A night out in NYC

… or, really, Brooklyn. J. invited me to go to a bar for some live music. I was into it, not having a clue who was performing. Well, in short, first it was a sucky singer who couldn’t sing. However, there was a really hot girl in front of the crowd. She had brown hair, half-long, was distinguishably the only person actually moving on the – ahem – music and disappeared as soon as the band finished. Then, second, Jenny Owen Youngs, she got the voice. Best remembered for her cover of Hot in here with some piece of Oasis’ Wonderwall in it, also.

L’entree was Jonathan Coulton a.k.a. CodeMonkey. Let’s say that again, Shopvac, You ruined everything (in the best possible way), Your brains, Baby got back, First of may and of course Codemonkey. Some will know what this is, but just for those who don’t, go to Youtube or just read this:

“codemonkey get up, get coffee, codemonkey go to job; codemonkey have boring meeting, with boring manager Rob; Rob say codemonkey very diligent, but his output stink; his code not functional nor elegant, what do codemonkey think; codemonkey think maybe manager wanna write goddamn login page himself, codemonkey not say it out loud, codemonkey not crazy, just proud; codemonkey like freetos, codemonkey like tap and mountain dew, code monkey very simple man, big warm fuzzy secret heart, codemonkey like you.”

Thumbs up!

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Feisty is Feest

I accidently made myself update to Feisty earlier today. I think it started with an email from someone telling me that my iSight driver didn’t work for him, me deciding it was time to boot back into Linux and see what’s wrong and getting annoyed that Gtk+ on Dapper was several minor versions behind on the svn that I have installed on OS X.

See, it could be so easy. “sed -e s/dapper/feisty/g sources.list” and Debian all the way. Somehow, Ubuntu suffers from the Fedora disease where they fail to create proper update paths, although fortunately, Ubuntu is still lightyears behind on Fedora when it comes to providing a completely poor and crippled user experience for those of us that wish to not re-install from scratch every six months. Thumbs up here, sort of…

After dist-upgrade worked relatively well, and Feisty rebooted, I got no X and no virtual consoles. In short, I was in a running system with everything ready & working in front of me, just me not being able to enter a command in any way. Nice, so close, yet so far away. Seems that in the end, it was a combination of bug 95210, 89853 and a quirk in the update process that caused gdm to magically disappear (?).

Result: the webcam module for the iSight in Feisty is just svn trunk, i.e. it’s not iSight-aware, and works fine otherwise. Updated my (one-year-old!) patch against svn trunk and modified it to allow for both iSight and native UVC devices (they’re somewhat different in their USB data transfer protocol), re-sent to Laurent, let’s see if this goes better if I update again one year from now… What a waste of a my day.

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A number

The AACS (those people that try to own your high-resolution video player) has attempted to take down numerous sites (examples provided in the link) that try to express a number (13,256,278,887,989,457,651,018,865,901,401,704,640, that’s ~13×10^36) as hex (0x09.f9.11.02.9d.74.e3.5b.d8.41.56.c5.63.56.88.c0, which happens to cover 31 hexes, or 15,5 bytes). Apparently, knowing this number is a violation of federal law and makes you a murderer, atheist, prostitute, terrorist and some other things that they have yet to figure out. It also lets you copy high-resolution DVDs, just like that. What’s in a number, right? Sites that are being harassed include Google, Digg, and so on.

What a waste of lawyer money, history is already done guys. You lost, and you’ll never learn.

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Movie

I went to see the immensely poopular movie Pan’s Labyrinth (imdb) this weekend. This Spanish-spoken, half-war / half-fairytale movie, nominee for a Golden Globe, is without doubt going to be one of the most popular of the year.

The movie plays at the end of World War 2 in Franco’s Spain, at a site where resistance and military are fighting out their fight. Ofelia, daughter of the flirt-of-the-day of the military’s captain, is caught up halfway between on the one hand this world of very explicitely and realistically pictured misery and violence, and on the other hand the world from her fairytale books. Wonderful scenery, convincing play and just a very nice story, not at all suited for kids.

