Life

Old wood in the "New Deck"

Submitted by gwolf on Sat, 07/19/2014 - 18:34
Old wood in the "New Deck"

From Puerto Nuevo, Paraná, Entre Ríos, Argentina

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Sunset over the Paraná river

Submitted by gwolf on Sat, 07/19/2014 - 18:34
Sunset over the Paraná river

From Bajada Grande, Paraná, Entre Ríos, Argentina

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Fishers by the Paraná river

Submitted by gwolf on Sat, 07/19/2014 - 18:34
Fishers by the Paraná river

From Bajada Grande, Paraná, Entre Ríos, Argentina

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Sunset over the Paraná river

Submitted by gwolf on Sat, 07/19/2014 - 18:34
Sunset over the Paraná river

From Bajada Grande, Paraná, Entre Ríos, Argentina

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Sunset over the Paraná river

Submitted by gwolf on Sat, 07/19/2014 - 18:34
Sunset over the Paraná river

From Bajada Grande, Paraná, Entre Ríos, Argentina

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Fisher in the Paraná river

Submitted by gwolf on Sat, 07/19/2014 - 18:34
Fisher in the Paraná river

From Bajada Grande, Paraná, Entre Ríos, Argentina

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Old wood in the "New Deck"

Submitted by gwolf on Sat, 07/19/2014 - 18:34
Old wood in the "New Deck"

From Puerto Nuevo, Paraná, Entre Ríos, Argentina

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Forms of communication

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 06/27/2014 - 20:46

I stared at Noodles' Emptiness, where I found a short rant on the currently most used forms of communication. No, into the most socially-useful forms of communication. No, into what works best for him. And, as each person's experience is unique, I won't try to correct him — Noodles knows himself much, much, much, much better than I do. But some people have wondered recently (i.e. at conferences I have been at) why I give such an atypical use to social networks (...a term which I still hold to be grossly misused, but that's a topic for a different rant...One that's been had too many times).

So, although my blog is syndicated at Planet Debian, and I know a good deal of readers come from there, this post is targetted at the rest of the world population: Those that don't understand why many among us prefer other ways of communication.

Noodles mentions seven forms of communication he uses, arguably sorted by their nowadayness, low to high: Phone call, text (SMS) message, email, IRC, Skype, Google Hangouts and Facebook messenger.

Among those, I strongly dislike two: Phone call and Skype (or any voice-based service, FWIW). I do most of my communication while multitasking, usually at work. I enjoy the quasi-real-timeliness of IRC and the instant messengers, but much more, I like the ability to delay an answer for seconds or minutes without it breaking the rules of engagement.

Second, if the ordering is based on what I found, the reason for my little rant should become obvious: We had kept a great job so far building interoperable technology.1 Up until now, you could say «drop me a mail», and no matter if you had your mail with GMail and I insisted on self-hosting my gwolf.org, as long as our communications adhered to simple and basic standards, we would be perfectly able to communicate.

Skype is a bit of a special case here: They did build a great solution, ~ten years ago, when decent-quality VoIP was nowhere to be found. They have kept their algorithm and mechanisms propietary, and deliberately don't operate with others. And, all in all, there is a case for them remaining closed.

But Google Hangouts and Facebook Messenger do piss me off. More the first than the second. Both arrived to the instant messenger scene long after the experimentation and early stages, so they both took Jabber / XMPP, a well tried and tested protocol made with interoperability and federability in mind. And... They closed it, so they can control their whole walled garden.

So, yes, I do use them both — Because in both there are many people which I value, and which I want to be in touch with. And no, I won't try to change the ways of everybody so they can talk with me on IRC. I'm an asshole, but everything has its limits! :) Of course, I can (still?) use them from my trusty old multiprotocol chat manager, Pidgin. And it's so much better to have one small program gobbling up moderate heaps of memory than to be connected to the Facebook site, spending much more memory and CPU cycles via Javascript in a Web browser. Bah.

