Older blog entries for thomasvs (starting at number 149)

Music

(Warning: if you don't care about music, skip this entry)

So, when I set off to Spain I thought it would be interesting to bring only a small set of CD's to see which CD's matter to me. I had told myself to choose only 20, but after three hours I realized that was impossible, and settled on 30.

Here's the list:

Afghan Whigs - Congregation
This is probably their only flawless disc, even though other discs have better songs at times. But this one flows from beginning to end, hinting at their later potential.
Afghan Whigs - Gentlemen
If you've ever been in a broken/unhealthy relationship, this is the soundtrack to it. My favourite band, and this disc shows why.
Arab Strap - Philophobia
drunken Scotsman songs mumbled over a beatbox and sparse instrumentation, but with ever so subtle and stinging lyrics
Arid - Little Things Of Venom
Have to both bring and plug some Belgian artists too, no ?
The Blue Nile - Peace At Last
They make about one album every ten years, but manage to make it result into crystallized beauty
Buffalo Tom - Let Me Come Over
Another one of those era-defining discs, where not a song is bad. Excellent guitar sound all through the album.
Catherine Wheel - Adam And Eve
One of those vastly overlooked bands that managed to perform consistently with each album, changing their sound as they go. This one has a huge atmospheric soaring sound.
Counting Crows - August And Everything After
Later albums never quite managed to capture the raw emotion and naive but perfect musicianship from this album. Today he's huge and looks like a pineapple, but he feels a lot better. An argument for the case that torn-up artists make the best records.
dEUS - In a bar, under the sea
A lot more variety than on their first album, but still as exciting as that first one. Selected only because of the bigger song selection.
Elbow - Cast of Thousands
Within the confines of modern rock music, Elbow manages to sound quite like they're the only band who does what they do. With the simplest of guitar figures, using silence as an instrument, with a gifted singer and some splendid songwriting craftsmanship, something to discover.
Embrace - Drawn from good will
My personal selection of their first two CD's, because it was too hard to choose between the two
Gorky - Gorky
My first ever CD, and still containing my favourite song ever. The only disc I brought that's in Dutch
Grandaddy - The Sophtware Slump
Proving that you can have a beard in music without being ZZ-Top, these guys manage to express fear of technology and progress with recycled instruments, mix it in with guitars, and pull out the nicest tunes. With album artwork appealing to the hacker in me.
Grant Lee Buffalo - Fuzzy
I can still remember the day when I first heard the title track. One of those discs I still play today even though the CD is so badly scratched these days that I should buy a new one.
Interpol - Turn on the bright lights
Lots of people who find this boring or a Joy Division ripoff. But if you let yourself get swayed by the washing guitar sounds and the hypnotising vocals, you'll soon find that musically they're completely the opposite of JD in aural density.
Jeff Buckley - Grace
Every time I hear one of his songs I am sad for all the songs we'll never hear. A truely tragic loss.
Lift To Experience - The Texas/Jerusalem Crossroads
The hardest band to explain to people. Sonically touching Jeff Buckley's guitar style, but with the sound of Texas canyons echoing. A concept album about the Apocalypse and proclaiming the USA to be the centre of Jerusalem. With a lead singer who sounds like a repenting preacherman in sin, reigning fire over God's land. Still not sure whether to take them seriously, but the music is incredible.
Mansun - Six
Hard to tell if they were egomaniacal or just plain crazy. It took me more than a year to even start liking this album. It sounds like each CD track was cut in the middle of the actual songs, and each song sounds like a patchwork that only after repeated listening manages to sound like a coherent whole. But once you have made a mental map of this album, you are hooked, and there's no denying the incredible thrill it ends up giving you.
Muse - Origin of Symmetry
Sometimes there is nothing wrong with teenage angst, hard rock guitars, screeching vocals, and opera-like delivery. Each song on this album manages to surprise and entertain.
Pixies - Surfer Rosa
How to describe the first band that managed to excite you and open up your eyes to a completely different world of music ? I couldn't stand this album at first, and I laughed at a friend who came crying to school when the Pixies broke up. He retaliated by giving me this disc and soon I was crying along with him. To think they are touring again this year, yay !
Radiohead - The Bends
Hard to choose a disc from a band that's actually been three bands already in their lifetime. While my favourite songs are on the first album, and while everyone seems to applaud them for all of the albums from the third one, as a complete album none of theirs can top the Bends.
Six By Seven - The Closer You Get
A perfect rock album from beginning to end. One of the songs proves that the only reason drum'n'bass is so BORING is because it's played by computers - by having a human drummer play the dnb rhythms, and making the perfect rock version of such a song.
Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream
Another seminal 90's record. Dreamy guitar figures alternate with edgier alternative guitars, and the songs actually are good all the way through, in contrast with later albums.
Spiritualized - Ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space
Coming in a package making it look like medication, with a booklet written like a medicine leaflet, and a perfect flow from beginning to end. Defying traditions of rock/jazz/gospel/blues, and mixing them all together, adding a drugged-out soundscape to all the songs, there is no easy explaining what this album sounds like.
Tindersticks - II
Their finest album by far; sparse instrumentation leaving room for each of the accents, the graveyard vocals, and their best songs. This disc is only better because it was accompanied by a 70-minute live set with a complete orchestra.
Tom McRae
Stunning debut album; not consistent in quality because it contains some spectacularly beautiful songs.
Tool - Aenima
An album showing that metal can also be intelligent, well-played, and that it's ok to have variety. Songs easily passing the 8-minute mark, but keeping listeners on their toes all the way through. One of those rare albums that can be listened to from beginning to end and back again.
Twilight Singers - Blackberry Belle
Afghan Whigs frontman going solo and teaming up with a whole bunch of guests, including Mark Lanegan. While the music is different, this disc manages to catch some of the essence that the Afghan Whigs left behind.
Weezer - Pinkerton
A completely personal and emotional album from beginning to end, which they caught a lot of flack for. After that they went back to writing the regular catchy surfpop tunes with bubblegum contents, and apparently the singer doesn't want to hear about his "failure" disc anymore. Incredible, this is easily their finest, coupling their catchiness to lyrics that matter.
Much ado about nothing
A two-disc set mixing audio excerpts from the Kenneth Brannagh movie adaptation of the Shakespeare play with some of my favourite songs from that time. One of those stupid projects you have time for as a student and that you end up doing when you're madly in love with someone and want to show them you are without saying so :)

