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
Up early, triaged mail; filed more expenses - the last of
the batch for now, phew. Helped Gary Lin with some signal handler
related fun. Built some evolution test packages.
Chat with Charles; Lunch; team meeting.
LibreOffice / Google Summer of code rocks
Just a quick promo aimed at any students you might happen to know.
I'm excited about some of the sexy
projects we have, and the mentors we have signed up. Just to mortally
offend some of the mentors I'll pick my favorite few:
Lots more interesting things in the project
list, though of course - if you have something you badly want to do
yourself that's fine too, get in touch. You have around a week left to
apply. End of commercial.
- Visio import filter for draw - do you, like me,
get documents with annoying binary blobs in them that you can't
see ? be part of the solution.
- Android port - this seems like a popular research
task, luckily much of the heavy lifting around rendering is already
done: plug and play
- Convert DirectX canvas to Cairo - moving away
from gdi+ and sharing code across platforms, as well as leveraging
all the cairo goodness.
- LibreOffice on Broadway - much like Android port,
writing a web office front-end using HTML5. Should be lots of fun,
and of great use to many existing systems out there.
- UI cleanup - if all of these seem a bit big,
then Kendy has identified a long list of UI failings, all of which
need a small amount of love and polish to fix. Add them up to make
a big improvement.
Reported the sqlite related evo. summary hang I'm still suffering
with the suggested patch; downer, hopefully the new trace will help.
Out all day at TEAM - the last of this term; finished the
overview of Mark - great to get some good insights into the high
level structure of the narrative, thematic concerns etc.
Home, fed and put babes to bed while J. took H. swimming;
Pottered around in the evening, connected the electric violin to
the sound system to verify that - indeed, it still sounds like a
violin: but louder.
To work; some bug research, dunged out a lot of obsolete
patches variously. Finished LXF column. Lunch. Burned a DVD of
11.4 and started sorting, and filing my expense paperwork. I
love paper pushing !
Finished the install, interspersed the paperwork tedium
with getting it setup variously. Dinner, more work.
Pottered about with the plastic printer in the evening,
got some truly poor print-outs. It seems the combination of a duff
vertical opto end-stop and melting the extruder well into the
acrylic bed while homing the Z axis removed all the thermal grease
between the temperature sensor and the nozzle.
Up early; misc. practices with the babes, 'cello &
Violin etc. snatched some practise myself; to work. Weekly admin:
Clarity, status reports etc. Call with Tor, prodded at iogrind
futures as well. Fixed the from-clean LibreOffice build.
Lunch, worked on a proposal; fixed some icon relocation
bug, prodded the build a little. Played with GNOME 3.0 and wrote
a column on it. Sync with Kendy.
Dinner; everyone out afterwards, tweaked my software &
settings, and got really rather a beautiful, circular gear or two
out of the reprap - and a bangle for the wife for good measure.
Watched some Yes Minister with Ollie.
Lie-in; breakfast, out to NCC, helped with Creche. Back for
lunch with our visiting Americans here for a week of mission in
Newmarket: Ollie and Andrew.
Slugging in the afternoon; down to All Saints for the evening
service in the end. Home for dinner, bed early.
Lie-in, up with the babes; breakfast, Sandy arrived. Set off
to my Cousin Andy Whitcroft's wedding to Olivia. A lovely service,
most encouraging. Back for a fine reception at the Father of the Bride's
house. Great to see Martin Bligh again, meet Mel & Sinead, and a
number of other interesting folk. Fine food, wine & company. Drove
home rather late to relieve Sandy of her baby burden.
Up in the night, couldn't sleep; poked at a build bug,
did some research on the Android SDK for some the GSOC: LibreOffice
on Android task.
Back to bed to catch up; lunch; back to work - wrote a trivial
tool to similate the /tmp thrash I get when running a compile and tested
Alex's file-selector threading fix, can no longer crash LibreOffice with
it included (and/or evolution) - good.
Submitted a couple of Desktop
Summit talks on LibreOffice on the brink of the deadline, submitted
a repsnapper talk too.
Up early; dug at odd gtk+ file-selector crasher; looks like
some glib async / threading thinko in gtk+, spammed the dev list.
Plugged away at mail, builds, generating some statistics,
etc. Lunch, team meeting, poked at some perl in make_installer.pl.
Merged the sal string size saving, perhaps some windows testing
required, but good to loose a Mb of cruft from the pagein / memory
Dinner during TSC call, read babes stories; finished up
mail, poked at the reprap.
Suffered with gtk+ and gtkmm - trying
to create a simple combo box with two entries in it; choose one
of 'Fast' or 'Logick' a dozen of lines of odd code apparently
serving no useful purpose, and tens or so headers to read. Worse;
the simple, old API that would have made it easy: deprecated -
progress obviously. All that power, translated into lots of
questions and interfaces I don't want to deal with; shame.
