Comas is moving

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 03/27/2006 - 13:09
Hi! This is Comas, the conference management system we all know and love! Perhaps you remember me from CONSOL 2004 and 2005, Debconf 5 and 6, CICOL, Seminario Globalización, Conocimiento y Desarrollo or other such great conferences! Well, it is a pleasure for me to announce I am moving. That's right - My developers have felt too constrained by CVS to keep being merry and productive, and decided to move away from it and to Subversion. If you are tracking my development history, you should have noticed a new file in my base CVS directory, called DONT_USE_THIS_REPOSITORY_ANYMORE. I will reproduce it here following Gunnar's wishes, and hoping it is useful to you.
PLEASE DON'T USE THIS REPOSITORY ANYMORE! Just in the meantime, while we migrate our current installations to point to the correct server, while our users take note, and while the kind GBorg admins lock down this project: PLEASE DON'T USE THIS REPOSITORY. WE HAVE MOVED. The Comas project will no longer be hosted at GBorg - We are moving to Debian's Alioth. Comas' webpage (although it is still ugly :) ) is still the same as always. The repository will no longer be handled through CVS - We switched to Subversion. Don't worry, the usage is basically the same. You can use anonymous access to get the Subversion tree. If you want to participate in the project, register at Alioth and ask us for commit access. You can also use the very nice SVN Web interface, which allows you to look at each of the files, view the changes, and even subscribe to the Comas RSS feeds! Development goes on. Stay tuned! Greetings, - Gunnar Wolf
Of course, as in any migration, there is still a lot of things to do. Mail the other contributors and interested people notifying them of the move. Migrate (and check the validity of) any tickets we have in the old site. Point all the places where there is Comas-related information to the new repository. Close the existing project page at GBorg. Sanely re-structure the repository in a more standard and functional way (and hope it does not break current installations ;-) ). Rework the documentation that has been neglected in the last months. Rework the bits of logic that never smelt very good but -as a dead rat- now positively stink. Fixe the things that will eventually stink as well... Anyway, I'm sure this will speed up my growth! I am very excited on which way my dear authors will continue to push me - I know I'm quite a lousy program for many things, and I know there is a lot for me to learn until I am a military-grade conference management system - But my many parents have written me with deep love, and I understand they had to write hastily parts of my code. I understand their mistakes, but I hope they make them go away soon.
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The other side of the world

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 03/20/2006 - 11:21
Martin: Strange... Here setting up a company is so much of a hassle that most people only register as Persona física con actividad empresarial instead - Physical person with enterprise activity. That means, you can print your invoices with "Madduck Consulting Inc." if you so wish, as long as under that, in tiny letters, you print your real name and fiscal data.
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My view on DPLship

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 03/09/2006 - 12:46
Several people's blogs have appeared recently in the planet with the different points of view on the different candidates and various rants regarding the DPL office - Well... This time I have not yet been able even to read the platforms of the different candidates (of course, I plan on doing it quite soon), but I follow the posts on the subject with interest. The most interesting post so far is Martin Michlmayr's - Of course, being an ex-DPL, there are important experiences he has that few people do. A couple of days ago I was talking with one of the candidates with whom I have talked and worked in the past. My main gripe with the whole process is that, although as a project we need a leader, an easily identifiable single contact person who knows the teams, knows the people and can speak on the project's behalf, I have not seen much being done by the past DPLs towards the inside of the project. Of course, it's easy to bitch around when I sit in the comfortable silent majority most of the time - Currently I am devoting quite less time and effort to Debian than what I should, although it is true that setting up Debconf6 in Oaxtepec takes a _lot_ of time and that it will facilitate much more interaction between Debian people (which is good for the project) than me working more and better on my packages and on doing interesting team work. Maybe something that would make me to vote for somebody, more than the most coherent and best written platforms, is for the candidate to admit the lack of importance of the role to most of the project - or to defend how to make it again a leadership position. Following Martin's post, maybe we do need a Bruce-like leader who tells us what to do and drives the project. Or maybe not, maybe we could do better with reducing the importance of the post towards the inside and emphasizing it's mostly a confidence vote for somebody to speak on behalf of us all. And even this would be difficult, as a sad flame in debian-private some months ago reminds us that nobody can speak on behalf os the whole project because somebody might be offended by the viewpoint taken by the official? I am no big believer in democracies. I do think that sticking to much to a democratic constitution (where democracies are very scarce in the Free Software world, where projects tend to have benevolent dictators grown by meritocracy instead of democratically elected) and allowing everybody to voice too much the same opinion in our regular flamewars has lead Debian to the communications swamp it is right now. We do have very effective small teams (quoting Andreas Schuldei' term for the phenomenon that seems to work best and appear naturally in our project), integration between teams is quite good... But having 1000+ people sitting in a big room and shouting at each other is plainly not fun. Maybe we should stop pretending that there is no cabal (forgod'ssake...) and admit that there is and it works, and we (the drones) implement Their decisions? Nah... That sounds it would only create more flamewars. But seriously: Towards the inside, do we need a leader? Have we ever used it?
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I just love this place...