Of course, to be fair, I have to admit that my Dave/Dina box holds about 1500 CD's, so it's not like I don't have any music here. And I already bought a few CD's since coming here, of which Sophia's "People are Like Seasons" and Explosions In The Sky's "The earth is not a cold dead place" deserve honorable mentioning.

Hm, I pulled a jfleck-y diary entry, sweet.

12 Mar 2004 (updated 12 Mar 2004 at 19:05 UTC) »

Madrid

All in all, pretty scary that this is still possible today. Eerie too how it was exactly 30 months after the WTC buildings collapsing. Doesn't say much however...

I called the one person I know in Madrid to check if she was alright. She was.

Today in the building where we work (which is Barcelona's own WTC), there was a fifteen minute silence gathering outside on the square. Seeing more than a thousand adults trying to be quiet for fifteen minutes makes you think.

There's not much I can say - my heart is with all those people who were there.

Mach

Released a new version yesterday, with a bunch of nice fixes for a lot of issues. Already put in two new fixes today. One was a bug report from Matthias from last night; the other was to add --promoteepoch when supported so that with the recent epoch changes, it's again possible to build packages that were unable to install their deps due to this.

Am now thinking of splitting up the distro files, and after that it's time to start thinking about a reworking with everything abstracted nicely into classes.

GStreamer

Everything is getting pretty much ready for the 0.8.0 release on Monday. Tweaked the packaging some more, sent out a mail to interested packagers about how we would like to see it packaged. Decided to drop the gstreamer08 set of packages obsoleting the 07 ones, since apt didn't handle it nicely.

Decided not to implement release-device, even though I think Benjamin is wrong about the importance of the bug or the way he chooses to express his opinion :) But OTOH, I think it's bad for our internal community if I keep complaining about stuff I think is important on behalf of other people who for some reason don't really take part in the discussion. Even though they're our primary users. I need to figure out first how I can make the community around GStreamer a bit more vocal.

