Older blog entries for Jordi (starting at number 116)

Tinyproxy 1.8

A while ago, I was asked to recompile Tinyproxy to enable transparent proxying support, which was not being compiled in etch's Debian package. As it tends to happen, once I got the source and looked into doing a quick rebuild with --enable-transparent-proxy, I noticed the package was in such a bad shape, that I couldn't just leave it like that, so I found myself doing a few more changes, which mostly involved updating the packaging so it didn't suck a lot, and splitting the Debian patches so things could be sent upstream or dropped when new versions appeared.

However, even if Ed had ask me to go ahead and take over the package, this was meant to be a one-day effort, and soon I had forgotten about Tinyproxy, except for the ocassional bug mail getting through the PTS. It also didn't help that Tinyproxy had been pretty much dead upstream for years.

So lately, a few bug reports were reporting a ∗gasp∗ new major Tinyproxy release, after 7 years of basically nothing. OMG, what do I see, there's a Git repo! And an upstream Bugzilla! Somehow, feeling I owed Ed a reply to his unanswered request, I went ahead and tagged tinyproxy 1.6.3-3.2 in collab-maint, and started working on the new version. Adding myself to Uploaders, and getting rid of the “make no unnecessary changes” vetto, I rewrote most of the packaging. And for a change, I looked for and found a #tinyproxy channel on IRC and told muks and obnox that the days of Tinyproxy's stay in the Debian/Ubuntu limbo were over.

They were happy to get a few bugs and patches forwareded upstream, and asked me why all of this hadn't happened before. Pitty is that a few longstanding issues were well known in Debian but not so obvious for the new upstream maintainers, and are present in 1.8.0. Hopefully all will be dealt with in 1.8.1 or the next major version. The lesson is: if you work on an apparently abandoned package, after cleaning the mess in your NMU, try to spend 15 more minutes trying to contact upstream (if available), pointing them at the patch tracker and our list of bugs: chances are many are still useful. Also, contact the Debian maintainer, and if they ask you to take over, at least post a RFA so someone else can.

If you're a Tinyproxy user, I'd be happy to hear if the current package in Debian unstable works for you. If you were having weird issues with 1.6.x, chances are 1.8 will fix them. The package can be installed on stable with no extra dependencies, so if you're feeling adventurous, go ahead and upgrade.

Syndicated 2010-02-28 23:44:00 from I still don't have a title


Today, I was glad to attend the biggest demonstration ever in favour of the Cabanyal neighbourhood of València, a traditional district populated by the sea people of the city. After decades of oblivion, the Valencian right-wing government is trying to execute an old plan to “open Valencia to the sea”, which means demolishing around 450 traditional houses, many of them under protection for their cultural and architectural value, to extend a big avenue until the beach. Patrimonial loss aside, neighbours would be forced to other areas in the city (sadly, this has been happening for a decade already), making Cabanyal-Canyamelar the new posh neighbourhood for the richer class, destroying its identity and replacing it with a new set of skyscrapers.

The local government of PP, led by the infamous Rita Barberá, knows that getting the anti-riot police in the neighbourhood and forcing very old men and women out of the houses where they were born isn't what many people like to see in the evening news. They also know time is their ally; this plan is many decades old, and there's no need to hurry now, so it's better to apply silent mafia tactics on the problem. It's very easy.

First, stop investing a single euro in the area and monitor the slow but effective results of the degradation. Have a bit of patience, and after quite a few years, start promoting the illegal occupation of the increasing number of empty houses by marginal collectives which will bring the associated introduction of drug dealing in the area. This will surely make even more people leave or accelerate their decease. Keep repeating this process, until the Cabanyal is really fucked up. Now, start promoting the “rehabilitation plan”, which unavoidably includes splitting the neighbourhood in two pieces, and destroying a substantial part of it. Hopefully, many of the neighbours not directly affected by the demolitions will back the plan, they can't be blamed for being really fed up after all. Do all you can to confront those in favour to those against. In the meanwhile, start harrassing owners, make them end up selling their property at ridiculous prices and as soon as this happens, demolish it very quickly. Don't even bother with cleaning up the rubble: an increasing number of sites like this all over the place may be what makes a few more families give up and leave.

In the end, you either have an empty neighbourhood, or you've managed to demolish all the annoying houses that block your shiny avenue. However, if a Supreme Court argues that the remaining houses still have some cultural value, you might want to consider changing your local law to unprotect those architectural elements.

Today, many thousands of Valencians marched around Cabanyal to say “enough!”. From the street, I saw several old women out on the balconies of their beautiful houses, their eyes wet with tears, while they observed in silence all that many people who were fighting for them. There's still a long way to go in the courts until this is all over, but at least these people have a little more hope today than those in el Carme or La Punta, who ended up losing similar battles, years ago.

Syndicated 2010-01-31 23:52:00 from I still don't have a title

Ten years as a Debian Maintainer

On the 24th of November of 1999, the Debian ftpmasters processed the NEW package wmbiff, which got installed in the potato distribution. This sponsored upload by Fernando Sánchez was the first of my packages to hit the official Debian archive, thus officially making me a Debian maintainer. So, in short, today is my tenth anniversary as a Debian contributor!

I actually started a few days before, and soon after that upload, many other ITPs and uploads followed. I will always be thankful to fer for his patience with my upload sponsoring until I became a Debian developer with full rights and was able to upload myself.

During these years, I've been involved in many teams and different tasks, with my activity and dedication probably peaking around 2001 or 2002, when I apparently was doing a crazy amount of different stuff. I started doing plain packaging work of software packages, some of which also have come a long way (thanks for that, Chris!), but soon started to contribute in other Debian tasks. I think it's safe to say that the task that has ended up having more impact in the people that surround me was bootstrapping the Debian Catalan community and starting the Catalan translation of Debian's website, which soon after triggered the creation of a formal Debian Catalan translation project.

I've also spent a lot of time giving back to the NM team which helped me get a Debian account through the still experimental new New Maintainer process, and the QA team helping as I could with the never ending release cycles of potato and woody.

At some point I got engaged in the GNOME packaging tasks and the creation of the Debian GNOME team, and picked up the Catalan translation of GNOME 1.5.x releases, which eventually opened me the doors of Softcatalà, a Catalan non-profit devoted to the promotion of the Catalan language in technology.

I've believed in Debian's values since my classmate Ulisses Alonso prodded me to install Debian on my desktop back in 1997. Even if getting X up and running on bo was a real pain in the ass, knowing that the system I was running had all been written by people driven by altruism was enlightening; months later it was time to give back.

Of course, I've not been able to keep my motivation or output as high as I'd like. Debian as a collective has sometimes taken some decisions which were not so easy to understand from my point of view. The outcome of the non-free votes was a bit appalling, and having debian-devel becoming more and more a battleground instead of a civilised mailing list certainly did not help at some point (unsubscribing from it made my life a lot simpler!). Joining a triathlon club, having a girlfriend and suddenly rediscovering my neglected social life didn't help either. The result is that my dedication has been wanning noticeably since 2005 or so, but I still do my best to keep up with most of duties, even if I'm aware I'm clearly neglecting a few of them.

I am very proud of having been a part of an incredible project like Debian, and hope to be around for at least ten more years. Not only because I love and believe in Free Software; thanks to my involvement, I've been able to work on Debian-related jobs for all of my professional career, but above all I've been very lucky to make lots of real friends.

Today's has been a nice day full of remembering and mailbox digging. Thank you, Debian!

Syndicated 2009-11-24 23:47:00 from I still don't have a title

Dead PowerBook G4

A few weeks ago I was trying to get GRUB2 for PowerPC back to work on my PowerBook G4 15", and had some problems getting OF doing the right thing. Not being an OF expert at all, I found myself making things a bit worse, ending up with an unbootable laptop and, what a classic, unable to boot my old rescue CD to get yaboot back in its place.

So I googled a bit and ended up deciding that, given the boot parametres and some other stuff like the system's clock were doing strange stuff, reset-nvram would help getting things in a better shape that would at least permit CD booting. So there, reset-nvram, followed by reset-all, as found in all the OpenFirmware cheatsheets I found all over the web, and damn it, nothing changed and I was back into the OpenFirmware prompt. I used the power button to reset the laptop once again, and that was the last time I saw something functional on the PowerBook.

Now, when I start the computer, all I hear is the Apple startup sound, followed by the sound of the CD drive (which has eaten an Ubuntu 5.10 CD) trying to spin up for a pair of seconds, and then nothing. There's nothing displayed on the LCD, or any other sign of “life”. My searches in Google indicate this is a logic board failure and you can imagine that is not cheap to get fixed by Apple support.

I've tried numerous keyboard combo tricks I didn't even know about, and none seem to work. The computer doesn't seem to be responding to the builtin keyboard, an Apple USB keyboard I borrowed, or an external display. I'm annoyed because I've looked after this laptop really well and it was in a really good condition, so I'm going to see if it can be fixed for a reasonable amount.

Apple care in València is not an option. They say a logic board (if this is really what is causing trouble) costs around 500€, so I'll have to explore other ways. The first one is trying to find out if these symptoms (nothing on the display, key combos don't appear to work, etc.) really point to a fried logic board or could be something else. I've tried removing the RAM and replacing it with my old one, but that didn't work either. So, if anyone reading this has some Apple PowerPC hardware experience and can share some of their knowledge and suggestions, I'd be really, really grateful.

Plan B involves hiring a coworker, who I believe is the son of McGyver, to try to get it repaired for me. This would involve buying spare parts in eBay or some other place to try to get the replaced. Again, suggestions, donations and ideas are welcome in this front too. :)

Jose Vicente loves fixing stuff, and right before the Summer he already showed what he can do with a screwdriver and some patience. Some weeks before, I had managed to shatter the LCD screen of my Nokia 6500s when I lost my grip while climbing down a mountain in El Cadí, and the phone in my pocket hit a big rock. The phone worked, but I all I could see in the screen were some cracks in random colours. People suggested I should get a new phone, but I really don't want to generate even more polluting waste when all that was needed was replacing a cheap component.

My phone during its stay in McGyver's hideout

Syndicated 2009-10-30 22:07:00 from I still don't have a title

Flags and outrages

A bit more than two years ago, two young Spaniards on vacation in Latvia maybe went a bit too far during one of their night parties and decided to remove some Latvian flags that hanged from a post in the streets of Riga. They spent 1 month in prison, with charges for outraging the Latvian flag.

The Spanish media talked about the disproportionate charges, the ridiculous and “medieval” laws in Latvia and so on.

Today, we learn that Jaume d'Urgell will go to prison due to the “outraging” crime of substituting the current Spanish flag with the Republican flag of 1931 on the facade of a public building.

So much for medieval laws and institutions like the Spanish monarchy.

Syndicated 2009-09-07 19:04:00 from I still don't have a title

Operation PANTS

Debian has shown, once again, how a strong community of friends and workmates it is. Here's a success story, not related to our common duties as Debian Developers. This has nothing to do with packages, mailing lists, PO files or britney runs. This is all about pants, and the ties that bind them.

Let's introduce this story a little. Four years ago, if memory serves right, I had the pleasure to host Clint in my flat when he visited València for a few days. When he eventually left to go back to NYC, I was at work so I couldn't help him check he had packed everything in his bag. It took me weeks to realise he had left his yellow pyjama pants hanging behind the door of the bathroom I never use. I couldn't help making fun about his kidnapped pyjamas on IRC, and unfortunately this has kept going for years. I would go shopping for new speedos with my mom, and wear the pants during the shopping trip, when I needed to sample some jamón ibérico, I would always wear them. When I required lounging in the sun, his pants were a constant companion. The pants became more to me than just pants I found hanging on the bathroom hook. They became a private confidant, metalic objects would fly out of people's hands and stick themselves to the pants. I once went outside in the middle of the night, wearing only the pants, everyone who I passed in the street got a sunburn. The pants radiated joy, they cooked eggs just by standing near them, weekly they would push out perfectly formed flan that I would enjoy while wearing the pants. People's monitors would self-degauss when I walked by. I no longer shaved yaks, they simply were shaved seeing me in these pants. The pants were magical. They are so soft, I think they are made out of a combination of baby's bottoms, astroturf, handlotion, cotton candy, and hair from the hide of the mystical Softasaurus, a beast so soft that if you were to look at it your eyes would soften in their sockets. I am pretty sure that the Torta del Casar from Cáceres is made from the milk of the Softasaurus. As you can imagine, I became attached to these pants, we lived together, we went out together, I would always tell Clint about it of course, but we developed our own special relationship. My girlfriend became jealous.

Of course, I took care of keeping the trousers in a safe place and I always meant to return them to Clint, if I were to meet him again. I did not want to return them, because they were my precious. But if someone came from the US who could bring them back I vowed to hand them over to them to act as a proxy. However, even if it was my best intention, somehow I kept forgetting about it when friends flew to NYC. My idea was to get them posted to Clint by someone in the city, as a nice way of returning the pyjamas... but the pants held some kind of power over me, and it never happened, I don't understand what happened.

On July 23, I went to Debconf 9 in Cáceres. In the very last moment before leaving, the pants called out to me from the small shrine I kept them in, "take me to my leader!" I could see them glimmering in the candle light, somewhat obscured by the incense I burn there, they were pulsating, I became afraid and knew that maybe I had gone too far. Clearly, it was time to return them, and so Operation PANTS officially started!

During Debconf, the pants began to exert some kind of bizarre magical influence over the attendees. They were afflicted by a mania that frantically lit up their eyes, they sparkled in freakish ways. They would get cold sweats, and shake uncontrollably. Someone puked on the printer, a host of carrion birds circled above the venue and the security guard began carrying handcuffs and a billy club. People would drool on their OpenMokos and emit soft moo'ing sounds. They talked in hurried and hushed tones while always looking at me suspiciously. Something was clearly exerting a strong force. As an example, on the day that Launchpad was released with a Free Software licence, people were crying and hugging each other in the halls. It was like the ring to Gollum, but this was pants, one pair to rule them all. More than once, while someone was eyeing me askance, another Debconf attendee would grab hold of the pants and yank them from my body, laughing maniacally. I would be left naked, without my glorious pants, and it was then, crestfallen and forlorn, that I finally realised that I had hit rock-bottom. I was addicted to these pants, and it was only when I lost them did I know how powerful of an influence they had on my life. I needed help, I was addicted to pants.

I found Micah, and we began to stage interventions to free people from the powerful grasp of the pants. We would find someone, huddling in the corner with the pants, bloodshot eyes, typically with jaundice or some other malnourishment, dried drool on their chin, etc. who was doing some unholy thing with the pants. We would then use the camera flash to temporary blind them by saturating their fully dilated pupils and in that moment, we could take back the pants. We could only touch them with rubber gloves, for fear we would be tainted. Luckily, there were many cameras around, and there is evidence of our interventions that can be used to rebate denials of these happenings. Be careful, for you will find there fellow Debianistas in compromising states, at embarrassing lows in their life, you may find yourself and remember how horrible your pants addiction was, it is an unholy sight. For some this addiction was as if Hell itself opened up began spewing out MORE hells, until the universe, the cosmos and all dimensions were infinite hells stacked on top of each other and they were each individually oozing some ghastly fluid.

Micah took the pants back to NYC, in a hermetically sealed bag, illegally transporting them across international borders. Something happened along the way, Micah could not resist one last chance with the pants. So on a warm summer night in NYC, he took them to meet their rightful owner. Everything was going well. He and his handler (Karl Fogel) met Clint at a nice, quiet restaurant in the Village. They ordered food, and things were proceeding nicely, but suddenly Micah was overcome with a desire he could not withstand. This was his last chance, just one more taste of the pants! What could possibly go wrong, he just had to visit the bathroom for a quick change into the pants, and then he could give them back. He got up, under the auspices of cleansing his hands, went to the bathroom and put on the PANTS. He stood there, shivering in bliss. He exclaimed, too loudly, "They are SO SOFT!". It was too late, he could not take them off. He left the bathroom, with them on. He returned to the table, and Clint DID NOT NOTICE!

Micah was overcome with guilt and said, "Look what I got from Jordi!" Clint still did not notice, the pants were somehow camouflaged from Clint's gaze. Micah, was forced to vigorously point to the pants he was wearing and say, "Its your pants!"...

... at which point Clint noticed...

... and Micah was forced to take them off in the restaurant.

   ― Plot and execution by jordi, micah, nattie, pabs & all the people addicted to the PANTS!

Syndicated 2009-08-20 11:15:00 from I still don't have a title

Unread email

I've just come back from my hiking trip in Andorra, just after DebConf. This year's summer vacation has been a mix of a fun geeky week at Cáceres where I met many old friends, immediately followed by a lovely trip around the Andorran GRP, a hiking route around the borders of the Pyrenean tiny country. The last few days were spent in several Catalan towns like Bellver de Cerdanya, Figueres, Cadaqués and Girona, before getting back to València to sadly go back to work. I'll try to write about DebConf and Andorra in length in the following days.

The downside of all of this is when you find this in your mail.log:

Aug 13 00:47:05 nubol fetchmail[3047]: 6123 messages for jordi at flatline.sindominio.net (136533726 octets). 
Sigh. Please bear with me while I work through this huge pile of spam mixed with a dozen or so of legitimate email. :/

Syndicated 2009-08-14 20:15:00 from I still don't have a title

DebConf 9

It's taken me way too long to scribble these few lines, but I'm happy to say that in about one hour, I'll be driving to Cáceres with Sergio. After seven hours or so, we should appear somewhere in Extremadura.

My priorities for this week are 1) having lots of fun with people I haven't seen in ages, 2) catching up with all the Debian work I have neglected lately, be it packaging or l10n, 3) enjoying Cáceres and Extremadura's culture, as it's the first time I go past Madrid, and this is pretty much uncharted territory for me, and 4) doing some kind of exercise, which means letting bubulle kick my ass, and finding a decent swimming pool around the venue.

See you tonight!

Syndicated 2009-07-23 09:13:00 from I still don't have a title

Festa de les Trementinaires

Two weekends ago I went to La Seu d'Urgell again, and early on Saturday we drove to Tuixent, in the heart of the beautiful Parc Natural del Cadí-Moixeró, to participate in the Festa de les Trementinaires of the Vansa and Tuixent Valleys. Until then, I didn't really know what a Trementinaire was, so discovering that incredible tradition in place made it a lot more fun.

A Trementinaire was a woman who, in order to bring some needed extra income to their family, collected medicinal plants found around the Vansa valley area, and used them to make remedies, medicines and other valuable goods. The Trementinaire would then leave their house for a few months every year in order to walk all over Catalunya, going from town to town selling these remedies. Some of them were really valuable for the people in the Catalan plain and coast, and thus were expensive and provided enough money to pay the state's taxes to the Trementinaire's family. Their name was derived from the trementina, a substance made from the resin of red pine trees, which was used to make badges against many kinds of pain and bruises.

The Festa program included lots of different activities, one of the most interesting being a botanical tour around the Josa village, which gave us a very practical idea of what plants the trementinaires used and what they were good for. On Saturday evening, we moved to Sorribes de la Vansa, where we attended a talk about women in today's valley, and participated on a long session of traditional Pyrenean song dancing and singing, lead by the amazing Pep Lizandra. I took my time to become convinced about dancing myself, but it ended being lots of fun. Many of the songs had strong sexual content, which makes you wonder why these were acceptable two hundred years ago and are now so surprising, when not offensive.

El xotis de la relliscada

Eren les dotze ben tocades
quan la nineta va arribar,
duia la trena embolicada,
duia les calces a la mà.

Eren les dotze ben tocades,
el seu xicot la va cridar,
vine Roseta cap a casa,
ai que els meus pares han marxat!

La va abraçar es van petonejar
i la cosa aquí no va parar,
una mà aquí i una altra més enllà
i en Marià no es va poder aturar.

La va abraçar es van petonejar
i la cosa aquí no va parar,
i poc després quan ja anaven llençats
ai la marxa enrere va fallar!

Eren les dotze ben tocades
quan la Roseta va arribar,
duia un vestit de núvia blanca
i un ram de roses a la mà.

Eren les dotze ben tocades
el seu xicot ja era a l’altar
Roseta quina relliscada
haurem de dir sí al capellà

Back in Tuixent, we had dinner with some people we met during the dances and unfortunately due to the heavy rain we missed the burning of aromatic plants, but the organization relocated the concert and dance inside the town's bar so we had our second share of dancing for hours.

On Sunday morning, there was a market of herbal remedies and natural products and a guided visit to the Museu de les Trementinaires. The museum is a must see if you visit Tuixent, they have managed to capture the conditions of life in the valley before this job and tradition extinguished only thirty years ago, when the last trementinaire left her house to walk all over Catalunya, or as they said, anar pel món.

Industrialization and a quick and progressive depopulation of the Pyrenean areas were critical for the survival of a very localized tradition, which now struggles to not fall in oblivion thanks to the interest of the people of the Vansa and Tuixent valleys. It's sad to see how such valuable knowledge can be lost forever when all the women who did it have died...

The Festa de les Trementinaires is something I definitely want to enjoy again. Hopefully next Spring! If you are around the area, you'll discover a new world that resembles the Middle Ages, but happened only a few years ago, and will be welcome by the people of the valley, who show real interest in passing their culture to the next generation, even if the traditions are not so much in practice nowdays.

Syndicated 2009-06-10 09:50:00 from I still don't have a title


Last weekend I finally managed to travel to Barcelona to visit my family and some friends. As my agenda was quite packed with stuff to do, I was unable to find out if any of the Ubunteros had arrived early for UDS, and I left just after lunch on Sunday.

Unfortunately, I had totally missed that before UDS, Canonical held their allhands meeting, and it would have been easy to meet them on Friday night after I got in the city. What a pitty, and sorry about this, mdz, I would have loved to meet... :(

In other Barcelona news, I'm sure that UDS attendees will be astonished (or fed up!) by the football crazyness going on right now. Last night I went to a culer bar near Woody and enjoyed watching how Barça claimed brilliantly their 3rd Champions Cup. For someone who normally doesn't care that much about football, the last few weeks have been incredible.

Today I visited my 96 year old grandfather, and even if he has lost much of his expressiveness and energy since the last few months, today he was visibly happy and proud of what his Barça has managed to accomplish this season. Three titles, plus literally going over Real Madrid in Santiago Bernabeu. Barça is definitely més que un club, and I'm happy that my grandfather was able to enjoy it.

Syndicated 2009-05-29 02:50:00 from I still don't have a title

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