For not folding a blog

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 06/29/2006 - 12:15
MJRay started my posting in his blog why he is going to fold his feed (send only the first paragraph or so in the RSS feed instead of the full text). Wouter, Phillip, JoeyH, Noodles, have expressed why they don't like the idea. So I'll just have to <AOL>ME TOO!</AOL> Folds are nice for news feeds, where you want to quickly gaze at the headlines and just open the articles that are worth something, great. (BTW, I hate when Barrapunto or Cofradía send only the title, not the whole first block. Too little information to judge!) But for personal blogs, for following friends' lives and opinions, it's... Just torture.
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Fractional sleep

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 06/19/2006 - 17:49
How cool is this? [code="ruby"] if pid=fork while true puts "#{Time.now.sec}: I'm the slow #{Process.pid}, parent of #{pid}" sleep 1 end else while true puts "#{Time.now.sec}: I'm the fast #{Process.pid}, child of #{Process.ppid}" sleep 1.0/3 end end [/code] What do I get?
18: I'm the fast 9900, child of 9899 18: I'm the slow 9899, parent of 9900 18: I'm the fast 9900, child of 9899 19: I'm the fast 9900, child of 9899 19: I'm the slow 9899, parent of 9900 19: I'm the fast 9900, child of 9899 19: I'm the fast 9900, child of 9899 20: I'm the fast 9900, child of 9899 20: I'm the slow 9899, parent of 9900 20: I'm the fast 9900, child of 9899 20: I'm the fast 9900, child of 9899
And for those of you not familiar with sleep(3), what is so cool about this? Simple: The prototype for sleep in almost any language is: [code="c"] #include unsigned int sleep(unsigned int seconds); [/code] (note the unsigned int part?) Even the Perl documentation clearly says, being compliant with the rest of the world:
For delays of finer granularity than one second, you may use Perl's "syscall" interface to access setitimer(2) if your system supports it, or else see "select" above. The Time::HiRes module (from CPAN, and starting from Perl 5.8 part of the standard distribution) may also help.
But... Well, in this case I just loved the Ruby way: If it does not hurt to cause surprises, then don't cause them! Keep a simple, portable definition, that will work with seconds or with fractions! Why not?
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Objects and signals

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 06/14/2006 - 19:44
So far, Ruby is the only language I have actually liked that imposes a mindset on you. I love Perl's approach of letting you do things your way, whatever you define by that - Ruby forces you to extensively use OOP. But, actually, it is so well implemented that it even makes sense. It is even fun! Of course, that paired to an excellent introspection ability leaves enough room to make the cleverest (and, yes, most obfuscated) code you can think of. Well... But there are limits to everything, and I think I found a spot where all the nice separation and cleanness ends abruptely: When interacting to the always nasty outside world. It might also, of course, have some relation to the fact that I'm too new also for writing GUIs - this is the first nontrivial one I do. And it shows, as it took me some time to properly understand the pairing between the nice Glade elements, how to make a decently modular system, how to properly handle UI (and internal) events... But I've been progressing quite nicely, and I hope to be able to show off my little app to a wider audience soon. At the very least, I hope to be able to show it to my boss by next week, as he is getting impatient ;-) Ok, but where does it all break, according to me? One of the things I must monitor with this app is that a couple of processes spawned by it work happily in the background while I only show a nice interface to my users. Now, how is the best way to do this? Why, by trapping the SIGCHLD signal, of course! Whenever any of the processes in the pipeline die, the parent (controlling) process gets a nice CHLD signal. I trap it, restart the processes, and no harm done. And in Ruby, it looks quite natural: [code="ruby"] Signal.trap(:CHLD) do @processes.each {|p| p.stop if p.active?; sleep 1; p.start} done [/code] How nice, how neat... How buggy :-/ It took me quite a few hours to get this right. And it should be obvious, of course... No matter where you declare a signal handler, there is no reason for you to believe it is tied to a particular instance, or for that matter, to a class. A signal handler breaks and jumps in the execution in the ugliest old-school way. Yes, if your signal handler consists of: [code="ruby"]Signal.trap(:CHLD) do { puts self.class }[/code] you will note that your good friend self is nothing but an Object. Once I realized that, yes, things became reworkable, and I now think I am actually better off even OOP-aly than some hours ago - Some of the classes badly needed to adhere to the Singleton pattern and now work with less worries and ugliness. But, hey, it took me quite a while. Anyway, lets see which new challenges Ruby+Glade2 still have for me. I am sure there will be plenty. And I haven't even started playing with GStreamer!
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Working on politics: The FeCal project

