Go forward in time to January 2003.
Did a little Christmas shopping in the morning, when it is not so crowded.
Released Gdk-pixbuf 0.22.0 "Carousing Penguin"; now we can load broken GifBuilder images correctly.
Fixed a gdk-pixbuf quasi-bug that made it bail out on animated GIFs with frames that are not fully contained within the base image's bounding box. Now Larry's penguin animation loads just fine in Evolution. This is the first time I have actually read the GIF loader code, and it's not as bad as the initial comments may lead you to think...
My machine's power supply fan seems to be flaky. It will not start rotating when you turn the machine on unless you give it a little help with a screwdriver. This sucks.
Oralia made fruit punch! We served two large mugs for ourselves, spiked them a bit, and enjoyed the punch while watching Annie Hall.
Had a really nice surprise today. I cut&pasted the URL for an Excel spreadsheet into Galeon. Galeon then downloaded the file and managed to automagically embed a Gnumeric component inside it, displaying the spreadsheet.
I didn't know we were at this point of integration yet, which is truly nice.
Ever wanted to participate in a totally useless campaign?
Today I ditched my no-name superlight keyboard for a badass, heavy, full-key-travel keyboard from one of the HP machines downstairs. It reminds me of the best keyboard ever, the one that came with the Alpha box that we used to have at RHAD Labs. Typing is much more pleasant now; keys have good resistance but then they have a nice quiet snap when you release them. The keyboard is also much heavier than the one I was using, which makes it not prone to sliding all over the desk.
Thursday: Worked furiously on my tutorial in the morning while having breakfast at the hotel; they have really good picadas there. Presented the tutorial starting at noon, and it was pretty successful, which made me happy. People asked good questions and they did seem to understand how to build a component for Evolution. I will be putting it up for download soon when I add some polish and documentation to it.
After the tutorial there was a great surprise for me as Oralia arrived unexpectedly; originally the plan was that she would arrive in the evening and I would pick her up at the bus station. However, she took an early bus ride and arrived in the afternoon and got to the hotel by herself. This made me very happy, as I was missing her a lot.
There was a talk by Mary Ann Fisher from IBM, who is the Linux Program Director for the public sector there. It was a very interesting talk about what governments look for in free software. I should be looking more into this.
I took Oralia for dinner to La Parroquia and we had chilpachole de jaiba, or crabmeat soup, and fish baked with green salsa. Both were very good. We then had a nice walk back to the hotel along the waterfront.
Friday: We woke up later than expected and went for breakfast. Oralia tasted the wonders of picadas with scrambled eggs and I had huevos tirados, or eggs scrambled with refried beans. We then went to see Alta Gracia, the sister of one of Oralia's friends. She is a 79-year old woman who looks like she is 60, and she lives in a small old house near downtown Veracruz.
We went back to the hotel some time after that and I went into the discussion session for E-México. A branch of the government wants to install Internet kiosks in public libraries and such, and to have a way for the kiosks to access several government databases. There was a lot of pointless discussion, mainly from people who wanted to come out of the session with a job in hand. There was useless talk of "but that is trivial, you just install Linux on a machine and set it up with a web browser" — the government really doesn't care about that; they want a drop-in solution with no technical bullshit or holy wars. Eventually I volunteered to make a list of places in the Mexican government where free software has been used successfully to solve problems; I will be talking to several friends who have been involved.
Saturday: After checking out of the hotel and getting breakfast we left most of our bags at Alta Gracia's house, who kindly kept them for us. Then we could be touristing around lightly. We first went to the bus station to get our return tickets, and it was very crowded. Then we went to the city's aquarium, which is really nice. One of the sharks in the biggest water tank was missing half of her tail.
In the evening we got somewhat ripped off at the marketplace, where we wanted to have a seafood dinner. We had shrimp and octopus cocktails but there was more onion and avocado to the cocktails than meat itself. We complained but the I-don't-give-a-fuck-mooded waiter just told us that we should have asked for meat only if we wanted it. Whatever.
The bus ride back to Mexico City was uncomfortable. The driver was going a bit too fast for my taste, and something must have been wrong with the suspension of the bus, as it was wobbling in a rather odd way.
It's good to be home again.
The bus ride to Veracruz was uneventful and half an hour shorter than I expected. Even though it was not one of the super-luxury buses — tickets were sold out for those — it was pretty comfortable. Once in Veracruz I took a cab to the hotel and got there at about 5:30 in the morning. Slept for a bit, then woke up early for the conference registration.
Found Arturo, Salvador, Tigrux, and other people there. After registering and going to Bdale's conference on Debian, Arturo and myself went to have breakfast at La Parroquia, a famous and big cafe in Veracruz that overlooks the big industrial piers. I had a wonderful picada with scrambled eggs and a good coffee. Arturo showed me his new ultra-tiny digital camera, which is small enough to act as a keychain. We then returned to the hotel, we went into Salvador's talk on advanced Perl — I sat in the back, plugged my machine, and worked on my tutorial for tomorrow while listening to Shostakovich's 4th string quartet.
At lunchtime Salvador invited Jergas and myself to a really good seafood restaurant. I had jaibas enchipotladas, or crab in chipotle sauce, which you have to peel by hand. It is a lot of fun to eat and it was delicious. We then went back to the hotel and I took a little nap. When I woke up I worked on my tutorial some more and then went back to La Parroquia for dinner, where I had frijoles a la veracruzana. I wish Oralia were here right now.
Last Wednesday evening my mother was the victim of yet another "express kidnapping" in Mexico City. As she was arriving home and about to open the garage door, two men came out from hiding behind a couple of trees by the house and made her climb back into the car, then drove her away. They blindfolded her and drove to a location that my mother could not identify, took her out of the car, took the things inside her purse, and put her inside the trunk of the car. Then they drove off again and dropped my mother off somewhere in the middle of the highway to Cuernavaca. They took the car with them.
When the men were abducting her my brother was inside the house and heard the screaming. He quickly went outside and saw my mother's car as it was turning around to flee with three people inside. He then called the police and then called us. Oralia's brother is the Director of Crisis Management in the police, that is, he is the person who negotiates with kidnappers. He was extremely helpful and kind to us; he reassured our family and friends as he knew exactly what to do: we had to wait until we got a call, and he knew right away that things looked like an express kidnapping, not a "real" kidnapping.
After being dropped off, my mother walked along the highway for a short distance up to a nearby factory, and asked two kind men two let her use the telephone. She called my brother at home; by then we were all there and so we drove to the highway to pick her up. Afterwards we took her to the police station at the local government office to make her statement. We spent the whole night there, but fortunately the officers were very helpful.
Thankfully, my mother was unharmed. The robbers just used her credit cards to widthdraw some money from bank machines and then they stole her car.
This incident is making me reconsider many things. About two years ago I was strongly and vocally opposed to making my mother's street controlled-access — why should I need permission to get into the street where I live? Some months ago the neighbors got into an argument about whether everyone was paying their fees for the watchmen's salaries, so they opened up the street again. Having the watchmen there would have made things harder for the kidnappers. Also, I advocated humane treatment of prisoners; now I want these people to be beaten up. I was afraid of cell phones with GPS units in them; they would have been very helpful in this case.
This is the first time I have been actually afraid of living in Mexico City.
Tonight I am taking a bus to Veracruz to go to the GNU/Linux Congress there, where I'll be giving a nifty tutorial on how to write a text-notes component for Evolution.
Go backward in time to November 2002.Federico Mena-Quintero <email@example.com> Mon 2003/Feb/10 10:54:31 CST