Go forward in time to July 2002.
Friday: We performed in Plaza Loreto, and it was pretty good, much better than in La Corte Final, at least. Sound was better, the place was more comfortable, everyone was more relaxed, and it pretty much just kicked ass.
Saturday: Hugo and Juanita stayed at our place overnight from the concert, and on the next day we took them to their place and stayed to watch some movies. Hugo got both garlic and mustard-ish chicken from the fantastic rotisserie near his house, and we stuffed ourselves with that, some delicious red rice that Oralia made, and some lettuce/tomato/cucumber salad that I whipped up. We watched Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, very entertaining, but it really merits being watched in a theater. Then we had some coffee/cookies and watched Bandits, which was fun but not great.
Today: Did mostly nothing. Woke up late. Read for a bit, and I'm still amazed at Alejo Carpentier's extensive knowledge of absolutely everything. We watched Trois Couleurs: Rouge, which is just fantastically great. I want to watch that trilogy again, as I only saw Blanc once many years ago, and then I didn't pay enough attention when I saw Bleu on video a few months ago. I'm thinking that Rouge is my favorite of the three, even if the huge musical scores in Bleu make me drool — where does one get that kind of paper?
I also started teaching Oralia how to write HTML so that she can make a web page for herself. I decided to start from the messy-but-it-works side of things rather than the you-are-the-DTD's-slave-and-stylesheets-rule approach. It is the way I learned it and I believe it is more important to be able to put something up rather than learn how to wade through W3C verbostupidity.
Today we are playing in Plaza Loreto, and last night we had our last rehearsal... sort of. About 30 minutes after we started rehearsing, it started raining really hard, with hail and all. There was a power outage, and since the rehearsal room has no windows, it was pitch dark. We stood up and tried not to bump into each other, and waited for several minutes. After a while the power came back for about 20 seconds, and Charly's girlfriend noticed that there was a rather big leak in the ceiling, and there was a non-trivial trickle of water falling on my beautiful keyboard. After a nanosecond of panic, we moved the synth away from the leak, I took off my shirt and used it to dry the keyboard, and then we just set it upside down so that any water that may have stayed in would get out. Upon getting home, which was painful because there was a huge area of the city without power and thus without traffic lights, Oralia helped me dry the remaining bits with the hair dryer.
Today it seems that the keyboard is completely dry and it does play and sound well. Whew. After having my laptop's keyboard spoiled with chocolate milk, this was pretty worrying.
Our Amazon order arrived! We wanted short stories, so we got Saki/H. H. Munro, Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, and Woody Allen.
It is sad that literature in English is really hard to find in Mexico. So instead of browsing a nice bookstore you must pay Amazon through the nose in shipping charges, and then go pick up the package in a post office that is not very close to home. You could use their next-day or next-week service, but that gets absurdly expensive.
Called the camera shop; it will cost 600 pesos to fix my little Rollei 35SE. It's a bit steep, but much less than what a new, similar camera would cost.
The other day when we went to take the camera for repairs I asked if they had the little screws that were missing on the base plate of my Nikon F2. They did have them, and another similar screw was missing from the lens plate. The lady in the shop was nice enough to give us the screws for free and she event lent me a little screwdriver to put them in. I hope those screws fix the minimal light leaks that show up in the area of a negative's holes.
Took the violin back to its owner. Fortunately he was very understanding about the broken bridge, and said it was not a problem. We gave him the new bridge and he told us that the next potential buyer does know about violins and can re-set it for him.
Fixed two other EOG bugs. Bugzilla was down for a little while because the gnome.org machine was being hammered as...
GNOME 2.0 IS OUT! WOOOOOOO!
After lunch we went for some ice cream and then to the park near our house. It is good to relax and have a nice conversation after lunch while having some good ice cream and taking pictures of children playing in the park.
Oralia got a beautiful book on Monet's paintings, and The Who's Tommy. Woot.
Misha, my grandmother's lovely Persian cat.
