This is my (in)activity log. You might like to visit my employer
Novell which is an amazing company, and also
Dell who in days of yore provided me with a
free laptop for Gnome development / conferences.
Also if you have the time to read this sort of stuff you could enlighten
yourself by going to Unraveling Wittgenstein's net or if
you are feeling objectionable perhaps here.
Stuff Michael Meeks is doing
Off to NCC, Helen spoke. Lunch, George's party in the afternoon -
much fun with a strange parent vs. children game with footballs & a
parachute. Bed early, exhausted as normal.
Up at 6:30, out for a run - try to get the back into shape. Breakfast
with the girls, off into town to the market. Back, out to Cheeky Monkeys in
the afternoon for Benjy's party - much fun; playing in ball pools etc.
Back late, children dunked & put to bed, sleep.
The parents went home after helping us so much all this week.
Poked mail, pleased to have some really great documents from the KDE
team to read.
Attempted to run a .Net application on windows: eventually found
the ".Net framework 2.0 configuration" tool (festering away in some obscure
and un-findable place). Amusingly the tool itself (presumably written in
.Net) apparently had insufficient trustworthiness to operate on it's own
settings for an individual assembly: turned all .Net security off instead,
Lunch - Auntie Louise around; good to see her. Back, re-massaged
tar balls - dug at .spec files endlessly, interview.
Glad that you can't fool everyone all of the time: Sun's still
screwing up. Nowhere is that more evident than in
OpenOffice.org: strangled on the alter of Sun's proprietary
advantage. When will we have a project that is run for the
benefit of the project itself ? by people who care about the
long term viability & world-dominating prospects of the
Poked mail, features & bugs. Still blundered on
removing inlines, and got UML to compile and even run
eventually: really sweet for using a debugger to understand
code flow; still can't find my hard-copy of RML's magnum
Spent a while digging at OO.o build infrastructure,
and source packaging, tried chopping up the source another way.
Amused during the work to appreciate an outbreak of humour from
the Strba, apparently the unpack script nowadays has:
echo "Unpacking OO.o build tree - [ go and have some $DRINK ] ..."
with a fully configurable:
--with-drink The parameter is a favourite drink that unpack should advice you to take.
,) - the joys of community; tweaked the spelling: 'advise' - thank
goodness the default is still tea (for the UK), and not Coca-Cola.
Chat with Rene.
Committed my sabayon login speedup / fix, Federico liked it at
some stage I recall. More work / Fate bits. Architects call - rambled
extensively, prodded Julian. Added a patch to check for ant-apache-regex
in OO.o's configure.
Firefox 3.0 seems to do a simply terrible job
of scaling images, for no reason I can work out. Then again, I'd love to
have a 'default zoom' that can be set instead of the (different) default
font size bits: who cares about font sizes in points - I just want
Read a nice write-up from Lubos; dunged out my disk. Rene kindly
cleaned up my ant patch. F. Alexander pointed out that I can solve my
firefox zoom broken-ness by installing a plugin (on every computer I
No Squint - which is just what I want. As with all plugins though -
the very concept of shipping squint-full software, that can be fixed
after the fact with an optional download is somewhat mind-blowing.
Continuing to have an evil time compiling a UML kernel;
apparently the SUSE gcc doesn't like the latest git kernel much,
which is sad: even ooo-build builds with that.
More mail backlog catchup; poked at SDL qemu irritation whereby
emulation stops making progress when you switch to another virtual workspace.
it seems a failing X11_GrabInput is causing the problem: why spend all your
life grabbing an unwilling X server ?
Irritated enough by the less-than-helpful "Create Document" nautilus
functionality; dug at nautilus trying to teach it to follow the KDE document
template work. Built the latest ooo-build HEAD.
Lunch, interrupted by call with Andy, team meeting, call with Guy.
Back to templates hackerage. Tried to make user-mode-linux compile - more
difficult than anticipated: when you avoid the interesting crasher / gcc
optimiser bug, you hit other nasties.
Worked late, finished and posted the nautilus template patch - it's
nice to get to some hacking again after a long break from it.
