Older blog entries for jdub (starting at number 171)

Met Caleb Moore (of SVG Flags fame) at SLUG on Friday night. We both commented on how nice is to meet GNOME-world people "at home". I am Jack's cultural cringe.

Ben Martin (or monkeyiq, of libferris infamy) was down in Sydney for a conference, so I got to meet him again. Encouraged him to make GNOME people more aware of libferris beyond "that's some crazy VFS thing, right?" Hopefully he can go to GUADEC or something.

A while back Ben suggested setting up an academic stream for linux.conf.au, with an official proceedings and such. Considering the number of people in Australia doing research on or with Free Software, it should work incredibly well, and hopefully encourage more. It seems that you have to be very clued in to do this properly, so we're going to find out all the requirements and see if the Canberrans will support it as a one day mini-conf next year.

Jordi is going to be so cranky with me... I applied for the Debian new maintainer process again. Last time I applied in October 2001 and resigned in June 2003. By that point, I was nine months into almost full-time work on GNOME, doing random week-by-week consulting to pay the rent. It was pretty evident that I wasn't going to be useful to Debian at the same time!

But circumstances have changed in the last six months, and even more so in the last sixteen days. The Flow stuff is finally being resolved, with iiNet buying out the dial and DSL customers and taking a few key customer service people with them. That leaves the rest of us in the business-less, received company, with 90 days notice. It seems everyone will be using those 90 days for two things: Looking for their next gig, or hacking on Free Software. If that's not a cool end-of-employment period, I don't know what is. ;-)

Even so, all the Planets have aligned such that my next gig is ready for launch. This is hyperspace.  #

Some things I've seen in the past week or so that I have enjoyed... People are starting to talk about hard numbers when it comes to the Linux desktop. If you love Python and write network-aware software, check out this intro to Twisted on the O'Reilly Python DevCenter. A treatise on boobs, bombs and accountability. A really cool writeup of an interview I did during linux.conf.au - very happy with that one. There's new a gallery of GNOME hackers and their mainstream celebrity stunt-doubles up, care of the Swedish Conspiracy. Edd wrote a great article about the Planet phenomenon on DeveloperWorks, which included his suggestion of a way to link the Planets together via FOAF - the next step for Planet. Ximian released build-buddy, which I should get intimate with at some stage. A whole new raft of Planets have arrived including: Perl (which actually uses the Planet code, written in Python), Twisted, XFce, SLUG (my local user group) and PHP (via some PHP rewrite of Cocoon or something).  #

Hrm. So I think I could fairly reasonably justify going to a whole stack of conferences in the coming months, but they're all at the end of each successive month. Harsh. Plus, USENIX is not on the list because it conflicts with GUADEC. That's a real bummer, because Keith was trying to get me drunk at the linux.conf.au dinner so I'd agree to do a talk there. Here's the list, up to the end of August. I imagine that a GNOME Summit (in the USA) would be in Septemberish, too. Fear.

  • Debconf 4 in Porto Alegre, Brazil: May 26th to June 2nd
  • GVADEC 2004 in Kristiansand, Norway: June 28th to June 30th
  • OSCON 2004 in Portland, USA: July 26th to July 30th
  • FOSSCON in Selangor, Malaysia: Most likely the end of August

So, I have not been blogging. I have not been incredibly productive either. It's kinda funny to read about our Boston friends being cold, because here in Sydney, it's too fucking hot to think. It was 32°C yesterday, with facial-hair-toasting breezes through the canyons of the inner city. The heat has not contributed positively to my motivation or productivity.

As I woke up to a refreshingly cool morning for a Foundation Board meeting today (07:30 is so much saner than the 02:00 and 04:00 ones), I read a mail from Luis that obliquely mentioned something happening on foundation-list. Lots of people worried that the the latest development release name might be taken offensively. Despite the beginning of the discussion, the on-list mail was fairly tame and reasonable. But here's what happens off-list:

If you really have this little sense, I hope people remember it at next year's foundation elections. IMO, you owe the community an apology. Not lame defenses of a defenseless act. Clever is fine. Crude is just crude.

I too hope that people remember this at next year's foundation elections. I also hope that I have the presence of mind to remind everyone of it in my election statement. Why on Earth would I do that? Well, if everything I do for GNOME, every contribution I make, every minute I spend thinking about my GNOME todo list, every shadow of guilt that passes over me as I do something instead of working on GNOME stuff, every joule of energy I pump into the project or drain from my sleep... If everything I do can be accountable to something such as this... I wouldn't want to be elected. I wouldn't want to be involved.

