neutral package manager. Now let s take a look at package management in modern distributions. Usually we have two levels of package managers, the first being tools like dpkg and rpm which take care of installing and removing the packages and level-2 package managers implementing dependency resolvers and package retrieval from remote locations. Recently, distributions started to add a third layer named PackageKit, which shall provide distribution-independent package management user interfaces. The project was well-received by RPM-based distributions, but failed in Debian-based distributions due to not supporting debconf. Furthermore, adding a third layer just increases the possibility of problems. The right way to do package management is a distribution-independent level-2 package manager written in C. The smart project shows us that this is possible although itself fails to meet the lower-level language (C) requirement. That s why I decided to write a package manager in Vala, a GObject-based language which gets converted to C and then compiled. If successful, this project will be able to replace most of the current level-2 package managers and will also provide the same distribution-independence as provided by a level-3 package manager such as PackageKit. It is also easy to create binding for other programming language such as Python or Perl thus enabling application developers to choose the language they like most. The core of this project is a vendor-neutral library, temporarily called libapt (as the project is called APT2 for now). This library contains all the code which is not specific to a vendor i.e. file retrieval, dependency resolver, caches, etc and is then enhanced by several vendor-specific plugins, each implementing a PackageManager (interface to the distribution s level-1 package manager) and a Repository (well, repositories from which you can download packages) interface. We could even enhance the vendor-independent interface to include more details of a repository. Most repositories nowadays consist of 4 components: A meta index (Release files for Debian, repomd.xml for Fedora/openSUSE/etc.), a package index (e.g. Packages files for Debian, *primary.xml.gz on Fedora, etc. ), a source index (e.g Sources files in Debian) and a files index (e.g. Contents-*.gz for Debian). I took a look at the repository formats of Slackware, openSUSE and Fedora and it seems that this concept can be applied to all of them. So maybe all we need are distribution dependent parsers for those files. One of the most important issues with APT is its use of mmap() for the cache. Using mmap() makes it hard to grow the cache, which is sometimes needed. We see a lot of bug reports from people with too small cache sizes. We can circumvent this problem by utilizing an embedded database like SQLite for this, but we would probably loose some speed and it may be harder to maintain a flexible API. We should see what the best option is here, both ways are possible since Vala 0.7.6 includes my patches for adding mmap(), ftruncate(), mremap() and some other functions. An idea to circumvent the mmap() issue is gathering statistics about the relation between the number of repositories and the size of the cache and then using a value which is slightly above the average statistical value. The project is not very mature yet, it only includes basic library functions for downloading files and parsing configuration files, etc. You can find the (MIT licensed) code at I also have some local code for repository management and multi-threaded file fetching, but it s just not ready to be merged yet. Posted in APT2, Debian

7 September 2009

Eugene V. Lyubimkin: I became DD.

That are only 3 simple words, but their value is hard to underrate. It's very important milestone in my Debian work.

The achievement might not be possible, if there wasn't the help of:
- Vincent Bernat, who thoroughly corrected my first packaging and sponsored my first (and not only) package;
- Dmitry E. Oboukhov, who uploaded many packages for me and also gave some useful advices;
- Roger Leigh, who spent not one day to improve my packaging skills, and also advocated my NM application;
- Enrico Zini, who was my NM Application Manager.
Thank you!

Thanks to people who built my NM procession chain up to creating the account: Bernd Zeimetz (FD), Christoph Berg (DAM), Peter Palfrader (account creation).

30 August 2009

Eugene V. Lyubimkin: debdelta rocks even more

Starting with cupt 0.5.2, I'm able to use debdelta for upgrading my packages. Usually it saves 30-50% of traffic costs for me, which is already good.

Several days ago I felt service was in outage because no new deltas were available, but today it saved 96% of traffic! I guess the reason is change of default delta algorithm on Andrea's site with deltas, but hey, whatever, 1MiB instead of 27MiB! Debdelta rocks.

24 May 2009

Eugene V. Lyubimkin: cupt: 20 days over

So, 20 days passed after the first announcement, and here is the list of changes since then:

Cupt entered Debian unstable. Please report any bugs and suggestions to Debian BTS. Also, you may use #cupt channel on if you want to discuss something.

