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
Amazed to discover my Epson Stylus has been draining it's
black ink, and managed to go through an entire, external chunky
reservoir of it over the last weeks - and amazingly without any
(visible) ill effects in the printer. Obviously, they seal the
head-cleaning, ink leakage are well - prolly to avoid customers
complaining about wasteage. The real questions are - why only the
black ink ? is this because the power was off ? and so on; most
Lunch, carpenter turned up to mess about with some tounge
and groove planking. Chat with JP, poked at governance quickly,
and got back to bootcharting. Seemingly we got a baby-sitter for
tonight - horay.
While grubbing around at readahead, I discovered that the
SUSE kernel git repository is at gitorious
these days. Branched and set a kernel building in the build-service,
fun. Failed, once again to persuade Greg that it is a lunacy to
have to build all these tens of Mb of binary, to change just one
file (with no ABI impact at all).
Up early, entertained babes as J. slept; off to NCC -
Thea spoke on faith and courage. Back for a fine lamb lunch.
Tidied the house up, and re-washed up the bits the dish-washer
failed to clean; bother.
Set too at making a set of supports for a bathroom
shower rail - consumed another junior hack-saw blade cutting the
thick brass-covered steel pipe - of course, a modern rail would
be constructed of chromed fluff and be easier. Set too with the
router making a curious contour to allow the rail to be inserted
and freed at one end; after much work, discovered that the depth
gague was rather misleading, and the wooden back is sufficiently
thin (~1mm) that you can see through it - bother. Curtain designed
for a bath, so not long enough - urgh.
Plugged away at the problem of the airing cupboard shelving,
a shortage of suitable wood. Considered the joys of planeing an
excessive amount of wet-wood briefly, before cutting down some 4x2s
into 2x2s using the hand-held circular saw: which went
extraordinarily better than I had imagined possible - a pleasing
result. H. and N. helped file / sand all the cut ends into shape,
and finally we have two of three shelves: great.
Put babes to bed, re-arranged downstairs. Watched Pirates
of the Carribbean with Martin, Andy, Dave, John and Chris - highly
amused by Andy's joke (after this feast of CGI craziness) - Was
that based on a true story ?. Bed.
Lie-in. Took advantage of the endless delays to put a
rather better, self-sealing extractor fan vent on the downstairs
toilet - to avoid excessive heating of the outside when it is not
Lunch and off to Daniel's party in Soham - much fun,
bouncy castle, fine party tea and dinosaur cake, good stuff;
Off with N. int Bury St. Edmonds to Balaam's Music to try out
an Electric Violin, as a potential Christmas Present. The hope is,
that with a far cheaper instrument, the magic of digital signal
processing can (over) compensate for the nastiness of the construction,
and produce a pleasant sound; painfully aware of the lack of practice
for the last decade - bad in itself.
Worked late installing software, and measuring boot times,
while watching rather silly and badly-rendered youtube clips of
Up early, to work - prodded mail; then onto some mechanical
SP1 changes writing churn; eventually gave up and wrote a perl script
to do much of the work for me, neato.
Spencer arrived to fit a toilet seat downstairs (finally),
and re-route the pipe-work so the side-way roof can fit; nice.
Sandy over for lunch; spent more time wrestling with cross
merging a number of patches for 2.28. Slogged away at packaging
A tumble of excited children arrived at six wanting to go to
the School Fair - took the oldest three; admired the profusion of
Tombolas - saw Chris selling chocolates. Joined the endless line to
see Father Christmas. Miriam (rather sensibly) didn't want set next to,
and talk to the strange man, but H. & N. got a present each.
Wandered the floor trying to quickly run-down the spare change so we
could exit. Packed them all back home, tired and happy to bed.
Discovered my mtime setting magic has been broken for
a long time, which cropped subsequent updates from the next day;
bother. Poked at my time fixing script, to defeat the clever
pyblossom mtime checking.
Poked at bootchart2 - merged a beautiful patch from Scott
(who I discovered is Keybuk) - to add intelligent chart cropping,
annotation - showing nice vertical red lines at specific points,
and dumping of those times to a text file. Got Anders Norgaard
Reviewed / merged misc. queued bits to Moblin:Factory.
Dunged out some obsolete patch from GNOME:Factory's libbonobo.
Plugged away at some SLED11 SP1 updates that need doing.
Out to cell group in the evening - a new set of people,
and lots of fun & interest.
Up early; J. out to school and shop, with Grandma looking
after the babies. Read some of Ralf's beautiful thesis on Spiro
Read up on btrfs for a while; interesting, managed to get
UML compiling, and running out of the box with the latest git
kernel as well - nice.