PS- Interestingly, he left out the face-to-face communication.I am quite an anchorite in my daily life, but I still think it's worth at least a mention ;-)

So, Noodles: Thanks for the excuse to let me vent a rant ;-)

  • 1. Interestingly, a counterexample came up on me. One I do not remember, but I have seen printed information that make me believe it: Back in the 1940s/1950s, Mexico (Mexico City only perhaps?) had two parallel phone networks. If I'm not mistaken, one was Ericsson and the other was AT&T. Businesses often gave you both of their numbers in their ads, because you could not call one network from the other. And now that seems so backwards and unbelievable!
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Correction for @osupiita

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 05/05/2014 - 12:37

I was invited to give a talk at a local conference, OS-UPIITA. I have been invited to this conference before, and will gladly be there again. But I was recently pointed at the invitation poster they are distributing (which I reproduce here for your convenience) — And I must make a couple of corrections here:

  1. First and foremost: I don't want to trick anybody. I am not the Director of Debian Mexico. In fact, Debian Mexico does not exist. I am just a humble Debian Developer.
  2. I accept the conference title, because that's what they requested from me. I'm trying to come up with a coherent exposition, but whoever knows me must be perfectly aware that I don't know (nor really care about) how to make money with Free Software. I have lived all of my professional life thanks to Free Software, but I'm against the entrepenurial culture. I will talk about my vision, of course, so if you want to hear me rant, you are invited to join us ;-)
  3. I specifically asked the organizing committee by mid-April, when they gave me the talk title, to replace "Open Source" with "Free Software" in my talk. Even though the conference is called "OS UPIITA" (as it is the Open Source conference in the UPIITA unit of Instituto Politécnico Nacional), I cannot identify with the Open Source monkier. And if we are talking about a deeply ideological issue, which is the case here, I request to use the name I can relate with. For my talk only, of course.

</rant>

But anyway, I will be very happy to be there, and believe me, am working to come up with a good talk.

OS-UPIITA friends: Please correct your online banners carrying this wrong data.

[update] OS-UPIITA changed the poster! I'm just keeping this one for the memory ;-)

[update 2] I was there, and gave the talk. And it was even a success, yay! \o/ Care to see it? Here is the presented material.

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Mozilla: So our communitary echobox *does* resound with social issues

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 04/03/2014 - 20:16

I woke up to the news that, after a very short tenure, Brendan Eich steps down as the Mozilla CEO.

Why? Because of the community outcry. Because some years ago, Eich pubilcly supported (and donated funds) the ban of any kind of marriages in California that were not between a man and a woman. The world has advanced enormously in this regard in the last years/decades, and so many individuals and organizations opposed and announced they would boycott Mozilla that either him or Mozilla could not stand the pressure anymore.

So, of course, it's sad the person had to resign. Many people talked about freedom of speech, freedom of harbouring his own personal opinion — But when it comes to the rights of minorities, particularly of minorities that have suffered such hard prejudice and abuse as the gay, lesbian and all the other non-orthodox sexual- and gender- orientations, righting a wrong is much more important than preserving an individual's freedom of opinion. Besides, it's not just thinking or talking about something — The concrete proposition Eich supported (and eventually made him resign) is about bringing the life of thousands of people to a hellish state of uncertainty, and going back to not having a way for the society to legally recognize their way of being, their love, their lifes.

But anyway — What prompts me into writing this is that, once again, the Free Software (and related denominations) community has shown that a set of core values, seemingly shared by a very large amount of our own people with no coordination or correlation with what conforms us as a community (and thus, being emergent traits), are strong enough to create a critical mass, to achieve cohesion. And that ours is not just a technical community of people writing software at all layers of the stack, but –first and foremost– is a group of social activists, committed to making the world better.

I will quote from Matthew Garrett's post on this topic, clearly more contundent and thorough that what I'm trying to come up with:

The Mozilla Manifesto discusses individual liberty in the context of use of the internet, not in a wider social context. Brendan's appointment was very much in line with the explicit aims of both the Foundation and the Corporation - whatever his views on marriage equality, nobody has seriously argued about his commitment to improving internet freedom. So, from that perspective, he should have been a fine choice.

