Older blog entries for garym (starting at number 66)

I'm not a fonts person. I appreciate nice typography, and I understand the science of legibility in principle, but the actual choosing of one font over the other and placing it all on a page strikes me as a shade short of voodoo, like the people who actually have a use for all 64 of the hues in the Crayola box.

Today I fixed my X11 fonts; after installing the Mandrake 9.1, my XFree86 became highly unstable (I use the notorious i810 driver) so I had to switch to the XFree.org binary, and while that solved my stability problems 100%, I was left with an issue of fonts because the XFree i810 server apparently doesn't like fonts on unix:/-1, and that's the config for the Mandrake font server.

Anyway, care about font servers about as much as I care about watering the plants in my office, which is to say that I recognize when either is dead, and today, in a fit of expediency, I inserted the replacement FontPath lines from the fs/config and suddenly the web was a typographic cacaphony, and such clarity!

All except one place, Kode-Fu. A peek at his CSS showed Georgia as the main font that was rending like the liner notes on a sex-pistols CD, and that left me with that nagging question born of my typographic ignorance, "Is that what Georgia is supposed to look like?"

Well, to make a long story short, no. It's not. Georgia should be a very nice book-like roman-ish font. How do I know? Well, Google found me a reference page where I can check all my standard fonts, only now I have another font problem: Georgia on the Linux Web Fonts Page looks just fine ...

Now more than ever, we need edge-network computing. Yesterday the UTwente mirror for the Mandrake 9.1 release shut off access to the ISO images:

    Our server was suffering real bad under this and we had to block
    downloads of mandrake.

    We are really sorry for this :(

    Derk-Jan Hartman

This was most sad since UTwente is one of the very few mirrors properly configured to serve ISO images as binary content, and that's a requirement for trying to save Derk-Jan's servers by distributing the download using our Open Content Network download page.

Shamefull self promotion? Not really, not intentionally. There's no ads on that page and only one link back to our site, it's lean and to the point, existing only to set up the OCN for these downloads. With the current crush on Mandrake 9.1, and considering I'm one of the converts who believe this is one of the most complete and accessible Linux distros ever, I just want to get the release out the door without ticking off kind mirror managers like Derk-Jan, and if you ask me, OCN's 'WebRAID' is just the way to do it.

I don't know, maybe this is the new face of the IT business, but riddle me this: if Operations requires a custom-built closed-source clean-room implementation of an FTP client because "not invented here" is the company religion, do you suppose they are just trying to drive up costs so the department doesn't outsource? I've been sent on a lot of hoop-jumps in my day, but this one, where the client app is used by one or two users for all of 10 days, well, it takes the top honours.

22 Mar 2003 (updated 22 Mar 2003 at 18:53 UTC) »

Now here's a little-known fact that's going to sting a lot more people: Did you know that, as of 1.4.1_02, Sun now bundles Xalan into the rt.jar? If you did, or even if you didn't, did you know that classes placed in the classpath will not override this, so if you need to get around the brokenness of the Xalan release they chose (for example, in the lib/sql connection pools) you have to hunt up how to tweak the Endorsed Standards Classes Deployment and even then you need to know that the default given in the Sun pages is different from what the Sun Linux package uses (the real one is $JAVA_HOME/jre/lib/endorsed;) and once you get past that, also be aware the launch script for Tomcat4 _overrides_ the default with a null path unless you hack it in.

Put all this together and if you ask me, Sun has shot itself in the foot again over Java.

Why on earth take an unfinished jar like the old 1.x Xalan and burn it into the core fabric of Java? Having done so, what then is the logic of making the work-around so obtuse? Maybe I should follow the community development meeting notes more closely because it seems someone's smoking something during those sessions.

