Older blog entries for Cardinal (starting at number 13)

It feels funny to say, but I've been using and advocating the use of Debian for well over six years now. Its distinction as a completely volunteer-driven distro is something I find very appealing, and I have a lot of respect for the people that make that possible.

This is much more than merely the hundreds of developers across the world, this includes QA people, documenters, translators, advocates, and donators of bandwitdh and hardware. And it includes bug reporters.

So, when the behavior of some developers in this bug report comes to my attention, I get fairly pissed off.

Now, I'm not dilluted enough to think that just because evrybody's contributing to a greater good means that they'll get alone or be civil to one another in the process. Quite the contrary, some developer lists are home to some of the fiercest arguments I've seen. It pretty much goes with the territory that anyone who cares enough to donate their time to Debian has some pretty string feelings about how they think Debian's future should look, and won't hesitate to defend their views. I can appreciate that. However, there are forums where some degree of etiquitte is required. I consider a bug database to be one such forum.

One of the core ideas behind the success of free software projects is peer review. More eyeballs, and all that stuff mbp was recently talking about in his diary. When we talk about having more eyeballs, some of those are the eyes of other developers reviewing code. But most of them are the eyes of users submitting bug reports. This is what sets us apart from the properitary world. A user see something they think isn't working right, or something they simply think could be better, and they have the means to tell the developers. And they get a response. That response is a voice from somebody who has the authority to represent that project publically.

Put another way, developers who respond to Debian bug reports are representing Debian, all of it, in their words. Users are told that their report has been seen, and a problem they reported fixed, or a suggestion they've made noted for consideration. And, if the response is a good one, the user is thanked for their time to fill out the report.

So, now that I've rambled for several paragraphs about what I think things should be like, allow me to be somewhat crass.

Daniel Stone, your response to that bug report was utter bullshit. I'm disgusted that you had the nerve to reply to someone who was volunteering their time to try to make Debian a little better in their eyes with such behavior. Now, perhaps I'm being too harsh, or perhaps you were trying to be funny in some odd teenage way that escapes me. But I think, in the future, you should take a moment of pause before corrosponding with bug reporters in the future. Think about how your actions will be viewed by the person on the other end of the message, and the people observing from afar. People like me, who have a lot of pride in what Debian has grown into, and don't like seeing this kind of shit from someone who is supposed to feel the same way.

7 Nov 2001 (updated 7 Nov 2001 at 23:50 UTC) »
24 was a so- so show. I like a number of the cast members from their past work, but the storyline was somewhat weak. We'll see how they do next week.

Particularly bothersome, though, was a chat between two characters.

Jack: Jamie. If I give you a phone number, could you hack in and get all the Internet passwords connected to it?
Jamie: Sure, if you have a warrant.

Y'know.. Once upon a time, a scene like that would've been amusing and silly. A fantasy of technology made up by Hollywood, something they're fairly good at.

Now, however, it's not rea lly all that funny.

Doing my part to push certain abuses of CSS off the recentlog...

UCITA continues to creep across the land (of the US) like a slow-moving plague. Which, in a way, is good. At least it isn't a fast-moving airborne virus like the mega-corporation lobby would like it to be.

There is hope for my state, at least. Recently a public hearing was held in Salem regarding House Bill 3910, also known as UCITA for Oregon. I regret I wasn't able to attend, however several members of my LUG did go, and one posted an encouraging report of the proceedings. My favorite parts of the hearing: The state representative pushing UCITA didn't show up. The only supporters that showed up were Intel goons. Boeing sent their MIS manager out to speak against it.

Why did UCITA even get this far in Oregon? Well, that's simple. The Legal Infrastructure Subcommittee of the Oregon Internet Commission was comprised of two IP lawyers, the Attorney General, and a Microsoft VP. Oh, and there's an Intel VP on the Commission, too.

But I'm not annoyed or anything. Nah. On the up side, the Legal Infrastructure subcommittee didn't outright recommend UCITA, they said it needed further study, due to its controversial standing in many states. The funny thing is, Oregon isn't looking to adopt UCITA because they think it's a great set of commerce laws. They want to adopt it as a means of attracting more Internet businesses to the state, on the grounds that Oregon is progressive and on the leading edge of supporting Internet business.

So, for the first time in awhile, I'm optimistic about the saftey of Oregon from UCITA.

4 Apr 2001 (updated 4 Apr 2001 at 02:10 UTC) »

Takaya Kinjo, you are my hero of the day. At last, a working jog dial on my Vaio. Now, if it'll map to pageup/pagedown, I'll be a happy guy. I'm also pleased with Sylvain Gil's S-Jog app launcher.

At last, the jog dial isn't a worthless knob!

In other news.. Why do I still bother reading Slashdot comments when an XP article comes up? About eight people out of over 500 had something worthwhile to say about XP. The rest either blasted the buzzword portion of the name, drolled on about pair programming (Regardless of if they were for or against it) or contributed to the typical noise of any Slashdot article.

Perforce

I first heard the name Perforce mentioned less than two months ago in a discussion amongst a dozen or so people about a potential project. It was recommended over CVS by an individual whose arguments against CVS can be summed up as "CVS sucks" and "Only ignorant zealots would choose an inferior OSS tool over Perforce. Who says we have to use OSS tools to manage an OSS project?" Obviously a very well-spoken individual with excellent debate skills. I've since asked a handful of coders with a great deal more experience than myself what they thought of Perforce, and none of them have given a particularly shining review of it over CVS. Apparently it functions well, but in terms of it being vastly superior to CVS, all I have is the aforementioned "CVS sucks" argument.

Since mechanix mentioned Perforce in his article, I'd like to extend my question to this group and see if anybody has experience with Perforce, either for commercial or OSS work? To date, I haven't been able to find an OSS project using Perforce (Maybe we're all just ignorant zealots), and very little on the web that compares CVS and Perforce. Any insights would be appreciated, if only to cure my curiousity in the matter.

Crack Certs (Minty fresh)

Zeevon: It may seem that xcyber is on crack, or he may just have different standards from most people of the cert levels. It seems he's even certified two people who haven't even set their name, and two people who have set only their name.

Guess that sorta puts his Journeyer cert of you and I in perspective.

Mir

mrorganic: I know a lot of Russians share your sentiments. Indeed, members of Russia's lower parliament are still trying to give Mir another chance, if only to keep it there for transfering equipment off of to a new station, Mir 2.

Still, whatever sadness Mir's coming down may bring should be kept in check by realizing just how much Mir has meant to the advancement of the global space program. Russia's engineers and scientists faced and solved questions and problems with manning a space station that the US still doesn't have answers to, and they did it 15 years ago. The technologies and experience gained from Mir's tenure is absolutely invaluable, and the ISS simply wouldn't be able to happen without it. Whatever fate Mir itself has met, any manned platform we see in orbit will always owe a debt to Mir's existence.

Doesn't that just figure. An article appears which I'd like to reply to, so naturally my apprentice certification vanishes before I can get to it. Oh well, it's all transitory. Begin random musings.

cvs commit -m "Why am I here?" ./ChangeLog

My ill-fated reply wasn't so much to jtauber's article as it was to ftobin's first reply that mentioned cvs2cl. I'm not sure mapping a CVS log directly to a ChangeLog is the right thing to do. The cvs2cl page has a link to some writing on CVS Logs and ChangeLogs that addresses the relationship between the two logging systems towards the bottom, in the paragraph headed "ChangeLogs and the CVS log".

His reasons are mostly semantics, though, and I imagine cvs2cl can address those concerns (Namely the first bullet point, the difficulty to sort log entries by date). The underlying issue I see, though, is audience. What generally goes into CVS logs isn't what should go into a ChangeLog, imho. ChangeLogs are higher level than CVS logs. The folks that read them aren't interested in what code fragment changed or that a typo was corrected in a header file comment. Yet these sorts of messages will end up in the CVS log as a matter of course. After all, that's what it's for. The CVS log describes the sequence of changes to the code. Instead, the ChangeLog should be a narrative of general changes. Features added or modified, problems addressed (Including bug #'s if a bug tracker is present) and the like. So. I would argue for maintaining a ChangeLog, rather than relying on the CVS logs to be useful to the public at large.

OSS Project Organization and/or Politics

I had an interesting conversation earlier tonight that spanned a host of topics, one of which was the scalability of the development tribe. For a nominally sized group of developers, there's little need for a structure of control over the project. Development can progress by virtue of each developer doing his or her thing, and discussion and peer review keeping the project aiming in a fairly consistent direction. However, take that group and double it a couple times over, and that falls apart. Some controls are needed, and in many projects we can catagorize them as benevolent dictatorships or as commonwealths. Both can work, but there's a third model that I think can work better than both, which is a commonwealth, but with some people being more equal than others.

The horror! In a given project, the votes of all contributing individuals must be equal, right? Well, not necessarily. What happens when an individual is completely off his rocker, and his vote or influence puts the well-being of the project at risk? Surely it would be clear to a the majority that said individual is indeed inviting trouble, but what if it wasn't so clear? A core group needs to have some veto power, especially in a large project. Smaller projects can cope with dissent, but in a large setting the problem can grow more difficult to manage.

So, how far do these various models scale? Linux has been the subject of criticism before for Linus being a benevolent dictator, but it certainly seems to be working. And even then, he has his core group to which he's delegated much responsibility. So I'd say that model scales fairly well. How about the others?

GNU Lobby?

Don't like the DMCA? No, I imagine not. Lots of people don't. But the Internet is leaving the hands of geeks and techs and entering the eager clutches of business and its lawyers. Sure, we have our advocates, and while we could always use a couple more solid representatives, what it seems we really lack is the legal power. The EFF and FSF make an admirable effort to defend liberty from the onslaught of corporate interests, but the sad truth is those big businesses have a lot more lobbyists than we do, and when it comes to the laws that threaten to shape our net, that's all that matters. So wouldn't it be nice if the community at large could get a strong support group of lawyer and lobbyist types to help in the fight? It seems that way to me, at least.. At 1:41 am.. Maybe I'll have something more thought-out in in the afternoon. End random musings.

It's the year 3030.. And here at the Corporate Institutional Bank of Time, we find ourselves.. reflecting.. Finding out, that in fact, we came back. We were always coming back.

Latest batch of CD's arrived from CDNow. Feels like I pick two to four items off my wishlist there every couple months, but the list isn't getting any shorter. I find it mildly amusing that CDNow doesn't show you a total cost of the items in your list. What a surprise.

Recent Stuff:

  • Resident: Two years of Oakenfold at Cream
  • Kruder & Dorfmeister - Sessions
  • KLF - White Room / Justified & Ancient
  • Atmospheric Drum & Bass 4 (On backorder)

raph applied the <proj> tag patch, cool beans. StevenRainwater also fixed it to work on all projects.

So I was writing some useful test scripts for php_imlib on the bus over the last couple days, and a funny thing happened. It failed some of them. Or rather, Imlib2 failed them. One of the issues I already knew about, Imlib2 stopped drawing filled ellipses at some point. The new issue (Or at least, the issue I hadn't noticed before) was that it doesn't fill polygons if their points are plotted counter-clockwise. I suppose it could've been an issue for some time, and I just happened to draw one of the test polys counter-clockwise out of random chance. Odd.

logic: Granted, NIH can run rampant sometimes, but I don't think it's as serious a problem as it's been made out to be. After all, even if GNOME and KDE are separate efforts, it's quite plain that they build off of ideas from each other. As a result, we're seeing two large efforts work towards an end-user friendly Linux desktop with all the features one would expect. But, they are different enough that if a user doesn't like one, he/she may like the other. That kind of choice, being able to use a completely different desktop environment, just doesn't exist for 80% of the consumer market at the moment.

As far as the Konq/Galeon/Moz, those three don't really line up directly in my book. Mozilla is an application framework as much as it is a browser, imho. Galeon filled a much-needed void of using Mozilla's strength (gecko) without the overhead (XUL). Konq goes far beyond being a web browser, though its HTML renderer is also quite good. So from my POV, each of the three apps does something the others don't. (And besides, it's all about choices. Browser choice, desktop choice, etc..)

OpenOffice, I think, will follow much the same fate that Mozilla has. Momentum, but insufficient community support leading to slow development. I don't expect to see anything as usable as KOffice from the OpenOffice group for quite some time. :)

Anyway, there are some rather poorly presented thoughts. I'll leave off with my favorite example of why all this is a good thing, and that's gPhoto. They abstracted out the backend of their very cool digital camera app into a library, and the Kompany picked up on it and hooked up the gphoto library with a kio_slave. Tada. gPhoto-powered access to digital cameras from any KDE app. How cool is that, eh? :) Sure, gPhoto was written as a Gnome app. But while they were working on a solid digital camera app, KDE was working on a solid component system that allowed this sort of collaboration to happen. That's what I like to see, and I hope it will be used as an example to other projects.

17 Feb 2001 (updated 17 Feb 2001 at 06:30 UTC) »

Got the announcement from RoUS that registration for ApacheCon 2001 was online. So I popped open the registration page, only to see.. the price. My God, was it that much last year? Of course, I don't remember last year's full price, because I went as a student then. $1300. That is a great deal of money for a relatively poor coder. (As it turns out, it was cheaper last year)

So, despite all the fun I had last year in Orlando, I think I'll have to pass on this one. Maybe next year I'll be a student again. Or, maybe the O'Reilly Open Source one will be cheaper. Who knows.

...

It's nice to get feedback on your projects. I've gotten a dozen or so pats on the back for php_imlib over the last few months, but January saw two people package RPMs for me, one of whom sent a patch against one of the PHP classes today. So that was pretty cool. Still need to look over the RPMs, then I'll put some links on the website. I also noticed, by way of referer logs, that the Apache Toolbox had added php_imlib to their todo list. It was later downgraded to 'doubtful'. Alas. :)

...

Submitted a short (1388 byte, 15 line) patch to raph to add the <proj> tag to advogato. It turned out to be a very simple thing to add, given the way the custom tag parsing is done.

Released php_imlib 0.3 today. Now that that's out of the way for a little bit, I can relax, fill up my time with other endeavors, and plan what to add to it next. (Image filters, probably. If I can figure out how they work.)

Of course, one minor problem with php_imlib is that it has a highly limited lifespan due to Imlib2's lack of thread saftey. Since php_imlib can't be thread safe, it will become fairly obsolete when Apache 2 becomes more commonplace, and offers threading. As far as I know, GD is also not thread safe, so PHP needs an alternative. One suggestion I've heard is that the Gimp folks are moving their graphics handling code into a library that might prove useful. Another option would be to just write a new one from scratch, though I have a hard time stomaching that one.

The Boss wants me to start learning/coding MS SQL Server. Hrm. Not sure if this would be a good thing to learn or not. At the very least, it'd help when I find myself having to talk to SQL Server from PHP, I suppose.

Well, we'll see how that goes.

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