Search Results: "faw"

7 December 2016

Shirish Agarwal: Day trip in Cape Town, part 2

Debconf16 logo The post continues from the last post shared. Let me get some interesting tit-bits not related to the day-trip out-of-the-way first I don t know whether we had full access to see all parts of fuller hall or not. Couple of days I was wondering around Fuller Hall, specifically next to where clothes were pressed. Came to know of the laundry service pretty late but still was useful. Umm next to where the ladies/gentleman pressed our clothes, there is a stairway which goes down. In fact even on the opposite side there is a stairway which goes down. I dunno if other people explored them or not. The jail inside and under UCT I was surprised and shocked to see bars in each room as well as connecting walkways etc. I felt a bit sad, confused and curious and went on to find more places like that. After a while I came up to the ground-level and enquired with some of the ladies therein. I was shocked to know that UCT some years ago (they were not specific) was a jail for people. I couldn t imagine that a place which has so much warmth (in people, not climate) could be evil in a sense. I was not able to get much information out of them about the nature of jail it was, maybe it is a dark past that nobody wants to open up, dunno. There were also two *important* aspects of UCT which Bernelle either forgot, didn t share or I just came to know via the Wikipedia page then but nothing else. 1. MeerKAT Apparently quite a bit of the technology was built-in UCT itself. This would have been interesting for geeks and wanna-be geeks like me 2. The OpenContent Initiative by UCT This would have been also something worth exploring. One more interesting thing which I saw was the French council in Cape Town from outside The French Council in cape town from outside I would urge to look at the picture in the gallery as the picture I shared doesn t really show all the details. For e.g. the typical large french windows which are the hall-mark of French architecture doesn t show its glory but if you look at 1306 2322 original picture instead of the 202 360 reproduction you will see that. You will also the insignia of the French Imperial Eagle whose history I came to know only after I looked it up on the Wikipedia page on that day. It seemed fascinating and probably would have the same pride as the State Emblem of India has for Indians with the four Asiatic Lions standing in a circle protecting each other. I also like the palm tree and the way the French Council seemed little and yet had character around all the big buildings. What also was interesting that there wasn t any scare/fear-build and we could take photos from outside unlike what I had seen and experienced in Doha, Qatar as far as photography near Western Embassies/Councils were concerned. One of the very eye-opening moments for me was also while I was researching flights from India to South Africa. While perhaps unconsciously I might have known that Middle East is close to India, in reality, it was only during the search I became aware that most places in Middle East by flight are only an hour or two away. This was shocking as there is virtually no mention of one of our neighbours when they are source of large-scale remittances every year. I mean this should have been in our history and geography books but most do not dwell on the subject. It was only during and after that I could understand Mr. Modi s interactions and trade policies with the Middle East. Another interesting bit was seeing a bar in a Sprinbok bus spingbok atlas bar in bus While admittedly it is not the best picture of the bar, I was surprised to find a bar at the back of a bus. By bar I mean a machine which can serve anything from juices to alcoholic drinks depending upon what is stocked. What was also interesting in the same bus is that the bus also had a middle entrance-and-exit. The middle door in springbok atlas This is something I hadn t seen in most Indian buses. Some of the Volvo buses have but it is rarely used (only except emergencies) . An exhaustive showcase of local buses can be seen here . I find the hand-drawn/cad depictions of all the buses by Amit Pense near to the T. Axe which can be used to break windows Emergency exit window This is also something which I have not observed in Indian inter-city buses (axe to break the window in case of accident and breakable glass which doesn t hurt anyone I presume), whether they are State-Transport or the high-end Volvo s . Either it s part of South African Roads Regulations or something that Springbok buses do for their customers. All of these queries about the different facets I wanted to ask the bus-driver and the attendant/controller but in the excitement of seeing, recording new things couldn t ask In fact one of the more interesting things I looked at and could look day and night is the variety of vehicles on display in Cape Town. In hindsight, I should have bought a couple of 128 GB MMC cards for my mobile rather than the 64 GB one. It was just plain inadequate to capture all that was new and interesting. Auditorum chair truck seen near Auditorium This truck I had seen about some 100 metres near the Auditorium on Upper Campus. The truck s design, paint was something I had never seen before. It is/was similar to casket trucks seen in movies but the way it was painted and everything made it special. What was interesting is to see the gamut of different vehicles. For instance, there were no bicycles that I saw in most places. There were mostly Japanese/Italian bikes and all sorts of trucks. If I had known before, I would definitely have bought an SD specifically to take snaps of all the different types of trucks, cars etc. that I saw therein. The adage/phrase I should stop in any one place and the whole world will pass me by seemed true on quite a few South African Roads. While the roads were on par or a shade better than India, many of those were wide roads. Seeing those, I was left imagining how the Autobahn in Germany and other high-speed Expressways would look n feel. India has also been doing that with the Pune-Mumbai Expressway and projects like Yamuna Expressway and now the extension Agra Lucknow Expressway but doing this all over India would take probably a decade or more. We have been doing it since a decade and a half. NHDP and PMGSY are two projects which are still ongoing to better the roads. We have been having issues as to should we have toll or no toll issues but that is a discussion for some other time. One of the more interesting sights I saw was the high-arched gothic-styled church from outside. This is near Longstreet as well. high arch gothic-styled church I have seen something similar in Goa, Pondicherry but not such high-arches. I did try couple of times to gain entry but one time it was closed, the other time some repairing/construction work was going on or something. I would loved to see it from inside and hopefully they would have had an organ (music) as well. I could imagine to some extent the sort of music that would have come out. Now that Goa has come in the conversation I can t help but state that Seafood enthusiasts/lover/aficionado, or/and Pescatarianism would have a ball of a time in Goa. Goa is on the Konkan coast and while I m eggie, ones who enjoy seafood really have a ball of a time in Goa. Fouthama s Festival which happens in February is particularly attractive as Goan homes are thrown open for people