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 06/07/2006 - 09:23
Ok, it may not be ready yet, it might be lacking too many details. It might even make sense to make this initial announcement in Spanish - But a long time ago, I decided my blog would be English-only, as most of the people who read it are not Spanish speakers. Anyway, here I go. We are less than one month away of the presidential elections in Mexico. We are facing the choice between two candidates (the others won't really make a difference this time): Felipe Calderón, a conservative member of the right-wing PAN party (currently ruling), and Andrés Manuel López Obrador, from the center-leftist PRD party. There are way too many reasons for me, and for my friends, to prefer and promote the López Obrador project. No, that is not the definitive leftist stance we want, but it is a good step in the right direction. He was the major for Mexico City from 2000 to 2005, and his government showed he knows how to push social programs, he knows how to improve the conditions of the mass of the population, he knows he must start acting from below, reducing the terrible gap that exists in my country between poor and rich people, among the steepest differencies in the world. So... Instead of flooding my personal blog with things that are not directly relevant to most of us, some friends and I have started setting up www.fecal.org.mx, the unofficial site of Felipe Calderón. Yes, we took some of the steps we often criticize about the right-wing propaganda: Attacking instead of proposing. López Obrador has lost some points as he is centered more in proposing and spreading his government plan than in destroying Felipe Calderón - While Calderón has been working on creating fear, on tying López Obrador's figure to that of an authoritarian dictator (Hugo Chávez has often been quoted, although it has been proven over and over no link or similarity exists), on dismissing his economic program saying he only knows how to create debt (while Mexico City's economy was strongly reactivated during López Obrador's period, and the city's public debt has not grown considerably compared to what previous governments did), and simply ignoring any criticism to his own project dismissing them as baseless propaganda. Originally, we intended FeCal to become just a parody of Felipe's official site, emphasizing on what a shitty candidate he is (no wonder he carries such a name!), but we decided to be more propositive than him - We will post news following Felipe's intransigency, erroneous economic decisions and incoherences, yes, but we will also write articles by ourselves, trying to provide more interesting content, something that can objectively be used as a reference on why Felipe Calderón's project cannot be seen as socially responsable, as something that will benefit anybody but the current ruling elite - Just giving six more years to the already too long 24 year old marriage with neoliberalism we have seen, just continuity with the current government's failures, just more white-collar corrupt thieves which never recieve any kind of punishment and discourage people from pushing together towards a better country. So, I stop flooding here. If you want to take part in the FeCal project, please contact me. If you agree with what we say, link us from your page, from your texts, from whatever you do.
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More != better

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 06/02/2006 - 18:38
This is the time of year when most Free Software-related conferences in Mexico have their calls for papers. /lists.consol.org.mx/pipermail/consol/2006-May/006443.html">send my proposal by mail, and I do hope it gets in the official program - For sentimental reasons more than anything else ;-) CONSOL is, after all, still my baby!). Yesterday I had to come up with something, as CICOL's deadline was also hanging upon me. Now my attention has been brought towards FSL, for which I still have almost one month to think. And, of course, although at other times of year (but, of course, still clashing with other conferences) we will not have one, but three instances of GULEV this year.. WTF? Mexico's Free Software community is a small and not too productive one, as most communities in our (culturally defined) continent, Latin America. And yes, conferences are quite fun, it's always nice to go to a nice place and meet your friends. But we must not forget the real motivation for them all: The academic program. We currently have four conferences that try to reach to the same audience (yes, in different places of the country, but all of them with a national scope). And if you compare the list of proposed talks (visible currently for three of them), you will see there is no real difference between the set of talks on them. Please explain me, what kind of incentive does this give to anybody to attend? Just to hang out with the friends, entering a talk here and there? I ended up submitting the same talks for both CONSOL and CICOL, as running Debconf didn't leave me time to prepare or think over anything - That's not what I like to do, and I hope I can be a bit more creative with the topics for FSL. There is no published criteria yet on what will be the focus for (each of the) GULEV, so I'm not committing yet to them. And yes, being a very active Free Software promoter in my country, I try to be present everywhere - but of course, everything has a limit. I will most probably not skip CONSOL (as it is on the city I live, and it is the one I am most sentimentally attached to) or CICOL (as it is just 1hr south from here)... But I'm still uncertain if I'll be at FSL or any of the GULEVs. Back on my initial questioning, anyway: Do we need four perfectly equivalent conferences in this country? Besides ego clashes, wouldn't we be best served if we had only one or two big conferences a year?
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Back to... Normality?

