Older blog entries for gleblanc (starting at number 38)

It's been a month since I wrote anything here, so this is going to be really long... In the mean time, I've managed to be out of a job, working on GNOME stuff mostly, and some biking. So, if anybody is looking for a sys admin, or maybe even a build expert, let me know. I do actually have a resume, but I was resting for a while, while I put it together.


I actually got out to do some track races this week, and I clearly haven't figured out the mental part of these yet. Maybe in a few races I'll be able to get my act together, and turn in some reasonable efforts. We'll see.
I was talking with somebody who's been out at the track with us a couple of times, and he said he was out at the track pretty much every day. He was talking to somebody he met out there, who noticed that he was always riding the same speed. They recomended that he talk to a coach, so that he could actually improve his bike riding, since you can't do that by riding the same speed all the time. I was thinking about this, and it dawned on me that I'm pretty much riding the same speed on all of my road rides. Sure, I speed up and slow down a lot over the course of the ride, but my average time for every ride is about the same. This was a good thing when I was completely out of shape, and just trying to get fit, but now that my lung capacity and muscles have regenerated a bit (not back to peak, certainly, but they're doing OK), I need to start training to get better. I haven't figured out if I just need to get in touch with a coach, or if I'd be better off joining a team, or what.


Well, I was completely miserable there, although I'd sort of liked some warning, rather than having to leave quite so abruptly. At least I don't have to work with the guy who was my boss anymore, as he was a horror to work with, let alone under. Mostly, the parting was caused by my wanting to improve things at the university, and the other people at the university wanting to keep things more or less the same. I don't really feel like writing more about it now (well, I could, but there are other things I want to write about), so I'll leave that for another day. It's hard to move on though.
I do have a much nicer email address out of the deal... gleblanc@linuxweasel.com. I should put a website up too...

Cool Software

When I got my domain online, I suckered TSCHAK (err, uhm, no, I can't remember his real name, and I'm too lazy to look/ask) into helping me get djbdns set up for DNS services, and qmail/courerimap for email. They're pretty slick, although some of the support libs are a bit stupid. Qmail is bloody fast, running on my SPARCstation 20 (SM81/256MB). I bulloxed something up so that it wasn't getting mail for a few hours, then when I fixed it, it got flooded at nearly the bandwidth of my net connection, and it never seemed to flinch. djbdns is so so so so so so much nicer to admin than bind is, even if I use JRB's DNS management tool (which still doesn't seem to write files than bind can parse, but whatever). If you don't mind a little bit more setup time (download, compile, install, for two or three small packages, instead of download RPM, install), in exchange for a SANE way to manage the DNS records, djbdns is the way to go. I do need to get a secondary server online, preferrably on another link. I should look into that again, maybe Mr Bill can host it for me. Hmm...


A while back, right when I got my SGI Indy, I also got a free 21" IBM Fixed Frequency monitor from a buddy at SGI (a customer had used a bunch of old IBM Unix machines to trade up to new SGIs). I've also got an Alpha machine downstairs. Strangely enough I think that the Alpha may be able to drive that IBM monitor, which is good, because I have NO other monitors with BNC connectors on them (which is what my existing cable for the Alpha is).
I need to pick up a bunch of smallish (<4GB) 50-pin SCSI drives, so that I can get my farm of SPARCstation 2s online again. I also need a decent backup solution... I've got a DSS2 tape drive right now, which will do 2GB on a 90m cartridge. My home directory is currently 6.2GB, which is huge. Normally it's more like 2GB, but that still means it fills up a tape. I'd have to swap tapes several times in order to get the rest of the drives on this machine backed up, not to mention the other machines around. I think that I'm at about 10-12GB right now, certainly with the potential to grow to a lot more than that. I'm thinking that a DLT drive will be the best way to go, since they're fairly cheap (I can get a drive for < $100 from ebay), and they're fast. The only "concern" is the cost of media. It's pretty expensive. I suppose I could look at getting a library, maybe an Exabyte or something. Media should be dirt cheap, and the capacity should be good. I wonder what the cost would be. Hmm, should have thought of this before...

