Linux in the Air
Also got a funny cartoon for my birthday called "The adventures of debianman".
Linux in the Air
Also got a funny cartoon for my birthday called "The adventures of debianman".
Back to landlubbery
So, back to geekery after too many months away. While we were in Thailand, I met Theppitak Karoonboonyanan and his friend Neutron Soutmun and a couple of others from the Thai Linux community. Thep is in the NM process for Debian, he maintains Thai support packages in Debian and Neutron is a Debian user. Neutron writes firmware for GPS receivers (IIRC) and other GIS stuff, I'm hoping he will get involved in the debian-gis subproject. I think I convinced Neutron to at least think about applying to NM :D. We talked about a lot of things, mainly about Thai localisation and the challenges involved. He mentioned that the language barrier is a big problem for Thai people, so their main focus has been firstly infrastructure (text rendering, layout and wrapping, fonts, input methods, locale, etc) and now translation (and the associated, laborious localisation efforts). He told me a bit about the writing system and how it is related to other systems in the area. Thep also mentioned the possibility of debconf9 being in Thailand, I recon it would be bloody awesome to have debconf in Asia. At least one other Debian Developer is interested in this, madduck is the initial instigator. I hope we both make it to debconf in the UK this year. I also visited the open source lab at NECTEC (the Thai National Electronics and Computer Technology Center), which is government funded. There, they develop LinuxTLE (an Ubuntu based desktop distro), LinuxSIS (a simple internet server for schools and businesses) and do lots of translation and advocacy work within NECTEC and with businesses and other organisations within Thailand. One thing about LinuxPLE which I noted was that during the post-install GUI configuration step, there is an option to setup the system to use fonts from a mounted Windows partition. IIRC, they explained that they found this was important because of a reliance on Microsoft fonts in Thailand. While I was there, I went to a couple of other labs and saw a demo of a cool Thai OCR and car registration plate recognition system, English to Thai machine translation (text) and direct English speech to Thai speech conversion. They were also working on some medical imaging and speech recognition stuff that I didn't get to see. I also met the founder of linux.thai.net, whose company develops this online map for Bangkok..
Also posted some photos from our trip through Thailand.
Arrived in Thailand
Arrived at Ko Phuket a few days ago, I'm off the ship and at a hotel. In Bintan, we saw an interesting looking resort with plenty of coconut trees, logs and other stuff floating in the harbour, a snake oil merchant (with a live cobra), barges and transformer ferries, pouring rain and bad drainage. We left Bintan, went south for Selat Durian, then north past Singapore Straits, into the infamous Straits of Malacca and north past Malaysia and to the tourist island of Phuket. Along the way, we saw the coals of sunset, massive jellyfish in the dark green water, huge queues of massive ships covering the horizon as we passed the entrance to the Straits of Singapore, lights from Singapore in the distance, the pirate-free Straits of Malacca, where many large cargo and other ships passed us, the fleet of lights/boats that sprung up as if from nowhere some 50 miles off Phuket, the last sunrise on the ship (in a bay near Phuket) and an awesome NYE party on the ship.
Leaving the Heraclitus has been hard, I'm gonna miss that black and red ship and the awesome crew who got us the 3000 or so nautical miles from Cairns to Phuket. Now it is time to visit some Thai Linux developers and return to Australia.
