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
Prodded mail, back into the bowels of PackageKit, seemingly
zypper::sat::WhatProvides returns packages in a random
order, and we're assuming the system installed ones always come
first - silly; but explains some apparent non-determinism. Wow - a
bug that requires some real algorithmic thought.
Pleased to see the Java / gtk+ file-selector patch
get into jdk7 - now I just need to find an evening to back-port &
test it; neato.
Great to see Lennart's Rethinking PID 1
really excited by the prospect of getting a new PID 1 - a really sexy
new design; As / when PackageKit is nailed, I must check it out. Also
a good contributor
policy: "We value your contributions and hence do not require
copyright assignment ".
Into Cambridge for dinner with Christian, really interesting
to catch up with him, back on the last train, bed late.
Up early; pleased to see the interesting technologies that
Palm created picked up by a great company like HP - hopefully that
means lots more Linux phone goodness.
More digging at bugs, and libzypp / PackageKit. Clarity.
Merged some evolution bug fixes, started reading PackageKit, with
some kind help from Richard Hughes.
Down for lunch to find M's friend Grace; Lydia popped
past to show us her fine new pottery, and Sandy dropped in; fun.
Back to PackageKit. Dear lazyweb - is it only me that sees
impossible things (not) happening with
dbus-monitor --system ?
I expect to see all IPC on the system bus as text on the console, but I
appear to miss messages - particularly PackageKit ones, in an unfortunate
Out to cell group.
To work; mail chew - ever more E-mail, I must be
sending too much (or something). Spent much of the morning
talking with Kay Sievers - interesting fellow.
Bug review; lots of bugs. Lunch. Taking a handy
business-card I reviewed the fluff-quotient of my keyboards
near-to-hand. Of course, testing disturbs the results - but
presumably by measuring the inner-diameter of the ball of
grey fluff you can extract by sliding the business car
across you can detect how long the keyboard has been in
active use - or does use disperse dust somewhat ? hmm.
Dug at zypper issues. Dinner, call with Kendy & co.
Janice and Lydia around to meet with J. - pottered around
finishing the mechanical construction of my printer; seemingly
the steppers now move all the axis - but will they have enough
torque to do so for real ? switched to the electronics and
software packaging piece. Good to have a netbook to hand for
Off to visit the Dentist - apparently perfect teeth
(apart from all the existing damage), J. (who has far more
perfect teeth) scheduled for remediation. M. terrified of even
sitting in the chair - why ?
Prodded the ODF converter hysteria / hype - why
anyone would want to install most of OpenOffice, compiled as
a plugin - when they could easily install all of OpenOffice
(for free), and get perfect high-fidelity ODF file exchange,
with exactly the same quality MS interoperability I have no
idea. More interesting, are the conspiracy theories, which are
presumably fueled by considerable opacity around such deals. This The
Standards Blog - has this to say:
Back then, Sun was walking an interesting line: under a court
settlement it was not free to openly criticize Microsoft about OOXML,
but behind the scenes it was doing a lot to support ODF.
I assume this is some more-hypothetical-than-real out-of-court
settlement; either way I find it hard to believe that Sun would
formally constrain their public position on a standard; moreover
they had (AFAIR) a reasonably enlightened view on blogging your
personal views, at least in some areas of the company. Novell
similarly may have a position you disagree with on OOXML - but
that view is not for sale.
Call with Gary & Joey; sync with Aaron, chat with
Srini. One-to-one with Jared, core-team meeting. Sent my LXF
Harrowing discovery of a number of purloined items
squirreled away in a daughter's cupboard; upsetting indeed -
it is an horrible thing to spend one's time devising a
suitably memorable punishment.
Tried out some stepper-motor gears made of panel
pins, in holes drilled through some spare kitchen chopping
board made of nylon. Seems like a near perfect material for
the job; 'drifts' onto the spindle wonderfully; pleasingly
rigid; good stuff.
