Enjoying Musical Theatre

So my mother has been visiting this week for the first time since I moved to Cambridge. Her trip here is actually quite a big step for her as its the first time she has really travelled since she had her brain surgery some months ago. And while she is still struggling somewhat with anxiety attacks I think the change of environment has been good for her.

Anyway, as part of her visit I took here into London last evening to watch Mamma Mia the musical at the Prince of Wales theater close to Leicester Square. I think it was the first musical I have seen live since I saw Phantom of the Opera as a kid. I actually ended up enjoying the show quite a lot and while I would think the cast might be a little tired of doing the show at this point it didn’t come through at all. Instead they seemed very enthusiastic and energetic. I was positively surprised how they had managed to tie the various ABBA songs lyrics together into a relatively coherent narrative.

So while I do not see myself becoming a regular on the London musical theatre track I do suggest that anyone who has family visiting them in the UK might consider a trip to the London West End as a good way to entertain their guests.

Back from Turkey

So a little later than ‘everybody else’ I am now back from Turkey. Wim and I had both decided we needed some vacation and since we where going to Turkey for GUADEC it would be a great opportunity for us to travel around and see the area. Our original plan included climbing Mount Arrarat and visiting Georgia and Armenia, but trouble getting climbing permit combined with some german tourists getting kidnapped on Mount Arrarat by Kurd sepratists got us to adjust our plans. We ended up instead travelling down to cities such as Urfa (Edessa) and Harran, spending some days in Cappadocia and finally visiting Pamukkale and Ephesos. Had a blast of a time although Wim seemed a little less enthusiastic about females of the Korean and Taiwanese variety than me. Could of course just be that ‘Hello Kitty’ panties fail to get his sap boiling :)

For anyone travelling to Turkey I think spending 2-3 days in Göreme is an absolute must. It is a charming backpacker town with a lot of the hotels carved out of volcanic rock. A little gimmicky in the sense that the locals no longer live in the rocks for the most part, but the area is something which just have to be experienced.

Although we enjoyed the food I think it is safe to say that neither myself or Wim will be eating salad with cucumber and tomato, sprinkled with a little lemon anytime soon. 10+ days in a row is enough for a while :)

One thing I started wondering about while travelling around was the enormous expectations by local people for what an EU membership would mean for the people of Turkey, ranging from the EU solving all minority rights issues for Kurds, Armenians and Alavis, west European living standards and salaries for everyone, to solidifying Turkeys secular traditions. While the EU will for certain help push Turkey in the right direction on these issues, I can’t help but wonder if a future EU membership for Turkey might end up being a big lettdown compared to the expectation level I experienced.

Guadec warm-up

Arrived in Istanbul on Friday in preparation for GUADEC. Had a great time so far visiting the main attractions like Haga Sofia, The Blue Mosque, the Sultans palace and the underground water cistern. Last night Wim, Tim, Edward and myself went out to met Jan and Jaime for some food. A lot of other people ended up there too and it was nice seeing people again. Turns our there is a really nice street close to the Golden Horn Hotel which provide you with a lot of pillows to sit on as you see in the picture below:
Pre-guadec Istanbul socializing

I got myself a Lumix TZ4 camera just before leaving the UK as I wanted to be able to take some good pictures. Compared to my earlier cameras this camera is a huge step up. 10x optical zoom makes a world of difference in terms of what kind of pictures I can take. Was also very happy last night to find that GStreamer is able to play the .mov files generated by the camera easily. Some time ago now we did a call for people to provide us with camera video files, and it seems that work has paid of in handling a lot of the semi-standard mov files that cameras create.

Today we have gathered in front of our hotel for a little impromptu GStreamer summit. So far discussion has been about Git and the possibility of migrating to it from our current CVS repository. While using CVS do give us an air of age, wisdom and venerability there is an inkling in the GStreamer community that we might be using a slightly outdated version control system :)

Making better packages with Mach

I was convinced by Zeeshan to help out with making official Fedora RPMS of the gupnp libraries and tools. After looking at the Fedora packaging guidelines I concluded that the only sane way of doing it without to much pain and work was to use Mach which is an tool Thomas Vander Stichele created to allow you to easily set up clean buildroots for any RPM based system. Not having used Mach in a long while I was reminded when setting it up how nicely done it is and what a powerful tool it can be. I has already helped me find quite a few bugs in the spec files I had created for upnp and friends and I am sure that when I submit these spec files to Fedora, the process of getting them approved will be much more straightforward and painless than if I had just made them by fumbling around in my normal install. So I strongly recommend to anyone who needs to build RPMS to check out Mach and afterward say thanks to Thomas for creating it. Thanks Thomas!