I think I found the correct way to do gst-ffmpeg, so that we can be a good community player and send patches upstream where it makes sense, but also make it perfectly easy for users to build it from CVS. I think I found the right mix of procedures to do this correctly. Let's see how it goes; if it turns out well, I can write something up about it as a general solution to the "how to pull in other people's CVS and use it in a project" problem.

Open Carpet

I'd like to have some of the big repos use Open Carpet themselves, instead of the completely crack umbrella repository set up at the OC site. It's completely wrong to make people believe that all these repositories can be freely mixed :)

Anyway, since all these people build their packages themselves, not having the sources readily available to all the red carpet components is kind of a problem. What's more, I tried to convince snorp that this really is an issue, but for some reason he thinks it's not a problem and "they should just use build-buddy to build the packages". Apparently he doesn't understand what these guys' life mission is...

Anyway, buildbuddy is nice, but solves a completely different problem. It's aimed at "how can I make packages for all different distros from one control file". Unsurprisingly, it generates very ugly spec files. The repos out there are, at the most, concerned with getting it to run on only Red Hat/Fedora. Some of them even explicitly limit themselves to a subset of this. And they want clean spec files. And src.rpms that can be rebuilt without problems on the target platform. Something that's very much not possible with the red-carpet stuff.

So, I'm going to take a stab at trying to figure out how to do it correctly. To warm up, I made ximian-artwork rpms, where I actually use their .src.rpm as the Source: in the spec file. Neat trick. Probably be necessary for the red-carpet components too.

I was really happy to have Industrial again, it's so much prettier than Bluecurve. I had missed it ever since moving from my RH9 install to Fedora Core 1. For some reason metacity failed to change the window decorations though, which a quick metacity-message restart fixed.

Going home

Coming to work on blades is starting to work out fine. Going back home is slightly harder since there is no easy bladable route going home. I guess I'll have to do some searching.

9 Mar 2004 (updated 9 Mar 2004 at 12:42 UTC) »

Things people do

We had someone with very strange GStreamer errors and we were unable to figure out what was wrong. Until we asked how he installed GStreamer. I had already noticed he had it in /usr, with the registry in /usr/var, which clued me in to the fact that he had compiled from source to /usr himself. He sort of didn't reply to the actual question "How did you install GStreamer".

Then I got floored after asking for the fourth time:

  

<thomasvs> So I'm asking you, "how come it ended up in /usr" ?

<*him*> okay

<*him*> i copyed /opt/gnome26/* to /usr/

After that it took quite some convincing that a) his system was now officially broken, b) he should reinstall, and c) we cannot debug or support our software when he deliberately screws up his system.

So, for people who didn't know yet:

  • Never ever ever install stuff from source to /usr unless you are completely sure that this is what you want and the only way to work around something. If you don't know if it is, the answer is it isn't.

  • If someone is trying to help you figure out the problem, ANSWER the questions. Maintainers often know from the start what's wrong, but lose too much time trying to help you figure out the problem because you didn't reply to their questions. Don't second guess them or think for them. Just answer the questions, so you can help them help you.

  • If this is news to you, and you didn't know these two things, then don't use a source install system like LFS/Gentoo/Slackware. There is nothing wrong with these systems, but you have to pick a distro that you can understand. If you didn't understand why copying stuff to /usr was bad, you are missing some knowledge to control these systems, and they will end up controlling you.

GStreamer

Was hoping to do a 0.8.0 today, but I'm better off doing another 0.7 release, with the majorminor override to 0.8, to shake out the last few bugs.

"Fixed" the buggy MPEG playback yesterday; it would have been caught if the testsuite was running a few months ago. So we need to finish our infrastructure work so all of the key components are working well.

Fixed up and did a nautilus-media release in time for GNOME beta 2. I think I fixed all issues I still had with it, I hope I get some feedback still.

Off now to try and make the audio sinks have a release-device property so that Rhythmbox and Jamboree can stop setting the audio sink to NULL. It really is an application bug given the current GStreamer design, but of course everyone is going to blame GStreamer for not being able to unpause. So a hack is required here.

Movies

Finally saw Lost in Translation. Blew me away - easily one of the top five films of the last twelve months. The movie is 100% believable, and it oozes tenderness all over. As a bonus, it was pretty funny even though I didn't expect it to be.

