Quite different, indeed

Submitted by gwolf on Sat, 07/09/2005 - 07:18
How has this Debconf been to me? Quite different than what I expected. Having the responsability to have the information ordered and ready for everything to happen, managing the database up and down, has become a _very_ time-intensive task. I actually managed to take a day off with Danny, Amaya, Alberto and Jeroen to visit Talinn (Estonia), and it made quite a good difference - without that vacation I'd be burnt out already. This trip was quite bloggable - Yesterday I had written a long entry about it, but a fucking mouse gesture erased it from Firefox... I just managed to scream at the machine, get angry, and... Go on working ;-) We have been very busy at the reception. We are more doing this task than what I expected, and even though I feel I'm working my ass off, it is just too evident I have a shorter battery life than many others - I have been working on this +- from 10AM to 9PM, and after that, I just fall apart in many little pieces... Fabian, Aschwin, Andreas and Martin (at the reception, plus many others doing other work) just keep on working, and the volunteers we have had working here are just amazing, going on for countless hours afterwards. Anyway, guess I'm still a Mexican, and I cannot run away from my heritage :) Anyway... Yesterday we processed around 40 newcomers. Today, we expect about 80 - I'm stressed just at the thought :) However, yesterday the whole day was hectic, and today (even after giving my Debian Day talk) I am actually quite relaxed. Life's good. ...I intended to start hacking on some bugs I have with my packages and on preparing some new packages I have pending for upload (specially taking advantage to the fact that we have an FTP bending over)... I hope that by Monday/Tuesday that we get most people here I'll be able to disappear towards the Hacklab to do some Debian work.
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Miss the darkness

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 07/04/2005 - 17:21
It has been two days already since I got to Finland, and I haven't sent a line to this blog. Some people are actually angry at my lack of communication... Well, guys, please come over, you are all invited - It is very hard to keep some time for yourself in this kind of situations. We are currently around 30 people at Otaniemi, Helsinki, working towards having a great Debconf in a couple of days. We have -at least- people from Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Bosnia, Argentina and Mexico - and it is great. We are all working part of the time, and talking the rest of it. Now... There is something missing. When does a brave adventurer write his memories, send letters home or get his thoughts into paper (or comparable electronic media? There is only one possible answer: At night, when he is in the privacy of his tent, after feeding the horses and talking with the chieftains. This just does not work at 60 degrees North in July. Night lasts about two hours, from around 12AM to around 2AM. Now is what they expect us to believe is the darkest moment (1:15AM), and I see the sky as if the sun was about to rise, at 6:30AM, in my dear Mexico. Yes, there is a part of the sky in front of my window which is in fact yellowish. The Sun does not rise where it should. It does not cross the sky. It just does as it pleases - and it wants to circle around us, making us crazy and dizzy. Anyway, I am used to waking up early (yeah, right, lazy bum... Last month you could not get out of bed before 8AM save for one or two strange occasions!). I have been going to bed after a while of darkness - this means, around 1 or 2 AM, three days in a row. The first day, after the transatlantic flight, I woke up at 10 AM - Only after waking up at 8. And at 6. And at 4. And somewhere else. Today I woke up at 7AM, went to walk around, came back and worked until about 10, then showed my face to the public world. Today, at around 8PM, I was talking with Aschwin - I told him that, for no particular reason, I felt tired... Then I remembered of a bad sleep on the airplane (as it was packed, crowded with people... I even gave up on the idea of taking out my laptop to work a bit, as it was plainly too overcrowded and I wouldn't fit with it), a short and interrupted sleep, and a simply short sleep... And it hit me. My body was tired. So, at 9PM I decided to give it a go, play it quietly, hang around with the crowd and crash in my bed. Ok, so I did some Debconf stuff, went to the sauna with Andreas, Martin and Wouter, heavily discussed for some time, and came to bed at 1AM. Now it's 1:20, and I remembered I have to check mail as I have some pending work back home. I wonder how I will look like by Friday, when Debconf formally starts... Anyway... off to the bed. You can keep reading the story by looking at the few pictures I've taken
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On Debconf5's scheduling

