Older blog entries for deirdre (starting at number 15)

Last night, Linuxstammtisch in Mountain View. As Seth says, Mountain View's not all that bad a place. Not all the peninsula or south bay cities have "charm clusters" like downtown MV, but there's a few that are OK. I'm now working in downtown Menlo Park, which isn't as charming but still pretty nice.

Update: I'm very sad to hear about Elise's cat dying. I've met him and know how much she loves him.

Slept in until after noon today, then ran some errands. I may finally put a finish on the bookcase I bought two years ago.

Talked to mom about my vision problems (where I sometimes have randomly bad vision in one eye) only to find out she's had that, from time to time, for 20 years. Maybe it's just another stress-related genetic fluke. ::sigh:: In retrospect, I should have talked to her before I panicked.

She's on Vancouver Island and has been looking for a summer interneship in web design, databases, programming or something. It's not a heavily-populated area and I know I could find her something here in Silicon Valley, but if anyone knows of anything even in the Vancouver area, let me know. She's got lots of skills other than computers including as a financial manager. But she really wants a tech job. She's also a US citizen.

I'm very very glad that Deb is not going to get her cat declawed. I missed the posting about her intent, but I'm glad others talked to her about it. A few years ago, I was very badly bitten by a declawed cat. We were playing, but he couldn't claw me to signify I'd gone too far and, not picking up on the clue, he bit me. The bill for the antibiotics (as it was a deep puncture wound and quickly turned into a very nasty infection) was $150 (some high-tech combo that was very new and countered antibiotic-resistence well, thus the price) plus I couldn't use my hand for a week. Oh, and there was the doctor bill, not to mention having to tell the constable NOT to put the cat down as I was sure he wasn't rabid. The owners volunteered to pay, but it really was my fault, so I paid. At the time, I had to be checked every 6 hours as if it got worse, they were going to put me on IV antibiotics to make sure I didn't lose my hand.

Just a note that declawed cats aren't necessarily less expensive to own. Besides, in a couple of years, you'll want new fabric on the sofa anyway. ;) Even *with* cats, the fabric on my sofa has *got* to be about 15 years old, though it really has faded and should be replaced. But it's still in reasonable condition.

Heard from Arnaud this morning. He says about two weeks to something pre-alpha. I can hardly wait! I was so excited I put up the project page on SourceForge and gave a heads up to the gtk.org webmaster.

It's not until now that I truly realized some of the very extensive work put into SourceForge. Truly cool and very appreciated.

Today's my last day here, the new project starts next week. Almost a whole week off. Whee!

I worked more on CottonBale last night (when I desperately needed sleep). I'm sure I'll have it done by Weds next week. I signed up for a SourceForge account for it too. I might even move ALL the projects I have there, especially Poppy. I want to finish Poppy before starting the next work project.

Got an email from a guy named Arnaud this morning saying he too had been working on a Gtk+ for the MacOS project. He's further along than I am. I sent him a note suggesting we combine our efforts and post them to the SourceForge account I'd set up, but I haven't heard back. I'm amazed and encouraged; I still wasn't even sure how viable the project was. I haven't even booted either of my Macs in two weeks. ::sniff::

CottonBale is coming along moderately well. I've got two different front ends for it so far (one shamelessly snarfed in part from Bruce Perens because I think his www.linuxvc.com site is pretty nice and clean). You can see the prototypes at http://www.deirdre.org/events/bale.php3 (html snagged from http://linuxmafia.com/bale -- which it will eventually replace) and the other prototype is at http://www.sfknit.org/bale.php3. (knitting = cotton and bay area linux events = bale, thus CottonBale). Yes, I know all the "knitting" events are the same events. When I'm ready to go into production, I'll switch databases for sfknit; it's easier to make changes in one database than in two.

I don't currently have many events in there as I'm working on other aspects, but I do have a whole gaggle of stuff to add when it's ready to go.

Off to Baypiggies. I'm not prepared and I hope they don't shoot me....