New features implemented include:
- resolver reasons tracking (-D, --show-reasons)
- new 'changelog' subcommand
- new 'copyright' subcommand
- 'policy' subcommand called without arguments now prints release data available, like 'apt-cache policy'
- '--no-remove' option
- '--no-auto-remove' option
- support of 'dpkg::pre-invoke', 'dpkg::post-invoke' APT options

And, of course, many bugs fixes.

4 May 2009

Eugene V. Lyubimkin: cupt: let me introduce it

Cupt is experimental re-implementation of APT suite from scratch using Perl .
It consists of Perl modules and console front-end to them.


- to finally avoid some bugs in APT design;
- to introduce some useful features;
- to make an extensible and readable codebase;

What infrastructure does Cupt use?

It uses the same APT infrastructure, e.g. index files, deb cache archive
files, configuration files. It understands some of widely used APT options.

What useful features has Cupt already?

- full-case strict dependency problem resolver;
- command-line and APT-like option name checker;
- case-sensitive search;
- pinning by source package name;
- pinning by package groups using shell-like patterns;
- configurable 'depends' and 'rdepends' subcommands;
- 'satisfy' subcommand.

What features will Cupt have in future?

See incomplete roadmap.

Why is it 'experimental'?

Because not all important functionality is implemented yet:
- 'update' action;
- cooperating with debconf;
- working with source packages;
- translated package descriptions;

Why Perl?

- I like Perl
- code conciseness
- code extensibility
- several useful libraries available

Can I use Cupt along with APT?

Yes, you can mix apt-get/apt-cache/aptitude/etc. with cupt without bad consequences.

Can I build a Debian package for Cupt?

Yes, go to repository, checkout it and build the Debian package as usual.

What's the status of Cupt in Debian?

It's currently in the NEW queue, but don't rush to try root-required actions because it's still experimental.

Who am I?

The man who had been contributing to the APT.

24 October 2008

Christian Perrier: Some news about APT package maintenance

Since I blogged about it, a few things happened around APT maintenance. First of all, it seems that more people got interested in the package. Many even *discovered* that one of our key packages was not that actively maintained. Not everything is really settled, far from that. There is no strong team yet...but some hype happened. A wiki page has been setup (I'm offline right now...just search on Eugene V. Lyubimkin started bug triaging activities and will need help and encouragement (or cookies). Michael Vogt gave some indications about how to contribute to APT. Things happened. And I don't even know if that done by Debian Developers, Debian ontributors or Debian Maintainers. Things just happen and that's good. This is going to help us release lenny, while the two giant threads currently running on -project and -devel will not.

12 September 2008

Christian Perrier: Martin's meme

Sure, Martin, you started a meme (by the way, I roughly guessed you naming scheme which is a nice one). I wish I would have named my machines this way: patrick, bob, sandy, eugene, plankton, carlo, gary, puff, pearl, etc. (easy to guess for people who went to Debconf's day trips). Indeed, I haven't because I named the first ones too long time ago. So they're named kheops, khephren, mykerinos, snefrou, saqqarah, merenptah, amenophis, sethi, djedefre. Easy to guess. PS: 'carlo' is only for French-speaking users. For en_*, thata would be squidward.