Dropped the kids to school, dug at bugzilla and E-mail.
Good to see Nat's Everyone
dials in blog - good sense written well.
Really interested to see The
IP implications of low-cost 3D printing published. I was
unaware of the existing, relative sanity of the law in the UK in
this area: still perhaps that is to be expected, cf. non-patentability
of Software / Business Process. Hopefully the US is similar, without
some "make your own cookie-cutter at your peril !" patent
policy on general objects.
Great to see that Federico tracked down and fixed the
gconf-dbus bug with missing notifications that was hurting
Evolution on MeeGo, nice work; fixed a nasty in the GConf
patch around lists; much better. Got a bus-load of excellent
bootchart2 fixes from Kel Modderman - great stuff.
Lunch. Prodded at LXF column vaguely. My machine hangs
make update-po in Evolution - nice,
the thermal management / software CPU throttling problems of
yester-year return (it seems); with a nearby desk fan - life
is better. Surely the problem is not sufficiently difficult
that we really need to take 10 CPU minutes to crunch it ? or
is it ? OpenOffice's help translation takes a similar time.
Claire came over after dinner, great to catch up with
her, and some of her interesting medical engineering problems.
Up early, dealt with babes, helped E. and N. to climb
up and down a ladder in the workshop (hours of fun), while
trying to perforate some alumininum plate suitably for a gear.
To Church, tried to reconcile E. to the fact that it
was not completely necessary to have a Father to cling to at
all times while in the creche - somewhat un-successfully. Hey ho.
Back for a soupy lunch; and off to Dee's baptism,
lovely to have another lovely elderly lady baptised into the
fellowship. Fed everyone lemon-cake, and set off back home.
Played in the garden, with Mary Rogers and the babes;
Tea, put the babes to bed.
Watched Avatar (2D) "Out-of-focus film of the
year!" with a fair host of the church crew; sadly
disappointed in my desire to actually see much of the scenery
/ vistas. It's horrible to imagine all the CPU rendering that
is then just thrown away with some ridiculous blur effect.
Further amused by the tree-hugging pantheist / animist theology.
Perhaps one of the supreme ironies of the ending of this persuit
of authenticity or 'living in tune with nature' - is the
the real world reality of the final scene. Here actor Sam
Worthington gets strongly deprecated by the digital machine:
there is no real need to have a specific human actor for the
Up late-ish; off to try to buy potatoes, and given
their absence in the market, returned - to discover a JW doing his
door-knocking best. Invited in, glass of water, and had a most
interesting conversation. Is the Bible gobbledygook ? (a somewhat
concerningly low view of scripture)
- perhaps that is why it is vital to have pamphlets packed with
banal, lead questions, based on tiny de-contextualised fragment
of scripture ? The Trinity may be obviously wrong because it
is illogical, but if you've never heard of the Omnipotence
Paradox perhaps your adversion to philosophy needs tuning ?
Then the shamefully spurious endoresments of the unpleasant
sectarian bias in their translation; anyhow - nice chap.
Back to making some gears - with the accurate drawings,
managed to knock up the two main drive pulleys, with suitable
pulley-rims (as a bonus feature) - from panel pins driven
through ply-wood disks. Affixed, and looking really good - the
stepper motors present a more difficult fixing problem though.
Hannah came over to paint us, good to see her; and popped
over to Solomon & Peace's to get a new contract signed. Back
for dinner, popped the babes to bed, early night.
Poked mail, set too at Evolution bug fixing. Slogged
away at packaging, and digging at the alarm pieces. Found
yet another victim of not initializing dbus threading : why.
does dbus not even try to warn you in this case ?
Grazed on bugs variously, chat with Rob McQ. worked
out which repositories to push stuff to; etc. Bruce & Anne
came over for lunch.
