Older blog entries for bjf (starting at number 240)

Hello again Advogato, it's been a long time!

It's been almost a decade since I've posted to my Advogato blog, and there's been a lot of water under the bridge since I was in college in Australia.

Somehow in that ten years, I managed to not produce much Open Source software of value, despite my involvement with HUMBUG, but have managed to move countries, become a citizen of said country, meet my wife, learn a new language, change jobs several times, and enrol in a physics degree. What a difference a decade makes!

I'm looking forward to getting back in touch with Advogato, and seeing how the regulars have gotten on over the years!


I haven't posted for a while, because I've moved all my ranty political posts to my new blog. Hopefully, the signal-noise ratio has improved around here to some extent.

I also note too that my certification level has returned to Earth. Maybe somebody's tuned the trust metric?


I took a week off and forked over my own hard-earned for the trip to Adelaide to rubberneck all the FOSS action at LCA. So far it's been pretty good, although I eschewed the OSS in Government track (which I originally registered for) in favour of more technical content (and more time hanging out at the Apple booth).

I met a couple of people I hadn't seen in a long time. Also took some photos as some photographic proof for my mates back home in Brisbane. By all accounts, the top hackers seem like personable, approachable, likeable guys, and the atmosphere is fantastic. It's not hard to see why the likes of Linus Torvalds like LCA.

Tomorrow, the conference itself starts and I'll have huge dilemmas choosing which talks I want to get to. Decisions, decisions :)


A state election was called today in my home state, and less than two hours later, I got a call from my buddies in the ALP asking for some help with letterboxing. Those guys work fast.

I think I'll leave speculating about what's going through Beattie's head for my blog. Nevertheless, with the start of the major project at work, the upcoming state and local elections and my renewed committment to training, I expect to be very busy indeed!

8 Nov 2003 (updated 8 Nov 2003 at 06:05 UTC) »
berend de Boor seems to be embracing his new role the stand-in reactionary dumbass for mglazer. Dude, you come across as an ignorant knee-jerk dittohead. Lose the politics already.

What is it about these twits and their blind worship of authority and the free market?

And a correction, dimwit: both major parties are so far Right, it's not funny. The Democrats are pro-market conservatives with a marginalised fringe elements of liberals. The Republicans are a group of hard-Right proto-fascists. Most of the Right in the rest of the civilised world is still way left of the US' notion of "centre".

2 Nov 2003 (updated 2 Nov 2003 at 14:28 UTC) »
Detecting libexslt

I'm currently fixing a little problem with a program I use at work. I had to add a call to exsltRegisterAll() from libexslt (the library that's bolted onto libxslt that implements the EXSLT XSLT extension functions) to fix the problem.

Now pkgconfig has configurations for libxml and libxslt, but some bright spark forgot to allow programmers to add support for detecting/linking-in libexslt. There's no M4 script included anywhere in libxslt either to do the job. Necessity is the mother of invention, I guess.

A Veteran Applauds KB Toys

Is this open letter addressed to the same vicious neo-Fascist who occasionally crapfloods Advogato?

Even if not, it's still an interesting read, and a fine example of how incredibly ignorant, blinkered and gullible some people can be.

Does anybody else find it odd that it takes an average user three hours (and then giving up) to attempt to configure a USB flash stick to auto-mount upon insertion, just to save three seconds typing a single mount command, just a tad stupid?

If I amortise that enormous waste of time over the number of times I'll be plugging the device in, I'll have worn out a dozen of them.

My apologies to the hotplug people, but judging by the obscene apparent complexity of the Linux hotplug framework to configure, it's an exercise in false economy.

16 Sep 2003 (updated 16 Sep 2003 at 11:41 UTC) »
Breathtaking hypocrisy


On one hand, they're letting proven, notorious war criminals like Henry Kissinger into our country, and on the other hand, refusing entry to their political opponents, on "character grounds" no less.

So let's see, Kissinger is responsible for the murder and oppression of millions and gets feted by our Prime Minister. Meanwhile, some kid who got booked once for trespassing gets her visa turfed by the Immigration Minister himself! Am I on the same planet as these people?

5 Sep 2003 (updated 5 Sep 2003 at 01:44 UTC) »
LCA 2004

mrd: If you have a lot of people who want to present a lot of material, perhaps after the programme committee has selected the papers, you could organise a series of BoF sessions, or perhaps timeslots for 5-15 minute 'flash talks'. Perhaps that would be a good way to showcase good work that mightn't otherwise make it onto the programme.

