Older blog entries for katzj (starting at number 130)

Beginning A New Chapter

The end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one for me. Today is my last day as an employee of Red Hat. I still remember walking in the door for my first day at Red Hat and having Nalin set up my account so I could get started as Preston was a little bit late getting in that morning. It’s been a great eight+ years across five offices and two states working with lots of great people.

During that time, I’ve also had the opportunity to play a big role in the development and growth of Fedora. While the start was somewhat rocky, I think we’ve now built up an incredibly strong community that successfully releases a whole distribution (arguably, several!) on a regular schedule. And within that community, we’ve grown a pretty awesome set of leaders to continue to drive Fedora forward.

While I’m planning to still keep at least in touch with the goings-on of Fedora as well as running Fedora in places, I certainly won’t have the time to spend on it that I do today. I hope to keep in touch and see people at conferences and events from time to time. But right now, I’m looking forward to what’s next for me. And for those wondering, it’s something pretty different really. More on it next week..

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Syndicated 2009-08-27 15:41:37 from Jeremy's Thoughts

2009 Seacoast Safari Recap

Better late than never right? Here’s a quick recap from this year’s Seacoast Safari that I had started and has been sitting in the drafts folder…

For the third year, I signed up for the Seacoast Safari ride to raise money for research and treatment of Cystic Fibrosis. As I’ve previously mentioned, this ride has a bit of a personal connection for Team Quad as one of the guys that rides with us, Chris Kvam, actually has CF. Not that you’d know it from watching how strongly he rides. This year, Quad had an even larger team than last year with 26 riders.

For me, the thing that made it even more fun is that I had convinced my dad to fly up and do the ride with me. Originally, the plan was to have him ride my Merlin and I would ride my Cannondale. The previous week’s accident made that not an option. But we found another team bike for my dad to ride and all was well.

Also, Kara served as the official photographer for this year’s event. You can see all of her pictures on flickr

Saturday started off a little bit drizzly, but it looked like the majority of the rain had passed us. The roads were still a little wet, though. I had decided to take it easy and to mostly ride along with my dad which worked out well for riding with a number of the other Quaddies. All was going well with about 10 of us riding together until Jon hit a rock and was thrown off-balance and went sliding across the pavement. Ugh. Not the way to start a charity ride. But we made sure that the paramedics were taking care of him and we continued on. The next mishap, just a mile or two later, was a flat that for some reason was quite difficult to successfully change. Finally it was fixed and the rest of the day went by pretty uneventfully and the sun finally came out. As we got to UNE in Biddeford, we saw Jon standing there after having been discharged by the ER and brought up by one of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation staff. We had the barbeque lunch and then watched some of the coverage of the Tour stage from the day.

Dinner was the typical pasta dinner that has characterized the Seacoast Safari along with an award ceremony and silent auction. A nice impromptu addition to this year’s event was a few people auctioning off their prizes to raise even more money. Very cool! And Team Quad was recognized for the fact that we both had the largest team and had the largest fundraising amount of any team. Overall, the amount raised this year was over $100,000 making it significantly more than previous years.

We headed back to the dorms where we mostly sat around and talked bike geekery and then headed to bed to wake up early the next morning again.

Sunday morning came along and was quite sunny and perhaps perfect from a weather standpoint. We had breakfast and were then on our way. Again, I was content to take it easy and ride with my dad for the majority of the time. A number of other people were content to keep the same pace and so we had a nice group of about 8 Quaddies riding along at a fairly relaxed pace. We took in the scenery, we sang and enjoyed a wonderful day on the bike. At one point, I went to the front of the group and basically sat there for about 12 miles setting a steady pace into the wind. It was a great time and a good way to get a good tempo workout without having to really push it.

We made it back to Newburyport and wrapped things up. Stood around talking with people for a little bit, but at that point, wanted little more than a good shower and so were on our way pretty quickly to do so.

And with that, another Seacoast Safari was wrapped up. A good time overall and the route was just as gorgeous as always. And I think that the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation saw it as a pretty effect fundraiser. Looking forward to next year so that I can ride it again!

