gwolf's blog

Driving woes

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 11/08/2004 - 01:31
About six months ago, I got my first car: A very nice Fiat Palio Adventure. The day we finally got it, 13 Km away from the store, it broke - We had to wait for over three weeks to get it. But anyway, that's old history - By now I have gotten used to having wheels, it is much easier to move around the city (and fortunately I still have access to the public transport system, which in Mexico is still much better than driving for many areas of the city), and we have started playing with hitting the road at weekends. Good, joy, happiness. One week ago, Héctor told me he was driving in Periférico (a freeway, I am sure he was at least at 100Km/h) near Cuemanco, when the car had some jerks and died, and he could only start it around 15 minutes later. He is quite a good mechanic, and I always believe him... But we didn't have any problem, so we thought it would be just a hiccup. Joy, we could go out this weekend. Ajusco? Milpa Alta? Nadezhda and I were in Periferico, and... Well, same story - Only that I am not quite a confident driver under strange situations. Well, we managed to pull aside, and 15 minutes later started the car again. The car is now in the store again (although there were no mechanics at Automotores Insurgentes, they will only start looking at it by tomorrow). I fear I will get the same treatment I got the first time - Although they have come to know who I am (after filing a PROFECO complaint, yelling at them with customers present for being so irresponsive and such)... Anyway... I know this might not be interesting... It is just that I am quite frustrated. The car is very nice, but it does not seem to be very solid. And I am not planning on changing it at least for five/ten years, so... They'd better fix it well, or... or... or... Hmmm...
Today was a good day. We had lunch with Nadezhda's brother, Adrián. We bought two kilos of [term]carnitas[/term], and that kept us stuffed for the day. Came back home at arond 4PM, left for the supermarket only to find out we left the keys inside - That deserved a visit to the family, fortunately they had a copy. Some time with the kids, back home, and back to work. After some four hours today (and a _long_ time, too much given the problem's complexity) I am finally through with the system for the Mexican Mathematics Olympiad. I also re-discovered my dear project ProtoWrap, which in its day costed me a whole deal of research and work... and had been dormant for the last couple of years. I don't know, I might just revive it - At least, I found a nice (although very specific) task for which it solved my needs, easily and transparently adding SASL to a mail server I don't really want to fiddle too much with.
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Dead plans, cool stuff, new packages, life itself...

Submitted by gwolf on Sat, 11/06/2004 - 10:12
Well, I am pissed to inform you all that two projects that had me quite happy have gone astray. About the work I got for ~6 weeks for people related to Telmex: Telmex is not directly hiring anymore, they only hire via Manpower. The bastards at Manpower asked me for so many stupid papers that it would have taken me a full week of bureaucracy to satisfy them, then some extra days to wait for the final approval... So I would only have this job for, say, two weeks of November (one of which I won't be available for and December (half of which is vacations and nobody would be there to work with)... So I decided not to take it. Goodbye, money. Then, [friend]Roberto[/friend] notified me that the people in Tijuana I was supposed to work with next week were having some internal restructurization (does that word exist), so my job there is in the limbo... I hope it gets solved before I start working at IIEc/UNAM, starting on January, or I'll have to kiss goodbye another nice bunch of money which I really need right now :-/ But life is good: At least I now have a definitive _yes_ for IIEc and a start date. I am happy.
Simon Law was complaining about the plumbing at his toilet... This made me remember I still have to get someone to install the tiles we purchased for my house, about 70 meters of tiles will be replaced (50 year old tiles look _really_ sorry by now). Our new tiles have been sitting at the kitchen (which is fortunately large enough) for over one month, so I have grown used to them...
Wow... The Debian QA team has been quite busy! This week they found close to 100 packages whose maintainer was MIA - Among them, many Perl modules. Being I part of the pkg-perl group, I am looking into some 15 of them... Expect me to adopt at least five, probably more.
My friend David from the CabrasLocas UPN team wrote a blog entry about Guido van Robot, a Pythonesque version of the great _Karel the Robot_ I learnt programming basics with in a C64 about 18 years ago... Sweet! :-D He started a translation of GvR (language, interface and documentation) to Spanish. I really suck at Python, although I have to admit it is quite a nice language, so I am not volunteering. Would someone be interested in packaging it? It would make a good addition to Debian-Jr!
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Ok, now I am busy!