11 September 2008

Martin F. Krafft: Host naming theme

Init Seven, my favourite Swiss ISP, has offered to collocate one of my machines in their racks with native IPv6-connectivity. I am now searching for a name for this new host. A recent discussion has made me curious about how many people can deduce my host naming theme from the set of names of currently operational machines under the domain:
albatross, bell, brick, cigar, cirrus, clegg, diamond, echo, embryo, eugene, fishbowl, gerald, gnome, lapse, lust, mother, pict, pig, piper, pulse, seamus, sheep, time, vera, wall.
If you know what ties this list together, please help me christen the new machine! Update: the responses have been overwhelming, 183 people have written in so far, and 149 of them knew what s going on (though some admitted to cheating with a search engine). Thanks to everyone! In addition to the common theme, which most guessed correctly, I have a few other restrictions, mainly that the words have to be singular names or nouns, and that they have to feel right . Here are the suggestions I ve received which passed my filters, in decreasing order of frequency:
emily, lucifer, fletcher, lunatic, arnold, flesh, gig, bike, moon, brain, hand, balloon, hope, alan, marmelade, wing, heart, summer, thunder, sam, tropez, sky, stethoscope, khyber, lotus, jugband, cymbaline, remergence, dawn, hell, desert, worm, eclipse, dog, sysyphus, julia, scarecrow, sun, overdrive, vizier, matilda, eiderdown, babe, pillow, funkydung, atom, fore, shout, breast, domine, swan, charade, grantchester, money.
Curiously, I forgot about worm and wing, which are in use, so those are out. Some of them are not candidates because I d mistype them all the time ( stethoscope , cymbaline , sysyphus , remergence , scarecrow , eiderdown , marmelade , grantchester ). Some just don t seem right ( tropez , shout , overdrive , flesh , breast , sky , jugband , eclipse , lucifer , money ) Some are not appropriate as hostname for computers ( brain , heart , damage , hell , lunatic , babe ). Those who suggested machine were referred to my SMTP servers greeting banner. I have to scratch fletcher and desert because of their source. I have to do the same to thunder , unfortunately. And I ought to retire pulse , although not really. Noone suggested grimble and crumble . As there are so many, and so many more, I am changing my rule to significant, enigmatic, and memorable singular nouns and names , which brings us down to:
arnold, gig, bike, moon, alan, khyber, lotus, julia, sun, vizier, matilda, atom, domine, swan, charade, grimble, crumble.
Given that list, I think I will be launching gig, khyber, lotus, charade, vizier, domine, and/or swan in the near future. Or if it s a pair, it ll be grimble and crumble. Thanks all, this was fun. PS: you may use the same naming scheme for your hosts, but you take full responsibility in case you and I ever have to fuse networks in any way. NP: Riverside: Out of Myself

28 June 2008

Martin Michlmayr: Debian support for HP mv2120: putting everything together

I managed to get my hands on a HP Media Vault mv2120, a nice ARM based NAS device, a few months ago with the intentions of porting Debian to it. Unfortunately, I have been really busy lately and most of my time was spent on adding support for the QNAP TS-109/TS-209 and TS-409 (which required a lot of generic work to get Marvell Orion support into Debian, a new SoC used in many NAS devices, including the QNAP TS-x09 and HP mv2120). There were a number of things that had to be worked out before Debian would run on the mv2120. The good news is that Marc Singer and Eugene San have done all of the heavy lifting in the last few weeks in figuring out how the mv2120 works and that now it's just a matter of putting everything together for Debian to work. Here are the issues that had to be worked out: Now that these two issues are resolved, I simply need to put everything together and add support for the mv2120 to a number of debian-installer components. We already have Orion kernel images in unstable that support the HP mv2120 (along with a number of other Orion based NAS devices) and the rest shouldn't take too long.

13 December 2007

Gunnar Wolf: Supertheory of supereverything

First time I had read the Bible
It had stroke me as unwitty
I think it may started rumor
That the Lord ain't got no humor Put me inside SSC
Let's test superstring theory
Oh yoi yoi accelerate the protons
stir it twice and then just add me, 'cause I don't read the Bible
I don't trust disciple
Even if they're made of marble
Or Canal Street bling From the maelstrom of the knowledge
Into the labyrinth of doubt
Frozed underground ocean
melting - nuking on my mind Yes give me Everything Theory
Without Nazi uniformity
My brothers are protons
My sisters are neurons
Stir it twice, it's instant family! I don't read the Bible
I don't trust disciple
Even if they're made of marble
Or Canal Street bling My brothers are protons
My sisters are neurons
Stir it twice dlja prekrastnih dam... Do you have sex maniacs
Or schizophrenics
Or astrophysicists in your family
Was my grandma anti anti
Was my grandpa bounty bounty
They ask me in embassy! 'Cause I don't read the Bible
I don't trust disciple
Even if they're made of marble
Or Canal Street bling And my grandma she was anti!
And my grandpa he was bounty!
And stir it twice
And then just add me!
now afterparty...
That's the Supertheory of Supereverything, by the gypsy-punk Gogol Bordello. I was really surprised to find their Super Taranta! at a local music shop. Of course, five minutes later, we were heading home with our shiny and oh-so-very-green purchase. Highly recommendable!BTW, does anybody else think that Eugene Hutz is Larry Wall's evil twin? (No, and I don't only mean it because of their choices in background colors)