Submitted by gwolf on Sun, 02/26/2006 - 23:41
Today, Nadezhda and I went with [friend]jyr[/friend] and [friend]Tigre[/friend] to get some more details ready for Debconf 6 at Oaxtepec. Among lots of work, we met with [friend]Gnaro[/friend] to talk about connectivity issues. A nice, productive day all in all - If you care to check, I uploaded today's (raw, no descriptions yet) pictures together with today's information at the bottom of my Oaxtepec gallery - Yes, it's a whole bunch of photos, and my connection is quite mediocre (512/128 ADSL line), but there it is :) But the reason I am writing is that Nadezhda and I decided to drive back to Mexico down a smaller road that goes from Oaxtepec to Xochimilco, through Milpa Alta, in the high and rural area of Mexico's capital. We didn't know if this would end up being a good idea or a terrible one, as anything can happen in our rural roads. Being straight pragmatic, it was very good - We made a bit over 90 minutes end-to-end, and we saved around 130 pesos (10 euros) of toll roads. But the real win was to have some beautiful landscape session. Sadly, we are at the beginning of the fire season (read: the hot season, where a spark often arises in the tall grass and forest fires break. All of the Cuautla and Oaxtepec region, as well as all the way up Tlayacapan and until Tlalnepantla had thick smoke which took some of the beauty off the beautiful small ridge that finishes at the Tepozteco - here are some simple samples. After that, we crossed an area of fields of nopales - yes, you will get to taste them... But in my case, I enjoyed seeing some nopales fresh cut (first link), some others with the leaves ready to be harvested (second)... And just the shape of the mountains. And then, although somewhat clouded, our beautiful volcanos. I don't know what Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl have that they make me drool. Every time we have clear skies in the city, I look for them. They are probably the greatest symbol of all of Central Mexico - And although today they look sadly a bit greyish, I still had the change to see the glaciars that were lost due to the global warming in the last 10 years. And after some time travelling with my dear volcanos on the right, we reached one of my favorite spots on this planet. This little road is even better during May/June-October/November, during the rainy season, the way I had met it a very long time ago... The brownish colors are all green, as south of Mexico City towards Morelos, it is very fertile ground. Still, even after five hours of being home, I'm still wholly satisfied at the beauty I could half-look at while driving.
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For those getting tickets for Debconf

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 02/22/2006 - 10:16
I'd love to joyfully join the hordes and post my ticket data here... As that would surely mean I don't have to worry about lots of stuff we are preparing right now ;-) Many people have blogged in planet.debian.org their travel details - This post is just to ask you: Please don't forget to update your personal information in our system, so we can work on the logistics on how to properly receive and arrange you. Your arrival/departure data is available to other registered Debconf attendees - If you want to change that, just activate the Keep travel data privateoption in your personal data page. This should be obvious by now, but anyway: This is just a public information announcement, not a proper blog posting. In fact, I will be retouching it and sending it to the proper mailing lists.
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Almost 20!

