The story continues…

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A bunch of updates since last month:


FOSTEL went really well – attendance was over what I expected, but we still had enough food & drinks for everyone (thanks to the very generous “traiteur”) and the content of both the presentations and BOFs was pretty good. A smidgin more organisation, and a round of introductions to start off the conference (which I wanted to do, and promptly forgot) would have been perfect.

As it was, I spent all my time running around sorting out last-minute issues, although I did get to have a good chat with some people, particularly over dinner. It was particularly good to see Craig Southeren and Jochen Topf, who have been giving me help with the conference from a distance.

I am still waiting to attend a free software conference where no-one has any trouble with the projector, though.

Roll on FOSTEL 2007 in Germany.


We’re still in a heavy pre-release push for OpenWengo’s next release of the WengoPhone (I know, I know, I didn’t choose the names). Marco Marongiu talked to myself and Philippe Bernery from the project to ask us a little about the project’s past, present and future on the cusp of a major release.


In spite of some early optimism from my tendonitis (it’s funny now that 3 weeks ago I was still wondering whether I’d be able to run the marathon), a short 2km run and the advice of my physiotherapist put paid to any hopes I had of doing any serious running for quite a few weeks. In addition, I haven’t had the chance to do any biking for the last couple of weeks either, and I’m starting to feel some of that condition going. Hopefully I’ll still manage to be fit for a 10k in a couple of weeks so that I can at least do some running when my friend Dennis comes over.

GNOME board

As usual, lots of stuff is happening with the board, and as usual, there’s much of it that we can only allude to in the minutes. And a couple of people aren’t happy with the level of secrecy in the board.

It’s a tough problem because in the same way that a developer doesn’t necessarily want to release his code until he’s got a working first prototype, if I’m working on something through the board, I’m not going to announce it to the entire membership until it’s reasonably consequential – to boot-strap things, you get buy-in from important companies & community members and nail down important elements of whatever it is you’re working on before going public.

One example where I’ve been confronted with this was when I worked on getting a GNOME store in place by getting a preferred merchandising supplier – in the end, I went public when we were still in contract negociations with someone, which then fell through (for a number of reasons). Would it have been better to keep quiet about the project until I was certain of success?


Why anyone would want to profile me, I don’t know, but back in February, I sat down with Joe Brockmeier in SCALE and chatted to him about my free software past and more. We got a bit waylaid back then, and followed up by email. The result was the bass for a profile of me which came out on recently.

Running is bad for your health

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As some have noticed, I’ve been running for the past few months, training for a marathon at the end of April.

Since I started running, I have had a series of injuries – Achilles tendon from running uphill, a tendonitis in the groin from not stretching my hamstrings and adductors enough, and now, ITBS.

It’s another tendonitis which you get from running too long on a slanted surface, or poor posture during running, or pronation in your gait. Not sure which I did, although the doctor said I was fairly straight and he didn’t see any pronation, so it could be hip rotation, worn shoes, or just not changing footpath often enough.

The long & short of it is that whenever I run more than 10 or 15 minutes, I get knee pain. It’s nothing major, but it can take weeks to treat properly, so the chances are I’ll have to say goodbye to my marathon this time around… I am not giving up quite yet, but it’s not looking good.

Anyone reading this ever recovered from ITBS (syndrôme de l’essuie glace, ou tendinite du tenseur du fascia-lata en français) within 6 weeks of running a marathon? If so, what’s your secret?

Marathon training

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For the past while, I have been running quite a bit, in training for a marathon. I have no idea why – I was never a fan of jogging – but the idea of running a marathon started teasing me last Summer, and I finally decided I was going to do one. At the point where I went searching for candidates, and chose the lucky winner, the Annecy Marathon on the 29th of April, the die were cast and there’s no turning back.

To get into the habit of running, I trained for and ran the Marseille-Cassis on Hallowe’en weekend – I got through the 21 kms in 2 hours and 1 minute (I beat the 2 hour pace-maker by a couple of minutes, she had faded in the heat at the end). The unusual think about the Marseille-Cassis is that you start at an elevation of 0, between kilometers 6 and 10 you climb from 100m to 320m elevation, and then from kilometers 16 to 20, you go back down to 0 again. It’s very tough on the knees and hips, but great fun.