(I'm all paid up and ready to go. I can hardly wait, because having seen LCA in past years, I know that next year's programme is going to be excellent. Definitely worth the cost of getting there.)

AUUG National Conference

I attended the AUUG National Conference in Sydney on Wednesday to present a paper [PDF] on the web track. Unfortunately for me, I got to be the poor chump whose talk got scheduled concurrently with the 'Who Owns UNIX' panel, and I was only able to catch the last ten minutes of it.

For those of you not keeping up with the whole SCO debate, Greg Lehey (AUUG President), Con Zymaris and MD of SCO Australia, Kieran O'Shaughnessy have been slugging it out in the media over SCO's tall stories regarding theft of SCO IP in the Linux kernel. The panel session took the debate face to face, and it's fair to say that O'Shaughnessy and SCO was totally outclassed.

Now Lehey himself kind-of scooped me in a big way, so you can follow the link to learn what happened from the horse's mouth. In a nutshell, O'Shaughnessy presented SCO's 'evidence', and then the panel and conference delegates proceeded to politely but relentlessly tear him apart piece by piece. It was fun to watch.

Evil Bug

This damned flu is killing me. My throat and sinuses are all swollen and on fire, although apparently this is a good thing, since it means that I'm getting the last of this evil bug's symptoms. Popping a codeine occasionally makes me feel something resembling normal but given it's less-desireable side-effects, I'd better go easy.

I'm told that the strains of influenza going around this year weren't the same as the ones innoculated-against in the 'flu shots being sold. Regardless of whether or not I had my act together enough to get my shots, I'd still be Shit Out of Luck.

The Unstoppable Shift of IT Workers Overseas

I really doubt, during the boom, that anybody honestly thought that the good times would last forever. Now that jobs everywhere are vanishing overseas permanently, it might give your typical IT worker a taste of what reality is like for your average accountant. After a three year degree and two years of on-the-job probation, they can earn their CPA (Certified Practicing Accountant) and start on a salary of something like $28,000 a year. Your average accountant working for a sweatshop like Accenture works his or her arse off, having time billed in 6 minute units. If he/she works hard enough and demonstrate loyalty long enough (like decades), they might have a shot at being made partner.

I wonder if things will get nearly as bad for IT people and if (or when) it happens, whether IT specialists will consider taking membership of a professional societies more seriously.

The biggest hurdle to this, I think, even if salaries, conditions and hiring practices get really bad, is an ideological one. If Slashdot is any indicator, your average IT worker would have to be screwed pretty hard before considering joining a union. Collective bargaining only really works if the majority of workers are being represented by the entity doing the bargaining. I could just imagine the econo-fundies screaming blue murder at the mere suggestion that the Government make membership of the ACS (ACM, etc) mandatory for IT grads.

The last thing I heard in public (about making membership of a professional society for IT specialists mandatory) was from a speech I attended by Alan Underwood, a past president of the Australian Computer Society (back when the boom was still happening). He claimed that such efforts were going nowhere, because governments and big businesses were fighting it every step of the way. When things get considerably worse, we'll see how long IT types will maintain their distain for collective bargaining and setting of minimum standards. I'm not holding my breath though.

26 Aug 2003 (updated 26 Aug 2003 at 12:05 UTC) »
Calling Java coders...

I'm putting together a Java web application to scratch a personal itch. However, I hate writing lots of boring, repetitive code to access the database. Are there any Java coders who do this stuff a lot, and can recommend a decent object-relational mapping layer? There's Torque, SimpleORM and about fifty million other frameworks, but I'm having trouble settling on one. Help!

The 'flu

I caught a pretty bad version of the 'flu, and ended up having to go home sick today. Bugger :( I sure-as-shit hope that I can get over it soon, as I have a ton of work to get through, including preparing to present a paper in Sydney next Wednesday.

The new set of wheels

I bought a car! It's a cute little three-cylinder manual Suzuki hatch. I bought it secondhand off family for fifteen-hundred bucks. It's very economical, and I should get a few kilometres out of it before it completely falls apart.

There's one small problem though: I need to get my driver's license first... I could tell you about my first driving lesson, but I wouldn't subject that to you, since you probably wouldn't know whether to laugh or cry :)

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