Photo by Kara Katz / CC BY-NC 2.0

Photo by Kara Katz / CC BY-NC 2.0

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Syndicated 2009-08-20 02:46:46 from Jeremy's Thoughts

Maui Trip: All the Rest

After Friday’s trip up the volcano, the focus of our trip shifted to Kara’s sister’s wedding. Kara and I were both in the wedding, so there was a rehearsal on Saturday afternoon. While we were staying in Kapalua on the northwestern end of the island, Lindsey was staying at the Grand Waileia resort on the southern tip of of the island and that was where the wedding was going to take place. So about an hour’s drive.

So Saturday we grabbed lunch with Kara’s parents and Kara’s other sister (Courtney) plus her husband and five month old again at the Cool Cat Cafe. This time I had a burger and it was a pretty good burger — I see why they are highly rated. We then headed to Waileia for the rehearsal. The rehearsal was quick and basically there was little information really to be shared.

Then, Saturday evening there was a rehearsal dinner / welcome dinner (some of Kara’s family that wasn’t in the wedding came out as well and they came to this dinner as well) at the Hard Rock Cafe in Lahaina. And the dinner really was what you expect at a Hard Rock Cafe. That’s not to say it was bad, but the food was predictable. We did have a nice outdoor table to sit at with a good view of the setting sun over the ocean.

After dinner, Kara really wanted some shave ice again so we went back to Ulalani’s Shave Ice. We shared a large this time and it was very sufficient for the two of us and again very good. Then, it was late so we headed back and went to sleep.

Sunday was the wedding and we were up fairly early. I drove Kara and Courtney to Waileia for their hair, etc appointments. Kara and I grabbed lunch at Longhi’s and I had a pretty good pasta dish — the Fettucini Lombardi. It was a fetticuini alfredo with the nice addition of proscutto and English peas. Very tasty and by going for lunch, the prices were a lot more reasonable than their dinner prices.

Then I dropped Kara off for her hair appointment and just read for a while. Then it was time for the wedding. This was actually kind of cool. Lindsey had decided to have various bits of native Hawaiian weddings in the ceremony including a precessional where she was carried in on a chair and accompanied by hula dancers. Very very cool to watch. The rest of the ceremony was nice as well, but it’s hard to beat being carried in on a chair :-)

After the ceremony, there was a dinner/reception at the Bistro Molokini in the Grand Waileia. Dinner was good, but the service was very very very slow. While they started off getting things fast, they slowed down quite a bit and it was probably about two hours before our food came out. Oh well, we were in no rush. We eventually headed back (late) to the condo and crashed hard into bed. Of course, after I had driven the hour back, I was wide awake and so I read for a while longer and eventually fell asleep.

Monday came and it was raining a little so I decided against going for a ride. But after an hour or so, it cleared up and so we went out to hang out by the pool for a while. I read and swam a little bit. Then, the plan for the evening was to go to the Old Lahaina Luau with everyone.

Rain threatened, but held off for the entirety of the luau. It was pretty well done. They did a good job of not just having a mob scene at the buffet for food by sending up a table at a time. The performance afterwards was very very good. The food was a little underwhelming, although when you consider how many people it was feeding buffet style, it was pretty good. But certainly not the best meal that I had on the island by any stretch of the imagination. We had a good time overall, though.

Tuesday I awoke to more rain and so again didn’t ride. Plus, Tuesday was to be the day that the remains of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Felicia were to hit the hardest. So we got up and grabbed some breakfast and took it easy for a while. Then, we headed to Lahaina to do some souveneir, etc shopping. We had lunch at Cilantro which had the best reviews in terms of Mexican places and I was wanting a burrito. Sadly, I was disappointed in my burrito. It was just a bland blend of meat, rice and beans inside a kind of soggy tortilla. Kara had the flautas and liked them a bit better. We walked up and down the length of Front St while getting our stuff and then headed back to rest and relax and try to get in a swim since it wasn’t really raining hard. Unfortunately, as we headed towards Kapalua, the rain really picked up to the point that it was raining hard in Kapalua even though it was (at most) misting in Lahaina. So, we instead did the fun of some laundry so that we could go home and have clean rather than dirty laundry

Wednesday was our last day and we had to be out of the condo by 11. So we woke up and started packing up our suitcases and the car. We said our goodbyes to Kara’s family and then were on our way. We returned the rental bike to West Maui Cycles, grabbed lunch at Penne Cafe and then continued on to the airport. Leaving Hawaii is an interesting airport experience as in addition to the usual of checking in, a separate baggage check and the TSA security standpoints, there are also two separate times that you have to go through USDA checkpoints to ensure you aren’t bringing back anything you shouldn’t. The first of these is for checked bags, the second is for carry-on. And then as we sat at the gate, a USDA agent came around with a dog still looking for things. It was somewhat impressive.

