Stuff I have written/presented
Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 10/24/2008 - 23:52
Last Wednesday I went for the first time in many years to FES Iztacala, the UNAM faculty where I worked for four years (1999-2003) and where I have most learnt and advanced in my career so far. I have a very special spot in my heart for Iztacala :-)
Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 09/24/2008 - 12:49
I was invited to participate at Festival Internacional de Software Libre (FISOL), in Tapchula, Chiapas. The other invited speakers were Sandino Flores (tigrux), Alexandro Colorado (jza), Eric Herrera (crac), John Hall (maddog) and Fernando Romo (pop), all well-known due to very different contributions to the Free Software movement in Mexico and abroad. Several other people also presented tutorials, but I was not involved in that part, and mentioning one while not the rest would be unfair.
Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 07/17/2008 - 15:42
Last week (July 7-13) was basically hell on Earth, for me and for the group that somehow got the name Cabras locas, of which I am part since I joined the National Pedagogical University, where I worked full-time 2003-2005.
Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 04/25/2008 - 15:06
I'm about to leave for Monterrey, Nuevo León, some 700Km North. Why? Because I was invited to be at the Monterrey FLISOL. And what exactly is a FLISOL? A very nice and interesting idea: Festival Latinoamericano de Instalación de Software Libre, Latin American Free Software Install Festival.
Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 03/28/2008 - 17:49
Submitted by gwolf on Sun, 01/20/2008 - 23:10
A phone call in December made me very proud: A colleague I met thanks to the Espora collective told me she was involved in the Mexican activities for this year's World Social Forum (FSM Mexico 2008 site). The Mexican activities? Yes. This year, the World Social Forum will not be held at one -or several- distinct places, but it will happen globally. There will be activities in tens of countries. The activity program for Mexico (full PDF version) is quite loaded - And I was invited to give one of the talks, this Friday (Jan 25) at 12:00, about Free Software for a Free Society, in the Foro Derecho a la Comunicación track.
I am very honored by this invitation! I just spent a couple of hours organizing/going through the topics I will be presenting. I hope to be able to be at some other of the forum's activities, as it just is too important and interesting to miss out!
Submitted by gwolf on Sun, 11/04/2007 - 13:04
Over one year ago, still at DebConf 6, the Latin American Debian people (and by people I mean just interested people, regardless of whether they were/are official DDs or not) held a BoF session. One of the ideas we discussed there was that, in order to increase Debian presence in our region (which is by no means small - Let alone the geographical aspects, I'm guessing we are about 350 million people, roughly split in half between [officially] Spanish- and Portuguese- speaking countries). Yet, this is an area with very little involvement in Debian in particular, and with Free Software in general.
One of our first issues seems to be language - Just by its scale and economic importance, we cannot even put in the same scale Brazil and the Spanish-speaking countries... So I'll focus on Spanish-speaking Latin America, as (I recall) we did in that session.
So, we agree: We need more local involvement in each of our communities. And, so far, we have seen quite relevant results. The number of people directly involved in Debian in Argentina, Chile, Perú, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador and Mexico (excuse me if I forget you in another country!) has notably risen since I brought this topic up, together with Christian Perrier, back in DebConf5, Helsinki. An undeniable fact is that distances in our continent, however, are huge. In the 2006 BoF, we agreed we should promote regional meetings, that would serve both for working focused on Debian topics (i.e. hack sessions, as we do in DebConf) and for spreading our work to the local population, to help them see that it is not needed to be super-skilled or anything like that to contribute to a real, important and large Free Software project such as ours. Of course, taking into account the distances in the continent, we thought it would be sensible to split it in two - and to try and hold regional mini-debconfs - One for the Northern half (i.e. Perú, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Central America, Cuba and Mexico), and one for the Southern half (Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay). And, for logistical reasons mainly, I strongly advocated having our first Northern meeting in Panamá. Why Panamá? Because it is a place cheap and easy to get to. They have a very important international airport, connecting to most if not all countries in the region, and -as they have risen as a business center- have good connectivity. Visa is required for many of the interested countries, but trivial to get (as opposed to what happened here in Mexico :-( ). Of course, other countries also looked interesting (there was some argument pushing Venezuela, but in the end, we all conceded it would be in Panamá.
