Stuff I have written/presented
Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 07/08/2009 - 13:12
Today, I will eat at my office — It's the easiest, and as I arrived at ~11:30 and am leaving at ~18:30, I don't want to invest ~1hr in getting a proper meal, which is at ~3Km from here (joys of working in a very large university, joys of coming to work during the vacational period).
Anyway, I don't do this often, so I started looking for names of takeaway/delivery restaurants in the area, thinking about a chapata (ciabatta? How would you write it in anything but es_MX?) or something saladish. I have a menu in my fridge door of La Artesa, a bakery that recently opened for business near to my house (~3.5Km from here). So, lets look at their page.
First thing I look for, menu and prices. Bah, Under construction (and in the best 1996 style, even with the animated GIF and all). They don't want to attract customers, that's for sure.
However, they do have something very unique, something that sets them apart from any other site I have ever visited: They have the most existentialist Frequently Asked Questions section I have ever seen.
I wonder... Will they have a hidden link to the Frequently Given Answers as well?
Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 07/07/2009 - 19:24
People who know me also know that, although it seems impossible due to the generalized opinion, I love living in Mexico City. I love the city, I love its chaos — And I love its beauty. I truly love the two paradigmatic volcanos that lie across the valley, South-East from us, Popocatépetl (in Náhuatl, «smoking mountain») and Iztaccíhuatl (in Náhuatl, «white lady», often called «sleeping lady» as its profile reminds of a dreamy princess). I never avoid mentioning to my friends when, on a clear day, I get to see them.
Yesterday was one such day, most beautifully... Sadly this image does not reflect the awe. I was leaving my Institute, hurried as rain was starting to fall, and the thunders towards the Ajusco (South) pronosticated a long, heavy rain. They were not mistaken.
Less than 100m away from my Institute's door, I had to hit the breaks on my bike, and stood stunned at this image. A dark, almost black, layer of clouds. You can see the streetlights are already on, it was quite dark already. But there was a clean air corridor towards the East - And there we had Izta and Popo greeting us, covered in snow, golden due to the sun setting behind my back.
…This is just a crappy cellphone photo. But... It was so beautiful I had to share it, not just with the people I met later that day, but with whoever stumbles upon this blog.
Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 07/07/2009 - 18:59
gamaral / Guillermo / Memo / William/ Billy / Willy / Wonka / Antonio / Anthony / Tony talks about how names are constructed or used in Mexico. However, the formula is not for all of Latin America (i.e. it does not apply to the South Cone, as they still don't find a use for keeping the mother's family name). Also, while in the USA the mother's family name is not used, in most of Europe it is.
The use of second given names is quite strange IMO: You are supposed to go in your life by your first name, while keeping the second (or middle) name just as an initial, and as something people don't mess with or try to understand. People usually have regular, easy firstnames (no, don't look at me, my parents tried hard to be original on all fronts), while their second/middle names are as unknown and strange as they can be.
Also, few people use their middle names — My father, for one. His name is Kurt Bernardo; my grandmother wanted to honor both her brothers, who stayed in Austria (Kurt and Bernhardt). My father was known as Kurt as a kid, but decided to prefer Bernardo (which is a very common name in Mexico) as his primary denomination. Why would it be otherwise?
Anyway… Even if my name is Gunnar Eyal Wolf Iszaevich (of Scandinavian, Hebrew, German and Polish origin respectively), even while I lived in Israel, I didn't use Eyal — I have one name, and one way for people to call me. Oh, and also, no aliases since the BBS era finished. Gunnar, that's the only way my brain understands I should pay attention. And I intend on keeping it that way!
Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 07/01/2009 - 08:33
I met Carlos Bueso two weeks ago, at the Central American Free Software Encounter. I am translating this mail writen by another member of the group (from Costa Rica) explaining his situation.
Excuse me for a broken, possibly wrong English - I find more important to make this message available than to get proper wording for it. If you cannot understand something and can read Spanish, or if you wish to further distribute this text, please refer to the original mail.