Yesterday was power failure day -- at least three. The upstream didn't have backup power on their routers either. Losers.

So I brought my box home, leaving me to struggle with non-authoritative DNS and trying to fix DNS for 16 domains I do primary DNS for as well as notify everyone I don't.

When I moved the box home, I separated the apache/mail box from the DNS box. Had I known the trouble this was going to cause, I probably wouldn't have done it, but...

There is also no reverse DNS for my boxes, which is causing sendmail to have "issues."

All this was made to work with the magic duct tape of name service, /etc/hosts. Grr.

Stock Prices

Stock prices are fickle things. The one really good thing, which Seth didn't consider, is that the low stock prices are a GOOD thing in hiring new people. After all, their stock options will be inexpensive. So, those people looking to move to a public Linux company, now's the time.


Stress makes one tired. Rick had been quietly watching as I'd been exhausted, weekend after weekend, this last one not being much different. I think it's from being in "crisis mode" on the job for several months. I'm not completely convinced this is the cause though.

That said, there's good crisis and there's bad crisis. Good crisis is the kind where something suddenly happens and everyone pitches in and they become more of a team for having done so.

Bad crisis, which this is, is never being able to be in NON-crisis mode, so one is always responding to stressors. Rather than building teams, it tears them apart. There's never anything to be on top of. There's never action, only reaction.

It gets really old really fast.


Spent it decompressing mostly. I read all three of the existing Harry Potter books, knit some, spun some, and did no coding whatsoever, mostly because my eye was bothering me again (another sign of stress?). Reading a hardback book with large type was about as much eye activity as I could muster.

I can't believe it's been so long since my last diary entry. It's been one of those weeks.


I'm having a lot of fun learning PHP and getting proficient with it. It has some quirks that make it not act like I expect, but it was great getting an answer from Rasmus in 7 minutes that explained the philosophy behind include files. Open source is so cool that way.

The syntax is enough like server-side Javascript and C that it's mostly intuitive (to me), but there's a few things here and there that I find jarring. Mostly, after a whole bunch of Python coding, I forget a lot of semicolons. I indent everything the same though. :)

CottonBale is coming along nicely, with only the quirk that my box at home is having trouble installing MySql to develop further with. I really really really need a third box to plop stuff from my existing two so I can upgrade Rockhopper. It's beginning to grate.


Looks like my coauthor and I will get our next book deal after all, and I may wind up doing chapters for another book, also cool. This requires writing a sample chapter, quickly. Argh!

Obviously, since the deals aren't signed, I can't really say anything about what books or for whom. I found my box of my author's copies of SuSE Linux Unleashed the other day -- I received it right before I moved and never unpacked the box. It was HEAVY. It wasn't glorious writing, but I always seem to learn something, no matter how much I think I know, when I'm doing some digging to write a book.

The new stuff should be MUCH less dry to write and, hopefully, to read.

Office Environments

What Elise said. Except both she and Brett, probably because it's "not corporate," missed what I find even more useful: a recliner with a monitor suspended over the chair. Something that supports the head. This eliminates a whole bunch of stress of keeping the head in position, which is where huge chunks of stress in shoulders and the neck come from. Fortunately, I work in an office where there is a wonderful, wonderful benefit: biweekly massages paid for by the company. I'm sure it will save money in the long run.


Martin's posting about disemvowel.py reminds me of the time I walked into a friend's house and they were playing Wheel of Fortune -- in Welsh. I asked why and my friend Joyce replied, "The Welsh were a poor people. They couldn't afford any vowels."

Fscking NT mail server at work. ::rolls eyes:: It's been hours and they still haven't "gotten it up."

Worked a bit on CottonBale last night and this afternoon. Rick and I had a nice lunch at our local coffee shop, walking into the middle of a crowded sidewalk sale by mistake as we tried to approach the place.

Later, more work, including trying to set up MySql the same on my home box. Grrr. Home is a SuSE box that's about four different versions of SuSE. If I could find my 6.3, I'd redo a fresh install. But I haven't found it since I moved two months ago. And, naturally, 6.4 is out now.

MySql's really much easier to set up on a Red Hat box. But it should be up and running again soon and then I can test CottonBale with a faster connection while I'm home. It's mostly done (except for the maintenance, which can wait a bit), so it's nearly ready to deploy.

Had a great dinner in the City after the Cabal meeting.


Seth made comment about the levels of certification. One of the issues I have is that it assumes that anyone who is starting out in open source coding doesn't know how to code, an assumption I find fundamentally flawed. There's also an inherent assumption that their time is unlimited. There isn't a good way of certifying master coders who, like myself, contribute here and there. Sometimes in bug reports, sometimes in design, sometimes in code.

Some of us have been coding for a living longer than the average Advogato user has been alive. While I may not be famous as a coder in the open source space (mostly because I've written custom apps which, while necessary, are not especially glorious), as a coder I'm easily Master level and have been for years. Furthermore, not all my contributions have been in the Unix space -- I wrote open source software for the MacOS at least five years before I heard the term "open source." I have code that's been continuously running for more than 20 years[1]. Within this community, I see myself as Journeyer mostly because I spend time on community events at the expense of coding (which I do all day, every day). But rating me as an apprentice is, imho, insulting. I've contributed lots of little pieces to lots of places, but never quite enough to "make a name" for myself. I don't give a shit about the recognition, but I find it amusing that some people have certified me who a) don't know what I have done and b) don't know me very well.

Exercise: If you're in the US, open up the newspaper to the television listings section. There's more than a 50% chance that the page you're looking at was generated by my code.


Saw a lot of people at SVLUG, including Joey Hess, many of whom did double takes on Rick wearing a suit. Well, we didn't have time to change. The double-takes he got were really hilarious. Prior to that, we'd spent time with his large, boisterous Norwegian family. Coming from a small family myself, I felt a bit cramped. I couldn't believe how much food they had. Too bad we don't have stasis generators to keep piles of food from going bad. Everyone coming in had an ice chest it seemed.

Apparently ESR hadn't heard of advogato, so we told him about it last night. In sad news, his father died yesterday morning. :( ESR said it wasn't unexpected.

We skipped the SVLUG meeting proper, hanging out with ESR and Karsten Self. After the meeting, we spent time with our new neighbor, Reg Charney, and Karen Shaeffer. Karen really has a wonderful head on her shoulders and it was great spending time with her.

As almost all my day yesterday was spent in social events, no code. Today, it's work, an appointment and home, so probably no coding as I'm being a sysadmin today.

Open Source Culture

Dria says:

It's becoming increasingly clear that the Open Source community is mind-bendingly complex -- not just in terms of creating technology, but also in terms of social interaction and community and all the other squishy stuff that goes along with it.

Heck, go for a Ph.D. from The Union Institute. In fact, this very area had fascinated me also. My undergrad studies were strong on just about every social science except sociology.

[1] The concept of "code uptime" has really become more appealing to me over time as a measure of software quality. By that measure, some of the so-called illuminaries of open source would be ranked apprentice. I have spent a good chunk of my career as a "reimplementer" -- when someone else screws up and the code crashes, freezes, is outgrown or whatever, I redesign and reimplement from scratch. Thus, code quality is far more important to me than the glory of being a "frontier" programmer and getting my name in lights. To me, the craft is about coding correctly. I'm not going to point fingers, but there's an awful lot of atrocious design and implementation out there, and if we ever GET the cloning process perfected, I'm going to sic my clones on getting it all fixed.

Tomorrow we go to Rick's aunt's funeral. :(

Tonight I worked on CottonBale and got it about 1/4 done (as far as the critical stuff to get it really useable). It has the groups' stuff pretty much right, though I need to update the schema.

Rick and I were going to talk about it over dinner, but the Dutch Goose was packed and very, very loud. After dinner, we talked about it briefly, but he's on a really godawful morning shift these days, so he's asleep already.

Time go pack off myself...

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