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
Back to the fight; MBR tweak testing, Moblin team meeting,
Legal training session.
Amused, and saddened to see Miguel slammed all over the
place, yet again.
One of the things I like most about Miguel, is his
courage in taking on the ill-informed, and his relative
impermeability to crazies. Having been deeply involved with the
OpenXML / ODF saga, I'm highly convinced that Miguel has a fairly
correct perspective - de-coupled from the immediate noise, smoke
and mirrors - and he has the benefit, as does Jody, of actually
knowing something first-hand about the topic, having worked in
the field for some years. He also defends a key principle: of fearlessly
voicing his technical conviction amidst an argument demeaned by naked,
pseudo-technical, second-hand politics and heat. I find it frankly
laughable that the pundits pretend to know more about spreadsheets and
their file formats than say Jody & Miguel. Seemingly they only know
what they want to be the case.
I also tend to think that engaging with Microsoft and cautiously
encouraging them to step closer to the light is better than sticking with
the familiar, stark & lazy "goodies and baddies" games that
children so enjoy. Of course, do so with caution, but to use an analogy -
I suspect trying to cure a bully by endless beatings, regardless of what
they do, is unlikely to be constructive.
I also loathe software patents, but that doesn't stop me filing
for them - for defensive reasons, and it doesn't mean I go flaming eg.
Fluendo for providing legally sound,
patent licensed versions of (open source) codecs; indeed I'm glad to be
able to simultaneously respect the law, while trying to change it, and
listen to my music.
I tend to think that if you believe Sun's statistics on
how much of 'their' code is in a GNU/Linux system (and yes, personally
I still tend to call it GNU/Linux, for some strange reason), it could
be called a Sun/GNU/Linux system - or perhaps a
or whatever. That the "GNU/" initiative failed to inspire is hardly
surprising. My joke at the time was that the FSF should change it's
name to the GNU Slash Linux Foundation to reflect it's new core
goal. It's not that, as a community, we didn't break our jaws trying
to educate people on the Hackers vs. Crackers distinction - so as to
have some idea that this was a loosing battle; it is a shame that wiser
counsel on messaging did not prevail here.
Either way - it is difficult to think of people who by their
productivity, example and sheer charisma have winsomely persuaded so
many people to contribute so much to Free software; and have still
stayed in touch with the keyboard, actively writing code. If
Miguel is a traitor - I guess I aspire to being one too.
Made grub able to chainload an ext3 partition tagged as a
recovery partition; why not ?
Up late; plasterer arrived to finish off, the plumber
chappy came too - good. Eventually we got an electrician wiring
up sockets endlessly, even better.
Worked away at backlog of administrative and uninteresting
things. Off to the hospital with Miriam in the afternoon - to have
her unusual mouth ulcers dealt with.
Carpenters and plasterer returned, the stairs got
finished, the landing ceiling got plastered; and the external
scaffolding was removed good - now we can actually open many of
the windows: a pleasant un-caged feeling.
Sync with AJ on the build service.
Spent much of the day, and the evening working on grub,
and after everything was working - switched to the
'master-boot-code' package on Torsten's advice; looking good.
Up in the night to tend the image build: re-started it.
Up, off to NCC - ran creche; lots of fun-sized people
around the place. Home for a quick lunch with DT & Zoe.
Played with the babes, while J. did some more painting
in the afternoon - did lots more cycling practise in the road -
Naomi finally starting herself and pedaling away crazily; H.
confident even on up-hill starts. Elisabeth (~14 months) eager
to sit on the tricycle and be pulled around. Managing and
tracking four, transiently occluded babes concurrently is
quite taxing. Saw Russel & Sophie from up the road.
Bed early; tired.
Up earlyish, porridge for breakfast - J. set too with
painting / sealing the rooms (with watered down emulsion), while
I tried to hoover and clear the rooms in advance of her.
Tried to clean up and entertain children while J. worked.
Lunch - set out to homebase to buy large quantities of paint;
rollers and so on. Returned, managed to persuade babes not to cry
constantly so we could both work for a while.
Gave up eventually and turned to fixing the dish-washer
with the babes downstairs - it seems that a rubber gasket has
given out - bought and fitted a new-one; glad it was not some
more pernicious pump problem.