Why is it, that whenever I get Nigerian scam spam, I think of the
pidgeon in the bank account ? still, makes it more fun reading mail.
Sync with Jared, then with Brad, then call with Greg
Apparently today is my 10'th anniversary at Novell/Ximian -
good stuff, the time has gone rather quickly it seems, next stop
the grave - the trials of the immersive world of programming.
Chat with Thorsten. Nice chap arrived to remove the old
boiler outlet from the wall, and brick up the hole; good stuff.
Discovered my bootchart collector was simply leaking directory
handles meaning it couldn't open thread directories after a
while, much better.
OO.o customer call, JP staff, Coreteam meeting; chat
Poked at Father's airing cupboard shelving, and got it
screwed to the wall. Chatted until late.
Up early, parents set too carpeting here, and fixing there;
Dad PAT tested Cheryl's chocolate making equipment.
Worked away at bootchart some more; got the pybootchartgui
piece munged in with the bootchart-collector and some scripts, to
make it rather easier to package and maintain. Pushed to
our Moblin repos.
Dug at why in some cases threads are not having their CPU
accounted for correctly by taskstats (is this the world's worst
interface for getting profiling data ?).
Cut an ancient carpet to size for the next-door room,
dinner, and DE meeting late. Poked at some packaging tasks with
Poor J. feeling rather unwell; left her at home while I took
the babes to church. Back - M, & D. came for lunch, admired the
works, and set-to making a second desk with Father. Played with my
new $25 planeing machine - which is rather good, though wet wood
seems to jam it up rather.
Lie-in, J. not feeling good; wandered the house
poly-fillering holes - like you do.
Played with the babes outside in the road -
practising cycling of various kinds, despite the weather.
Cut back some of the over-enthusiastic ivy threatening to
overwhelm the side-way, even before it is roofed - sat on
the lintel with H. for a while.
Up, full of bounce - today I must achieve something; no
meetings, and tried to avoid E-mail; failed. Poked evolution,
misc. moblin bugs.
Watched some of the FY10 kick-off talks, some good balance
there it seems. Lunch; installed a 2.1 test build, and prodded at
a mutter hang that bothered me.
Prodded at shutdown scripts, and artwork. Out onto the
ridge of the roof to add a washer to the weather vane - to stop it
banging around in the high winds; greased it to stop it squeaking
too - much better. Finally scraped all the pink wall-paper off
Tim & Julie's door (soon to be a new desk).
An ineffectual day flailing at too many varied tasks. Managed
to do a little real hacking - which was fun - a one line change; hmm.
Got stuck into reading the Chromium
code, sad to see an Ubuntu base, but good to see lots of interesting
technologies in there: atk, pango, gtk+, clutter, gnome bits - even orbit2.
It actually looks like something real, and I'm eager to see what efficiency
wins and new tricks those Googlers manage to generate for the common good.
Slept in late, off to the Doctor's, got some antibiotics.
Started to feel better, desparately tried to get my still growing
E-mail / task backlog under control.
Up before six, urgh - taxi to breakfast meeting with Rob
Sinclair, good to meet him in the flesh at last.
Met Claudio & James, off to the briefing centre for
much of a day of talking about accessibility of all sorts.
Amused at the vituperative reserved for Google's 100% inaccessible
Chrome browser - go WebKit !
I'm increasingly convinced that the world writes, (or
worse - pointlessly re-writes) things frequently enough that
keeping a11y up to date is a vast task. Of course, as we all
know - all applications now have to move to the web (2.0)
with yet another rats nest of a11y problems, developer
training etc. nevermind the frequent cool-toolkit-of-the-year
lurches. By the time a11y has
caught up, the relentless urge to re-write - usually for 'bloat'
reasons (ie. we finally got a mature product that ticks the
required boxes) - kicks in, and we end up with a 31337 ultra-lean
non-functional replacement (apparently).
Arrived at the Eurostar four hours early; thankfully the
management genius' that run this company provide no way to pay a
fee to change the time of, or upgrade to a flexible ticket. It
seems they prefer to leave money sitting in their hall for hours
on end. Buying a new ticket for Eur 100+ is ridiculous, but I'd
happily pay the difference to a flexible ticket now. Sat around
feeling horribly ill, and wishing I was at home with the wife.
Up early, feeling shocking; took babes to school, poked
the Surgery ineffectually; home, tried to get the laptop into
shape, and got to the train, Kings Cross, Brussels etc.
Eventually arrived, gave the address of the hotel to the
Taxi driver - he seemed confused; drove to the street - no hotel.
