Older blog entries for ianmacd (starting at number 74)

22 Mar 2002 (updated 13 Apr 2002 at 21:43 UTC) »
Allemachtig, nog maar 161 dagen tot de huwelijk.

My Ruby hacking continues apace.

I'm writing a system to write DSA keys into a MySQL database for account management purposes. This uses the Ruby DBI and is proving very educational. I could have written this much more quickly in Perl, but I took the opportunity to get to grips with an aspect of Ruby that I wouldn't really use otherwise.

At home, I've written a simple whois client, just to try out some network programming. Perhaps I'll even release that for the hell of it.

I hope to have my Ruby coding skills up to the level of my Perl skills within a few weeks (months?), at which point I'll be able to code pretty much anything I need.

Friday tomorrow. Thank God.

Learning Ruby is turning out to be a lot of fun. If you're a Perl fan, do check out this relatively unknown language. Mark my words: a few years from now, it's going to be in extremely widespread use.

The next release of bash completion will feature the ability to complete on remote paths when performing scp completion.

Why the hell are flights to Amsterdam so damn expensive? I can purchase a return ticket to San Francisco from Amsterdam on-line for $450, but a return ticket in the other direction would cost me over $700. It would be great to get to go home for Koninginnedag.

jules finally updated his diary. Bravo!

By the way, Jules, I like your dingen page. Web logs definitely seem to be the flavour of the month right now. It looks great, too.

Well, the save-the-date cards have gone out. That's one more wedding item taken care of. Now, all that's really needed is to arrange some music for the ceremony and possibly book a videographer, although I don't think we'll bother with the latter.

bash completion is doing really well. The next release, which I'll probably put out on Monday, will contain vastly expanded completion for cvs, making it much more useful than it currently is. As usual, the new release will also contain lots of bug fixes.

jules, it's really getting time for you to update your diary. 11 months and counting.

So many people no longer seem to update their diaries. I, myself, am posting my first entry in more than two weeks.

Back in 2000, it seemed like everyone was posting here. The updates were fast and furious. I guess the passing of the age of innocence of open source software left many people feeling disenfranchised and with no sentimental attachment to the more frivolous aspects of the scene, such as Advogato.

The bash completion project continue to gather momentum, with some 14,000 URL hits on Freshmeat now. I'm not getting as many patches as I'd like, though.

gcc completion still needs to be done; someone should add comprehensive dpkg support for Debian; rpm completion needs to be broken out into smaller functions, so that rpmbuild and rpmquery can easily be covered.

Much more work could be done, but I guess not many people spend their time hacking shell code if they have the choice. I should really be devoting more time to other pursuits, too.

I'm vaguely considering a week in The Netherlands, probably in late April or early May. Getting there for Koninginnedag would be nice.

Inmiddels is het avontuur hier zo goed als afgelopen, wat mij betreft.

Toen ik hier kwam wonen in maart 2000 was alles ongekend spannend. In hartje San Francisco wonen tijdens de explosieve groei van opensource software en de dotcoms, werken voor een bedrijf als Linuxcare met collega's die zich tot de beste hackers ter wereld mochten rekenen. Na de Red Hat-fiasco was ik toch eindelijk wel terechtgekomen. Misschien zou ik zelfs een paar centen maken op de beurs, maar dat interesseerde mij niet zo erg veel.

Ik had het idee dat ik in het oog van de orkaan zat. Alles was nieuw; alles was superspannend.

Toch vervaagt na verloop van tijd iedere bevlieging en deze vormt daar geen uitzondering op.

Open source stortte in, collegavrienden werden ontslagen, visumellende zorgde voor veel hoofdpijn. Andere verschijnsels van persoonlijke stress droegen bij aan een gevoel van vervreemding in dit anders toch al heel vreemde omgeving.

Om een lang verhaal genadig kort te maken, ik heb het hier wel gehad. Ik heb het gevoel dat als ik er straks niet bewust tussenuit duik, ik op de een of andere onbewuste manier toch voor mijn eigen lot zal zorgen door de boel te verzieken.

Vooral na elf september vind ik dit een gestoord en onprettig land om in te wonen. Het is niet moeilijk om eerstehands aan te zien waarom dit volk (maar vooral zijn regering) alom gehaat wordt.

Tja, niet dat ik dat niet begreep toen ik nog in Nederland zat, maar toen kon je tenminste naar de tv wijzen en zeggen van, "Kijk, die gekken Amerikanen zijn alweer bezig." OJ Simpson, een oorlogje hier, sancties daar, niet meedoen aan een verdrag ergens anders. Altijd hebben die klojo's hier hun vingers in andermans zaken, en wordt de wereld hier nou een beter op? Zet je televisie of radio aan en beslis zelf, zou ik maar zeggen.

Ik zou op dit moment in mijn leven ongelooflijk gelukkig moeten zijn, maar dat ben ik niet. Het enige waaraan ik kan denken is teruggaan naar Nederland en een paar maanden op mijn reet zitten, opnieuw ontdekken waarom ik van Nederland en vooral Amsterdam hou, misschien een nieuwe computertaal of twee leren.

Historisch gezien zijn de periodes van werkloosheid altijd de drukste geweest van mijn leven. Op geen ander moment krijg ik zo veel voor elkaar, leer ik zo veel nieuwe dingen, produceer ik zo veel, vind ik mijn levenslust terug, bouw ik zin in het werk weer op.