Arrived in Bintan
The past few weeks, we changed our route to visit an uninhabited island (aka Ko Pulau Island) said to be "National Geographic, man" by some Americans we met in Kupang. On the way to Ko Pulau Island we saw a large school of pilot whales and dolphins, a humpback or other whale close to shore, a blue starfish and hot water vents nearby on the same mostly dead reef, a flock of birds feasting on a dense school of fish, a manta ray, a bonfire on the beach shared with the kids of Rote (who we swapped roast banannas and coconuts with), a clean hull and renewed sea-sickness. At Ko Pulau Island, we saw a long white beach made of small bead things instead of sand, with surf at either end and reef in between, a green lagoon with islands being eaten away at the base, a monkey-head rock, pink coral, reef fish, sea urchins, various pieces of flotsam washed up on the beach (flip-flops, a light-bulb, bottles, wood, burnie-beans, nautilus shells, a seabird egg, a dead seabird and other crap), sunset over the ocean with golden cirrus in the sky, turtle nests, tracks and hatchlings scurrying off into the water, Indonesian fishermen in need of water and turtle eggs, tidal pools with the occasional crab, ghost crabs darting towards the water, a pandanus stand, a small cave surrounded by discarded turtle eggshells, spinifex, hermit crabs, scrambling lizards, sunburn and other things. Later in our voyage, we saw a big lone flying fish, land looming mountainous on starboard, TNI, gratis reef fish, water buffalo and threatening rain clouds. The next major stop was a bay on the south side of Sumba, black cliffs to port and an eroded hillside to starboard. There, we enjoyed the excellent snorkeling against the cliffs and off the beach, birds calling from the forest, wasps - shiny blue and otherwise, meeting roaming cows in the forest, forest fungi and other sights. We met some fishermen and drove through the forested slopes toward a nearby city. On the way, we visited an Indonesian village and saw their traditional animist temple, ample baby pigs & dogs, tons of kids trying to get in photos, satellite dishes and graves in front of houses. Unfortunately, I crashed once we reached the hotel, missing eating and night life, but I did enjoy the sights from the windows of the cramped 4WD we were in. We headed for the 9.8 knot passage of Selat Sape, complete with eddies, currents, a barracuda and the steep slopes of a silent volcano. Since there, we saw an increasing number of interesting and curious Indonesian vessels, fish traps, the grey shapes of dolphins swimming in the aqua water under the bow, a floating sandal, a school of mahi-mahi jumping out of the water, a misty night, numerous schools of feeding fish, entangled luminescent trails left by dolphins swimming in the phosphorescent water beneath the bow, flashes of lightning in the distance, our first rain since Cairns, the associated storm, Jack the fisherman (a mast hallucination) and other things. Our next stop was Kalimunjava (north of Java, Indonesia), more than half way to Phuket. We spent a week there, watched lightning, collected rain, visited the local school, dived and snorkelled on the magnificant reef with some really nice university students (hi Lely, Dudu, Jaos and others) from Java who were doing a study on the corals and hiked up the steep slopes of the island. From there we ambled past Borneo, towards Bintan, near Singapore, experiencing the first non-calm seas in ages, dolphins in the storm, floating lines of debris, big barges, container ships and megatankers, a fancy, shiny yacht, fishing vessels with 50,000 lights, Rain Drop and it's egg (child of Rain the gecko), amazing cloudscapes at sunrise, throughout the day and at sunset on the way. Amazingly, we met the ∞ (Infinity, the new PCRF vessel) one find day in the South China Sea on their way to Bali. Eddie saw them from 5 miles away and knew almost straight away it was them. Michelle came on board and a lone daytime cumi (squid) swam between us as we parted. Before we arrived at Pulau Bintan (near Singapore), we saw seasnakes and a palm tree floating and lots of wind and rain.
We will probably arrive in Thailand by January and I'm thinking of passing thru Sydney on the way home, so let so please mail me if you want to meet up.
Arrived in Timor
We arrived in Kupang (West Timor), will be heading off on Tues 7th to motor through Indonesia and towards Thailand, hopefully visiting Roti, Flores, Sumbawa and or other islands in the area along the way. We've seen the ever-changing iridescent colours of a dying mahi-mahi, tuna blood, misty hills of a strange new land looming on the horizon, the unfamiliarly shaped Indonesian fishing and other boats, dead-calm seas in the early morning, a bossy French warship, customs planes flying overhead and calling us every day, the eerie blue of the deep ocean with floating jellies at a swim stop, taking down the mainsail in the channel, shitter crabs, oil platforms in the distance, flocks of flying fish getting out of our way during a calm sunset, bird-stowaways, the amazing crystal goo of phosphorescence off the bow, zillions of mini-buses (taxis) in Kupang and many other things. The open-sea sailing has been mostly relaxing, although we motored a lot of the way from Thursday Island. I'm hoping there will be some more wind, but it looks like we'll be motoring to Thailand (to arrive after Christmas), maybe against the wind since the season has changed. I'm looking forward to finally doing some diving and snorkeling during the next leg of the journey.
If there are any Indonesian Debian or Indymedia folk that would like to meet up with me for a keysigning and or bintang, please send me an email and I'll try to let you know if an opportunity arises.