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 05/22/2006 - 13:00
Yesterday night, without all the stares and ceremony I would have liked for such an important moment (but, hell, it was ~500m away of the Oaxtepec entrance!), I gave the three-finger-salute and rebooted moe.mexico.debconf.org. After some seconds, I started unplugging the six Ethernet cables that this noble machine held together forming Debconf6's connection to the world (thanks, [friend]Punk0[/friend] and [friend]Jyr[/friend], for working with this bunch of crazy and nervous people, five days nonstop until the wireless link between homer and moe worked fine and reliably, and still talking to us!) and ran back to the hacklab to finish packing the van with the lent equipment. Ok, so now moe is back in its place, my office (believe it or not, yes, today I came back to work). Its identity has been restored to mosca.iiec.unam.mx, and moe's ancient but still working hard drive now sits idly where it belongs, in my desktop drawer. I am back in my place again, tired as I can be, but really happy of having ~250 of my closest friends visit my country. Besides, I am very happy that, AFAIK, this Debconf is the one that most people spend some time on an after-trip. I am really happy with what we did at Debconf, even given all the problems we originally had. And... Well, I eagerly wait for Debconf7, where I expect to spend much more time attending talks - but most importantly, hanging out with you, having nice, fun talks/mao/whatnot. PS: Alfie, you are severly mentally disturbed!
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I have been hugged

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 05/19/2006 - 13:08
Debian is love. After my scream for help a couple of days ago, and after a mountain of hard work, things are just running. No, we are not -by far- free of incidents, and it would be foolish to expect it to be so, but we are working nicely. And by the way, thank you, I have been receiving the largest amount of hugs ever, and believe me, each of them has been important. We are not over yet. At least two more days of work, and onem more day of taking all the shop back home, and that only means that the next step in the round will start: Handing back all the lent equipment, doing the travel reimbursements, closing all of our accounting stuff... And, of course, get the ball rolling towards Debconf 7. So... Well, six days into Debconf, I am currently sitting in the third talk I have opportunity to attend (of course, I have missed most of the ones I was interested in - Video team, I trust you to make a brilliant end product ;-) ), Nadezhda is printing 150 beautiful new T-shirts Pixelgirl designed a couple of days ago, and... Trust me, I still have a stressed face - but I am finally enjoying every minute of this fscking mess we decided to put up. Thank you all, folks. I am in Cristoph Berg's talk about reworking NM - And this comes very good to wrap up my post. Debian is much, much more than technical work. It is a social club. I love this social club. Just sitting here makes long months of work really worth it. A great hug back to you all!
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Thanks!

Submitted by gwolf on Sun, 05/14/2006 - 12:25
Debcamp was really stressing - It seemed we would not be able to get things to work for Debconf. And it would suck. I was quite down when I last wrote a blog entry - Not in mine, but in Debconf's. Things looked quite hellish, and I was _very_ annoyed - Well, I must say: Thanks to you all for the support. Mooch's request has been honored extensively, and it does help. Really. Yesterday we had the Debian Day. About 50 Mexicans showed up, after we had to jump through some hoops with the Oaxtepec management people (thank you, thank you, you are great! Real dedication to your job, to make us feel welcome and important). The talks were interesting and well presented, and the people left happy - and some of them, left quite late. We had presence from at least one national newspaper (La Jornada and a magazine, Software Guru. Good. Then, during the night, we were flooded by arriving foreigners. Boy, the hacklab was packed! Good thing we now will have both hacklabs running. I have to thank most than to anybody else to my wife, Gaby a.k.a. Nadezhda - She has done all the ugly paperwork... Without her, we would all not be here. And later, I would probably be sitting in jail or something ;-) Seems that the bugs are ironed out. Now I'll try to attend the "Sun and Debian: can we be friends?" round table.
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Visas for Debconf - Sorrow for our government's great history and current blindness