[update] Carlos has been set free! While he is still facing charges for rebellion, he has been allowed to face them from freedom. He is still subject to investigation and might be jailed again if the de-facto powers so decide, but he is free and well now. Good!
Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 06/29/2009 - 21:39
I will here translate the text of a petition a friend is starting, which will be delivered to the Hondurean embassy in Mexico.
In the early hours of Sunday, June 28 2009, the legal Hondurean president Manuel Zelaya was forcibly removed from his position. A coup de etat, perpetrated by the Hondurean army, air force and navy, and with the consent of the Supreme Court. In his place, they imposed Roberto Micheleti, until then the Senate president, a conservative politician (although he is formally part of the Liberal party).
The coup took place because many areas of the government oppose the presidential initiative to start a referendum geared towards starting a Constitutive Congress, among whose ideas were to implement reforms allowing for the immediate presidential reelection for a second term.
Forcibly ousting a democratically elected government is nothing other than anti-democratic. The coup has made the world's eyes to be set on Honduras, unanimously condemning this incident in a strong and immediate way. The people has been left blind and deaf; the communication media -both traditional and Internet-based- has been blocked. Not only freedom of press and freedom of speech have been blocked. People are crying for the reestablishment of the legally elected government. There is a national strike, the unions have protested massively. This coup has been received by a generalized popular rejection; as the only answer to the protestors, Micheletti has set a curfew, and the army is dissolving the demonstrations with tear gas and long weapons; in some hours we might see them using heavy vehicles against the civilians.
Latin American brothers, we must condemn, if at least symbolically, our rejection to the imposed Honduras government, our rejection to the human rights and individual warranties obstruction.
This humble text was written to collect digital signatures from all those who oppose the violence that this Central American country is suffering. Those that passively just want to express the collective feeling, those that feel a social, civil and human empathy towards what is happening beyond our territorial borders.
Every symbolic act, such as this one, does not weigh much by itself. But by making ourselves present by thousands, through different callings, we can generate enough pressure to incede in those sad actions.
Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 06/17/2009 - 14:06
I was sent to Nicaragua by the Cofradía community, and I want to somehow pay back this very nice sponsorship. I approached the organizers and offered to set up video streaming for the Encounter - The idea was most welcome, and it is basically ready to go live now. Please look at the ECSL activities - We will stream activities held at the main (Villa Vieja) auditorium. Remember that Nicaragua is in GMT-6. The stream will be available at http://video.cofradia.org:18000/ecsl.ogg
Now, once all attendees arrive tomorrow, it is very probable the available bandwidth will not be enough, even having our server in Mexico. Anyway, if we are unable to keep a decent stream up, we will locally record all said activities, and as soon as I get back home, I will make the recorded activities available.
[update]: It seems to work, although differently than what I expected. Instead of streaming using my usual magic1, which died at the merciless hands of network delays, but am instead storing the file locally, and just oggfwding it to the server with a couple of minutes of delay. But so far, it seems to work!
I will also try to push+publish the encoded files as often as possible to this server. I will link to them from this page:
Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 06/15/2009 - 22:37
I have spent a couple of hours connected from Norman García's house, in Managua. Norman is most kindly hosting me at home for a couple of days before we leave (tomorrow) for Estelí, where the Central American Free Software Encounter will be held.
Now, the network feels really slow. However, it can sustain download rates of around 512Kbps, quite acceptable. Latency is what kills. But... I was stunned with mtr's results to my home server:
Please, somebody explain the basics of routing to Claro/Enitel. This just does not make any sense.
Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 06/12/2009 - 17:36
Yes, I know I had already said I would be travelling next week to the Central American Free Software Encounter. However, I was close to not making it.
I had got a sponsor for the plane ticket, and counted on it. However, in a depressed economy, you cannot count on anything… Least of all on a company being able to give you money for nothing.