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 07/01/2005 - 02:19
AJ Towns wonders how the hell the timetable didn't seem to obey to any logic. Well... I agree with you: It was completely computer-generated, and there are many points that should have been taken into account, but were not. This is the second scheduling algorithm that has been used with Comas - I didn't suggest our previous one, as Don Armstrong's implementation introduced voting according to your interests so you don't get locked out by having two interesting talks at once. Of course, this is the first time his algorithm is tried - but it is running on, sorry, incomplete information - For example, we don't know (better yet: Our system doesn't know) which proposals will be more popular than others, so they get scheduled in the bigger room. And, yes, it's only a bigger room - it is not to give more importance to those talks. It's almost random. The algorithm we used for CONSOL 2004 and 2005 took into account proposal type and track, trying to keep the density of any given track as homogeneous as possible during the whole conference - once again, to keep you from missing interesting stuff. If you look at the timetables, of course, they are not really balanced - but that's because us humans had to tweak it afterwards. As you know, timetables are quite tricky. And, from what I understood from Don's mail announcing the schedule first draft (sent to the debconf5-team list, not yet to everybody interested), this is by far not final. So... Well, thanks for mentioning this points, I think Don will be able to tell the system to move it around (or just reshuffle - the results will change).But, please, don't act so hostile on us. Ok, I told you 30 minutes ago I could not keep my eyes open - Now it is official, I'm going to my bed. BTW, I'm still surrounded by my cats. If any of you has never heard a cat snore, you don't know what you are missing! ;-)
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Tired / getting ready to take off

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 07/01/2005 - 01:46
Ok, so it is almost 2AM. Unlike many of you, this is not an usual hour to see me awake - I am a nice wake-up-at-8, sleep-at-12 guy. But this last couple of weeks have been hectic, and this is the culmination of the fscking process. Shit, no, it's not yet the culmination... Tomorrow I'll have to make a quick space to do some UPN work, which I have left aside for most of the week... At UNAM, things are going well. I have a couple of systems ready to be used, my institute already has a half-decent network presence and infrastructure, I am generating all of the statistics I was asked... Some stuff still pending to be installed and/or programmed, but anyway, the ship's moving. Also, I am very happy I got the DGSCA security group to reactivate the Admin-UNAM seminaries (after at least three years we had the last one). Today we had this seminar, we had a full auditorium, ~120 people (who were told to come with less than a week notice, which certainly sucks as much as being told by your boss you have to go, because the official invitation letter is not just signed by anybody but by DGSCA's general director... Anyway, I tried to do things more informal and with more time, but I don't run the show. I hate bureaucratic thought). We presented 8 hr of talks regarding perimetral security - I did the first 2hr, a very general introduction to the topic. The real nice part? Tomorrow evening I will board a plane, and Saturday evening I'll be in Helsinki. Of course, last-minute-chaos bit me - I have a couple of pending patches to Comas, and didn't have a recent enough version to hack on on my laptop - And we had no network at admin-unam. Ok, run back to the institute, cvs update, bring in a couple of extra useful packages, run back, start typing like crazy. 5PM, attention divided between the code and the talks. (BTW, has any of you ever tried to set up a Windows Internet Security Accelerator or something like that? The Microsoft firewall/proxy thingy. Man, I am glad I had never seen it before. I am more glad even I never will again. It's so damn complicated! Give me my iptables and shut up). Interrupt coding at least 20 times, as I was also commenting on the talk with my friend Turbo, who came from Temixco (little over 1hr away from Mexico City) for the Admin-UNAM Well... In the end, the clock is nearing 2AM. I am surrounded by four of my cats - Santa, Marabunta, Chupchic and Tin Tan. I finally have a working implementation of the (user view of the) volunteers functionality on Comas. Dirty as hell, I fear, so I don't think I'll integrate it ever on our main branch... But at least the ideas can be useful. No, you cannot yet sign up as volunteers, as I want to look at the diff without half of my working neurons trying to keep my eyelids open ;-) Don: I owe you incorporating your patch... Have not had time to check it. Once again, I hope I'll be able to do it tomorrow, although the day prior to a one-month absence will probably be impossible. Amaya: I just remembered about Héctor's tortillero... I think I won't make it :-( But I'll ask my wife, as she is most-probably going to meet me some days later in Finland, to get one along with her. And, no, that silly smile of yours is not only yours :) Aigars: As you are quite active on the anti-software patents scene: Are we planning some sort of something to be held in Finland on the day prior to the banana vote? (July 7, IIRC) We will be quite an impressive crowd of knowledgeable people for the reporters to admire! ;-) Anyway... I'm off to the bed. See you in HEL!
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BBS!