Also finally saw Kill Bill. Before I thought I had missed it here in Spain, but apparently it only just got released. Well, what can I say about a movie in which blood performs the best acting job ? The movie was very slow, which as a homage to Japanese samurai movies I can understand. But, if you're updating a genre to present days, it tends to leave stuff you didn't change stick out like sores. Take out the blood, the intense staring, and the ominous pauses, and you're left with a five second video clip.

Anyways, I know a lot of people will disagree, so to them I ask: is Kill Bill better than True Romance, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown or Reservoir Dogs ?

As a bad point, it wasn't funny much even though I expected it to be.

Today

is gonna suck. Went to a bed with a smallish headache, woke up with a splitting one. I think I'm going to go for the low brain activity tasks today. The drawback of having a job with computers is that you don't really have anything to do unrelated to computers when you could really take a break from them for your health.

Movies

Forgot to mention I finally, after seven years, got to see Swingers. This movie made me realize that I'm so money and I don't even know it.

The funny thing is, the last four years I wanted to see this movie and each time I asked for it at the video store they looked it up and told me "Uh, are you sure you want to watch it ? It's a porn movie..." and I tried to tell them "No no, really, it's a regular honest movie !"

Of course today I could just give them an imdb link to prove I'm a regular customer. I really wonder how people managed to avoid renting porn movies in the days before the internet ...

2 Mar 2004 (updated 2 Mar 2004 at 17:57 UTC) »

GStreamer

Finally got back to packaging our stuff for Fedora Core 1. Have more or less decided and agreed with FreshRPMS how we plan on packaging it. The GStreamer repository on our website will be compatible with the repositories of fedora.us and rpm.livna.org. Matthias and I will pretty much have the same set of packages, I think.

The 0.7.x will be packaged with gstreamer07 as a base name. When 0.8 comes out, that will become the gstreamer base, with 0.6.x moving to gstreamer06 for parallel installability.

I'm still finding small bugs here and there that should really be cleaned up before 0.8.x, but I'm happy that they're all easy cosmetic bugs that are nevertheless important to get right. I'm happy that I'm running into them one by one.

Fluendo

Time to announce this baby... I have to write something up about this soon.

mach

Wanted to spend some time this weekend on looking at the kernel module packaging issue. Sadly I got into a very unproductive argument with someone over mach using --nodeps to actually build the package. I should have spent my time actually working on mach itself, but I guess I got very irritated because of the person coming over as agressive and not really interested in why this was done in the first place, or that he was using the tool to something it was not intended to do yet.

That doesn't mean it's not a bug (which I acknowledged from the start) and that it couldn't be fixed. I guess some people expect their software to automatically do whatever they think it should do, and be perfect and contain no bugs.

So if you find a bug, and report it, think about this. Project maintainers get bug reports all the time. If they can choose between working on a bug that got filed by someone who was polite and respectful, and someone who came across agressive, irritated, and impolite, and all else being equal, which of the two bugs is the maintainer more likely to work on ?

Anyway, the next day I decided to really work on stuff I wanted to and not get in endless discussions again. I reworked the way quoting is used in mach so that it now can correctly execute stuff like

mach build --target i686 --define 'kernel 2.4.22' kernel-module.spec

Then I worked some more on the linux kernel macros in autostar sandbox until it was an easy patch to build qc-usb kernel modules correctly. And then I built a bunch of kernel modules :) If you're on fedora core 1, and have a simple Logitech QuickCam webcam, please try packages from this dir and let me know if it works for you.

Now I need to finish these properly for linux 2.6 too (I've heard you really need a writable kernel source tree, and all the spec files I checked for 2.6 kernel modules indeed seem to copy the whole kernel tree as part of the build process, ugh), and then I need to pimp these autoconf macros to upstream kernel module projects to get rid of their crappy custom stuff that always breaks when you're not building for your actually running kernel.

Orkut

So far, Orkut has only helped me to find people I already know and have regular contact with. That's not really what I need, is it ? I guess I'll take a break for a bit :)

cd..

It's been a while since I typed that. Must be muscle memory from the good old MS-DOS days ...

Life

Finally started skating to work. This morning I still took about half an hour to get here, so I guess I need to find a somewhat shorter route. I am getting good at not falling down, and I hope the regular exercise will make me feel a bit more healthy in general.