I have to strongly thank Guillermo García - He is not (yet? :) I hope he still wants to get involved with this bunch of people) in Debian in any way, but after I contacted him, he agreed to start looking for a way to get us the right facilities in Panamá. He coordinated with a team which did most of the organization - A very nice web site is still available so you can look at their work - Quite a good job, I must add.
They contacted Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá, started talking with several potential sponsors, got information regarding hotels for us... But in the end, it flopped. Why? Because, although many of us were originally interested, in the end very few people (only three, none of them officially a Debian Developer, according to their last press release) confirmed their intention to attend.
Which brings me again to the question: Why?
First and foremost, I think it was lack of involvement. For one reason or another, all of the people that in the beginning pushed for this miniDebConf ended up busy doing other stuff, and didn't get at all involved in organization. It would have been a great present from our Panaman friends, yes, but quite unfair. And, of course, with no Debian people involved in organizing it, we got an chicken-and-eggesque situation... Where it didn't grab the attention of other Debian people.
Second, what they offered us was quite different to what we intended in the first place - At least, to what I imagined. On my first messages both to debian-devel-spanish and to Guillermo, I tried to get something close to what we had in mind: Something as informal and as intimate as it could be. My original request to Guillermo was just to get us a room where we could hack and talk, and probably sleep with sleeping bags.
Of course, I can perfectly imagine that when he requested the space to the university, on one hand, they didn't feel at ease having International Guests (with capital I and G - Very important for most Latin American universities!) sleeping on the floor. And, on the other hand, they would love to be able to show us around! Having an international project focus on a university in a non-technologically-well-known little country is quite something to show off!
Anyway... What happened? I was among the instigators, but Real Life called me away (I've been mostly inactive in Debian since September! :-( ). The miniconf was scheduled for November 14-17. I also insisted originally on having the miniconf on a long weekend (say, Friday through Sunday), as -being a miniconf and not the Real Deal- it'd be much easier for most of us to rob one day off work than a full week. In the end, this was the most important point for my decision not to join: I cannot afford more time off my work, not at this time of year. About the other involved people? I do not want to speak for any other people.
In the end, sadly, Guillermo had to inform us they cancelled - No, not postponed, but definitively cancelled. Why? Because -and I have to agree- next year we will have DebConf in Argentina... And many people in the region will focus our time and money on getting there.
Ok, making this whole story short: I'm very, very ashamed and sorry, with you personally, Guillermo, and with your whole team. And I hope we can resurrect this idea - be it in Venezuela (as it was suggested once) or elsewhere.
Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 08/29/2007 - 14:37
Good comrades, great chat, greater motivation.
Some good Scotch whisky, a good friend who was lumped along with me in .br by mere chance. A very good time.
A strong whisky aftertaste and numbness in the mouth. My first couple of pages of Terry Pratchet - Thanks a bunch!
My mind wanders, I go over all the nice and dear things and people
Maybe tomorrow I should restart my reading? I know Pratchett is not supposed to make much (rational) sense, but still... Although I've enjoyed this couple of pages, I'd rather let the whisky wear out before continuing with the gollem owner's life and tribulations, with his friendly treatment for his plausible but honorable assassin...
Today I saw quantum superpositions mixed with special relativity in a small (less than 200 lines) Perl module. Positronic variables go back in time, yay! Damian Conway rules.
Time to sleep, yes, if tomorrow you want to be in time for the lightning talks. Oh, BTW: great honor, great honor: One of the lightning talkers requested /me to sit on the front row "to have a friendly face to look at". Have to comply, have to do.