Submitted by gwolf on Sun, 06/26/2005 - 21:07
Some months ago, I (as well as some other old-time friends) was contacted by my friend [friend]Nopal[/friend] to help Jason Scott translate to Spanish his project of the last couple of years: The BBS documentary, a 3-DVD documentary of the start of our online lives. I joined BBSes in 1992 and started my own in 1993, but there is material in there dating back to 1979 (CBBS)! Well, in the end we didn't coordinate as tightly as we should have, so we only managed to translate the bonus tracks, not the main feature. Some material we translated didn't make it in the end. But, anyway, I was very excited about this project. Some four days ago, I got a strange little box in the mail. I thought it was some kind of postal-spam, as I wasn't really expecting a thing. To my surprise, it is my very copy of the documentary! Thanks a lot, Jason! The DVD set is released under the Creative Commons share-alike license (or... Well, I must check on this, as it says "portions of"...), so I think I can ofer you all a copy if you want it (and are in the same locality I am, which usually means Mexico City, and have a DVD burner, which I don't). Of course, I can bring it over to Helsinki if somebody is interested - just tell me please before Friday, as I'm leaving on that day.
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Red alert in Chiapas

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 06/22/2005 - 18:20
Who the fuck knows what our government is up to now? Regarding the indigenous rebellion that started (in the eyes of the world) in 1994, our oh-so-dear government has played a stupid but very effective tactics: The Mushroom principle: Keep them in the dark, feed them with shit. This rebellion, where the Zapatist Army for National Liberation jumped to the spotlights, is very different from what you will find in many other countries in this region - and that's why the EZLN was not crushed on its first days. This insurgent army is not about toppling a government and seizing power - It is about bringing decent life and equal rights to the indigenous population of my country. Seems easy, yes, but it is such a fundamental and radical change that it has had the political class for over 10 years in a stalemate. First of all: EZLN is not a violent guerrilla. Much to the contrary, it is a peaceful group. They resorted to an insurrection as that was the only way to get any attention - but the fight lasted for only 12 days. There has been a truce since then (except for two sad but very short periods). The government has set up many paramilitary groups (the guardias blancas) to weaken them and to scare the population. There have been important killings (the largest one, over 40 women and children, in Acteal, 22-12-1997). But the EZLN is about dialogue, not about power. Two years after the rebellion, in 1996, the rebels and the government signed the San Andrés Larráinzar agreements, in which the government agreed to pass a law granting freedom and recognition to the traditional organizations and ways of self-government for the indigenous population all over the country. The problem was, it was never implemented. The actual president, Vicente Fox, made a promise when he was on campaign: I will solve the Chiapas conflict in 15 minutes. As a side note, Fox has been the most prolific contributor to the Mexican folklore in the last 50 years, overshadowing great contributors such as López Portillo (Defenderé al peso como un perro) and even Luis Echeverría (No es ni bueno ni malo, sino que todo lo contrario). Fox is a master of words and responsability evasion, as we can easily witness in this Vicente Fox phrasebook. Well, back on topic. Last Sunday, Subcomandante Marcos published the (impossible) geometry(?) of the power in Mexico, a harsh criticism of basically every politician out there - specially of some of the worst aspects of López Obrador (the only one from the left wing, however centrist he is, with real possibilites of being elected). One day later, a general red alert was announced in the Zapatista area. The caracoles and the juntas de buen gobierno were closed, friends of the movement were asked to leave. Simultaneously, the biggest army movilization since 2001 into Chiapas was reported, although it has been continuously denied by any high-ranking officers. The army reports it found large plantings of marihuana in the Zapatista-influenced area. It is not even surprising for us: the areas they talk about are not Zapatista at all. Today, the Zapatistas announced their reason for the red alert: The EZLN is having an internal consultation regarding their reorganization, and is freeing whoever wants to leave them from any responsabilities in their future path. And why a red alert? Because the last time they had a consultation, in February 1995, the truce was broken by the Mexican Armed Forces. I don't know what comes next. I am posting this in good part due to [friend]Alex[/friend]'s pressure - It is important to get the word going, to spread the news before -as it often happens- our practically-state-controled duopoly spreads false news. So, help spread the word in any language you know. The Zapatista movement has gained tremendous support from people all over the world, and thanks to person-to-person communication and the pressure coming from around the globe, they are still around, demanding their right to live with dignity. Just a couple of final links: Natorro's article, explaining this situation with more background information, Narconews' Mexico: The False Narco-Smear Against the Zapatistas, the overly stupid reaction of our politicians to the recent events, and -more general- Frente Zapatista de Liberación Nacional will surely keep us informed (unless they are attacked again, as it happened on Monday), and -as not everything must be that serious- the beautiful lyrics of Oscar Chávez's Chiapas record, to which I am currently listening.
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/.ing yourself - Some people never learn

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 06/17/2005 - 13:20
Ok, so I am advertising our very nice Sarge T-shirts. Now, gwolf.org lives on a 512/128 ASDL line - And, as I did a long time ago, I once again included images in my blog text. I thought that my auto-slashdotting last time was because of my poor old resource-starvated server - No! It was bandwith. I just moved the images over to my work server (just for some days, don't hang me for that!), and as soon as planet.debian.org pulsed again, my home connection was once again usable.
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Release party in .mx / cool T-shirts!