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 05/03/2006 - 20:19
One of the most bitter and hardest tasks of running a large international conference such as Debconf 6 is the absurd process to ensure that every person interested in attending is able to do so. Before I start ranting, let me point you to a very well written text my father wrote about two years ago, out of a similar frustration after organizing the XXV International Colloquium on Group Theoretical Methods in Physics - On travelling to Scientific Meetings. Mexico is not a first world country, as you all know it (you didn't know? Well, please take note). Mexico is not a country that gets heavy migration - quite to the contrary, it is a country from where masses of people live in the United States (seven to ten million). We should not fear migrants staying at our country and stealing our precious job sources. The countries Mexico requests visa for are mostly those at or under our economic level (i.e. most of South America) or those with infrequent travellers coming (i.e. most of Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa (of course, we have to make sure they don't suddenly become tourists and give us more money). Were it not for the "intelligent borders" the USA government is demanding on ours as a precondition to walk towards a migratory agreement that could in the future legalize at least part of the Mexicans that live in the USA, it would be impossible for me to understand why does a situation like what we have experienced happen. We started, yes, the visa request process a bit late, due to some organization problems which should remain internal to the local organizing committee - However, we requested the visas for 25 people coming from Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Brazil, Colombia, Croacia, El Salvador, India, Perú and Russia with a process that started on March 25 - Well before May 5, where the first of them is scheduled to arrive. Of course, we knew the process would not be easy, but we were armed by the written assurement of a migration officer to my father assuring him the migration procedures would be vastly simplified during 2005. I will try to keep the story short. I cannot also speak the whole experience, as it was my wife together with the Nul-Unu people who had the burden of doing all this. Once you enter your request, it is impossible to track where it is - INM is a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. You cannot get any information by phone. When the papers were submitted, Nadezhda was told to come back in 10 days for getting the status update. Ten days later, she was told no information was yet available. Some days after that, she found the papers had been sent to Cuernavaca (Morelos state capital), where we should have presented them, because the conference is taking place in Oaxtepec, Morelos... No, they didn't pay attention to the fact that we repeated over and over that the organization running the conference, AMESOL, was based on Mexico City. Ok, no big deal - We went to Cuernavaca so that the AMESOL president was interviewed on what the conference is about and why should we let all that people in our country, and demanding from him to accept personally the responsability of making sure each of them leaves the country as promised. Not only that, we had to go again because not all of the requests were sent the same day, and they belonged to different batches. They also asked the Oaxtepec people if the list of people had a room booked - of course, the hotel crew knew the group was coming, but not the list of individuals! But no reply yet. The office in Cuernavaca said they would fax the results back to Mexico the next day. That next day took almost two weeks. With the results already in Mexico, and with the help of some insiders we came in contact with thanks to different coincidences (I'm not giving any names or functions here, hope you understand), we finally got notice last Friday (April 28) that most visas were approved, but a handful (Bosnia, Bangladesh and Colombia) were held for national security reasons. At long last, yesterday (May 2) we told most of the group was approved, and got the magic authorization number with which they could go get their visas. Not all of them yet... I really hope the authorization can come on time, and we can get the rest of them here. At least it helped a bit that we as a committee invited them - Otherwise, people from poorer countries would have to show bank account statements assuring they have had an average of US$2000 in their savings account for at least one year - Impossible even for most Mexicans. But the story, incredibly, does not end here. Why didn't I write about this before? Because I was just pissed off. Today, I am enraged. Not only you have to go through a stupidly long process to be awarded a visa. Once the visa is awarded, you have to pay its fees. The visa is expensive, more or less as expensive as the USA visa is for us - around US$40. But the visa is worth nothing without the FM3 migratory document - I knew the FM3 was used by foreigner residents. It's basically a complete passport. A stupid, unnecessarily long document, where your entries and exits are recorded, where you should note your work place, etc. - All fine for a long-term resident... But we are being awarded limited one entry tourist visas. Oh, and by the way: An FM3 costs around US$100... So for the poorer countries, after being mistreated, ignored and degraded, you have to pay US$140, probably one whole fucking month of your salary just to get the needed permits?! We complain a lot on how the USA government does not respect Mexicans. Just this Monday, May 1st, there was a massive migrant movement in the USA, seconded in Mexico via an (symbolic, yes, but nevertheless true) one day long economic boycott against USA companies. Mexicans speak of the rights of our migrants, of the abuse that the USA authorities make... But we are unable to treat others with dignity, to welcome them as our country did for many decades. This makes me very sad. And very angry. I should have been writing information for you all to have a good and easy time when coming to Mexico, but that will have to be a bit later - I cannot just stay and stand this situation.

