Older blog entries for jdub (starting at number 174)

There'll be an Alan & Telsa moment in our house when Pipka gets up this morning. The Debian Installer folk need testers on weird platforms, so I've been trying to help out with some machines here. Unfortunately, they're hot and noisy, and there is very little room left in the office (which, um, would have nothing to do with the amount of mess)... So sticking them upstairs in the chill-out room with a wireless switch seems to be the best solution. I have the nagging feeling that Pipka won't appreciate them being there for too long, however.  #

Thanks for all the replies about Planet GNOME (already!), lots of food for thought. One particularly humorous response about John's posts: "On some days Planet Gnome is filled with his face and pages of text [...] like that scene in 'Being John Malkovich' where he is inside his own mind and everyone in the room looks like him. In that scene they are all having deep conversations using only the the words 'John Malkovich'." And so, today we offer a tribute to our own John. Malkovich. Malkovich-Malkovich.  #

Today's big thanks go to Wichert. Over the weekend, I finally got fed up with administering the MAC address lists in Craige's Airport. It's not often that I reboot my iBook into OS X, and none of my machines have a JVM on them to run the Java-based admin tool, so I needed another solution. The Airport supports RADIUS...

Enter pyrad, Wichert's pure Python RADIUS client, which also includes a simple server, and an aptly named Twisted module, "curved". Bingo! 10 or 12 lines of Python later, and we have a tiny little RADIUS server that accepts and rejects MAC addresses for the Airport.

Mister RADIUS is a quick hack-job, and doesn't use the Twisted module yet, but I'm sure it will be useful when I start my WRT54G + Twisted hacking in earnest. I wonder if anyone has experience using Twisted in an embedded environment yet...  #

On Planet GNOME

  • Should we have a separate page for interesting GNOME feeds that are not personal or written by human hands? It has been suggested that the FootNotes feed be removed, but it might make sense to aggregate it with similar feeds, such as FTP releases (soon with NEWS love), and other stuff we come up with.
  • What should the guidelines be for inclusion in Planet GNOME? I've been treading lightly on this one, because it's a tough call. My guideline so far has been "positive and mature regular contributor to GNOME". This has worked fairly well, and readers regularly voice their appreciation for this 'passive editing', so it seems to be a feature. I just want to make sure it's on the right track - for instance, so far I have resisted adding people who do packaging only. Obviously, the most important factor is what readers want, not what the egos of contributors want. It sounds a bit backwards, doesn't it? :-)
  • Why do people keep complaining about John Fleck's entries... and what should I do? So, the vast majority of John's posts are not GNOME related, and he does post in quick succession. But John is an upstanding member of the GNOME Old Fogies club, and a longstanding contributor (and one-time esteemed leader) of the GNOME Documentation Project. Funnily enough, a couple of the complaint mails have suggested a new Planet feature: Pooling a particular feed's daily entries into a single block. I'm almost tempted to hack it up, just for the amusement value.

Tell me what you think: jdub at gnome dot org.  #

Last night, my Dad came home from nine months of bumming around Europe with Barbara, his girlfriend. He grew his beard and hair, and looks even more like an older version of me. I only remember his old beard from photos, but now it's a wisened grey, and his hair is long enough to wear in a totally unrighteous ponytail. I can't say I didn't fall for that myself, though. We caught up over some much-needed champagne and vegemite, hearing about the snow, lucky traveller syndrome, and animated descriptions of how terrible Italian drivers are. (My Dad used to be a model "Bloody Volvo Driver", so take that with a pinch of salt.)

Meanwhile, Pipka's presents arrived today - a new bed and a Weber barbeque. We're going to have a party or something next week to bless the barbie, but I guess we should give it a practice run first. But... OH MAN... I'm going to be giving the bed a solo practice run for the next week because Pipka's just been roped into going to Adelaide for work. Suckerific.

Planning to go to SLUG's Debian SIG Bug Squishing Party next Saturday. Hopefully we can smack some bugs up real good. If you're in or around Sydney on the 13th, come along. Sarge needs you.  #

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.  #

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