Started on the mail - it's great to see the back-log of OO.o team
mail: doing some great work. Re-tested my last Xen bug having installed
more RAM - still failing, hmm.
Beautiful boxed set of OpenSUSE 11.0 arrived - installed that, and
burned some DVDs for friends. Filed some more bugs, updated others, got on
top of the Clarity backlog.
NCC - Tony preaching, did creche - showed off E. to all and sundry.
Emily & Keith also brought their new baby Grace for the first time: a
Home, lunch - to bed for a few hours myself. Mum & Dad arrived
to help out next week, great to see them. Amused by the choral arrangement of
spiderpig, and the
apparent Dutch appreciation of PhatFish.
Avoided walking into town in the rain with the children - J.
finally getting nearly enough sleep: great. Chris came over, good to
see him - had some peace while the children all watched a DVD &
retired into the child-free front-room.
Laura ('LawLaw') came over to see the baby and to let Benjy / Grace
play with our little ones. Took M. to clinic - still complaining of her arm;
nurse diagnoses nothing really wrong, excellent.
Took H. and N. to school & pre-school: managed to forget
~everything: book-bag, water, hat; bother. M. managed to throw a
tantrum while walking home from school when it turned out her father
was not going to carry her - and in doing so, twisted her wrist
painfully: lots of tearful grief from that. Tania brought us a fine
Dropped H. at school; and off to Cheeky Monkeys a children's
play place with H/M/E - to celebrate my birthday: much diving into ball
pools, sliding on slides & so on. Met an interesting friend of Kate &
James' there - Trish / Jo - the latter on leave from working with tearfund in Sudan. Claire kindly brought
us an immense and tasty dinner.
Up early, Elizabeth (the 4th) encouragingly learning to sleep
for longer at night - after some paternal viciousness injected into the
process of keeping her waiting for 3 hours during the day. Rachel cooked
us a fine meal in the evening.
Mum & Dad took H. to school, up lateish, cleaned house, washed up,
nappies on, put babes to bed: no idea how J. does all this when I'm at work
normally. M&D left for home; brief blogging action.
Out to collect H. with N. Estimator around to examine the building
task, a professional free-lance estimator apparently, though less thorough
than the chap who would do the work himself interestingly.
Dinner, bed as early as possible.
Up late, Mum took the children to All Saints, T. looked after
the baby, and R. played rough & tumble with H. while J. slept.
M & D cooked a lovely roast lunch while I tidied up, and disposed
of remains of yesterday.
J. E. and M. up after lunch, Sue, Clive & Adam arrived,
brothers left, took bigger babes to a party with Mum - some sleep,
hectic schedule. Up to collect kiddies.
Cheryl & Emily arrived with a fine cake, J. to bed,
more slugging and eventually tried to sleep. E. up almost the
entire night, interspersed with N. crying for a drink and M.
wanting kisses; sigh. Exhausting.
Poor wife labouring on & on, Laura arrived to help with the
children, Ann & Nina arrived to help with the baby. Lots of stirling
work from J. Cheryl & Laura took the children away; yet more final
stage pushing - for an hour or more.
Eventually decided hospital would be better; ambulance at speed
to Bury St Edmonds, plenty of contractions in the ambulance: and a ton
of electronic paperwork: filling out various details. J. gave birth
shortly after arriving to a beautiful baby girl: Elizabeth Julia Hope
Spent a long while waiting before the baby was old enough to
get it's FooBaa score - midwife eventually arrived to do that. Passed
the time by reading the frankly hideous woman's magazines in the
hospital: simply unbelievable - a cross between voyeurism and soft
Father came to pick us up, Mum & Dad having arrived and
collected the children. Home, just as Thomas arrived; Robert came
later, and Bruce & Anne - all to see E.
Spent the afternoon playing in the sun with the babes,
talking to the family, J. slept - exhausted. Stayed up rather late
to avoid waking J. brothers both practicing their dancing &
showing pictures of the latest & greatest ladies.
Up rather early, filed a Xen bug before breakfast, poked mail.