Instructions for taking the picture above:
Go to your grandmother's house. Turn on your Coolpix 990. Manually set the white balance parameter to incandescent so that the camera will not take ages trying to figure that out by itself when you take the picture. To do this you navigate the menu system, two hierarchies down, and set the new value. Turn off the flash which will otherwise fire automatically since the light is low. To do this, press a little button two or three times. Guesstimate the distance to the cat because the camera cannot autofocus with that low-but-not-too-low light level (EV 6 at ISO 400). To set the focus distance, you hold down a little button while rotating an uncomfortably-placed wheel. You cannot do this without using both hands, and the focus distance changes by odd discrete chunks (0.5 m, 0.7 m, 1 m, 1.2 m, 1.3 m, 1.5 m, 2 m, etc.), rather than smoothly, so you pick whatever seems closest and pray that the depth of field will help you out. Then you set the aperture and shutter speed manually, so that the camera will not take ages trying to figure that out by itself when you take the picture. To do this, hold down a little button while rotating a wheel to set the camera in fully manual operation, then rotate the wheel without pressing the button to set the shutter speed, then press the button again, then rotate the wheel to set the aperture. Then, pick your picture size by zooming. To do this, press two little buttons to slowly rake the zoom backwards or forwards until you are happy with the composition. You then brace yourself on a chair because you don't have a tripod. Wait for your grandmother's Persian cat to pose in the appropriate position. Press the shutter and hope that the camera will take the picture right then rather than take N seconds to auto-compute and auto-set something.
Using a fully manual camera like the Nikon F2 is not a problem. You could take the same cat picture with it very easily, assuming that the cat is cooperating. But the F2 would not have made me spit out the rant above. It has no little buttons that you must hold down with one hand while you turn a little wheel with your other hand. Rather, it has a huge aperture ring around the lens barrel, a comfortable clicky dial for the shutter speed, a huge focusing ring right on the lens, and if you happen to have a zoom lens, you have another huge ring to adjust it. Even though you would have to adjust every single parameter by hand, it would take less time than on the Coolpix and it would be more comfortable. And if you have a newer camera than my F2 which is 25 or so years old, it is likely to have automatic features so that you can even forget about focusing or setting the exposure by hand. Just compose, zooming if you have a zoom lens, and press the shutter. Automatic cameras, especially SLRs, and even digital SLRs are amazingly smart at figuring things out instantaneously, and they will not take two or five seconds to take the picture after you press the shutter. If this technology has perfected itself over the last 20 years and autofocus and autoexposure are basically Solved Problems, why can't a non-pro, non-USD-$3,000 digital camera do it? Even cheap point-and-shoots can do it. They have simple user interfaces, not a million little buttons and awkward dials and multiple modes and shift keys.
After taking a few pictures of the cat in a similar position, he moved elsewhere and was being really cute and photogenic. I pointed the Coolpix at him again. Then the camera ran out of batteries.
It would be nice if someone came up with a digital camera that didn't cost a fortune and had the following user interface. A large ring around the lens to be used for focusing, and a ring behind it to set the aperture — make it have depth of field markings like real lenses do. A large and comfortable wheel in a comfortable position to zoom. A nice clicky dial or wheel in a comfortable position to set the shutter speed. A wheel to set the white balance or to select black and white — that one can be small since you don't adjust that all the time. And nice readouts in the viewfinder and monitor to tell you about the exposure.
And that would be all. What the manufacturer would spend in the nice and big controls, it would save in all the auto-focus, auto-white balance, auto-everything firmware. The camera would be nice and small and usable and fast as you would be doing all the thinking for it, rather than using some crappy software that they gave you because you are too poor to afford a fortune on a professional digital SLR.
I just cannot believe that camera makers have beautiful user interfaces in their point and shoot cameras and even their low-end SLRs (rangefinders are just plain simple and beautiful), and total pieces of unusable shit in their non-SLR digital cameras.
Yesterday we made vegetable soup and green enchiladas, and had my mother and grandmother over for lunch. Had a very nice time.
We went to watch Insomnia. Not bad, but we expected something better. However, it is good to see that Robin Williams is moving away from his extremely corny and downplayed "I'm such a good guy" characters.