to come and sample their food, exchange recipes and alike. This happens around 2 weeks before the Goan Carnival and is very much a part of the mish-mashed Konkani-Bengali-Parsi-Portugese culture. I better stop here about the Goa otherwise I ll get into reminiscing mode. To put the story and event back on track from where we left of (no fiction hereon), Nicholas was in constant communication with base, i.e. UCT as well as another group who was hiking from UCT to Table Mountain. We waited for the other group to join us till 13:00 hrs. We came to know that they were lost and were trying to come up and hence would take more time. As Bernelle was with them, who was a local and she had two dogs who knew the hills quite well, it was decided to go ahead without them. We came down the same cable-car and then ventured on towards Houtbay. Houtbay has it all, a fisherman s wharf, actual boats with tough-mean looking men with tattoos working on boats puffing cigars/pipes, gaggle of sea-gulls, the whole scene. Sharing a few pictures of the way in-between. the view en-route to Houtbay western style car paint and repair shop Tajmahal Indian Restaurant, Houtbay I just now had a quick look at the restaurant and it seems they had options for veggies too. Unfortunately, the rating leaves a bit to be desired but then dunno as Indian flavoring is something that takes time to get used too. Zomato doesn t give any idea of from when a restaurant is in business and has too few reviews so not easy to know how the experience would have been. Chinese noodles and small houses Notice the pattern, the pattern of small houses I saw all the way till Houtbay and back. I do vaguely remember starting a discussion about it on the bus but don t really remember. I have seen (on TV) cities like Miami, Dubai or/and Hong Kong who have big buildings on the beach but both in Konkan as well as Houtbay there were small buildings. I guess a combination of zoning regulations, feel of community, fear of being flooded all play into beaches being the way they are. Also, this probably is good as less stress on the environment. Miamiboyz from Wikimedia Commons The above picture is taken from Wikipedia from the article Miami Beach, Florida for comparison. Audi rare car to be seen in India The Audi rare car to be seen in India. This car has been associated with Ravi Shastri when he won it in 1985. I was young but still get goosebumps remembering those days. first-glance-Houtbay-and-pier First glance of Houtbay beach and pier. Notice how clean and white the beach is. Wharf-Grill-Restaurant-from-side-and-Hop-on-Hop-off-bus You can see the wharf grill restaurant in the distance (side-view), see the back of the hop on and hop off bus (a concept which was unknown to me till then). Once I came back and explored on the web came to know this concept is prevalent in many a touristy places around the world. Umm also By sheer happenchance also captured a beautiful looking Indian female . So many things happening all at once In Hindi, we would call this picture virodabhas or contradiction . this is in afternoon, around 1430 hrs. You have the sun, the clouds, the Mountains, the x number of boats, the pier, the houses, the cars, the shops. It was all crazy and beautiful at the same time. The Biggest Contradiction is seeing the Mountain, the beach and the Sea in the same Picture. Baffled the mind. Konkan though is a bit similar there as well. You have all the three things in some places but that s a different experience altogether as ours is a more tropical weather although is one of the most romantic places in the rains. We were supposed to go on a short cruise to seal/dolphin island but as we were late (as had been waiting for the other group) didn t go and instead just loitered there. Fake-real lookout bar-restaurant IIRC the lookout bar is situated just next to Houtbay Search and Rescue. Although was curious if the Lookout tower was used in case of disappearance. lost people, boats etc. Seal in action Seal jumping over water, what a miracle ! One of the boats on which we possibly could have been on. It looked like the boat we could have been on. I clicked as I especially liked the name Calypso and Calypso . I shared the two links as the mythologies, interpretation differ a bit between Greek and Hollywood culture Debian folks and the area around Can see few Debian folks in the foreground, next to the Pole and the area around. Also can see a bit of the area around. Alone boy trying to surf I don t know anything about water sports and after sometime he came out. I was left wondering though, how safe he was in that water. While he was close to the pier and he was just paddling, there weren t big waves still felt a bit of concern. Mr. Seal - the actor and his handler While the act was not to the level we see in the movies, still for the time I hung around, I saw him showing attitude for his younger audiences, eating out of their hands, making funny sounds. Btw he farted a few times, whether that was a put-on or not can t really say but produced a few guffaws from his audience. A family feeding Mr. Seal I dunno why the birds came down for. Mr. Seal was being fed oily small fish parts, dunno if the oil was secreted by the fish themselves or whatever, it just looked oily from distance. Bird-Man-Bird Bird taking necessary sun bath typical equipment on a boat to catch fish-lot of nets boats-nets-and-ropes People working on disentangling a net There wasn t much activity on the time we went. It probably would have been different on sunrise and would be on sunset. The only activity I saw was on this boat where they were busy fixing and disentangling the lines. I came up with 5-15 different ideas for a story but rejected them as a. Probably all of them have been tried. People have been fishing since the beginning of time and modern fishing probably 200 odd years or so. I have read accounts of fishing companies in early 1800s onwards, so probably all must have been tried. b. More dangerous one, if there is a unique idea, then it becomes more dangerous as writing is an all-consuming process. Writing a blog post (bad or good) takes lots of time. I constantly read, re-read, try and improvise till I can or my patience loses out. In book you simply can t have such luxuries. hout-bay-search-and-rescue-no-parking-zone No parking/tow zone in/near the Houtbay search and rescue. Probably to take out emergency vehicles once something untoward happens. hout-bay-sea-rescue-with-stats Saved 54 lives, boats towed 154 Salut! Houtbay sea rescue. The different springbok atlas bus that we were on kraal-kraft The only small criticism is for Houtbay there wasn t a single public toilet. We had to ask favor at kraal kraft to use their toilets and there could have been accidents, it wasn t lighted well and water was spilled around. Road sign telling that we are near to UCT For us, because we were late we missed both the boat-cruise as well as some street shops selling trinkets. Other than that it was all well. We should have stayed till sunset, I am sure the view would have been breath-taking but we hadn t booked the bus till evening. Back at UCT Overall it was an interesting day as we had explored part of Table Mountain, seen the somewhat outrageously priced trinkets there as well as explored Houtbay sea-side as well.
Filed under: Miscellenous Tagged: #Audi, #Cape Town, #Cruises, #Debconf16, #French Council, #Geography, #Houtbay Sea Rescue, #Jail, #Middle East, #Springbok Atlas, #Vehicles