On Wednesday, I was informed I... would not be getting the money. And although a Mexico-Nicaragua-Mexico flight is not too expensive (I got it for US$330 with TACA), it is bad to suddenly understand you have to pay this amount you didn't consider, and that it has to be right away.
Well, I was crying my sorrow near Fernando "El Pop", who had originally contacted me with my prospective sponsors. He said we could ask for donations at La Cofradía Digital, a site he set up several years ago and that for a long time was a main referring point to the Mexican Free Software community and friends. I hesitated — I felt it to be more or less like standing on a corner to beg for money. But, yes, El Pop does not ask — He does. So, a short couple of minutes later, my pledge was published.
Less than 48 hours, I am very happy to inform you that the money was raised, that the 100% of the ticket1 has been covered, and that I am a very happy man.
I never thought so many people would end up giving money from their own pockets to see me away from this country.
Thank you all!
Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 06/11/2009 - 18:47
Caro says hi!
(yes, probably you will need some context... or much more than that ;-) Anyway, Churro, you were a recurring item at our talk today)
Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 06/08/2009 - 20:01
Three weeks ago, 23 year old Liliana Castillo, student of the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas at UNAM was killed while driving her bycicle, at the Avenida Universidad and Real de Mayorazgo corner, in Mexico City, less than 3Km north from my house (and from the University). I have crossed that spot several times, also driving my bike. It is not a corner where you would expect a careless, speeding driver coming out of nowhere and killing a girl, a student, an artist.
I am reproducing this letter, that is being passed around in the University. I will surely be there, as many other cyclists. We need to make ourselves visible, to make drivers aware they are not the sole owners of the streets. There is enough place for all of us. We all deserve freedom of movement.
Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 06/08/2009 - 18:25
Having recently become an Unicode (ab)user, in great part due to Kragen's .XCompose, I took again the mission to convince people that resistance is futile, you will be assimilated into the multilingual world of UTF8...
...And given the recent thread in debian-devel regarding how a globbing or similar functionality should be implemented (specifically, given Giacomo's message pointing out that our beloved «/» directory separator is subject to the locale rules)...
I cannot help but to send you to this old piece of MSDN beauty: When is a backslash not a backslash?
In short: If you are surprised because in East Asia they use the local currency to separate directories... Don't be. Blame the 8 bits of extended, non-standard ASCII codepages.
Submitted by gwolf on Sat, 06/06/2009 - 21:40
Today I went to the La Merced area to finally buy a foldable bike. There were basically four options: Benotto's 20" Utopia, Alubike 16" Foldingbike, Alubike 24" and a custom-made bike at a smaller store, Bici Universo. In Mexico it is also possible to buy a Brompton, although they are not available in larger stores and their pricing is prohibitive. Sergio Mendoza advised me to look for the Dahon bikes at Benotto, but they have discontinued them in favor of their own making.
I ended up buying the Bici Universo one. I must say this: I sincerely hope not to regret this option — I got this bike because neither of the other ones satisfied me, and this one was at about two thirds the price (MX$1800, plus some extras I requested, MX$2100 — That means, US$187 or €113).
First of all, after thinking about it for a while, I decided I didn't want a larger, more normal wheel — The Alubike 24 (which I'd have to build shopping piece by piece, as they had only the frame for sale — Would be a good ocassion to learn more about the whole process!) is basically a great regular bike you can put in a regular car trunk, but is still too large for taking it into public transport or lugging along when travelling, by bus or by plane. Besides, the handlebar1 is not foldable. So it is basically as portable as this venerable Compaq.
The Benotto's manubrium does fold, but the bike does not hold itself together when folded, it is not stable. You have to explicitly keep it folded. Not exactly comfortable.
I had tested the smaller Alubike at another bike store closer to my home. It feels a bit freer than the Universo one (I'll get to it soon), but still feels a bit kludgy... And at a price about MX$1000 higher, I decided against it.