Other Stuff

Ack, one of those things that I hate about me is that I'm really shy. I don't go up and talk to people on my own. I have the hardest time with that. It can get really frustrating. There's this young lady out at the track (she's probably my age, maybe a year older). Anyway, she's a national caliber bike rider, who also happens to be really cute. We've chatted a little bit, and she smiles at me when I sit there grinning like an idiot, but that's about as far as I've managed to get. I completely missed a great opportunity to secure her as a friend because I was too much of a coward to offer her some help. ARGH! I hate that. I think I'll go kick myself for a while, and try to get some sleep. Later all.


Just a couple of things... I made record time on my bike ride home on Monday. Well over 17 miles/hour on a ride where I normally only manage to do 16. Very fun ride. Tuesday I was riding to work, and managed to get a flat just about half way there. Of course, I had to do something -stupid-, and tear the valve stem out of my tube while re-inflating it. (I need to learn to loosen that bloody nut before reefing on that thing with the pump). It was looking to be a pretty average ride, so I'm not too disappointed.
I gave Mike the money for my new bike today, and he's going to bring it to the velo tomorrow. I'm soo stoked, this is a pretty sweet bike for me. This will only be the second new bike that I've ever purchased. The first one I paid for half of when I was about 10 (my parents paid the other half). We still have it, and it's my mom's bike now. Plus, this new one is -really- nice looking. It's not as good of a deal as the bikes that they sold through the track last year, but the bikes are a LOT nicer looking.
If you're in the Portland, Oregon area, you -really- should come out the the Alpenrose Velodrome. This weekend is likely to see some track records broken, and the race competiton should be intense. Marty Northstein, the 2000 Olympic Gold Medalist will be here, as well as the Canadian national champ, and a few other really fast dudes from around the world. I can't wait.

GNOME Packaging Project

I've finally gotten roaring on this again. I've had several people volunteer to hack on a perl script that I need written. garrison volunteered first, so he's got dibs on it. I wanted to catch him and ask when he's going to have time, so that I know if I should email these other people as well. I know Jim pretty well, so I'd prefer to leave things there, at least until I get to know these other folks. Plus, there's -plenty- more hacking, I just need somebody to bang out the structure, so that I can get people to volunteer to do things.

Wow, lkcl actually updated his advogato information. I didn't think he was working on TNG anymore, but couldn't really tell from that. The guy is flocking smart, and I've gotten along with him really well, when I had time to play around with Samba.
I just got around to reading jfleck's diary, after seeing quite a few people respond to it, both here and on gimpnet (irc.gnome.org). I totally understand what all the fuss has been about now. I'll leave reactions for some other time, probably.

I love to bike, but I've never been into watching things like Le Tour. If I'm going to watch an event, I'll go watch something here in town, such as the races out at the Velodrome. Speaking of which, if you're anywhere near Portland, don't miss the Alpenrose Challenge on the 27th through the 29th of this month. There will be some AMAZING sprint competition there, the quality that you see at big international events. But, I just read John's diary entry, and the coverage of this sounds interesting. I may read some more about it, so that I don't feel so silly when talking to people about the Tour.

BTW, I made some packages of Norm Walsh's XSL stylesheets today. They're not perfect, specificly in that they don't have a catalog file, but it removes one more set of "crufty" files from my system. Oh, you want to see? http://www.ibiblio.org/gleblanc/ has what exists. that website is messy though...

Free Software

I just read this article from dyork's article. I really like the point that it makes, I think it parallels a lot more than the church ministry. For example, the boy scouts of america do a tremendous amount of community service work. I don't think that it's particularly good "article", but it would be an article that I'd publish formally. There's a lot of anti-microsoft rant in there, which detracts from the point a bit. I'm tempted to write a bit on the topic, but nobody is paying me to be a free software advocate, and I know I've got other projects which I'm going to spend my time on first.