Oh - and if glade-3 didn't (still) lay out all vboxes as
hboxes (when an Ubuntu user has touched the file), that would be
just great - presumably there is some good GUI way to create
simple models, if that were usable (end rant).
Printed out a 3D knot25 for fun,
interestingly, appreciated by the wife.
Up early, off to TEAM in Cambridge with Mike; interesting stuff,
but felt pretty ropey; left early to come home to bed.
Fed babes dinner while J. taking H. swimming. M. suddenly very
interested both in how I chose my wife, and why; also hopeful that I
would die before J. and went I pointed out that this couldn't be
guarenteed wondered whether I could fight in a war; comic.
Slugged in bed all evening, feeling turgid.
Up early, mail triage, misc. bug fixing; wrote to the IET
complaining at the lack of fact checking in their august organ; with
small boats (erroneously) generating more elextricity than the whole
of the UK, 248GW (instead of 24.8GW) of maximum small-scale hydro-power
potential in the UK and so on - there seems scope for improvement.
Started to dig back through the admin mountain. Pleased to see
LibreOffice paper accepted. Tried to add 4Linux and Codethink to the TDF supporters
page, but realised the infrastructure somehow moved under me,
silverstripe it seems.
Fixed a calc resource reading nasty. Preload staff meeting.
Tried to use silverstripe to edit our web pages: really tried ...
wow the thing is still unbelievably bad (which I guess is mostly the web
being lame). Why have just one scroll-pane, when you can have two controlling
the same range of editing ? have magic styles on headings invisible to the
magic editor, create anchors you can't delete, make a hash of cut/paste
etc. etc. That is before you loose your data by clicking back (the key
carefully and helpfully placed next to left-arrow) by mistake which
really adds some flavour: roll on web editing for everything ! Arguably
it is at least uniformly terrible, frustrating etc. for everyone
regardless of competance (even if you end up editing the HTML by hand
anyway), which is a great social leveller and thus must be good.
Apparently Religion may become extinct
in five nations. What total twaddle from the BBC, many creeds are in the
asendancy, not least the kind of Metaphysical Naturalism so increasingly
popular in concentric circles.
Up early; to work - triaged the mail somewhat bluntly,
while finishing the (Unix only) oosplash.bin re-write which has
Eventually got this finished and committed, with all the
re-starting if unusual return values are returned etc. tested and
- To provide a spring-board for ridding ourselves of
soffice.sh, and its various spawned / shell helpers -
helps clean things up.
- Removing the quick-starter conditionality on
libpng, we can build without it (as we do for the generic
builds) - but just leave the splash to rather later: when
the main app launches
- To ensure we get our splash up really early (if at
all), before pagein / javaldx start doing tons of I/O.
The problem here was made noticeable by the new gnumake
code not stripping libraries, giving eg. a 700Mb libswli.so
to pagein when debugging - takes time even on an SSD.
Nonetheless for those with slow rotating disks, this should
make a noticable improvement in time-to-splash.
Reviewed some bootchart pieces, call with Kendy, setup next
TSC call; boggled at the horrors of Microsoft's latest patent
aggression, and pleased generally by the insight of the technet
Worked late; discovered I'm in danger of loosing holdiay
this year - LibreOffice kept me rather busy it seems; bother.
Up lateish, scramble to get to church on time; preached.
Home for lunch, David, Louisa & babes around in the afternoon
for tea - great to catch up with them.
Put babes to bed, pottered around with the reprap, a bit of
this and that; then bed.
Lie in, out with N. on her day-out-with-daddy; after some
disappointment with the Ecotech centre (shut at weekends) - hoping to
climb the wind turbine there; off to Lavenham.
Good map-reading from N. and a nice pub lunch. Wandered the
multiple extraordinary examples of why ancient houses need lateral
cross-bracing; enjoyed the Church. On to Pakenham's windmill - also
shut, but at least moving to face into the wind.
Up very late preparing a second sermon on Daniel 1 for
tomorrow, mostly on 1:1-2.
Up early; dug at mail, call with Thorsten; reviewed some
patches, and poked at the sot OLE2 storage code and a potential
Lunch; pleasant Call with Markus & team. Back to
trying to unwind ordering problems hurting the LibreOffice
startup performance; happily converted some stinking chunks
of shell into C (unrelated to performance, but helps splash
Played with the PrusaMendel assembly, made up some
aluminium mudguard washers (such a nice material to tin-snip), and
got the Y axis, and the frame mostly assembled.
Up early; off to School with the babes for their music
assembly, accompanied N.'s violin piece; provided a human 'cello
spike holder for M.'s first public performance; fun.
Home, caught up on the mail backlog. Sad to see the
situation in Japan, the tragic irony of a Tsunami stopping them
getting enough sea-water into the reactors.