Our weekend was sadly peppered with echoes and evolving thoughts from Friday's bad news, though. I do not want to write about it.
I've been listening to Shostakovich's 5th symphony all day long. Perhaps that indicates something about my mood.
On Wednesday we went to watch Bendito Infierno (why is it called something else on the IMDB)? Pretty good movie. It reminds me of Good Omens, but is not as funny/silly, rather fun in a different way. The use of many languages in the film is a very nice touch, with Spanish, English, French, and even Latin taking important parts. It is good to see that this is so much better than the ultra-pompous and senseless Nadie Hablará de Nosotras Cuando Hayamos Muerto, Díaz Yáñez's previous movie.
Made the Sawfish 2.0 and rep-gtk 0.16 release tarballs. It's easy, but I don't quite feel like doing this ever again. I do feel like hacking on Sawfish, as its Lisp is rather pretty, and making it more useful and simpler for GNOME. But making releases of something that does not even use automake is not fun.
Got some bad news.
Branched EOG for GNOME 2.0. Woooo!
Browsed some Beethoven scores for a change.
Got pissed off about my own inability to remember not to do things.
Took Oralia to the gyn. yesterday afternoon for a routine check-up. It is good to know that she is all right.
Afterwards, we went to get a new bridge for the violin. Luckily it was easy to find and cheap, too. In another store we found a nice glass/metal/wood container that we will use for sugar. You can never have too many pretty things for the kitchen.
We were too tired to go to the movies, so we just headed back home for sleep after some sushi.
Today morning the people next door to our office had a new water heater installed. This involved, what, like three hours of loud banging and hammering and whatnot. They didn't seem to have a hammer, so they just used a big-ass metal wrench, which made it all louder and clumsier.
Polyhedral mirrors are pretty!
We took Dan Mills for lunch at our favorite tacos al pastor place. A bunch of people from the office were there. It's good to have lunch with many of the hackers.
I screwed up. I was trying to tune the violin and the little bridge broke from the tension. I'll have to get a new one and put it in place.
This makes me feel really stupid.
It looks like the violin has not been played for a very long time and upon closer inspection it is not in a terribly good condition, but I didn't expect the bridge to fucking break. Maybe it had got caught with one of the strings, which pulled it when I tried to tune it. Who knows.
What worries me is that the violin is not ours yet; it is just borrowed. I feel stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid.
Last night's rehearsal was so-so. We played all the pieces in the same order as the concert, but everyone, including myself, was somewhat spaced out. Charly is having problems with his girlfriend's parents, Leo is tense because of his ill grandmother, Chucho is always too busy, and I was worried about the violin. We didn't manage to do any useful improvisation or composition work. Plus, it seemed like we took an overly long time in setting things up and the sound was never quite right, either too loud or too soft or too unreliable. And then the electric bass or its cables started picking up some radio station, and it went all the way through the console and up to the speakers. So everything sounded terrible.
Saturday: We celebrated Oralia's father's birthday with some good chocolate cake and tea, and then we left for Cuernavaca during the night. Driving at night is very pleasant, with no cars at all in the highway and everything surrounded by trees and forest.
Sunday: Slept until late in Cuernavaca. Went for tlacoyos for breakfast at the marketplace. Later, ate some good fondue while idling around on the hammock. Did our best not to do anything and just enjoy the nice weather. We picked up fruit from the trees in the garden, a bunch of limes and some oranges, but the avocados were not quite ripe yet. The fruit trees in Cuernavaca have changed slowly since I was a kid; then it was limes, mandarins, guavas, nísperos and chayotes, and now it is limes, oranges, mandarins, and avocados. Some of older trees have died, and others, like the guava tree, are still alive but will not bear fruit any more.
In the evening we had some really good garlic chicken that Hugo gave us on Saturday. After that, we took a shower, packed our stuff and drove back to Mexico City, again with no traffic at all. The trip was marvelously relaxing.
It was also father's day, so I phoned my dad from Cuernavaca. I'll bring him some of the limes we picked up.