Spent much of the afternoon putting second coats on, J.
out to Ruth's wedding party in the evening - up very late listening
to Gordon sermons, from a laptop in a plastic bag, while painting
the ceilings. Interested by Doesn't
Religion Just Cause Hatred and Violence - addressing the interesting,
albeit age-old debates between philiosophers and religious scholars.
Seemingly the only new thing about today's crop of militant atheists
is the tone and stridency; nothing new about Atheism itself. Sam Harris
surprisingly writes - "If anyone has written a book more critical of
religious faith than I have: I'm not aware of it", and you wonder -
to be sure, he writes an effective tract in support of Atheism; but -
Friedrich Nietzsche ?
Sigmund Freud ?
Carl Marx ?
Jean-Paul Sartre ?
and so on ?
How can one not be aware that others have written powerful books
opposed to theism ? The same blindness or deaf-ness, apparently is not
limited to other atheists' work, but seemingly also to those who responded
to the various arguments put forward. What is new is the stridency: that faith
is so awful, wrong-headed, evil, so dangerous that it should not be
any longer tolerated in any form. This is in itself an interesting nonsense;
what you believe is clearly far more important than that you believe something.
I'd recommend the brief taster / mp3 for those with a spare hour, though it
addresses only the Christian perspective on the debate.
Hardware arrived by FedEx in the morning; worked away at it,
new BIOS, and slogging away at grub's MBR code. All manner of
excitement, forgetting that switching
%ds has an
unfortunate effect on trying to access those local string error
messages. The joys of not having either printf, or a debugger -
While trying to cram code into the 400 some bytes we have;
stumbled upon this; why does (AT&T syntax):
complete - where:
mov (%si), %ax
never complete - at least on my Atom & Core DUO - though
KVM / QEMU seem to like it. Clearly my 16 bit, segmented
understanding is obsolete.
Mary Rogers over for dinner, really lovely to spend the
evening with her.
Up early, chat with some Taiwanese friends; spent a while
faffing around porting / building a nasty, 16bit disassembler
before being shown:
objdump -D -b binary -mi386 -Maddr16,data16 <file>
neat; works well on your mbr:
sudo dd if=/dev/sda bs=512 count=1 of=/tmp/my-mbr
Spent much of the day unwinding 16bit, segmented assembler
fun - a really good resource on the new write-your-own-MBR trend is
I never realised the primary partiton table is crammed into the same
Back to sreadahead for some light relief; switched to polling
every 1/2 a second using trace_poll, and added some termination when
a magic filename is opened: far easier than getting a user process to
signal it. Prodded mutter-moblin to open, close & unlink said
magic file. Pushed to github.
Out for a date with my beautiful wife, for the first time in
To work - no builders in sight today; worked with Matt on
grub briefly, misc. busy work; Moblin team call, chat with Ludwig,
then Zach - learned lots of RESTful things.
Added Factory build target to our internal build service's
mirror of Moblin:UI to try to accelerate the process of making it
all work well vs. Factory.
It seems that Miriam has
started writing a blog from Kabul - and very well written it is too.
Looking forward to seeing the great work that Hagar does applied there.
Played with pybootchartgui some more; with the new high res
bootchart collector, we start to see some fun problems: eg. when we
do a double fork to spawn a process - we sometimes catch that process
and assign eg. 'boot' a parent of the (very transient) parent - which
appears to ruin the clean ordering.
The result of adding Arjan's nice kernel dmesg parsing scheme to
bootchart, of course converted from perl to python, and albeit in a hacky
way so far is:
Of course, it is less colourful, and less detailed than the
scripts/bootchart.pl output - but hopefully will show up
any particularly glaringly slow bits. Now to find out / and or render
why there is such a long gap between the kernel appearing to finish,
and init starting to spawn things.
Worked with Matt on grub pieces. Amused by Matt Assay's Linux is
bloated comment; to me - the worst of the bloat would be around
hack-ability. It is one (saneish) thing not to freeze your internal APIs
forever - it is -very-much-something-else- to insist that all people trying
to build, package and test the kernel need to join in with the 'measuring'
contest of how quickly (or not) they can build the whole thing. If I need
to only change ten lines of code, why do they force me to compile 10 million ?