Macintosh bigots, don't flame me, this is supposed to be funny!
One of our professors on campus today, carrying his light blue, semi-translucent Mac notebook (the one with a handle on it). One of my co-workers saw him walking across campus, and thought that it was brightly-coloured toilet seat.
We all had a good laugh over that one. His communication skills are pretty poor, but we get a good laugh out of him every now and then.


I just updated a bunch of plain GNOME RPMs. There's a new Nautilus, GConf (this one works even if you don't have the -devel package installed), gal (another packaging fix), and gnumeric. I think I updated a few more, but I'm not sure what they are. The new nautilus (1.0.4) is another fairly large improvement. Highly recomended upgrade.


I finally contacted the bikes guy about getting a track bike, and I'm going to spring for one. I was out at the track last night, and it was a good workout. After several months of riding, I'm STILL in patheticly bad shape. I think I need to find a good training book, and start doing hard weeks and easy weeks, and get myself into decent shape. I think a new bike will help too, because I'll be able to put a smaller gear on it, and not have such a hard time at the end of the night. See, I can crank that gear around, but I don't have the physical strength to push the gear on the rental bikes to my peak sprint spinning speed. Uhm, yeah, that's hardly intelligible, but I'll have another shot at it sometime when I'm not quite so fried. I love biking.

More Computers

I don't see this any of my other diary entries, but we've ordered new notebooks for the faculty. Celeron 800s, 128MB of ram, 10GB hard drive, onboard 10/100 MBit network card, onboard 56K modem, internal 10X DVD drive, internal floppy, 1024x768 14" LCD display, carrying case, mouse. They're from Dell, a vendor I trust, which is certainly a good thing. We had a demo machine here, which had a 700MHz processor, but was otherwise identical. We compared it against a very similar machine from Toshiba, except that it had a P-III 700. The Celeron was -faster- for every test which we performed on it. Either the P-III has absolutely no performance edge over the Celeron (I'm slightly doubtful of this, for a number of technical reasons), or Dell is much better at designing machines (Uhm, yeah, this is my bet) than is Toshiba. We were leaning towards the toshiba, because we purchased from them last year, but they couldn't deliver the machines that we demo'd here, and couldn't even get us a new demo. Plus, Dell was willing to beat toshibas price, on an identical (more or less) machine. So, I'm pretty happy about that purchase, even though I don't get to use one of these machines myself. Of course, my "boss" has made sure that he gets one, the selfish bastard. :)

I went over to the Velodrome on Wednesday, and it felt pretty good, although I was tired due to my forced week off. I do like biking out there, it's rather fun to race in circles, and deal with other people being on the track. I must build up my endurance though, as I'm getting tired at the end, and can't compete in the mock races. I got a new chain for my bike tonight, as well as some new gloves, and a new bottle of Tri-Flo. Great lube, that is. I'll replace the chain on Thursday, I suspect. Perhaps Friday, we'll see.


For the first time in ages, I managed to get my Evolution working to send mail at work. I'm really pleased, as reading things in Evo, then having to reply in Outlook was rather traumatic. As it turns out, it was a problem with my bonobo install, and nothing with gtkhtml. At least I have a new bonobo now... I'll try to get myself a new, working, nautilus tomorrow. I love GNOME.
We've been having some good conversations on the mailing lists about the direction that help is going for GNOME 2, although we need to be quick about this, since the API freeze is in just a couple of weeks. I hope others haven't waited as long as we have. BTW, don't let me comment on these things, I clearly have not a freaking clue about programming, and especially APIs. I thought I'd written a decent message, but it appears to have been crap. Ah, well, back to things I understand, I guess.
Work is getting down to actually hiring a person as the network technician. I want nothing to do with hiring people, nor even with evaluating their skills. I completely apathetic as to what happens there. This is a very bad thing. I should go mail out my resume soon.

running, sort of

I went to "participate" in the Ranier to Pacific relay this weekend. There are 11 runners on a team, and up until Friday, I thought I was one of the 11. As it turns out, I was a backup runner. Ah well, at least I got to hang out for the weekend, and go to the beach. Cool people, even if they were MD's. <grin /> I think I'll see about running in the relay for real next year. I'd love to do Hood to Coast again, but it's a bit different. H2C is about 1000 teams, and 2 days after registration opens, it's full. R2P is 100 teams, and I'm sure they could accomodate quite a few more. It's a bit ironic that r2p seems to end in a bigger town, which has more/better facilities for the end of a race than the h2c. Well, I'll write more about this one later, I think, but not just now.

