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27 May 2020

Russ Allbery: Review: Middlegame

Review: Middlegame, by Seanan McGuire
Publisher: Tor
Copyright: May 2019
ISBN: 1-250-19551-9
Format: Kindle
Pages: 528
Roger and Dodger are cuckoo children, alchemical constructs created by other alchemical constructs masquerading as humans. They are halves of the primal force of the universe, the Doctrine of Ethos (which is not what the Doctrine of Ethos is, but that is one of my lesser problems with this book), divided into language and math and kept separate to properly mature. In this case, separate means being adopted by families on opposite coasts of the United States, ignorant of each other's existence and closely monitored by agents Reed controls. None of that prevents Roger and Dodger from becoming each other's invisible friends at the age of seven, effortlessly communicating psychically even though they've never met. That could have been the start of an enjoyable story that hearkened back to an earlier age of science fiction: the secret science experiments discover that they have more power than their creators expected, form a clandestine alliance, and fight back against the people who are trying to control them. I have fond memories of Escape to Witch Mountain and would have happily read that book. Unfortunately, that isn't the story McGuire wanted to tell. The story she told involves ripping Roger and Dodger apart, breaking Dodger, and turning Roger into an abusive asshole. Whooboy, where to start. This book made me very angry, in a way that I would not have been if it didn't contain the bones of a much better novel. Four of them, to be precise: four other books that would have felt less gratuitously cruel and less apparently oblivious to just how bad Roger's behavior is. There are some things to like. One of them is that the structure of this book is clever. I can't tell you how it's clever because the structure doesn't become clear until more than halfway through and it completely changes the story in a way that would be a massive spoiler. But it's an interesting spin on an old idea, one that gave Roger and Dodger a type of agency in the story that has far-ranging implications. I enjoyed thinking about it. That leads me to another element I liked: Erin. She makes only fleeting appearances until well into the story, but I thought she competed with Dodger for being the best character of the book. The second of the better novels I saw in the bones of Middlegame was the same story told from Erin's perspective. I found myself guessing at her motives and paying close attention to hints that led to a story with a much different emotional tone. Viewing the ending of the book through her eyes instead of Roger and Dodger's puts it in a different, more complicated, and more thought-provoking light. Unfortunately, she's not McGuire's protagonist. She instead is one of the monsters of this book, which leads to my first, although not my strongest, complaint. It felt like McGuire was trying too hard to write horror, packing Middlegame with the visuals of horror movies without the underlying structure required to make them effective. I'm not a fan of horror personally, so to some extent I'm grateful that the horrific elements were ineffective, but it makes for some frustratingly bad writing. For example, one of the longest horror scenes in the book features Erin, and should be a defining moment for the character. Unfortunately, it's so heavy on visuals and so focused on what McGuire wants the reader to be thinking that it doesn't show any of the psychology underlying Erin's decisions. The camera is pointed the wrong way; all the interesting storytelling work, moral complexity, and world-building darkness is happening in the character we don't get to see. And, on top of that, McGuire overuses foreshadowing so much that it robs the scene of suspense and terror. Again, I'm partly grateful, since I don't read books for suspense and terror, but it means the scene does only a fraction of the work it could. This problem of trying too hard extends to the writing. McGuire has a bit of a tendency in all of her books to overdo the descriptions, but is usually saved by narrative momentum. Unfortunately, that's not true here, and her prose often seems overwrought. She also resorts to this style of description, which never fails to irritate me:
The thought has barely formed when a different shape looms over him, grinning widely enough to show every tooth in its head. They are even, white, and perfect, and yet he somehow can't stop himself from thinking there's something wrong with them, that they're mismatched, that this assortment of teeth was never meant to share a single jaw, a single terrible smile.
This isn't effective. This is telling the reader how they're supposed to feel about the thing you're describing, without doing the work of writing a description that makes them feel that way. (Also, you may see what I mean by overwrought.) That leads me to my next complaint: the villains. My problem is not so much with Leigh, who I thought was an adequate monster, if a bit single-note. There's some thought and depth behind her arguments with Reed, a few hints of her own motives that were more convincing for not being fully shown. The descriptions of how dangerous she is were reasonably effective. She's a good villain for this type of dark fantasy story where the world is dangerous and full of terrors (and reminded me of some of the villains from McGuire's October Daye series). Reed, though, is a storytelling train wreck. The Big Bad of the novel is the least interesting character in it. He is a stuffed tailcoat full of malicious incompetence who is only dangerous because the author proclaims him to be. It only adds insult to injury that he kills off a far more nuanced and creative villain before the novel starts, replacing her ambiguous goals with Snidely Whiplash mustache-twirling. The reader has to suffer through extended scenes focused on him as he brags, monologues, and obsesses over his eventual victory without an ounce of nuance or subtlety. Worse is the dynamic between him and Leigh, which is only one symptom of the problem with Middlegame that made me the most angry: the degree to this book oozes patriarchy. Every man in this book, including the supposed hero, orders around the women, who are forced in various ways to obey. This is the most obvious between Leigh and Reed, but it's the most toxic, if generally more subtle, between Roger and Dodger. Dodger is great. I had absolutely no trouble identifying with and rooting for her as a character. The nasty things that McGuire does to her over the course of the book (and wow does that never let up) made me like her more when she tenaciously refuses to give up. Dodger is the math component of the Doctrine of Ethos, and early in the book I thought McGuire handled that well, particularly given how difficult it is to write a preternatural genius. Towards the end of this book, her math sadly turns into a very non-mathematical magic (more on this in a moment), but her character holds all the way through. It felt like she carved her personality out of this story through sheer force of will and clung to it despite the plot. I wanted to rescue her from this novel and put her into a better book, such as the one in which her college friends (who are great; McGuire is very good at female friendships when she writes them) stage an intervention, kick a few people out of her life, and convince her to trust them. Unfortunately, Dodger is, by authorial fiat, half of a bound pair, and the other half of that pair is Roger, who is the sort of nice guy everyone likes and thinks is sweet and charming until he turns into an emotional trap door right when you need him the most and dumps you into the ocean to drown. And then somehow makes you do all the work of helping him feel better about his betrayal. The most egregious (and most patriarchal) thing Roger does in this book is late in the book and a fairly substantial spoiler, so I can't rant about that properly. But even before that, Roger keeps doing the the same damn emotional abandonment trick, and the book is heavily invested into justifying it and making excuses for him. Excuses that, I should note, are not made for Dodger; her failings are due to her mistakes and weaknesses, whereas Roger's are natural reactions to outside forces. I got very, very tired of this, and I'm upset by how little awareness the narrative voice showed for how dysfunctional and abusive this relationship is. The solution is always for Dodger to reunite with Roger; it's built into the structure of the story. I have a weakness for the soul-bound pair, in part from reading a lot of Mercedes Lackey at an impressionable age, but one of the dangerous pitfalls of the concept is that the characters then have to have an almost flawless relationship. If not, it can turn abusive very quickly, since the characters by definition cannot leave each other. It's essentially coercive, so as soon as the relationship shows a dark side, the author needs to be extremely careful. McGuire was not. There is an attempted partial patch, late in the book, for the patriarchal structure. One of the characters complains about it, and another says that the gender of the language and math pairs is random and went either way in other pairs. Given that both of the pairs that we meet in this story have the same male-dominant gender dynamic, what I took from this is that McGuire realized there was a problem but wasn't able to fix it. (I'm also reminded of David R. Henry's old line that it's never a good sign when the characters start complaining about the plot.) The structural problems are all the more frustrating because I think there were ways out of them. Roger is supposedly the embodiment of language, not that you'd be able to tell from most scenes in this novel. For reasons that I do not understand, McGuire expressed that as a love of words: lexicography, translation, and synonyms. This makes no sense to me. Those are some of the more structured and rules-based (and hence mathematical) parts of language. If Roger had instead been focused on stories collecting them, telling them, and understanding why and how they're told he would have had a clearer contrast with Dodger. More importantly, it would have solved the plot problem that McGuire solved with a nasty bit of patriarchy. So much could have been done with Dodger building a structure of math around Roger's story-based expansion of the possible, and it would have grounded Dodger's mathematics in something more interesting than symbolic magic. To me, it's such an obvious lost opportunity. I'm still upset about this book. McGuire does a lovely bit of world-building with Asphodel Baker, what little we see of her. I found the hidden alchemical war against her work by L. Frank Baum delightful, and enjoyed every excerpt from the fictional Over the Woodward Wall scattered throughout Middlegame. But a problem with inventing a fictional book to excerpt in a real novel is that the reader may decide that the fictional book sounds a lot better than the book they're reading, and start wishing they could just read that book instead. That was certainly the case for me. I'm sad that Over the Woodward Wall doesn't exist, and am mostly infuriated by Middlegame. Dodger and Erin deserved to live in a better book. Should you want to read this anyway (and I do know people who liked it), serious content warning for self-harm. Rating: 4 out of 10