Breakfast, back to the mail. For fans of the asymtotic approach to
Happiness Nowhere spoof Mac ad is lecker.
Some poking at FATE, merged nice patch from Mike Gorse to fix
dbind array usage. Picked up Naomi from pre-school while J. slept. Lunch.
Booked GUADEC travel. Miguel has a really nice write-up of the
/ OpenOffice.org integration templates complete with
Played with qemu - some beautiful stuff; finally discovered
ctrl-alt-1 and the fun that lurks there. Wife reports more persistent
contractions - life apparently about to get noiser.
Stayed up, watched Parenthood with the wife as she laboured,
got a few hours sleep - contractions not well established or regular.
decadence! Some interesting discussion on planet gnome on the subject. As a hacker who manages
to age without apparently getting wiser - I have to say, I am highly suspicious of
change for it's own sake.
This is particularly true when you take into account the
typical hacker tendency to start things that never get finished. Those
who would deny this tendency, should introspect: how many TeX-like
bug-free & finished programs have they created; vs. how many mouldering
half-finished proof-of-concepts ?. When I cast around for the
programmers I respect most perhaps they have some of these defining
It turns out having 'vision' is easy enough, you don't need any special
(or even programming) skills. What is not easy is having an achievable
vision, articulating it clearly, building consensus and delivering on it.
Hackers that produced libraries or applications that have stood the
test of time: became the canonical solutions in a given area, were cleanly
designed & maintainable - and as such began to be taken for granted &
disappear from view. ie. I love people that finish things.
Alternatively I see giants who took broken unfinished things, and
heaved them upwards into a more usable, polished & consistent state -
eg. getting nautilus from where Eazel left it to today's version.
Those who lead others by example: sheer hard work, determination
and working to include, build and keep a developer community; oh and who
compromise to ally with, and include other people. For example if your
Foo project seeks to revolutionise the desktop - best to join up with
Baa project and Baz project with similar goals, before trying to
persuade everyone to work with you.
Then of course, there is a wonderful (albit brief) paper by Jamie Zawinski on the
development model. I'm personally not so convinced that version 0.8 is always
followed (on re-write) by 0.8, often AFAICS it's 0.7 or 0.5. Having said that
getting to 0.9 is perhaps possible, if the re-write is done by people wiser
after suffering all the original mistakes. Sadly though re-writes are done
by 'fresh blood'. Perhaps the reduction in CADT in GNOME is due (as people
have pointed out) to an increasing proportion of the middle-aged:
with pictures of babies replacing bungee-jumpers on the planet.
Pyro / web-desktop type ideas as a way forward: I used to (somewhat) sneer
at people who describe themselves thus: "I program HTML". Then I tried
to make a web-site look as I wanted it to (ie. not grotesquely ugly), wow - perhaps
they were onto something. Some think there is a pile of broken mess in our desktop,
but at least you know where you are with a GtkHBox.
Then of course - there is the thesis itself: of decadence. If people
want pervasive & noticeable change you can instantly see - it means several
things: potentially huge code changes, new metaphores and lots of experimentation.
Doing that will inevitably screw up lots of the new things: or worse, they will
be an excellent idea (eg. spatial nautilus) that the users will revolt against.
Of course, that is no reason not to try, but the bigger the project, the harder
it becomes, and the more necessary it is to have a clear and substantial benefit
Personally, I think the thesis of slow decay is unconvincing: I look at
the wider Linux desktop of which GNOME is a key part, and see us actually getting
to a place where it works well enough that the positive feedback that entails gets
us yet more users, developers and improvements. Simply because the UI involved in
say draining the package management swamp is small - doesn't mean the effort fixing
the mess is (or would be any easier in a new paradigm). Similarly, when it comes to
resourcing decisions eg. I applaud Soeren, Federico & the X guys for working on the
inglorious draining of the swamp of multi-monitor hot-plug from hardware to end-user.