But... Last reflection before going away: What a better way to describe bliss in Vienna (oder auf Deutstch, ich glaube - glúcklich in Österreich;) than to go to sleep while listening to the neighbour's fucking-loud music? Of course, his fucking-loud-music is just the-Balkan-music-you-seem-to-love, so everything's úberfine!
Thanks to everybody who made this possible. Specially to the Austrian friends.
Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 08/29/2007 - 05:45
So here I am, sitting at a talk at YAPC::EU 2007, in the beautiful Vienna. It is too early to start thinking about a status report for what I've done and talked about, but I can say in advance that I'm very positively impressed - I expected my talk on the integration between CPAN and Debian that the Debian pkg-perl group is carrying out (presentation, full article) to be marginally interesting to a couple of people. Turns out, as YAPC drew closer, I heard from several people interested in attending it. Ok, maybe it is just for courtesy? Lets not get excited about no big deal...
Well, yesterday was the first day of CPAN - Man, after getting used to Debconf, three days of an interesting conference is just way too short! YAPC guys, for the next time... More time, please? :-}
I knew I would be meeting pkg-perl members Zamoxles and Jeremiah - Very nice to finally meet you guys! And a very welcome surprise (although we have been barely even able to talk) was to find another fellow DD, Daniel Ruoso, one of the agitators that started the pkg-perl group. He is not active (in the group) anymore, but he is still one of The Patriarchs ;-)
Ok, on with the talk: Contrary to what I expected, the talk room was quite full. I am used to longer talk slots (20 minutes is just about enough to spell my name, damnit! I presented 24 slides, and jumped only two of them - But made it just in time for the very strict Austrian staff to prepare but not wave the __END__ signal ;-) Would they show a die 'argh'; afterwards?), so I had to keep the limit from the very beginning.
Of course, there was no time for questions as part of the session. However, I've since then been approached by several people and discussed several aspects of our work and ideas for the future. I'll post more about this after YAPC is over...
My warmest kudos to the very orangy, mohawk-wearing orga team. Not only they came up with a great conference and are invariably good-mooded and nice (hey, I should learn from them!), they even have the presence of mind to be very nice, to go out with us to have a good time yesterday night!
Anyway, it shows the conference's topic is Social Perl. Nice social geeks are no longer a novelty to me, but still: The Perl community is warm, welcoming and in general, very nice. I'm quite happy to have made it here!
Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 06/25/2007 - 11:43
Ok, I'm officially back. Yup, when you have a meeting just over your regular lunch time and are suddenly seen as the guy who will fix the institute's video needs just because you worked manning cameras with the amazing DC7 video team, it just means you are back home. Lets see how several projects that have sprang up in the last couple of weeks (both at DebConf and at work) start materializing.
Anyway... DebConf was great. Just great. This time I had time both to feel I was useful and productive (mainly doing video-related stuff, although on some other points as well), to attend several interesting talks (although manning the camera did not leave my attention as complete as I would have liked), to have several nice chats, to play a good couple of hands of Mao - Hell, thanks to Kitty, I managed even to have some chats _while_ having a hand of Mao!
Of course, I was not productive neither with my Real Life duties nor with with the Debian stuff I wanted to hack on - In fact, the most productive period during the two and a half weeks I was away (excluding probably the two days I spent understanding/hacking Pentabarf with Damián) was the flight back - During the ~12hr we were on the air, I managed to read the second half of my book, to review two chapters for a thesis, to write a (really simple) article and to work on another one.
Anyway... Thanks to everybody. I had a great time, and am only looking forward towards Argentina.
Ah, and I also got The Debconf Flu.
Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 06/19/2007 - 05:06
For some days at Debconf, I've been somewhat stressed and frustrated. You see, the first DebCamp/DebConf I took part in (Oslo), I was really productive - Besides meeting lots and lots of people and having a great time, during DebConf3 I learnt a scary lot about the project in many aspects and, although I was already a DD, it really decided me to get more involved.
