Being quite busy last week with my new job, I totally forgot to blog about it, so, in case someone is interested, I started last Monday working at Canonical. Not sure yet what parts of my work are public, so I’ll just point you to the job offer for now
While cleaning up my very old mail, I came across some of the 1st mails I sent related to GNOME, and, a bit late though, I wish to celebrate my 10th anniversary as a GNOME user and developer. I started as a user in 1998, and after some hacking training (on my free time, since my job at that time was nothing related to free software), I came to announce version 0.1 of gnome-sql, which was later on integrated with the already existing GNOME-DB project.
In all these years, I’ve worked on several projects (GNOME-DB, Evolution, Control Center, openSUSE GNOME packaging and integration mainly), and, most important, I’ve met a lot of great people, and, fortunately, the future looks even more exciting (more news on this soon), so looking forward to my 20th anniversary
In the 8 years I’ve been at Novell/Ximian, several layoffs have happened (not in the Ximian times, AFAIR), and until now, I was never affected (directly, of course, since losing very good work colleagues affects), so it was just a matter of time that it would affect me. So, yes, from Feb 17th, I am officially unemployed, for the 1st time in, like 15 years or so. And, for the 1st time in my life, I have been fired from a company.
Fortunately, I am a positive person, and since I had been thinking for a while to move somewhere else, this gives me the opportunity to stop thinking and start acting. More on these plans as soon as they materialize, as for the time being, I’m going to relax for a couple of weeks, doing nothing but have fun.
Of course, as I am unemployed, I’m open to hear any offers, so feel free to send any, if you want me. Apart from computing, I am very good at riding motorcycles, skiing, having fun and making maps, just good at cooking and canoeing, and wanting to learn on martial arts and lots of other stuff, so, if you have something fitting any of these categories, feel free to offer me a job
In the last few openSUSE-GNOME team meetings, it was decided to do regular packaging days whenever GNOME point versions are released, with the goal of providing bleeding edge updates as quickly as possible. So, next week is that time: along with the GNOME 2.25.90 release on Feb 4th, Thursday Feb 5th we’ll be helding a packaging day to get the latest unstable GNOME release packaged into our GNOME:Factory project (to be used for openSUSE 11.2 but also available for 11.1). It is a great opportunity to find out how to contribute to the packaging of GNOME for openSUSE.
The packaging day will last the whole day long, so just come around #opensuse-gnome IRC channel on FreeNode at any time you want and ask how to help.
The week before Christmas I went in vacation for the first time to the Alps for some skiing, to Cervinia, a wonderful village below the famous Cervino/Matterhorn, in the Valley of Aosta, in Italy.
The week of vacation started on Friday 12th, in the evening, when we (Cristina, Yolanda, Nicolás and myself) started a 15 hour drive from Peralta to Cervinia, crossing to France via La Junquera, the South East of France through Grenoble (where Vincent and I couldn’t coordinate a short visit), and from there, crossing part of the Alps, still in France, through many ski resorts (Megève, Saint Gervais, Houches Blanches, etc), along with (at least we could see the traffic signs) some Tour de France mytical places (Alpe d’Huez, Bourg d’Oisans, Mont Ventoux, etc), up to the Mont Blanc tunnel entrance.
Crossing that tunnel was a bit uncomfortable, after a few minutes you could feel the hot (22ºC compared to the -4ºC outside), but it was worth it, since as you cross it, you get to Italy and to Courmayeur, another ski resort (it’s plenty of them around there ) and then through the valley of Aosta up to Cervinia.
Cervinia is just part of a huge ski resort, composed of the Italian Breuil Cervinia and Valtournenche, connected to the Swiss resort of Zermatt, with the Cervino/Matterhorn mountain in the middle, all of this making up to 350 kms of pistes to enjoy. Unfortunately for skiing, the weather was quite bad the whole week (lots of snow the first few days, then avalanches danger, then huge winds), which forced the resort to be closed fully one day and have most of the pistes and lifts closed the rest of the days. Specially bad was that the connection to Zermatt was closed the whole week, so we couldn’t visit it unfortunately.