They could of course have been doing something else: perhaps adding 3D gizmos
that only render properly on ultra-new hardware - would that be time better
spent ? Personally I'm excited about new things like PackageKit, PulseAudio, working
multi-display hot-plug, (finally) pervasive free-software X drivers, the latest
compiz effects, and so on.
I guess, ultimately we should aim at making our libraries and
infrastructure as (apparently) boring as the kernel: which people take for
granted, is just there, and expands incrementally. That might leave us to
move up-stack and make our applications integrate beautifully with all our
new technologies; dunging out the old libraries & APIs to make further
change possible, and adding user functionality people want to use: but then,
I'm always on the look out for more ooo-build hackers I guess.
Got on with reading mail & working instead of pontificating. Spent a
while trying to debug an odd problem with a child of X locking up at 100% in Pclose,
looked like some horrific kernel issue; dug at the results of
echo t > /proc/sysrq-trigger a little but got no-where in the end.
Well pleased with X / drm / radeonhd stability - in comparison with the proprietary
drivers, I spent an hour SIGKILL'ing X, switching consoles, modprobe -r'ing,
starting and killing compiz and so on, and the machine is still alive.
Bit of OO.o code review on the side; poked at xen & xenner some more.
Still, still no baby, Ann came for a mid-wifely visit, no particular
conclusions yet. More prodding at beagle related I/O metric generation.
Interleaved that with some more attempts to get DRI working, after poking in
the debugger at some length to work out why
R500 support requires a newer
drm. - I actually read the drm readme, and discovered
install needs running in
linux-core as well as the
DRI success on my RV530 (M56GL) - but only as far as 'glxgears',
compiz seems to wedge the X server, and gdb crashed on attach; bother.
Finally got to E-mail, also started logging my desktop I/O usage to see
how it looks during the day & do some number crunching on that.
Popped into the KDE team meeting.
Pleased with the chart anti-aliasing caused by Radek's nice EMF+
rendering patches; disk stats over a ~three minute period of normal desktop
The question is - when should beagle start and stop indexing the latest file
data ? I'm sure some algorithmic genius, such as Morten knows the answer;
and/or if you play my disk activity backwards as audio: does it contains
some hidden message: answers on the back of a post-card.
Still no baby, J. getting concerned: perhaps a good sign. Call from
Robert, call from at-build wrt. a building quote (not to be confused with
ooo-build). Started playing with banshee & filing bugs.
Reflected on the parable
of the wise & foolish builders in light of Lake Delton.
Federico pointed out that my cross-thread GObject construction
is actually a live bug, and I'm being a dofus since the apparent
included & in-effective; re-filed
& started to chase.
- TimJ nailed it from my repeatable test, and pointed out an
The Problem with Threads:
I conjecture that most multi-threaded general-purpose
applications are, in fact, so full of concurrency bugs that as multi-core
architectures become commonplace, these bugs will begin to show up as
system failures. This scenario is bleak for computer vendors: their next
generation of machines will become widely known as the ones on which
many programs crash.
The solution is of course obvious: to give staggering amounts of highly
parallel beefy hardware to an infinite number of free-software hackers.
Failing that, CPU vendors could do a lot worse than invest a fortune in
Lunch. Worked on some somewhat less interesting analysis task.
Read the recent Ray Ozzie (transcript - sorry .doc: "really understanding the importance of
interoperability") take on Open Source - that it is "potentially much
more disruptive than Google". I couldn't agree more, particularly vs. an
over-emphasis on open-standards (that allow proprietary software to interoperate)
at the expense of open-source innovation. I take issue with this
chasing the tail-lights meme I hear in several places: it's total
rubbish, at least when applied to open-source. Yes we can, and yes we
should do it: would the GNU project exist if someone hadn't been willing
to chase some (very distant) tail-lights in persuit of freedom ? pre-emptive
capitulation is just really silly.
Dinner, worked late - call with JP, poked at beagle's I/O usage a bit.
Tried to build a new set of dri pieces for the latest radeonhd: stymied.
Cycled H. to school - lovely day, getting slightly fitter against
the odds. Still no baby - Anne (the midwife) around to inquire as to where
it has got to - inconclusive.