6 November 2016

Russ Allbery: Review: Digger

Review: Digger, by Ursula Vernon
Publisher: Sofawolf
Copyright: October 2013
ISBN: 1-936689-32-4
Format: Graphic novel
Pages: 837
As Digger opens, the eponymous wombat is digging a tunnel. She's not sure why, or where to, since she hit a bad patch of dirt. It happens sometimes, underground: pockets of cave gas and dead air that leave one confused and hallucinating. But this one was particularly bad, it's been days, she broke into a huge cave system, and she's thoroughly lost. Tripping on an ammonite while running from voices in the dark finally helps her come mostly to her senses and start tunneling up, only to break out at the feet of an enormous statue of Ganesh. A talking statue of Ganesh. Digger is a web comic that ran from 2005 to 2011. The archives are still on the web, so you can read the entire saga for free. Reviewed here is the complete omnibus edition, which collects the entire strip (previously published in six separate graphic novels containing two chapters each), a short story, a bonus story that was published in volume one, a bunch of random illustrated bits about the world background, author's notes from the web version, and all of the full-color covers of the series chapters (the rest of the work is in black and white). Publication of the omnibus was originally funded by a Kickstarter, but it's still available for regular sale. (I bought it normally via Amazon long after the Kickstarter finished.) It's a beautiful and durable printing, and I recommend it if you have the money to buy things you can read for free. This was a very long-running web comic, but Digger is a single story. It has digressions, of course, but it's a single coherent work with a beginning, middle, and end. That's one of the impressive things about it. Another is that it's a fantasy work involving gods, magic, oracles, and prophecies, but it's not about a chosen one, and it's not a coming of age story. Digger (Digger-of-Needlessly-Convoluted-Tunnels, actually, but Digger will do) is an utterly pragmatic wombat who considers magic to be in poor taste (as do all right-thinking wombats), gods to be irritating underground obstacles that require care and extra bracing, and prophecies to not be worth the time spent listening to them. It's a bit like the famous Middle Earth contrast between the concerns of the hobbits and the affairs of the broader world, if the hobbits were well aware of the broader world, able to deal with it, but just thought all the magic was tacky and irritating. Magic and gods do not, of course, go away just because one is irritated by them, and Digger eventually has to deal with quite a lot of magic and mythology while trying to figure out where home is and how to get back to it. However, she is drawn into the plot less by any grand danger to the world and more because she keeps managing to make friends with everyone, even people who hate each other. It's not really an explicit goal, but Digger is kind-hearted, sensible, tries hard to do the right thing, and doesn't believe in walking away from problems. In this world, that's a recipe for eventual alliances from everything from warrior hyenas to former pirate shrews, not to mention a warrior cult, a pair of trolls, and a very confused shadow... something. All for a wombat who would rather be digging out a good root cellar. (She does, at least, get a chance to dig out a good root cellar.) The characters are the best part, but I love everything about this story. Vernon's black and white artwork isn't as detailed as, say, Dave Sim at his best, and some of the panels (particularly mostly dark ones) seemed a bit scribbly. But it's mostly large-panel artwork with plenty of room for small touches and Easter eggs (watch for the snail, and the cave fish graffiti that I missed until it was pointed out by the author's notes), and it does the job of telling the story. Honestly, I like the black and white panels better than the color chapter covers reproduced in the back. And the plot is solid and meaty, with a satisfying ending and some fantastic detours (particularly the ghosts). I think my favorite bits, though, are the dialogue.
"Do you have any idea how long twelve thousand years is?"
"I know it's not long enough to make a good rock."
Digger is snarky in all the right ways, and sees the world in terms of tunnels, digging, and geology. Vernon is endlessly creative in how she uses that to create comebacks, sayings, analysis, and an entire culture. This is one of the best long-form comics I've read: a solid fantasy story with great characters, reliably good artwork, a coherent plot arc, wonderful dialogue, a hard-working and pragmatic protagonist (who happens to be female), and a wonderfully practical sense of morality and ethics. I'm sorry it's over. If you've not already read it, I highly recommend it. Remember tunnel 17! Rating: 9 out of 10

1 July 2016

Elena 'valhalla' Grandi: Busy/idle status indicator

Busy/idle status indicator

About one year ago, during my first, I've felt the need for some way to tell people whether I was busy on my laptop doing stuff that required concentration or just passing some time between talks etc. and available for interruptions, socialization or context switches.

One easily available method of course would have been to ping me on IRC (and then probably go on chatting on it while being in the same room, of course :) ), but I wanted to try something that allowed for less planning and worked even in places with less connectivity.

My first idea was a base laptop sticker with two statuses and then a removable one used to cover the wrong status and point to the correct one, and I still think it would be nice, but having it printed is probably going to be somewhat expensive, so I shelved the project for the time being.


Lately, however, I've been playing with hexagonal stickers and decided to design something on this topic, whith the result in the figure above, with the hacking sticker being my first choice, and the concentrating alternative probably useful while surrounded by people who may misunderstand the term hacking .

While idly looking around for sticker printing prices I realized that it didn't necessarly have to be a sticker and started to consider alternatives.

One format I'm trying is inspired by "do not disturb" door signs: I've used some laminating pouches I already had around which are slightly bigger than credit-card format (but credit-card size would also work of course ) and cut a notch so that they can be attached to the open lid of a laptop.


They seem to fit well on my laptop lid, and apart from a bad tendency to attract every bit of lint in a radius of a few meters the form factor looks good. I'll try to use them at the next conference to see if they actually work for their intended purpose.

SVG sources (and a PDF) are available on my website under the CC-BY-SA license.