It appears that pasting
Foo Address\nBrussels into
google maps managed to get a hit in Paris, which is where I booked
the hotel; bother. Toured the city finding somewhere to stay - ended
up in an airport hotel, feeling groggy.
Up early, dealt with babes, off to NCC, ran creche.
Back for lunch, feeling yet worse, on to Solomon & Peace's
for dinner, and then back home. Chewed over life, my lethargy
and general inactivity with J.
Bed early, kidneys hurting in the night, urgh.
Lie in, off to Tesco / Homebase to buy this &
that. Put up mirror cabinet in the bathroom, some door
stops (to stop door handles going through walls) - neatly
obsoleting some of my older hardware.
Set too making a clothes rail for N's wardrobe,
interrupted by a surprisingly lengthy power-cut; unusual.
Attempted to continue carpenting with hand tools, and brace
& bit; sadly the chuck on the latter is shockingly bad,
making life harder.
Lit candles, and a fire - spent the time burning
confidential documents - which feels extremely dodgy, but
just saves on buying a shredder.
J. out in the evening, feeling pretty under the
weather; but managed to get some long overdue poly-filler-ing
done. It's good to be minus one gaping hole in the toilet
wall at least. Bed early.
Played with valgrind, poked Julian. Flushed the mental list of
outgoing mails to write. Chat with JP; got stuck into accessibility
again, good to see what has been happening there. Chased various team
members by phone to catch up with the current state of play.
Stephen helped me get the latest UIA / Silverlight setup
and working, which is neat. Call with Sandy & Brad.
Put up H's new blind - screwing it to the plastic window,
hopefully it will stay put, and not puncture the sealed window units.
Question Time in the evening, and chalked up tasks for tomorrow.
Up lateish, paying back the sleep debt. Mail catch-up. Pete
arrived to lay vinal in the bathroom. Detour via the dentists to get
a mouth that feels like it's made of cold rubber.
Back, re-assembled and tidied up a bit the laptop battery
test harness, grabbed new packages to test. Electrician arrived and
discovered that the heat sensor that should have been in the
under-floor heating mat was in fact not: the friendly tiler arrived
back to start lifting the floor tiles. Pete still at it laying
the floor. Lunch - Tony popped over.
Prodded at glibc wrt. the annoying gdb debugger griping around
loading -lpthread late in the day, as a dependent of a dynamic module,
could it just be another gdb lameness ?
Dinner with the wife; while OpenSUSE
11.2 installed; filed a few bugs - nasty problem with metacity's
signal handling - it seems.
Up early, dropped Srini at the coach stop, back to
breakfast with the family & Robert, on to mail, admin,
planning; and kiwi patch back-porting.
Google appear to have lost the plot, with yet-another
language, at least it seems
fairly simple - rock on 'gob'
or was it Vala ? or Eiffel, or ... < insert vast list of
obscure languages > ... The quest for balance - of
incremental value vs. relevance goes on.
Pete arrived, to fit a patch to our old carpet - looks
lovely, some cunning glueing thing, and a lovely hooked carpet
Perhaps one of the most totemic talks of OOoCon was the discussion
on: "a possible future architecture for openoffice.org" - also captured on video roll, and
just to irritate myself, I couldn't resist watching it
and had a few thoughts.
In summary - it would have been entirely preferable to have some
speakers with authority, programming experience and first-hand
understanding of the issues to present some competing visions in such
a session. It is also galling not to hear about the real structural
challenges to getting developer interest and investment that the
ownership and governance structure create. Finally, the hype around
UNO as part of the solution, when it is a key part of the problem is
Since - of course, this is OpenOffice.org - neither of
the two people giving the talk have ever contributed real code, or
apparently intend to, which neatly avoids having a visceral understanding
of the issues programmers face, or the existing overall architecture,
nevermind a future architecture.
Everything is necessarily re-fried second, or third hand guesswork
- this is fairly usual in OO.o 'community' circles - though, at
most normal conferences you tend to get laughed off the stage for
this sort of thing. Some good first questions when dealing with
apparently clueful OO.o-stable advocates are: "is there any code
yet?" and then "Did you write any of it ?". Sometimes we
have whole talks by non-coders about non-existent code. Yet, perhaps
Chinese whispers, when filtered through a strategic community genius,
can be woven into a fantastically compelling story - lets see.