We could neither visit the glacier in the Plateau Rosa and the Swiss part of it, nor the nice Swiss village of Fury, where you pass skiing through the village streets. And, of course, we couldn’t see the best face of the Cervino/Matterhorn, but at least we could see it one day (it was covered with fog most of the week). But the worst was that, just in the 2nd hour of the 1st day of ski, Cristina fell down and broke a bone in her arm. This made her not ski at all for a couple of days, and ski just in the beginners area in the sunny days. For the rest of us, we could just use 3/4 different pistes for the whole week. Fortunately they were long enough and with very good snow as to enjoy them a lot, and since we were skiing slowly for Cristina, we visited some bars that are in the middle of the pistes, for some good food and drinks.
But the bad weather gave us the chance to enjoy being at 2000 meters above the sea level, surrounded by mountains with 3/4 meters of snow, and the whole village being covered by snow all the time, despite the work being done by lots of people the whole day to clean it. I know this may sound a bad thing for some people, but really, I wouldn’t mind having been isolated there for a few weeks more
But it’s not all about skiing and snow, since, being in Italy, eating was a priority on this trip, and the stuff we tasted was just wonderful every day at dinner, at the hotel, quite ellaborated cuisine, with very nice decorations (like some soar ham being served in the form of a rose and that kind of things). And in the bars and restaurants of the village and ski resort, we could try lots of nice local cuisine, like the Crespella (like a French Crêpe), the Goulash (beef stew), different kinds of cheese, pasta, red wines, and, of course, the pizzas (I love them, so I couldn’t be in Italy and not try them).
Overall, despite not having skied as much as we wanted and Cristina’s injury, we had a lot of fun, and are already willing to come back as soon as possible. The Pyrennes, where I ski usually, are great, but the Alps are just a bigger dimension, better prepared and with much better pistes/snow, so now that I know them, more visits are mandatory.
For all photos, see here.
Killermundi was an online shop who has been contributing with some donations to GNOME Hispano (the Spanish speaking GNOME group). Now, under a new name (FreeWear), they have renovated their GNOME fashion line. For every item sold, a percentage is donated to GNOME Hispano, so by buying something, you get a cool t-shirt/jacket and, at the same time, help in the funding of events organized by GNOME Hispano.
For openSUSE 11.1, and with the new gnome-sound-properties from GNOME 2.24, we switched to libcanberra for playing sounds for events. This allows us to have sound themes now, and, as part of the libcanberra inclusion, we added sound-theme-freedesktop, which is the sound theme from freedesktop.org (in case you didn’t guess from the name ), and which is the only one available so far for libcanberra to use.
libcanberra (and the sound properties applet) gives us the opportunity to have different sound themes very easily. I am not aware of any project to have openSUSE-branded sounds, but if it exists or someone wants to provide some new sounds, please contact me, we might be able to include them in 11.1 (as a sound-theme-openSUSE package) if they are good enough (and are ready ASAP ).
I started a few months ago training Taijiquan, a Chinese martial art, most known in the Western World by its non-martial derivative Taichi. As with other martial arts, the learning process doesn’t involve just ways for hitting your opponent or defending yourself from an attack (I wouldn’t really be interested in it if it only offered that, given that the last time I had a fight I was a teenager, many years ago), but some other things. And one of them is the theory of Qi, which is the Chinese term for energy, which is supposed to be flowing on your body and, via an intensive training, can be driven to whatever part of your body by your mind. The idea is to, for instance, direct the flow of Qi to your hands right when you hit your opponent, multiplying the strength of the punch, or, also, to get more strength on some part of your body when you receive a kick/punch to not get injured, or, even more interesting, to heal some injuries. All this sounded to me quite strange, being a science person, until recently, when I read Dr Yang, Jwing Ming’s book that explains it very well, in a scientific way. So, to not keep this post too long, and given my still limited knowledge on this, I’ll try to summarize:
Human body’s Qi can be what we call biolectricity, which is just electricity flowing around the body. It is very easy to experiment it, just rub your hands and after a few seconds doing it, pass your hands over your head, without touching the hair: you will see your hair being attracted by the electricity in your hands. And this biolectricity flows all over the body because the body is plenty of tissues that conduct it. And, interestingly, there are organs that are made of non-conductive tissue which store the electricity (a battery!). So, with Taijiquan (and Qigong) techniques, you are supposed to control the flow of this electricity through your body, sending it to the batteries for storage or to other parts of the body for reactivation of tissues and other things, all done with the mind and breathing. That is why Taichi (the non-martial derivative well known in the Western World) has such popularity, given it helps a lot in keeping your body healthy. Does it still sound strange? Maybe, the last part of driving it with your mind is still beyond my knowledge, so can’t say it’s true, but at least the rest of the theory about the electricity circulation not only sounds convincing, but it is indeed scientifically confirmed AFAIK.
