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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Is my president disconnected from reality?

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 05/23/2005 - 12:24
That is the only plausible explanation I can find... Vicente Fox and his team are continuously telling things are better in every possible aspect. Supposedly, more jobs are created every day - Of course, strongly aided by his ridiculous microcredit program, which has given a total of (according to the Presidency's own good news website) 700 million pesos (around 63 million dollars) to 1.3 million families - That gives us a whooping average of 538 pesos (48 dollars) per family! Maybe that'll be enough to buy a carbon stove and large pot, the needed material to sit outside a Metro station and sell tamales... Meanwhile, the Economist Intelligence Unit (from The Economist - Not exactly a left-wing group) reports that during the four and a half years that Fox has ruled here not a single formal job has been created. And that surprises nobody - this government has seen a huge increase of the informal economy - People selling whatever goods they can get a hold of in the streets, with no social security, no medical care, no security for the future... But this seems to be good, they say... Now, last week we all heard Fox's infortunate declarations: A proud president defends his conationals working -mainly as illegal immigrants- in the USA, saying that they do jobs that not even black people want. Yup. We were all stunned at his ability to screw up over and over. He never apologized - The only thing heard after this was that his secretary said his comments were misinterpreted and were no racist at all. He was even visited by anti-racist fighter Jessee Jackson, who invited Fox to his radio program in Chicago. Our president was proudly there - But Fox seems to be unable to be publicly sorry. And even so, the Presidency's site lists this intervention as a notable achievement. Many people talk about foxilandia. That's a term I have refused to use... But it seems this man's idiocy is as real as portrayed. 19 months to go. For the first time ever, there is a chance our next president can come from the left-wing opposition (well... Cárdenas won in 1988 and everybody knows that - But that chance was sadly smashed). As bad as López Obrador can seem, he just cannot be worse than what we have had for the past 74 years.
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Bad timings revisited

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 05/23/2005 - 10:10
Remember I was ranting about two weeks ago about the mod_perl2 API madness? Well, what was bound to happen just happened. mod_perl 2.0.0 was released on Friday. It contains only minor changes after that nasty API change we had on 1.999_22 - And, of course, in the pkg-perl group we already got an impatient user (Leonel... ¿Nuñez? I'd swear it's you!) asking for it to be included in Sarge. Yes, we all know: That's just not going to happen. Sadly, Sarge will carry a mod_perl2 that will be API-incompatible with the stable mod_perl2 elsewhere. That's a good point for moving our arses and getting Etch out soon!
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Needlessly wearing out my keyboard

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 05/18/2005 - 17:45
I have been asked to write the Linux column for Mexico's version of PCMagazine - Definitifely not a deep technical publication, but a magazine that reaches thousands of readers every month - And I have a couple of things to tell them. I hope I can make good use of this space they trusted me. Well, I have been struggling a couple of days with my first article. The title? Bringing security to your network with Linux. A simple topic, specially if it is targeted at relatively newbies - But the requirements had baffled me: 7000 words?! Hell, that's much more than what I expected. I had filled up around 1000 words of senseless, repetititve introduction to the current state of affairs in personal and small-business computer security - Reading my draft only made me cry. It is B-O-R-I-N-G. Then, out of desperation, I re-opened the file where I had taken the notes during my phone interview. 7000 characters. Shit. Scrap it all. Start over. Given the average word length in Spanish, I'll have to write only about a fifth of what I originally thought. Anyway, I just mercilessly erased a couple of hours of work :-/
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It is official: Please update contact

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 05/18/2005 - 10:47
I have been phasing out my gwolf.cx addresses over the last year in favor of gwolf.org - It is now official: gwolf.cx will die soon. Please update. I am gwolf@gwolf.org, my website is http://www.gwolf.org/
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mod_perl2 API madness