Indeed - for a heady mix of truism, and balderdash, it's
hard to beat:
Luis: "To load writer you
have to load 85% of the code-base ... if you have a modularised
version, I imagine you can just open up the UNO code, which
is a core part that things are plugged into ... and then the specific
module you want - load time would be much faster, it would be much
lighter ... "
The realities of creative imagination aside, it seems to
me that the cult of UNO is itself, a large part of the problem,
stultifying re-factoring, reducing performance, confusing concerns:
such as code re-use, highly granular concurrency, and scripting bindings,
and forcing an all-or-nothing nightmare on everyone. Without it,
we might have more of a chance. The same kind of individual that
synchronised keyword is the last word in
concurrency just loves the UNO-for-everything attitude.
With regard to performance, it is amusing - often a
given UNO interface is sufficiently unusable that it is necessary
to create a C++ helper library to be able to use it in a lean
and effective way; this unfortunately tends, either to double the
library count (thus reducing performance), or mean you need to link
to the implementation itself anyway, reducing 'plug-ability'.
"... this [modularisation] results in a sustainable
community ... what I am interested in is making it so that ...
[ many ] people are able to develop OO.o as they want ...
Of course, creating a sustainable developer community is a great
goal - and one I applaud. It is (in general) perhaps a shame that
the clear advice of the existing external developers was not
highlighted. Indeed, this very talk crowding out some
thoughtful developer analysis, with marketing, could be seen
as a powerful signpost to the emasculation, oppression and
exclusion of the hacker class. Reducing the pundit
count is perhaps a pre-requisite for recruiting developers, who
don't easily tolerate this sort of thing. It is good to have an
expert view, based seemingly on no experience, that the developer
process is not bureaucratic - no doubt a great comfort in
the struggle to get code included.
The presentation of the OO.o code base as vast, and
impossible to hack on is strange. To me, some of the most
ghastly pieces to work with are the heavily 'UNO'ised 'designed'
pieces: configmgr, toolkit, and framework code leap immediately
to mind. Indeed - the simplest pieces I've worked with - eg. the
calc core, or VCL happen to be the 'legacy, non-UNO-ised' bits -
can that really be a co-incidence ?
The goal of " ... make it sustainable so people can
make a business out of it ... is a really nice idea, but the
primary problem in this area is, surely, Sun's ownership demands
which strangle corporate (and I imagine Government) investment at
birth - sign here to donate to Sun Microsystems.
A great truism: "... speculation gets us no-where
without actual bucks" - though arguably, you shouldn't have
to pay people to work on OO.o. If the project is structured
right - making it fair, and less of a pain to interact with - then
developers will slowly trickle in, feel valued, have fun, get
things done, and enjoy creating great software together for the
common good. At least, that is the OO.o community I want to be
Finally my kiwi image build finished, and I tested Marcus' nice
fix, which works well for me.
Saddened to see the EU's apparent lack
of understanding of the database world, in their complaints,
and the recent Sun layoffs. Simply because two things are called by
the same name - 'a database' - does not mean they necessarily compete:
is SQLite a meaningful competitor to MySQL ? - would anyone want it
if it was ? and Oracle already seem to build the preferred InnoDB
storage core for MySQL. Either way,
if I ever had to create a database, I would build on one using a more
open model, eg. you can't 'buy' SQLite,
or Postgres and thus
avoid this sort of problem.
Up, prodded mail, off to visit Collabora, and Cambridge with
Srini, wandered the town variously; lunch with Rob & co.
interesting, as always.
Showed Srini - Kings College, Trinity, and the Round Church -
while on a conference call; and back home by bus to get back to work.
Prodded kiwi issue of interest, and more mail.
A little house tidying, to make room for a bed for Robert, who
arrived in the evening, had dinner with him & toured the works - up
late catching up.
Mail chew, attempted to get on top of things. Pete the
tiler and a bricky arrived early, and continued building the
side-way up vertically.
Analyst call in the evening; and out with Srini to see
the sights of Newmarket high-street, and a drink.
Up early - good to play with all the family again. Got H's
bed put up, on top of Pete's nice, newly fitted, carpet. Off to NCC,
DT speaking, met some fun new people .
Back for lunch, met Bert's daughter Helen on the way. Off to
the station to pick up Srini, home, collected bed from Solomon &
Peace for Srini & put it up in the semi-carpeted attic.
Bert & Helen around for a cup of tea, fine; lots of
catching up with Srini.
Up rather early to catch the train; checked Noel, and woke
Thorsten - got the train with Kohei too. Dropped bags at Kohei's
somewhat extraordinary hotel - got some cash back from Thorsten.
Set off by tube with Cedric & Rene to the Colluseum,
got ripped off with an amazingly brief tour, but at least got in
quickly: some staggering engineering, most impressive.
Wandered, looking for food; eventually ended up with Kohei
back at the central station, for a pleasant lunch. Collected
baggage, coach to the airport, flight home.