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 11/01/2004 - 17:08
After bitching so much about not having a real job and being too busy doing nothing, the last week was full of good news. First of all, I was speaking with [friend]Ido[/friend], who works at one of the remaining parts of the company I worked for for some weeks (long story... :) ), and he told me he needed a sysadmin for a simple server. Right now, the server is serving nothing, but they will start giving good use to it soon. A *very* bad configured Fedora 2... I will be working on its debianization soon. Then, as I was arriving back home from Teziutlán, another friend told me he wanted me to go teach some Perl at Tijuana. I have to confirm this with him, but it seems I will be spending most of this week there. Yes, I said I was sick of travelling - But this time I will get paid for my time ;-) And yesterday I talked with [friend]César[/friend]. About six weeks ago I talked with him regarding another job, for Telmex's Centro de Cultura Digital. I told him I was planning on going to work at UNAM, but if he wanted me around for a couple of months, I was interested. Well, Telmex seems to be a huge bureaucracy as well... I had given up hope on this one. Yesterday he told me I was in. Starting next Monday and until I start working at UNAM, I will be working for Telmex. Oh! And something very important I could not miss today: Today I have been for nine years with Nadezhda. Amazing how time flies... Cosa, gracias por todo! :-***
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Good news in many fronts

Submitted by gwolf on Sat, 10/30/2004 - 01:16
I have not been so happy for a long time. Two things I was very eagerly waiting for are becoming tangible. First of all, yesterday [friend]Pooka[/friend] finally mailed me to notify me I have been accepted to work at IIEc - UNAM. I have been hoping for this to come true since... August, I think. I will start working as a sysadmin at UNAM on January 1st (theoretically, of course - January 3 is much more believable), which means I will go back to a sane schedule, back to have some time to hack on interesting stuff... Joy! Secondly, after my dear _lactop_'s motherboard passed away over one month ago, my friend Alexander found a spare to replace it (and financed me so I would not go nuts - Right now I don't have the ~US$300 this costed). I am writing this from my dear lactop. What did I miss most? Two things: First of all, this machine has a 1400x1050 display, and after this, working with a crappy 1024x768 (even if the machine is much smaller) sucks. Secondly, I _love_ this keyboard. Plain old US layout, no extra things to bother me, no keys in strange places just to save space - The perfect keyboard. And, yes, on the monetary front: My friend Roberto needs someone to do some Perl consulting in Tijuana next week. I think that consulting will pay for my motherboard and for a new computer for Nadezhda (poor girl, she is suffering with a dying and unreliable machine, and as our little printing business grows, so does her dependence on having a trustable machine). All in all, even after a 7hr trip by bus from Teziutlán (fucking ADO... Who told them the shortest path between Teziutlán and Mexico goes through Perote?), this was one of the happiest days in a long time. My niece is spending the night with us, and that also brightens things up even more. By the way: She is the main culprit we had a very nice _cochinita pibil_ for dinner :-)
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Back home... Back to work?

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 10/26/2004 - 00:16
I just got back from Chile. A very nice experience. I liked very much the enthusiasm and involvement of the people, the interest on joining Free Software projects, the actual work that is being done here... There were three days of talks, during which I spent most of the time, of course, talking with the attendees mostly about Debian - There is an incredible amount of interest for Debian in the country. [friend]Bruno[/friend] is close to becoming Chile's first DD, and I am sure many others will follow. I have about 8 people on my list for keysigning, I think I will put my mind to it tomorrow... I am excited to see more activity down there! As for me... Well, back to work. No, wait - This is Gunnar speaking. And I am still unemployed, I am still waiting for confirmation at UNAM. Everything points out that I _am_ hired... But, as Son de la negra says, _a todos diles que sí, pero no les digas cuando, así me dijiste a mí, por eso vivo penando_. I have been waiting for this paperwork to be done since I was in Bolivia, in August :-( Tomorrow I will catch up with my mail, will try to work out some ideas with Comas (yes, [friend]MiG[/friend], I already started coding), check details with my two UPN-related things, work on some Debian packages/bugs/ideas I have pending for too long, go on with MonitorK's authentication, go to a LUG meeting in the evening... The days seems a bit packed :-/ It seems it will be one of those days spanning 48 or 72 hours.
I have grown used to get to the airport and come by myself home. Today I found Nadezhda waiting for me there. It made me very happy. Thanks :-D
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EncuentroLinux, Chile