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 05/12/2005 - 17:57
Yesterday was hellish. Apache might be the Free Software most notorious project. mod_perl is one of the best things that could happen both to the Perl and Apache communities. Apache2 is the largest Apache milestone, a major rewrite, and was declared golden almost three years ago. mod_perl, as it wraps the Apache C API and offers it to Perl, was expected to take some time to adapt to the new API and idiosincracy of this major version... Anyway, on to my life. I had some work to do on two systems I developed using mod_perl - the Comas one for Debconf and an internal project for the institute. Both stopped working on my development machine. Shit. Go to the logs - What do I find? [Wed May 11 12:04:03 2005] [error] [client 132.248.72.73] Can't locate object method "dir_config" via package "Apache2::RequestRec" at /usr/share/perl5/Apache/Reload.pm line 51 Ok, this is clearly a mod_perl2 thingy... Things like this one had bitten me before, when I had to comment (and later uncomment) Apache::Upload. Oh, of course, then again some months ago, when I migrated from Apache 1.3 to Apache 2.0, when the nice mod_perl Apache2 migration wasn't really in sync with the reality... There have been a couple of episodes. After some stumbling, I came across the changelog. In my Sid system, it read:
(...) =item 1.999_22 - April 14, 2005 ******************** IMPORTANT ******************** this version of mod_perl is completely incompatible with prior versions of mod_perl, both 1.XX and 1.99_XX. Please read the below changes carefully. ***************************************************
Ok, that explains it... Although a big API change is not what I'd expect between version 1.999_21 and 1.999_22, right? The most upsetting thing is that my main development box is running Sid - And the servers I deploy on run Sarge... So I guess this means I'll have to set up a chroot environment so I can develop on my own workstation :-/ Ok, do some changes. It works on my Sarge machine, frozen at 1.999.21-1 - Everything looks fine. Send the module over to the Debconf server. Notify Apache of the changes. Reload, and... SHIT. Internal server error. I am not the machine's admin - Spend a couple of hours trying to locate the good folks in Finland, asking them to give me read access to the Apache logs. Meanwhile, try to blindly fix the problem. Of course, once I saw the log, it was obvious I couldn't have found it by myself:
(...) Can't locate object method "remote_ip" via package "Apache::Connection" at /home/gwolf/cvs/comas/perl/Apache2/Comas.pm line 279
WTF?! Now, both machines are running Sarge, but Murphy couldn't just forgive me - At my machine I am running 1.999.21-1, but at Debconf's server we have 1.999.20-1 - And I couldn't get remote_ip to work. And no change regarding it is documented. Ok, fortunately I did not _really_ depend on it save for a feature I had just implemented, and was able to work around it... Anyway, it was a lost day, due to unexpected, practically not documented API changes, in what really seemed like a very minor update. For ${THAT}'s sake, a version bump of 0.000.01 for a completely incompatible version?!
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...So there is a God?

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 05/09/2005 - 14:31
That'd be the most plausible option... I could not explain it otherwise. There seems to be justice in this world. About two weeks ago, I broke my piggy-bank and, in one of the purest and most selfless acts I have ever had, bought an iMac for Nadezhda. She is, of course, delighted - and I'd have considered it as enough payment. This weekend, I got my father's birthday present - Well, he's not in Mexico right now, but he left me clear indications to get it: A very nice Sony Cyber-shot DSC-S80 camera. Yup guys, that means I will not have to beg to copy your pictures anymore ;-) But, as if that were not enough, at work I also got new toys: A gorgeous Dell PowerEdge 2800. 2 Xeon CPUs at 3.2GHz, 2GB RAM, 4x70GB SCSI HD (hardware RAID 5, of course). Oh, by the way, it is a server system, but it came with a beautiful 17" flat panel - which will come straight to my desk ;-) Ok... so I must get moving, giving something back to the world, in order to ensure this streak of the world giving something to me does not come to an abrupt halt ;-)
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Bursts of joy, bursts of sorrow

Submitted by gwolf on Sat, 05/07/2005 - 11:33
Ok, so the word is out: Telmex is upgrading the DSL lines! This would mean I am about to get 1Mbps instead of the current 512Kbps I get at home - But it means I'll save some money, as I will downgrade to the new entry-level 512K. I don't need more at home. Ok, this should make me quite happy - Right now, it is making me miserable. I am in the middle of a large download, and Telmex is playing with the circuits... So I get a nice 52KBps burst that lasts for a minute or two, then it stalls completely. Ok, interrupt wget and launch it again, now it is at 102KBps - Good! Yes, but after a minute or so it breaks again... Then I get only 27KBps... Well, up to now, I have downloaded 100MB. This is quite annoying, I cannot just stand up and make it do its job... I could make a simple script checking whether the file has increased in size in the last 10 seconds... If it continues to be this flaky, I'll do it :-/
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On-topicness

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 05/03/2005 - 20:43
Up until today, I had never thought we had to stay on topic in Planet Debian. All those messages regarding Ian's postings made me quite sour - and quite surprised. Scott, have you ever received a complaint regarding my Mexican political rantings? I doubt so. No, this is not a message against anyone... But, seriously, what could have made 80 people get pissed at Progeny's stuff given we all share what we think as important in here? Isn't Progeny important for many DDs? And even if it wasn't, does it harm anybody to see it there?
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Fr0zen! / Where were you by Woody time?