Sure - if I am already a kernel hacker, I can do that easily - if I am not,
life is sufficiently hard to keep people away from simple hacks. I'd love to
see a kernel that can be build straight through, and yet is routinely
packaged and built as a dozen separate source (subsystem?) packages - of
course whatever static library intermediates are lame, but - so is excessive
Caught up with mail, FATE, some admin, and waded through
general tiredness - amazingly unproductively.
Interesting chat with Rob, and another with ScriptRipper;
if I get enough cleaned up I can push some screenshots of the
pybootchartgui hackery I've been working on.
Enjoyed the lightning talks; though somewhat ad-hoc in
places. Lunch, caught up with Sankar.
On to Gianugo Rabellino's keynote - initially very
dismissive given the apparent Apache role in the Apache ->
Collab.net -> OpenOffice.org -> compound community failure.
Very impressed with Gianugo, and the Open Development model,
I guess it's nice to find someone more articulate and credible -
after all, I have (thus far) totally failed to fix OpenOffice's
horrific community issues - from Apache saying the same things eg.
diversity. Shared some happy beers afterwards. It helps to see
that perhaps the true locus of failure to build real community in Sun's
open-source strategy is closer to home, and not just bad external advice.
Also, somewhat amazed by my first exposure to an E-cigarette, if
you are going to try to poison yourself, this seems like a somewhat
less effective, and yet more interesting way to do it.
Shared taxi's to the airport; flight home, Sandy visiting,
Up early; lots of chats with various people during the day.
Cheated by getting lots of personal demos / re-hashed talks from
presenters in person, lots of interesting people around.
Second round of governance discussion was fairly positive;
at least - inasmuch as we seemed to reach some consensus that
having someone elected making decisions, sometimes, but only
very rarely, and buffered by lots of other technical bodies,
was ok, at least in concept; hmm.
More in depth catch up with people; great to have Guy here.
Out to Ralf's house (cum Solar Power plant) in the evening with some
of the lads to relax with some fine wine, beer and pizza; demo'd
Moblin to the fun-sized members of the home.
Back, by now in some sort of dog-tired haze - stayed up
chatting, and trying to avoid both the poisonous home-brew being
passed around, and the mythical Camel Flu as recieved in
verbatim copies from Miguel via Aaron. Stayed up even later
catching up with Mike Fabian.
Up early, breakfast, more talk poking; arrived to setup for
my talk, board session overrun yielded no time to fix the projector
issues satisfyingly: most annoying - managed to use some old slideware
too - bother; did some demos (slides).
Stayed for Anas' interesting talk.
Lunch - chat with Ralf, got a fine demo of SUSE & Moblin
running nicely on some unexpected Atom hardware. Managed to catch the
end of the Governance discussion.
Out in the evening on the bus / tram to the office, for some
bug squashing action. Got some great demos of the Zeitgeist work -
looking pretty; and worked with FunkyPenguin on sorting out packaging
SUSE/Moblin for Factory; poked with Aaron at the new Cubano plan.
Off to Will's recommended restaurant for a fine dinner &
beer, back to the office via the castle - pretty at night; and
eventually to the hotel & bed.
Up bright & early, attempted to shower under the fitting,
apparently designed to exclusively water the wall instead of me.
Breakfast. Met lots of people.
Registered, keynote, milled around talking to people,
un-conferencing, and so on. Out in the evening to a fine free beer
party with the lads. Back rather late to work on the talk.
Up early, booked openSUSE conference travel, Alexia kindly
booked me a hotel room for tonight, looking forward to it. Prodded
icon theme changes while logging in as an issue; urgh - finished an
interview, sent for review.
Plumber switched us over to the new combi-boiler; what
fun - working, high pressure hot water - and he set the heating
temperature to 70 degrees - presumably too hot to condense
properly - doh; turned it down. Plastering, tile chipping, and
bath movement going on at top speed.
Coach to Stanstead; met up with Roger & Andrew in the
airport, great fools seldom think differently (or something). Good
to share the journey with them. Arrived, saw Joe / Vuntz / Federico
& met lots of others.