Created a new translations/ repo to store our .po files
for Andras, lunch, interview, team meeting. Finally started to catch
up with my admin backlog while a clean LibreOffice compiled.
Reviewed and updated the LibreOffice Google Summer Of Code
page, in hopeful anticipation of our acceptance as an
Good news - an heroic Riccardo Magliocchetti did a release of
If you like to see your boot process, you need bootchart2 - using an
array of wonderful kernel probes (if they are there) it can give you
insight into the bowels of madness. Lots of good
and improvements. My favorites are the reliability improvements
from Peter Hjalmarsson has worked on, but of course Sankar's beautiful,
multi-colour cumulative I/O latency graphing (to complement CPU
graphing) is a must-have as well, for serious boot-charters. Hopefully
we can get them out there, and speeding up distros' booting experience
quickly, and there is still a lot more fun to be had in the world of
Prodded at some oddness with rsc and gnumake, and valgrinded /
fixed a chart related crasher, discovered yet more shocking quality
build perl hiding an scp2 error, accelerated it > 10x and added
TEAM course, a very well attended plenary day on Biblical
Counselling; interesting, and a rather convincing for broadening the
popular application of Christian wisdom to each other. Slightly less
convinced of its utility in the pathalogical cases.
Home; fed the babes while J. went out; put them to bed. Out
for a beer with Bert next door, a relaxing evening.
Finishing the merge; got all the components running nicely,
fixed a number of issues, looking good.
Lydia over in the evening. Got stuck into the reprap software
- convinced that most of my remaining quality problems are either
backlash, software or (probably) a bit of both.
Another day of intense, all-day merging fun; hopefully the
last one, finally getting there. Filled out Clarity etc.
Interested, and saddened to see so many good intentions
around GNOME turning out wrong, as highlighted
variously. Personally, in my view to interact with a community you have
to be working inside it, ie. you have to "be there". Existence in Free
Software communities is measured almost exclusively in concrete terms:
code, artwork, etc. but more than that - concrete things which are actually
included into the project / product. Most companies whose management is
unfamiliar with Free Software best practise screw this up royally, trying
to create proprietary advantage: "we shipped XYZ first", can easily
turn into "oh dear, we screwed this up, and no-one else is using it, and
now we're lumbered forever with maintaining something with no community
support". Novell has been no exception here in the past, and unfortunately
in large part because of the free-rider concerns. Of course contributors
that don't actually 'exist', and are not really 'there', shouldn't get
a huge say in what is going on, that is the basis of meritocracy, no
surprises there. So what is the right mix, between semi-proprietary
projects, polish and differentiation, and doing everything up-stream ?
Probably there is no truly 'right' answer, but the extremes are probably
both wrong too.
J. out in the evening to Cambridge, printed out some more pieces
here and there, and assembled my PrusaMendel frame with
some success. Tried to print out the slide bearings, but no joy - perhaps
a shell-only print would be better. Bed late.
Up; breakfasted, setup Skype Quaker meeting with Mother
(apparently using Skype muted to transmit silence, and text chat
for ministry). Off to NCC, ran Creche with Cathy.
Home for a huge lunch; tidied up somewhat, and back to
trying to beautifully calibrate the printer to have the perfect
nozzle separation all over the bed; eventually got there, printed
some more - now the most annoying thing is mainly some anti-ooze
software tweaking, and some X-axis backlash.
Bathed babes, early tea, put babes to bed, and quick
stories. Bid 'bye to the parents, and sermon on Judges in bed.
Up earlyish; breakfast, spent a while winding PLA onto a
drum, such that it can be wound smoothly into the machine by the
extruder - instead of requiring me to fiddle constantly with it.
Set off into Cambridge with my
parents, N. and E. to get to a music shop. Ended up buying an
Violin - with a rather good (closed - ie. no sound holes) carbon
fibre & kevlar resonant cavity, and carbon fibre bow; really
excellent, have yet to try it with amplification.
Tea and cake to cheer the babes, and back home via. a much
loved double decker bus. Encouraging to feel the fingers coming back
quickly to the fingerboard after ~15 years of not playing anything. I
suspect the ease of recall decreases the more comes back however.
Babes watched "The secret of Moonacre" - a fine film,
the book presumably is rather better; printed some larger (makerbot)
plates out as it was playing; encouragingly it seems we can run
smoothly for some hours - but really require better software.
Hannah's friend Charlotte over for a sleepover, just getting
to the aftermath of the escape from Efrafa with H. in Watership Down.
Chatted in the evening, interspersed with more Prusa mendel
Up early, day of intense merging action all day - with the git
history fixed, life is much cleaner and more satisfying. Fun to work with
Norbert, Kendy, Thorsten and Bjorn much of the day.