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 06/17/2005 - 10:45
We Mexicans are known for taking too long to do things... So, nine days after Sarge stabilized, yesterday we had our release party. Much larger than what I originally thought (we only announced it to the almost-dead debianmexico list AFAIK, and most people there do not live in this city). We were over 30, and there were people coming from surrounding cities, up to ~200Km away. We had a good time, food and beer at Hamburguesas Memorables. I arrived over 1hr late because we were printing. What were we printing? Well, that's obvious: I am very proud of Nadezhda's work. She dedicated many nights to having it just perfect - Of course, we found a couple of details we will continue working on for the 3.1r1 T-shirt - But I am quite proud of what I am now wearing. ...And, yes, I am surprised I have not seen any other Sarge artwork yet. Am I blind?
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First CPAN upload!

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 06/15/2005 - 13:48
Some weeks ago, I registered via PAUSE as a CPAN author - I did this because I am a frequent user of the CPAN request tracker, because of the modules I maintain in Debian. But... Well, now that I am in there, why not clean up some of my own modules and, if they are somehow interesting/useful to the general public, upload them there as well? Well, as of today, I just became a CPAN contributor: I uploaded User::Simple, a simple user sessions management, much lighter to use than other tools I have seen, and not married to any particular framework (Well... Yes, it requires you to have a RDBMS, but can be used for any front-end you wish). Of course, I already filed an ITP for it, and you'll all be able to laugh at it from within a clean, nice Debian install quite soon.
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/me shivers...

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 06/09/2005 - 18:36
I had not updated my Sid boxes since last week as I feared the mirrors would be too full. I knew this was coming. Lots of invasive, destabilizing changes were told to wait for post-Sarge... Now we will get back our feeling of good ol' Sid's unstability. First, Mathias' message warning about the C++ ABI change (which, being über-optimistic, will only mean a complete recompile of a shitload of stuff, but will surely mean hundreds of new open bugs). Now, I did my first post-Sarge update/upgrade, I see that GCC 4.0, PostgreSQL 8 and Perl 5.8.7 are all invited. I am reading that Jordi's having fun with Gnome 2.10. And it's still not a week... Ok, let the breakage begin! That's the only way we'll get the fun of picking up the pieces and glueing them back again!
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Ok, I managed to do it again... / dripping

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 06/09/2005 - 18:20
Some minutes ago, my poor and neglected debian-devel mailbox reached the 1000 unread messages. The last couple of days I have mainly spent my time either working on Debconf-related stuff (fortunately the last two days seem to go back to normal), answering mail^Wstupid flames on two local lists, and sweating my ass off. No, I am not doing any kind of excercise - Mexico City is _hot_, and I hate it. The highest temperature in over a century. We have reached 35 Celsius, at least five degrees over what we percieve as "too hot". But I have managed to do very little real-life work. And it's not because I don't have any. It's quite hard to focus on code while sweating. We should already be in the rainy season!
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YAY!

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 06/06/2005 - 18:57
Ok, so everybody now knows it: the beast is out there! I missed the big moment on IRC due to an appointment at my shrink... My thanks go to Thaddeus Black, who sent me a complete IRC log, which I just followed trying to imagine I was there ;-) Now... Who was that said it? Long Live Sarge! ^U... ummmm... Short Live Sarge!!! See you in Etch, guys! Congratulations!!!
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Power failures and Gaim