This theory makes a lot of sense in Taijiquan, where brute force is not used against your opponent (only in very rare occasions), the idea being to just use the force from your oponent and, via accompanying movements, reduce it completely, making your opponent fell down or just hit the air. And when in trouble, you just use your Qi
Last week it was hacking week for the openSUSE-GNOME team, so I continued working on a little project I started a few weeks ago, which is, in the good old Richard Hughes tradition, a thing called AdminKit, which is a PolicyKit-based framework for allowing user applications to run administration tasks.
Most of the time hacking on this has been dedicated to the PolicyKit stuff, but now everything should be in place, and, apart from the 2 methods I added (RunAsRoot to replace gnomesu/gksu/kdesu, and AddUser as an example of how to use YaST’s command line interface for the operations), more methods (users management, firewall, samba shares, etc) can be easily added. With this and the GUI from gnome-system-tools, I think we can start providing a distro-independent (and acceptable to all of them) set of administration tools for GNOME (and KDE, if they adopt AdminKit), or just add the needed admin functionality to already existing applications. From now on, here are my ideas:
- Move PolicyKit mechanisms already existing in some GNOME modules (gnome-panel’s SetTime and SetTimezone, for instance) to AdminKit, provided people agree on adopting it
- See system-tools-backends and reuse as much knowledge/code as possible
- See at changing gnome-system-tools’ GUI to use AdminKit (once the functionality needed is moved to AdminKit)
- Add more admin operations, as needed. For openSUSE, we have quite a lot of functionality via yast’s command line interface, and other distros have similar stuff, so anything we need can be added AFAIK.
Get the code with:
git clone http://www.gnome.org/~rodrigo/git/osc-plugins.git
(cd AdminKit, the other top-level dirs contain unrelated projects)
And, soon, packages at my home build service repository.
[Note: if you don’t care about sports, just skip this post]
Another Olympic games over, and, as always, I enjoyed them a lot, even though now I miss a lot having top level sport events all day on TV. But good things always last too little. So, here are the things I’d like to highlight:
- As always, coverage on the public TV was a not as good as I expected, since they just follow competitions where there are Spaniards (fortunately with some exceptions, like the athletics and gymnastics). While this is good for some sports (ie, live coverage of all Spain’s basketball games), it sucks for others. Luckily, I got Eurosport, which had a better coverage of some sports, like swimming, gymnastics and volleyball.
- While there are lots of bad things around professional sports (dopping, corruption, etc), there are many more good things about it, like the case of Aelemayehu Bezabeh, a guy from Africa (sorry, can’t remember the country) who came to Spain, like thousands of other poor and desperate people, in a little boat, risking his life, and ended up in an inmigrants’ detention center where someone from the Spanish Athletics Federation saw him running and got him to get into the Spanish Athletics team (after being naturalised) and to an 11th place in the 5000 meters final of the Olympic Games. Sport helps a lot in integrating cultures, and this is a very good example.
- Depending on how you look at the medal table, China has won the Olympic Games, with an insulting superiority in some sports, like Gymnastics (9 golds out of 14 events), table tennis (100%), weighlifting and diving (7 golds in 8 events). They have indeed prepared very well the games, even though they did win very few medals in the most important sports, like athletics and swimming.
- Spain’s performance (18 medals, 5 golds, 9 silvers and 3 bronzes) was good IMO, even though the big media here are talking about total failures in some sports (0 medals in athletics and swimming). But, let’s be serious, in Spain 90% of the money and media attention goes to football, so it’s quite funny to see people, who don’t care about other sports the rest of the year, demand medals on those sports, and talk about total failure when there are no medals. It’s true though that the performance in athletics and swimming has been quite inferior to what was expected, but at the end, except for a few surprise medals, medals were won in the sports that get some attention here, like cycling (4 medals), team sports (3 medals) and tennis (2 medals, with the gold for Rafael Nadal). Of course, we would all have liked to have a performance like countries similar to us (economically), like Italy, France and Great Britain (great improvement by the Britains, btw), but in those countries, it seems to me, much more money is spent in sports, and thus the different results, I think.