On the current Oaxtepec weather

Submitted by gwolf on Sun, 04/30/2006 - 21:29
Turns out my blog is becoming some sort of metereologic forecast for Oaxtepec... Would you say it's because Debconf is getting dangerously near? Replying to H01ger's question on IRC: It is raining. More than usual for this time of year. It's a good thing, though. Why? 10 days ago, I was bitterly complaining April was the hot season in Mexico. Rains usually start in mid- to late- May - But this year, they came a bit early, and this week we have had low to medium intensity rains almost every evening. Now, how is the rainy season in this part of Mexico? Unless it is extremely rainy (we get a couple of such days in August/September), most of the day will be sunny, and at around 16:00 it will start getting cloudy. Rain usually starts between 18:00 and 20:00. If everything's fine, then it will be gone by 22:00 - it might go on a bit longer, but usually it does not. So don't worry, a bit of rain will not spoil your sunny days in Oaxtepec. It will make the heath much more bearable. Or at least, I hope so ;-)
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Hot

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 04/20/2006 - 09:48
Ok, the time has come: Now I work with my 20" fan on. Lucky me, my office has no windows, it's in the middle of the building - A bit cold in the Winter, but that's OK with me... But the people with real windows have been sweating for some weeks already. Well, design details of a 50 year old building which cannot be moved :) Anyway... For people coming to Debconf: Be prepared for hot weather. April-May is Central Mexico's hottest season. For Mexico City, it means we have reached 30 Celsius, and will probably reach them again a couple of times (this week's forecast says we will be under 28, which is good news)... But for the Oaxtepec region (the closest cities are Cuautla and Yautepec) we are reaching 33-35 Celsius every day. By May, we will have the first scheduled rains (although this has been a rainy Spring, but still, it's formally the dry season), so I hope it will not be _that_ bad... But be prepared to sweat.
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Mr. Fox should have abolished the Congress five years ago

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 04/04/2006 - 12:23
...If that is what it would have taken for his mediocre term to be positive for our nation. Today he says that it's because of the congress that he could not solve the conflict in Chiapas (a deed he promised in his campaign that would take not more than 15 minutes). The congress didn't vote the correct laws to solve the conflict, it seems. Of course, the promised 15 minutes seemed not to be the time it would take for him to mediate, negotiate and agree with the unhappy indigenous population, but just to sign the needed paper. The Congress did not send the right law, it seems... Strange, I would say, as the Law for Indigenous Rights and Culture that was approved was approved by PRI, PAN and PVEM almost five years ago. That law, instead of fixing the problems requested by EZLN and many other groups, ignored the proposed beginnings of a solution. It was voted by PAN (Fox's party), PRI (the historical dominant party, now shrinking every day more) and PVEM (so called ecologist party). Of course, had Fox wanted to solve the problem, it would have taken him over 15 minutes to read the proposed law - but he would have been able to ask his party not to vote for it.
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On Daylight Savings Time

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 04/03/2006 - 19:24
Joey Hess blogs about possible dangerous ways to exploit the daylight savings time. Well, for the tenth year in a row (if I am not mistaken), we central-Mexicans can proudly announce we are GMT-5. When I was a kid, we were always told that daylight savings are a very important way to save energy in non-tropical areas, such as the North-Western states, USA, Canada and Europe. We understood that, as tropical beings, we didn't have to worry about that, as it would have neglegible effects for us. Ten years (eleven?) ago, this changed, and we became first-class world citizens, together with the emotion of shifting the clock's hands twice a year. Of course, we all did stupid things once or thrice - The first time we got back to GMT-6, I moved to GMT-4 instead. We were laughing at the fools who forgot to move the watch. I went to the movies with Nadezhda, and was confronted by a less-than-amused clerk that had to explain the same to too many people along the day. At least he smiled when he noticed we were stupider than most. Well, today I am a big fan of daylight savings. I simply like having sunlight up to 20:00, sometimes even 21:00 - But I have reversed the old logic I was taught at school. We Mexicans have very little variation in our clocks - We go from maybe 11 to maybe 13 hours of daylight comparing Summer and Winter. Ok, make it 10 and 14, to make it sound more dramatic. Having the sun raise at 6AM makes sense, no matter what time of year it is. Most electricity is spent in the early night (8-10PM)... So it makes a lot of sense. Even for the people in the USA, maybe even Canada, and most of Europe. But... Why do Nordic countries adhere to daylight savings? I mean... You vary from 4 to 20 hours of sunlight a day - What difference does one hour make anyway? Why follow the hassle we all regular humans have to go through? I can't imagine people in Narvik and Rovaniemi trying to squeeze that little glimpse of sun they have during the winter, and trying to align their sleeping time to the exact the sun is only half-visible in Summer.
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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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