Why is rudeness such an accepted value in US Teen culture? It really ticks me off. I'm going to have to return the favor one of these days... Break some noses or something. It's such a good thing I can't find out who people are on battle.net, or I'd probably drive over and beat the living daylights out of ThaHammerElf. If you see him, leave, he's a God Damned PK.

gman can't spell, but it's all good, because he's cool. 50km is a pretty decent bike ride, so good going Glynn. Get some higher SPF sunscreen... I'd go with 45 if you're applying it every hour. If it's really hot and you're sweating a lot, that can wash it off, so get the waterproof stuff too. <grin />

dyork enjoy Canada any where you like it! Enjoy SGML/XMLing. Are you biking again? What's the news?

jfleck is eating advocatos. The only good thing I have to say about them is that they help me remember how to spell advogato. :-) Not my fav food, but perhaps I've just not had them done well. I probably won't, until I get to going out a lot more, because my dad won't eat "Mexican food", which pretty much includes southwest stuff too. Oh well.

The style guide sounds awesome, I wish I had time to read it right away, but other things take priority. I'm not entirely sure why, but Advogato seems to be one of them.
DV is awesome. That's all there is to it. Apparently he's made some more speed improvements to libxslt. Processing time on DocBook: TDG has been cut -in half-. Truly amazing.

biking Tuesdays don't seem to be my day for biking. I don't think I mentioned this, but last week, a Volvo tried to cut me off at an intersection. I layed the bike down, and slid through the intersection, under the front of the volve. I lost one of the handlebar plugs, and got some pretty ugly road-rash on my hip, and a bruise.
Today, I had a hard ride to get to the track in time, and just barely made it. As we were coming into the straight-away near the end of the first lap, I crashed. I was fatigued from racing to get to the races in time, which didn't help any. I was drafting off of the two lead riders, and they hit the head-wind, slowing them down. I was still going along, and overlapped the tire of the guy in front of me by a couple of inches. I tried to slow down/get out of the way, but somehow wound up on the ground. I scraped up my knee, ankles, elbow, and chest. Not bad, but enough that they bled, and will look ugly. I also pulled some muscles in my shoulder, and that's gonna hurt tomorrow. The handlebar tape on my right handlebar is torn to shreads, so I'll need some new stuff. I also trashed my glove. They were really nice gloves... cloth backing, short fingers, good padding. The padding on the palm isn't really attached to the fingers anymore. So, a few repairs are in order, and probably a few days of rest off of the bike. I did bike home afterwards, nice and slow (well, I didn't work as hard as usual).
No more biking for me on Tuesday's for a while. I started a new paragraph here in order to write some more, but, uhm, I've forgotten what I wanted to write. Must be bedtime.

I finally sent off my resume to somebody today... I don't know if anything will come of it, but I'm going to start looking in earnest now, since I can't cope with where Concordia anymore. There are a whole variety of factors involved there, which I'll discuss after I'm no longer employed there.

dyork, I've hated all of the Montreal natives that I've met while there... They all know english just fine, but are too arrogant to speak it to you if you don't know French. Stick with Toronto, which is a really wonderful city...

My goal when I started biking was to get up to better than 15 miles per hour for my rides, and I'm doing better than 16 on the ride home now. I'm really pleased about that. Goal setting is a really important part of any fitness binge. I think my new goal will be 100 miles a week. At almost 25 miles per round trip to work, that means biking 4 days a week, or at least putting in some serious miles for a couple of days. I think I'll need to increase that distance in just a few weeks, but we'll see how it goes.

emergent properties
Wow, jfleck posted a really cool example of emergent properties in his diary. Thanks! There's a lot that can be done with that one, I'll have to bring it up next time I'm sitting around BSing with friends.