J. out with friends in the evening, so contemplated
gears at some considerable length. Sadly the postal service (UPS
in this case) appears incapable of getting small bits of plastic
from the US to the UK in under a month. Re-discovered some Acrylic
rod lying around in the shed, which the timing belt wrapped
around perfectly. Discovered some panel pins made quite good
gear teeth. After some hours found out that the belt teeth only
match up when over-wrapped helically - bother. Switched tack, and
got an accurate to-size print-out of the gearing underway.
Worked on a great Samsung bug - they have a really excellent
quality control process. As part of that they power off the machine
aggressively, at random points, seemingly under load. Using ext3 with
writeback ordering we ended up with an exciting
~/gconfd/saved_state file - packed full of random disk
blocks: "I wondered where that inkscape SVG went to" eg. neato.
Dalibor pointed out that JNA
is the best answer for clean C# like native invocation in Java; must
look into it.
Committed misc. gconfd / ORBit2 fixes for IOR handling.
Conference call with Michael, Luke & Stefan. Cell group in
Read mail; why is it that two bugs that have malingered
for nearly a decade in libbonobo* get filed & fixed now: odd.
Call from a friend: Chris Brighty - encouragingly about getting
his software working on some HP / Linux system - hopefully SUSE;
Fixed a disappearing E-table titles nasty with Evo; it
seems there is a captive gtk+ label used in there to get a style
gc, to render with: retro.
More packaging fun. John Hummerson around for dinner.
Poked at the reprap software, all written in Java it seems
(except for various C tools like gcc being used behind the scenes).
Dug into trying to fix the (unutterably awful) file
dialogs as used in the reprap (and arduino) software. Turns out
they are using some Java thing (nurgh), looked at making them
using gtk+ directly instead.
Read about JNI
wow ! what an horrendous failure compared to the trivial
[DllExport()] annotations in C#, I can't face
using that; there must be a better way.
Poked at ArtOfIllusion, which at least seems to integrate
with the gtk+ file-selector - apparently using a deprecated widget;
or does it ? pmap shows gtk+ loaded, what loads it ? Seemingly it
uses 'buoy' for some
pieces, but apparently that just wraps Swing's JFileChooser. Perhaps
Swing can do the native selector right (for some old value of 'right').
Tried to use
javap - oh dear; took me ten
goes, three straces, four
--help and two man page
reads to get it to disassemble a simple class file.
Tried openJDK 1.6.2 to see if it fixed it; apparently this
is still open; though there is at least some code somewhere
which look like the long term solution.
Eighth wedding anniversary - whoot; Christian is stuck
in the US, so I can go out with the lady tonight - nice.
Prodded the Novell Pulse preview; web everything. Tried
to grok some new OpenGL
tutorial - unfortunately scuppered either by a lack of OpenGL 2.0,
or a localised lack of understanding. Pleased to discover that
ssh provides a dumb SOCKS
Fixed a number of Evo Express bugs, horriby burned finger
no longer painful to type with - improving productivity. Fine
lunch - with home-made meringue nests & strawberries.
Watched the Patent
Absurdity video - very much to be recommended. How can Bilski's
mate be called 'RAND' - marvelous.
More digging out of the mail queue, and call with Guy.
Mary Rogers arrived to baby-sit. Out into town with the wifelet -
met Pete & Jackie by chance on the way, popped in for a pint
with them; Pizza and back - eight years and climbing.
All this talk of the terrifying dangers of volcanic ash
make me wonder how long it will be before some crazy person weaponizes
this. If all it takes is trailing some glassy aerosol across the
sky to destroy your adversaries high-tech, but air-cooled jet
engines - what price air supremacy ? Of course the equivalent from
the last centuary would probably be stocking up on the 'wrong
kind of leaves' to put on opponent's railway lines.
Checked in a new Evo express snapshot with tons of bug
fixes; triaged bugs, tried to update the (non-responding) wiki.
Worked late, while J. had a Pregnancy CC meeting. Call with
Federico. Prodded my nichrome wire, managed to get a 6 Ohm length
- but it's rather long to wrap around a radio arial.