Arrived at Thursday Island
So tomorrow, we leave Australia from the administrative center of Thursday Island, just past the northern tip of the Cape York. The past few weeks we've been sailing successfully through the dangers of the Coral Sea. I've seen a lonely seagoing turtle, the fine coral beaches at Lizard Island, sunrises and sunsets, dolphins playing with a fish underneath the bow and surfing the waves, many anchorages we didn't have time to go ashore at, reefs we didn't dive at, a torn sail, huge freight ships doing 20 knots (RVH did 6 maximum so far), kilometers of coconut trees on Chili beach near Lockhart, the hospitality of folks in "the last outpost of civilisation" (Portland Roads), some great Aboriginal art at the Lockhart River Community, amazingly huge white sand dunes on Cape York and lots and lots of ocean. I've felt sea-sickness, home-sickness, missing-the-internet-sickness, love of the sea and an assortment of other emotions. The past weeks have been a huge learning curve, nothing we could have done in port would have been preparation enough for raising anchor, docking, motoring out of the harbour channel, navigating, raising and lowering sails, helming, 30 knot winds and big swell. We've survived so far though and I'm looking forward to open-sea sailing without constant dangers all about, which we will probably get some of during the next 3 weeks sailing to Kupang (Timor).
Unexpected, but pleasant, has been the lack of distraction provided by the Internet, I've found I've been able to work on my personal free software projects more effectively without it. That is, when we have generator power available (ships batteries are old and not so good). It is times like these I wish I had 1) a Debian mirror 2) a distributed VCS (quilt will do for now though) 3) tried to get wireless working before I left 4) solar panels.
Finally got my shit together and got a flight to Argentina for DebConf!
Perth -> Sydney -> Auckland -> Buenos Aires -> Mar del Plata.
That is quite a bit of flying and a long bus trip ending quite early on the 4th. It will definitely be worth it if DebConf7 was anything to go on.
Hopefully by DebConf I can get my hands on an OpenMoko FreeRunner to do some Debian porting work during DebCamp and possibly mapping out the streets of Mar del Plata for OpenStreetMap. Of course I need to work on completing analysis of the results of the Debian user and new contributor surveys and figure out what to say about synfig
if I get the chance to do a lightning talk about it.
/me now officially excited
As a Debian developer I have on occasion felt a bit out of touch with doing things with Debian and out of touch with other users. I mentioned to some folks at DebConf7 that I felt I focused too much on working on Debian and not actually connected to what the benefit of working on Debian is.
Partially as a result of those feelings and partially because I thought it would be an interesting thing to do, I started to prepare a couple of simple surveys early this year. The first one went out earlier last month and I posted the second one a few days ago after far too much procrastination and running the wording by a few people - thanks to Micah for the drug boats question :)
So far I have 15 or so responses to the new contributor survey, but ideally I would have many more, so please send something in if you are getting involved in Debian development or helping others get involved.
I've had about 24 responses to the user survey so far. Many of you will have heard about Debian success stories like Extremadura, Bhutan, HP, Skolelinux, Sanger and other high-profile Debian users. I'm hoping to hear about as many different uses of Debian as possible, so please keep the responses coming in.
The primary audience for these surveys is the Debian development community. The results will go to the debian-devel-announce and debian-private, I also hope to have a discussion or two about them at DebConf8 in Argentina. There is no time-frame for closing the survey or releasing the results, like the Debian distribution, I release when ready :)
PS: Please install the popularity-contest package on your machines if possible and subscribe to the packages.qa.debian.org pages for packages that you particularly care about.
PPS: Please feel free to ask me questions in your responses and I will attempt to reply as time allows.
My entry is fairly simple and boring compared to the other entries, but it represents one thing about Synfig that I think about a lot: we need more developers! Anyway, here it is:
There is nothing special in it, but I put up the source code too.
Also, I've been informed that there will be an Open Video Developer meeting on Friday February 1st 2008 at 21:00 UTC on irc.freenode.net in #openvideo. Should be an interesting meeting, sounds like at least Synfig, Blender and Cinelerra people will be there, hopefully many more.
KL airport has free wifi, it works fine on Windows, but my Linux install relies on DHCP to get an IP address, gateway and DNS servers. I tried capturing some wifi traffic with wireshark, but had no luck. I remember in Thailand having to write down network settings from Windows computers in netcafes, then manually apply the settings after booting the copy of Debian on my external hard-drive. I'm currently using NetworkManager. On the way home from DebConf I'd like to be able to use the net in KL. What nasty Windows protocol am I missing support for?
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!