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 02/07/2006 - 08:40
In late October, when I joined the obesity and sedentarism treatment in UNAM's "Dirección de Medicina del Deporte", I weighed 135 kilos. It had been years since I had done any kind of sport activities. Today, I weigh 116 kilos, and I have one hour of exercising every day. I'm really happy - There is still much work to do, but this time I'm really looking forward to it.
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Upgraded to Jaws 0.6

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 02/06/2006 - 10:49
It took me a long time to upgrade my blog (powered by Jaws) from version 0.4 to 0.5, which has been available since last May. Well, two days ago [friend]Pablo[/friend] announced Jaws 0.6 stable released. and... Well, I didn't want to be running such old code in my blog, so it's updated. It mostly works with little tweaking - I just want to edit the theme a bit so I'm no longer _that_ generic, check some links, and... Well, I hope the Jaws upgrade doesn't flood the planets with my old posts (but still keeps me syndicated ;-) ). Go get Jaws 0.6!
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Novel noble ideas for solving the world's problems

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 01/31/2006 - 09:46
Yesterday, the right-wing PAN candidate for the presidency of Mexico, Felipe Calderón, made a declaration that shadows the current president, Vicente Fox (from his same political party) almost look like a genuine statesman. (some links, La Jornada, El Universal) - And that's no easy feat, given that Mr. Fox is -so far- the nation's most prolific president... When it comes to stupid sayings. How come Calderón rose so quickly to become a statesman? Let me first go through a bit of history. Not much, promise. Well, I'll do my best. Twelve years and one month ago, Mexicans woke up with the frightening news we had a violent guerrilla group in Chiapas, one of Mexico's richest states, but one with the highest percentages of poor people - and, not coincidentally, of indigenous population as well. This uprising was very soon known all over the world - And its leaders quickly learned how to ensure they would not be prosecuted and exterminated: Simultaneously with the fighting, they made as large a media coverage as they could, strongly supported in the Internet democratization of the information that had just begun. Thousands of people all over the world understood their ideas -at least what they said at that time- and spread the word. I had my first trip in Europe with my (now) wife in 1996, and we saw many grafittis stating Viva Chiapas, Viva EZLN... It was amazing. EZLN was (is) specially hard for the government to kill. As they don't do military sabotages, terrorism or so on, it is very hard to justify military action. After 12 days of fighting, a truce was decreed. The truce was broken once, in the early years of the Zedillo government, but officially there is a cease-fire, observed by both sides. The Zapatistas have took the ideas and further promoted them, with action. My Chiapas-born friend Alex Juárez often tells me about the tremendous cultural difference between the Zapatista territories and the paramilitary ones - In the Zapatista areas, you see indians reading books, working their land, organizing themselves in the Fair Government councils, and strongly opposing alcohol and drugs. Just the opposite from the other areas. EZLN shifted their strategy some months ago, going beyond stating their wishes for a fair regime and waiting for the government to look at them. I still don't really understand where they are heading, but the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Rainforest turns them into a political movement, clearly separated from the existing regime. They do not seek to be elected, they oppose every party and candidate. They define themselves as an anticapitalist movement, located down and to the left - Lets see where this goes to. Well, back on track... One of the president's most famous stupid quotes is that, during his campaign, he promised to solve the Chiapas conflict in fifteen minutes. Well, it's been either fifteen very long minutes, or he just hasn't had any time to devote to those dirty indians. Mexicans are very frustrated by the lack of importance this man gave to one of our country's longest and most desperate needs. Of course, Felipe Calderón must do something in this regard. Fox's shadow is a big one, and this little man must try to escape from Fox's biggest mistakes. So he just came with a formula that I don't know why no statesman thought of before: Instead of negotiating, instead of working to solve a very difficult problem, he declared he will unilaterally declare peace with EZLN. I wonder if this year's Nobel prize will go to such an abnegated, smart and selfless person. Man, we could take this same solution to Darfur, to Israel/Palestine, to Congo, to Chechnya... If rulers all over the world start declaring peace unilaterally, all of the world's problems will be solved! What comes next, he will declare (maybe as Salinas did) that we are a first world country? Poor people are only sad reflections in the sand but don't exist in his reality? Please, Mexicans: The man is clearly schizoid. Are you happy with Foxilandia? It seems that alternate realities are part of the PAN's action program. If you are not satisfied with Fox's results (who is?), don't vote for this guy. We will all regret it.
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Frustration comes on ISO/OSI layer 2 (or: On one of the ways 3Com sucks)