Up early, fed and clothed (still exhausted from Friday)
babes. NCC, Tony speaking on Jesus the Good Shepherd.
Back for lunch with Sandy, talked to her, tried to
arbitrate between innumerable children's squabbles. Played with
stepper motor drivers and got the opto-endstop identified and
setup correctly. Children fascinated by the flashing LEDs, and
pressing buttons on the computer to move the motor - seemingly
Trying various ways of making the required gearing for
the stepper motors; was convinced that adding some bolts to a
mudguard washer might do it. A victim of an extremely blunt
drill, and a truly amazing blistering burn from touching the
washer afterwards - mental note: friction, it makes things hot.
Dinner. Listened to Gordon sermon, bed early.
Mini lie-in; up & off to collect cable delivery I
missed yestreday from the DHL centre. Back home, made up some
cables, got everything connected up. Struggled with a mess of
un-packaged Java software, urk.
Got strange errors left and right:
Eventually discovered that means that (dumbly) I had
forgotten that in the absence of any better silk-screen indication
a square solder-pad indicates pin-1, and my USB->TTL connector
had the wrong polarity; bingo - a programmed device.
avrdude: stk500_getsync(): not in sync: resp=0xff
avrdude: stk500_disable(): protocol error, expect=0x14, resp=0xf5
Out in the evening for dinner with Laura &
Creighton, most relaxing and pleasant.
Up early, packed people and picnic, drove to Wicksteed for
a fun day of roller-coastering, sliding, driving dodgems and
various other forms of buffeting the body. Much fun had by all
Fish and chips for exhausted babes in the car on the way
back. Packed everyone to bed, and played with the reprap electronics,
made up a few cables, having made a crimping tool from some bits of
old tin. Got some of the avr toolchain pieces installed from the
Worked variously; misc. Evo fixes, a day of endless
meetings, customer and otherwise.
Cell group social in the evening, good to see everyone.
Alba stuck in the US by ash hysteria it seems. Pleased to see
work in Afghanistan in the local paper.
After a depressing experience with the US Post Office
yesterday: amazingly they hand out tracking numbers which cannot
be used to track packages (at all): what staggering genius ! Their
web-page doesn't mention this though, and just points the finger at
the (blameless) vendor, claiming that they havn't given them the
pkg yet. Anyhow - today my RepRap electronics arrived, paid some
exhorbitant customs fee, requires some assembly tonight.
It seems Taras had some great success with the
code in gcc, which is encouraging - cool as the icegrind work is.
And glad to hear he is having the time and inclination to encourage
the world of kernel / linker readahead to improve - clearly the
patched openSUSE glibc which really helps there masked that
somewhat for me.
Lunch. Meeting wrt. evo express. Pleased to see Simon
on top-form as normal, discussing the UK election
Amused by David Cameron's advocacy, though I will most likely
vote Conservative, I was amused by the somewhat messianic An invitation to
join the government of Britain. The overlap between political
and religious themes is a fascinating one O'Shaughnessy interested
me in at Cambridge. I should really buy and read The idea of
political marketing - but for my ongoing failure to get enough
time away from the Economist to finish Dante.
To work, chewed on mail; merged misc. patches and
tagged a bootchart2-0.1.0. Dug out and filed a few batches
An afternoon of conference calls, staff meetings
and the like. Prodded at some MBR assembler in the
background, it seems I omitted to setup
correctly before chain-loading, bother.
I have always been comforted about the general state of
my clothing by the old chestnut about Ambulance drivers knowing
an Aristocratic victim instantly by the parlous state of their
underwear. Imagine my shock in reading about the sad death of Eugène_Terre
(a filthy racist) that he wore perforated green underwear (clearly
a key issue) - prompting a re-think of my sartorial strategy.