Now, why am I wary with the Universo? Because after all... It is just a bike for kids age 4-7 and 7-12 (?) cut in half, and with a hinge soldered on:
It is also a heavy bike (I have not weighed it yet, but comparative guesstimates puts it over the Alubikes), so it might be problematic when travelling... I'll see when in Nicaragua in a couple of weeks ;-) I have yet a couple of adjustments to make to it, but I am very looking forward to travelling with my bike on. I hope it turns out to be comfortable.
And in any case, I can —of course!— donate it to my nephews... who are in the right age group.
Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 06/05/2009 - 18:07
The organizers followed a short, more informal scheme than most conferences I am used to — Talk slots range between 5 and 15 minutes, so we attended a whole day of semi-lightning talks. Of course, many people have run late, and although there was quite a bit of free space in the schedule, it has been practically non-stop — I was thinking on also giving a talk on encodings (as many people really still don't understand what is UTF-8, what is Latin1, why all that mess — People, please learn at least The Absolute Minimum Every Software Developer Absolutely, Positively Must Know About Unicode and Character Sets (No Excuses!)), but the schedule is full by now. Interesting and successful experiment, I'd say. The talks are being taped, and the organizers say they will be soon made available online.
There are many cultural details to note here. First of all, yes, the Rails Fanboys _are_ a cult/sect. I think we have ~90% of MacBooks... I still fail to understand why a coder feels at ease on MacOS. I deeply despise it! ☻ Also, most of this community have bitten the Twitter plague. This is also a community very much into businessspeak, speaking a word in English for each two words in Spanish (I try to be consistent, not mixing languages at least). Some conferences have been quite business- and enterpeneur-oriented. Although I should not complain too much about this, as it is an important aspect for many people — But I still don't feel at ease having talks on how to run a business if we were asked for presentations on technical aspects!
Anyway - I was quite happy to be here. This is the first real technical, code-oriented conference I have attended in a long time in Mexico. And we need more like this! We have too many entry-level, evangelization-oriented conferences, but very few like this one.
[update]: Group photo!
Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 05/27/2009 - 18:12
Yup — Over a month ago I was contacted by Norman García (who I met via the various EDUSOL activities), and René Mayorga (who I met thanks to his Debian involvement) inviting me to join them for the First Central-American Free Software Encounter. I had insisted to several Central American friends on setting up such an encounter for several years, and I am really glad I was invited.
So, if you happen to be near Central America between June 17 and 21, don't miss it! They are even organizing a bus (which still has place for more travellers!) going from Guatemala City, passing through San Salvador, Tegucigalpa and arriving to Estelí, Nicaragua.
I must also prominently thank Fernando Romo and Neocenter for kindly offering to sponsor my flight to Nicaragua. You rock!
Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 05/19/2009 - 14:39
You might have noticed that during last week the Mexican Debian mirror, nisamox.fciencias.unam.mx (a.k.a. ftp.mx.debian.org, a.k.a. debian.unam.mx), went offline. The motherboard died on us, and Facultad de Ciencias was kind enough to give us a brand new one. So, excuse us for the blackout, but we are back – Meaner and badder than ever before!
Now, Sergio (nisamox's main admin) prefered to rebuild the whole mirror, as there was a shadow of doubt regarding the data integrity. So, rsync was pulling as fast as he could for the whole weekend (leading to some people scratching their heads regarding the 404 for the missing files; sorry, we should have left Apache shut down until the mirror was complete!). After three days of sustaining a 10-20Mbps download from the main mirrors, all 364GB of Debian are finally installed and –as you can clearly see– we are back to normality, with small, regular mirror pulses and a nice sustained 5-10Mbps (with some up to 40Mbps peaks — We have seen up to 100Mbps peaks in the past, and I doubt with the current network infrastructure we won't top that).
You can see we have currently plenty of disk space still to fill up. Among our plans is to host the most popular ISOs, which are a common request, and... What else? Well, ask us and we shall do so (quite probably).
So, if you switched away from ftp.mx.debian.org due to our downtime, readjust your mirror settings. Nisamox is back!
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