When we were at Brazil, I had a great time as well, but (code-wise, bugs-wise and so on) I was much less productive - I started peeking at the processes that involve running such a strange and intensive conference, I was more active talking with other Latin Americans, and so on.
So, for DebConf5, I was a full orga team member - Man, did that make me feel powerful! Of course, as there was so much orga work to be done, I basically didn't hack into anything. During the day it was organizational work, and during the
About DebConf 6... Well, it was hectic and chaotic. It is probably the most stressful two-week period (two week? Two months at least! Well, anyway) period of my life. It is the only Debconf so far I don't even remember having had much social interaction. But still, for reasons I fail to understand, I am really happy we held DebConf in Mexico. It is one of the best, most exciting and (hopefully!) unrepeatable experiences in life.
What about this year? Well, I took a couple of steps back, and while I'm formally still part of the always-great orga team, there are way too many things I don't know or can answer. Partially, I blame that impossible dialect of English they speak in the UK - Please, next time you feel a bit tired, lock yourself in a room with six hurried English and Scottish people, add a couple of Germans to the mix (no, I don't have problem with the other accents spoken in there), and try to get the general lines discussed. Impossible.
As I took a couple of steps back, I thought I would be able to hack a bit. There were some great ideas of things to work on - But so far, I've practically not started with any! I wanted to do some QA rounds in the pkg-perl repository, kill a couple of long-standing bugs, and then there is thismetainit idea we have been discussing... So we held the MetaInit BoF, and Nomeata has been actively hacking it - But I must recognize I have done little besides documenting and cleaning a bit a minor module of it. The second day I was here, I started working on something that was completely outside of my plan (hacking up a subsystem for Pentabarf to help the video team, as I previously complained). Just after we finished with it, DebConf properly started - So I've been basically taping the talks, reviewing the files, in the orga and video meetings... Until yesterday, I was quite frustrated not to have been able to work a bit on the couple of things I wanted to do. I have not yet been able even to work on three things I need for my Real Life, which still counts, even at DebConf.
But then, yesterday I read a post by Wouter - Man, you are completely right, and I must keep this in mind at all times: DebCamp to me isn't about being productive, so much as it is about meeting people and getting to know the environment. Well, I've terribly even failed to get to know the environment (I'll reserve some time on Thursday or Friday, I hope), but so far this has been quite fun, and completely out of what I usually do. And, even without me considering this, DebConf has been quite productive for me in ways I didn't expect - I've met and had a couple of beers with the pkg-perl group (and today I'll meet with the pkg-ruby-extras group), have plotted several things with the Spanish-Speaking group (which, by the way, has tremendously grown since we were at Oslo), I even started hacking a bit my way into Pentabarf, which will be very useful once I get back to work!
Anyway, in short: Wouter, you made me reconsider, you made my day - Thanks! And now, I'm a happy man again :)
Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 06/14/2007 - 11:31
Yesterday and today, I've spent most of the time sitting next to Damián Viano (des), feeling 1337 because we are doing exactly the heavily recommended pair-programming thingy with a Rails application that everybody in Debconf is familiar with: We are adding some stuff for our beloved video-team in Pentabarf! Now, Pentabarf is -as we were trying to explain earlier on, amidst angst and frustration- a strange beast: It looks like your regular Rails app. It smells like Rails. But it tastes like Java.
For some reason, the Pentabarf author (who I sincerely expect to meet soon - yes, he is coming to Debconf as well!) decided not to use Rails' killer app part, the one which has got most interested people into the whole framework, ActiveRecord. For all of the object-relation mapping needs, uses something called Momomoto.
To its defence, Momomoto is a lightweight library. This has the great advantage that, although it completely lacks documentation, its source code is very easy to follow, and it takes just a couple of hours (and forehead-wall bangs) - Much unlike ActiveRecord. But on the down side, as lightweight as the library is, the model it uses is completely suboptimal for many of our (so far really simple) uses. We have a simple view, for example, that runs in at least On^3 (measured in independent DB queries, of course). Going through a different model, it could at least be cut to a much nicer On^2.