Poked mail. Thrilled to find that between me seeing the critical
yast2-gtk installer bug on Friday, and Monday morning - Ricardo fixed it
and Coolo packaged it: nice. Also, Ricardo implemented a beautiful map
based timezone selector widget to match Qt, though it'll miss 11.0.
Set too trying to reproduce and file a number of bugs.
nautilus synchronously statting bookmarks on every new window - which is
really bad with stale NFS mounts.
Lunch; managed to reproduce an evil GTheme warning bug I've been
trying to catch for some weeks now - only to discover it was a race in
GObject class initialization that Tim just fixed, hey ho: down to zero
inexplicable-and-scary bugs to track. Discovered that the latest banshee
is available as 'banshee-1' instead of 'banshee' in OpenSUSE: nice.
Amused by the latest NetworkManager feature interacting with my
eponymous wireless network:
which am I ? sadly no tooltip to clarify the decision matrix.
Pizza for dinner, played with the children in the garden, bed; back
to work for a bit.
Lie in, off to an outreach thing ont the council estate near the churc:
bouncy castle, free hot-dogs, cakes & drinks - Pete doing a storming job
in some goal-shooting game; fun in the sun.
Home, babes to bed - played "hang-man" in the garden with Hannah,
seemingly 3 letter words are hard to beat, or just obscure ones: "coccyx" a
personal favorite. Woked the babes up - very unhappy & sleepy.
Interesting chat with Heather about prayer for Israel: which of course,
has to be a good thing in itself. It's always interesting to me - the several
steps in the chain from a solid faith in Christ, to eschatological views I can
understand but don't share, to the leap that we should (somehow) be actively
involved in ensuring prophecy is fulfilled (God is surely strong enough to
accomplish this himself), and yet further to almost unqualified support for evil
done to fulfill some people's idea of what God said will happen. For me, it is
sad to see those who should yearn to
act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with their God end up
twisted in knots by speculative theology, and apparently going in a different
Play, tea, bath, bed. Fine Gordon sermon
He Built an Altar on Genesis 12.
Some fascinating insights.
The altar as an analog of
Kuduru stones - marking out land as belonging to various people - erected by kings
almost like a title deed. Indeed, 'altars' being created not
always to sacrifice on but apparently for a similar purpose.
The radical difference in the Israelite altar vs. pagan ones:
worshiping the God 'who is', built very simply with un-dressed stones:
with the maker's marks un-blemished by man's. cf. the law of the altar:
either just earth for sacrifices, or un-dressed stones.
God's ultimate ownership of everything, as soverign - whether
palestine, England, or our lives: Abraham's confession of himself as
God's own: calling on the name of the Lord.
Off to the market with the babes in the rain; back - bought new
pair of Opterons - that will hopefully work in my motherboard, and have
a power save mode (as well as being faster); hopefully will save the
world, and some fan noise.
Finally got downstairs connected to up-stairs via ethernet.
Lunch - pork spare ribs: unexpectedly good. More teaching of small
children to balance on bicycles, scooters etc. in the light drizzle.
Watched Howel's Moving Castle again with the babes in the
afternoon; hopefully they understood just a bit more. Tea, lightning
shower for children, put them to bed; poked mail briefly.
Up early, tried to file Xen bugs, but got side-tracked by a cracking
memory leak in nautilus: apparently piling up (26Mb) of duplicate status bar
messages on the (invisible) desktop window status-bar; in parallel with finally
being able to repeat the "package updating the theme / icon cache crashes
firefox" (seemingly a GtkPlug issue), hopefully all the detours result in a
far better OpenSUSE 11.0.
Filed many virt-manager bugs; that beastie needs some usability love.
Long lunch break to make up for last night - picked up H. from school, chatted
with Janine & watched her boys play. Call with Patrick. Discovered the
ftw glibc call - I wonder how efficient it's I/O is.
Poked mail, quick call with Alex, dug at the kernel some more. Call
with Jo, filed some more bugs. Sadly yesterday's Xen install failed to boot,
tried again and finally had some joy with OS11.0 RC1 on some more hardware:
perhaps my Core/Duo is the problem. More installing & bug filing joy.