EDIT:
This entry showed up on planet.gnome.org on May 1st, 2007, with all content deleted and tons of spam trackbacks dated on May 1st, 2007. I don’t know how or why. Using google cache, I was able to re-find the post and re-enter it. Please ignore the noise. All images and links are lost…

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GNOME 2.18 – underwhelmed?

At linux.com, I just read an article about the new GNOME 2.18 release (although 2.18.1 was just released). the line that caught my attention is the following:

“[..] I’m underwhelmed at the changes between 2.16 and 2.18. It’s a solid release, but it doesn’t move the ball forward very far in terms of improvements, new applications, or new features.

I’ll be hated for saying this, and am partially responsible for this (I’m spending only limited time at gnome-media at this time) myself. But I felt something similar when I saw the GNOME 2.18 release announcement. There’s simple things that make me feel this way. Compare, for example, the 2.18 and the very detailed and excellent 2.14 release notes. Of course, all honour to those who do the actual work, but somehow the 2.14 notes look very professional and like they were done with a lot of love. Compared to that, the 2.18 release notes look like they were pulled together at the last minute. Not very impressive, not very impressed.

But there’s more, it’s not just this. Compare the still very sketchy developer pages for GNOME (I know, I know, people are working to migrate to a new web service system, but the thing is: it’s not there yet) and compare that to KDE’s plasma, phonon, decibel or solid pages (and for fun, compare those to some comparable GNOME technologies: GStreamer, Telepathy or HAL). There’s a multitude of differences. The KDE pages are targetted at both developers and users. The GNOME (basically FDO) pages are only targetted at developers. They lack information for the user on what it is. More importantly, they don’t associate directly with GNOME. Unfortunately, GNOME doesn’t associate with those projects either, even though all of them have large backing by GNOME developers and community.

Lastly, apart from the obvious pimping of those very cool technologies, those technologies should be embraced also. If GStreamer is the one true love, then make it work for Totem (and ditch Xine). The Firefox plug-in, for example, should work with playlists, which is what every internet site will stream. While I’m at it, please know that GStreamer can still not play DVD menus, shame on you, go fix it instead of make up excuses (or just rip it from Xine and release it under the GPL in a separate module). GConf, Evolution and the panel should use DBUS (work is being done on GConf [see Jeff earlier today] and Evolution, but none of this is upstream yet…). Let’s integrate Telepathy, add Gossip (even if it only does Jabber and GPhone). There’s some very obvious stuff out there which basically already exists (and it’s far more than the examples I’ve mentioned up here, e.g. Novell’s new start menu, GnomeScan, etc.), it only has to be brought back upstream. GNOME as a whole would profit greatly, those projects would attract more developers making them (hopefully) develop quicker (releaseintegrate early & often) and reviewers would be a whole lot more happy.

In addition to all of the above, I’d love to see exciting new experimental projects such as Gimmie enhance my experience (and I’m as excited when Mirco puts new screencasts online), but some of that is probably further away than “the next release”.

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OOM killer feature in OS X

Yesterday, I was playing with software that eats memory. Lots of memory. It’s the 3D analysis software Volocity. I loaded a pretty big image (basically several M per Z, and then several hundreds Zs), and made the mistake of trying to rotate it along multiple axes and then letting it go at the result.

In the old days, when Linux was a shiny new and hip OS, the OOM would come in and kill your app – if you’re lucky. It may first kill OO.o with that very important spreadsheet that you were working on. Otherwise decent, in a way. Nowadays, your system usually trashes beyond any reasonable repair and a reboot is the only option. If you’re patient enough, there’s a ~30% chance that the app actually kills within 5 minutes (out of ~10 times that it happened to me over the past ~2 yrs – since then I’ve given up and just reboot, a reboot takes less than 5 minutes anyway).