15 November 2015

Manuel A. Fernandez Montecelo: Work on aptitude

Midsummer for me is also known as Noite do Lume Novo (literally New Fire Night ), one of the big calendar events of the year, marking the end of the school year and the beginning of summer. On this day, there are celebrations not very unlike the bonfires in the Guy Fawkes Night in England or Britain [1]. It is a bit different in that it is not a single event for the masses, more of a friends and neighbours thing, and that it lasts for a big chunk of the night (sometimes until morning). Perhaps for some people, or outside bigger towns or cities, Guy Fawkes Night is also celebrated in that way and that's why during the first days of November there are fireworks rocketing and cracking in the neighbourhoods all around. Like many other celebrations around the world involving bonfires, many of them also happening around the summer solstice, it is supposed to be a time of renewal of cycles, purification and keeping the evil spirits away; with rituals to that effect like jumping over the fire when the flames are not high and it is safe enough. So it was fitting that, in the middle of June (almost Midsummer in the northern hemisphere), I learnt that I was about to leave my now-previous job, which is a pretty big signal and precursor for renewal (and it might have something to do with purifying and keeping the evil away as well ;-) ). Whatever... But what does all of this have to do with aptitude or Debian, anyway? For one, it was a question of timing. While looking for a new job (and I am still at it), I had more spare time than usual. DebConf 15 @ Heidelberg was within sight, and for the first time circumstances allowed me to attend this event. It also coincided with the time when I re-gained access to commit to aptitude on the 19th of June. Which means Renewal. End of June was also the time of the announcement of the colossal GCC-5/C++11 ABI transition in Debian, that was scheduled to start on the 1st of August, just before the DebConf. Between 2 and 3 thousand source packages in Debian were affected by this transition, which a few months later is not yet finished (although the most important parts were completed by mid-end September). aptitude itself is written in C++, and depends on several libraries written in C++, like Boost, Xapian and SigC++. All of them had to be compiled with the new C++11 ABI of GCC-5, in unison and in a particular order, for aptitude to continue to work (and for minimal breakage). aptitude and some dependencies did not even compile straight away, so this transition meant that aptitude needed attention just to keep working. Having recently being awarded again with the Aptitude Hat, attending DebConf for the first time and sailing towards the Transition Maelstrom, it was a clear sign that Something Had to Be Done (to avoid the sideways looks and consequent shame at DebConf, if nothing else). Happily (or a bit unhappily for me, but let's pretend...), with the unexpected free time in my hands, I changed the plans that I had before re-gaining the Aptitude Hat (some of them involving Debian, but in other ways maybe I will post about that soon). In July I worked to fix the problems before the transition started, so aptitude would be (mostly) ready, or in the worst case broken only for a few days, while the chain of dependencies was rebuilt. But apart from the changes needed for the new GCC-5, it was decided at the last minute that Boost 1.55 would not be rebuilt with the new ABI, and that the only version with the new ABI would be 1.58 (which caused further breakage in aptitude, was added to experimental only a few days before, and was moved to unstable after the transition had started). Later, in the first days of the transition, aptitude was affected for a few days by breakage in the dependencies, due to not being compiled in sequence according to the transition levels (so with a mix of old and new ABI). With the critical intervention of Axel Beckert (abe / XTaran), things were not so bad as they could have been. He was busy testing and uploading in the critical days when I was enjoying a small holiday on my way to DebConf, with minimal internet access and communicating almost exclusively with him; and he promptly tended the complaints arriving in the Bug Tracking System and asked for rebuilds of the dependencies with the new ABI. He also brought the packaging up to shape, which had decayed a bit in the last few years. Gruesome Challenges But not all was solved yet, more storms were brewing and started to appear in the horizon, in the form of clouds of fire coming from nearby realms. The APT Deities, which had long ago spilled out their secret, inner challenge (just the initial paragraphs), were relentless. Moreover, they were present at Heidelberg in full force, in or close to their home grounds, and they were Marching Decidedly towards Victory: apt BTS Graph, 2015-11-15 In the talk @ DebConf This APT has Super Cow Powers (video available), by David Kalnischkies, they told us about the niceties of apt 1.1 (still in experimental but hopefully coming to unstable soon), and they boasted about getting the lead in our arms race (should I say bugs race?) by a few open bug reports. This act of provocation further escalated the tensions. The fierce competition which had been going on for some time gained new heights. So much so that APT Deities and our team had to sit together in the outdoor areas of the venue and have many a weissbier together, while discussing and fixing bugs. But beneath the calm on the surface, and while pretending to keep good diplomatic relations, I knew that Something Had to Be Done, again. So I could only do one thing jump over the bonfire and Keep the Evil away, be that Keep Evil bugs Away or Keep Evil APT Deities Away from winning the challenge, or both. After returning from DebConf I continued to dedicate time to the project, more than a full time job in some weeks, and this is what happened in the last few months, summarised in another graph, showing the evolution of the BTS for aptitude: aptitude BTS Graph, 2015-11-15 The numbers for apt right now (15th November 2015) are: The numbers for aptitude right now are: The Aftermath As we can see, for the time being I could keep the Evil at bay, both in terms of bugs themselves and re-gaining the lead in the bugs race the Evil APT Deities were thwarted again in their efforts. ... More seriously, as most of you suspected, the graph above is not the whole truth, so I don't want to boast too much. A big part of the reduction in the number of bugs is because of merging duplicates, closing obsolete bugs, applying translations coming from multiple contributors, or simple fixes like typos and useful suggestions needing minor changes. Many of remaining problems are comparatively more difficult or time consuming that the ones addressed so far (except perhaps avoiding the immediate breakage of the transition, that took weeks to solve), and there are many important problems still there, chief among those is aptitude offering very poor solutions to resolve conflicts. Still, even the simplest of the changes takes effort, and triaging hundreds of bugs is not fun at all and mostly a thankless effort althought there is the occasionally kind soul that thanks you for handling a decade-old bug. If being subjected to the rigours of the BTS and reading and solving hundreds of bug reports is not Purification, I don't know what it is. Apart from the triaging, there were 118 bugs closed (or pending) due to changes made in the upstream part or the packaging in the last few months, and there are many changes that are not reflected in bugs closed (like most of the changes needed due to the C++11 ABI transition, bugs and problems fixed that had no report, and general rejuvenation or improvement of some parts of the code). How long this will last, I cannot know. I hope to find a job at some point, which obviously will reduce the time available to work on this. But in the meantime, for all aptitude users: Enjoy the fixes and new features! Notes [1] ^ Some visitors of the recent mini-DebConf @ Cambridge perhaps thought that the fireworks and throngs gathered were in honour of our mighty Universal Operating System, but sadly they were not. They might be, some day. In any case, the reports say that the visitors enjoyed the fireworks.

6 November 2015

Andrew Cater: MiniDebconf Cambridge ARM, Cambridge 1020 6 November

Back here. Now a silent room - seven people on laptops in the Video Sprint rooom. A couple of low-key mutterings as various "stuff" is attempted to be ported.

Last night most folk watched the fireworks - November 5th is the celebration in UK which involves fireworks. [Obligatory Wikipedia link ]

Cambridge has a huge free public display and it was apparently well worth watching.

A side conversation on keyboards - Belgians, UK English, Germans - but most of us have US English layout in our touch typing fingers, I suspect. Changing keyboards is fun :)

I may have been talked into packaging something for Debian for the first time in a very long time :)