I'm probably just in a crabby mood because this secret tantric circle has cost me the loss of a full day's wages hunting down just how it could be that no matter what I did, I could not avoid the ClassLoader error on line 474 of DefaultConnectionPool even though my sources had no such line, even after I'd locate'd and deleted every one of the two dozen copies of the Xalan jars on my machine. I expect I'll lose yet a few more hours when it comes time to convince my already java-nervous client that I need to inject a hack of a jar into their core dirs or the JAVA_EMBEDDED_DIR into the very core script of their production systems tomcat environment ...

I'm normally not a fan of technical jargon, but in the case of Technical Debt I'm ready to make an exception:

we can never completely resist externally imposed schedule pressure to "just get it working so we can [ship|deploy] it." Good to at least explicitly record such things, to provide a stick with which to whack management later ("See all this debt you incurred? Now we have to pay it off...")

Technical Debt. Word-sound-power at it's finest.

If you haven't tried it already, check out Google Quotes, the new experiment on Google Labs where each hit will also show quotes from inbound links ... kind of like Google with a side order of Technorati.

1 Mar 2003 (updated 1 Mar 2003 at 14:47 UTC) »

Scripting News' Dave Winer says Neither Microsoft or Google, or Pyra or UserLand are open source companies. You'll find that the excitement in software is often this way. The open source implementations can come later, but people at the leading edge generally need to keep the source to themselves. No matter, if everything is working correctly, users still get choice, and have the ultimate power over what's created.

Say what? Dave Winer is saying that innovation requires closed source? Or is he saying only closed source can produce exciting software? (Does RMS and the FSF have any thoughts on this claim? How about the claim that "user's still get choice and have ultimate power"?

Are Advogadorians going to sit back and let that go by without challenge? Are we all simply working on open source implementations that copy the innovative commercial software what's gone before? (I know I'm not, but what about the rest of you?)

Argument by anecdote is bad enough, but to make an assertion like this one, based on just 4 exceptional examples out of a whole world of possibilities... and yet Winer gets the Harvard post? The world is a funny place.

On a tip from JOHO, here's Tim Oren's point by point comparison of Bayesian Nets and Latent Semantics used in spam filters. Latent Semantics was a new one to me, but considering the number of IP patent weights around its neck, that's not surprising. The good news is Tim's undecided on which of the two methods is more effective.

15 Feb 2003 (updated 15 Feb 2003 at 06:37 UTC) »

Reversible.org is a new weblog directory where the link you make determines the classification you get -- if you haven't already, check it out: The webpage you cite doesn't exist until someone asks for it, and then it's created with a link back to all referring page. The hope is people will spontaneously organize themselves as they trade off the egotistical need to be the top level with the hard reality that there's no advantage to being one in a million, and less advantage to being one of a million communities of one.

For example, if you click that link above, you will find yourself in the <code>/weblogs/technical/advogato</code> classification -- if you then blog that page on your own diary and induce someone to click it for you (ok, click it yourself like I did ;) we would start a new classification of Advogato blogs within the larger community of technical weblogs.

Will it work? It's going to be interesting. Right now it's total anarchy as everyone wants top spot (thanks go Clay's now famous essay on Power Laws?) but over time each participant is going to recognize the Nash Equalibrium as the real goal state. That's my theory.

15 Feb 2003 (updated 28 Apr 2003 at 16:11 UTC) »

Ok, for those who may follow me in attempting to correct Mandrake Linux 9.0 passivetex pdfxmltex the solution is, well, the same solution that is usually the solution in unix ... install from the source. I really do want package managers to work, but some days I really wonder if shipping binaries is even worth the risk or if we could just do as the unix did in the days of yore when a <code>shar</code> archive would unpack as sources, config the Makefile and compile your software for <u>your</u> local environment.

All I had to do was

  • fetch those source files
  • install them matching the dirs to what Mandrake xmltex had already chosen, moving any existing dirs out of the way (ie <code>mv passivetex passivetex.mdk</code>, and remember to run <code>mktexlsr</code> just as it advises
  • switch to the <code>web2c</code> dir and build the format as in their step #1
and my pdf rendering came back online.

I don't know if it was needed, but I also edited my pool sizes and whatnot in the texfm.cfg file.

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