- I’ve read lots of comments and articles about some Chinese gymnasts having fake passports for being able to participate in the games. While I’m not an expert and can’t really comment on whether having a child (or teenager) prepare for top level competitions is good or not, I really think the Olympic games should have the best in each sport, and if some child is the best, why can’t he/she participate? Also, it’s funny to see all the attention to this case because it was a Chinese athlete, but I saw nobody complain about the youngest athlete in these games, Thomas Daley, an English diver (very good by the way, a pleasure to watch him) who is 14 years old, and who became European champion a few months ago, when he was 13. If the English can have 14 years old athletes, I guess the Chinese should be able to also
- Even though basketball is clearly my favorite sport, I never have really enjoyed women’s basketball, mainly because even though women are usually smaller than men, they play with the same baskets (3.05 meters height), which make them play totally different when playing inside the paint than what I’m used to. Why the hell don’t they use a smaller height for the baskets? There are a few women that can slam dunk, but just a few, so the women’s games lose that part of the game, which is, IMO, a very needed thing for this sport. When shooting from outside, I see no differences, the women score as good as men, but the inside the paint playing makes it look a bit more boring.
And now for some stars of these games:
- The Spanish basketball team have done, once again, a perfect performance, even putting the USA team under some problems during the final (118-107). As the Eurosport commentators said, we changed from being happy about the silver medal before the game to feel sad for having lost the gold medal. And this was because Spain played at the same level, face-to-face, against one of the best basketball teams in history (still eons behind of the 1992 USA dream team, of course), demonstrating, once again, the good health of Spanish basketball (with followers like myself, how can it not be healthy ). European media even said this Spanish team was the best European team in history. But anyway, I’m a bit happy about the USA team winning the gold medal, because Kobe Bryant said he would not come back to the US if they didn’t win the gold medal, which would have been a very bad thing, provided we want him back at Los Angeles Lakers, with Pau Gasol.
- Nastia Lukin is one of the stars, IMO, of these games. She’s one of the best gymnastics I’ve ever seen (along my favorite Svetlana Boginskaia), and it was a real pleasure to watch her performing awesome things. The same for some of the Chinese gymnasts, although, I think, in some cases, they got higher points than what they deserved. In most cases they didn’t need any help from the judges, they were simply the best, but there were a couple of gold medals that, I think, were not deserved by the Chinese. But this always happens in gymnastics, even after having found a quite good scoring system, there are always this kind of things for helping the local athletes.
- What to say about Michael Phelps that hasn’t been said? I’ll just mention how he does the turns. He was, in some races, a few meters behind the leader, and after the turn, he was the leader, with a few meters distance between him and the 2nd one, just amazing! I’ll also mention the 4×100 freestyle relays, one of the best (if not the best) swimming races I’ve seen in my life, with 5 teams swimming under the previous world record. It’s been amazing to see so many world records (26!) in the swimming competitions.
- Britta Steffen was another amazing performer, she won 2 gold medals (50 and 100 m freestyle) at the very last millisecond, in one of them she didn’t even know she had won, since she was behind the leaders by a few meters.
- Kenenisa Bekele and the Ethiopians and Kenyans in athletics are just amazing also. And made me think about a good way of convincing racist people about the white people not being superior. On the contrary, the black people are the ones that are superior, at least in sports (and music, I might add ), and specially in Athletics. It’s quite unusual to see some white athlete in the first places in some events, and the medals won by European countries in those events are from naturalised Africans.
- The Jamaicans did a great performance in the speed races (100, 200 and 4×100 relays), both men and women, and specially worth mentioning is Usain Bolt, who won 3 gold medals with 3 world records. Worth mentioning also is the case of the 4×100 relays USA team, who, year after year, even though they have some of the best athletes, they end up dropping the relay and losing all chances to win a medal. After watching the replays and hearing the commentators, it was clear that they don’t train passing the relay, which is a very basic and needed thing if you want to do something in this event
Now, just looking back to London 2012, which, I hope, I might be able to feel live, since my sister lives in the UK, so a visit to her during the Olympics is a must.