Family all away, so spent time admiring the progress
in building, tidying, washing up & so on. Helped get exhausted
children into bed, and lovely to see the wonderful wife again.
Up early, out to the go-oo GSOC panel session - extremely
encouraged to see all the great work that was done, and see our students
have a chance to pitch their work. For those of a Feminist bent, that
are as amused as I am with these numbers - we had six students, three
male, three female. Three ladies successfully completed the project,
and one male - somewhat staggering. I wonder if the aggregated
success metrics by gender across all GOSC projects are published.
On to Oliver's talk, somehow waylaid by Stefan and sadly
missed Noel's - somehow I find tech talks really encouraging:
summarising all the hard fought features of the last year.
Out for lunch with GSOC students, though couldn't find
Donna (sadly) - that managed to run over Fridrich's talk,
interrupted by a PM conf-call, etc.
Pleasant tour of the town in the gathering dusk, good
conversation, lots of very beautiful things everywhere; down
some tunnels. Off to a restaurant for dinner, got to know Maya
a little. Sorrowful farewells, and back to bed.
Up late, flitted from talk to talk, sat in the ODF track
for a while admiring their tenacity.
Attempted to locate the rest of the ESC, for lunch - ended
up only finding an elite core.
Fine Daisy / accessibility presentation, and Kendy's great
OOXML talk. Wandered off for the native-lang team meal, caught up
with Martin H, Rob Weir, and on to a very late night bar at which
Doko, Martin & Oliver generously tried to pickle my liver.
Up lateish, cable-car to the plateau - and managed to
check-in to the conference, met up with Kendy, caught up with
Doko, Rene, Dieter, and many others.
Team breakfast / meeting, and out together for Lunch.
Off into town with Fridrich, then an ESC meeting, and out for
a quick drink / discussion.
Back to the Doma hall to locate the rest of the team,
and some pizza. On to the impressive council (?) meeting place;
spent much of the evening talking; and out in the evening to a
pleasant wine-bar; got to know Tora a bit, and some of the other
great Japanese guys.
Taxi back to wake up Fridrich, and get on-line. Spent
the next hour on the phone with Jared; sleep late.
Off to the ODF plug-fest; interesting day - lots of
interesting people working on this and that; met Doug and Andrew
in person for the first time. Fine lunch.
Out to a bar in the driving rain, caught up with
lots of interesting people, discussed ODF variously, on to
a restaurant for a great meal - joined later by an increasing
number of Novell and other OO.o hackers, great.
Wandered back to the hotel, down a rather slippery hill
in the dark - stocked up at the shop next to the station, then
invaded Fridrich's room & stayed up until rather late.
Sadly left the family - it's too tragic really; M.'s
inimitable "I want come with you, stay at home !" rendeth
the heart strings, despite it's abiguous solution.
Coach to Stanstead, Ryan-Air - the neon-yellow airline
to somewhere that is not Rome: nice; read The Economist - caught
up with the blog backlog. Tried to navigate the kernel's ATA
power management code.
Enjoyed a great sermon on Church Fathers - D: Dante,
from Daniel Harrel - fasincating - must read the Divine Comedy.
Boggled at the latest copyright-assignment idiocy (which
it seems is sadly becoming fashionable again) - this time from
Canonical: want to alienate and shrink your developer community -
while persuing an elusive and unrealistic goal ? - try
adding copyright assignment. Jonathan makes some
excellent general points in his LWN
Agreements like Sun's ... are common when dealing with
corporate-owned projects; they clearly prioritize control and the
ability to take things proprietary over the creation of an independent
development community. ... When developers contribute code to a project,
they tend to get intangible rewards in return. So asking them to hand
over ownership of the code as well might seem to be pushing things a
little too far .... allowing a competitor to take code proprietary
may well be beyond those limits .... Companies which demand such rights
may find that their community projects are not as successful as
they would like.
What is particularly strange is that many seem to demand
copyright assignment, with the most tenuous of rationals, and for
code they have no realistic chance of re-licensing for money anyway.
Asking for assignment to an independant foundation is a tall enough,
order, nevermind a for-profit company. Presumably a better solution is
to pick a license that fits your preferred business model, and compete
with other entrants by being better.
Landed; rather grotty, but cheap bus - with high volume
Italian football commentary to Rome - waited for Thorsten while
trying to unwind the Italian train system. It would be great if
the ticket machines (like some German ones I've enjoyed) would
print you timetables (or even just show the connection details).
Waited for Thorsten, then the ante-penultimate train to
Orte, then a taxi to avoid an indefinite wait in the freezing
cold. Out for a late dinner with Thorsten & Fridrich.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)