Archive for March, 2008

And it looks like the sunshine’s here to stay

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Alex has been away in San Francisco for a week or so, so Sharon was driving me into work. This meant waking up at six. I woke up on Friday feeling icky and nauseated; ordinarily I stress over the decision over whether to call in sick (ask me sometime about the scalding incident; I hope I’ve got a bit smarter since then) but getting into work at seven is pretty crappy on any day and doing it when you feel you might throw up is worse, and I have sick time left, so I called in. I spent most of the day curled up reading Mists of Avalon and feeling groggy, or sleeping. Later I felt better. I think I’ve just been stressing myself too much.

(Alex is back now, by the way, as of Saturday. Hooray.)

Today SaraMae put up her antique stall at Shupp’s Grove. (I warn you: if you click that, it plays crappy music.) We all went with her and put up the tent over the stall, and then stopped at a place which makes tremendously bad-for-you food, like chips and milkshake, but does it really well, and there’s nowhere to eat inside the place, so you have to sit outside beside the weir and listen to the music of the river.

As I paid my bill at the pharmacy today, I said to the person with me, “Of course, this is a good reason to move to Wales.” The pharmacist overheard and said, “Why, are drugs cheaper over there?”

Nargery: I have been fixing a few bugs outside Metacity for a change. I spent a lot of Saturday learning the intricacies of Ubuntu’s build system, because I tried to record a story on Friday night and I couldn’t get gnome-alsamixer working; a bit of searching around showed me that it was GNOME bug 429012, which was easily fixed, but someone pointed out to me that Hardy’s shipping soon and an upstream patch probably wouldn’t make it in unless I moved it downstream myself– so, that became Launchpad bug 106903. Caroline Ford was helpful in getting Launchpad to do what was needed; James Westby showed infinite patience in teaching me how to prepare a debdiff. Thanks a ton to you both. I then used my newfound knowledge to make an attempt to fix Launchpad bug 199402 (which hadn’t reached GNOME Bugzilla yet). And then there was GNOME bug 335763, which was something in zenity which needed fixing in order for GNOME bug 521914 in Metacity to be closed (of which more below).

Riordon thinks the Linux distro OS-tans are awesome, by the way. I told her about each of them and why it looked like it looked, and she came up with some more ideas about them. It makes me want to learn to draw, except I’m crazy busy as it is.

Here are two posts in the Metacity blog you might want to read:

Links… well, I’ll let them accumulate for a while.

Photo by Kris & Fred, cc-by-nc-nd. No, that isn’t what it looks like here.

Catching up

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

It’s been a while since I posted. I used to post every day, but that was when I was doing exciting stuff at work that I could talk about. I’ve seen some things I’d never seen before: Fin bought a fresh coconut from the shop and Rio and I had no idea what it was; she threw it on the pavement and it burst, bleeding milk into the gutters. We chewed on the coconut meat. And we went to church on Palm Sunday at St Gabriel’s and I saw fresh palm leaves for the first time in my life.

(Fin later went back to the shop and a Redner’s employee called Scott was making some classist and indeed racist remarks, so Fin is complaining to their management.)

I have been reducing the bug queue in Metacity. Metacity is six years old, and a large bug queue has built up. There were over forty bugs without a response; now there are two, and they are both dual screen bugs. (It has been noted that Metacity’s support of dual screens is not as good as it might be; this is not unconnected with my not having two screens to test it with. I will try to save up and get another screen at some point.)

My plans for this iteration include the bug queue being brought down to managable size, and adding a proper, automatable test suite. If I reply to your bug, you might not hear back from me for a while, because there’s a ton of others.

Carmen, a very dear friend of mine, is travelling across the United States from Washington DC to San Francisco by car. If you live anywhere vaguely between these two points and are okay with lending a couch and a shower for a night, or if you’ve done a move of this size before now and have wisdom to share, please let her know about it. You people in San Francisco are a lucky bunch of people to get her living among you, and I am going to miss her a whole lot.

Today’s links:

How to make sure sscanf reads to the end of the line

Friday, March 21st, 2008

I needed to do this for GNOME bug 453678, and it wasn’t very obvious. In the end I thought of a way, and I’ve tested it with gcc on GNU/Linux and HP C on OpenVMS to make sure it wasn’t just a GNU thing. (No, this doesn’t imply that I’m introducing a policy of building Metacity on OpenVMS in future.)

GEIN $ type test.c
#include <stdio.h>
#include <string.h>

void
check(char *string)
{
  int workspace = -1;
  int chars = 0;

  sscanf (string, "Workspace %d%n", &workspace, &chars);

  printf ("Input is [%s], workspace number is %d, fully=%s\n",
      string, workspace, *(string+chars)=='\0'?"Yes":"No");
}

int
main(int argc, char**argv)
{
  check ("Workspace 1 is very nice");
  check ("Workspace 2");
  check ("I like beer");
}

GEIN $ cc test
GEIN $ link test
GEIN $ run test
Input is [Workspace 1 is very nice], workspace number is 1, fully=No
Input is [Workspace 2], workspace number is 2, fully=Yes
Input is [I like beer], workspace number is -1, fully=No
GEIN $ 

OpenVMS testing courtesy of gein.vistech.net .