22 December 2014

Michael Prokop: Ten years of Grml

* On 22nd of October 2004 an event called OS04 took place in Seifenfabrik Graz/Austria and it marked the first official release of the Grml project. Grml was initially started by myself in 2003 I registered the domain on September 16, 2003 (so technically it would be 11 years already :)). It started with a boot-disk, first created by hand and then based on yard. On 4th of October 2004 we had a first presentation of grml 0.09 Codename Bughunter at Kunstlabor in Graz. I managed to talk a good friend and fellow student Martin Hecher into joining me. Soon after Michael Gebetsroither and Andreas Gredler joined and throughout the upcoming years further team members (Nico Golde, Daniel K. Gebhart, Mario Lang, Gerfried Fuchs, Matthias Kopfermann, Wolfgang Scheicher, Julius Plenz, Tobias Klauser, Marcel Wichern, Alexander Wirt, Timo Boettcher, Ulrich Dangel, Frank Terbeck, Alexander Steinb ck, Christian Hofstaedtler) and contributors (Hermann Thomas, Andreas Krennmair, Sven Guckes, Jogi Hofm ller, Moritz Augsburger, ) joined our efforts. Back in those days most efforts went into hardware detection, loading and setting up the according drivers and configurations, packaging software and fighting bugs with lots of reboots (working on our custom /linuxrc for the initrd wasn t always fun). Throughout the years virtualization became more broadly available, which is especially great for most of the testing you need to do when working on your own (meta) distribution. Once upon a time udev became available and solved most of the hardware detection issues for us. Nowadays doesn t even need a xorg.conf file anymore (at least by default). We have to acknowledge that Linux grew up over the years quite a bit (and I m wondering how we ll look back at the systemd discussions in a few years). By having Debian Developers within the team we managed to push quite some work of us back to Debian (the distribution Grml was and still is based on), years before the Debian Derivatives initiative appeared. We never stopped contributing to Debian though and we also still benefit from the Debian Derivatives initiative, like sharing issues and ideas on DebConf meetings. On 28th of May 2009 I myself became an official Debian Developer. Over the years we moved from private self-hosted infrastructure to company-sponsored systems, migrated from Subversion (brr) to Mercurial (2006) to Git (2008). Our Zsh-related work became widely known as grml-zshrc. managed to become a continuous integration/deployment/delivery home e.g. for the dpkg, fai, initramfs-tools, screen and zsh Debian packages. The underlying software for creating Debian packages in a CI/CD way became its own project known as jenkins-debian-glue in August 2011. In 2006 I started grml-debootstrap, which grew into a reliable method for installing plain Debian (nowadays even supporting installation as VM, and one of my customers does tens of deployments per day with grml-debootstrap in a fully automated fashion). So one of the biggest achievements of Grml is from my point of view that it managed to grow several active and successful sub-projects under its umbrella. Nowadays the Grml team consists of 3 Debian Developers Alexander Wirt (formorer), Evgeni Golov (Zhenech) and myself. We couldn t talk Frank Terbeck (ft) into becoming a DM/DD (yet?), but he s an active part of our Grml team nonetheless and does a terrific job with maintaining grml-zshrc as well as helping out in Debian s Zsh packaging (and being a Zsh upstream committer at the same time makes all of that even better :)). My personal conclusion for 10 years of Grml? Back in the days when I was a student Grml was my main personal pet and hobby. Grml grew into an open source project which wasn t known just in Graz/Austria, but especially throughout the German system administration scene. Since 2008 I m working self-employed and mainly working on open source stuff, so I m kind of living a dream, which I didn t even have when I started with Grml in 2003. Nowadays with running my own business and having my own family it s getting harder for me to consider it still a hobby though, instead it s more integrated and part of my business which I personally consider both good and bad at the same time (for various reasons). Thanks so much to anyone of you, who was (and possibly still is) part of the Grml journey! Let s hope for another 10 successful years! Thanks to Max Amanshauser and Christian Hofstaedtler for reading drafts of this.

24 September 2012

Felipe Augusto van de Wiel: 24 Sep 2012

A new journey ahead
Changing jobs and moving to a new country... it's just the beginning.

On September 30th, 2012 I'm moving to Menlo Park, CA, USA because back in December 2011 I accepted a job offer as a sysadmin (the name is fancier: Operations Engineer) in Silicon Valley. Since then I'm working on the required documentation, so far everything had worked out. I'm starting at the new work on October 8th, and as I'm arriving on October 1st, I'll have a week to take a look around and get to know a tiny bit of San Francisco Bay Area.

In different levels and aspects it is a big opportunity for me, and I'm confident it'll be an unique experience, not only professional, which of course involves working in a bigger company with more complex scenarios and bigger challenges, and on the personal side, I'll live abroad, be an expat.

As you may imagine, I'm working on this process for more or less 10 months, but in the last 30 days it got more intense. Quitting my jobs, organizing my stuff, cleaning part of backlog (and finding out a have a huge to-do list awaiting for me). Spending quality time with family and friends, and also saying goodbye to them. Finishing some aspects of the move (travel tickets, temporary living).

It's new, it's different! I'm super excited and I do want to change a few things to make it easier for family and friends to keep up, make it easier to follow the news, which might help with the distance.
And now for something completely different! See you all pretty soon! :-)

15 April 2012

Richard Hartmann: All aboard the Choo Choo train!