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 10/21/2004 - 19:10
I left Mexico on Tuesday and arrived early on Wednesday to Chile for the Fifth Linux Encounter. The timezone difference (two hours, Chile is at UTC-3) is just enough to make me tired (waking up at my natural 4AM is not fun, and I done it two days in a row), but it is worth it. I met the organizers, and some minutes after me, Peter Salus arrived. We came together to Valparaíso (around 1hr away from Santiago), and soon after that started meeting the Chilean users. In the evening, [friend]tbm[/friend] showed up. Besides Peter, Martin and I, the rest of the speakers and attendees are all Chilean - And I really liked it. In most of Latin America (Mexico included), conference organizers (me included, when I organized CONSOL) seem to think that you need to invite as much foreign speakers as possible to make a conference worthy - I now strongly object to this point of view, and have made the point over and over. There are 38 scheduled talks plus at least four BoF sessions. 30 speakers. The conference has around 650 attendees. Last year it received 450, and this year around 500 were expected - Quite well for a small country with a population around 15 million people and with very long travel distances. The organization team is doing a great work, they are constantly nervous and running (as any organizer should be, of course) but things are running quite smoothly. They are taking care of everything for all of the speakers, bringing us to the university, out to lunch, back to the hotel... What I liked most (and, again, I am writing this based on my past experience with CONSOL) is that we the foreigners do not get any special attention that Chileans do not receive - We are just part of the group of speakers. That is the most amazing thing on this conference, and what I will try to promote in my country and in any other conference I am invited to. This conference has a good deal of visibility. We (Fernando San Martín, Max Celedon, Rodrigo Henriquez and me) were invited to a TV show, TVNauta, in UCVTV, Chile's oldest TV station (I will get a digitized version of the program, will inform you later). Even Ricardo Lagos (Chile's President) was invited to the opening, and was going to attend (although in the end could not do it... Would have been really cool!). There is quite a good deal of interested people. Yesterday I have to admit I ended up tired of talking with different people about my talk (a mixture of my Social aspects in Free Software and Quality assurance in Free Software projects talks), about the Debian project (which has got a lot of interest around here - Chile currently has no DDs, although Bruno Barrera is in the final stages of the NM process... But I can feel more people will get involved). We have today at 18:00 (Chilean time - GMT-3) a Debian BoF (I am not sure on which room it will be, probably you can see it webcasted. This university is quite gorgeous. It is probably some 40 meters over sea level, on a cliff, and overlooking the Valparaíso/Viña del Mar bay. I am typing this looking at boats come and go. Wednesday and Thursday the weather was a bit fucked, but today it is sunny and beautiful, although a little bit cool... Well...Time to go to a conference. I am quite happy with the Free Software movement in this country. And, as I have told many friends, I am amazed by the enthusiasm shown in various countries in South America.
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Can someone have too much of South America?

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 10/18/2004 - 19:57
I really doubt so. Every time I have been around there, I have had a great time, and I have felt most welcome... But anyway, isn't this a bit too much? I have been down there for: *May 26 - June 5:* Debconf4 and FISL5 at Porto Alegre, Brazil *August 9 - 23:* National Free Software conference at Sucre, Bolivia. First Free Software Simposium , Arequipa, Perú *September 24 - October 4:* XXX Latin American Conference on Informatics, Arequipa, Perú *October 19 - 25:* 5th Linux Encounter, Valparaíso, Chile Besides this, I have been invited to be in Tacna (Perú) for December 6-10, and I just got another invitation to be in November 15-20 in Moquegua (Perú) - where the organizers assume I will also be in Arica, Chile, the previous week. I have not confirmed the one in Tacna, and I doubt I will go to Arica/Moquegua, as it is too much travel jammed together in a couple of months, and I have a HUGE work backlog. But, yes, I would love to travel as much as possible ;-) BTW, I would love to go to Tacna together with Nadezhda and stay around there for some days, as it is a long time we haven't had vacations, and being it December, she will *really* welcome going to the hemisphere where it is Summer :) ...I still have a very important doubt here: I have not (personally) done much. I am _sincerely_ not much of a programmer, my intervention in various Free Software and computer security-related projects has decreased (as I have been, paradoxically, too busy talking all over the place), there are lots of more interesting people in my country, in my continent, in my field of work... I love travelling... But why do I keep being invited? :-) I don't really care about the answer, I really like travelling ;-)
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Of aging, dead and comatose machines