The benefits of careful checking before you release

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

This is a screenshot from a web game that my daughter Riordon was playing. It demonstrates well the reason you should check things before release (and you know what they say about leaving three fingers pointing back at yourself):

This did give us the chance to talk about the difference between marked-up and plain text.
[A response on LJ: It's good to talk to your kids about that, before they learn about it on the streets.]

Everybody has won, and all must have prizes

Saturday, March 8th, 2008

This blog has been far out at sea all night, as Ted Hughes would never have said. They made a rather cutesified children’s cartoon out of one of his books, over here in the US, and they show it every Christmas on TV. I am still waiting for a similar treatment to be given to The Bell Jar.

Anyway, I have been reminded of Wind in the literal rather than the metaphorical sense for the last few days, and I haven’t had much time to post. And my mother-in-law’s beloved cat died: 1, 2, 3, and the weather has been horrible for days and days. I’ve just wanted to sleep and hide. But Spring will come though a thousand Februaries march against it, and already perhaps the daffodils are pushing through the earth.

Frida Kahlo: I said I’d tell you what I thought about the Frida Kahlo exhibition. I think you should go and see it if you can. I’ve loved Kahlo’s work for a long time, but it isn’t often you get the chance to get up close to so much of her work and see it at close quarters, and there were some periods in her life I’d seen nothing from (I particularly loved some of her later work, like Moses, because I love really complicated artwork). One thing I’d rather have seen– perhaps this is merely a symptom of my being uncultured– is prints of the pieces they hadn’t got the originals of (What the Water Gave Me particularly wasn’t there). Perhaps that’s just what I need to buy the exhibition book for.

As to the actual discussion and commentary the museum provided, while it was certainly very adequate, I noticed a particular bias towards some of the important influences on her work at the expense of others. In particular, they talked a lot about how she wanted to have children and could not, and how later she saw her pets as her children, and the world, and Rivera. But while they discussed how this came out in her work a good deal– and showed how it came out in the paintings in ways I’d never seen before– it was rather at the expense of discussing the influences of her bisexuality and her Communism on her work, which were dealt with rather briefly. By comparison, some other exhibitions have brought out these themes rather more directly.

The museum also had another exhibition of the work of Juan Soriano, which is also worth seeing (especially since it’s apparently the first exhibition of his work in a major museum in the US), but there’s less to see there. (I wouldn’t have noticed so much had it not been for the Kahlo exhibition that, despite the ways Soriano works sexual themes into his work, they mentioned only once that he was gay.)

Shirts: I have received a GNOME t-shirt in the post: thank you to the Foundation. This brings the number of tech shirts I have to four: a Google shirt which I unfortunately left in England when I emigrated, a Summer of Code shirt from last year, a Freshmeat shirt that Eric sent me, and this one. I should post photos of me wearing each of them (though not a photo of the imaginary metacity shirt).

Nargery: I know not all of you read the Metacity blog, but I would like your feedback on this discussion of session management. Would you like the ~/.metacity directory to disappear? Who should ensure that applications’ windows are correctly positioned on restarting: the window manager? the toolkit? the applications themselves? nobody? Let us know!

Link soup:

And we’ll all go riding on a rainbow

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

I had been feeling vaguely ill and sore-throaty most of the week, and on Friday when I woke up and the back of my nose was painful enough that I couldn’t talk easily, I mailed in to say I was feeling sick. Then I decided I was well enough to come in as long as I stayed away from people and didn’t talk much, so I sent a second mail saying I was coming after all. It wasn’t so bad.

On Saturday, Amy and John came over and we went to the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the Art Museum. I will write about it, but not now, because I am too sleepy.

On Sunday we were going to go to church but woke up too late. Instead, I stayed home and fixed:

Do note that the Metacity blog is often more interesting than mine is. I think there should be a planet which mixes people and projects, but I don’t know what it would be called.

I have a bunch of automated tests for Metacity, many in Python, some in C. I want to put them together so that we can run them and have it report “5 out of 20 failed” or something, the same way Test::More and friends do in perl. Anyone have any recommendations for off-the-shelf ways of doing this before I write my own, which I’m happy to do?

And now a survey meme:
How and when did you learn to swim?

At RAF Henlow at the age of about, eh, seven-ish, with a (civilian) swim team called the Henlow Penguins who also ran lessons for youngsters. They appear not to exist any more.

How and when did you learn to drive?

I tried all my last year of sixth form and all my final year of university, without success.

How and when did you learn to tie your shoelaces?

I was probably eleven. I forget how I actually managed to learn in the end: I think it was one of the most complicated things I’d ever attempted, but it was that or go barefoot since there weren’t velcro trainers in sizes over ten years old. I remember one kid who was congenitally bald offered to tie my shoes in the green room when I had to wear lace-ups on stage, and when someone scoffed and said, “Why can’t you tie your shoes?” he glared at them and said, “Why can’t I grow hair?”

How and when did you learn to cook?

I learned enough to get by as a teenager, and enough to survive when I went away to college. I learned to bake as a child, but that’s not the same thing.

How and when did you learn to type?

Earlier than I can remember, probably at around four or five on a 1930s Remington typewriter that I got second-hand– I think it was because my grandfather didn’t need it any more. I loved that typewriter: its name was TW, and I used it to type out interminable stories. My mother (I assume) would sometimes come in and leave notes in the persona of the typewriter, signed “TW”.