And now, I write this while we’re 37000 feet in the air and somewhere between Maui and Dallas. My laptop’s clock says it’s 4:30 am but my body thinks it’s more like 10:30 pm. Thursday we’ll get in and probably sleep for a little while. Then I have some school work to take care of, actually posting this and a few other posts and starting the email catch up process. Then Friday, it’s back to work!

And of course, then a week to get around to posting it. But hey, it’s posted now!

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Syndicated 2009-08-20 02:29:43 from Jeremy's Thoughts

Jeremy vs the Volcano (Haleakala)

The Setup

After looking a bit, one of the things that I really wanted to do while in Maui was a climb up Haleakala by bike. Haleakala is the volcanic mountain which towers over the eastern portion of the island rising to a height of over 10000 feet above sea level. One of the bigger “touristy” things to do while on the island is to actually pay for a van to take you up to the top of the mountain where they set you up with some sort of bike (a cruiser, a mountain bike, or something similarly simple) and let you ride down the mountain. But the thing for a real cyclist to do is instead to start at sea level with a bike and ride up to the top.

The first thing to do was to figure out a route. As it turns out, this is pretty straight-forward. There are a few accounts online including a really good one here. Routes are also on all the usual sites so I loaded one onto my Garmin. Most of the routes are right around 35 miles starting in the beach town of Paia and finishing at the summit. 35 miles, 10000 feet. This is starting to sound like a ride.

Getting a Bike

The second thing to do was figuring out a bike to ride. Option one would be to fly with my bike. The airlines have worked quite hard to make this a pretty infeasible option as they’ve increased the costs of flying with a bike. It’s really pretty sad and unfortunate as (from what I’ve read; this predates my serious riding) you used to be able to box a bike and fly with it pretty easily. Oh well. So it goes. A second option tends to be shipping the bike via UPS or FedEx. But being that we’re talking Hawaii, that’s really not much cheaper as you have to do air shipment rather than ground. That basically left renting a bike

Now renting a bike in a place where you’ve never been before can be a dicey concept. You’re never quite sure what you’re going to end up getting. When I was on the Outer Banks a couple of years ago for my sister’s wedding, I rented a bike and while it ended up being something I could ride, it wasn’t really that nice. A lower-end off-brand aluminum frame with a 105/Tiagra mix. From some looking around, though, it looked like West Maui Cycles rented pretty reasonable bikes. So I called them up and arranged to rent a bike for the week. In terms of road bikes, they rent Cannondales and I was told I’d either get a Six Thirteen or a Synapse depending on which had been returned by the time I got there for the pick up. And the price seemed reasonable too ($200 for the week).

So when we got to Maui, I headed to the bike shop to pick up the bike. I took my own helmet, pedals, shoes and saddle to help ensure I was as comfortable as possible. I also remembered to throw in one of the stem mounts for the Garmin so that I could follow routes. When I got there, the bike they had was the Synapse with an Ultegra/Dura-Ace mix and a compact crank. Not a shabby bike at all. The guys were even nice enough to go ahead and swap the saddle for mine and put on my pedals for me. I did a couple of test rides in the area closer to Kapalua to get to know the bike and until there was a day I had enough time to make the ride up the volcano.

When to Ride

Basically everyone’s account of the ride is that the weather can be a bit of a mixed bag on the island and especially on the way up the mountain so to try to give yourself as many days of a window for doing it as possible. I really didn’t want to go before Kara’s family arrived (Thursday) since I knew it would be an all-day trip and Saturday to Monday were likely to be taken with wedding stuff. So I really only had two possible days — Friday and Tuesday. I had decided to try for Friday. Then, on Thursday I began to track the progress of the hurricane heading for the islands… okay, so Friday is really my only bet now.