Anyway... I'm relieved. The extension the video guys wanted is not that large, and it's mostly done. It is surely showable by tonight's meeting (modulo a couple missing bits, of course, but it's just bits), and will be ready no matter what by tomorrow. I'm just sorry I had to throw des aside, as pair-programming for two days in a row for the best portion of the day is not good for sanity.
Well, neither coming to Debconf is, so whattheheck... ;-) At least I could get a bit of my mail and RL work backlog processed.
Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 05/03/2007 - 12:33
Ok, so LPI will be at Debconf, giving discounted certifications to registered attendees. Is this good or bad? Mario likes the idea, Madduck is in the middle ground, not decided on his stance on this regard, and Joerg basically says it's not worth much to him personally. Actually, I'll quote Madduck, as he has an interesting point:
I am not looking for employment, and if I was, I'd certainly not want to work at a company that thinks certifications are the true proof of capabilities. So I guess that leaves me with a 'no' still.When confronted with this topic, I always oppose certifications. Why? First of all, I think they are worth very little. I got three or four Brainbench certifications when they were free - And of course, noticed right away that such a simplistic test is worth very little. Of course, LPI is a better established name, and is usually respected - Lets be fair, and talk about LPI together in the line with Cisco's, Microsoft's, Novell's and similar certification programs.
I've worked with several people who have got certified in different technologies, and almost always, this works against them rather than in their favor - Such people usually are blinded to all but their technologies. My most recent experiences are with the network infrastructure people - Cisco people know how to push Cisco, but know very little about protocol details, and cannot recommend a tool that's not
What will this mean for most of Debconf's target audience? Well, just what Ganneff and Madduck said: Take the test if you want to get a new job more easily - but you should have more confidence in yourself.
Just as a final note: Whenever I've interviewed people to work with me or for people that trust me, from all of the received curricula, I start by throwing out every curriculum that has the certifications earned in a prominent place. People who give too much weight to certifications IMHO tends to be worthless to work with.
Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 04/05/2007 - 15:26
I got a mail from the YAPC::Europe organizers telling me I won a book for registering early and sending in a submission (as I have previously told you). I was even more surprised to find out I am one out of two lucky winners! So my new book is Es lebe der Zentralfriedhof.
No news yet on whether my talk (Integrating Perl in a wider distribution: The Debian pkg-perl group) will be accepted... But this kind of incentive does push me towards attending even if I am not accepted - Of course, it depends on the University sending me there. But anyway, I'm a step closer to Vienna. Somebody wants to join over there?
Oh, and by the way: On my previous posting on this topic I linked to my conference proposal URL. Little did I know that this URL is private, accessible only to the Academic Committee and me. Yes, different from what I'm used to... but that's the way it works there.
Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 02/22/2007 - 18:03
I just submitted my talk proposal for YAPC::EU, which will be held in Vienna in late August. The topic? Integrating Perl in a wider distribution: The Debian pkg-perl group. I took part in YAPC::NA (Yet Another Perl Conference - North America) in 2001, in Montreal, and YAPC::EU (you guessed right: Europe) in 2002, in Munich. While in Munich, I met Debian's Erich, Weasel and the late Jens. It is a very nice conference with all kinds of Perl-heads, apt for different experience levels. the talk I am proposing will be about what do we work for in Debian, how can we get a better synergy from our upstream group and (oh, this point is quite itchy - specially in strongly opinioned communities such as Ruby's! Perl people are quite nice to play with, however, but still...) what do we (as Debian maintainers) request from them in order for life to be smoother. Of course, I only submitted the talk. The CFP has just been launched, and so far, mine is the fourth talk offered - It can still be rejected (as it is not really related to Perl development, the heart of YAPC), but I guess it will be deemed interesting by the Perl monks reviewing them. In any case, hope to see you in Vienna as well!
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