We set things up to watch the Mexico/USA game, but we just fell asleep.
Today: Mexico lost 0-2. Sucks. I remember when the USA was about the only country that didn't play soccer.
Today I had to debug bonobo-mdi-session.c. It saves the session information as N gnome-config keys, where N = num_documents * num_windows * num_views. When reading the session, it slurps those in creating three hash tables, and then tries to sort out the whole 3D mess.
However, views are bound to windows, so there's no reason to hash them — that's one dimension less. The obvious serialization would then be:
E.g. start at the root and serialize the state tree. Instead, bonobo-mdi-session stores the transpose of all that and tries to rebuild its state from the leaves upwards. This makes it drown in a sea of combinatiorial explosion, it complicates the code unnecessarily, and it pisses me off.
ESR looks at porn and likes some of it.
Like any good scientist, I proceeded to do some research. I surfed to a well-known porn index site and random-sampled the content[...]
This makes my day.
The release team has not answered my request for a commit yet. Requiring patch approval is a good thing, but it sucks when it takes time to get an answer. Not that I would be any better in replying quickly, though.
Mexico/Italy match, 1-1. Mexico played pretty well. But during the last five minutes of the game, none of the teams did absolutely anything. They just passed the ball around, waiting for the game to end. Eventually it looked like the referee got fed up and just whistled to end the game.
The game started at 6:30 in the morning, so I'm pretty sleepy.
We went to get an indoors antenna for the TV so that we could watch tomorrow's Mexico/Italy match. The antenna sucks. It is not much better than the dinky aerial supplied with the TV. So we'll watch the game at Oralia's parents' house.
We have not got cable yet because it is expensive-ish and we don't watch much TV, if at all, anyways. Maybe a traditional rooftop aerial is what we need.
We had breaded fish for lunch. With some drops of lime, it is delicious. Also had a nopales salad with diced tomatoes, oregano, and lime. Mmmmm.
Some debugging action. The remaining stuff is either too complex to do for 2.0.x or the bugs just do not provide enough details.
One of Oralia's classmates is selling an old violin. He lent it to us so that we can figure out whether it is good or not. I'll ask my friend Pedro or some other violinist, as I have no idea of how to tell a good violin from a bad one.
We watched The Curse of the Jade Scorpion in the evening. It is not one of Woody Allen's best, but it was a lot of fun anyways. The theater people never managed to focus the film correctly, though, even after I told them that it was wrong. And then one of the speakers broke. Bluh.
I can't find my favorite fountain pen. If it is lost, I will be pissed.
Thanks to Jens, my hero, EOG 1.0 hit the streets today. Woooooo!
These days our office kitten (Georgette/Pshhhht/your-favorite-name-here) likes to sit on the desk to my right, by the window, where there is sunlight during the afternoon. It is about the only time of the day when she'll be quiet and well-behaved.
However, I'm allergic to cats. I was sneezing through all the afternoon...
Listened to David Bowie's Outside very loudly. This always puts me in a good mood.
Managed to create a "wind" sound on the S80. It turns out that binding the modulation wheel to the cutoff frequency only creates a control set rather than applying it immediately to the sound. After that you have to bias down the sound's base cutoff frequency so that the parameter from the modulation wheel takes effect. Every control parameter works that way; the confusing thing is that it's not obvious where the sound's base parameters are so that you can bias them down to make the controllers take effect.
When I did that initially, the sound was obscenely loud when the cutoff frequency was high. So I defined a second control set that reduces the volume a bit as the cutoff frequency rises. Now it is nice. I can hit a key near the first control slider and keep it pressed down (which key you press doesn't actually matter, as it is all white noise), and then use the other fingers on that hand to move the slider, which controls volume, and my other hand to tweak the modulation wheel for the cutoff frequency.
Using a synthesizer this way is a lot different from "simply" playing a piano. There is more physical stuff to do, and you need to learn different ways of coordination. I suppose it is the same thing for organists who must actually play a voice with the pedals at the same time as they play on the keyboard.