Day of the Ride

This of course meant that Thursday night, I slept terribly. Couldn’t fall asleep until later as my body adjusted to Hawaii time. Then, I got one of the random telemarketer + hang-up calls at 4 am. So I missed my alarm going off. I woke up at like 6:30 and had intended to be out of the condo by 5:30 at the latest. Oops. Some quick thinking and packing and I decided that even though it’d be a later start, I’d be okay and that I should still make a go for it if I was really going to have the chance to make the climb.

As I’m driving from Kapalua to Paia I start to realize the things I had left in the condo due to my very hurried packing. The first I realized was the heart rate monitor strap. Oh well, no big loss; I can just go on effort. More about finishing than pacing perfectly anyway. The second is sunscreen. This one’s a bit more important but I decide I’ll find some in Paia before I get started. So I keep driving and get to Paia a little after 8. I look for the best parking place and decide that the municipal lot off of Rt 36 right as you come into town is my best bet. I park and find some crappy sunscreen at a gas station so that I can be on my way. I’ve got the bike, spare tube and pump, GPS, two bottles (one electrolytes, one water), a tube of electrolyte drink tablets (these things are nice if you think you can only find water on your route), lots of Clif Shot bloks, a few clif bars, arm warmers and my knee warmers.

Off I Go!

At 8:15 (rather than 6:30 or so), I’m finally on my way on the route I had loaded onto the GPS. Right away I realize that this is no picnic as the road immediately slopes upward with a pretty steady 5% grade. No warm-up, no stretching… just climbing the hill.

At two miles in, I’m beginning to wonder “what the hell was I thinking?” as I slowly grind along. But at the same time, I’m starting to get into some sort of rhythm of spinning along. Seeing the first group of the downhill riders gives me a little bit of a push and I get even more into a rhythm. But it’s still definitely a rhythm of pain as I can’t quite get to an entirely comfortable position on the bike. Not to mention that it’s quite humid and the wind has picked up a bit. I keep going, just telling myself that I need to keep going until the Sunrise Market — regularly pointed out as the last place to get food before things begin in earnest.

At around mile seven, a couple of cyclists turn off of a side road onto the road ahead of me. They were maybe a quarter of a mile ahead, but it gives me some amount of drive and I begin to pedal faster and close in on them. I speak briefly with them as I reach them, but I continue on feeling strengthened by having seen some others on the road. I considered the idea of trying to stick with them so that I’d have some company, but I know that at this point, I’m better off keeping my own pace than trying to tie myself to anyone else.

But passing the two of them is enough to keep me moving for quite a while. The next section actually has tiny little sections of a brief downhill or flatness which helps me a lot as I can rest even briefly on them. The number of downhilll riders is also increasing. The leaders of those groups as well as the drivers of the vans following them frequently wave or give an encouraging word. So I make it pretty easily to the Sunrise Market at about mile 12 and around 3000 feet of elevation

Given that this is one of the three total places to stop for water, I figure it’s worth refilling my bottle and hit the restroom. By now, it’s hot out so I want to be sure I keep drinking. I’m not stopped that long, but long enough. As I get back on the road, I see a rider down the road a little bit behind me. I make the turn onto the road up to the national park itself and the guy behind me eventually catches up to me. We talk briefly and then he’s off. Again I consider trying to ride with him, but realize my own pace is better to keep.

I keep him in my sight for a little while, but the path of very sharp switchbacks takes him away from my sight after a while. I keep pedaling, looking to just notch off every 500 feet of elevation gain. As I pass the 5000 ft marker, I realize that I’m having to breathe a lot harder — the air really does get quite a bit thinner as you go up in altitude. I grit my teeth and keep going. At this point, I see an occasional car going down or get passed by an occasional car going up, but it’s mostly just me and the mountain. As I reach 6000 feet, it’s kind of cold as I’m now into the clouds (!). I pull out my arm warmers and put them on as I keep riding along knowing that the next stop of the lower ranger station isn’t that far away.
Entering Haleakala National Park

Finally, when I don’t know how much more I can go, the sight of the sign for entering the real area of the national park and the lower ranger station appears. I stop to take a quick picture and then pay my $5 park entry fee and ask the ranger if there’s somewhere I can get some water. He points me to the spigot on the side of the station where I gratefully refill my nearly empty at this point bottles. He also asks if I’m training for the Cycle to the Sun race in two weeks. I’m not, but the thought of that suffering helps to push me on again. Well, that plus the fact that I now paid $5 to enter the park :-)

If the previous leg was hard, this one is mentally mind-breaking. The physical hardship is, at this point, mostly a dull throb. The real pain at this point is the mental effort required to keep pushing forward. I know that I have only about eleven miles to go, but I also know that I still have over 3000 feet of climbing in cloudy/misty/cool conditions while in the clouds. But I’m not going to let the mountain beat me. And so I continue on. My mind concentrates on very few things during this time. Pedaling in small circles. Keeping my eyes on the road ahead of me, but trying not to look up the slope much. That I want to beat the mountain.
Summit Road

As I continue to make my way up, there are now no trees lining the way and the hillside is scattered with just small bushes. In addition, you’re really starting to be able to tell that this is a volcanic mountain. The side is covered in the sort of rocky look that you just associate in your mind with a volcano. Or Mars. I think I zoned out a little and was delerious for a bit of this chunk of the ride. The guy who had passed me eventually passes me going down when I’m about 4 miles from the top and he gives an encouraging word as he passes.

The upper visitor’s center is a mile from the summit and 600 feet down. I pull over slightly and consider for a second stopping there. But I know that if I do, I will never let myself live it down and so I climb back upon my bike and slowly pedal my way upwards. It helps that at this point I’m above the clouds and can see the sun again. As I approach the parking lot at the summit, I get a burst of energy and stand to do some sort of victory yell as I enter the parking lotand I stand to dance on the pedals, unleashing my suitcase of courage with a scream as I enter the parking lot in victory

Four hours and thirty-four minutes. 35 miles. 10000 feet of vertical gain. The single hardest thing I think I’ve ever done on a bike, both in terms of physical effort required but even more from the amount of mental effort. It was like being dropped off the back of the field at a race but orders of magnitude more difficult.

The summit has a fair number of people and some of them look on with disbelief that I did the entire ride up. Some of the others had passed me multiple times as they stopped at scenic lookouts on the way and congratulated me. I pulled out my phone as I sat on the top of the world for some pictures and a brief rest before making my way back down the mountain.
10023 Feet
Holding the bike aloft
View from the summitAnother view from the summit

And then, it was time to make my way down. I stopped at the upper visitor’s center to again refill my bottles and use the restroom. I also pull on my knee warmers as I realize it’s a lot cooler on the way down given the fact that I basically am coasting in a high wind. As I make my way down, I also notice the third thing I had forgotten for the day — my long fingered gloves. Oh well. I start down and also sort of wish I had a wind jacket or a rain jacket as the misting picks up as I hit the cloud layer.
View from 5000 feet

The way down is pretty boring. It’s a mix between coasting, braking for the sharp turns that aren’t banked and feeling the fact that I’d been sitting on the bike for 5+ hours. Also, trying to pedal a little to keep from cramping badly after the difficulty of the ride up. I honestly don’t know at this point why anyone would want to do that much less pay to do it. But it’s definitely still a lot faster. Less than two hours for the entirety of the ride down, even when you include the stops I made including for pictures at 5000 feet.
Another view at 5000 feet

I make it back to Paia and navigate the now significant traffic in town to get back to the car. I gladly dismount and am glad. In the battle of Jeremy vs Haleakala, I beat the volcano.

After doing it and having a little bit of time to reflect on it, I’m even more glad that I did the ride. It was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done on the bike. I think it even can count for the use of the word epic. After looking at the times of the finishers in the race which the ranger had mentioned to me, I’m even more glad as I think that my time was quite respectable given that I was doing it solo and not as a race. I might have to do some of the New England hill climbing races as it was a lot of fun.

Equipment-wise, I think I was pretty well prepared. A compact crank was definitely good to have. I can see where a triple could help. Arm warmers and knee warmers was okay for August. I wish I had remembered my long fingered gloves for the way down. A jacket might have been nice, but having to carry it up probably negates the value of it. Leg warmers vs knee warmers is probably a matter of personal preference — it’s six of one, half dozen of the other for me until it’s quite a bit cooler.

Last of all, the route I used is below as well as a link to Garmin Connect where you can export the route to follow yourself if you find yourself in Maui and wanting to ride the volcano.
Haleakala Route Map

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Syndicated 2009-08-18 00:00:49 from Jeremy's Thoughts

Sooner or later, it was bound to happen

Sooner or later, it was bound to happen. On the way back in from the ride today in Lexington, I had a run-in with a car. It was the intersection of 4/225 and Mass Ave (right by Wilson Farms). The driver of a large pickup truck was pulling out to make a left turn and we were moving along Mass Ave. There were six of us, all in bright green and blue. He stopped and then started to pull out again and then stopped again. I wasn’t sure if he was going to keep going at that point or stop. Scott managed to get around the front, but I basically aimed for the softest landing I could.

That landing, as it turned out, was slowing a lot, hitting the front wheel against the front corner panel/bumper and then somehow bouncing back off the hood (I somewhat remember my hands pushing off the hood) and landing on my feet. Unfortunately, in the process, I managed to chip two of my front teeth.

911 was called and Lexington’s emergency services were very quick to arrive with a fire truck, a paramedic, an ambulance, and a police officer. After landing on my feet, I stayed on the ground for a minute or two to make sure all was okay and then moved to the curb. As the paramedics came over, I was pretty sure I was okay and eventually just did the “refused service” with the ambulance. They looked and didn’t see any protrusion or obvious things other than the chipped teeth.

The officer was very nice and took my information. Apparently he’s citing the driver. I have all of the driver’s information and plan to follow up with his insurance before long.

The bike was ridable for the 2 miles to the shop, but the frame is shot — there’s a huge bend in the top tube and in addition, the rear shifter is destroyed. Pictures in the future. As far as the truck — not sure if there was any damage; I kind of doubt it.

All in all, it could have been a lot worse. At this point, the worst pain is that my teeth are a bit sensitive and eating promises to be exciting as I can’t really use my front teeth. I’ve got a small scrape below my right knee and a little bit of soreness in my left knee and my right elbow, but I’ve already started the ibuprofin for those. And I’ve spoken with a dentist and he said it sounds like nothing that needs immediate attention, so I’m to call him first thing Monday morning.

The driver’s insurance should, especially given the citation, cover the dental work as well as the bike work and hopefully without a fight, but I’ve already put in the first contact to a local lawyer who specializes in bike accidents. Good guy and former president of MassBike and also previously helped Kate in an accident.

Witnesses included Scott, Jen, Barb, Brian and Suraffel.

And now, I’m starving, so I’m going to go find some food to cut up into tiny pieces and chew in the back of my mouth. I’m intending to go out tomorrow on the Merlin to unwind a bit and still am planning on doing Seacoast Safari next weekend. And I’m still looking for people to support me on that ride. Hopefully by then with intact teeth!

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Syndicated 2009-07-11 23:27:07 from Jeremy's Thoughts

Repeating the cycle, time to kill rhpl

Continuing on the historical vein, once upon a time there was a package included in Red Hat Linux called pythonlib. One of the things I helped do was to finish killing it off. We went along and then a few releases later, wanted to share some python code again. Thus was born rhpl – the Red Hat Python Library. It started out simply enough — some wrappers for translation stuff and one or two other little things. And then it began to grow, as these things do over time. Some of the things made sense, some less so. Over time, pieces have moved around into other things (including rhpxl — the Red Hat Python Xconfig library)

Fast-forward to today and it’s a bit of a mess with things contributed by various people and used in one config tool (or two) and barely maintained. Also a lot of the things being wrapped have gotten a lot better in the python standard library. The gettext module is leaps and bounds better than the one from python 1.5 and also the subprocess module is awesome for spawning processes.

Therefore, I think it’s time to continue the cycle and kill off rhpl for Fedora 12. I’m starting to make patches and file them for packages using rhpl to transition them over. Help much appreciated from anyone that wants to join in.

For the rhpl.translate -> gettext case, you generally want to replace the import of _ and N_ from rhpl.translate with something like

import gettext
_ = lambda x: gettext.ldgettext(domain, x)
N_ = lambda x: x

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Syndicated 2009-06-30 16:01:49 from Jeremy's Thoughts

Stress, sickness, productivity

The summer semester has been a bit stressful so far — supply chain taking six to nine hours a week just for class has left me with little time to think or breathe, but luckily that ends next week.  As a result, I think my body decided it had had enough and didn’t really fight off whatever the summer flu going around is.  So to add to the busy factor, I was pretty worn down and sick for a few days this week.

Today, I finally started feeling back to myself and got a lot of productive stuff done. Finally caught up with a lot of bug stuff, got around to updating the machine that I host everything on past Fedora 9 (!), and even sat down tonight to wrap the handlebars on my CAAD9 with new bar tape. Hadn’t done a bar wrapping job before and I think that it came out okay. There are definitely places it could be better and I learned a few things as I went to use next time, but it seems like it’ll work just fine. And as an added bonus, I’m now fairly comfortable that I can do it myself and not have to always get it done at the bike shop.

Looking forward to getting out tomorrow for a ride — I only commuted one day this week and other than that, it’s been a week since I’ve been on the bike. Longer than I’d choose usually, but I also know when not to push with getting back on the bike to avoid staying sicker longer.

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Syndicated 2009-06-27 03:21:56 from Jeremy's Thoughts

A request for some simple testing

Another thing that’s been on my list to look at that I’ve finally had time to sit down this week is the new isohybrid support in syslinux. This lets you take an ISO image, post-process it and then be able to either burn the ISO to a CD or write it to a USB stick with dd. Given that we stopped making a disk image form of boot.iso a couple of releases ago to save on duplicated/wasted space, this is obviously kind of cool.

The problem was that the first time I tested it, it looked like it overwrote the checksums we use for the mediacheck functionality in anaconda. It turns out I just wasn’t thinking — we need to implant the checksum *after* we do the isohybrid modification.

So without further ado, I’ve built a test version of the Fedora 11 boot.iso that is usable in this form. Testing of it would be much appreciated!

How to test

  1. Download the test image
  2. Try to burn it to a CD like you normally would. Ensure that it still boots normally. You don’t have to go through the full install, just boot it. Extra points if you can test mediacheck
  3. Find a USB stick that’s at least 256 megs that doesn’t have any data you care about on it. Now try to write the test image to it using dd (dd if=test-isohybrid-boot.iso of=/path/to/device bs=1M). Again, you don’t have to install, just boot into the installer. Note that we won’t automatically find the second stage and you’ll get asked where to find the installer images.
  4. Let me know the results in the comments (including type of machine).

Assuming this works, I’ll get the changes in so that we do this by default with boot.iso and then probably also try to make it so that the loader can automatically find the second stage image on either the CD or the USB stick. I’ll also consider doing similar for the livecds, although there’s more value with liveusb-creator / livecd-iso-to-disk there as you also want to set up persistence in a lot of cases.

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Syndicated 2009-06-18 15:04:24 from Jeremy's Thoughts

Boot tales, woo ooh!

(Take the title in the context of the theme from Duck Tales and maybe it makes sense?)

There was a long and rambling discussion last week about the version of GRUB that’s shipped in Fedora and specifically the fact that the support for ext4 did not land in the version we shipped in Fedora 11. Now, as was said on the thread, this is because the patches weren’t reviewed and ready in time for beta (there are a couple of different ones… so which one is right?) and so we didn’t feel comfortable putting them in after beta, especially as with the way GRUB works, the same filesystem code gets used for ext2, ext3 and ext4 with the patches. A little unfortunate? Yes. Would it have been better if we had gotten them in so that you could do an install of Fedora 11 onto a single partition? Sure. But that’s one of the costs of a time-based release schedule.

In any case, one of the things that came out of the thread was that I gave a history of the version of GRUB in Fedora. For posterity, I’ll repeat that here, with some edits.