But that ignores the effect on the wider community. People don't attach themselves to communities merely because of explicitly stated goals - they do so because they feel that the community is aligned with their overall aims. The Mozilla community is one of the most diverse in free software, at least in part because Mozilla's stated goals and behaviour are fairly inspirational. People who identify themselves with other movements backing individual liberties are likely to identify with Mozilla. So, unsurprisingly, there's a large number of socially progressive individuals (LGBT or otherwise) in the Mozilla community, both inside and outside the Corporation.

A CEO who's donated money to strip rights from a set of humans will not be trusted by many who believe that all humans should have those rights. It's not just limited to individuals directly affected by his actions - if someone's shown that they're willing to strip rights from another minority for political or religious reasons, what's to stop them attempting to do the same to you? Even if you personally feel safe, do you trust someone who's willing to do that to your friends? In a community that's made up of many who are either LGBT or identify themselves as allies, that loss of trust is inevitably going to cause community discomfort.

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Getting rid of rodents

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 03/27/2014 - 12:28

So a good friend of mine talked about something in the debian-private mailing list. And we should not disclose that something outside such a sensible space without his approval.

But Jakub is right. Once the discussion goes over to only messages talking about non-private stuff, the discussion should be moved to a non-private area. After all, we will not hide problems yada yada, right?

So, not knowing where in the Debian lists this should go to, it will land on my blog, reformatting mail to make sense in this media:

Luca Filipozzi dijo [Wed, Mar 26, 2014 at 03:36:49PM +0000]:

Or don't use a mouse. When I started getting shoulder strain from using a mouse too much, I switched to an Adesso touchpad keyboard and was very happy with the positive outcome. I'm a touch (that's punny) less efficient with the touchpad compared to a mouse, but the lack of permanent injury and ongoing pain is worth it.

Right. I also have this keyboard (same brand even, different model). The keyboard is not that good (keys are not as smooth as in my previous, stock-Dell keyboard), but not having to move my right hand just to feed the rodent has made my back way way happier. I even feel better using a trackpad than a mouse (mabye because I use too much my netbook?).

Luca, just out of curiosity: Did you ever manage to recognize the keyboard under the Synaptics driver, or to get it running under ChordMiddle or Emulate3Buttons? I had to fall to a ugly hack, mapping the "XF86Search" key to the middle button by telling my window manager (i3) to "bindsym X86Search exec xdotool click 2".

[ this can be declassified at any time ]

my contributions to this thread too...

my contribution unclassified, also

My classifications remain contributed. Do as you will with my bits of this message.

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Trying to get Blender to run in the CuBox-i (armhf): Help debugging Python!

Submitted by gwolf on Sat, 03/15/2014 - 22:10

As I posted some weeks ago, I have been playing with my CuBox-i4Pro, a gorgeous little ARM machine by SolidRun, built around an iMX6 system-on-a-chip.

My first stabs at using it resulted in my previous post on how to get a base, almost-clean Debian distribution to run (Almost? Yes, the kernel requires some patches not yet accepted upstream, so I'm still running with a patched 3.0.35-8 kernel). After writing this step by step instructions, I followed them and built images ready to dd to a SD card and start running (available at my people.debian.org space.

Now, what to do with this little machine? My version is by no means a limited box: 4 ARM cores, 2GB RAM make a quite decent box. In my case, this little machine will most likely be a home storage server with little innovation. However, the little guy is a power server, at only 3W consumption. I wanted to test its capabilities to do some number crunching and aid some of my friends — The obvious candidate is building a Blender render farm. Right, the machines might be quite underpowered, but they are cheap (and look gorgeous!), so at least it's worth playing a bit!

Just as a data point, running on an old hard disk (and not on my very slow SD card), the little machine was able to compile the Blender sources into a Debian package in 89m13.537s, that is, 5353 seconds. According to the Debian build logs (yes, for a different version, I tried with the version in Wheezy and in a clean Wheezy system), the time it took to build on some other architectures' build daemons was 1886s on i386, 1098s on PowerPC, 2003s on AMD64, 11513s on MIPS and 27721 on ARMHF. That means, my little machine is quite slower than desktop systems, but not unbearably so.