Heh, 0.06 inches, huh? We're supposed to get 0.5 inches between yesterday and today. Not neat storms, but we do get plenty of water. It's actually been raining since about 10 minutes into the Cat II race last night, not just drizzling. Pretty fascinating. Oregon is the land that intermittent, or "delay" if you prefer, wipers were made for. Low is too fast, and off is too slow.

Hmm, I guess I lied to DV this morning, I can read the French at the end of mathieu's diary, more or less (without the help of babelfish).

dyork mentioned something about an "American aversion to all things metric". I don't believe in such a thing. I'm an American, and I love metric. I can convert most things between metric and English Standard in my head in a trvial amount of time. Metric is incredibly nice computationally.
I'm amazed that people can get by using vi, or even vim, for SGML editing. I need to try out Dan's .vimrc, but I can't imagine it being able to keep up with an editor that actually reads, and presents options based upon reading, the DTD. I've gotten some people to write me some "macros" for things in emacs/psgml, like insert graphics, and other complex markup. I should write up a -really- good .emacs for use by the LDP, GNOME, and so on. Yeah, in my copious spare time. :-)

computer hardware
<rant> Dan York put something up a while ago about about somebody trying to put the e-smith server on a notebook (or laptop if you prefer). He said '...the system must be "PCI-based"...' and '...I haven't really seen any laptops that supported PCI cards!..." I'm looking at the website, and I see "PCI-based Pentium machine" as the hardware architecture. Regardless of which of those you choose, every x86 based laptop made today meets those requirements. They're all PCI based. The memory and the CPU exchange data through the "north bridge". The "south bridge" controls the expansion capablities, such as PCI, and ISA slots, and serial and parallel ports. Every chipset on the market now supports PCI. All of the notebooks that we've purchased within the past year no long have a PCI-ISA bridge, meaning that -all- of their peripherals communicate via the PCI bus. There's no reason that I can find that it shouldn't run just as well on a notebook as it does on a desktop system.</rant>
Sorry about that, I like to learn about computer hardware, and it irks me when I see things that are "just plain wrong".

I promised John that I'd write about my race last night here, so I guess I'd better hop to it. So, on Tuesday nights they have bike races out at PIR, Portland International Raceway. It seems that it's a 2 mile track, very flat, with curves that might be challenging at 150 miles an hour, but are pretty wimpy at 20. I'm not entirely sure how the entire race went, because I was working too hard to really think. We started off, and just glumped together for a while, then strung out into single file. Either the first or the second time we came through the finish line (did I mention that it was 5 lap race?), the guy behind me dove into a little sprint. Colin (a guy I know from the velo) and I took off in chase, and kept up with him. We got into a -fast- (for my tired legs, 25mph) pace line, which I was able to stick on for a lap. As we came onto the straight-away, after my pull, I didn't have the strength to keep up with them, so I let them go, and pushed on by myself. By the end of the race, I couldn't see either the two guys ahead of me, nor the guy behind me. It's pretty boring to just crank away for that long, but it's a really good workout. So, I got third, out of a field of 4, by a long margin both ways. Unfortunately, they didn't publish the results on the website, nor did times get posted on the emailed results. Drat.
Impressions? Well, the race was fun, because it was a race... and boring, because the track is really boring. Once I get faster, the other categories look a lot more fun (40+ people, rather than 4). But I race at just over 20 miles an hour, and they were all doing better than 25, which is just too fast for me to maintain. Those races will definately be a good workout for me. Six or seven miles from work to there, and then eight to twelve miles as a race, then another bunch (dozen?) miles home. And of course, Wednesday nights are out at the velodrome, when it's not raining. I do like bike racing and riding...