Whatever you think about IBM's right to sue anyone, at
any time, for anything, it may be rather a shame (or a good thing if
they drop the platform ?) for Debian. Last I heard, the absence of
reasonably priced and accessible s390 hardware made it necessary to use Hercules
to test and develop Debian packages: or at least to fix build
breakages there. I also, somewhat boggle at Pamela's
sudden enthusiasm for software patent threats: as long as they are
against 'bad' (ie. with some tenuous? Microsoft connection) guys.
Personally I have sympathy -even- for Microsoft when they are hit once
again by some patent troll for an exhorbitant sum, and have to make some
ridiculous change to remove some stunningly obvious feature - and wonder
why they keep propping up this broken system. When an open-source (though
I agree the QPL is really pushing the limits) project is under threat
surely our sympathies lie somewhere obvious ?
Triaged E-mail. Clarity. Lunch. Finally began to grasp my
way to more of a comprehending revulsion of the horrible inadequacies
git rebase when mixed with
Hopefully Federico, who most probably can clearly articulate
the problem will do so somewhere so it might get improved.
Call with JP, sent status report. Dinner, put babes to bed
and read stories. Tested, and submitted new Evo. package - why is
it that you always find lots more interesting problems just before
a deadline ?
Up early, tended babes while J. slept. Off to NCC,
J. waylaid for the service; John H. preached on John 14. E.
managed to cope in creche without excessive separation anxiety
which was encouraging.
Back for a light ('Special Sunday' - ie. with crisps
& juice) lunch while J. took N. to a party. Put E. to bed,
and played in the garden with them.
J. back; cut angle-iron to length for a shelving
bracket for the larder, and had an initially frustrating time
with the MIG welder from Bruce. Eventually discovered the
groove in the wire
feed roller was offset from the wire liner causing kinks
and jamming inside the feed, and that the roll was selectively
rusty at the top (lubricating?) the rollers. New wire, and
adjusted roller, and the arc-eye potential was all go.
Eventually managed to get it calibrated reasonably enough
to produce a good weld: at the cost of lots of angle-grinding.
Which makes me wonder - could Extreme Angle-Ironing be
the next big thing ? welding during free-fall or somesuch.
John, Martin, Zoe & Patrick over in the evening
for a movie: watched the Spiderwick Chronicles, and
discussed marriage; bed late.
Up lateish, lots of little girls playing happily
everywhere. Managed to persuade a very tired H. ("I don't
know if I was reading in the night; was it the night ?")
to accept not travelling with J. in the car.
Drove to Ruth & Anthony's - lovely sunny morning,
admired the house & garden, put together some deck-chairs.
Played football with small boys, bounced on the trampoline with
small girls; lunch in the garden; fun.
Drove home together; bathed the children & got
them to bed.
Prodded work. Unwound some evil build dependency loops
in MeeGo packages to get things building from a clean start.
Considered what cool hack-fests we could be sponsoring.
On the "dangers of allowing proprietary licenses to
your code" front, I was amazed to hear rumour of Apple's latest innovation
in this area; if true they make great recruiting sergants for the
FSF's anti-DRM crusade it seems. Yet another wake-up call, that
proprietary software licensing can be worse than you might believe possible.
Prodded the express autoconfig stuff. Fiona and Kate came
to stay the night, stayed up late catching up with Fiona, good stuff.
Children on holidays, fewer night-time interrupts now
back at home, avoided the early morning baby-prepping panic.
Interested to see Taras' icegrind
work for optimising cold-start; clever chap. OO.o (despite it's
speedups) could use even more love there (to remove the preload
Prodded Evolution, poked sysadmins to host an auto-detection
database, chased misc MeeGo bugs. Call with JP. Discussed nuisance
"become a fan-of-ers" (bringing a whole new meaning to 'fan-boy')
with Aaron. I wonder why that "keep me logged in" button in face-book
doesn't function whatsoever for my once-per-week usage.