All aboard the Choo Choo train! As some of you know, we are planning our trip on the Trans-Siberian (well, Trans-Mongolian to be exact) railway, at the moment. Given the wall of text my post about Svalbard turned out to be, I am trying to split early and often. The plan Our three-week itinerary is pretty much fixed, by now: Visa issues Not wanting to just book any random package with any random travel agent, we are picking and mixing our own, as usual. Given visa requirements, language barriers and things that are plain weird, it's been an interesting ride before we even pack our bags a month or two from now. Being European, visas are something that do not concern us a lot, normally. I am starting to realize how incredibly lucky we are... barring India, we never needed to do much to be allowed to enter any foreign country. Not so on this trip... While Mongolia has rather lax, or let's just say reasonable, terms, China and Russia are different. To get a visa for Russia, you need: For China, you need to provide a night-to-night itinerary of hotel stays. This may be a remnant of Mao's philosophy of restricting free movement of the population within China, I don't know. On the plus side, they don't require an invitation, health insurance or means of industrial espionage. With processing times ranging from one to four weeks per visa, you will wait one to two months until your passports are back with you and properly visa'ed by everyone. Tickets, please Purchasing tickets in advance, but not through a travel agent, is turning out to be rather complicated. As you can not book train tickets with RZD, the Russian rail company, more than 45 days in advance, you end up with nice circular dependencies. We could pay a premium for faster processing of our visas and buy via travel agencies which sell train tickets from their special contingents, but that's kinda boring, innit? Also, offers Russian order forms, only. With the help of Google translate, ##russian on, and a lot of guess-work, we were able to hammer out the connections from Moscow to Novosibirsk and from there on to Irkutsk. Yet, it's quite a different experience not to not be able to fall back to English. No matter where we went in the past, English was the lingua franca, at least to some extent. That's not the case in any of our three intended destinations so those phrase books will get used a lot, I suspect... We are still not sure if the 4-people cabins in second class have a door, let alone one that can be locked, but we decided that this is not too much of an issue. Generally speaking, people are nice and there are train attendants so crime should not be an issue. And even if things do disappear, as long as we stay healthy and I still have one of my several copies of all photos I will take, I will be reasonably happy. As to getting from Irkutsk to Ulan Bator... even a Russian travel agent we contacted claimed you can only purchase tickets on site, not online. From Ulan Bator to Beijing, it's a different booking system. And from Beijing to Shanghai, it's yet another one. This is the most fragmented booking process we ever went through. Other than a few moments of stress and frustration, the hunting for information, cross-referencing and having the occasional eureka moment is tons of fun, though; no complaints here. When in Rome... According to Lonely Planet, the Trans-Siberian is more or less one large picnic where everyone shares whatever they have with them with everyone else. I poked a few Russians about what typically German food they like and they came up with Frankfurters, mustard, and beer. Guess that's what we will be stuffing our backpack with once everything else is packed. And snuff; apparently it's common courtesy to offer your snuff to other men you meet in Mongolia and then snuff from their bottle. When in Rome... German snuff tends to be mixed with menthol, I suspect that will raise some eyebrows ;) No idea if there is any non-obvious social grease to bring to China; still working on that. Initially, we wanted to tour Mongolia's main attractions, but we would either have to sit in a car for days on end or go by plane. Driving for days in between a solid week(!) spent on trains is not very appealing and neither is breaking our personal ground travel record by cheating flying. Thus, we decided to take the eco-tourism route: After a two-hour orientation course in Mongolian behaviour and manners, we will travel a few hundred kilometers by public bus, be picked up by a local, driven out into the outback and ride from ger to ger by camel and horse before returning to Ulan Bator by bus. The stays at the gers are immersive, if short; we will live with the families, help them do their daily chores, and visit local places of interest in between. Oddly enough, I am looking to forward to the bus ride even more than to the gers. At the gers, at least one person is able to speak basic English. Not so with the local bus. People on the various trains will be used to strangers, as are the families at the gers. People on the bus are, most likely, not. Communicating with hand, foot, phrasebook, and a smile will, hopefully, be a lasting experience. If time permits, we will try to visit borrowers while in Ulan Bator; this is something we never had a chance to do before and it's been on the bucket list for some time, now. As an aside, the local agent in Mongolia asked us if our sleeping bags are rated down to -26 degrees Celsius. I do hope he was joking... On the privileges of living in a first-world country... Travelling by horse means travelling light. Not a problem for us as we pack light by default and still manage to bring everything from Swiss Tool to water bottles, zip ties, medkit, and everything in between. Still, there's one major thing I have been taking for granted all my life: electricity. Being without any source of power for four to five days is... challenging. Even more so as every single gadget I rely on uses a different type of battery. Flashlight: CR123A and AA; GPS: Ni-MH AA rechargeables and Lithium AAA primaries respectively; Laptop, cameras, cell phone, ebook reader, Nintendo DS and MP3 player: proprietary. I am starting to truly understand why NATO has a hard rule of allowing AA-powered devices, only; planning spares is a pain. Obviously, I am focusing on flashlights, GPS, and, above all, cameras. Battery grips with AA adapters to the rescue! Another even more unsettling realization came when I asked if it would be possible to have boodog (vegetarians/vegans: don't click). Mongolians do not usually prepare boodog in spring as the animals which survived the harsh winter need to fatten and breed before being killed for food. All my life, I have never even once considered the remote possibility of not being able to slaughter domesticated animals due to outside constraints. Mongolian nomads need their animals. This is not about wanting to do things one way or another; this is about survival. Quite fascinating, and humbling, to think about. I am incredibly privileged and, as you are reading this, so are you. An exercise for the reader If you have any information regarding: please let me know. As usual, but just a little bit more than usual, comments are appreciated.

7 February 2012

MJ Ray: Stop ACTA Marches Map

Further to last week s blog post that mentioned this Saturday s (11 Feb) London Stop ACTA march, there s a map of anti-ACTA marches on Google s website (thanks to Martin Houston for the link). There s also been a new Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement factsheet from European Digital RIghts (EDRI), as apparently there are a lot of misconceptions about ACTA. I don t feel that has been helped by some spectacular misdirection from the European Commission in its latest 10 Myths paper (linked from the EDRI factsheet) which is almost as interesting for what it doesn t mention (like sneaking ACTA through the parliament fisheries committee), what it misunderstands (like the near-uselessness of a non-commercial exemption to Free and Open Source Software or Creative Commons users), and the way it fails to rebut the final point that ACTA was done this way to avoid the oversight of the World Trade Organisation! I mean, if they can t even get it past the usually very pro-enforcement WTO, surely that should tell you something? If you can, would you please go along and join your nearest march? Recent marchers seem to have been wearing stylised Guy Fawkes masks, but how would that be viewed in London?

19 December 2011

Felipe Augusto van de Wiel: 19 Dec 2011

29 and counting
Time flies... and very fast.

There are so many things I'd like to share and tell you about but that would make a long and boring post, so I'll divide it in future entries, so I can keep this diary alive, keep people informed and tell a little bit about my story. Eventually, I may split this diary into a technical and a non-technical blog, but for now, I will stick around mixing topics. :-) Last time I wrote was back in 2009 at DebConf9 in Spain and a lot of things happened that year. Not only for Debian, but also for me.

My last year studying Computer Science was 2009 and that same year I was working full time, I helped organizing a large event for Computer Students (ENECOMP 2009), we had some troubles and side effects with Influenza A (H1N1) in my city (Curitiba, PR) and towards the end of the year I got really sick (not from Influenza) and it took a while to know what was going, during this process I did hurt some people I really love and I'm truly sorry. The past, 2010 went on as busy and unstable as 2009, my laptop's hard disk broke twice (January and October) and I survived thanks to backup and recovery procedures. I took some wrong decisions but fixed it later and learned a lot from my mistakes, decisions and choices.

Then 2011 came, my laptop's hard disk broke again and I lost almost 6 months of emails, I find out that after the second crash in 2010 part of my backup got b0rk3d. Fine, I didn't die, everything seems to be fine, but I'm still catching up with a lot of work and backlog. At different times one of my parents also got really sick and I learned quite a bit on how to deal with it.

Due to the laptop and the different things going on in my life I didn't work for Debian as much as I want and I still feel guilty. :-( But that's fine, this is a kind of public apologize for my peers in Debian (i18n, mirrors, release), I still want to help all of you, but I still have quite a bit of backlog to clean and quite a few things to learn in the process. And in general, I'm really sorry if I didn't (or I couldn't) work for Debian as much as I want.

Although I'm taking the chance to apologize in this post, I still want to make clear that I'm quite happy. This last year was pretty good, I had the opportunity to attend DebConf again and also got to know Sarajevo and Zagreb. New lessons were learned, better work cycles, nicer solutions. Today I'm completing 29 years old. 29. This is quite some time, not a long ride, but for one reason or another, I have high hopes for 2012 and what awaits me. And I do plan to learn more, to help more and whenever possible, to contribute back.