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 10/18/2004 - 13:19
It is almost one month my dear laptop (and, now that I am in this stupid inter-jobs period, main workstation) died. In fact, its passing away was one of the main reasons I decided to start blogging - I needed to tell someone of my grief and pain, of how much it hurts to lose such a faithful partner... But well, I didn't do it. Silly me, had I spent around US$300 on time, I would have bought Dell's extended warranty - And I have never seen a service with such a high quality as Dell's! Well, my friend Alexander told me he can get it repaired for about US$300. Fair, I gave him my computer and am hoping for the best. Sadly, I will not be able to see my dear machine for a week, as I am going to 5to Encuentro Linux in Valparaíso, Chile... But I hope to have it back by next Tuesday, when I come back. Ok... One month without my main workstation. What have I done in the meantime? How am I able to survive? The first couple of days were really terrible. I took an old laptop a friend of mine gave me some time ago (a P133 with 48MB RAM). And... Well, let's say it worked, although I could not do much with it. 240 bogomips are not quite thrilling. Then, some days later, [friend]p4ola[/friend] offered to lend me a K6-2@450, 64MB RAM. That sounds like a usable machine... But it didn't work as it should. I don't remember the exact problems, but I could not get it to work comfortably. As I was going to CLEI in Arequipa, Perú, I asked my part-time employer (UPN) to lend me one of the laptops they have for professors going to trips - which, happily, they gave me. It is quite a decent machine - a Dell Latitude D400, comparable to mine, although a bit lighter (around 2Kg, against around 4), a bit slower (1.4 vs. 1.7GHz), has more RAM (512 vs. 256MB)... But there is one thing I cannot stand: The screen is 1024x768. I feel as if I were in a cage. I am used to 1400x1050. By the way, I should have handed this machine back about two weeks ago... Will do so next week :) I hope they are not too mad at me.
But this subject got me to think of my other machines: My main server. I love that machine, but... Well, until a couple of weeks ago, it was quite enough. It is my oldest laptop (Pentium 120, 32MB RAM), with a 40GB hard disk. It serves me as a DSL gateway, and as a SMB, mail and web server. If your web site is static, this machine is more than enough... But if you are reading this on my site (insteaed of one of the planets where I am syndicated), you will notice it takes ages to open. 20 seconds on average for the main blog page to display. Sucky. I just upgraded to 48MB RAM, but it hardly makes a difference. I don't want to use any other machine for this, as a laptop makes a great home server - Almost no noise, very low power consumption, this old machine generates almost no heat so I can even store it in the bookshelf... Anyway, we will see what comes on next. ...And speaking about old machines: I still have not had time to play with my gorgeous Mac Quadra 950, one of the best m68k systems ever made (66MHz, up to 256MB RAM - which I believe it has. In a previous life it was used as a video editing workstation). It would make quite a nice buildd ;-)
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I am flattered!