Up early; to work - played with
xwininfo -tree -root
a bit - interesting that OO.o creates so many apparently unused windows -
consulted Philipp: it seems that many of them are all the un-popped-up
pop-ups associated with visible combo-boxes; hmm.
Plumber arrived and started moving radiators, and/or installing
some central heating: good stuff - an EcoVert condensing boiler, packed
full of interesting failure modes no doubt.
Back into the mad school rush in the morning; got everyone
dispatched, dressed, prayed, to work. Called an Australian sales
colleague for an interesting de-brief.
Poked at a yast2 UI abstraction problem with bubli. Clarity,
more bug massage; lunch. Wrote / sent LXF column.
Dug at bootchart, tried to pull up my pybootchartgui -
developed a healthy loathing for the shocking evil that is setup.py,
it appears to simply refuse to install software that works in a
reliable way - at least for me. Interestingly the spec file, now I
look doesn't use it - which seems sensible.
Caught up with David Mansergh in the evening, great to talk.
Up late again, off to NCC - did the creche: survived alone
vs. five somehow. Back home, fine lunch, put second coat of paint on.
Helped dung out garden mess, slugged happily.
Movie in the evening - The Golden Compass - pleasant
effects (though sadly the LCD projecter tends to blur all the fight
scenes into a random mess, followed (hopefully) by an outcome),
and some interesting ideas. Nothing noticably anti-Christian beyond
the dystopic semi-clerical rule - perhaps that comes in a later
Up late, pottered around the house dunging out cruft from
the attic, looked at re-siting the phone-line again without
conclusion. Off to Homebase to buy paint, and cleats with babes,
hoovered lots of annoying moss up, cleaned toilet.
J. couldn't find Miriam anywhere, and becoming increasingly
frantic, considered the worst - apparently confirmed by an
un-responsive pair of feet visible sticking out from under the bed.
Discovered a sleeping M. partially hiding under the bed, apparently
playing a solo game of hide & seek - phew.
Played tumbling games with everyone else in the garden while
J. took N. to a party, then sorted the endless stream of washing; H's
underwear-classifier algorithm is far faster and more accurate than
mine - and only three sets so far; got the piles of clean washing
Lay with J. on the scaffolding scraping & painting the
underside of our weatherboarding in the setting sun - how romantic.
To work, burned image, tried to play with it.
Pleased to see the Taiwanese former president sentenced
and jailed - it is good to see a country with strong enough
democratic institutions that this can happen. Some random thoughts
having stayed in both Taiwan and China. In my view, to be a truly
civilised country, it is necessary not to have the population living
in fear. It is particularly distressing when the population live
in fear - not only of their own goverment abusing their human
rights, co-ercing and intimidating them, but also then - being
indoctrinated into some irrational fear of the alternative: a
peaceful, bloodless transition to a more equitable form of
governance. Taiwan presumably is so annoying, to China since
it is (apparently) a successful, ethnically similar, free society
born from a fairly peaceful transition from a dictatorship.
Hopefully the lesson of incarcerated ex. heads of state cuts
Found a really amusing race condition in gdk's compositing,
fun - it seems the case of racing g-s-d's GdkDisplay init
against a starting window manager is an unusual one.
Caught up with Ricardo on IRC at last ! about to train him
on obs usage, but it's down for scheduled maintenance. This provides
a golden opportunity to hack on
osc build --no-init so
it doesn't touch the server: neat. If only it wasn't written in
python (so you can test & add flow-control changes without
massive indentation pain) and/or functions had fewer than a couple
of hundred lines, without tens of local variables.
Sync. with Aaron. Poked at spreadsheet functions to
analyse my work; why is that
grep -v on a CSV is
so much easier than filtering data inside a spreadsheet.
Discovered the rat, having initially set off the trap
while avoiding the crushing blow, fell for it a 2nd time (peanut
butter too irresistable). 16 inches, and smeary brains.
XDG_MENU_PREFIX only applies to
applications.menu - shame; it would have been nice to apply it to
everything, and fall-back if not present; added a hack to
yast2-control-center-gnome to add the prefix less elegantly.
Delved into mutter-moblin's media panel, while building
a test image.