Friday

Felt daring and listened to Explosions In The Sky on the plane flight to Belgium. They were playing Barcelona that night and I was missing it so this was as close as it was going to get.

Arrived home with the living room door open and my mother sitting outside on the terrace sunbathing at five degrees Celsius. The drawbacks of living in a cold country.

Drove to police office to report loss of identity card and driver's license. Made sure the police officer didn't see me arriving or leaving in the car. Raced to the administration office to actually get my new driver's license so I could end my brief life of crime.

Took the train to Brussel to put my stuff at my friends where I would be staying for the weekend. Went to the King of Spain (hm, I thought that was me) on the Grote Markt to meet up with all of the other hackers. Good to see all of them back. Hallski provided very good picture source material; here he demonstrates the size of a certain anatomical part of his.

dolphy wanted an authentic Belgian restaurant to eat mussels and fries, so I took him, wtay, jdahlin, Matthias and Noelle to some place on the Vismarkt. Everyone was happy, though my mussels were a bit on the dry/overcooked side.

Saturday

Went to see Robert Love's talk. The place was packed. Novell cunningly sent a rock-star-like stand-in for Robert while the real Robert was probably still locked in a basement somewhere in wintery Boston hammering out code. Nevertheless the talk was very good, hope some people got motivated to pick up some of the stuff the decoy talked about.

Went to see Jonathan Corbet's kernel talk, which was really good as well. Gave me some insight in 2.6. Not sure if I'll be able to make use of it though.

Left for the wedding. Lots of atmosphere, people started dancing before desert was served. Someone finally succeeded in making a decent picture of me.

It was great to see old friends again, and I even made it onto the credit list of Tineke's movie - it showed "the winner took them all", and then a quick list of past conquests :) The list was quite a bit shorter than I remember it to be however.

All of her friends from school were complaining about how Tineke got married before them ... If you're a single guy, weddings should be your favourite place to go.

I'm having a harder time each time to restrain myself from killing DJ's that manage to do any of the following

  • download crap mp3's well below 128 kbps and use them at parties (I'll take a listening test to prove them you really can tell the difference any day)
  • download the completely wrong/crappy version of songs
  • manage to break off songs right before their best part
  • TALK between songs
  • play completely undanceable/crap/slimy slow songs
  • bring a small set of speakers, then ruin the quality completely by completely distorting the output
Seriously, it can't be that hard to make the musical part of the evening at least enjoyable.

Ended the evening with a nice dance though with the bride. The DJ managed to play Disarm right before I was leaving.

Sunday

Due to getting to bed at 4.30 I slept late and missed the DirectFB and X talks I really wanted to see. The afternoon really didn't have talks that interested me, so I had wished it was the other way around. Tried to uncover the Robert Love stand-in by pretending to fanboy him and getting my kernel book autographed, but he passed the test admirably. Gave up.

Tried to stay awake and not make too much of an ass of myself for the rest of the day. Got drawn into witnessing the formation of a new Dark Alliance between Dag and Matthias, scary.

Got the best news of the year up to now at the end of the day. We went out to celebrate by buying real Belgian fries from a real Belgian fries stand and ate them in the car.

Went back to friends, watched 24. While watching I noticed a big cardboard box that read "Aibo" on the side (Hans works for Sony, btw). I asked him if it really did contain what it said. He said yes. I asked him why it was still packed. He said he brought it home two weeks ago but never bothered to try it. The nerve of some people.

I unpacked it, but it wasn't charged. So I hooked it up, then Delphine and I played the two-player Settlers card game. Called Kristien to buy it for us too.

After that, played with the AIBO for a while. It really is pretty well done; it asked for the ball, it followed the ball, it tried to get your attention, wiggle its tail, express "emotions", and so on. But I can't imagine myself shelling out that much for it until it at least makes less noise while moving around and looks slightly less metallic.

Monday

Spent the morning waking up. Really wanted to see the Belgian movie Steve + Sky since everyone is saying how good it is and it's probably not going to be shown in Barcelona.

I went into the movie really wanting to like it but got disappointed. I'm pretty sure if this movie was in English everyone would think the dialogue and story is crap. For me the only entertaining thing was that the movie was funny because it was in my local dialect, and it contained some scenes filmed close to where I live, and I also spotted my best friend's sister in the movie.