Last time I wrote here I mentioned about my graduation and another post to talk about that, I'll write about it as soon as I get my diploma (because of different printing problems it was delayed for almost 2 years). And I do plan to write more frequently. :-)

7 October 2011

Matthew Garrett: Margaret Dayhoff

It's become kind of a clich for me to claim that the reason I'm happy working on ACPI and UEFI and similarly arcane pieces of convoluted functionality is that no matter how bad things are there's at least some form of documentation and there's a well-understood language at the heart of them. My PhD was in biology, working on fruitflies. They're a poorly documented set of layering violations which only work because of side-effects at the quantum level, and they tend to die at inconvenient times. They're made up of 165 million bases of a byte code language that's almost impossible to bootstrap[1] and which passes through an intermediate representations before it does anything useful[2]. It's an awful field to try to do rigorous work in because your attempts to impose any kind of meaningful order on what you're looking at are pretty much guaranteed to be sufficiently naive that your results bear a resemblance to reality more by accident than design.

The field of bioinformatics is a fairly young one, and because of that it's very easy to be ignorant of its history. Crick and Watson (and those other people) determined the structure of DNA. Sanger worked out how to sequence proteins and nucleic acids. Some other people made all of these things faster and better and now we have huge sequence databases that mean we can get hold of an intractable quantity of data faster than we could ever plausibly need to, and what else is there to know?

Margaret Dayhoff graduated with a PhD in quantum chemistry from Columbia, where she'd performed computational analysis of various molecules to calculate their resonance energies[3]. The next few years involved plenty of worthwhile research that aren't relevant to the story, so we'll (entirely unfairly) skip forward to the early 60s and the problem of turning a set of sequence fragments into a single sequence. Dayhoff worked on a suite of applications called "Comprotein". The original paper can be downloaded here, and it's a charming look back at a rigorous analysis of a problem that anyone in the field would take for granted these days. Modern fragment assembly involves taking millions of DNA sequence reads and assembling them into an entire genome. In 1960, we were still at the point where it was only just getting impractical to do everything by hand.

This single piece of software was arguably the birth of modern bioinformatics, the creation of a computational method for taking sequence data and turning it into something more useful. But Dayhoff didn't stop there. The 60s brought a growing realisation that small sequence differences between the same protein in related species could give insight into their evolutionary past. In 1965 Dayhoff released the first edition of the Atlas of Protein Sequence and Structure, containing all 65 protein sequences that had been determined by then. Around the same time she developed computational methods for analysing the evolutionary relationship of these sequences, helping produce the first computationally generated phylogenetic tree. Her single-letter representation of amino acids was born of necessity[4] but remains the standard for protein sequences. And the atlas of 65 protein sequences developed into the Protein Information Resource, a dial-up database that allowed researchers to download the sequences they were interested in. It's now part of UniProt, the world's largest protein database.

Her contributions to the field were immense. Every aspect of her work on bioinformatics is present in the modern day larger, faster and more capable, but still very much tied to the techniques and concepts she pioneered. And so it still puzzles me that I only heard of her for the first time when I went back to write the introduction to my thesis. She's remembered today in the form of the Margaret Oakley Dayhoff award for women showing high promise in biophysics, having died of a heart attack at only 57.

I don't work on fruitflies any more, and to be honest I'm not terribly upset by that. But it's still somewhat disconcerting that I spent almost 10 years working in a field so defined by one person that I knew so little about. So my contribution to Ada Lovelace day is to highlight a pivotal woman in science who heavily influenced my life without me even knowing.

[1] You think it's difficult bringing up a compiler on a new architecture? Try bringing up a fruitfly from scratch.
[2] Except for the cases where the low-level language itself is functionally significant, and the cases where the intermediate representation is functionally significant.
[3] Something that seems to have involved a lot of putting punch cards through a set of machines, getting new cards out, and repeating. I'm glad I live in the future.
[4] The three-letter representation took up too much space on punch cards

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12 September 2010

Christian Perrier: Release team...

(update: yesterday's version was using as reference, while is the one that's up-to-date. Those watching the current traffic in debian-release can probably realize the huge *thank you* deserved by the entire release team for the work they're doing. So, how about spamming the release team members with (private!) "thank you" messages when they unblock a package of yours? And (even more difficult) also one when they don't unblock your package...but spent time reviewing it and more time to explain you why they prefer not unblocking it... In any case, thank you, Neil Maulkin, Adam adsb, Dann dannf, Felipe faw, Jurij trave11er, Luk luk, Mehdi mehdi, Pierre MadCoder, Julien jcristau (doh, French Cabal!)...and Martin zobel (who's apparently forgotten on the page). Not to forget Adam adsb and Phil phil for managing stable releases....and the Wise Release Wizards (vorlon, aba, luk, HE). Hat off, guys (only guys there, yet another place for d-w to show up).

11 September 2010

Christian Perrier: Release team...

Those watching the current traffic in debian-release can probably realize the huge *thank you* deserved by the entire release team for the work they're doing. So, how about spamming the release team members with (private!) "thank you" messages when they unblock a package of yours? And (even more difficult) also one when they don't unblock your package...but spent time reviewing it and more time to explain you why they prefer not unblocking it... In any case, thank you, Neil Maulkin, Adam adsb, Dann dannf, Felipe faw, Jurij trave11er, Luk luk, Mehdi mehdi, Pierre MadCoder, Julien jcristau (doh, French Cabal!). Not to forget Adam adsb and Phil phil for managing stable releases....and the Wise Release Wizards (vorlon, aba, HE). Hat off....

31 August 2010

Gustavo Franco: Frans Pop

It feels like it was yesterday that I was talking all things d-i with Felipe (faw) and Otavio during the last International Free Software Forum and discuss d-i without mentioning Frans Pop and Joey Hess at least a couple of times is definitely not the same thing.

Otavio convinced me to help and I promptly synced with him and Daniel Baumann to deliver an alpha quality syslinux-installer udeb; that was during debconf a bit after the forum, that they've all attended and I couldn't.

I feel I can't let it pass without a post, now that we've put out a notice about our loss. RIP Frans. :/

7 January 2009

Felipe Augusto van de Wiel: 8 Jan 2009


Re: Blog rewrite upcoming
Erich, it seems that you got TONS of recommendations for different blog software, so you probably already received a recommendation for Chronicle: The Blog Compiler, it is written by Steve Kemp inspired by Joey's ikiwiki. I've been also wondering about using ikiwiki and/or chronicle. :-)

From the privacy-issues-department...
This is in my draft for a long time now...

Nico, I never understood what was so private about your page (Thanks WayBackMachine!).

PS: Happy 2009!