24 October 2017

Reproducible builds folks: Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #130

Here's what happened in the Reproducible Builds effort between Sunday October 15 and Saturday October 21 2017: Past events Upcoming events New York University sessions A three week session will be held at New York University to work on reproducibilty issues in conjunction with the reproducible builds community. Students from the Application Security course will be working for two weeks to work on the reproducible builds effort. Packages reviewed and fixed, and bugs filed The following reproducible builds-related NMUs were accepted: Patches sent upstream: Reviews of unreproducible packages 41 package reviews have been added, 119 have been updated and 54 have been removed in this week, adding to our knowledge about identified issues. 2 issue types were removed as they were fixed: Weekly QA work During our reproducibility testing, FTBFS bugs have been detected and reported by: diffoscope development strip-nondeterminism development Version 0.039-1 was uploaded to unstable by Chris Lamb. It included contributions already covered by posts of the previous weeks, including: reprotest development Website updates Misc. This week's edition was written by Bernhard M. Wiedemann, Chris Lamb, Holger Levsen, Santiago Torres & reviewed by a bunch of Reproducible Builds folks on IRC & the mailing lists.

1 August 2017

Reproducible builds folks: Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #118

Here's what happened in the Reproducible Builds effort between Sunday July 23 and Saturday July 29 2017: Toolchain development and fixes Packages reviewed and fixed, and bugs filed Reviews of unreproducible packages 4 package reviews have been added, 2 have been updated and 24 have been removed in this week, adding to our knowledge about identified issues. Weekly QA work During our reproducibility testing, FTBFS bugs have been detected and reported by: diffoscope development Misc. This week's edition was written by Chris Lamb, Mattia Rizzolo & reviewed by a bunch of Reproducible Builds folks on IRC & the mailing lists.

3 May 2017

Reproducible builds folks: Reproducible Builds: week 105 in Stretch cycle

Here's what happened in the Reproducible Builds effort between Sunday April 23 and Saturday April 29 2017: Past and upcoming events On April 26th Chris Lamb gave a talk at foss-north 2017 in Gothenburg, Sweden on Reproducible Builds. Between May 5th-7th the Reproducible Builds Hackathon 2017 will take place in Hamburg, Germany. Then on May 26th Bernhard M. Wiedemann will give a talk titled reproducible builds in openSUSE (2017) at the openSUSE Conference 2017 in N rnberg, Germany. Media coverage Already on April 19th Sylvain Beucler wrote a yet another follow-up post Practical basics of reproducible builds 3, after part 1 and part 2 of his series. Toolchain development and fixes Michael Woerister of the Rust project has implemented file maps that affect all path-related compiler information, including "error messages, metadata, debuginfo, and the file!() macro alike". Ximin Luo with support from some other Rust developers and contributors helped steer the final result into something that was compatible with reproducible builds. Many thanks to all involved, especially for the patience of discussing this over several months. Ximin wrote a first-attempt patch to fix R build-path issues. It made 460/477 R packages reproducible, but also caused 3 of these to FTBFS. See randomness_in_r_rdb_rds_databases for details. Bugs filed and patches sent upstream Chris Lamb: Bernhard M. Wiedemann filed a number of patches upstream: Reviews of unreproducible packages 102 package reviews have been added, 64 have been updated and 24 have been removed in this week, adding to our knowledge about identified issues. 3 issue types have been updated: Weekly QA work During our reproducibility testing, FTBFS bugs have been detected and reported by: diffoscope development diffoscope 82 was uploaded to experimental by Chris Lamb. It included contributions from: Changes from previous weeks that were also released with 82: Misc. This week's edition was written by Ximin Luo, Chris Lamb and Holger Levsen & reviewed by a bunch of Reproducible Builds folks on IRC & the mailing lists.