But if the movie had been in another Belgian dialect, I'm sure I'd have hated it.

On the plane, back to Barcelona, and happy to arrive home. Then even more happy to realize I really feel it's home. Then even more happy and unable to stop smiling for two days at the good news I got on sunday.

19 Feb 2004 (updated 19 Feb 2004 at 13:15 UTC) »

Suit

Forgot to mention that last weekend Kristien and I went shopping for a suit for me. I guess I forgot it because I mentally blocked out all memory of it. I just DON'T like to go shopping when everyone is doing the same thing and every store is filled to the brim with people. I especially don't like to go shopping when it's to buy stuff I don't feel I need. Because I like the suit I have already, but Kristien doesn't.

Anyway, so we found a suit but had a bad time finding it, and I didn't feel like explaining a lot to her what was wrong, so I hid behind Standard Guy Excuse #593059: "We just don't like shopping for clothes. We do not have breasts."

Well, that's a bit of a lie. I love to go shopping when everyone else is working, when I have the place to myself, can try out stupid stuff, and act like a kid in the booth while annoying my companion on purpose by embarassing them to hell. All of this cannot be done when there are lots of people around.

It didn't help when I wanted to go look at watches to replace my broken watch, and she tried to get me away from them. After two minutes she broke down saying she got me a watch for our one-year-togetherness. She always complains I'm too good at guessing what present I'm getting, and this time she forbade me to even try to guess. And now I managed to guess it without even trying, and it made her cry.

So baby, I should take you out for a rematch soon and do some real shopping.

City

Sometimes Barcelona weirds me out, in a good way. Yesterday there was some sort of taxi strike - a huge colonne of taxis was blocking the major streets close to work, tooting their horns. Nobody knew why.

I looked on the net for tango places - apparently I could go out and tango EVERY NIGHT. I have to get started soon.

GStreamer

Started throwing random files at GStreamer and the player to test for robustness. File number two was a tar.gz. It triggered an endless loop. After some debugging, it seems the typefinding functions serve up the file to gdk_pixbuf, who passes it on to the librsvg pixbuf loader, which tries to see if there's an svg inside it. Then when it tries to close it, for some reason it triggers an infinite loop. Not knowing anything about librsvg, I dug in and managed to find and fix the loop quickly. It taught me again I should always check for error codes on functions.

Anyway, made me think about the general problem - if GStreamer uses 50 libs, should we really trust all these libs not to have a simple mistake in them that makes all of GStreamer lock up so easily ? So I decided I wanted to set timeouts on lib function calls when we know they cause a problem.

After a day of experimenting, it seems this is possible, but a bit convoluted. Basically, the best/most portable way to do this is

  • start an alarm thread that listens to ALRM, or any other timer signal

  • block delivery of ALRM to the main thread

  • alarm thread should send USR1 to the current process when catching an ALRM

  • before calling a function, set a USR1 handler (which will run in this thread), store the setjmp point in a global per-thread hash, and set alarm

  • if the next function call doesn't return in the given time, ALRM is raised and delivered to the process. Since the alarm thread is the only one listening to ALRM, it will be the only one receiving it. It will then raise USR1, and since the actual thread that is calling the function is the only one listening to it, it will receive the notification correctly as well. So the USR1 callback can then longjmp back to before the blocking function, and it can thus be skipped

Fairly convoluted. Drawbacks ? Right this doesn't allow more than one thread at the same time to use this timeout mechanism (which could probably be fixed by keeping track of alarm times and setting them, so that each thread catching an alarm can check if it's meant for that thread, and reraise if needed). Also, people might complain they cannot use ALRM for their own program anymore (though we can make the whole timeout optional too, which I'll probably do). And, some people may feel this is a hack.

Well, it's not actually a hack, it's the right way to do this. Only it is so low-level that people automatically consider it a hack. I, on the other hand, feel we really should do this if we want to make sure GStreamer answers to user expectations in general. Which means, it just shouldn't lock up when trying to play a random file.

FOSDEM

Leaving tomorrow morning, yay ! Hope to arrange some paper matters too while I'm in Belgium, and visit some friends. Now playing

Six by Seven - eat junk become junk. How this amazing disc got so widely ignored is really beyond me.