13 October 2007

Biella Coleman: On Networks and Experimental Writing

One of my dissertation thesis advisors, Christopher Kelty, is teaching a superb looking course at Harvard this fall on networks. The only thing I would add to that syllabus right now is a book by a department colleague, Alexander Galloway, who just published a book with Eugene Thacker The Exploit. And while I have not read more than a chapter, what I like about it is its experimental style. They open this book with the following orientation:
It is our intention in this book to avoid the limits of academic writing in favor of a more experimental, speculative approach. To that end, we adopt a two-tier format. Throughout Part I, “Nodes,” you will find a number of condensed, italicized header that are glued together with more standard prose. For quick immersion, we suggest skikking Part I by reading the italicized sections only…. In this sense, we hope you will experience the book not as the step-by-step propositional evolution of a complete theory but as a series of marginal claims, disconnected in a living environment of many thoughts, distributed across as many pages.
The good thing is while the form is experimental, at the sentence level, things are quite clear. I have often had the experience of reading experimental work whose content was the experiment but not the form, and basically I did not understand a thing. In this case, it is the form that achieves their desire to explore and present their marginal claims. Annemarie Mol in The Body Multiple also uses a two-tiered experimental approach that is just fantastic, especially since her writing is especially accessible.

18 August 2007

David Welton: Business Friendly

Growing up in Eugene, Oregon, which like Berkeley or Boulder could have the label "People's Republic of" applied to it, I always thought of "business friendly", as something along the lines of helping huge corporations avoid laws against pollution, or other antisocial behavior. Only after moving to Europe did I begin to get an idea of what the very positive side of "business friendly" is in the US. Truth be told, all countries tend to protect their 'big players' to some degree, be it the US propping up creaking airlines after September 11th, Italy finding various clever ways to get around rules about funding Fiat and Alitalia, or France finding it in their 'national interests' to discourage a potential bid for Danone (yogurt!) by PepsiCo. Some are better or worse (the UK has been pretty good about not interfering), but there is a tendency to want to intervene. Leaving be the discussion over whether those sorts of policies are good, bad, or ugly, the biggest difference between continental Europe and the US is the ease with which new companies - 'startups' can be created and enter a market. As a first hand example, I decided this summer to create DedaSys as a real company in order to better separate my business and personal financial dealings. Were I to do that in Italy or Austria, we would be talking about fees upwards of 3000 Euros (about 4000 dollars at market rates), which is a great deal of money for something that is not making a lot of it at this point in time. Contrast this with what it took to create a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in Oregon, my home state. To have things done up professionally, it's certainly possible to lay down a bit of cash there too, but by trading my time for money, and with the assistance of some books about the creation and maintenance of an LLC, I was able to register DedaSys with the state of Oregon for the grand total of 55 dollars, and was actually able to complete the process remotely from Austria prior to going home on vacation, where I did the only thing I needed to do in person: open a bank account. So it costs 1% of what it costs in Italy or Austria to open a company that provides limited liability... a very impressive difference, especially to a small, new company that does not have the connections a Ford or a Fiat will likely have to enable it to deal with all the other paperwork, rules, and regulations to deal with. Add to that a culture of greater risk taking (meaning also more acceptance of failure), better funding opportunities, and... one comes to the conclusion that Paul Graham is right. It's a pity, because the people in Europe are top notch. In Italy alone, I know a bunch of really bright hackers. Granted, some of them aren't interested, and are probably better off not starting a company or otherwise dealing with the business side of the equation, but it's always nice to have that opportunity. In closing, here is another example of bureaucracy in action, from my personal on line journal about life in Italy, and now Austria, which I recently revamped by moving it to the Typo platform: Confronting the bureaucratic beast - registering an Italian domain Two months to accomplish what can be done in ten minutes with a .com!

29 May 2007

Evan Prodromou: 8 Prairial CCXV

So, I forgot to mention that I had a great evening last Thursday. In the afternoon, Niko and I met with Marie-Claude Doyon to talk about a new project we're working on. I think it's going to be pretty fun. That evening, I met up with Eugene Eric Kim and Seb Paquet at La ka, which was really great. I brought Niko along because we were having fun and thought it would be good to take a walk along av. Mont-Royal. It was great hanging out with EEK and Seb. There's something about talking to people who are as deep into wiki as I am that's really satisfying. It happens too seldom in my life -- just around conferences, really. Eugene got a shot of the four of us together. tags:

Gymnophobia sounds a lot like "I'm never nude". I'm just saying. tags:

26 May 2007

David Welton: Airlines and rand()

Ilenia and I are looking for tickets to go "home" (Eugene, Oregon) this summer. We've had pretty good luck with Lufthansa in the past (as opposed to Air France, which lost a huge bag of my stuff), so we turned to them first to look for flights. I like the page they have for prices/dates, which gives you a nice way to look around for a better price without stabbing randomly at dates: Big long Lufthansa URL However, the maddening thing is that the prices change frequently. Not every day, but often after even 5 minutes! They bounce around up to 100 euro at a time. I understand the theory behind price descrimination, but this is the classic case where the customer ends up feeling like they're being made fun of and goes elsewhere. United, in our case, which offers a cheaper price for the same plane (they're Lufthansa's partner and thus share flights).

8 September 2006

Evan Prodromou: 22 Fructidor CCXIV

One of the interesting topics that came up during this last summer at various conferences -- dare I call it the Summer of Wiki? -- was the idea that experienced wiki community members need to share our cultural values and community-building experience with new wiki sites and developers. Christoph Sauer coined a term for this effort: Wiki Ohana, based on the Hawaiian concept of wp:ohana, or extended family. I was glad to see that the tireless Mark Dilley has started a new wiki at to organize the Ohana effort. I plan on taking some time to work on this site; I think it's going to be crucial for riding the publicity wave that wiki is on right now. tags:

Wikitorial triumphant Last summer, the Los Angeles Times tried an extremely interesting experiment in creating a wikitorial, or wiki-based editorial. The experiment was a notorious disaster: due to excessive abuse and fighting, the Times cancelled the experiment before publishing the results. The entire experience stained wiki's reputation for an entire year. Fast forward to 2006: oh, how times have changed. Ryan Singel of W I R E D magazine put up a 1000-word article about wikis on a wiki at SocialText. He invited the general public to edit the article. The result, which is a reasonably cohesive article on wikis, was published in wired under the title Veni, Vidi, Wiki. It's not the best article in the entire world on wiki, but it's not half bad. Some people have been down on the project -- mostly wiki businesses who felt they didn't get prominent enough coverage -- but I think that the bar was set so low by the LA Times that it's hard not to call getting to publication a success. Looking back, what were the possible factors that made the WIRED article work when the LA Times one didn't?
  • Point of view. The LA Times article was an editorial, while the WIRED article was ostensibly a news story. Editorials are intrinsically opinion-oriented. Wiki can work for expressing personal opinions, but it's not easy, and the result usually isn't a very good read. It's much better as a means for expressing agreed-upon consensus information.
  • Topic. The LA Times decided to use the extremely divisive issue of the war in Iraq as the subject of its editorial. How they expected to have a collaborative editing success with this topic is hard to understand. By concentrating on the wiki method itself, on the other hand, the WIRED article covered a much cooler topic that lent itself better to dispassionate discussion and consensus.
  • Shared goals. The Times tried to reach out to a mass-market audience that was extremely passionate and divided on the topic at hand. The discussion of the Iraq war had already largely degenerated to name-calling and demonization at that point; the people who were participating had more to gain from keeping the other side from getting a say than from getting their own opinion across. For the WIRED article, the audience was experienced wiki community members -- people who know and understand the technology and culture. They had a shared goal with WIRED and with each other -- to spread the word about wiki in a way that's easy to understand. Although Angela Beesley's point and Mike Cannon-Brookes's article correctly note that the increasing commercial interest in wikis did bring some baggage along, I think there was some common ground that participants could reach.
  • Organizational commitment. This, I think, was the key success factor. The LA Times posted their wikitorial as an experiment -- they dipped their toe in the water and pulled back as soon as the going got tough. As far as I know, they had no community management or leadership, and no seasoned wiki community members participating. On the other hand, Ryan Singel's article was hosted on SocialText, and SocialText has made a good business out of teaching companies and organizations the Wiki Way. They've got some of the best wiki minds around on their payroll, and it shows in their ability to manage a wiki project.
Although I think that these experiments are interesting, I don't think they make a very good measurement of whether wiki can work. Obviously, we have thousands of examples that wiki works (see WikiIndex if you need more convincing). I think that people's engagement with a wiki is proportional to their belief in the importance of their own work. If wikis are relegated to a tiny part of a Web site or publication, participants pick up on this de-emphasis and don't put much effort into the project; it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. I think that to be healthy, a wiki needs to be a major part of its parent project, if not the whole thing. That's why, I guess, WikiNews is going to continue to be more relevant and important than one-off wiki article stunts. tags:

Hyperscope I'm psyched to see that Hyperscope has achieved its 1.0 milestone. Hyperscope is the extension of wp:Doug Engelbart's ideas about hypertext and human intelligence augmentation into the technologies of today's World Wide Web. Eugene Eric Kim has been working hard on the project and gave a great demo of the tool at Wikisym in August. Congratulations to EEK and the entire Hyperscope team! tags:

26 August 2006

Evan Prodromou: 9 Fructidor CCXIV

We're still in wt:Copenhagen today, but we head out this afternoon for our tour of the Baltic Sea. We've had a great time in the city so far, mostly due to staying with longtime Wikitraveller wt:User:Elgaard, who generously offered us the extra room in his apartment for the time we're here. There's something about staying in an actual human being's home while you're travelling to really recharge the batteries. After a week in hotels and restaurants, a little time in a real house can make you feel a lot more human. We took our time getting to Copenhagen from wt:Odense at the end of the Wikisym conference, mostly because I was really hung over. I'd spent the last night of the event drinking at the Irish pub in the pedestrian area, and I probably had 1-5 pints too many. Paul Yount calls Irish pubs "the first Open Source franchise", and it's true: you can expect certain things at a pub no matter where it is in the world. Although we started out with about 30 people, the crowd thinned through the night. I had a good time talking with Brion Vibber and Chuck Smith about the state of Esperanto-language wikis on the Web -- in a mish-mash of English and Esperanto, of course. (In case you were wondering: the state is "fine".) I also chatted Wikimedia Foundation politics with Angela Beesley; we both think Erik Moeller is going to make a good addition to the WMF board. After the pub shut down, I headed to the deathly silent casino in the sub-basement of the Radisson of Odense. The bar was eerily silent, and the gaming tables were intense and serious; I don't think people could have been more somber if they were organ harvesters gambling for body parts. The last hangers-on were Andrea Forte of Georgia Tech, Alex Schroeder of CommunityWiki, Sunir Shah of MeatballWiki, and Eugene Eric Kim, of Blue Oxen and HyperCore. In other words, some of the smartest people in the wiki world today -- we talked wiki politics and theory until the wee hours of the morning. They all switched to mineral water while I was still slugging down pints of Carlsberg Special, which is probably where I went wrong. Wikisym, for me, was one of the best conferences I've been to this year, and I've been to a lot. It capped off a long summer of conference-going, and this fall should be relatively tranquil. Which is great: I have a lot of work to do, based on the ideas I've picked up this season. tags:

sterbro All of which is to say that I was feeling pretty crufty the next morning as we got on the train. Kindly Maj got us a late checkout and let me sleep in late, which helped a lot; a falafel sandwich around 11AM also cleared my head a bit. The train ride from Odense to Copenhagen was great, and by the time we got to Niels Elgaard Larsen's house in sterbro (a neighborhood of Copenhagen) I was pretty refreshed. Niels took us out to an early dinner at a restaurant called Pixie in a square by his house. Copenhagen has some pretty strict traffic laws, and the number of cars on the street is possibly the least I've ever seen for a major metropolis, leaving a lot of room for sidewalks, bike paths, and open parks and plazas. We got to chat with Niels over a fresh pasta dinner, and thence home to his house for beers and more talk. One great thing about visiting Wikitravellers is that they tend to be a) very smart, b) well-travelled, and c) interested in Free Software and Free Culture. Niels is no exception; he's active in the Danish and European Free Software and information freedom communities, and he's extremely interesting to talk to on the subject. We shared travel stories and talked about Open Source and Open Content later than I would have thought, based on my earlier-morning hangover. Probably the high point of the evening, for me, was when Niels shared a brilliant idea for a way to distribute Wikitravel guides in digital form for a very wide array of users. We've had a hard time settling on a mobile document format for Wikitravel guides, since mobile devices like PDAs and cell phones support standards so poorly. It's one of the most requested features for Wikitravel, but it's going to take a huge amount of work to cover even a fraction of the mobile device owner community. Except Niels had a genius idea for how to distribute guides in a simple, standard format that works on a mobile digital device many if not most travellers carry with them every time they travel. The idea: make guides that are downloadable JPEG images which can be copied to a SD card or Compact Flash or Memory stick or whatever, then stuck into a digital camera. If the camera supports zooming on images, and has a decent screen for review, the guides might be useful and readable. I'm going to try to do some experiments with the idea -- I think it could be a real winner. Adding 30-40 images to a camera today is pretty cheap, and if they're just text I think some aggressive compression can work well. tag:

Copenhagen on foot Yesterday we did a big tour of the city on our own. In the morning, we had some breakfast at the Laundromat Cafe right next door to Niels's house, and I took the opportunity to clean a week's worth of dirty laundry. Nothing like a stack of clean clothes to make you feel more like a decent citizen. I was down to a bathing suit and the ICANNWiki t-shirt Ray King gave me at Wikisym. Then we headed out on the town to do some sight-seeing. First we hit the Kastellet, a fortress in northeast Copenhagen that's the oldest operational military base in Europe. It's got the distinctive star-shaped outline typical of old fortifications, and is surrounded by a lovely park with ducks and swans. We had lunch at a nearby caf , with large beers. (Gee, I'm getting worried about the pattern here.) After lunch we made an unscheduled stop at den lille havfrue -- the famous Litle Mermaid statue in the harbour. It was miniscule and surrounded by perhaps 100 onlookers, crammed into a tiny swatch of sidewalk. We stopped about half a mile away, took some pictures of the crowd, and moved on. We then hoofed it down through the harbour and across Nyhavn and a bridge to Christianhavn and Christiania. We'd both heard about the city-within-a-city run on anarchist principles -- kind of like a giant squat -- but neither of us had been there before. It was an interesting place -- packed with people, lots of food cooking a beer-drinking, caf s and restaurants all over the place, interspersed with art installations and little gardens. But it had the unkempt scumminess of a big squat, too -- especially on the main drag -- and there were a few too many pitbulls and gutterpunks for my tastes. Overall a good experience but I don't know if I'll go back. After our long walk we took the metro back to Niels's, where we napped until he and wife Chiquita got home. Chiquita is an investment banker from wt:Toronto who does a lot of business in Europe, where she met Niels a few years ago. They were married last year and have had a long-distance relationship -- visiting each other a week or so out of each month -- for the whole time. She's moving here this year, which I think will be nice for both of them. We had a good dinner at a place called Thomas's -- a buffet, which seems to be very popular here -- and then back home for a nightcap and bed. Amita June was overtired by the time we got her to bed, and she let us know that we'd pushed her too hard with a quarter-hour of heavy crying. But we all got to sleep pretty well afterwards, and at least the parents know that we should take it easy in the future. tags:

23 August 2006

Evan Prodromou: 6 Fructidor CCXIV

Argh... trying to get caught up on this journal in the wee hours of the morning here in wt:Odense. I've had pretty bad jet lag this trip -- I've never been particularly good with time changes, and the North-America-to-Europe switcheroo really throws me off. So by 2PM I'm falling down on my feet, but at 4AM I'm rarin' to go. Odense has been a particularly nice place to visit. We got into wt:Copenhagen a few days ago, and crashed at the Airport Hilton there. It's actually attached to the airport -- you can just walk right in. Maj got a good deal on a room, and we figured it would make sense to sleep with the baby right there, rather than fight the train system to find another hotel in the city centre. After a free brunch including many different kinds of pickled fish, and a looong nap, we took the train into the Central Station in Copenhagen, right by Tivoli Gardens. There were lines around the block for the amusement park, but we skirted them and headed into the pedestrian area near City Hall. Based on a recommendation in Wikitravel, we went to the line of caf s and restaurants off of Nyhavn, a sliver of water poking into the heart of the town. It was a great walk, and we had a casual sidewalk dinner at a place called Carl's Corner. The canal was lined with boats that had been converted to restaurants -- we may try one when we go back to Copenhagen this week. tags:

Wikisym The next morning I got up at dawn and got on a train to Odense for Wikisym. I missed my connection at the Central Station, and all the trains were running late, so I got real confused about where to go. The fact that I was carrying all of our luggage didn't help matters. But a few false starts later, I managed to get myself oriented and on my way. The train ride was beautiful -- wt:Denmark is a very pretty country, with rolling grassy hills and clusters of small, peak-rooved houses by the tracks. The trip from Copenhagen to Odense takes you from wt:Zealand to wt:Funen, across a long rail bridge. Very impressive. Once I'd landed in Odense and got myself organized, I slipped into the back of the room for Wikisym to catch the last few minutes of Angela Beesley's keynote address. Angela might be the hardest-working person in Wikidom -- she's a tireless community organizer not only for the Wikimedia Foundation sites like Wikipedia but also for Wikia's sites. After her talk, we did an wp:Open Space session, which continued throughout the day, interlaced with the academic presentations. I'm getting to be a big fan of Open Space; it was really effective for RecentChangesCamp, and I think it works well for organizing a conference. Ted Ernst led the sessions, with the help of Gerard Muller of the Danish Open Space Institute. Probably the most productive Open Space session for me was the one about non-text wikis -- using wiki techniques for video, audio, image and visual language editing. I'm fascinated by this stuff, and it's great to hear that some people are working with SVG and SMIL to do in-browser multimedia editing. The consensus is that the technologies Aren't There Yet but are around the corner. The other major thing I think I picked up from this session was Eugene Eric Kim's discussion of Wiki Ohana. Ohana is the Hawaiian word for family; the Wiki Ohana is a project to develop some interoperability and a transmission of our Wiki principles to new members of the family. I think it's a great idea and I'm going to try to get involved further. tags:

Odense We had a great walk around Odense's core pedestrian area. It's not exceptional for Northern European towns -- it reminds me of the Netherlands, and Maj of Switzerland -- but the car-free cobble-stone walking areas are a real relief after years in North America. We have some pedestrian areas in Montreal, of course, but not in the same way. Odense is the childhood home of wp:Hans Christian Anderson, and the city is decorated with statues of HCA, and of characters from his stories (the Tin Soldier, Thumbelina, etc.) It gives a kind of fairy-tale air to the town. I'm not sure they should feel so proud of being Anderson's childhood home, though -- from everything I've read, his childhood was nightmarishly cruel, and his abysmally poor family was harshly treated by the society here. But, of course, that's in the past. Now, we had a real nice time walking around. Amita June likes tottering along on the cobblestones, and shouting really loud in the small streets to hear the echos. We ended up having dinner in a place called the Cuckoo Caf -- great food under a spreading tree in a little square. This morning -- no, yesterday morning -- Maj got up and took the first sessions, and Amita June and I slept in. We went off into town again to find a bakery, and shared a chunk of brunsviger, a sugary pastry that will probably rot out her tiny teeth. I had a cup of tea, which was less than satisfying. I've been trying to cut caffeine out of my life, so we've been having decaf at home, but they don't seem to serve it in caf s here. I'm a creature of habit, and I like the taste of coffee even if it doesn't have the caffeine oomph. tags:

CAPS LOCK SUCKS In response to Lars's defense of CAPS LOCK: Lars, you ignorant slut. Caps lock has been the bane of online culture since the invention of mixed case in the late 1960s. It is a hallmark of clueless newbie-ism for people who are too analphabetic to remember the exceedingly simple English capitalization rules. The only legitimate purpose for CAPS LOCK is for doing C macros and defines, but hey, who writes in C any more? Anyways, that's just lazy programming. A real programmer would write a macro to capitalize the names of other macros where used. That's just good programming practice. Another important point is that CAPS LOCK is Eurocentric and imperialistic. What value does CAPS LOCK have for someone writing in Eritrean, Malayalam or Ojibwa? None at all. Yet dead white males like Lars Wirzenius want to force their CAPS LOCK cultural hegemony on an increasingly global culture. For shame. The worst thing about CAPS LOCK is that it squats in the middle of the most important letters on the keyboard, like a rat trap waiting to spring. Big and ugly, it always catches your left pinky when you're reaching for Ctl or Shift or Tab or A or whatever. Key-chording is here to stay, and CAPS LOCK not only ignores this important UI development but actively interferes with it. Modal interfaces are rightfully extinct, and CAPS LOCK needs to go the way of the dinosaur. It's time to eliminate this obsolete key once and for all. (This message brought to you by The Taxpayers Against Caps Lock Coalition. I, Evan Prodromou, endorse this message.) tags: