Search Results: "vivi"

22 June 2014

Gunnar Wolf: Yo tampoco / #yotampoco / neither do I A bit of local action

Only a very short summary in English: I am Mexican. I am Jewish. I am almost completely disconnected from the local Jewish communities. And understanding the local Jewish communities is hard. There is a very interesting and brave campaign, recently started, called Neither do I The Mexican Jewish gay activist group Guimel, started off with this video (with English subtitles, if you are interested in following along). But how did I learn about this very bold initiative? By getting a hateful spam, inviting people to join a hate campaign. Right, the hate mail is not calling to violence, but it is based on premises as stupid as everybody's right not to include (to begin with). So, the least I can do about this is to share both said hate mail and publicly denounce my shock on reading this nonsense nowadays. And, also in Spanish (I know many people following me don't understand it Sorry, it would just take too long, and after all, it's mainly for local "consumption"), this is the reply I sent to them (and to the other recipients). Sorry in advance to the Spanish speakers for my exabrupts :) This was written "as is", without much prior thought, and quite angry about what I had just read.
Buf... Expresiones como esta, que hacen evidente la cerraz n de tanta gente en las comunidades jud as, justifican claramente por qu tantos nos hemos ido abriendo, integr ndonos a la sociedad circundante. Me da verg enza ser asociado como jud o a comunidades donde se defienden estos puntos de vista; si bien yo no soy de la comunidad Monte Sinai (como resultar obvio por mi nombre), para la sociedad en su conjunto s soy un jud o (as , a secas: Jud o). Mucho nos hemos quejado colectivamente a lo largo de los siglos acerca de la discriminaci n, de que seamos considerado la "basura" del mundo, los "apestados". Y es precisamente esa actitud, ante todo y en todo momento, lo que me ha llevado a alejarme del juda smo. Soy un ser humano m s, con una historia personal nica, con una historia cultural compartida pero tambi n nica, con algunas elecciones y algunas caracter sticas que me son inherentes nicas. Algo de eso no le gusta a alguien? Por motivos racionales o irracionales? No lo puedo ni pienso evitar. Pero el que una comunidad completa sea llamada a ignorar, humillar, alienar a sus hijos, por una estupidez as de anacr nica (en el caso que lo presenta el video al que hacen referencia, y a la gente que valientemente ha conformado Guimel) me parece que simplemente va m s all de toda estupidez. Piensen bien antes de adherirse a esta campa a de odio. Substituyan la sexualidad por cualquier otra raz n en la que somos minor a. No les da asco vivir con un vendedor de telas? Con un jud o apestoso? Y s , aqu ya estoy yo tambi n dejando ir a esos demonios... que hay que mantener bajo control. Porque somos hombres y mujeres de nuestro siglo, y porque el mundo y las nuevas generaciones merecen nuestro mejor esfuerzo para ir colectivamente destruyendo la estupidez de nuestros ancestros. Seamos m s racionales. Dejemos el odio, dejemos los prejuicios. Aceptemos a los diferentes, porque todos queremos que nos acepten. Porque todos somos diferentes.
tambien.txt8.55 KB

17 May 2014

Richard Hartmann: git-annex corner case: Reviving a dead remote

Quoth joeyh: Note that recent versions of git-annex have a reinit command that makes this much simpler:
git clone /existing/repo.annex
git annex info # to refresh your memory about uuid or description of lost repo
git annex reinit uuid description

Old Post: Another half a blog post, half a reminder for my future self. Turns out that pulling an external 3.5" disk off of your nightstand with the help of a tangled USB cable is a surprisingly efficient way to kill a it. On the plus side, this yields instant results and complete success. On the other hand, I kinda lost well over one TiB of personal photographs and other data which I didn't really appreciate a whole lot. Thankfully, all data was annexed and I always maintain at least three copies of all files at all times, so the fix is as easy as getting two new disks and running
badblocks /dev/foo -swo $manufacturer-$model-$(date '+%F--%H-%M-%S-%Z').badblocks-swo # assuming you keep a git repo of this data

followed by partitioning, mkfs etc and
cd /existing/repo.annex
git annex info # not the UUID you need
cd /new/disk
git clone /existing/repo.annex
cd repo.annex
vim .git/config # add the [annex] block and _copy over the UUID of the lost repo_
git annex get # assuming you want a full copy, which I always do for data archival repos
git annex sync

and done. By running git annex get before git annex sync, I managed to avoid (potentially) saving information about missing data; I simply made sure it was all in place before synching again. The second external disk allows me to always get one local disk up to speed and another one off-site. I am able to learn from experience ;)

4 February 2014

Enrico Zini: debops

Debops What I like the most about being a Developer is building tools to (hopefully) make someone's life better. I like it when my software gets used, and people thank me for it, because there was a need they had that wasn't met before, and thanks to my software now it is being met. I am maintaining software for meteorological research that is soon going to be 10 years old, and is still evolving and getting Real Work done. I like to develop software as if it is going to become a part of human cultural heritage, developing beyond my capacity, eventually surviving me, allowing society to declare that the need, small as it was, is now met, and move on to worry about some other problem. I feel that if I'm not thinking of my software in that way, then I am not being serious. Then I am not developing something fit for other people to use and rely on. This involves Development as much as it involves Operations: tracking security updates for all the components that make up a system. Testing. Quality assurance. Scalability. Stability. Hardening. Monitoring. Maintenance requirements. Deployment and upgrade workflows. Security. I came to learn that the requirements put forward by sysadmins are to be taken seriously, because they are the ones whose phone will ring in the middle of the night when your software breaks. I am also involved in more than one software project. I am responsible for about a dozen web applications deployed out there in the wild, and possibly another dozen of non-web projects, from terabyte-sized specialised archival tools to little utilities that are essential links in someone's complex toolchain. I build my software targeting Debian Stable + Backports. At FOSDEM I noticed that some people consider it uncool. I was perplexed. It provides me with a vast and reasonably recent set of parts to use to build my systems. It provides me with a single bug tracking system for all of them, and tools to track known issues in the systems I deployed. It provides me with a stable platform, with a well documented upgrade path to the next version. It gives me a release rhythm that allows me to enjoy the sweet hum of spinning fans thinking about my next mischief, instead of spending my waking time chasing configuration file changes and API changes deep down in my dependency chain. It allows me to rely on Debian for security updates, so I don't have to track upstream activity for each one of the building blocks of the systems I deploy. It allows me not to worry about a lot of obscure domain specific integration issues. Coinstallability of libraries with different ABI versions. Flawless support for different versions of Python, or Lua, or for different versions of C++ compilers. It has often happened to me to hear someone rant about a frustrating situation, wonder how come it had never happened to me, and realise that someone in Debian, who happens to be more expert than I can possibly be, had thought hard about how to deal with that issue, years before. I know I cannot be an expert of the entire stack from bare iron all the way up, and I have learnt to stand on the shoulders of giants. 'Devops' makes sense for me in that it hints at this cooperation between developers and operators, having constructive communication, knowing that each side has their own needs, trying their best to meet them all. It hints at a perfect world where developers and operators finally come to understand and trust each other's judgement. I don't know that perfect world, but I, a developer, do like to try to understand and trust the judgement of sysadmins. I sympathise with my sysadmin friends who feel that devops is turning into a trend of developers thinking they can do without sysadmins. Reinventing package managers. Bundling dependencies. Building "apps" instead of components. I wish that people who deploy a system built on such premises, have it become so successful that they end up being paid to maintain them for their whole career. That is certainly what I wish and strive for, for me and my own projects. In my experience, a sustainable and maintainable system won't come out of the startup mindset of building something quick&dirty, then sell it and move on to something else. In my experience, the basis for having sustainable and maintainable systems have been well known and tested in Debian, and several other distributions, for over two decades. At FOSDEM, we thought that we need a name for such a mindset. Between beers, that name came to be "debops". (It's not just Debian, though: many other distributions get it right, too)

23 December 2013

Russ Allbery: Review: The Death of Bees

Review: The Death of Bees, by Lisa O'Donnell
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright: 2012
Printing: 2013
ISBN: 0-06-220984-1
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 309
This is the first definite hit from my Powell's Indiespensable subscription, and a good example of why I subscribe. I never would have read or even heard of this book without it, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Marnie and Nellie are sisters living in a housing estate in Glasgow's Maryhill district. Neither of their parents ever held regular jobs, although one does quickly learn their father had been earning money distributing drugs. The story opens, rather shockingly, with the death of both parents: their father smothered in his bed, and their mother, a day later, after refusing to notify anyone of their father's death, by hanging herself in the garden shed. In fear of being taken by social services and then separated, particularly given Nellie's unusual way of interacting with the world (she talks, and writes, like a woman in the 1950s trying to sound high-class), the girls bury both bodies in the back garden and tell everyone their parents just went on an unannounced trip without them. It wouldn't be the first time. Marnie is 15 and a year away from being legally an adult, at which point she can take custody of Nellie (who is 12) and keep them together. In the meantime, they just have to keep their parents' deaths secret and figure out how to keep food on the table and social services away. Their next-door neighbor is a formerly-closeted older gay man named Lennie who is known as the neighborhood pervert after he was arrested getting a blow job from an underage male prostitute. Both girls are quite understandably suspicious of him, but he's also the first person to notice that something is wrong and to start trying to help. The book is told in many short chapters, each written by one of Marnie, Nellie, or Lennie in their own voice. You might have guessed from the plot summary that this book needs a few warnings, but I want to emphasize that more. This is a book that opens with decaying corpses, including a few rather-too-vivid images from its transport and from Marnie's later (unnamed) post-traumatic stress. Marnie is quite sexually active, and both girls have had a nasty background full of things that I preferred not to think too much about. Most of the worst bits are only alluded to and are kept off-camera, but there's still quite a lot of background nastiness and desperation here. The Death of Bees is blunt and forthright to the point that it repeatedly made me cringe, and that sort of thing usually doesn't bother me in books. That said, this is not a horror novel, even though it contains horror. You could describe it as darkly comic, although none of the comedy is the sort that makes one laugh, except perhaps in startled surprise. The adjectives that come to mind are fierce, compassionate, empathetic, tough, and courageous. The author is completely on the side of the three protagonists, all of whom are deeply hurt in their own ways but all of whom are trying as hard as they can to support each other. I have rarely read a book that made me care as much about the characters. It's the kind of story that makes one want to passionately defend them, particularly once the one real villain, in the form of a do-gooding outsider, makes his appearance. And the reader and the author aren't alone. One of the things I loved about this book is that it doesn't artificially isolate the characters. Marnie has friends, and while Marnie doesn't always notice for Marnie, this is just her life, and many things of significance to the reader are just more of daily life for her this book is full of unexpected acts of small kindness. The surrounding characters are themselves all dealing with their own troubles and not in a great position to help anyone, and yet somehow they manage. Even Nellie, who has a great deal of difficulty interacting with other people her own age, gets unexpected help from people she thinks can't stand her. I think it's very telling that about the only character here who is entirely unsympathetic is the one who claims to be the most moral and virtuous. Unfortunately, from my perspective, this book has one major flaw: the ending. Thankfully, the ending isn't bad; if it were, it would have completely destroyed my enjoyment of the book. By the time one gets through this story, having something bad happen to these girls would break your heart. The ending does deliver the necessary catharsis, but it is far, far too short. O'Donnell builds up tension mercilessly, pushing the story down a path that's clearly desperately wrong for both of the girls, and doesn't let the story climax happen until about ten pages from the end. We get all of a page or two of denouement, and then the novel is over. I am, admittedly, a "Scouring of the Shire" sort of person. I like long denouements, particularly if I've gone through hell with the characters. I like getting to spend some happy time with them. But even for those who don't enjoy that as much as I do, I think this ending was too short. O'Donnell does an amazing job building sympathy and empathy throughout the story, and I didn't want to have to fill in all of the happily ever after from my own imagination. Maybe it would have been hard to do without getting too sentimental or without dulling some of the sharp edges of the story, but I would have really appreciated another ten pages. As is, it felt like the novel abruptly and unceremoniously dumped me out on the ground. But, that aside, this is an excellent character story. It's one that I would be careful about recommending; parts of it are extremely dark and nasty, and you have to take Marnie on her own terms for the story to work. But it's beautifully written and thoroughly engaging, and I'm very glad to have read it. Rating: 8 out of 10

19 November 2013

Luca Falavigna: Cross-architecture Linux containers in Debian

I wanted to create a Deb-o-Matic environment to testbuild packages for a different architecture. Taking inspiration on St phane s excellent blog post, I tried to replicate the creation of a cross-architecture Linux container in Debian. Here are the steps I made: Load binfmt_misc module:
# modprobe binfmt_misc Install the required packages:
# apt-get install lxc debootstrap rsync qemu-user-static binfmt-support Mount the cgroup virtual filesystem:
# mkdir /cgroup
# echo "none /cgroup cgroup defaults 0 0" >> /etc/fstab
# mount -a
I needed a specific template to create a cross-architecture container. I used the excellent one by Laurent Vivier. Download it, rename it as lxc-cross-debian, mark it executable, and store it under /usr/share/lxc/templates. Create the cross-architecture container, an armhf one in this case:
# lxc-create -t cross-debian -n debian-armhf -- --arch armhf --suite sid --interpreter-path /usr/bin/qemu-arm-static After a while, the container was created and I enjoyed my brand new armhf test machine :)

17 September 2013

Vincent Sanders: Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.

I seem to be adhering to Beckett's approach recently but for some reason, after my previous stool attempts, despite having a functioning design I felt I had to do just one more iteration.

Five legged stoolGoing back to a previous concept of having five legs instead of three while this did not improve the rotational problems with the 12mm thick material, it did make the design more stable overall and less prone to tipping.

The five legged solution realised in 18mm plywood resulted in my final design for this concept. As my friend Stephen demonstrates the design is pretty solid even for those of us with a more ample frame. There are now a couple of them in use at the space alongside the three legged earlier versions.

I was finally satisfied with the result and thought I was done with furniture making for a while. My adorable wife then came up with a challenge, she wanted a practical foldable chair her requirements were:
A frame folding chair, image from wikimedia
Things for individual humans to sit on raised off the floor, or chairs as we call them, have been around for a long time. My previous research for the stool indicated that chairs have a long history with examples still surviving from the ancient egyptians. From this I assumed there would be nothing novel in this project and to quote the song it's all been done before
Given this perspective my research started with an image search for "folding chair". The results immediately showed there were two common shapes. Either the chair base was formed with a pair of linked X shapes with the seat across the top, or an A frame style where the seat is across the centre.

My initial thoughts were to replicate the IKEA style A frame design until I noticed that some designs were made from a single sheet of timber with a small number of profile cuts. I searched for pre-existing design files but found none, perhaps I had found something novel to do after all.

A frame chair  1 - Front  2 - Rear  3- seat
Some quick measurements of chairs in shops (and more weird looks, mainly from my family) suggested 900mm is generally the highest a chair ought to stand. I selected a popliteal height of 420mm as a general use compromise which is a bit less than the 430mm of most mass produced chairs. I also decided there should be a front to rear drop across the seat which ought to improve comfort a little.

Material selection was based upon what I had to hand which consisted of a couple of sheets of structural plywood (1220x606x18mm temperate softwood - probably spruce although not specified) which had not become stools yet. Allowing for edge wastage and tool width this gave me a working area from a sheet of 1196x582mm.

I sketched the side view of the chair numbering the three parts. I decided part 1 would be 1000mm total height with top and bottom cross braces 80mm high, assuming the 900mm tall target, the A frame apex would be at 820mm height.

If we assert that the apex is immediately below the top cross brace on part 1 this gives 920mm at which point we have two sides of a right angled triangle (820 and 920) from which we can calculate the top angle is 26 . This also means part 2 will be 840mm long with the same 820 height this gives an angle of 10 .

I did the maths for the seat triangle using the 36 angle and 420mm popliteal height. Having experienced how flexible 18mm plywood was in the face dimension I decided to make the frame sides 50mm wide leaving, after 6mm tool path widths, enough space for a 358mm wide seat .

Once the dimensions were decided the design went pretty quickly producing something that looked similar to the designs I had seen earlier.

CNC routers can go wrong, spot the fail
Generating toolpaths for this design proved challenging with the CAM software we had available, mainly because arranging multiple "inner" and "outer" cuts along the same path and having the tabs line up was obviously not an anticipated feature.

Things had been going far too well for me and during the routing operation our machine decided to follow an uncommanded toolpath excursion mid job (it cut a dirty great hole through the middle of my workpiece where I did not want it) ruining the sheet of material.

Fortunately, once factory reset and reconfigured, the machine ran the job correctly the second time although we still do not know why it went wrong. The parts were cut free of their tabs and hinges fitted.

The resulting design worked with a couple of problems:
Folding chair in 24mm plywood with edges rounded off
So time for a second iteration, this time I selected a thicker plywood to reduce the bend under large loads (OK already, I mean me). After shopping around for several days I discovered that unlike 12mm and 18mm thick plywood 24mm thick is much harder to find at a sensible price especially if you want it cut into 1220x606 sheets from the full 1220x2440.

I eventually physically went to Ridgeons and looked at what they actually had in the warehouse and got a price on a sheet of brazilian elliotis pine structural plywood for 43.96 which they cut for me while I waited. Being physically present also gave me the opportunity to pick a "less bad" sheet from the stack much to the annoyance of the Ridgeons employee for not just taking the top one.

This time I reduced the apex height by 30mm, the length of part 1 by 80mm. I also reduced the frame width by 10mm relying on the increased thickness of the plywood to maintain the strength. In area terms it is actually an increase in material (50mm*17.7mm = 885 against 40mm*22.80 = 912). I also included rebates for the top hinges within the design allowing them to be mounted flush within the sheet width.

The new design was cut (without incident this time) and the edges rounded off. I also added some simple catches to keep the seat and back inline while being transported.

While this version worked I had made a couple of mistakes again. The first was simply a radius versus diameter error on the handles which meant too much material was removed from a high stress area causing increased bending.

Third version of folding chair ready for finishing
The second error was a stupid mistake that where I had worked the latch holes in the seat to the wrong side of my measure line meaning the apex angle was 35.5 not the expected 33.6 which meant the backrest felt "too far forward"

The third version rectified those two errors and improved the seat front curve a little to further reduce the unneeded material in the back rest.

The fabrication of this design was double sided allowing for the seat hinge to be fully rebated and become flush and also adding some text similar to the stools.

Alex sat on version 3 folding chair
This version still suffers from a backrest that is a bit too far forward and my sons complain it makes them sit up too straight. The problem is that the angle of the front face (23.6 ) means that to move the rest back 20mm means the piece needs to extend another 50mm beyond the frame apex which would probably make the chair feel tall again.

I guess this is a compromise that would take another iteration or two to solve, alas my wife has declared a moratorium on more chairs unless I find somewhere to put the failed prototypes other than her conservatory.

One other addition would be a better form of catch for transport. The ones in version 2 work but are ugly, magnets inset into the frame have been suggested but not actually implemented yet.

Folding chairs versions 1 to 3 and TERJE for comparison
In conclusion I think I succeeded with the original brief and am pretty pleased with the result. A neatly folding chair that can be stacked simply by having a pile of them and are easy to move and setup.

The price per chair is a little higher than I would like at 22 ( 11 for timber, 5 for hinges and screws , 5 for varnish and 1 for tool wear) plus about 2 hours labour (two sided routing plus roundover takes ages)

As previously the design files are available on github and there are plenty more images in the flikr set.

16 September 2013

Debian Med

DebConf 13 report (by Andreas Tille) General impression unofficial  Scenic Hacklab I'm beginning my DebConf report in an unofficial "Scenic Hacklab" right at the edge of the lake in Yverdon. This is the right place to memorise the last days. When I started from this place cycling to Le Camp 12 days ago I was full of great expectations and what should I say - the reality has even beaten these. Once it comes about comparing DebConfs even if it is an unfair comparison due all the differences my secret long term favourite was Helsinki very closely followed by Argentina and also very closely followed by all the other great DebConfs I joined (and I joined all in Europe). Would Le Camp be able to beat it? The short answer is: Yes, it is now my favourite DebConf while I think I do not suffer from the last-Debconf-was-the-best-DebConf-syndrome (and I realised there are others thinking the same). As you might probably know I'm a bit addicted to swimming. While Helsinki had admittedly the better conditions I was at least able to fix the distance issue using my bicycle. (Hey, those Le Camp photographers did a great job in hiding the fact that you can not actually touch the lake right from the meadow of Le Camp.) Being able to have my bicycle at DebConf scored some extra points. However, the really great view of the lake, the inspiring "Scenic Hacklab" which was my favourite place has bumped DebConf13 at first place in my personal ranking. So it comes quite natural to say: "Kudos to the great organisation team!" They did a Swiss-like precise work and perfectly succeeded in hiding any problems (I assume there were some as always) from the attendees so everything went smooth, nice and shiny for the attendees. The local team was even precise in setting up great weather conditions for DebConf. sunrise over  the lake While saying thanks to the local team I would like to also explicitly thank Luca Capello who has quite some share that this DebConf was possible at all (while I have to decrease my DebConf score one point because he was not really there - Luca to bad that you were not able to come full time!) Also thanks to Gunnar and Gannef who helped remotely (another score down because I were missing them this year as well). Even if it was my favourite DebConf I was not able to work down my todo list fully (which was not only uploading one package per day which I at least statistically fullfilled). But that's probably a general feature of todo lists anyway. One item was definitely done: Doing my daily swimming BoF. I actually was able to do the other parts of the triathlon which was skipped by Christian and have done in summary about 150km cycling with 3500m elevation and estimated 7-8km swimming (0m elevation ;-)). Considering the great view at sunrise over the lake I was not hating my "Senile bed escape" disease too much (I was every day waking up at sunset) - it was simply a great experience. I will never forget seeing water drips glimmering like gold inside the morning sun while seeing the Alps panorama in the distant. I hope I was able to help all interested swimmers with the DebConf Beach Map which was just a by-product of my activities in DebCamp. Speaking about OSM: I was astonished that the area was way less covered than I expected. Thanks to several DebConf attendees the situation became better and the map does not only show random trees in the wild but also the tracks leading to these. (Remark: It was no DebConf attendee who is responsible for plastering the map with single trees.) While I had my mapping focus basically close to the edge of the lake I was also able to even map my very own street. :-) I clearly remember one specific mapping tour when I was invited by the DPL: He convinced me to join him on a bicycle tour and since I was afraid to get fired I joined him instead to keep on hacking. Also Sorina was brave enough to join us on the tour and she did quite well. (Sorina, do you remember the agreement about your work on the installer? ;-)) Lucas described the tour as: going uphill on only asphalted roads. Sorina and me were witnessing the mighty DPL powers when we left the wood around Le Camp to reach the described road: The asphalt was just put onto the road - no doubt that it was done on the immediate demand of mighty DPL. :-) DebCamp time was flying like nose dive and a lot of known (and unknown) faces arrived at Le Camp. What I really liked a lot this year was that several really young children has pulled down the average age of DebConf attendees. I clearly remember all the discussion one year ago what to do about children. As always the issue was solved in a typical Debian way: Just do it and bring your children - they had obviously a great time as well. I think the youngest child was 2 months and the oldest "child" above 20. ;-) Actually Baptiste Perrier did great in making the C&W party a success and had obviously a nice time. (I wished my son would have been able to come as well but he needs to write his bachelor s thesis in physics. :-() It was nice to see the kids using all playing facilities and communicating with geeks. Also I would like to point out that even the very young attendees had their share at the success of DebConf: Just think of the three "bell ringing assistants" who helped me ringing the bells for lunch and dinner. I've got this cool job from Didier in the beginning of DebCamp. I must say having some real bells ringing is by far nicer than just the "lunch / dinner starts in 10 minutes" from IRC bot. The only thing I did not understand was that people did not considered ringing the bells at 8:00 for breakfast as a good idea. Regarding the food in general I would also like to send kudos to the kitchen: It was tasty, freshly prepared, regional food with a good change rate. I really liked this. Extra points for having the chance to sit outside when eating. Talks But lets have a look into the conference programme. I'd really recommend watching the videos of the talks Bits from the DPL (video) and Debian Cosmology (video). I considered both talks as entertaining and interesting. I also really hope that the effort Enrico Zini started in Debian Contributors (video) will be successful. I had some talks and BoFs myself starting with Why running a Blend (video) and I admit that (as usual) the number of attendees was quite low even if I think there is some proof (see below) that it is interesting for way more people who should consider working more "blendish" in their team. Do you know how to recruit one developer per year and relax the man power problem in your team? Feel free to watch the video. We have confirmation that ten DDs of our team have considered to join Debian only because Debian Med exists. Admittedly biology and medicine are really leaf topics inside the Debian universe. So if even this topic that has a very tiny share of the Debian users is able to attract this level of attention - how many more people could we win for multimedia, games, GIS and others? So if you feel you are quite overworked with your packaging and you have no time this is most probably wrong. The amount of time is basically a matter of priorities you set for your tasks. Try to put some higher priority onto using the just existing Blends tools I explained in my talk to attract more users and developers to your team and by doing so spread the workload over more people. It works, the prove was given in my main talk. So before you start working on a specific package you should wonder who else could have an even stronger interest to get this work done and provide him with some additional motivation and help to get the common goal done. The interesting thing is that my BoF about How to attract new developers for your team (video) - which was a simple report about some by-product of the Blends work - made it into the main talk room and got way more attention. For me this is the proof that the Blends concept itself is probably badly perceived as something like "a few outsiders are doing damn specific stuff which is not really interesting for anybody else" instead of what is really is: Smoothing the way from specific upstream applications to the end user via Debian. Once you see the video of this BoF you can observe how my friend Asheesh Laroia became more and more excited about the Blends concept and admitted what I said above: We should have more Blends for different fields. Funnily enough Asheesh asked me in his excitement to talk more about Blends. This would have been a really good suggestion ten years ago. At DebConf 3 in Oslo I had my very first talk about Blends (at this time under the name "Debian Internal Projects"). I continuously kept on talking about this (MiniDebConf Peking 2005, DebConf 5, Helsinki (video), DebConf 7, Edinburgh (video), DebConf 8, Mar del Plata (video), DebConf 9, C ceres (video), MiniDebConf Berlin 2010 (video in German), MiniDebConf Paris 2010 (not video recorded), DebConf 11, Banja Luka (video) ... and these are only (Mini)DebConfs my talks page is full of this topic) and every new year I try different ways to communicate the idea to my fellow Debianistas. I'm wondering how I could invent a title + abstract avoiding the term Blends, put "Git", "release" and "systemd versus upstart" in and being able to inform about Blends reasonably by not becoming to off topic with the abstract. I also registered the Debian Science round table. I admit we were lacking some input from remote via IRC which used to be quite helpful in the past. The attendees agreed upon the handling of citations in debian/upstream files which was invented by Debian Med team to create even stronger bounds to our upstream developers by giving their work extra reward and providing users with even better documentation (see my summary in Wiki). As usual I suggested to create some Debian Science offsprings like "Debian Astronomy", "Debian Electronics", "Debian Mathematics", "Debian Physics" etc. who could perfectly leave the Debian Science umbrella to get a more fine grained structure and a more focused team to enhance the contact to our users. Unfortunately there is nobody who volunteers to take over the lead for such Blends. I have given a short summary about this BoF on the Debian Science mailing list. In the Debian Med meeting I have given some status report. No other long term team members were attending DebConf and so I gave some kind of introduction for newcomers and interested people. I touched also the DebiChem topic which maintains some packages that are used by biologists frequently and so we have a good connection to this team. Finally I had registered three BoFs in Blends I'm actually not (or not yet) active part of. My motivation was to turn the ideas I have explained in my main talk into specific application inside these teams and helping them to implement the Blends framework. In the first BoF about Debian GIS I have shown the usual team metrics graphs to demonstrate, that the one packaging team Pkg-OSM is in danger to become MIA. There are only three persons doing actual uploads. Two of them were at DebConf but did not joined the BoF because they do not consider their contribution to Pkg-OSM as a major part of their general Debian work. I will contact the main contributor David Paleino about his opinion to move the packages step by step into maintenance of Debian GIS packaging team to try to overcome the split of two teams that are sharing a good amount of interest. At least if I might become an Uploader for one of the packages currently maintained by Pkg-OSM I will move this to pkg-grass-devel (which is the name of the packaging team of Debian GIS for historical reasons). The attendees of the BoF have considered this plan as sensible. Moreover I talked about my experiences with OSGeo Live - an Ubuntu derivative that tries to provide a full tool chain to work on GIS and OSM problems ... basically the same goal as Debian GIS has just provided by the OSGeo project. I'm lurking on OSGeo mailing list when I asked explicitly I've got the answer that they are working together with Debian GIS and are using common repository (which is IMHO the optimal way of cooperation). However, it seems that several protagonists of OSGeo Live are underestimating the resources provided by Debian. For instance there was a question about Java packaging issues but people were not aware about the existence of the debian-java mailing list. I was able to give an example how the Debian Med team managed to strengthen its ties to BioLinux that is also an Ubuntu derivative for biologists. At our first Debian Med sprint in 2011 we invited developers from BioLinux and reached a state where they are using the very same VCS on Alioth where we are maintaining our packages. At DebConf I was able to upload two packages where BioLinux developers did certain changes for enhancing the user experience. My "work" was just bumping the version number in changelog and so we did profit from the work of the BioLinux developers as well as they are profiting from our work. I plan to dive a bit more into Debian GIS and try to strengthen the connection to OSGeo Live a bit. The next BoF was the Debian Multimedia meeting. It was nice that the current leader of Ubuntu Studio Kaj Ailomaa joined the meeting. When I was explaining my ideas about cooperation with derivatives I repeated my detailed explanation about the relation with BioLinux. It seems every topic you could cover inside Debian has its related derivative. So to me it seems to be quite natural to work together with the developers of the derivative to join forces. I actually consider a Blend a derivative done the right way = inside Debian. The final work for the derivers that might be left for them is doing some shiny customising of backgrounds or something like this - but all the hard work could and should be done in common with the relevant Debian team. My dream is to raise such relevant teams inside Debian ... the Blends. Finally the last BoF of this series was the Debian Games meeting. As always I presented the team metrics graphs and the Debian Games team members who attended the BoF were quite interested. So it seems to be some unknown fact that team metrics are done for several teams in side Debian and so I repeat the link to it for those who are not yet aware of it. As a result of the BoF Debian Games team members agreed to put some more effort into maintaining their Blends tasks. Moreover Miriam Ruiz wants to put some effort into reviving Debian Jr. Regarding Debian Jr. there was an interesting talk about DouDouLinux - in case you might want to watch the video I'd recommend skipping the first 30min and rather watch the nice live demo. There was also an ad hoc BoF about Debian Jr scheduled to bring together all people interested into this cute project and Per Anderson volunteered to take over the lead. I have given a summary about this specific BoF at the Debian Jr list. For some other talks that I'd regard as remarkable for some reasons: I'd regard the talk "Debian-LAN" by Andreas Mundt as some hidden pearl because it did not got a lot of attention but after having seen the video I was quite impressed - specifically because it is also relevant for the Blends topic. Memories I also liked "Paths into Debian" by Moray Allan (and I was only able to enjoy the latter talks thanks to the great work of the video team!) because it also scratched the same topic I was concerned about in my mentoring talk. Related to this was in my opinion also "Women in Debian 2013" were we tried to find out reasons for the lack of woman compared to other projects and how to overcome this issue. Geert hovering  over the grass Besides the talks I will probably never forget two specific moments that make DebConf so special. One of these moments is recorded on an image that clearly needs no words - just see Geert hovering over the grass. Another strong moment in my personal record was in the DebConf Newbies BoF "First time at DebConf" that unfortunately was not recorded but at least for this statement it would have been very great if we would have some reference better than personal memory. Aarsh Shah a GSoC student from India suddenly raised up and said: "Four months ago I was not even aware that Free Software exists. Now I'm here with so many people who are totally equal. If I will tell my mother at home that I was standing in the same queue where the Debian Project Leader was queuing up for food she will never believe me." He was totally excited about things we are regarding as normal. IMHO we should memorise moments like this that might be part of the key to success in cultures, where Debian is widely unknown and very rarely in use. Amongst these not scheduled great moments the scheduled day trip was also a great thing. I had a really hard time to decide what tour I might join but ended up in the "long distance walking (or should I say running) group". Inspired by the "running Bubulle" who was flashing between the walking groups we went uphill with 5.4km/h which was a nice exercise. Our destination the large cliff was an exciting landscape and I guess we all enjoyed the dinner organised by the "Trout cabal". ;-) say goodby to  friends So I had a hard time to leave Le Camp and tried hard to make sure my memories will remain as long as possible. Keeping some signs attached to my bicycle, conserving the "Scenic Hacklab" sign for my private "scenic hacklab @ home" was one part. I also have cut some branches of the Buxus sempervirens in Le Camp and have put them in my garden at home (where I create some hedgerow from places where I spent some great time). These will probably build a great part of the hedgerow ... Thanks for reading this longish report. Looking forward to see you all in Germany 2015 (or earlier) Andreas. Scenic Hacklab  @ home

19 February 2013

Mike Hommey: Ten years

Ten years ago, this very day, my first Debian package entered the Debian unstable repository. It was an addon for Mozilla Composer, Daniel Glazman s Cascades. On the same day, my second Debian package entered the Debian unstable repository as well. It was an addon for Mozilla Browser, Checky. A few days later, my third Debian package entered Debian unstable. It was an addon for Mozilla Browser, Diggler. Do you see a pattern? They are now abandoned software, although I made Checky and Diggler live a little longer (and I m actually considering reviving Diggler) but they had their importance in my journey, and are part of the reason why I am where I am now. My journey on the web started with NCSA Mosaic on VAX/VMS, then continued with Netscape Navigator, Netscape Communicator and Mozilla Suite on Linux. That s where I was ten years ago, sailing between Galeon (a browser using the Mozilla engine) and Mozilla Suite, and filing some layout bugs. Ten years ago, there was a new kid on the block. It used to be called Phoenix, it had just changed its name to Firebird. Eventually, it changed again for Firefox. You may have heard about it. Because Firebird was so much nicer than the browser in the Mozilla Suite, I started using its Debian package, and wanted my packaged addons to work with it. So I contacted Eric Dorland, Phoenix/Firebird package maintainer at the time, and got the addons working. I then ended up fixing a bunch of packaging issues. This is how I got involved in Firefox packaging for Debian, and what eventually led me to work for Mozilla.

28 November 2012

Russ Allbery: Review: Emissaries from the Dead

Review: Emissaries from the Dead, by Adam-Troy Castro
Series: Andrea Cort #1
Publisher: Eos
Copyright: March 2008
ISBN: 0-06-144372-7
Format: Mass market
Pages: 387
As a small child, Andrea Cort was a colonist on Bocai, part of a utopian project to create a mixed human and Bocaian community. Until, that is, all the members of the community woke up one day and started horrifically murdering each other for reasons that none of the survivors could ever explain. Now, she's protected from extradition by a life contract with the Diplomatic Corps and serves them as a special investigator. The scene of the investigation of this book is the strange habitat One One One. The habitat was created by the AIsource, an alliance of artificial intelligences now independent of their original creators. It's in deep space, far from any sun, and would have remained entirely unknown to the other inhabitants of the galaxy if the AIsource hadn't announced its presence. The choice to announce it was baffling, since it contains a sentient species entirely under the control of the AIsource, something that's against the shared rules of all the other species, but which they wouldn't have known about if the AIsource hadn't drawn their attention to it. After extensive negotiations, one unofficial human research group has been allowed access, and now two of the members of that group have been murdered. That's where Andrea comes in. This is Castro's first original solo novel, but he has a background in short fiction in the SF, fantasy, and horror genres and some previous collaborations and shared universe writing. The horror shows through a bit more than I'd personally prefer: the preface briefly describing Andrea's past would have been sufficient, but Castro goes back and shows it in horrific and gruesome detail as a flashback. His fight scenes are also strangely and disturbingly detailed. If you have a sensitive stomach, be aware that you may want to skim some parts of this. The overall construction of this novel, though, is not horror. It's an SF murder mystery, about halfway between a procedural and a noir detective story. Andrea does follow a coherent procedure and uses an investigative technique more sophisticated than stirring the pot and seeing what jumps out, making it not quite noir, but it has the noir tendency towards story progress via attacks on the detective and quite a lot of ongoing tension. It also involves quite a lot of setup; be aware going in that we get over a hundred pages of description of the various research group members, the details of the crimes, possible motives, and the details of the artificial habitat without a lot of forward progress on understanding the crime. Castro puts a lot of work into the design of the habitat despite leaving it mostly in the background. It could easily serve as the backdrop of a more typical Big Dumb Object SF novel. The habitable zone where the research team is and where all of Andrea's investigations take place is the effective "top" of the habitat, covered in dense foilage to which the native sentient species clings and crawls its entire life. Below is an effectively infinite fall into crushing acidic atmosphere. Castro managed to not set off my dislike of heights too badly, in part because he focuses more on Andrea's own dislike of heights rather than vividly describing the drop, but it's a constant presence throughout the novel and adds a persistant background tension. It also leads to some minor but neat clashes of perspective in conversations with the native species. For most of the book, I would have described Emissaries from the Dead as an enjoyable but not horribly original detective novel with a neat science fiction background. But there are several interesting ending twists that I won't spoil and some decisions that quite surprised me. They don't have a large effect on the plot of this book, but they make for a fascinating hook and setup for later books in the series (and I see there is a sequel). It's definitely not the sort of thing that you want spoiled before reading this book, so avoid reading blurbs and details about the sequel before reading this one. I wouldn't go out of my way to hunt down this book, but it's solid, enjoyable detective SF with a surprisingly good ending. I can see why it won the Philip K. Dick award (for best SF paperback original). Mildly recommended. Followed by The Third Claw of God. Rating: 7 out of 10

19 September 2012

Stefano Zacchiroli: bits from the DPL for August 2012

DPL August report, posted on d-d-a a while ago (yep, I forgot to blog it up to now!, sorry for the oldies).
Dear project members, August has been a month with a good deal of vacations for many of us, including yours truly. Therefore the monthly report of DPL activities will be briefer than usual. Which is good, as it'll leave all my readers more time to do NMUs and fix RC bugs! Ongoing discussions Assets Core teams Legal and RC fun Hardware See? It's been quick(er)! Talk to you here next month, with a much lower count of Wheezy RC Bugs on the horizon, hopefully.
PS the boring day-to-day activity log for August 2012 is available at master:/srv/leader/news/bits-from-the-DPL.txt.201208

13 September 2012

MJ Ray: Business As Mutual conference, Anglia Ruskin Uni, 12 Sep

image Here s a summary of what happened at this conference. Opening address. Keynote from Nick Hurd MP, @minforcivsoc. Lot less money around. Called canals and rivers trust the biggest social enterprise. Blames lack of large social enterprises on culture, leadership and access to capital. First Big Society Capital investments announced tomorrow. Questions (and responses) about what had changed in commissioning (determination?), something about accountability in health I think but I didn t hear (more public scrutiny), other models besides worker-led (gov is agnostic, but that s just the type of mutuals so far), and capital renewal (gov is challenging the banks with Big Society Bank). This is going to get a bit long, so click through to our site to read what the other the speakers had to say and what that block of flats in the picture has to do with it Still here? Good! Harriet Hounsell from John Lewis Partnership was next. What s the Right level of profit? Structure of the partnership. The registry seems like the member services function and a bit more. Partner suggestions make a real difference. Beliefs have been tested. Recession hit us. Vivian Woodall, the co-operative phone, back to how it started. He knew people working for NGOs with high international phone bills. Bulk buy. Solid steady growth. Paid all tax. Living our cooperative values. Employee council and profit-shared. Adoption of new brand. Questions to both on redundancies (debate openly, try to redeploy, ultimately division of responsibilities: managers manage staff levels, not members), and being rejected as too small to help other social enterprises (ask why? Try local level instead of head office?), plus praise for John Lewis. Then there was coffee, workshops, lunch, workshops and coffee. I don t think I should report all of that, so a quick comment on the venue at Anglia Ruskin Uni Cambridge: is the Lord Ashcroft it s named after the same one who said it was legal to attack Iraq? Anyway Based on the workshops, I don t think our co-op will do SROI accounting any time soon (needs too much people time) and I m little the wiser on leadership. Some people are intrigued by collective management and cooperative working, though. The closing keynote was Wayne Hemingway, formerly of Red or Dead and now of Hemingway Design. He gave a quick history of himself and of those two enterprises and a bit of an entertaining ramble around. He seemed very much from the business end and how to use business to benefit society, but I ve not really looked at his companies before. I probably should do, as they ve a regeneration project in Lynn (pictured: before Wayne). Then it was the closing address, the thanks (yes, thanks to the workers and sponsors) and then time to head for the exit. It s a shame that some people who made good points during the keynotes (coop party!) left quickly instead of staying to chat.

4 September 2012

Jon Dowland: Pretty Eight Machine

P8M CD and stickers P8M CD and stickers
Back in June or thereabouts I learned about a project to re-create Nine Inch Nails' first album "Pretty Hate Machine" as a chiptune cover/tribute project. This project is called Pretty Eight Machine. The artist InversePhase was kind enough to send me a copy of the CD as a random prize draw, so I thought I would write a few words about it. I don't know a great deal about the world of chiptunes, besides having heard a variety of "chiptune" covers of various well-known songs, some good, some bad. the backing track to this video, a cover of Tears for Fears' "Mad World", is, in my opinion, good. The front cover for P8M lovingly reflects the recent reworking of the classic PHM cover by Rob Sheridan, for the source album's recent deluxe reissue. There's a great in-depth interview with Rob about the process of reviving that cover at sleevage. That little homage is a good indication of the amount of effort and attention to detail that has gone into this project. One interesting thing about this project is that each track has been composed for a particular vintage chipset, such as the Commodore 64 in the case of the opening track "Head like I/O". InversePhase is very faithful to the original chips here, not just using their tones as part of a modern composition but constraining himself with the actual chipset limitations: for example, the number of voices that can be playing at once. (By contrast, that Tears for Fears chiptune above is the non-authentic type of chiptune). InversePhase tracks Trent's vocal lines as an instrument, so all of the notes that are heard in the original are present on this remake. It would be interesting to hear an "instrumental" mix of these tracks, and perhaps mix isolated vocal tracks from the originals on top My favourite track is probably "Kinda I Want To". I actually really like the original track, in particular the extended breakdown, where a synth noise gradually breaks down and disintegrates bar after bar. It suffered terribly from dated lyrics compared to other PHM tracks, but InversePhase's cover is saved that embarrassment. This particular track (apparently) makes use of a VCR6, a Konami chipset apparently used to supplement the hardware in the Famicom/NES. Yes, back then games came on cartidges that could supply bits of their own hardware if required. Those were the days! And yes InversePhase, you've successfully made the NES sound "dirty": and the synth breakdown sounds great. Any fan of the original album or anyone with an interest in what kind of noises vintage sound synthesis chipsets could produce are thoroughly recommended to give this album a try. You can preview all of the tracks and read per-track information on the bandcamp page.

15 July 2012

Debian Med: Debian Med Bits: Report from LSM Geneva by Andreas Tille

In this report from LSM 2012 in Geneva I will report about
  1. Medical imaging using Debian
  2. Debian Med packaging workshop
  3. Integration of VistA into Debian
  4. Other interesting talks
Medical imaging using Debian There were about 10 attendees basically upstream developers of medical imaging software. The talk got some attention and the message to include even more medical imaging software into Debian was well percived. Thanks to Mathieu Malaterre there was some live demonstration which was way easier for him as a medical imaging expert than it would have been for me.
Debian Med packaging workshop Due to my advertising in the talk yesterday three students (two of them from one medical imaging project, one from an other project) attended the workshop. Thanks to Axel Beckert who helped me out surviving the challenge to walk on unexplored ground.

The idea of the workshop was to ask the attendees to name a package of their own and just package this. Because two of the attendees were upstream developers of CreaTools we decided to go on for packaging this. After circumeventing some pitfalls in the beginning it went rather smoothly and after about 2.5 hours we were able to commit some initial packaging to the Debian Med Git repository which comes quite close to a ready package (perhaps some split into a library and a development package needs to be done and for sure testing is needed).
Quoting Frederic Cervenansky, upstream of CreaTools
Thanks for your work. Your workshop was very interesting and didactic: a relevant discussion between Claire and me for the future of Creatools has emerged from the difficulties you encountered to package creatools. I will try, before the end of the month, to fully package creatools. And for sure, I will contact the debian-med mailing list.
Integration of VistA into Debian I had the good chance to directly address some issues of Claudio Zaugg the speaker in the talk Implementing open source Health Information Systems in Low- and Middle Income Countries a practical review directly before mine. It turned out that by using Debian packaged software might help simplifying the issues they had in supporting health care workers in Low- and Middle Income Countries.
My talk was partly repeating some basic ideas about Debian Med from the talk on Monday because the audience was completely different. Than I tried to explain in detail how we tried hard to establish good contacts to upstream developers and why this is essential to finalise the goal to include hospital information systems straight into Debian any by doing so open the doors of hospitals for large scale Debian installations.
There is also video recording of this talk. Other interesting talks OpenEMR, a multi-language free open source electronic health record for international use Just discussed the packaging of OpenEMR which is prepared for Debian Med as it can be seen on our tasks page. The contact to the creator of some inofficial package will be established to finalise this task.
OpenFovea : when open-source and biophysical research get married Just another target for Debian Med popped up in this talk to further enhance Debian Med in covering all issues of medical care on one hand and on the other hand helping upstream authors to distribute their code
more effectively.
Collaborative software development for nanoscale physics The talk would have fit very nicely into the Debian Science workshop at ESRF (European Synchrotron Radiation Facility) in Grenoble because it was about ETRF (European Theoretical Radiation Facility). At previous LSM events I had just talked with Yann and the work to include their software into Debian is on its way.
Free software and High Performance Computing This talk was not directly connected to my Debian work but I simply enjoyed to see how "two people" had a really entertaining talk about Top 500 computers. Vittoria, you made my last day at LSM.

19 May 2012

Matthew Garrett: Fixing Asus UX21e unexpected power off

Edit: Sigh, some further testing shows that it seems better, but not fixed. If you unplug the power while the CPU is over 80 degrees C, the machine will power off. I can't find any way of avoiding this - it seems to be handled at the embedded controller or SMM level, since as far as I can tell Linux isn't surviving long enough to even be aware that the event occurred.

Original entry:

The Asus UX21e (and maybe the UX31e?) has the irritating misfeature that it reloads the CPU thermal tables when you unplug the power. One consequence of this is that it'll automatically throttle itself much more aggressively on battery (reducing performance) but the more serious one is that the new critical power off temperature may then be lower than the temperature the CPU is currently operating at, resulting in the machine turning itself off. As far as I can tell from debugging, this is completely OS-independent - it still happens even if I stub out all the ACPI code for power supply events and there are reports of the same thing occurring on Windows. The good news is that it seems to be fixed in newer firmware versions. The even better news is that you can flash it without Windows. Just download the BIOS image from the Asus website, copy it onto a FAT formatted USB stick, insert that, go into the firmware (hit F2 on the splash screen) and start the flash program from there.

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27 February 2012

Jon Dowland: American Psycho

American Psycho is a novel by Bret Easton Ellis. It's a first person stream-of-consciousness novel about a mid-to-late twenties Wall Street banker during the late-eighties-early-nineties. Patrick Bateman is a vain, self-obsessed pleasure-seeker, surrounded by a gaggle of similarly self-obsessed bankers and socialites. Bateman and his friends idle away their days thinking about what restaurants to secure dinner bookings; which nightclubs to be seen at; where to score cocaine and pick up women. They compete with one another on points of dress etiquette, and the relative degree of luxury demonstrated by their attire. They are all relatively interchangeable: the reader could be excused for mixing the identi-kit bankers up, and indeed they are frequently confused for each other, and other people, throughout the novel. Bateman describes in vivid detail nearly every item of clothing worn by both his male and female associates, describing both their cut and which fashion house they have come from, occasionally passing judgement. The murders are typically described with the same vivid detail as his more public activities. As well as a yuppie, Bateman is a psychotic, and probably a serial killer: there is a small amount of ambiguity, partially due to the frequent confusions of identity between the various male banker characters in the book. It's possible that Bateman has fantasised his killer side, or embellished it. He's clearly an unreliable narrator. It takes a relatively long time before this aspect of his personality emerges. It's also possible that he is a killer, but the people he kills are so interchangeable that nobody notices, or cares. There is a passage towards the end of the book that strays into Hollywood action-thriller levels of absurdity, possibly the only moment in the book where you have difficulty believing that the events could have occurred as described. Bateman tries repeatedly to talk to people about his crimes, but never succeeds in holding people's attention, or being taken seriously. This particular theme reaches a particularly amusing climax. Reportedly Ellis wrote the novel without the violent scenes and later added them in. I can believe that. The novel is carefully constructed to manipulate the reader in a way I've never been aware of before. The everyday and the horrific mesh to make the whole seem very consistent and lucid. There is a small surreal element woven into the story which is so subtle and downplayed that you can't withdraw into the safety of "this is a fantasy". Similar scenes recur over and over: heading to a restaurant. Heading to a club. Sex. Murder. Ellis uses repetition to lull you into a false sense of security before hitting you hard with an about-face, mid-sentence, like a movie jump-cut. This book has the dubious distinction of being the second novel ever to have made me feel physically queezy after reading a passage (and I was reading the other book in a car, which may have been a contributing factor). The book has been criticised for the level of violence meted out against women. Numerically, Bateman describes a roughly even number of male and female murders. However his female victims are dispatched with a shockingly higher level of planned sadism: most of his male victims are opportunistic rather than planned. Some critics theorise that the even male/female victim count is a deliberate pre-emption on the part of the author from criticism for the violence against women. I don't quite see the argument, here: Bateman is not a sympathetic character. He's a monster, and the fact he's a sexist monster is only one unpleasant facet of many. To me, the disdain and hatred shown towards homeless people was a far more prevalent problem, not least because it wasn't limited to murders, or even Bateman: many of the other characters are cruel towards them. What would this book be, without the murder? Quite similar to a number of Ellis' other stories, if their blurbs are anything to go by: explorations of the emptiness of the lives of privileged, upper class contemporary Americans. Is the psychopathy central to the story? I think so. The contrast between the corporate and the murderous is at the core. Would I recommend this novel? I'd hesitate to do so to anyone with a nervous disposition: otherwise, it has left a lasting impression and a desire to discuss it further, which you can take as praise. There's a good critical review at the M/C Journal.

3 December 2011

Joachim Breitner: Some late recognition of metainit

Four years ago, during DebConf 7 in Edinburgh, I had the idea of creating init scripts not by hand, but rather describe them in a declarative way that handles most common cases and generate the real init scripts from them. Back than, this was partly motivated by the varying quality of init scripts and the advent of an alternative init system, upstart, for which proper service files could be generated as well. I implemented the idea and uploaded it as metainit to Debian, but it did not take off. Only one package uses it, and this package is not used much either. The project basically fell dormant. Yesterday, I got this mail:
Hi Joachim, I'm not very familiar with Debian ecosystem, however our company has recently switched to exclusively using Debian based servers, please forgive me if there exists a better channel for sending patches. We need (in house) to create a lot of trivial services and the sysv init system seems an ideal way to manage them, and metainit an great way to keep the config simple. However all our scripts require a heartbeat, the way we normally do this is with a bunch of checkers launched from cron. Metainit was ideal, but lacked the simple 'status' task found in most init scripts. This small patch adds that task, I hope you and others find it usefull. Regards,
together with the mentioned patch. So it turned out that the idea was a useful one after all, although it found its use on our user s machines, and not within the Debian packages, as I originally anticipated. Nice! During the recent discussions about the latest init system, systemd, there were more thoughts about generating init scripts/upstart service descriptions/systemd units from a declarative description, and if metainit had taken off back then, things would be easier now. So if anyone feels like reviving the project: Please do.

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11 October 2011

Christian Perrier: RWC 2011 : after 1/4 finals

I was expecting to write more about the 7th Rugby World Cup, but real life, Debian work and running activities prevented me to do so.. Still, I watched several games and I can share my feelings now. First of all, this is a tremendous organization from New Zealand. It seems that about the entire country is working on making this even a great success and I really appreciate to see a place I certainly have to visit some day receiving such wordlwide attention (OK, admitedly, mostly in the part of the world that understands rugby). First round already gave several surprises even if the 1/4 finals were after all kinda expected (at least, the list of countries). Which lead us to the following 1/4 finals (in parenthesis are my bets): If you know about the results, you know I screwed it nearly completely..:-) The Welsh team played a great game against an uninspired Irish team. It has certainly been the best 1/4 final and they certainly deserve their win. Even though I usually tend to be supprotive of Ireland, I was very balanced here, and finally turned out to be in favor of the Welsh. We really have to fear them in semi-finals. Australia-South Africa was theoretically the most exciting 1/4 final but finally turned out to be quite boring. Both teams insisted on playing mostly to occupy their opponents part of the field, more than trying to score, then relying on penalties to score. That was apparently the good tactics for Australia ad they also deserve their win against a South-African team where forward players were not as decisive as they sometimes are. Argentina was again there and really there. It has been the only team up to now who lead score against New Zealand. And that was deserved. What a wonderful 1st halftime! Obviously, it was impossible for them to resist during second halftime and it slowly became obvious that the Blacks (saved during 1st half by the kicks of a very inspired Kiri Weepu) would finally manage to score tries. But, still, our argentinian friends, for instance the inoxydable "Super Mario" Ledesma, or the tireless Felipe Contepomi, were not here as a sacrificial victim. What to say about England-France? First half was astonishing for us, of course. This is what we love (and hate) with our beloved French team. Definitely the team that can make surprises and, imho, the only one that can beat New Zealand if that has to happen (but also the only one that can be entirely crushed by them). The defeat against Tonga and the week that followed completely transformed them. A stunning 3rd row, defending each and every single bit of England trying to invade "la patrie en danger". Rear lanes with the magicians of Toulouse (Clerc and M dard) as the ideal finishers of magic play by Parra, Trinh Duc, Mermoz, Palisson (the good surprise of this world cup, Alexis). And, during second half, a trilling resistance to assaults of the British White Knights, concluded by this delivering drop-goal by Trinh Duc. For sure, with games like this, they can beat everybody and by everybody, I mean everybody. Remember Millenium Stadium in 2007..:-) So, well. Australia-New Zealand and France-Wales. I know where my heart is balancing for both games. The Blacks and Les Bleus in final, thi is what we hope (and fear...), but both teams, particularly France, will have to first climb a quite big wall before reaching this.

5 July 2011

John Goerzen: The Lives of Others

It s not very often that I watch a movie anymore. It s been a few years since I ve actually purchased one (normally I see them from Netflix). But yesterday I saw one that may change that. The Lives of Others is an incredible film set in the former East Germany (GDR/DDR) mostly in 1984. The authenticity of it is incredible and so is the story. It s subtitled, but if you re an American wary of subtitled European films, don t be wary of this one. It is easy to watch and worth every minute. The story revolves around the Stasi, the GDR Ministry for State Security ( secret police ). It is an incredible picture of what living in a police state was like, and how many of the informants were victims of the regime too. My breath caught near the beginning of the film, showing the inside of a Stasi building. A prisoner was being interrogated for helping someone attempt to escape to the west. But the reason my breath caught was this incredible feeling of I was there . Last year, Terah and I were in Leipzig and visited the Stasi museum there, Museum in der Runden Ecke . I always have an incredible sense of history when being in a preserved place, and this building was literally the Stasi headquarters for Leipzig. Much of it was preserved intact, and seeing it in the film brought home even more vividly the terrible things that happened in that building, and others like it, not so very long ago. IMG_2717 We watched the special features on the Blu-Ray disc, and one of them was an interview with director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. He described how he spent a lot of time interviewing both victims of the Stasi, as well as ex-Stasi officers. One of the most disturbing things to me was his almost offhand comment that most of the former Stasi officers still had some pride in performing their jobs well. Even now, freed of the state s ideology, they were proud of the work they did which could be put most charitably as ruining people s lives. What leads a person to view life that way? How can we try to make sure it doesn t happen again elsewhere? I am happy to say that most of us have never experienced anything like the Stasi. And yet, small reflections of that mindset can be seen almost everywhere. Societies at wartime or feeling under threat, even Western democracies, can drum up those feelings. In the USA, for instance, the McCarthyism era saw people s careers ruined for alleged anti-state behavior. Contemporary examples include the indefinite detention (I hate that word; shouldn t we say imprisonment ?) of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, and the terrible treatment of Bradley Manning, who revealed some true but embarrassing things about the US military which really needed to be revealed. Even tobacco farmers and companies are selling a product they know ruins lives, but somehow keep doing it. And there are still members of the public that try to make life difficult for people that don t think like they do. From organizing campaigns of telephone harassment of colleges that don t perform the American national anthem before sporting events, to tossing about the term un-American (a loaded McCarthyist one, which many may not even be aware) at an inflated rate, we are not immune from attempts at forcing conformity or silence in others, and blind loyalty to state. I am never in a particularly celebratory mood on July 4, the biggest day for American boasting, faux patriotism, militarism, and general flag-waving. We do have a lot to be proud of and thankful for, but it seems that we celebrate all the wrong things on July 4, and see it as an occasion to proclaim American exceptionalism rather than as one to see how far we ve come and bolster hope for how far we can, and should, yet go. No, I don t think that the land of the free ought to have operated secret prisons in Europe (nor the Europeans to have been complicit in it), or that the American military was defending our freedom 100% of the time they were deployed, or that it is right for governments to mandate daily recitation of an untrue document (the pledge of allegiance) in schools. And yet, I am mindful that I have a lot to be thankful for stability, lack of much internal violent conflict, etc. And this particular day I am happy that a post like this is not something that gets the attention of some government agency and mostly that I will have a handful of angry emails to delete.

16 March 2011

Paul Wise: Debian/Ubuntu games team meeting

The Debian/Ubuntu games team has been less active over the past few years, so we are having an IRC meeting at the end of the week as part of an attempt to revive the team a bit. Some of you might have seen the announcement in the Debian Misc Developer News issue 26. So if you have an interest in gaming and Debian/Ubuntu, please join us on the IRC channel. Gamers and lurkers welcome, come one come all! The agenda for the meeting is not yet finalised so if you would like to influence it please take a look at the poll. The primary focus of the meeting looks like it will be reviving the team and looking forward to our goals for Debian wheezy.

22 January 2011

Tim Retout: Grandma

My paternal grandmother died a month ago today - I may have been quieter than usual since December. The most vivid memory I have of her is helping to collect runner beans from her garden - apparently this had been going on since the World War II "dig for victory" campaign. Her funeral was in Hastings on 10th January, and she was buried in Fairlight, in the Roman Catholic area of St. Andrew's - it was a very peaceful setting.