Last night we wanted to watch the Mexico-Ecuador match, but we fell asleep too early. Mexico won, so that's good :)
We went to Coyoacán to have breakfast at the usual barbacoa place. Mmmmmm. Went for a coffee and a nice walk afterwards.
Back home for a midday nap. Lunch at El Negro, good as always. Then we went near downtown for a fantastic photographic exhibition, "The Earth from Above" by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. The pictures were huge, 1-meter prints hung on the exterior railings of Chapultepec park by Reforma avenue. It is great to see such great pictures out of doors; it feels spacious and relaxed. This exhibition seems to be circling the world, so go see it if it gets set up near you.
It is kind of sad to know that Corbis owns the images. I can just picture Bill Gates thumbing through the original slides and it makes me cringe.
Started re-reading Gibbon. I didn't pay much attention the first time I read the first book, and completely skipped the introduction that time. Now I am reading it properly, and indeed the context of Gibbon's life that appears in the introduction is very interesting.
Lunch at Oralia's parents' house. We had tacos dorados, all delicious. Then, Oralia's father brought out his old and beautiful Kodak 8mm movie projector and showed us some reels of Oralia and her brothers when they were small kids. This was *very* interesting. The movie projector is a beautifully simple machine; it gave me the same warm and fuzzy feeling as a completely mechanical photographic camera. I am amazed that these old reels hold up so well; they are more than twenty years old and they still look great. I wonder how many magnetic tapes will work well in twenty years.
Afterwards, we went to visit my mother, brother, and grandmother. We left rather soon as we wanted to go to the movies, but all the last shows had already started by the time we arrived to the theater. I wish they still did midnight shows.
Bad bad bad:
Nautilus does not track pointer motion events when you are using the rubberband rectangle to select icons. Rather, it installs a 10 millisecond timer and redraws if needed.
The icon view does not use the antialiased canvas. I don't think it is so buggy that it could not be used, but whatever. Instead, it implements its own rectangle item which it uses for rubberband selection. If you have XRender it composites a rectangle on top of the canvas' drawable. If you don't have XRender, it uses gdk_pixbuf_render_to_drawable_alpha(), which does get the image from the X server, demangles it, composites the pixbufs, and sends the whole mess back to the server.
No wonder things are so slow. Fortunately, this looks like a place where we could do many cool and not very hard optimizations — possibly a weekend project.
Fixed an alignment issue in the BMP loader for gdk-pixbuf. Cute.
Dave gets all my sympathy.
In the evening, Oralia went to visit Maru and Hans Petter at their home, and I joined in later. Joakim eventually dropped in, and we had a nice conversation about the state of GNOME and stuff.
Unproductive debugging today; applied one or two patches and that was it.
Scrambled to finish my slides. Had a wonderfully delicious lunch of breaded veal and guacamole with nopales. Rushed to school.
I gave a talk similar to the GUADEC one on how to write a model/view component for Evolution. The usual people seemed interested. It was good to see Elisa and Paco again. It seems they want to hack on GNOME and would like to have a web page where they can see what jobs need to be done, so resurrecting the to-do list may not be a bad idea. It needs to be made more useful and up to date, anyways.
I was very happy to visit my school again. Registration for exams is during the first week of July, so I should be going there again.
In the evening, I picked up Oralia from her English class and we went home. Had a nice fondue dinner, nice because of the extremely pleasant conversation but not nice because of the fondue, which was not as good as we expected. It seems that with ready-to-melt fondue you do get what you pay for :(
Listened to lots of John Coltrane and Duke Ellington. Drank lots of chai. Sneezed a lot due to the kitten. Fixed a number of bugs, the large majority of which were bugs that a "safe" language would have caught ages ago (reads past array bounds, invocating methods on dead objects, blah blah), rather than logic bugs.
Listened to Joaquín Turina's Sanlúcar de Barrameda while following the score. I am not going to be able to play this for a long time. Still, the chord progressions are simple and interesting. I may grab some ideas for our band. Fixed a GtkHTML Nautilus view bug. GtkHTML2 is in a sad state.