More reprap playing in the evening with Father, who had
disassembled the original timber repstrap, managed to get the workshop
clear enough to actually see the bench surface - and lots of things
re-stacked to make room to move around easily; great. Chatted with the
parents in the evening.
Parents arrived, several calls through the day, merging work
ongoing. Played reprap with Father in the evening, printed out some
frame verticees with feet. Managed to crack a lump from the centre of
an acrylic sheet (missing tape, and fused to the printout), hmm.
Up early, off to TEAM with Mike; a final cracking talk on
Evangelistic speaking from Paul Weston; finished the Bible overview.
Home, caught up with merge progress, SPI board meeting, sadly
without quorum, chatted with Mary Rogers who popped around; played
with the reprap, 0.5mm hot end still causing grief, lots of it vs.
the more standard 1mm form factor; clearly a lathe would be useful.
Up early; to work - mail chew, more merging / patch
resolving fun. Lunch, DE meeting - deeply irritated by
Elluminate stealing the ctrl-space combination (critical for
emacs). Tech Steering call. Dinner - pancakes for Shrove
Tuesday, the start of Lent. Chat with Norbert, got a
merged draw running in the evening to play with; nice.
Up early, packed babes off to school; to work. Poked more
merging and build fixes with Thorsten and Kendy. Lunch, call with
Kendy, chewed over mail backlog, admin, Clarity, status report
Poked at MeeGo again a little, seems like there are some
positive changes going on there; encouraging.
Up earlyish, off to NCC, Tony preached, met Miriam's friend
Ben for the first time (great chap); back for lunch with Laura &
Creighton, printed out my patched extruder to demo to Creighton.
DVD in the afternoon, pottered around cleaning up, read
stories to babies and put them to bed, etc. Caught up with David
Mansergh in the evening; chat with Father about window mechanisms.
Up late; long day of slugging, prodding at the reprap with
E. on hand to help press buttons and make suitable encouraging
noises. Z axis coupler managed to come loose, and drop the x
carriage complete with heated nozzle into the bed burning a
beautiful nozzle-shaped hole through my acrylic covering of
the bed), fun.
Discovered that PLA's adhesion to acrylic is strongly
based on how high the nozzle is above the bed as it extrudes,
presumably melting the PLA into the acrylic creates a bond
stronger then the PLA itself.
Prodded at openscad gingerly; and sent my first openscad
patch for Greg Frost's Accessible Wade
extruder - to parameterise the extruder recess and add set-screws
Inspired by a dead Pakistani Christian (Government) Minister's words -
captured on camera:
"The forces of violence, militant banned organisations the
Taliban and al-Quaeder, they want to impose their radical philosophy
in Pakistan, and whomever stands against their radical philosophy - that
threatens them. When I am leading this campaign against the Sharia law,
for the abolishment of blasphemy law, and speaking for the oppressed and
persecuted Christian and other minorities, these Taliban threaten me. But
I want to share, that I believe in Jesus Christ, who has given his own
life for us. I know what is the meaning of the cross, and I'm following
the cross, and I am ready to die for a cause, I am living for my community
and suffering people, and I will die to defend their rights. These threats
and warnings cannot change my opinion and principles, I prefer to die for
my principle and the justice of my community, rather than to compromise
[with] these threats."
A brave man, in a world of people very silent in the face
of injustice. The saddest thing, to me - are those giving the bodyguard
accused of assisinating the Punjab Governor (for similar reasons) a
hero's welcome, and cheering an apparently unrepentant murderer.
Quarterly employee call with Ron. Poked at some oddities wrt.
charset conversion in the merge. Finished the writer merge and pushed
it, lots of review and testing now required, at least deeply into the
more fun compiling and final debugging stage.
Up early, brief mail chew, reviewed and merged a nice
patch from Sebastien to make writer page shadows pretty.
Merging; lunch; merging. Novell LibreOffice team meeting,
more merge, dinner, call in the evening.
Off into Cambridge on my own, fine day of study, nearly
finished the Bible overview, and moved on to giving Evangelistic
Missed the announcement of LibreOffice
3.3 from Novell - with our support (based on 3.3.1 plus some
3.3.2 back-ports), available now for Windows, and of course our
Linux Enterprise products. You can buy support for it standalone
(for Windows), perhaps you have support for it already as part
of the popular Novell Open Workgroup Suite, and of course support
is available for LibreOffice in all our SUSE versions. End
Played with the repsnapper shrinking code in the evening,
managed to get a very jagged part of an egg-cup.
Up later, finished 'cello practise with M. before school,
and managed to forget breakfast. More merging work. Lunch. Team
Really pleased to see Dave Malcolm's excellent gdb
python foo to make debugging LibreOffice cleaner, faster and
Wrote, reviewed and sent Linux Format column, chat with
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)