Older blog entries for hypatia (starting at number 80)

linux.conf.au payments (attention earlybirds)

Just spreading the word, since neither Andrew nor I received an email invoice for our registration: credit card payments for linux.conf.au are now being accepted. (We did get the announcement, but previous conference experience—ACL, HCSNet—this year has unfortunately taught me that registration information is not sent out using titles like Countdown to linux.conf.au 2007: 48 DAYS TO GO, those kind of titles now indicate to me we've updated the website! and now we have a directory of attendees!, ie, not action items. So, I didn't actually read it. Oops.)

People who got the earlybird price (which closed Nov 15) must pay by December 8. You can also still register now and get the regular price, although as the announcement (also) pointed out, if you want to stay on campus in the pre-arranged accommodation, or you want to go to the dinner, register soon. (It's unpredictable how full they really are, until they start re-opening spots that people haven't paid for. But 450 attendees who haven't put down money yet is still a goodly number when I believe the aim is 800.)

Syndicated 2006-12-01 21:12:44 from puzzling dot org: tech

In Melbourne Dec 5–10

Dear universe, Andrew and I are in Melbourne for OSDC from Tuesday December 5 to Sunday December 10 (in the morning, anyway). If any of you are in Melbourne that week and would like to meet us for breakfast/lunch/dinner/drinkies, get in touch.

Syndicated 2006-11-23 23:29:37 from puzzling dot org: tech

linux.conf.au stuff

  1. Registration is open, starting from the low low price of $99 for students and proceeding to $300 for self-funded attendees and $690 for professional attendees
  2. the LinuxChix miniconference programme is available in draft form (waiting for some speakers to confirm that they can make it); and
  3. if you'd like partial reimbursement of registration costs, you can volunteer to help out.

Syndicated 2006-11-21 23:29:05 from puzzling dot org: tech

Ubuntu code names

A relatively idle thought after doing Ubuntu support on LinuxChix lists for a while: are the code names really such a good idea? People have an enormous amount of trouble correctly identifying their Ubuntu version. I've seen the following problems:

  1. people not realising that the zeros are significant in the version number and asking for support with Ubuntu 6.1 (they probably mean 6.10/Edgy Eft) or 6.6 (they probably mean 6.06 LTS/Dapper Drake);
  2. at least half the time people quoting the Ubuntu version number and codename together quote a mismatched name and number (Ubuntu Breezy 6.06, Ubuntu Dapper 6.10 and that's not even getting into Ubuntu Breezy 6.1 or Ubontoo/Urbanto/Obonto Dragon and so on), which means that you have no idea which version they actually mean; and
  3. the code names are memorable, but seemingly not memorable enough, there's a lot of people out there talking about the Edgy Elf, which sounds like a bad drug pusher.

Ubuntu is far from the only software using well publicised release code names. I remember the good old days pre-Windows 95 (the good old days are always more than a decade ago), when you couldn't talk computers without talking about 'Chicago'. Debian's release code names are also very commonly used; potato, woody, sarge, how well I remember thee, and I have no idea what thy version numbers were. In fact, the problem might perhaps be that the release code names and the version numbers are essentially equally well known when it comes to Ubuntu, so people feel the need to state both and aren't clear on the mapping between them.

I suspect also the regular releases are hard on people: people know that there's lots of Ubuntus and they have to identify their one, but there's changes often enough that casual onlookers and users are more confused by the release names than they are aided by them. The release numbers map to the release date (4.10 was released in October—month 10—of 2004, 5.04 in April 2005 and so on) but most people, I believe, treat version numbers as Marketing Magic the like of which mortals do not ken and question no further. The six month release cycle means that the current system always has several easily confused releases too (you can confuse either the first number, mixing up 5.04 with 5.10, say, or the second one, mixing up 5.10 with 6.10).

I don't have any particular suggestion about an alternative, and suspect that the developer community is wedded to their names even if the users are a bit puzzled. I suppose simpler would be better: Ubuntu 1, Ubuntu 2... but then the numbers get high quickly.

Syndicated 2006-11-12 07:20:38 from puzzling dot org: tech

Really final evaluation of edgy

Really final, because last time I hadn't upgraded a server, and yesterday I did. It made me very sad indeed.

Original complaintBug numberFixed?Remaining sadness level
apt crashes when upgrading courier-authlib 64615 No (there are a couple of potluck workarounds in the report) High, because it took me about an hour and a half to hunt down the bug report and get apt and dpkg to dig themselves out of the mess they were in.
Transparent proxying in Squid is broken 68818 No (there's a fix and workaround in the upstream report) High, because it took Andrew about an hour to hunt down the bug report and jigger with the upstream workaround. Yes I know transparent proxying is evil, and someday someone will figure out a clean way to autodistribute proxy settings whenever I connect my laptop to a new network, but until then I use it.
Network Manager can't always tell the difference between wired and wireless cards 59981 Yes Moderate, fixing this one has just made the intermittant appearances of 40125 more obvious, but somehow I find 40125 less irritiating.
Nevow is completely useless, won't even import properly in Python 61423 No Moderate. It turns out (and by it turns out I mean I figured out) you can install the Nevow 0.9 package from Debian unstable and it will work just great. But if Nevow isn't supported even to the point of shipping an importable Python package, why is it still in Ubuntu's main? This enhances my sadness level.
If you type words into the address bar, the epiphany browser no longer treats them as search terms for Google, it instead treats them as a bad URL. 56610 No (patch is available) Low, since I was able to build the fixed package as suggested in the report.
When I attach my Canon IXUS 65 to my computer via USB, Import Photos reports Could not claim the IO device. 64146 Yes, or at least they say so and it works for me, but people are still adding to the bug. Low, and only because I keep getting the bug mail about it.
X can't always... work [actually, probably a bug in vbetool, causing rendering glitches on resume from suspend] 60882 Officially no, but I see it occur way less often now, maybe not at all since Edgy released. Low, since I see it so seldom. It's really annoying when it does pop up though.
Aptitude... is now incredibly slow to resolve dependencies 51893 Yes None
GNOME reports that CPU scaling is not available on my machine Wasn't one, I didn't have powernowd installed N/A None

Syndicated 2006-11-09 22:56:09 from puzzling dot org: tech

Python papers at the Australian Open Source Developers' Conference

Heads up: A call for Python related papers for the first Australian OSDC (Open Source Developers' Conference) went to the python-au list this afternoon.