But sadly, I have hit a wall, and have been unable to do any further progress. Blender segfaults at startup under the Debian armhf architecture. I have submitted bug report #739194 about this, but have got no replies to it yet. I did get the great help from my friends in the OFTC #debian-arm channel, but they could only help up to a given point. It seems the problem lies in the Python interpreter in armhf, not in Blender itself... But I cannot get much further either. I'm sending this as a blog post to try to get more eyeballs on my problem — How selfish, right? :-)

So, slightly going over the bug report, blender just dies at startup:

  1. $ blender -b -noaudio
  2. Segmentation fault

After being told that strace is of little help when debugging this kind of issues, I went via gdb. A full backtrace pointed to what feels like the right error point:

  1. (gdb) bt full
  2. #0 0x2acd8cce in PyErr_SetObject ()
  3. from /usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/libpython3.3m.so.1.0
  4. No symbol table info available.
  5. #1 0x2acd8c9a in PyErr_Format ()
  6. from /usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/libpython3.3m.so.1.0
  7. No symbol table info available.
  8. #2 0x2ac8262c in PyType_Ready ()
  9. from /usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/libpython3.3m.so.1.0
  10. No symbol table info available.
  11. #3 0x2ac55052 in _PyExc_Init ()
  12. from /usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/libpython3.3m.so.1.0
  13. No symbol table info available.
  14. #4 0x2ace95e2 in _Py_InitializeEx_Private ()
  15. from /usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/libpython3.3m.so.1.0
  16. No symbol table info available.
  17. #5 0x00697898 in BPY_python_start (argc=3, argv=0x7efff8d4)
  18. at /build/blender-dPxPUD/blender-2.69/source/blender/python/intern/bpy_interface.c:274
  19. py_tstate = 0x0
  20. py_path_bundle = 0x0
  21. program_path_wchar = L"/usr/bin/blender", '\000' <repeats 1007 times>
  22. #6 0x0044a1ca in WM_init (C=C@entry=0x1d83220, argc=argc@entry=3,
  23. argv=argv@entry=0x7efff8d4)
  24. at /build/blender-dPxPUD/blender-2.69/source/blender/windowmanager/intern/wm_init_exit.c:176
  25. No locals.
  26. #7 0x0042e4de in main (argc=3, argv=0x7efff8d4)
  27. at /build/blender-dPxPUD/blender-2.69/source/creator/creator.c:1597
  28. C = 0x1d83220
  29. syshandle = 0x1d8a338
  30. ba = 0x1d8a840
  31. (gdb)

I'm not pasting here the full bug history (go to the bug report for the full information!), but it does point me to this being a problem in Python-land: It points to something not found at line 59 of Python/errors.c. And what I understand from that line is that some kind of unknown exception is thrown, and the Python interpreter does not now what to do with it. The check done at line 59 is the if (exception != NULL ** ....:

  1. void
  2. PyErr_SetObject(PyObject *exception, PyObject *value)
  3. {
  4. PyThreadState *tstate = PyThreadState_GET();
  5. PyObject *exc_value;
  6. PyObject *tb = NULL;
  7.  
  8. if (exception != NULL &&
  9. !PyExceptionClass_Check(exception)) {
  10. PyErr_Format(PyExc_SystemError,
  11. "exception %R not a BaseException subclass",
  12. exception);
  13. return;
  14. }

So... Dear lazyweb: Any pointers on where to go on from here?

kthxbye.

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Like a Lord and Lady, with my dearest passions...

Submitted by gwolf on Sat, 02/15/2014 - 11:03
Like a Lord and Lady, with my dearest passions...

For those of you who didn't yet know it: My mother is a painter. A serious, professional, respected painter. But she sometimes goes to the funny side as well — Of course, with all due professionalism!

So, she gave us this great gift: She took one of our pictures from DebConf12 (from the "Conference Dinner" night), and painted it. Real size even!

So, next time you come to our house, even if we are not around to greet you, we will be glad to welcome you to the Residence!