It's lucky, despite the lack of love apparent at the moment, that the GNOME community is not quite as dense as the poster might suggest. Even so, did you know that during the pre-2.0 release process, I was flamed for being "disrespectful" to Astrid Lundgren through our Pippy Longstocking inspired Swedish release names? Never mind that they came about as an admittedly left-field in memoriam... Sure kept the trolls busy while we madly fixed up GNOME for 2.0 though. Ah, the good old days when obscure release names were cunning marketing strategies. ;-) Just after the first Developer Platform preview, we really wanted to say something horrible about Andrew Orlowski in one of our release names (but decided not to, because it might be inappropriate). Luckily, the Pan dudes did it for us. I can't imagine what the flamewar would have been like if we released the first snapshot as "Andrew Orlowski: Your Mum".

So in the meantime, I have suggested what I think is a reasonable long-term solution to avoid issues like this. We can happily route around the damage and get on with the task at hand: World domination. Hmm, but I get flamed for saying that too.  #

So much anger. I'm attempting to focus it productively, but every now and then it's falling between my better judgement and GNOME, and I start thinking fuck-it-all thoughts. While GNOME feels like an enormous pressure at the moment, it is not the source of most of my anger.

The company I work for has gone into receivership, which means I might not have a job when the business is bought. So even though I'm not hugely concerned, I think it could be a niggling little stress-source boiling away behind my general calm. The frustration that lies on the surface, and much of the source of my anger, is that the receivership has been such a catalyst for positive change. After fighting for months, things have suddenly turned on a dime and the priorities - dead simple and brutally straightforward business priorities - are finally straightened out. It's like dambusters: You fight your way through flak, exploding engines, storms, fuel leaks and fighters, and when you're finally at your destination... You have to tear up the concrete and bring the fucker down. So now all the obstructions are out of the way, I can actually do my job - and oh, how much there is to do! Lots of crap to clear away and cool stuff to build and fix up. But there is a futile frustration boiling inside me, borne of irony, and with no sensible outlet.

There have also been some self-inflicted bumbling idiocies over the last couple of weeks, such as blackholing outgoing mail from my laptop for about a week. Which cunningly cranked up the pressure right when I didn't need it. If I don't think I can see the big picture - if I'm without oversight - things start to feel recklessly out of control. I think that's the other source of stress here, and why I'm finding frustration and anger in GNOME right now.

The feedback loop pressure always stops you from doing the best possible thing - giving it a rest for a bit to go for a walk, read a book, have a sleep... chill out. Even that feedback loop is making me cranky! It's a cranky feedback loop! FASCIST! GAR!

Sleep time.  #

spiv pointed out that Google Glossary is no longer just a crazy hack, it's now available on the main page by using "define:<term>". Such as, define:gnome. Numbers one to four, baby! Yeah!  #

An Electronic Tower of Babel: "Still, companies in the past few years have focused more on adding performance and features than on making products that are easy to use and play well with other machines." It always pleases me that GNOME is doing The Right Thing here.  #

Pounding the nail on the head, CSIRO's mathematical and information sciences division uses Debian, GNOME, R and Python for their data mining research and applications. They've shipped it to the Health Insurance Commission, the NRMA and the Department of Health and Ageing. Rocking.  #

Much of the first part of today (which has been a very long 'today') spent hacking on release strategy proposal, web planning documents and library.gnome.org. It's going to rock way hard when these planets align. I was really hoping to get the release strategy stuff out of the way today, but it's kinda laborious. Cool, but pushing lots of intellectual mess in my head into understandable (and, well, convincing) prose is hard work. Same stuff with the web docs, but they're mostly point form with discusson bits in between. Actual proper hacking on l.g.o and Planet have been head-restful which is pretty disturbing. Will be taking a break on Sunday and Monday (grooving to the tunes/noise/ambience at K's audio-conf) to get the release doc out, then hammering out the web stuff as soon as I get back. That'll be arduous, but fulfilling. Meanwhile, a pretty front page is up, and Aaron is getting his head around the current state of things. Ready to rock.  #

Very saddened to hear of another loss in the GNOME community: Mark Finlay was young, eager, furiously energetic and just heading into university - where I'm sure he would have blossomed into a great GNOME and Free Software hacker. I chatted with Mark a lot during his time with GNOME, helping him grok how GNOME worked, where cool things were happening, and how to get more involved. I had no idea he was unwell until an off-hand comment in his diary a couple of months ago - at first, I couldn't believe him because he was always so active, pumped up and ready to rock... I dearly wanted to see where he'd be in a few years.