Lunch. Back - to discover amazing mails being filtered out of my
inbox; set too debugging filters with a helpful
tip from Andre. Hideous - discovered Evo had been putting all mail with
RE in the subject in some stupid place. Discovered a load of mail I apparently
lost: bother: it seems "Filter on Subject" with a certain [subject] RE: foo -
can give a seriously unhelpful filter. Started re-reading mail from 27th Feb.
Kelli's staff. Poked NCC to buy some more RAM for an elderly, but
still much loved AMD64 Opteron machine (circa 2004). Worked rather late,
encouraging call with Calvin.
Poked at bugs, good to see Federico's fixes for my two file-selector
issues. Got a lot of nice structural drawings in the post from Charles Tallack - soon there will be
steelwork everywhere it seems: amazing what can be done with a few 10cm
Tried to find a working E-mail address for someone and failed: the
second instance in two days - blog entries everywhere, photos, etc. but no
(functioning) address: how irritating - I imagine an increasingly common
problem - you can find people's detailed accounts of dental flossing, but
not how to mail them.
Lunch with Lydia. Buried under FATE mail from Guy. Annoyingly it
seems emacs wedges pretty hard when a11y is turned on under GNOME - why ?
last I looked stack-traces from emacs were not friendly. Managed to get
further with virt-manager/xen than ever before - looking nice; read some
Found & chased a nasty crasher in OO.o's png loader - why do
we have custom PNG loading code in OO.o instead of using libpng ?
perhaps quicker than the Sun/legal paperwork to get libpng included,
but certainly buggier ?
Cell group in the evening, only Simon & Lydia, good fun though.
Up; poked at mail etc. Extremely pleased to see Nat's pet project
get announced publicly for the first time at LinuxTag. There is some minimal
screencast (NB. it takes some time to load in the popup). As you expect from
the Friedman Franchise, it's extremely cool: if you build virtual appliances,
you'll be wanting to sign up to have a play. Conversely if you just havn't got
into this whole virtualisation thing, now is a good time to start - made easy
for you by:
Chat with Alex - who has an exciting plan around KVM & Xenner.
Filed my clock time set fix; dug at strange firefox / theme change crasher
issue. Found, analysed & filed a nasty file-selector crasher for
Federico; Lunch. Dunged out some longer term bugs, core team meeting.
Poked at a11y for tools running as root; apparently there is no good
way to do this securely. Probably the best approach is for the root runnign
tool to detect the user account for which it is running, and create it's
sockets in /tmp/orbit-$USER for them - with relevant permissions. Currently
connecting to the registryd works fine, but getting ORCA to connect back
Watched Howl's Moving Castle again, some great artwork - admiring the
castle (built by
a daemon) - it's tempting to make comparisons with various pieces of software.
There are some suspiciously over-engineered guns poking out everywhere, as
everywhere in the fine parody of an over-militarised society.
Baby due today - lets see if it arrives. Poked mail, filed bugs,
started RC1 installation. Unfeasibly pleased to discover the compiz
wall plugin: to feed my need for fast, multiple desktops: pretty.
Worked on slide-ware and older mail.
Lunch; call with Nirav, poked idly at various bugs. Dinner with
the babelets, bath & put them to bed. Back for conf-call.
Up lateish, off to church: John spoke well on Romans; Jim
Gilbert showed a rather neat albeit short short of SM Lockridge's
Thats My King,
Back, watched a fun Japanese cartoon / film with the kids
from DT & Zoe. Diary sync, prepped more quote requests for local
builders. Hannah's birthday party invites created, long call with
the parents, then Robert.
In case it's not painfully obvious: the reflections reflected here are my
own; mine, all mine ! and don't reflect the views of Novell, The
Lithuanian Gov't or Arnold Schwarzenegger. It's also important to
realise that I'm not in on the Swedish Conspiracy.
Occasionally people ask for formal photos for conferences,
Michael Meeks (email@example.com)