The OSDC is between the 1st and 3rd December 2004 in Melbourne. It sounds like there will be a whole 12 hours between that and ALTA's summer school and workshop... in Sydney! Pfft, there's just about time to drive between them with that kind of timing.

I'm tempted to work up a paper for OSDC, because I sure won't have one for ALTW. It's a pity my Python expertise is a proper subset of spiv's. And I've been doing web development again anyway, and it lacks awesomeness. Perhaps I need to develop newer and cooler Python expertise in a hurry.

Trip planning update

Thanks to everyone who responded to the last one. It seems on the face of it that I know about a million people in DC (OK, about five), and no one anywhere else in the northern hemisphere. Or perhaps I was at fault for not saying that we are interested in adding to that itinerary, especially in North America and Asia.

If you want to try and sell me a stop that wasn't already on the list... I want to hear from you!

Travel advice

The Universal Packing List is one of those insanely detailed things that inspires a certain mixture of awe and trepidation. Labours of love are great, but it's amazing what people labour on!

19 May 2004 (updated 19 May 2004 at 11:56 UTC) »

Trip planning

I've been planning a world trip for ages, but never to the point before where I've actually assembled cash. It was originally planned for the end of 2001, when spiv finished university and I finished my comp sci and maths degree — clearly that never happened.

However, this time I have funds earmarked. and spiv has funds set aside through the Nature of Spiv, which involves always earning twice what your needs demand, or alternatively desiring to spend only half of what you earn. And there's some odds in favour of spiv being actually able to work on the road and therefore able to come, although we may well be misjudging.

Here's the rough schedule, open to change by up to a month in either direction at this stage, and subject to the deletion of entire continents at will:

  • mid September-early October: North America. Definite stops: Pan Alto (Stanford), New York. Likely stops: DC.
  • early October - November: Europe. Definite stops: London. Likely stops: Spain, Czech Republic, Latvia.
  • late November (in the unlikely event we can afford this): Asia. No idea what we'd do here. Well, lots of ideas, no commitments. Japan is the most likely of about a million choices.

Assuming funds are available, and I'm sure I am being laughable optimistic, adding two or three more stops on each continent would be really great. I'm toying with driving across the USA, but I think it's just the challenge of reversing all my reflexes, and isn't as good an idea as it sounds.

Where my loyal readers come in

Here is your once in a lifetime* opportunity to influence our itinerary! If you what to put your oar in concerning any of the following, please do:

  • travel tips (no, seriously, I love that kind of thing, unload your advice onto me);
  • must see countries/towns/secessionist villas that somehow have been left off my detailed plans above;
  • cheap places to stay, with convenient access to natural beauty, art museums, sites of interest to a nascent WWII nut, Twisted hackers, LinuxChix chapters, bloggers I want to fangirl or weirdly cheap pre-winter snowboarding sites with lots of beginners runs; or
  • people we know of who have floorspace available in any continent mentioned above and are willing to have us stay. (I hope this goes without saying: noone should feel obliged.)

Our itinerary, at least until Asia, is going to be influenced equally by the properties 'cheap', 'good', and 'proximity to people we want to meet', travelling salesman problems and "pick any two of three" taunts notwithstanding.

Please note that a hypatia lifetime, patent pending, is a duration of not less than about three years. I've got enough upheavals planned for the next three years without suddenly jetting around the world again. Moving is conceivably a different matter.

26 Apr 2004 (updated 26 Apr 2004 at 14:02 UTC) »

Backwards vATTIC

Backwards is the backend system for puzzling.org that I've sunk somewhere between 60-100 hours of my life into. Of all the coding projects I've ever done, it contains the single largest set of ideas in one body of code. It's also single-handedly tripled my knowledge of Twisted style asynchronous programming.

Unfortunately, all that was the means to an end, and the end is that, for the foreseeable future, I'm left with 2000 lines of unusable code and a website which I'll be continuing to maintain entirely by hand. I'm not a very means-to-an-end type person either: my projects are fuelled by delayed gratification. These days I'm losing at the reward end of all my projects.

I'm not at all tempermentally suited to this kind of thing. Mind you, the intersection of the sets of things I'm good at and things the set of things I'm tempermentally suited for remains at cardinality one ({reading}). Intersect that with the things someone will pay me to do, and we're back to the empty set.

Well, so much for Backwards. I suppose I'll dig it out in six months or so, re-write it to use whatever the Nevow design pattern is at the time, and use it as a platform to document my search for an alternative career or ongoing love-hate relationship with programming, or something. In the meantime, no new purty stylesheets for you!

23 Apr 2004 (updated 23 Apr 2004 at 04:48 UTC) »

live.linuxchix.org and planet.twistedmatrix.com

For the readers of my two aggregators, apologies about the downtime (or rather, misconfiguration) this morning that resulted in these sites (and others) vanishing for a time. It's just as well we aren't paying for 99.9% uptime, because I think our host would have lost it overnight by replacing our virtual machine with a cPanel!


Graduated (again) this morning. It was a hot day for academic dress :(

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