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 01/27/2006 - 18:54
Over one month ago, I truly hoped an evasive network misbehavior issue was solved. In the institute, we had a strange situation which caused a (seemingly random) stack of switches to go out to lunch and leave one of the floors without network access until it decided to restore itself (usually power-cycling it was not enough). The equipment, ten 4200 SuperStack switches, is new, we got it ~September, so I expected 3Com to give me at least some support on the issue. The behavior was apparently random, and I could not track it down, only (thanks to the very nice Cacti) prove it existed. December 5 was terrible. The whole building's network refused to work. Switches were able to reply to my pings for no more than a minute after booting before they got flooded with "Spanning Tree CTRL MAC PAUSE: Quanta 65535" (according to another great tool, the Ethereal protocol analyzer). I had been bugging the support people at 3Com for at least three weeks before this incident, they kept promising they would come soon to help us track the cause of the ellusive problem - We threatened to send the switches back and pursue reimbursement through whatever means we could (we had much better stability and performance with our old 10Mbps hubs, so my boss insisted on replacing them), so we got them to come. The answer they gave me? Upgrade your firmware to version 2.50 (not available at their website, of course) and disable spanning tree functionality at the switches. I have to admit the big problem immediately ceased. This is not to say I was pleased with the response time or with the switches' software quality, but at least we could work. Happily, ~7 weeks passed by with no major outages (although with a few small ones). Yesterday, we got back the complete chaotic conditions. This time, though, I was able to get a good and useful tcpdump snapshot, passed it through Ethereal, and actually got something interesting (available to whoever requests it to me if it sounds interesting). In short: Something happens that confuses a switch (I guess it's a faulty NIC), and makes it request to all of the neighbouring switches (via spanning tree protocol - Yes, it's disabled, but still) for their complete ARP tables. But somehow, this noise or whatever keeps confusing it, so the spanning tree requests start repeating every two seconds for slightly over one minute. Then, the same switch which requested this information gets tired of too many ARP tables being thrown at it, and sends out a storm of packets (one each 0.04 seconds) asking every other switch _not_ to send updates anymore. This is broadcasted to all of each of the switches' ports, and the network dies. My grudge against 3Com is: How come this frigging noise (at least that's what I assume it to be) on one of the ports kill all of the network? If a switch is supposed to be smart, would it be too much for it just to disable the misbehaving port? Anyway... One and a half days went down the drain trying to find the cause for the problem, sending the report to the 3Com guy (who is very nice in person, yes, but that's by far not enough!), running up and down the stairs to reset different switches, lock down on the source of distress... And as my 3Com contact was busy with another client (who presumably had not yet given them money), I never got a call back from them. All my good intentions to spend a nice quiet time coding for three projects we currently need to have ready soon (one of them is in production and many of you have used, my dear Comas conference management system, but requires heavy tinkering to be able to extend it) were stuck at that: Good intentions. I seem to have locked down the problem in one of three computers (that is, network seems stable again once I disconnected them). I insist it must be a faulty NIC. My boss bets it's an über-contaminated Windows machine. My boss' boss insists we should get the switches double-grounded just to be sure that's not the reason for failure. I am tired, bad mooded, and -again- bored you to death with a too-long blog entry. Blame it all on 3Com.
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On the OpenSolaris round table at Debconf

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 01/17/2006 - 10:19
Tolimar, liw: Just to give an extra bit of ease, I know Alvaro Lopez, one of the talk's proponents. I am to some extent an instigator for this talk - Alvaro is definitively a Free Software guy. I know him for several years already. He has been as careful as possible, and told me about his frustration when the whole Nexenta mess erupted. As far as I can say, the cooperation intentions are as serious as you can expect from such a beast as Sun is - I cannot judge more, and I won't say more in this regard. I just assure you that this talk will not be a presentation on why Solaris is better than Hurd or anything like that. I trust Alvaro (and, transitively, I should also trust Simon). I do hope we get something interesting out of this talk. [update] Alvaro has answered. I'm linking it here as he is not syndicated in Planet Debian.
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No antialiased fonts here, thank you