Next weekend, in Brussels, I will be asking myself whether this is worth it – will the madness ever end. I have a 21km run to do according to the Hal Higdon training schedule I’m doing my best not to ignore, and I’m planning on doing it in Brussels early Saturday morning (with thanks to Martin Sevior for the link to the very useful gmaps-pedometer site).

How early? I figure if I want to be at the conference for 10am, I will have to be running by 7. So getting up at 6.30 ought to do the trick.

Which brings me to ask myself: is it marathon or masothon?

And then there were 5 (in total)

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It is with great pleasure that I present to you the newest member of the Neary family, which, while waiting for a real name to be chosen (once we know whether he’s a he or a she) will be known by the codename “toto”.

We had the first scan today, and everything is perfect. If anyone who hasn’t seen one of these needs directions, ask in the comments, I’ll let you know where all the bits are :)

Update: It seems some people thought that this was going to be my 5th child – I can confirm that the 5 includes myself and Anne – that’s 3 kids. Isn’t that enough?

Address hunt 2

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Excuses pour l’interlude commercial.

Pour ceux qui cherchent un appartement à Lyon, j’ai une affaire à vous proposer… nous vendons le notre, un T3 de 80m^2, avec salon, cuisine équipé séparé, deux grands chambres, hall d’entrée, à proximité de Place Rouget de l’Isle dans le 3ème arrondissement. Il y a également une place dans un parking fermé, et une cave de 6.5 m^2.

Les rendez-vous sont par téléphone ( ou par e-mail à moi-même (comme toutes les spammeurs de la planète peuvent attester, ce n’est pas difficile à trouver).

Can’t stand waiting

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Heady times.

I’ve been away from home with work quite a bit over the past few months, but I’ve still found time to get the conference ( for those who haven’t been paying attention) more or less organised.

We will have t-shirts. We will have goodie bags. We will have conferencees. We will have a big mess tryoing to figure out how to manage workshops, demos and BOFs. We will have food & drink. We will even have name badges!

I’m in that twilight state where you’ve put a lot of work into something, and you’re not sure how it’s going to go down. Will it be a roaring success or a giant flop? Will everyone (or most people) come away happy or annoyed at having wasted a weekend? I can’t wait, but I’m a little nervous all the same. I just want to get to Friday morning.

Now, I’ll just need to throw together a presentation to open the conference. In an hour between putting the kids to bed and leaving home to go away with work (again) this week. Thankfully, there has been a great team involved in the conference so far, so the last minute organisation and set-up is in good hands.

See you all in Lyon next week.

La fête des lumiéres

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On the 8th of December in Lyon, every house lights some candles and puts them in the window. Children decorate small glass pots for the occasion. And throughout the town there are spectacular light shows and art installations.

The Fête des Lumiéres is a Lyon tradition which has grown in the past few years to a weekend festival of light, both bigger and more accessible than Paris’s “Nuit blanche”.

The origins of the tradition are open to question. One version is that the city of Lyon is thanking the virgin Mary for saving Lyon from German bombs during the second world war (a nice contrast between the black-out and a city full of light). However, some people I know have told me that their grandparents put candles in the window as children, suggesting that the tradition predates 1945.

The festival has outgrown its religious origins to become an emblem of the city, and people now come from all over the world to take part.

Thomas had great fun painting and decorating his jars, and last night we went to see a light-show in Place des Terreaux. We got home well after his bed-time, but it was a real treat to see the glint in his eye at the end of the evening.

A good day

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Yesterday morning, Thomas, Paul and I made a surprise breakfast in bed for Anne.

Afterwards I went walking with Thomas to buy the newspaper, and we went climbing in a nearby playground. On the way home, we found a balloon from the previous evening and spent ages playing football with it. There were eddies of wind blowing it in circles, and most of the time we were playing against invisible opponents.

After his siesta, we went out to buy a christmas tree and get all the ingredients for a real traditional heavy Christmas cake (except they don’t have treacle in France). The kind that you hide under the stairs for 3 weeks before it’s just right to plaster with marzipan and icing.

Tonight, we decorate the tree and make the cake.

Update: Don’t bake a Christmas cake in a fan-assisted oven (or cook it in unassisted mode). It will dry out, and rather than slowly ripening, the cake will carbonise. The house did smell great, but I’m afraid the cake is mostly inedible. Will post a recipe later, if people are interested.

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