Older blog entries for cjwatson (starting at number 14)

MichaelCrawford: If I had received your bug report as a Debian bug report, I would have marked it invalid in just the same way that the Mozilla guys did. Here's why: the purpose of bug reports is to improve the software. Your bug report certainly does a lot of complaining, but there is nothing in it that comes anywhere close to helping the developers improve the software. Instead, it tells them how terrible they are, demoralizes them, and gives them no useful information that might help them resolve your complaint.

When you are submitting a bug report, no matter what the project, please follow these simple guidelines:

  • One bug report per problem.
  • Each bug report should contain enough information on how to reproduce the problem, or you should be willing to work with the developer to find a way to reproduce the problem. (Not every bug has a simple recipe, and that's OK.)
  • Each bug report should be resolvable: there should be something the developer can do to satisfy you that the problem is fixed. (In other words, "there is a problem somewhere, you have to fix it" is not an adequate bug report.)

Each project has its own guidelines, but I doubt there are many who would disagree with these. Michael, please understand that by submitting vague and unresolvable bug reports, no matter what their emotional content, you are not helping the community: you are hindering it by making its members waste time cleaning up bug reports that they have no realistic hope of ever resolving to your satisfaction. In this case, if you truly want to help, what you need to do instead is submit bug reports that say "Mozilla crashes on this page (URL) under these circumstances". Help the developers, otherwise there is nothing they can do but dismiss you as noise. And that helps no-one: not the community, not your wife, not you.

A lazy weekend; I watched videos and did a fair bit of hacking, including tagging debbugs 2.4 (only three years or so after 2.3 ...). Plus I finally wrote up the report for my new-maintainer applicant, which had gone too long without attention. My head is above water for a bit again. :)

I am so much looking forward to taking a week's holiday in a week's time. No particular plans, just a much-needed break.

Mmm. Good party at Vicky's last night, lots of beer, fun people. Took advantage of the end of daylight savings time to party until 2am and sleep from shortly after 1am.

OpenSSH 3.5p1 seems to more or less work. I should be able to upload the Debian package shortly. Then I need to get back and sort out the various people waiting on me for new-maintainer/sponsorship work.

Simon is a genius, as usual, and pterm is a sweet piece of work. xterm takes 9.5 seconds to run 'ls -l /dev' here; pterm clocks under half a second, and with pretty much all the features I want. It's rare that a piece of software is so good that I switch to it from the alternatives practically the moment I see it.

I deployed proper MIME support in the Debian BTS today. Mwahahaha. I think that counts as productive, despite relaxing for most of the day at my parents'; makes a change.

Yesterday I was invited onto the group that administers the Debian bug tracking system. I can't decide whether to be intimidated or excited. There's a great deal to do: my first couple of major projects look set to be integrating some of the existing QA interfaces to release-critical bug tracking, and developing a tool to help us edit spam out of bug histories.

Perhaps I should bite the bullet and take over the bug tracking system at work, just so that I can compare Debbugs to Bugzilla fairly. Then again, I already have twice as much to do there as I really want.

Excellent, more toys. A USB mouse - which was pretty much necessary, given the demise of my laptop's built-in one - and a USB mass-storage keyfob which I can put my secret keys on. I can feel the tinfoil hat settling already.

(It's certainly better than the fairly crappy state of my key security up to now, although you didn't hear me say that. Fortunately I've never had a laptop stolen so far, but it's probably only a matter of time.)

The w3m image extension

... rocks my world. On Debian, install the w3m-img package and it just works. I now have a "graphical" browser a lot lighter than Mozilla for my laptop - and, somehow, it works over ssh X11 forwarding too.


Nearly there. There's a complicated dependency mess involving at least all the PostgreSQL-dependent packages, Ruby, and vim which needs to be sorted out ... but I think that can be handled with the agreement of the release manager and a bunch of non-maintainer uploads.

If we can get woody out at the start of May, I may just throw a large party. :)


Actually fun. I feel like I'm hacking again rather than just slogging. Lots of interesting three-banana problems.


QA continues, and I feel like I've done nothing else for the past few weeks. Apart from a recent (rather discouraging) mass filing of serious bugs, the count does seem to be coming down - but damn, it's a long tunnel and I can't really see the light at the end yet. Fortunately, my general feeling is that several more people are going through the list on a routine basis than before.

I've taken work on my own packages down to a fairly low priority, which is why my one remaining nasty bug is still unfixed. Sometimes it's scary how long it can take to review a patch properly.


Ups and downs. Two people I like and respect have decided to jump ship recently. I won't go into the details here, but suffice to say they made me half-contemplate following them. On the other hand, my pet project (wish I could link to it ...) is on the company strategy, and I do enjoy my work much more than I used to - which in the current climate is not something to be sniffed at.

I still turn green with envy at the people being paid to hack on free software. :-)


"Ticking over" is about all I can say. I don't feel as if anything particularly exciting has happened for ages, and I can't feel motivated to do anything much about that either. (That said, a local club that a lot of us go to is reopening tomorrow, which always helps.) Maybe the fact that I have no time is something to do with that. Sometimes I wish I was committed to fewer free software things: it's rewarding, but it really does chew up an enormous amount of time, and I doubt it's doing my social life much good.

Oh yes - the importance of vacations. Many companies insist that you take the time off that's allotted to you. Should we strongly encourage people in volunteer projects to take breaks? By the very nature of volunteering, people tend to forget to stop occasionally, and it contributes to good people burning out. For my part, I think I'll bring my involvement down to a minimum for a month or two after woody is released, just to unwind and relax.

I was reminded of an old flame recently. That relationship has been definitely over for a long time, for various reasons, but I still seem to love her. Bah. I should really learn to be better at letting go - it would make the inside of my head a much more comfortable place to be.

Mumble. Before that, though, I should stop rambling in diary entries and get some sleep. 4am approaches ...

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