11 April 2017

Reproducible builds folks: Reproducible Builds: week 102 in Stretch cycle

Here's what happened in the Reproducible Builds effort between Sunday April 2 and Saturday April 8 2017: Media coverage Toolchain development and fixes Reviews of unreproducible packages 27 package reviews have been added, 14 have been updated and 17 have been removed in this week, adding to our knowledge about identified issues. Weekly QA work During our reproducibility testing, FTBFS bugs have been detected and reported by: Misc. This week's edition was written by Chris Lamb, Vagrant Cascadian & reviewed by a bunch of Reproducible Builds folks on IRC & the mailing lists.

12 September 2016

Reproducible builds folks: Reproducible Builds: week 72 in Stretch cycle

What happened in the Reproducible Builds effort between Sunday September 4 and Saturday September 10 2016: Reproducible work in other projects Python 3.6's dictonary type now retains the insertion order. Thanks to themill for the report. In coreboot, Alexander Couzens committed a change to make their release archives reproducible. Patches submitted Reviews of unreproducible packages We've been adding to our knowledge about identified issues. 3 issue types have been added: 1 issue type has been updated: 16 have been have updated: 13 have been removed, not including removed packages: 100s of packages have been tagged with the more generic captures_build_path, and many with captures_kernel_version, user_hostname_manually_added_requiring_further_investigation, user_hostname_manually_added_requiring_further_investigation, captures_shell_variable_in_autofoo_script, etc. Particular thanks to Emanuel Bronshtein for his work here. Weekly QA work FTBFS bugs have been reported by: diffoscope development strip-nondeterminism development Misc. This week's edition was written by Chris Lamb and Holger Levsen and reviewed by a bunch of Reproducible Builds folks on IRC.

26 March 2016

Jonathan McDowell: Dr Stoll: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the GPL

[I wrote this as part of BelFOSS but I think it s worth posting here.] My Free Software journey starts with The Cuckoo s Egg. Back in the early 90s a family friend suggested I might enjoy reading it. He was right; I was fascinated by the world of interconnected machines it introduced me to. That helped start my involvement in FidoNet, but it also got me interested in Unix. So when I saw a Linux book at the Queen s University bookshop (sadly no longer with us) with a Slackware CD in the back I had to have it. The motivation at this point was to have a low cost version of Unix I could run on the PC hardware I already owned. I had no knowledge of the GNU Project before this point, and as I wasn t a C programmer I had no interest in looking at the source code. I spent some time futzing around with it and that partition (I was dual booting with DOS 6.22) fell into disuse. It wasn t until I d learnt some C and turned up to university, which provided me with an internet connection and others who were either already using Linux or interested in doing so, that I started running a Linux box full time. Once I was doing that I became a lot more interested in the Open Source side of the equation. Rather than running a closed operating system that even the API for wasn t properly specified (or I wouldn t have needed my copy of Undocumented DOS) I had the complete source to both the underlying OS and all the utilities that it was using. For someone doing a computer science degree this was invaluable. Minix may have been the OS discussed in the OS Design module I studied, but Linux was a much more feature complete option that I was running on my desktop and could also peer under the hood of. In my professional career I ve always welcomed the opportunities to work with Open Source. A long time ago I experienced a particularly annoying issue when writing a device driver under QNX. The documentation didn t seem to match the observed behaviour of the subsystem I was interfacing with. However due to licensing issues only a small number of people in the organisation were able to actually look at the QNX source. So I ended up wasting a much more senior engineer s time with queries like I think it s actually doing x, y and z instead of a, b and c; can you confirm? . Instances where I can look directly at the source code myself make me much more productive. Commercial development also started to make me more understanding of the Free Software nature of the code I was running. It wasn t just the ability to look at the code which was useful, but also the fact there was no need to reinvent the wheel. Need a base OS to build an appliance on? Debian ensures that the main component is Free for all usage. No need to worry about rolling your own compilers, base libraries etc. From a commercial perspective that allows you to concentrate on the actual product. And when you hit problems, the source is available and you can potentially fix it yourself or at least more easily find out if there s been a fix for that issue released (being able to see code development in version control systems rather than getting a new upstream release with a whole heap on unrelated fixes in it really helps with that). I had thus progressed from using FLOSS because it was free-as-in-beer, to appreciating the benefits of Open Source in my own learning and employment experiences, to a deeper understanding of the free-as-in-speech benefits that could be gained. However at this point I was still thinking very much from a developer mindset. Even my thoughts about how users can benefit from Free Software were in the context of businesses being able to easily switch suppliers or continue to maintain legacy software because they had the source to their systems available. One of the major factors that has helped me to see beyond this is the expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT). With desktop or server software there is by and large a choice about what to use. This is not the case with appliances. While manufacturers will often produce a few revisions of software for their devices, usually eventually there is a newer and shiny model and the old one is abandoned. This is problematic for many reasons. For example, historically TVs have been long lived devices (I had one I bought second hand that happily lasted me 7+ years). However the smart capabilities of the TV I purchased in 2012 are already of limited usefulness, and LG have moved on to their current models. I have no intention of replacing the device any time soon, so have had to accept it is largely acting as a dumb display. More serious is the lack of security updates. For a TV that doesn t require a network connection to function this is not as important, but the IoT is a trickier proposition. For example Matthew Garrett had an awful experience with some intelligent light bulbs, which effectively circumvented any home network security you might have set up. The manufacturer s defence? No longer manufactured or supported. It s cases like these that have slowly led me to a more complete understanding of the freedom that Free Software truly offers to users. It s not just about cost free/low cost software. It s not just about being able to learn from looking at the source to the programs you are running. It s not even about the freedom to be able to modify the programs that we use. It s about giving users true Freedom to use and modify their devices as they see fit. From this viewpoint it is much easier to understand the protections against Tivoization that were introduced with GPLv3, and better appreciate the argument sometimes made that the GPL offers more freedom than BSD style licenses.