30 November 2008

Biella Coleman: Hacking Spaces, the Spaces of Hacking

Space and place has long been important to hackers. Whether it was/is the university lab, the workplace, the hacker con, or the particularly high-tech city, hackers congregate and meet face to face, often and everyday. One semi-new development has been the explosion and proliferation of hacker labs and spaces, such as Noisebridge located in the Mission district of San Francisco Foulab in Montreal. I recently got back from San Francisco and was able to spend a few nights at Noisebridge and was jaw droppingly impressed. The space is, well, spacious and nice (and located right by the Bart, a real +++++), but more important is that it is a thriving collective with all sorts of geeky participants and they have just souped up the space with all sorts of equipment, from the usual suspects (lots of computers) to lots of electronic gear such as oscilloscopes. What I also was impressed by was not only the blizzard of events but the open and accessible nature of the organization, which seemed to sit in some contrast to NYC’s hacker collective, NYC Resistor. Like so many organizations in this metropolis, they apparently are lacking in space to grow and the word on the streets (which I cannot confirm or deny as I have had very little contact with them but have heard this repeatedly) is that the organization has had a tough time letting in new members. Some folks are understanding of this given their space limitation, others have been less kind, and have referred to the group as a clique. There are already a few other initiatives under way to find a larger space so as to accommodate a more open, participatory atmosphere for a hacker space (sign up for the email list here but I imagine that over time the culture and developments of NYC Resistor will also change as new spaces develops and do hope that this creates the conditions for more access rather than less (and again, I know next to nothing of the situation though I suspect space plays a real limiting role as it does with nearly everything else in NYC). And thankfully Rose White, a NYC-based sociology graduate student at CUNY, is paying close attention to the rise and development of these hacker spaces. She is well underway doing her dissertation dissertation on these hack spaces and I really look forward to her work. update: The Axis of Awesome is a hacker space in L.A. and as far as I am concerned, dons the best name.

9 October 2008

Felipe Augusto van de Wiel: 10 Oct 2008

Random news

Yes, I was away... long and sad story involving health issues. :-( I'm trying to get back, hopefully everything will be fine. Let me publicly apologize to some people that was expecting some work from me and I postponed it, not because of slackness but because I was unable to do it. I'm catching up with a lot of tasks and trying to solve long standing issues, feel free to ping me to get some update on a specific matter. I am really sorry!

Do you know about the poll to choose a slogan for the release of Debian 5.0, also known as "lenny"?

No!? Shame on you! :-)

People behind Debian Art started a discussion to get opinions! After some input they prepared a poll, maybe they should try to use a doodle. Right now, The Universal Operating System is quite popular, but a lot of people did some nice suggestions, and some of them would like to see a slogan some way related to the Toy Story (tm) character Lenny:

The discussion is distributed across three lists: Debian Desktop, Debian Publicity and Debian Curiosa, I would also point to the comments made by Gustavo Noronha da Silva (here) and Andre Felipe Machado (here).

If you didn't say anything so far, please do!

15 August 2008

DebConf 8 video: I18n mini-session 1/4

Since Debconf 6, organizing a series of BOF dedicated to i18n-related topics has proven to be quite useful to all people working on i18n/l10n in the project.

Traditionnally, session 1 is an open talk/round table meant to enlighten the topics to be discussed in other meetings (as well as more informal work sessions during the conference).

Session 1 would be "opening session" as well as the first "work session"

churro: status of server

Services on churro:
(listed on

- l10n material collection: status by nekral
what does it cover (unstable/testing, po-debconf/po/?)
what is using it?

- Pootle. define admins
bubulle: explain what's currently and what's in production
D-I: direct commits to SVN. Missing projects
Debconf: interaction with debian-l10n SVN, need for tools to
grab l10n from SVN. Integrate in po2debconf?

- DDTP: grisu gives status
what about PO export/import
bubulle about PO import to Pootle and perf problems
ddtss: nekral?

- tracking robots: status by nekral

- compendia: status by bubulle

- stats and graphics: status by nekral
Organize this? (pointers on main l10n page?)
Move stats pages to churro?

Server administration and hosting: status by faw
- server admin ML: use d-l-devel?
- move to blockers?
Full event details

24 July 2008

Christian Perrier: Holidays

Tomorrow, I'll leave /home for more than 3 weeks: For people who are not tired of this, I've had the great honor of being sollicited to hold a keynote lecture at Debconf. As you'd guess, that will be about i18n in Debian. I plan it to be a kinda general thing, giving the current rough picture of how things are going (or not going). No deep technical stuff (aha, how could *I* do that anyway?), just talking with hands. From informations I have, it should be on Aug. 14th, at the beginning of the talks schedule (9:30 or so, local time...check this when the official schedule is out). Apart from that, my personal schedule for DebConf is mostly working with the i18n folks who will be there (Felipe A. van de Wiel aka "faw", Nicolas Fran ois aka "nekral") on the i18n server. Work/talk with Neil Williams about tdebs stuff and all things related to i18n and embedded stuff is also planned as well as preparing the Extremadura meeting we need to have at the end of the year.

24 June 2008

Russell Coker: Links June 2008

Paul Graham has recently published an essay titled How To Disagree [1]. One form that he didn’t mention is to claim that a disagreement is a matter of opinion. Describing a disagreement about an issue which can be proved as a matter of opinion is a commonly used method of avoiding the need to offer any facts or analysis. Sam Varghese published an article about the Debian OpenSSL issue and quoted me [2]. The Basic AI Drives [3] is an interesting papar about what might motivate an AI and how AIs might modify themselves to better achieve their goals. It also has some insights into addiction and other vulnerabilities in human motivation. It seems that BeOS [4] is not entirely dead. The Haiku OS project aims to develop an open source OS for desktop computing based on BeOS [5]. It’s not nearly usable for end-users yet, but they have vmware snapshots that can be used for development. On my Document Blog I have described how to debug POP problems with the telnet command [6]. Some users might read this and help me fix their email problems faster. I know that most users won’t be able to read this, but the number of people who can use it will surely be a lot greater than the number of people who can read the RFCs… Singularity tales is an amusing collection of short stories [7] about the Technological Singularity [8]. A summary of the banana situation [9]. Briefly describes how “banana republics” work and the fact that a new variety of the Panama disease is spreading through banana producing countries. Given the links between despotic regimes and banana production it’s surprising that no-one is trying to spread the disease faster. Maybe Panama disease could do for South America what the Boll weevil did for the south of the US [10]. Jeff Dean gives an interesting talk about the Google server architecture [11]. One thing I wonder about is whether they have experimented with increasing the chunk size over the years. It seems that the contiguous IO performance of disks has been steadily increasing while the seek performance has stayed much the same, and the dramatic increases in the amount of RAM you can get for any given amount of money over the last few years have been amazing. So it seems that now it’s possible to read larger chunks of data in the same amount of time and more easily store such large chunks in memory.