So, the gory history for those who might be interested. Eight years ago (!), we decided that the advantage of not having to rerun lilo after changing the config file as you can just read the config file off the filesystem with grub was worthwhile. We had, at that point, been patching lilo for quite a while to have a graphical menu. Therefore, keeping a graphical menu was a branding requirement. Connectiva at the time had a patch to grub that worked. We picked it up, shipped it, and it (mostly) worked. Efforts were made to integrate upstream, but they were largely uninterested. Along the way, significant changes to the graphics patch had to be made as grub evolved and a few other efforts were made to push it upstream. Eventually, the answer was “no, we’ll do something in the next big version of grub after grub 1.0″. Then the main developers went away and we were basically left maintaining a (large at this point) fork. As there is no upstream for grub 0.9x left, we’ve been left in a position of maintaining it and we’ve added some real features that have been needed along the way as grub 2’s progress has been slow at best and we were initially unhappy with some of the direction taken

So, that’s where we are today. We essentially ship a fork of GRUB 0.9x with graphics support, support for a lilo -R type functionality (so you can reboot once into a single kernel), EFI, and some more little things that I’m not thinking of right now.

With that in mind, I sat down and spent some time with a current snapshot of grub2. Overall, it’s made a lot of progress in the time since I last looked at it (a year ago? maybe a little more?). It was actually able to successfully boot for me in KVM and there’s equivalent graphics support to what we’re carrying in our grub 0.9x package. That said, there’s still quite a bit of things to verify exist before we can switch. And just in my look, there are a number of small things that would need work, especially around the way the config file gets created and updated. And with the very short runway for Fedora 12, I don’t think there’s really time to get it into shape in time. But I do think that it makes sense to look at for Fedora 13. So I’ve started a feature page to track as some of the things get tested and worked on. Then hopefully we can make the switch pretty painlessly early in the Fedora 13 cycle.

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Syndicated 2009-06-17 18:19:26 from Jeremy's Thoughts

Night at the Boston Pops

One of the SDM 09s sent out a note to everyone mentioning that MIT was putting on a small conference to celebrate the forty years since Apollo 11 landed on the moon. The closing little event was a concert put on by the Boston Pops performing Holst’s The Planets with a narration by Buzz Aldrin. It seemed like the sort of opportunity not to be passed up, so I got tickets for Kara and I.

We showed up at Symphony Hall and I was expecting a program that would basically just be all of The Planets. So I was quite surprised and pleased to look at the actual program. As I mentioned to Kara leaving, it really appealed to my geek-ness on a few levels: music geek, space geek and sci-fi geek. The selections were the following.

  • Also sprach Zarathustra — what a great way to start off a concert. It does a really good job of pulling everyone in
  • Blue Danube Waltz — continuing on the 2001 theme :)
  • Selections from The Planets (notably Mars, Venus, Uranus and Jupiter). This was accompanied by a short little film and the narration by Buzz Aldrin. Very very well done. The little films were neat and provided a good backdrop to the music.
  • Theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind — now we really get into the “Pops” part I guess. I really need to get to one of the Pops concerts with John Williams actually conducting.
  • Premiere of a short film to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the moon landing that was commissioned by MIT and accompanied by a John Williams piece I didn’t know. The little film was cool and hopefully will end up online somewhere.
  • Theme from the original Star Trek followed by the music used for the closing credits of the new movie. This was a nice touch as the original series went off the air just before the Apollo 11 mission and the new movie is right at forty years later. And apparently, Keith Lockhart was (also) a big fan of the new movie.
  • Theme from Star Wars. A piece which needed no introduction.
  • And what was the last thing in the program, in fine Boston Pops tradition, a sing-along. In this case, various moon-themed or moon-based songs. Always fun, impressive how many of the things chosen weren’t well known. I didn’t know half of them.
  • Not in the program was a performance of John Lennon’s Imagine accompanied by the Boston Children’s Choir. This was a good touch and would have been a perfectly good way to end the concert
  • But they finished off with the Stars and Stripes Forever. Which was also a good way to end the night

As always after going to things like this, I had the thought I should do things like this more often. It was a great performance and we had a great time. There’s a reason why the Boston Pops are as world-reknowned as they are — they put on a great show and appear to have fun in doing so.

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Syndicated 2009-06-12 14:38:25 from Jeremy's Thoughts

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