My condolences to Mark's family and friends, I hope they know that Mark will be greatly missed by his world-wide gang of 'funny computer friends'. Rest easy, Mark.

I've always wondered what things would be like in 50 years, when our GNOME friends would be leaving us regularly... But I fear that there are too many friendly footprints in heaven already.

Love each other, and make sure your friends know you care.  #

Had a good day today with arch and all this Planet hacking. First off, I had to merge Scott's changes into my tree. I had made a few touch-ups here and there, so Scott's changes were based on a slightly older revision. Merged without a hitch, despite some dunderheaded mistakes on my part. I was going to make sure it worked on Python 2.1, so I worked on a different machine by pulling the archive over, and merging changes back. Then I decided that making it work on Python 2.1 was dunderheaded too, so I reversed the stupid changes and started hacking on the interesting stuff. Tonight, I'm going to pull my GARNOME and Planet trees off onto my iBook so I can hack on them this week while I'm at linux.conf.au.

So, while arch can sometimes be inscrutable and petulant, and has a definite learning curve for the average Free Software CVS refugee, it's working for me, and I'm going to keep working with it. Will arch be in GNOME's future? I think there are some pretty compelling reasons to try; but it will need more support for visualisation and code browsing/searching tools (like LXR, Bonsai) to really sell it.

As Edd would say: Sticking with arch.  #

Planets in Alignment

Some crazy progress on Planet. Thanks to Scott's excellent work ridding us of old horrors, I've managed to build multiple output support in record time. Planet GNOME now supports RSS 2.0 and RSS 1.0 feeds of its aggregation, and further output formats are just a template away. In the next half hour, it will provide its blogroll as OPML (which is the world's worst XML, but we're stuck with it) and probably as RDF/FOAF too.

Meanwhile, Zach is experimenting with Planet Lisp. Rock and roll is where I hide.  #

spiv points out some Penny Arcade prescience of Planet Proliferation. Hell yeah! Scott just sent a lengthy email describing his massive rewrite of Planet. It is now truly an awesome aggregator, with none of the old pyblaggisms. He has totally kicked its arse. I'm going to work on python2.1 compatibility, RDF/FOAF/OPML output, and then port the desktop aggregator stuff I've been working on to it. Sang choi bao!  #

Sun may change Linux desktop platform... Where in the World is the KDE League?... The GNOME Lover's Guide to linux.conf.au... GUADEC 2004 Call For Papers. Fun, fun, fun...  #

Are you a SuSE dude? James Ogley - you may know him from such websites as Rubber Turnip and usr local bin - has set up a Planet SuSE and is calling for SuSE community bloggers to jump on board. I'll add it to the Planetarium list once James finds an official home for it. :-) ROCK ON!  #

I just fixed a breathtakingly bad off-by-one error in the Planet code. You don't have to go fossicking for certain entries anymore (such as Dave's, John's, Evo's, Ximian Desktop's... all the MoveableType blogs, though it's not MT's fault). This is a deeply pleasing fix, and it has brought warmth to Dave's black, black heart.  #

Planet & Planetarium

Edd mentioned to me yesterday that Ted Leung from Apache-land mailed him about setting up an aggregator for Apache related blogs. Mails forwarded and replied and now I'm even more amazed about how quickly this thing is taking off. There will be an Apache link in Planetarium very soon (indeed, it sounds like Thom is getting antsy about setting it up)... I've got a fully patched up Planet if you want it, Thom. :-)

I've also been talking to Edd about extra technologies we can use to build some togetherness into the greater "Planet community". Edd, being Mr. XML and a bit of a Mr. RDF, had some really awesome ideas for this, and hopefully we'll get three interoperating implementations out of it (Planet RDF and Monologue use different codebases). Thus, the Planet & Planetarium projects are born!

Just have to have a website, mailing list and logo competition to really get them rolling. *cough*  #

Good interview with Nat, Miguel and Chris Stone of Novell. More expression of disbelief at Sun's Linux strategy will hopefully kick them out of their stupor. I love Sun's contributions to GNOME, but I want them to survive to keep doing it! Also of interest, IBM memo about using Linux desktops... They have a good relationship with Novell now, too. :-)  #

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