16 Feb 2004 (updated 16 Feb 2004 at 18:14 UTC) »

Weekend

Spent most of my weekend struggling with RefDB, a database to manage bibliographical references. My dad's doctorate thesis is due Friday, and he didn't use the program I installed 20 months ago. Now, in his final days, I get to put the pieces back together.

But I never really thought xml/docbook was an intuitive toolchain to get running, and RefDB doesn't help much either because it's so completely untransparant. Tools fail silently on bad input, or fail generically without saying where something was wrong, so I spent most of my time trying to figure out what exactly it was not parsing.

In the end it turned out that the RIS file my dad gave me contained garbage control characters, and it also looked like RefDB didn't really like names with accents in (like, all the Irish guys and some Dutch guys). I also started my use of RefDB with a simple FILE* non-cleanup patch. I'm not entirely sure though I want to go through the pain of sending all stuff I find upstream for a package I myself have no use for.

Then I started thinking, man, this is probably exactly how some people feel about GStreamer. Some stuff I consider natural is completely nonintuitive to them, and things break in mysterious ways when they are run slightly differently from our local setups. I mean, I'm pretty sure the RefDB author has everything running very smoothly on his home machines...

Anyway, after 30 hours of fighting with docbook, xml, RIS files, unreadable C code, mysterious options, and unforgiving configuration files, I sort of cooked up a RefDB-based xml file containing my dad's bibliography. I hope he gets back to me soon on whether or not it's ok - you can just know he's going to want to have everything fixed on Thursday when I don't have any time for it...

Inbetween, we watched Grosse Point Blank and Antitrust. I recognized Miguel right off the bat in that very short flash. The movie wasn't too bad, it just made my toes curl a little at points. Let's just say it wasn't very believable. Grosse Point Blank was very good on the other hand.

GStreamer

Picked apart the Fedora 2 test rpms to check for patches. I just don't get why people don't submit their packaging patches upstream. The spec looks really ugly without it having to be. It also has the docs disabled, while they build fine here in a clean root. Why aren't we getting bug reports for this ?

Anyways, I guess I just have to mail and prod and make people aware that we care.

The build bot setup is starting to look nice now. We added the powerpc machine on my desk in two minutes. I'm sure the other GStreamer developers are starting to get irritated at all the random commits we're doing.

I'm sure Ronald is going to kick my ass some time soon too, but it just had to be done.

libuecp

I got a mail from someone asking about it, so I went back to check and noticed I had some stuff to change in my savannah checkout. After resubmitting keys and changing config files, I could check out my project again. It still works, I guess that's not a bad start. I have no way to develop on it anymore however as I don't have any RDS encoders lying around :)

Update

Man, our company logo is so unbelievably sexy as a favicon... I just keep staring at the tasklist at the bottom and the cute little cartwheel.

Short recap

Too much has happened, so let's make it short.

Fluendo exists now. wtay paid us a visit. Spent long days and nights at too many restaurants, too many bars, and too little time in bad. Had productive discussion with Wim. He's just amazingly good at designing. When we got sidetracked he showed me a beautiful sound server design he had prototyped, but he stopped working on it after seeing that his test code worked. Sigh, I hate that guy :) Maybe an idea to pick up later ?

Norwegians complain a lot then buy presents to make up for it :)

Discussed clocking with him too - not sure what was wrong in 0.6 with it, it seems like it was just some stuff left to implement. Will need to pick that up really soon and decide what to do.

Johan set up buildbot. Output looks nice, will be useful ! Hope we can fix the last issues with it.

Sister dropped by too. Nice to see her again, I don't really have time to miss people, they drop by anyway :) Next time have to get her over in the weekend, not much time during the week.

Spent a whole day listening to Jeff Buckley, then the cocktail bar at night was playing Grace. Nice. Sad.

Pushed out releases of nautilus-media for GNOME 2.4 (0.3.4) and GNOME 2.5 (0.5.3) Next week Johan and I will be working on fixing all bugs that are in it, but jdub needs a release now.

This week I fixed around 12 open bugs in GStreamer. Still too much in maintainer mode, fixing dist issues, breaking up modules, and so on. Did manage to finally write the unversioned frontend binaries for the tools, was happy about that. Simple idea, simple design, works as expected.