10 March 2016

Lunar: Reproducible builds: week 45 in Stretch cycle

What happened in the reproducible builds effort between February 28th and March 5th:

Toolchain fixes
  • Antonio Terceiro uploaded gem2deb/0.27 that forces generated gemspecs to use the date from debian/changelog.
  • Antonio Terceiro uploaded gem2deb/0.28 that forces generated gemspecs to have their contains file lists sorted.
  • Robert Luberda uploaded ispell/3.4.00-5 which make builds of hashes reproducible.
  • C dric Boutillier uploaded ruby-ronn/0.7.3-4 which will make the output locale agnostic. Original patch by Chris Lamb.
  • Markus Koschany uploaded spring/101.0+dfsg-1. Fixed by Alexandre Detiste.
Ximin Luo resubmitted the patch adding the --clamp-mtime option to Tar on Savannah's bug tracker. Lunar rebased our experimental dpkg on top of the current master branch. Changes in the test infrastructure are required before uploading a new version to our experimental repository. Reiner Herrmann rebased our custom texlive-bin against the latest uploaded version.

Packages fixed The following 77 packages have become reproducible due to changes in their build dependencies: asciidoctor, atig, fuel-astute, jekyll, libphone-ui-shr, linkchecker, maven-plugin-testing, node-iscroll, origami-pdf, plexus-digest, pry, python-avro, python-odf, rails, ruby-actionpack-xml-parser, ruby-active-model-serializers, ruby-activerecord-session-store, ruby-api-pagination, ruby-babosa, ruby-carrierwave, ruby-classifier-reborn, ruby-compass, ruby-concurrent, ruby-configurate, ruby-crack, ruby-css-parser, ruby-cucumber-rails, ruby-delorean, ruby-encryptor, ruby-fakeweb, ruby-flexmock, ruby-fog-vsphere, ruby-gemojione, ruby-git, ruby-grack, ruby-htmlentities, ruby-jekyll-feed, ruby-json-schema, ruby-listen, ruby-markerb, ruby-mathml, ruby-mini-magick, ruby-net-telnet, ruby-omniauth-azure-oauth2, ruby-omniauth-saml, ruby-org, ruby-origin, ruby-prawn, ruby-pygments.rb, ruby-raemon, ruby-rails-deprecated-sanitizer, ruby-raindrops, ruby-rbpdf, ruby-rbvmomi, ruby-recaptcha, ruby-ref, ruby-responders, ruby-rjb, ruby-rspec-rails, ruby-rspec, ruby-rufus-scheduler, ruby-sass-rails, ruby-sass, ruby-sentry-raven, ruby-sequel-pg, ruby-sequel, ruby-settingslogic, ruby-shoulda-matchers, ruby-slack-notifier, ruby-symboltable, ruby-timers, ruby-zip, ticgit, tmuxinator, vagrant, wagon, yard. The following packages became reproducible after getting fixed: Some uploads fixed some reproducibility issues, but not all of them: Patches submitted which have not made their way to the archive yet:
  • #816209 on elog by Reiner Herrmann: use printf instead of echo which is shell-independent.
  • #816214 on python-pip by Reiner Herrmann: removes timestamp from generated Python scripts.
  • #816230 on rows by Reiner Herrmann: tell grep to always treat the input as text.
  • #816232 on eficas by Reiner Herrmann: use printf instead of echo which is shell-independent.
Florent Daigniere and bancfc reported that linux-grsec was currently built with GRKERNSEC_RANDSTRUCT which will prevent reproducible builds with the current packaging. pbuilder has been updated to the last version to be able to support Build-Depends-Arch and Build-Conflicts-Arch. (Mattia Rizzolo, h01ger) New package sets have been added for Subgraph OS, which is based on Debian Stretch: packages and build dependencies. (h01ger) Two new armhf build nodes have been added (thanks Vagrant Cascadian) and integrated in our Jenkins setup with 8 new armhf builder jobs. (h01ger)

strip-nondeterminism development strip-nondeterminism version 0.016-1 was released on Sunday 28th. It will now normalize the POT-Creation-Date field in GNU Gettext .mo files. (Reiner Herrmann) Several improvements to the packages metadata have also been made. (h01ger, Ben Finney)

Package reviews 185 reviews have been removed, 91 added and 33 updated in the previous week. New issue: fileorder_in_gemspec_files_list. 43 FTBFS bugs were reported by Chris Lamb, Martin Michlmayr, and gregor herrmann.

Misc. After merging the patch from Dhiru Kholia adding support for SOURCE_DATE_EPOCH in rpm, Florian Festi opened a discussion on the rpm-ecosystem mailing list about reproducible builds. On March 4th, Lunar gave an overview of the general reproducible builds effort at the Internet Freedom Festival in Valencia.

5 March 2016

Lunar: Reproducible builds: week 44 in Stretch cycle

What happened in the reproducible builds effort between February 21th and February 27th:

Toolchain fixes Didier Raboud uploaded pyppd/1.0.2-4 which makes PPD generation deterministic. Emmanuel Bourg uploaded plexus-maven-plugin/1.3.8-10 which sorts the components in the components.xml files generated by the plugin. Guillem Jover has implemented stable ordering for members of the control archives in .debs. Chris Lamb submitted another patch to improve reproducibility of files generated by cython.

Packages fixed The following packages have become reproducible due to changes in their build dependencies: dctrl-tools, debian-edu, dvdwizard, dymo-cups-drivers, ekg2, epson-inkjet-printer-escpr, expeyes, fades, foomatic-db, galternatives, gnuradio, gpodder, gutenprint icewm, invesalius, jodconverter-cli latex-mk, libiio, libimobiledevice, libmcrypt, libopendbx, lives, lttnganalyses, m2300w, microdc2, navit, po4a, ptouch-driver, pxljr, tasksel, tilda, vdr-plugin-infosatepg, xaos. The following packages became reproducible after getting fixed: Some uploads fixed some reproducibility issues, but not all of them: The reproducibly tests for Debian now vary the provider of /bin/sh between bash and dash. (Reiner Herrmann)

diffoscope development diffoscope version 50 was released on February 27th. It adds a new comparator for PostScript files, makes the directory tests pass on slower hardware, and line ordering variations in .deb md5sums files will not be hidden anymore. Version 51 uploaded the next day re-added test data missing from the previous tarball. diffoscope is looking for a new primary maintainer.

Package reviews 87 reviews have been removed, 61 added and 43 updated in the previous week. New issues: captures_shell_variable_in_autofoo_script, varying_ordering_in_data_tar_gz_or_control_tar_gz. 30 new FTBFS have been reported by Chris Lamb, Antonio Terceiro, Aaron M. Ucko, Michael Tautschnig, and Tobias Frost.

Misc. The release team reported on their discussion about the topic of rebuilding all of Stretch to make it self-contained (in respect to reproducibility). Christian Boltz is hoping someone could talk about reproducible builds at the openSUSE conference happening June 22nd-26th in N rnberg, Germany.

4 January 2016

Lunar: Reproducible builds: week 36 in Stretch cycle

What happened in the reproducible builds effort between December 27th and January 2nd: Infrastructure dak now silently accepts and discards .buildinfo files (commit 1, 2), thanks to Niels Thykier and Ansgar Burchardt. This was later confirmed as working by Mattia Rizzolo. Packages fixed The following packages have become reproducible due to changes in their build dependencies: banshee-community-extensions, javamail, mono-debugger-libs, python-avro. The following packages became reproducible after getting fixed: Some uploads fixed some reproducibility issues, but not all of them: Untested changes: The testing distribution (the upcoming stretch) is now tested on armhf. (h01ger) Four new armhf build nodes provided by Vagrant Cascandian were integrated in the infrastructer. This allowed for 9 new armhf builder jobs. (h01ger) The RPM-based build system, koji, is now in unstable and testing. (Marek Marczykowski-G recki, Ximin Luo). Package reviews 131 reviews have been removed, 71 added and 53 updated in the previous week. 58 new FTBFS reports were made by Chris Lamb and Chris West. New issues identified this week: nondeterminstic_ordering_in_gsettings_glib_enums_xml, nondeterminstic_output_in_warnings_generated_by_breathe, qt_translate_noop_nondeterminstic_ordering. Misc. Steven Chamberlain explained in length why reproducible cross-building across architectures mattered, and posted results of his tests comparing a stage1 debootstrapped chroot of linux-i386 once done from official Debian packages, the others cross-built from kfreebsd-amd64.

2 January 2016

Lunar: Reproducible builds: week 33 in Stretch cycle

What happened in the reproducible builds effort between December 6th and December 12th: Toolchain fixes Reiner Herrmann rebased our experimental version of doxygen on version Chris Lamb submitted a patch to make the manpages generated by ruby-ronn reproducible by using the locale-agnostic %Y-%m-%d for the dates. Daniel Kahn Gillmor took another shot at the issue of source path captured in DWARF symbols. A patch has been sent for review by GCC upstream to add the ability to read an environment variable with -fdebug-prefix-map. Packages fixed The following 24 packages have become reproducible due to changes in their build dependencies: gkeyfile-sharp, gprbuild, graphmonkey, gthumb, haskell-yi-language, ion, jackson-databind, jackson-dataformat-smile, jackson-dataformat-xml, jnr-ffi, libcommons-net-java, libproxy, maven-shared-utils, monodevelop-database, mydumper, ndesk-dbus, nini, notify-sharp, pixz, protozero, python-rtslib-fb, slurm-llnl, taglib-sharp, tomboy-latex. The following packages became reproducible after getting fixed: Some uploads fixed some reproducibility issues, but not all of them: These uploads might have fixed reproducibility issues but could not be tested yet: Patches submitted which have not made their way to the archive yet: Files created with diffoscope now have diffoscope in their name instead debbindiff. (h01ger) Hostnames of first and second build node are now recorded and shown in the build history. (Mattia Rizzolo) Exchanges have started with F-Droid developers to better understand what would be required to test F-Droid applications. (h01ger) A first small set of Fedora 23 packages is now also being tested while development on a new framework for testing RPMs in general has begun. A new Jenkins job has been added to set up to mock, the build system used by Fedora. Another new job takes care of testing RPMs from Fedora 23 on x86_64. So far only 151 packages from the buildsys-build group are tested (currently all unreproducible), but the plan is to build all 17,000 source packages in Fedora 23 and rawhide. The page presenting the results should also soon be improved. (h01ger, Dhiru Kholia) For Arch Linux, all 2223 packages from the extra repository will also be tested from now on. Packages in extra" are tested every four weeks, while those from core every week. Statistics are now displayed alongside the results. (h01ger) has been updated to jenkins-job-builder version 1.3.0. Many job configurations have been simplified and refactored using features of the new version. This was another milestone for the migration. (Phil Hands, h01ger) diffoscope development Chris Lamb announced an online service that runs diffoscope on user provided files. Screenshot of Improvements are welcome. The application is licensed under the AGPLv3. On diffoscope itself, most pending patches have now been merged. Expect a release soon! Most of the code implementing parallel processing has been polished. Sadly, unpacking archive is CPU-bound in most cases, so the current thread-only implementation does not offer much gain on big packages. More work is still require to also add concurrent processes. Documentation update Ximin Luo has started to write a specification for buildinfo files that could become a larger platform than the limited set of features that were thought so far for Debian .buildinfo. Package reviews 113 reviews have been removed, 111 added and 56 updated in the previous week. 42 new FTBFS bugs were opened by Chris Lamb and Niko Tyni. New issues identified this week: timestamps_in_documentation_generated_by_docbook_dbtimestamp, timestamps_in_sym_l_files_generated_by_malaga, timestamps_in_edj_files_generated_by_edje_cc. Misc. Chris Lamb presented reproducible builds at

5 January 2014

Jon Dowland: 2013 In Fiction

I read a lot this year - I'll write more about that and reflections on goodreads in another post - but most of the things I read weren't published in 2013. (I should also write a bit about my thoughts on e-readers). However, it seems I have enough to write about 2013's novels to make a round-up post worthwhile, so here we go.
The Cuckoos Calling UK cover
This year, crime author Robert Galbraith published his first novel The Cuckoo's Calling. I'd never have heard of it if Galbraith was not outed as an alias for Joanne "JK" Rowling. Clues that Rowling was working on a detective story exist as early as a Guardian preview article in 2012 for her last novel, The Casual Vacancy. Further hints, for me, that this was no first-time author were the taglines from Ian Rankin and Val McDermid on the cover, writers of a calibre I'd be surprised a new author could attract. However I don't know whether they were on the pre-unveiling cover or not. Rowling was upset be outed, having enjoyed the freedom to write without the baggage of expectation that she is subject to. I hope she's pleased: prior to her unmasking the novel was warmly received by the (admittedly relatively small) number of people who read it. And a very good novel it is too. It starts with a genre clich of a grizzled, meloncholy detective, Mr. Cormoran Strike, in an upstairs office with a neon light flickering through the window, but fleshes the story out both forwards - a client, a mysterious death - and backwards - how did Mr. Strike end up in that upstairs office - living out of it, no less? As is traditional for the genre there's a very clever twist. What I really enjoyed about Cormoran Strike was Galbraith/Rowling moving quickly from Chandler-esque everyman to a well fleshed-out, complex protagonist, intertwining the development of the character with the unfolding of the wider plot. I'm looking forward to the sequel, expected in 2014.
The Shining Girls UK cover
A second surprise favourite this year was Lauren Beukes' time-tripping crime story The Shining Girls. A monsterous murder of women somehow finds a room in Chicago that lets him travel through time (or perhaps the room finds him). He uses this facility to stalk and murder a set of Shining Girls: women who, for one reason or another, literally 'shine' in his perception of them. One such woman survives his first attack and decides to try and find out who attacked her, and why. The crimes are described in a brutal fashion which - from a distance - resemble the sometimes glorified violence for which crime fiction is sometimes criticised, but the focus of the story is very much on the victims: they are fully fleshed out characters and each death is felt by the reader as a genuine tragedy. I discovered Beukes when her earlier novel Zoo City was included in a Humble eBook bundle. On reading The Shining Girls I felt that the novel deserved to be more widely known than I would expect it to be trapped in the ghetto of genre fiction, so I was pleased to discover that the very mainstream Richard and Judy Book Club discovered it. In established author news, Terry Pratchett, having adopted speech recognition for writing (to combat his debilitating Alzheimer's) has seemingly managed to accelerate his rate of production and squeezed out at least two this year: The Long War with Stephen Baxter is the sequel to 2012's The Long Earth which I very much enjoyed, but it really felt like "difficult second novel" to me. Hopefully there'll be a third. Raising Steam, the 40th Discworld novel, was an enjoyable romp around the concept of steam trains, featuring the relatively new Moist von Lipwig who has managed to become one of my favourite Discworld characters. I can't think of much more to say about the novel, really. It's a Discworld novel, probably not the best introduction to the series for a new reader, but will give a reader familiar with the franchise everything they expect, and possibly no more. Iain Banks sadly died this year, shortly after the publication of his last novel, The Quarry. It's sat on my hardback shelf for the time being. I couldn't bring myself to read it in 2013. I did read his last SF offering from the year prior, The Hydrogen Sonata. Sadly, yet coincidentally, both of these books examine the nature of living and dying, The Quarry in particular from the point of view of a terminal cancer sufferer. I have a small backlog of unread Banks fiction which I want to take my time over with. Finally, whilst not really a book, I thoroughly enjoyed the BBC's 2013 adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. Natalie Dormer wrote a piece on the making of the drama which should serve as a good introduction. At the time of writing, most of the programmes have disappeared from iPlayer, but I would be surprised if this wasn't released commercially at some point.

8 May 2011

Charles Plessy: GBrowse arrives in Debian

GBrowse, a genome browser, is packaged for Debian since three weeks. It is the result of a work started four years ago, and I am especially grateful to Olivier Sallou for having unblocked and finished the project while I was starting to go round in circles, and to Aaron M. Ucko for repairing the new package, that was not compatible with our build farm. GBrowse and similar software, like IGV, are used for graphical representation of a chromosome and its annotations, such as the gene positions and markers of their activity, and in particular the result of experiments using high throughput DNA sequencing. A Debian Med task is actually dedicated to gather programs for that topic. In a couple of years, it may be possible that any person who wants can sequence his chromosomes, that is, his genome. This will revolution medicine and perhaps break some founding myths. Even if software for the general public will look different, packages like gbrowse are a first step towards a better access of the public to his medical data. Work continues on GBrowse, with the goal of being able to install it with a reference version of the human genome with a command like apt-get install human-genome. The next step will be to update BioPerl, used by GBrowse, to version 1.6.9.

31 October 2010

David Bremner: Extracting text from pdf with pdfedit

It turns out that pdfedit is pretty good at extracting text from pdf files. Here is a script I wrote to do that in batch mode.
# Print the text from a pdf document on stdout
# Copyright: (c) 2006-2010 PDFedit team  <>
# Copyright: (c) 2010, David Bremner <>
# Licensed under version 2 or later of the GNU GPL
set -e
if [ $# -lt 1 ]; then
    echo usage: $0 file [pageSep]
    exit 1
# Print the text from a pdf document on stdout
# Copyright:   2006-2010 PDFedit team  <>
# Copyright:   2010, David Bremner <>
# Licensed under version 2 or later of the GNU GPL
set -e
if [ $# -lt 1 ]; then
    echo usage: $0 file [pageSep]
    exit 1
/usr/bin/pdfedit -console -eval '
function onConsoleStart()  
    var inName = takeParameter();
    var pageSep = takeParameter();
    var doc = loadPdf(inName,false);

    for (i=1;i<=pages;i++)  
' $1 $2
Yeah, I wish #!/usr/bin/pdfedit worked too. Thanks to Aaron M Ucko for pointing out that -eval could replace the use of a temporary file. Oh, and pdfedit will be even better when the authors release a new version that fixes truncating wide text

23 December 2008

Emilio Pozuelo Monfort: Collaborative maintenance

The Debian Python Modules Team is discussing which DVCS to switch to from SVN. Ondrej Certik asked how to generate a list of commiters to the team s repository, so I looked at it and got this:
emilio@saturno:~/deb/python-modules$ svn log egrep "^r[0-9]+ cut -f2 -d sed s/-guest// sort uniq -c sort -n -r
865 piotr
609 morph
598 kov
532 bzed
388 pox
302 arnau
253 certik
216 shlomme
212 malex
175 hertzog
140 nslater
130 kobold
123 nijel
121 kitterma
106 bernat
99 kibi
87 varun
83 stratus
81 nobse
81 netzwurm
78 azatoth
76 mca
73 dottedmag
70 jluebbe
68 zack
68 cgalisteo
61 speijnik
61 odd_bloke
60 rganesan
55 kumanna
52 werner
50 haas
48 mejo
45 ucko
43 pabs
42 stew
42 luciano
41 mithrandi
40 wardi
36 gudjon
35 jandd
34 smcv
34 brettp
32 jenner
31 davidvilla
31 aurel32
30 rousseau
30 mtaylor
28 thomasbl
26 lool
25 gaspa
25 ffm
24 adn
22 jmalonzo
21 santiago
21 appaji
18 goedson
17 toadstool
17 sto
17 awen
16 mlizaur
16 akumar
15 nacho
14 smr
14 hanska
13 tviehmann
13 norsetto
13 mbaldessari
12 stone
12 sharky
11 rainct
11 fabrizio
10 lash
9 rodrigogc
9 pcc
9 miriam
9 madduck
9 ftlerror
8 pere
8 crschmidt
7 ncommander
7 myon
7 abuss
6 jwilk
6 bdrung
6 atehwa
5 kcoyner
5 catlee
5 andyp
4 vt
4 ross
4 osrevolution
4 lamby
4 baby
3 sez
3 joss
3 geole
2 rustybear
2 edmonds
2 astraw
2 ana
1 twerner
1 tincho
1 pochu
1 danderson
As it s likely that the Python Applications Packaging Team will switch too to the same DVCS at the same time, here are the numbers for its repo:

emilio@saturno:~/deb/python-apps$ svn log egrep "^r[0-9]+ cut -f2 -d sed s/-guest// sort uniq -c sort -n -r
401 nijel
288 piotr
235 gothicx
159 pochu
76 nslater
69 kumanna
68 rainct
66 gilir
63 certik
52 vdanjean
52 bzed
46 dottedmag
41 stani
39 varun
37 kitterma
36 morph
35 odd_bloke
29 pcc
29 gudjon
28 appaji
25 thomasbl
24 arnau
20 sc
20 andyp
18 jalet
15 gerardo
14 eike
14 ana
13 dfiloni
11 tklauser
10 ryanakca
10 nxvl
10 akumar
8 sez
8 baby
6 catlee
4 osrevolution
4 cody-somerville
2 mithrandi
2 cjsmo
1 nenolod
1 ffm
Here I m the 4th most committer :D And while I was on it, I thought I could do the same for the GNOME and GStreamer teams:
emilio@saturno:~/deb/pkg-gnome$ svn log egrep "^r[0-9]+ cut -f2 -d sed s/-guest// sort uniq -c sort -n -r
5357 lool
2701 joss
1633 slomo
1164 kov
825 seb128
622 jordi
621 jdassen
574 manphiz
335 sjoerd
298 mlang
296 netsnipe
291 grm
255 ross
236 ari
203 pochu
198 ondrej
190 he
180 kilian
176 alanbach
170 ftlerror
148 nobse
112 marco
87 jak
84 samm
78 rfrancoise
75 oysteigi
73 jsogo
65 svena
65 otavio
55 duck
54 jcurbo
53 zorglub
53 rtp
49 wasabi
49 giskard
42 tagoh
42 kartikm
40 gpastore
34 brad
32 robtaylor
31 xaiki
30 stratus
30 daf
26 johannes
24 sander-m
21 kk
19 bubulle
16 arnau
15 dodji
12 mbanck
11 ruoso
11 fpeters
11 dedu
11 christine
10 cpm
7 ember
7 drew
7 debotux
6 tico
6 emil
6 bradsmith
5 robster
5 carlosliu
4 rotty
4 diegoe
3 biebl
2 thibaut
2 ejad
1 naoliv
1 huats
1 gilir

emilio@saturno:~/deb/pkg-gstreamer$ svn log egrep "^r[0-9]+ cut -f2 -d sed s/-guest// sort uniq -c sort -n -r
891 lool
840 slomo
99 pnormand
69 sjoerd
27 seb128
21 manphiz
8 he
7 aquette
4 elmarco
1 fabian
- Why do I have the full python-modules and pkg-gstreamer trees, if I have just one commit to DPMT, and don t even have commit access to the GStreamer team?
- If you don t want to seem like you have done less commits than you have actually done, don t change your alioth name when you become a DD ;) (hint: pox-guest and piotr in python-modules are the same person)
- If the switch to a new VCS was based on a vote where you have one vote per commit, the top 3 commiters in pkg-gnome could win the vote if they chosed the same! For python-apps it s the 4 top commiters, and the 7 ones for python-modules. pkg-gstreamer is a bit special :)

17 January 2007

Daniel Burrows: Cuckoo!

The most unique Christmas present I got this year was the cuckoo clock from my father's parents. There's something very cool about mechanical clocks that work by means of weights and gears instead of electronics: when the cuckoo goes off, you can actually watch energy being transferred from the weight to the cuckoo device, as the weight that powers it drops precipitously!

Unfortunately, the clock seems to lose about half an hour every twelve hours. Does the Lazyweb know any techniques for getting mechanical cuckoo clocks to keep better time? I don't mind resetting it once a week or so, but twice a day is a little excessive.

3 October 2006

Evan Prodromou: 11 Vend miaire CCXV

October is a busy month for us. October 14th is my birthday, and October 16th is our wedding anniversary. On our honeymoon in 2004, we took a trip to wt:Charlevoix at the mouth of the Saguenay fjord in Quebec. Then, in October 2005, Amita June had just been born, so we took a short trip to Ottawa for the weekend. At this point, I think we've established an anniversary tradition of short weekend trips to cities in Eastern Canada. This year, Maj started arranging a trip to St. John's in Newfoundland. I'm pretty fascinated by wt:Newfoundland -- it's one of the oldest settlements in North America, yet very isolated. Its culture is a unique blend of Celtic, English, and a smattering of French Canadian with an idiosyncratic accent and great music. But St. John's is just too remote for a relaxing, romantic anniversary weekend. We kept trying to find easier ways to get there, and nothing was working out. So we decided to save Newfoundland for a spring trip. My crazy-cuckoo dream is to drive from Montreal to Labrador City and then out to Goose Bay in Labrador on the mainland, take the ferry to Newfoundland, drive around a bit there, then back to Montreal on a car ferry. Good trip, eh? So, we decided to take things a little easier and go to another part of Canada. We've wanted to visit wt:Halifax for a long time, and now it looks like it's going to work out. It's only 1-1/2 hours by plane from Montreal, and it's supposed to be a very charming, fun city. I got good deals on Air Canada for the two of us, plus baby, and we're staying at the posh Lord Nelson hotel in the middle of town. Even though it's the "Splurge" hotel on the Wikitravel Sleep section, I was able to get a discount with my CAA card that makes the price just about acceptable for a special occasion weekend. Now we have to plan what to do when we get there. We've only been to Nova Scotia once, and that was just a jaunt across the border from New Brunswick for kcks. I'm going to pore over the Wikitravel and World66 articles to see what I can come up with, and hopefully do some research while we're on the road. Really, that's the best part for me. I probably shouldn't look so far ahead -- we've got Hudson (New York) still to do this weekend. Like I said, a busy month! tags:

Free Books I've been planning to go to the local Wiki Wednesday here in [wt:Montreal], so I was reviewing the Montreal Wiki Wednesday page for previous events. Although we've made it to a few of the previous ones, we definitely haven&#39;t made it to all the ones we said we would... so be it. One of the previous speakers was Hugh McGuire, a Montrealer who started an excellent project called Librivox. Librivox is a project to create free audiobooks, with chapters contributed over the Internet by readers around the world. They take books from Project Gutenberg (which is apparently a MediaWiki wiki site now... who knew?) and volunteers read them and then the whole thing gets munged into a nice little package. Everything stays in the public domain (bless their generous souls) and they even have a Librivox podcast just in case you swing that way. I'm super-hot for audio books. I love listening to them while driving, especially for long road trips. Maj is lukewarm on the idea, but she occasionally gets into them when we've got a good book going. The big downside is that they're ridiculously expensive -- $50+ for some books. The only thing that bothers me a bit about Librivox is that there arent CD Audio ISOs available. We have an MP3 CD player in our car, and I think it should work fine, but for sharing it's awful nice to have real CDs. UPDATE (from Hugh): There are mp3 ISOs available here: LibriVarc, but no aiff files. mega storage space, bandwidth and transfer problems to do that, but if anyone is interested in providing such CDs, or helping manage such a project, we'd love to know about it. tags:

BarCampMontreal And while drifting through Hugh McGuire's blog, what do I see but a link to the newly-announced BarCampMontreal -- the first BarCamp to happen here in The City Without a Nickname. I had thought that the loose plan was to do a BarCamp to coincide with RecentChangesCamp in May 2007, but this plan seems more impetuous and uninhibited -- just like a BarCamp. There are just too many people to invite here in Montreal, though... we have something like 20 Debian developers, a whole passel of bloggers and wikitistas, lots of games developers and folks like that. Lots of work before the big weekend. Did I mention that October is a busy month? tags:

Day against DRM And look at that... October 3 is the Day against DRM per Defective by Design. A new DRM info clearinghouse, cleverly named, launched today, too. I've been in the weird situation lately of fighting against over-protectiveness w/r/t DRM in the Creative Commons licenses, when in fact I think DRM is twisted and dumb. It's a bill of goods being sold to entertainment companies by shady technology groups, it's rarely effective, and its only value is to punish law-abiding citizens. It's gotta go. A passionate and profanity-laced article I wrote about DRM coders for Pigdog Journal was linked from ars technica and BoingBoing last year. Although my writing style is a bit different (cough cough) than it once was, I still feel the same about DRM: a shameful and hostile way for technologists to treat each other. tags:

Are you experienced? So, I like the TV show Lost a lot, but I had no idea about this immersive alternate reality game The Lost Experience. Seems like just the kind of intense investigation game to keep losties busy for the entire summer. (You know, while they weren't trying to figure out the truth about lonelygirl15.) I'm not really that into figuring this stuff out, but I do enjoy reading the details once people have worked them through. 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:

19 March 2006

Clint Adams: This report is flawed, but it sure is fun

5C9A5B54Esesse(Ps,Gs) 2341
3AFA44BDDweasel(Ps,Gs) 1342

1 February 2006

David Nusinow: fuckosphere

Can we kill the term blogosphere while we're at it?