Submitted by gwolf on Sat, 06/04/2005 - 15:17
We have had quite a few power failures lately in my area of the town, both at home and at my building in the University (which is kind of logical, as we are so close). Power failures tend to happen at the worst possible time - Yes, I know that basically any journalling filesystem will assure the disk integrity is right even if the last information written got lost. Which has happened to me quite a few times. Some weeks ago, we had the power failure in the middle of an aptitude operation. Darn, I lost /var/lib/aptitude/pkgstates and /var/lib/dpkg/available - Not too much hassle to re-create them, so no too much damage done - but, yes, it made me lose some time and temper. Now, fortunately I don't have Aptitude running all the time - those important files are rarely touched. However, there are some programs I am running basically all the time. One of them is Gaim - And it is the only one that continuously suffers from such disasters. Every time I lose power, .gaim/blist.xml gets lost. And _that_ is quite annoying - No critical information is recorded there, only my contact list. And fortunately, contact lists are now saved server-side on most protocols I use Gaim for (yes, I do use Gaim for IRC - I am rarely connected to any channels, so I don't suffer its lacking interface too much). But I do have important information there - For example, the real name of people. I hate that habit of the MSN crowd of just changing their alias as if it were some kind of useless blob - effectively, turning it into an useless blob. Thank the Gaim people for letting me override that... But it is _very_ frustrating to be forced to group them all together again according to my style and finding out who the hell is each of them. Yesterday, I lost it. Twice. Well... as of now, .gaim/blist.xml lives on my CVS tree. I am not yet convinced to take all of my home into version control (basically because I am too disorganized), but files that are written to in such an unorderly manner do deserve being in a safe place.
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Why is my firewall leaking packets?

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 06/02/2005 - 18:32
As we Amiga fans and ex-users use to say: "Oh, no, not Boing again". The network has been quite shitty for the last couple of days here at IIEc. I was a bit pissed at it - but hey, I have one of those surges of things to do. I have not seriously even read my mail for most of the week... It'll get better eventually. :-/ Today, my boss came to my office, and we started talking about why the network was _so_ fscking shitty. He told me there was a new virus on the loose there - Perhaps I could stop it with the firewall? Well, just to a certain point, as I cannot control what enters our users' mail - after all, most of them have their mail at servidor.unam.mx, one of this University's largest sources of headache... No, he says this virus spreads itself via SMB connections... And we have already two machines that caught it. Hmmmm... After a quick tcpdump, I see some packets from outside my network. A shiver... iptables-save... Empty rulelist... Well, it turns out that some days ago, I was debugging some rules, as some machines at our library couldn't connect to a service they require, which is provided as an Access-based system on a remote SMB share. I disabled the firewalling rules to rule out I was the culprit. The problem persisted. I was on the phone for ~20 minutes with the guys at DGB... And, yes, as I am looking at too many things at once, I simply forgot to turn them back on. As a result, two users got infected. This particular virus seems to wipe the MBR or something like that - And, as I don't usually fix virus-related problems (thanks $DEITY), I didn't offer my help to rescue the data. Two users lost some days worth of job just because I forgot to re-enable the rules... Well, they run Windows, so at least I am sure they now have a faster machine ;-) But anyway, it is depressing to screw up this badly so easily.
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Poza Rica

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 06/02/2005 - 14:56
Last Tuesday I went to Poza Rica, as the people at Instituto Tecnológico Superior de Poza Rica had their Tercer Congreso Estatal de Ingenieria en sistemas Computacionales. And quite a strange conference this was. First of all... Well, this was a conference organized by the institute's profesors, not the students, so it was all formal, even sometimes rigid. The conference's opening had representatives from all over the Veracruz state bureaucracy (a representative for Poza Rica's mayor, another one for the state's Education and Culture ministery, etc. - Some 10 people). Funnily, it seems nobody knew who was attending the opening. Well, after a long opening ceremony (complete with a very official flag salutation and everything!), with ~1hr of speeches, and without any other warnings, we got two groups of dancing girls. And then the talks started. I was at five talks - One promoting technological development poles (polos de desarrollo tecnológico - Poles as in the North pole, not as in coming from Poland), another about the Intel history and perspective towards the future, the third about neural networks, one from Oracle promoting their Jdeveloper environment, and my talk about QA in Free Software development. Poza Rica is a relatively small city in our country, which flourished due to the petroleum that lies there during the 1950s. Right now, there is not much technological development going on there, and most people seem to want to leave for any other place. My friend Markuz lives there, he even formed a LUG some time ago, and was a bit disappointed as it disgregated. Right now, the Poza Rica LUG is three people. Well, to my surprise, before the second talk had begun, people knew I was there to talk about Linux (maybe because of my Debian shirt? Doubt so, as I didn't even look like a speaker, they were all dressed in a suit and with a tie - at over 30 Celsius!). I got this note, which by itself is well worth the trip: Three people interested in learning Linux, in forming a LUG... I promptly introduced them, and some other guys that later came to me, to Markuz. And Markuz was one of the happiest people I could see ;-) I hope their LUG grows again. There is much to do over there. Just as a final funny note: I don't know if this is a pavlovian experiment. I really hesitated before washing my hair in the hotel.
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