Spent much of the day on admin and calls - and still no end
to the paperwork in sight: COBE training, stack of expenses to file
etc. Poked at yast2 package lists for Moblin.
Out in the evening with H. to the Annual Art Competition,
H. won a prize for a fine piece of writing (for a five year old) on
My World - lovely to see it framed, and see the Mayoress.
Chat with Srini, poked at debugging interesting file-system
bits under DOS with Joey - wow, am I thankful for a terminal that
really works; the only good thing you can say for DOS is that it
does boot instantly - BIOS uses get to do that I suppose.
Hacked away happily at banshee for a while; a11y conference
call with Willie, Mark, Mike & co.
Up early; dug through the mail morass. Discovered our
Moblin image using yast2-qt and stopped that. Plugged away at
DOS build fun - finally got it working, apparently some LBA
issue, and staleness in ext2 - code forgetting to bit-mask the
length to a byte & so on. Back to more modern pursuits.
Amused by the standards
dilbert. Unamused by seeing a rat peering in at us, apparently
un-afraid from the garden: presumably this is the 'mouse' J. saw
in the compost bin (but grown kitten sized). J. dispatched to buy a
monster mouse trap.
Worked much of the evening at Cubano (or more clutter
lifecycle problems) - while J. ran her pregnancy crisis centre.
Off to NCC, skype-style recorded interview with Emily on mission
in New Orleans, Tony preached. Good to see Solomon & Peace's baby -
Daniel in person.
Home, continued frantic house clearing; Joy & Chris (Evans),
Hannah, Elizabeth & Sophie arrived for lunch - really good to meet
this part of J's family - lovely Christian couple, training at Oak Hill. They know Gervase
too. Lots of fun, and playing of little girls in the garden.
Washed & got babes to bed; sleep.
Up, to the market with Miriam and Hannah - detour via the
toy-shop for H. to spend her hard-earned (by doing her Piano practise
daily) £5 from the holiday. After some intense, and mature deliberation
picked a painting-by-numbers thing - cue hours of potential fun.
Home, did some painting, early lunch. Set off to try to locate
M.'s lost cup (tragically missing in action on the first day of it's
life - having been fondly clutched while on a picnic earlier in the week).
Considerable futile searching, and climbing of mounds of earth.
Off to pick apples at a friend's orchard; then on to Pete Down's
30th birthday party - much fun, fine barbeque, interesting people to
talk to. Stayed up late with the babes, and on leaving discovered she
had lost / left her sun-glasses; urgh.
Up early, to work - caught up with mail, and Joey, chat
with Erwin. Today I discovered the ultimate explanation
for why my dear wife is occasionally annoyed at my apparent lack of
attention / ability to answer simple questions.
Finally unwound my bognor problem; banshee registers it's
service before the bognor part is present and as such waiting for
NameOwnerChanged is not going to work; added reload signal for good
Got debugger running under DOS and started tackling the
ancient ext2tools package - hmm, time to pull the code a decade
forward in time.
Pleased to see Andrew's nice Goblin posts, packed with
Chat with Fridrich & Joey; knocked up a test-case for
my pet gtk+ bug. Lots of progress with insulation installation
upstairs, and measuring for insulated plasterboard goodness too.
Finally got a DOS version of ext2tools building nicely, in the
build service; neat.
Up early, to work - poked at DOS cross-compilation,
chased a horror PolicyKit-gnome issue to it's festering root.
Builders finally got delivery of their plasterboard &
insulation - internal walls started to move beyond the skeletal.
Novell / Moblin team meeting. Worked a little late.
Off to Tesco to discover the pharmacy is shut, picked up some
fluorescent bulbs on the way back - time to throw away some
working obsolete incandescents.
Amazed / amused by TrollTech's attack on Pyqt - apparently it
is fine to have an indefensibly non-scalable business-model, but
only if you're TrollTech.
Back to work, dug through mail; call with JP. Worked
with Feng on a PackageKit issue, and with Joey on loadlin (urk).
In a crazy world, started working on ext3 reading from DOS -
poked DJGPP (it's been a long time), and started importing DJ's
cross-compiler packages into obs. Worked late until an analyst
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)