Na twee harde stressvolle jaren in de VS ben ik op. Ik heb niets meer te bieden aan mijn omgeving hier en kan er zelf ook niets meer uit putten. De enige gedachte die dag in dag uit door mijn hoofd spookt is wegkomen hier uit die zooi. Als ik me nu kon terugtrekken, kon dit alles nog makkelijk de geschiedenis ingaan als een heel bijzonder, merkwaardig hoofdtuk in mijn leven.

Ik ben gewoon weer aan vernieuwing toe. De rups moet weer vlinder worden, om het maar zoetsappig uit te drukken.

Misschien gaat dit gevoel uiteindelijk weer vanzelf over. Ik hoop het natuurlijk wel, maar kan niet ontsnappen aan het geloof dat het toch wel veel meer is dan alleen een gevoel. Stay tuned.

Maui was great. There's something about whale watching, standing atop a volcano, beautiful beaches, crystal clear seas, lush vegetation, great food, the company of a beautiful woman and not having to work that somehow brings out the best in me.

I don't know if I could live there for more than a year or so without going crazy, but I would really like to find out.

Meanwhile, the homesickness continues unabated.

I seem to have got my main server to stop spontaneously rebooting. What was the problem? It appears to be temperature related. If I close the window in the server room at night, all is well. If I leave it open and it's a particularly cold night, the machine stands a good chance of rebooting or hanging.

As strange as this sounds, there's strong evidence to suggest that this is, in fact, the case.

The hits on bash completion continue, which is very pleasing. It looks like this stuff is going to make it into the next releases of Red Hat and Debian Linux, which is very gratifying.

Damn, the machine rebooted again last night with 2.4.17. Half an hour later, it hung for 2.5 hours until I could power cycle it.

I brought it back up with 2.4.16 and grsecurity. It ran fine on that for a while, so it'll be interesting to see whether this stops the spontaneous reboots and hangs.

The machine is logging nothing strange at all prior to the reboot. There seems to be no weird network probing activity going on, the machine isn't under load. It's very strange.

I should give a quick plug for Bookpool here. Those guys really provide a cool service at much cheaper prices than Amazon. Give them a try.


Hmm, spontaneous reboots on one of my boxes using the 2.4.17 kernel and the grsecurity patch. This is not cool, and caused a Web server outage of some 5 hours early this morning. The box is seeing quite a bit of traffic now, so maybe I'll downgrade to 2.4.16 and see if that helps.

After a long, long time, I finally found a way to fix the bug that causes ssh completion to go awry when the string on which you're completing contains a @ symbol. I fixed a man completion bug, too, while I was at it.

I expect to put up a new release on Saturday. Most of the known bugs are nailed now. There's still at least one in the rpm completion function, but it's very tricky to fix and doesn't seem to be noticed by most people. No-one's complaining about it, at least.

Sarah and I are off to Maui for a long weekend a week from now. That'll be fun. I should start reading up on it a little bit to find out what kind of things there are to see and do.

At work this morning, I was having trouble reaching one of my servers at home. A little investigation revealed that my upstream DSL bandwidth was full to capacity.

What had happened? It turns out that Linux Today had put a link to my bash stuff on their front page. Instant Slashdot effect.

Anyway, the net effect was great. It put a lot of people in touch with bash completion who wouldn't otherwise have known about it. Not everyone reads Freshmeat and few people visit my home page.

My Malata N996 DVD player turned up yesterday. This player is code-free (will play DVDs from any region), dual-standard (converts PAL to NTSC and vice versa), and operates at multiple voltages.

In other words, this player can be plugged in anywhere in the world, connected to any kind of TV, and used to play any DVD. It even handles RCE1 discs. (Hmm, I wonder what it does with SECAM TVs and DVDs.)

This really makes a mockery of the MPAA and their heinous region encoding scheme.

I can't wait for my order of region 2 European DVDs to get here. All those old episodes of Minder and The Royale Family. No way they'll ever see a region 1 release or even end up on American TV. (I wish we could get BBC America in our building, though. They show some great stuff on there.)

I've been playing with Ruby this week. It's like a next-generation Perl, with most of Perl's standard modules and functions converted to classes and methods, giving a truly object-oriented scripting language; much more true to the notion than Python.

It's a little odd learning to think in terms of Ruby's constructs, but I'm having fun and I like it a lot.

I got a copy of Kylix Professional for Christmas, too, so I should really start playing with that and reawaken my old love of Pascal and Modula-2.

Homesickness for Amsterdam is becoming acute. I'd love to get home for a while, even just a few days. Since the introduction of the Euro, I wouldn't even recognise the money now.

The USA is starting to feel much like a job that I've outgrown and need to resign from. The sense of adventure and novelty value that were strong when I first came here have evaporated. What to do? Our immediate future is here (Sarah's job is going very well), but I definitely want to start thinking about how I might engineer our smooth migration back to my homeland in the not too distant future.

Plans for the wedding are proceeding apace. I need to build an RSVP system out of CGI scripts and MySQL to take care of the invitations. So much to do, so much to think about.

Just got back from two weeks on the east coast, celebrating Christmas and New Year with Sarah and her folks. What bliss.

Our two nights out at Fire & Ice were fun, as were the positively stupendous desserts at Finale in Boston.

Anyway, I've just put up a new release of bash completion with which to kick off the new year.

I'm back at work tomorrow. Ugh. I very quickly get used to not working, so I can't say I'm looking forward to getting back into the doldrums.

Anyone played with grsecurity, an excellent security patch for the Linux kernel? This thing is great and nails a system down very tightly indeed. The sysctl interface is particularly good, allowing you to fine-tune parameters to get the precise balance between security and usability that you want. Then you can lock down all the configured parameters by setting one final sysctl. Once that's set, grsecurity parameters can no longer be redefined.

65 older entries...

New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!