<Advertisement>Meet the Mac</Advertisement>. It pops up a warning saying that my system is low on memory (and later on it complained about diskspace also). The operation in the software, which is getting kind of sluggish up to this point (swapping?), eventually aborted with a nice error dialog. It actually told me that I was out of memory. In addition, the OS gave me suggestions on applications to close so I could retry the operation. No data was lost at any time during the +/- 10 times that I re-tried this. For a geek, there is no way to describe the feeling when you see this. In short: when will GNOME have this? [*]

In the end, I had to quit Photoshop and free up to 5GB HD space so it could complete the operation. Of course, at that time I had moved to the graphical workstation that we have since it would do that in a few seconds.

[*] glib actually has provisions for this, such as

g_try_malloc()

instead of

g_malloc()

, but I doubt that any OSdesktop (through HAL?) interaction exists to tell me that I’m OOM and suggest apps to close when it happens. So to say, if it exists, they’ve done a good job hiding it, because I’ve never seen it.

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What is wrong with the world?

Why is there only non-free software in this? GNOME is free software, we promote, we dream and we advocate free software. This’d not be on by default, please?

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Dear world

I’ve been looking for a while now, and can’t find it. I’m using a Mac in the office, and would like to use Linux at home. However, I’m stuck with all my appointments in iCal and mail in Mail. I can basically never decently boot into Linux because I will miss appointments. I need something that can interoperate with iCal and use the _same_ calender under both OSes (I sppose IMAP could do mail). Web-interfaces are not acceptable, I want to use iCal under the Mac and Evolution under Linux.

Does anything like that exist? I basically want Outlook and Exchange without Outlook (and probably without Exchange :-) ). Can GMail do that, for example? Bonus points if it can import an existing calender from iCal.

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It really is true

I work in a pretty good research institute in Manhattan. Like any other, we’ve got a bunch of computers, one for each employee plus some general ones for microscopes, electrophysiology and imaging, and they all run IE, except for the ones that someone manually installed Firefox on already. Today, my professor steps in (he’s usually in his office). If you’ve ever seen a genius college kid, this is him but 10 (or 15) years wiser, I swear, genius. He can code Matlab faster than me and has a brain like nobody else. He opens up the webmail and notes that it looks different and asks – confused – “is this the new internet or so?”.

I really actually thought people were kidding when they said this sort of stuff about their granny…

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Bug-fixing spree

Today, I looked at bugzilla, and noticed more than 130 bugs in gnome-media. Most of them I had never looked at. Yes, I’ve been busy this past year. Considering whether I should maybe just give up maintainership, I decided to just go through the bugs and see how hard it really is.

I should firstly really compliment all the members of the bugsquad team, because I quickly noticed that many bugs had useful comments about possible dups, and even more bugs had already been closed thanks to the ever-lasting energy from those people. Without them, my day would have ended right here.

Since this morning, I’ve cleaned it up such that pretty much all of the patches lying around have been applied, I’ve set gnome-love keywords for relevant bugs, fixed something like 20 bugs myself, and bugzilla now shows less than 90 open bugs (i.e. 1/3rd of all bugs are no longer in my list). Not bad. End user effects:

  • gnome-media-profiles now comes with MP3/AAC profiles. Profiles are only shown if all relevant plugins are installed. Should please all sound-juicer users. (At the same time, Aaron blogged about his new audio profile config system, looks promising at parts but still has many issues…)
  • gnome-volume-control should now look a lot better for relatively advanced sound cards. The one reported was an Audigy, showing many duplicated and useless sliders.
  • Many HIG- and i18n-fixes.

There’s more easy bugs lying around in bugzilla, for example #355085 (window sizing issue, someone familiar can probably fix it in 2 seconds). All gnome-love tagged bugs are also interesting to look at. If anyone wants to, please look at them, I’ll help where I can.

I’ll roll 2.17.2 tomorrow, hopefully finally contributing back some real time to GNOME once again.

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