Did a release of 0.7.4 for GStreamer and GStreamer Plugins. Then did a release of 0.6.5 for GStreamer so they both use the same frontends. Tested theory of parallel installability by making packages and discussing with Matthias. Seems to work out fine. Now I need to figure out how to handle the GConf schemas. I guess I should make them versioned too. Sigh :)

Got my wallet lost or stolen. Suckage. I paid for one of the dinners with my bank card and got the money from the others, so I lost 150 euro. Should have treated them, wouldn't have cost me anything afterwards :) Will be painful to get cards and papers back.

Mailed booqbags to ask where the hell my bag is. They're sending it again. I hope this time arrives.

After two years, the quest is finally over. Three Ruperts made their way to Barcelona ! One is sitting on the Powerpc at work, one on the stack of DVD's containing three complete series of Family Guy (that sadly don't play on my PS2, so need to finish getting DirectFB output on Dave/Dina so I can watch them), and the third is keeping Kristien safe in the bedroom. I owe someone a bunch of thanks !

Got Soulcalibur 2 from Wim and Christian because they complained I didn't have any real games (Not sure how they missed great stuff like Britney's Dance Moves and Buffy The Vampire Slayer though). It's sucking up all my time, I'm going to stop hacking on GStreamer I think so I can become an expert at Soulcalibur 2.

So, so far for the short update. I'll go back to trying to be more regular now.

GStreamer

Getting ready to do a release. Did a prerelease yesterday, got a little bit of feedback on it. Some last minute memleaks got fixed but they introduced crashers in some plugins so I reverted them for now. We can fix them properly after the release.

I'm hoping to get into a more regular release cycle from now on.

Meanwhile jdahlin is making progress on the media test suite, it's starting to look really nice. I hope he likes his new job so we can keep him around.

Yesterday was great. I reserved the day for doing only code. I wrote a C frontend to our versioned tools so that they would be able to call the versioned binaries. This was a requisite I had for doing decent packages that were parallel-installable. It was so nice to just program one thing well with a clear set of requirements and a clear end goal. I had started feeling like I didn't know how to program decently any more, but it turned out it was quite alright.

Work

There was an idle PowerPC sitting in the design department. It's now sitting on my desk. Yellow Dog 3.0 looks really nice. I remember trying 2.x on my old powerbook, but that still had that ugly-as-hell fluxbox installer and it didn't get my keyboard right.

With 3.0 I feel right at home. I moved over some of my desktop settings, started setting up gstreamer from CVS, and installed mach to build some packages I needed to get the CVS build to work. It's nice when you can just install a tool you've written on a platform that you never tried and have it Just Work.

The machine is dog-slow at compiling though, but it'll be good for test builds and test runs.

fedora.us

Still not sure what to do there. I've reworked the GStreamer website and one of the last things on the TODO list is to rebuild the Red Hat/Fedora package area.

I have always wanted this to be completely compatible with fedora.us repositories, for the sole reason that I prefer to work with a community effort project so fedora.us's goals are more aligned with that than freshrpms.

But, I think I've been with fedora.us for more than a year now, and some fundamental problems just aren't getting solved. I agree with most of the guidelines, and have made my peace with those I don't agree with, but the sad fact of the matter is that it's just not working. The QAPriority Queue (what an ironic name) contains over a hundred packages.

Yes, they have to be reviewed properly. Yes, we don't want crap. But some of those packages have been stuck there for over half a year.

By contrast, I just asked Matthias if he could put together a gtk-doc package of 1.1 for the YDL 3.0 machine I installed today, and it's no problem at all.

So, even though fedora.us wants to be a community effort and Matthias likes to go at it alone, I have to admit that at the end of the day, as a packager of GStreamer wanting to get GStreamer packages out there, fedora.us is not working as a solution to that problem.

I've been procrastinating updating packages because I don't like working towards a solution that I don't know yet. So today I make the decision to change the solution. The solution will be to promote both fedora.us and freshrpms as viable packaging solutions for GStreamer, and let the users decide.

With that settled, I can stop procrastinating on getting packages built, and get on with it.

About time too, since I'm doing a release today...

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