Submitted by gwolf on Sat, 10/16/2004 - 20:14
You are Amiga OS. Ahead of your time.  You keep a lot of balls in the air.  If only your parents had given you more opportunities to suceed.
Which OS are You?
I have always been an AmigaOS fan... And now the infinite wisdom of Internet tells me it is not just causal.
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Cleanup day

Submitted by gwolf on Sat, 10/16/2004 - 13:46
This has been an interesting/productive Saturday. It started quite early, at about 8AM, some time after Nadezhda left for a course she is taking. I woke up decided to fix at least a simple bug in xosview. I adopted this package as it is a good excuse to get me to learn C++, on which I really suck. I am happy. This bug, although simple, was already over three years old, and I had seen it reported both in Debian and on the upstream Sourceforge site. And although xosview is not half as popular as it once was, DSL connections are quite commonplace - not having a way to correctly deal with them was a serious drawback on the package. On the personal side, I finally decided to cut my hair - Last haircut, IIRC, was a couple of weeks before Debconf, in May. Five months have passed, and well... I cannot find a decent, recent photograph, but I feel I really looked like a caveman. Right now, I (think I) look much better - My beard is 0.7cm long, my moustache (sp?) a bit shorter, my hair 1cm. Man, forget about the looks - It is really more comfortable. My moustache was long enough to get into my drinks 90% of the times, so each sip of ${liquid} was invariably followed by me sucking my moustache. Yuck. ...And, going on with this maintenance day, I moved some plants I have on the roof, as my neighbors complained that the wall adjacent to our house was full of humidity... Not an easy task, as each of them was over 50kg (and, being so wet, the clay was too easy to break - one of them snapped in my hands, lucky me I jumped back quickly, as I was barefoot). And... Well, now I think I will go work a bit at my garden, as it is a terrible mess :-)
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My whole country feels depressive

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 10/12/2004 - 15:43
I have been feeling like this for quite some weeks already... I am (or should I say, should be?) involved in many projects. What should I be doing? Basically, what we Mexicans call [term]talacha[/term] - simple but repetitive work. Which, for a person like me, becomes something tedious. For my previous workplace, UPN (where I am now hired part-time to maintain some systems I wrote and do simple ones), this means fixing some bugs for Historia del Presente's site and finishing an attendance registration program for the Olimpiada Mexicana de Matemáticas. My progress? Almost nothing, and very slow. I am working on the second phase of a project I did with some friends last year. The client asked us for some extra features... Well, we have been trying to work on this for at least a full month, and I still see no real advance (excuse me if I am overlooking the work of any of you guys). I was talking with [friend]P4ola[/friend] yesterday, and we agreed that every one of us working on this is deeply depressed. Now, on my Free Software front: [friend]MiG[/friend] and I really need to work on Comas. There are a load of features we need to add, and details we need to polish, before marking a public release. Yes, CONSOL is using Comas, but I have given my word of adding some needed things for Debconf. And... Well, last commit was about two weeks ago, we have been sitting on our asses. At least we will work on analyzing how to incorporate what we need tomorrow afternoon. And about Debian? Well, I have been doing simple stuff. I have helped a bit clean up pkg-perl, adopted three packages I had waiting, uploaded a couple of fixes... But I still have not taken a look at some simple bugs on my other packages. ...And about life outside of my job: [friend]Nadezhda[/friend] and I seem to live in harmony: Both of us are depressed. She is doing much better than me, she has been working like hell with some frustrating clients, staying up late almost every day... But the air feels depressing. We have not done practically any cleanup at home for over a week, we have basically nothing in the kitchen, we are really in need to go to the store to buy some stuff... At least there is one motivator that will force us today: We just ran out of cat food, and _that_ is something we cannot ignore. So we will surely go today to spend some money. I am confident that as soon as I get formally hired at IIEC-UNAM (scheduled to happen in around two weeks time) things will start to improve... but right now, I am perhaps in the least active/productive moment of my life.
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Is it for real now?

Submitted by gwolf on Sun, 10/10/2004 - 12:41
[code="Perl"]use strict; print "Hello, world!\n";[/code] Many times through my life I have tried to start blogging somehow - On different public servers, maintaining a plain-HTML dairy, or similar strategies... And every time I did it, I ended up leaving it behind. I have been playing for quite some time with the idea of starting up a blog - Why not? Anyway, I have my own (although _very_ little) server, my friend [friend]ion[/friend] wrote quite a nice blogging software, [friend]Nadezhda[/friend]'s birthday was coming and we are too broke to consider giving her anything costy (and she has repeatedly told me she wants a blog ;-) ), I want my life to be syndicated in some planets, so... Here I am. Wish me luck! ;-)
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