Interested in the TIOBE language comparison
As with all such things, numbers subject to interpretation; possibly
there are half as few searches for "C++ programming" since it
is so syntactically trivial (or perhaps not). I hadn't
realised that C was still in the running though - it may require
twice as many LOC, but it's ~twice as popular programmer wise ?.
Is there a deep masochistic bent in programmers ?
Interesting too to see the Apple, and Google languages
showing the strongest growth (alongside C) at the expense of
where C# is growing.
Slide-ware production. Amused by a NHB's experience
of an iPad: "She did, however, like the idea of a small, lightweight,
versatile machine to take on business trips. After taking the iPad for
a test drive, LW is thinking of buying a netbook." I'm still sold
on the "Swiss Army Kitchen Utensil" view of the iPad popularised by the great
Outside the Box talk (17 mins in).
Quick sync with Chen. Spent some time playing with gitk,
meld and so on, branched Evo. It's a real shame there seems to be
no easy way to tag a number of change-sets into a queue to cherry
pick in sequence later.
Poked at OO.o's nsplugin with Rene briefly, nice Debian bug
report about absolute symlinks, and the grot necessary to find and
bootstrap the environment from the browser there. Tried to persuade
IS&T support that randomly disabling IMAP on their mail servers
is mind-numbingly bad for business; making it rather difficult to get
at the much needed openVPN credentials too.
Quick dinner and drove home; worked late.
More lacrimose night-time experiences. Shuffled
mail, poked bugs, Clarity, status report.
Prodded the Ordnance Survey data license
and it seems really good; CC-by like license - great. Now if
only the Labour Government were not trying to screw us all over
people left and right we might have a joined up technology policy.
Lunch, JP's staff, recovery partition detection poking.
Calls with Federico, Kohei & Kendy.
Up early, tended babes. A morning of making
ply-wood seat replacements for our chairs at home with
Bruce. Much circular sawing etc.
Lunch; out to see The Princess and the Frog -
nasty dark movie unsuitable for children, in my view
at least further confirming (for me at least) Disney's
complete loss of direction.
Dinner; watched Cambridge whip Oxford on
University Challenge, bed early.
Off to NCC, guest service, Tony spoke. Back for
lunch, packed and off to Bruce & Anne's.
Pottered around in the workshop with Bruce
making a suitably knurled extruder driver on his
lathe; lovely. Dinner.
Night filled with E. waking up and crying
every half hour or so - probably chiming clock
Sowed grass seed in the front garden while Ilona &
Robert played with the babes, rolled it in - presumably a feast
for the birds; though none seemed to take much interest.
Lunch; got everyone onto bikes, scooters, tricycles etc.
and set off for the race-course; managed to get a good way, and
persuaded M. to turn around too. Fine day, good fun.
Up late enjoying R. & I's company.
Holiday - long lie-in. Baby sat the infected hordes while
J. went to the walk-of-witness. Ordered some ABS plastic and thermistors
from MakerBot, pondered the general non-arrival of other required
pieces; hey ho.
Stella, Joy and her babes over for a fine lunch. Enjoyed
catching up with them, Easter egg hunts etc. Robert & Ilona
arrived rather late.
Elisabeth sick in the night, to match Miriam recently. N.
contracted Chicken Pox, far worse than the other three poor dear.
Rejoiced at the Government's arm-twisting of Ordnance Survey
to release free mapping data for the UK. Tried to download it,
discovered that in-fact even the 'license'
for the data requires a username / password - with no explanation
how to get that. Tried the main web-site: which seems remarkably coy
about the new data being made public; what lamers ! Presumably there
is an apoplectic Sir Humphery somewhere grinding his teeth.
Evo status update call; poked MeeGo detection code again.
Prodded at MeeGo package building pieces. Boggled at Google Chrome's
"integrated plugin" model - Oxymorons like: "compassion with a
hard edge" are great I guess. Quite right that plugins are a downright
disaster for large scale deployment though.
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)