I've been off doing other things for a while, but decided I wanted to write something here tonight. Well, I wanted to last week, but things were too busy. Anyway, jfleck has been writing some neat stuff. I love storms, but there's no such thing in Oregon. I've heard thunder twice since I've been here. That's an average of once every 3.5 years.
I have no idea what he's talking about with "emergent properties". I read that a couple of times, and it still doesn't make the slightest bit of sense. I should look for more links on the topic, in all of my free time.

I saw a diary by hacker, and decided to read it, and as it turns out, he's writing docs for something that I've been dying to do for a really long time. Cross-compiling is such a bitch, but it's SOOOOO useful. Perhaps I'll try it out with Intel to SPARC compiling. Fun!

dyork was fighting XML/XSLT the other day, and came across a bug in libxml. Dan, upgrade to the CVS version, and things will be fixed. Heh, good deal, huh? I'll see if I can make a snapshot build for you. What Linux distrib are you using lately? I want to try this Real soon now, but I've got a few other higher priorities.
I didn't think CDATA marked sections worked properly in XML? Anybody know the details of what doesn't work properly here, and care to explain? Maybe I'll ask Liam tomorrow, if I remember.
I'm not surprised that Hotmail has moved to win2k, really. This is the first time that they've had an OS with even the potential to run that sort of a service. I don't think anybody other than MS would have made the move though, it's just too expensive to replace a working system that doesn't cost money, with a less efficient system for which one must purchase licenses.
Dan also wrote some stuff about the LPI, and about advogato's certification levels. Good stuff, but I've forgotten all of the comments that I wanted to make. I think I should take the plunge and get some Linux or Unix related certs. Now, to find some sample tests...

I think I may have a lead on a track bike, for a pretty reasonable price. The biggest problem with getting a rental bike is that I don't always get the same one, and some of them don't fit quite right. The seat is quick release, and I put my petals on it. However, sometimes the tilt on the bars is wrong, or they're a bit too high, or too low. I want my own bike so that I can get it adjusted and tuned properly for me.
I biked to work last Monday and Tuesday, which felt really good. Maybe I'll HTMLize my logs and put them online... Wednesday I went out to the track. I was a bit tired going into the workout, since my rides to work are really races against the clock. We did a much longer workout than I was used to, and I pushed myself pretty hard to keep up with the pace line. I was 5th from the last to drop out there. At the end of practice, we did some sprint races. That's three laps, the first must be at least a walking pace. The rest can be any speed, but usually the second is slow, and the final lap is VERY fast. I managed to finish 1 of these, but I was just barely coherent at the end. A couple of minutes later, they asked me to go again, but the coach didn't think that would be a good idea. I -wanted- to ride more, but wasn't physically capable of it. I biked home pretty slow. I couldn't ride to work on Thursday, I was just too tired. Friday I could have, but didn't, ride in to work. I'll take it a bit easier this week.
I just came up with this... But what I think I'll do is bike to work tomorrow (Monday), and get a lift home. Then get a ride in to work on Tuesday, and go out to the races a PIR, and maybe bike home from there (if it's not dark). Wednesday I'll get a ride, and go out to the track. The PIR races are on road bikes, which is good, because mine is well adjusted, and I can work the gears, almost. Gosh, I want indexed shifters.

I finished the exercizes for Chapter 4 in learning perl today. I keep writing things in Pascal, and wondering why they don't work. I'll get the syntax down quickly, as soon as it's not 6 months between hacking sessions. I need to get through chapter 8 ASAP. 8 is on functions, and I need to be able to use those to write the build script for GNOME 2.0. Bleah, not enough hours in the day. jrb keeps telling me to learn python, and I think I've got a good project for that ready, but I need to get job hunting too. So, Python is on the shelf for the time being. GPP stuff is going well, I need to draft a mail to see if there's space to put binaries on ftp.gnome.org and it's mirrors. I send Red Hat a set of updates for most of their GNOME packages today, hopefully dcm will see about getting those into production soon. I might even get to close a couple of GConf bugs that are in the Red Hat bugzilla, since I think they're my fault. ;-) Enough for now, I need sleep...

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