Then again, Mozilla 1.0 was released today. The mission from god is not over yet, but this is a really important milestone. There is much rejoicing.
Listened to 16th century vihuela music by Luys de Narváez, from one of the CDs we got in Seville. It must be interesting to decipher the old, numbered scores.
Nat gets all the cool toys.
Yesterday Oralia's mother came by and helped her make our dinner, so we had some delicious pollo en mole and arroz rojo while watching part of Almost Famous. We both love this movie.
Tried to drill a hole in the ceiling by the fridge and the plants to hang a pot for the little plant that Maru gave us. I don't know if I hit a metal bar or something, because even the mighty hammer-drill will *just* *not* go through. Oralia is using her mad crochet hook skills to make the holder for the pot, so it is going to look very pretty, ahem, if I manage to drill the stupid hole.
We had our first concert last night! At least it was the first for me, as the rest of the band had already given many presentations with the previous keyboardist in the past.
We arrived to La Corte Final early, at around 18:00, and began setting up the instruments, speakers, console, cables, blah blah. Chucho, our bass player, did most of the sound check work, as he Knows How Things Work. Now I understand why a sound check takes so much time. You have to adjust the console for each of the instruments times the number of speakers, and then try all the instruments together.
While Chucho, Charly and Leo were adjusting their instruments and speakers, I took care of tweaking some of the synth's sounds so that they would be good for our setup. Our beloved cello marcato sound needed more attack and a bit more decay, some of the analog brass sounds needed more brilliance, etc. Unfortunately I did not have time to make up a "wind" sound for one of the songs, so we had to do without it.
Oralia arrived at about 21:30, and we spent some time together on the table reserved for the band. It was very relaxing for me to be together.
Hans Petter and Maru arrived a bit after that. We sat them at our table and chatted for a bit. After that, many people started arriving to the restaurant, and it was rather packed. I saw Miguel, Arturo, Mancha, and a little time after that Luis dropped by.
We started the concert at around 22:00. I was pretty nervous. We played the "punchiest" piece from the new-and-as-yet-unrecorded album. I was tense, but rather relieved by the end of the song --- things were sounding okay and people seemed to be happy. Then we played the four songs from La Soledad de las Sombras, the band's first CD. People already knew those songs, and it seems like they enjoyed the subtle changes we have made to them --- richer harmonies, better solo parts, better instrumentation. Although I am not as experienced with the synth as the previous keyboard player was, it sounded reasonably good. I just wish it were easier to bind knobs and sliders to control parameters on the S80.
There is a song from the old album with an extended piano solo part, which is supposed to be an improvisation over a simple harmony. I was pretty nervous about it, but it turned out okay. This is the first time I have played in public and not just as "the family member who plays the piano".
After the four older songs, we played two of the new ones. I enjoy the new songs a lot more than the older ones, which are rather simple and filled with too many repetitive riffs to my liking. The new ones are more "composed" and playing them is more challenging, but in a good/fun way. The concert ended, but naturally we had a planned encore, another song from the new album.
This being my first public performance, there are some interesting things I noted. Everyone in the band, myself included, made mistakes and performance screw-ups. However, they were really minor and the audience enjoyed the concert, especially the band's old fans. It will be interesting to do a post-mortem on the concert during the next rehearsal.
After it ended, I went to say hi to my friends. Luis was there as well as Paco and Gina, Javier O., Adrián, and Javier G. and Izumi --- they are my high school friends and I didn't expect them to be there. Seeing them together made me really happy. Miguel, Mancha, and Arturo were in another table. The rest of the restaurant was packed with the band's friends and older fans.
People started leaving, and we were left with the really tedious task of disassembling the equipment, loading it into the cars, blah blah. This took an unpleasantly long amount of time, and we were finally home by 03:00.
Today we watched Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. Fun; better than I expected. Of course the best food to have while you are watching a movie is fondue, and we did just that.
Go backward in time to May 2002.Federico Mena-Quintero <email@example.com> Wed 2002/Aug/14 11:41:24 CDT