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 01/17/2006 - 10:00
Edd Dumbill writes from time to time about hinting or using the right fonts so they look nicer - At the first glance, I found three such articles in ~six weeks. I don't know if I'm too atypical in this area as well... But for most of my work, I prefer fonts not to be beautified by antialiasing. Strangely, it seems to depend on which program (or, maybe, activity) I am working - I have no grudge against antialiasing in a web browser, but I swear to God that if you antialias my emacs or my xterms, I will hate you. It just gets more tiring. I have no rational explanation for this - I just noticed the fact after using it for a while. I get more tired if the borders of the letters are not crisp - and I don't really care about the little details in smaller sized fonts. Maybe that's part of the reason antialiasing is nicer in the browser - After all, it is common to find text too small to read there. At 1280x1024 (or 1400x1050 on the laptop) with the usual font size, I get a nice 170x66 rxvt. That's quite OK for most of the work that requires attention - and for following large amounts of text, decreasing the font size to a somewhat tiring size gives me a nice 200x92 window - almost always enough room. Crisp fonts. Easy to read. Does anybody else feel the same, or am I just too looney?
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The Universe is signalling you to change your ways

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 01/11/2006 - 10:29
David: You are suffering it now. You suffered from it before (sorry, cannot find the link) with your previous machine. Macs are sexy - But they are not meant to be yours. (Personally, and I hope not to spill any salt by doing this, I am completely satisfied with my iMac G5 and my Mac Mini - Fashion objects and quite expensive, but reliable, quiet and great looking) Give up. You deserve a brand that does not hate you.
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Early risers

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 01/06/2006 - 11:00
For many years already (probably since I have been a productive member of the society, or at least pretended so), I have been an early riser, unlike most people in the community. Today, I seldom stay awake after 12AM, and wake up shortly before 7. Some months ago, I think I was an hour or two more sleepful, but since I picked up morning excercise... Well :) But it worries me to see people in Debian following a trend to change for this more human-like lifestyle - I interact with many Europeans, and it's nice for me to have them online during the same period I am online - +- 9AM to 8PM. If more Debianers start waking up and going to sleep early, it will affect my interactions! Please, stay up late!
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This side of the ocean

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 01/05/2006 - 11:12
Well, after three non-posting weeks, this is my third blog post today! :) Martin: Please remember that not everything is lost on this side of the ocean - Probably, yes, this side of the ocean, this side of the Great Lakes, and that side of the Río Bravo. One of the few things I often cite that still make me very proud of my country is the complete (although slowly, slowly declining, but still quite complete) separation between church and state. In ~130 years, no president or important public figure has publicly stated they even had a religion - Of course, the current ruling party, PAN, is very catholic-oriented, and our current president _has_ attended mass, got and worn crucifixes and similar stuff... But at least, every time he (or a senior figure of the government) does that, there is loud criticism. And I do hope that PAN's stay in power does not last more than 6 years. We deserve better. And we have elections in a couple of months, whee.
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Re: Tabs

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 01/05/2006 - 10:59
Matt: Please don't forget you are talking about the language with the "there should be only one way to do it" motto, where you have to "program the way Guido indented it". I also feel much more at home where I can play with the way my program works and looks like. I like whitespace to be irrelevant - Yes, Python is a nice beast alltogether, but you cannot expect much space for personal preferences once you understand how it was designed. And yes, as a Perl guy I often hate the style some of the modules I maintain are written in, but then again... It's the most comfortable style for the main upstream author, the person who will do most work with the beast! ...But anyway... Emacs knows best. I just press tab and it works magically, either becoming a set of spaces or becoming a proper tab. And as long as other people understand what I wrote (which can become messy if some lines have supposedly eight-spaces-tabs and some are made up just of eight spaces), and specially the compiler doesn't barf at me, I'm OK with it. Using a decent editor helps you a lot when writing Python, YAML or such things..
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