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Finally: A student once again

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 01/21/2014 - 21:47

Formally, today is my first day as a student on a formal, scholarized institution — Basically for the first time in almost twenty years!

Yes, those that know me know that I aspire to live the life of academia. I have worked at public universities for almost all of my adult life (between 1997 and 1999 I worked at a local ISP and at a private school), and have had a minor academic position («Técnico Académico») for almost ten years. And not having a proper degree limited me from pursuing anything further.

Then, in early 2010 I presented the written exam. By late 2010, the corresponding oral exam. That allowed me to get my formal diploma in December 2010. By the end of 2011, I requested to be a teacher in the Engineering Faculty of UNAM, and started teaching Operating Systems a year ago, in January 2012.

So, a good advance in the last few years... But I know that if I just sit here, I won't be able to advance my position towards really entering the Sacred Halls of Academia. And there are some rituals I have to comply with. One of those rituals is... Devoting some long time to studying under the formal structures.

Ok, so I'm finally a postgraduate student — I have enrolled in Especialidad en Seguridad Informática y Tecnologías de la Información, a short (one year) postgraduate program in ESIME Culhuacán, of Instituto Politécnico Nacional (a small campus of Mexico's second-largest university).

Some friends have asked me, why am I starting with a Specialization and not a Masters degree. Some simple reasons: Just as when I went to Tijuana in 2010 to do my written exam, once I got and started with the paperwork, I didn't want to let it go — If I postpone it, I will probably lose the push to do it by May-July, when the Masters admission process starts. Also, this specialization can be linked with the masters degree on the same topic given at the same campus. This program is one year long, and the masters two — But having them both takes 2.5 years. So, not such a bad deal after all. And finally, because, after such a long time without being scholarized, I fear not having an easy time getting to grips with the discipline. I can commit to overworking myself for a year — If it's too much for me, I'll just stay with that degree and give up. I expect to like it and continue... But it's also a safe bet :-)

Now, there has to be a downside to picking up this path: Of course, my free time will be harshly reduced. I have reduced my Debian involvement in the last year, as I devoted a huge chunk of my time to teaching and book-writing... This year... We shall see what happens. I can for now only confirm what I have said publicly but inside our team only: I have requested to my peers and to our DPL to step down as a DebConf chair. I love organizing DebConf, but I don't want to be formally committed to a position I just cannot fulfill as I did when I started with it. As for package maintenance, by far most of my packges are team maintained, and those that are not are relatively easy to keep track of. And of course, I'll keep an eye on my keyring-maint duties as well — Will even try to link that work with what I do at school!

Anyway, lets see what comes now!

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Meeting with Chilean sysadmins

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 01/08/2014 - 12:33
Meeting with Chilean sysadmins

Ok, so I'm back in Mexico!

This year, the best fare I found for travelling to spend the Winter^WSummer season with Regina's family had an oddity: I usually have a layover at either Santiago de Chile or Lima (Perú) of between 45 minutes and 2 hours, clearly less than enough to do anything. But this time, I had a massive 10 hours layover in Santiago. And spending 10 hours in an airport is far from fun. Specially when you have a good group of friends in town!

I visited Chile in 2004 for Encuentro Linux (still before the time I had a digital camera: Those photos are all taken by Martin Michlmayr), and I have stayed in touch with a group of systems administrators since then. So, I mailed the list, and we managed to get eight people to have lunch together. In the order we appear in the photo:

  • Victor Hugo dos Santos
  • Mauricio Troncoso
  • Álvaro Herrera
  • Ricardo Lemus
  • Marcelo Riquelme
  • Carlos Sepúlveda
  • Gunnar Wolf
  • Pablo Silva

Some of them, even living in the same city, had never met in person before — So, of course, we had a table reserved at the restaurant to the name of Dennis Ritchie. And having had nice, fun, sometimes-technical talks... Well, a tiny bit of his spirit was there. Of course, we can only trust he was there, as no Ouija boards were used and no null pointers were dereferenced (just to make sure not to disturb him).

Victor Hugo and Álvaro took me for a short Santiago city trip before lunch, we had a very nice time. Thanks! :-)

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