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 05/03/2005 - 20:16
Wow... Like most people, upon reading the last Andi's announcement last week, I decided to go get my bugs - And, yes, I did nice progress... So it was a bit frustrating on one hand to find out today that Sarge is finally frozen. Yes, I know we are not supposed to wait until the last minute - But hey, face it, it is a great motivation! ;-) (and, yes, I will contact debian-release regarding a set of changes I did today that closed five bugs, even though non-critical). Now, this blog is syndicated at my local community as well - For you guys, what does this freeze mean? No, we have not released Sarge yet. However, we are in a very special period, where the final bugs are squished, aiming to release Sarge in a month. Yes, we are notorious for skipping deadlines, but this time it does look like it. And, believe it or not, we are really into finding a way to get Etch out in less time. Anyway... The freeze by itself deserves a celebration. And very, very soon (by the Debian time standards) we will have a major celebration coming up. I just got an inspiration - I will try to start a... New meme - New meme - New meme Where were you when Woody was released? I remember reading the announcement at a lent terminal, at UNAM's Computer Security Department. We still had the (now defunct) Free Software Area next door, and I was a common fixture over there, even if I worked at the Iztacala campus, over 1hr away. Funny, today I was there again, after not visiting for many months, presenting an idea for an Admin-UNAM meeting.
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The mac is live!

Submitted by gwolf on Sat, 04/30/2005 - 01:18
I am finally getting paid my complete salary at the University - That is no small deal, as UNAM can often take many months to get the checks flowing. In my case, I was formally hired in January, got the first check for the basic salary on February 25 (which I promptly used to get out of debts, of course). Then, on March 25 I got my first full check - Of course, retroactive to January. Of course, this deserved a celebration, so I kept it secret to be able to make it a bit better. I got also the payment for a work I had finished in February as the sysadmin for a private company. So, without her suspecting a thing, ten days ago I arrived home with a beautiful, shiny new iMac G5 for Nadezhda. She has really had a bad time with our PC, which is not precisely old (Athlon/1.1), but for a strange reason never worked properly with a recent Windows version. She was still stuck with 98. Yes, before you begin ranting on me: Only she knows how much I have pestered her with switching to Free Software alternatives, from the OS down to the smallest app - But anyway, I am her husband, and I understand my role in nature is to provide for her happiness ;-) She mainly uses the computer for designing whatever she has to print. She had been longing for a Mac for a very long time. I am happy as well, as at least she now uses an almost-almost-free OS (even if it does not hurt :) ). We waited a long time, as she wouldn't open such a beautiful machine in a mess of a desk - Today she finally accepted to set the machine up. She is ecstatic. Of course, me too. I am finally fulfulling my evolutionary male role. :-D Cosa: Gozala! :-***
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A whole country on one street

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 04/25/2005 - 11:57
Yesterday I attended one of the largest (if not the largest at all) political demonstrations in Mexico's history. As I have previously mentioned in my blog, the federal government wants to get rid of the strongest presidential candidate for the 2006 elections - And, although we have gone a long way from the 1970s politics, with a strong and authoritarian one-party system, the temptation to fall back to it (or to a very similar emulation of it) is too strong. López Obrador was impeached on April 7. Now, there is no certain opinion on whether, besides the juridical immunity, he lost his governorship on our city - Most jurists point out that he will only lose his authority once a judge declares there is a penal process against him. Right now, around 9 million people (the inhabitants of Distrito Federal, roughly one third of the inhabitants of Mexico City) don't have a local government. Nadezhda and I spent the previous night together with Irma and Susana, printing around 70 T-shirts stating We are building a democracy, please excuse the inconvenience. We finished at about 5:30AM, finally went to sleep at 6:00, and one hour later we woke up to get everything ready and in place. We then left, together with my father, to meet with our group of friends at the National Auditorium. I do consider myself as a supporter of López Obrador. I do want to see him as our next president. Yes, he has done some very wrong things, but overall he is a much cleaner candidate than most other politicians. However, we walked together with many people who were not in favour of López Obrador - People who just wanted our political rights to be respected. I was surprised at my father being so enthusiast about this demonstration, as he has been completely apolitical (out of lack of trust in the system - he only got his voting card two years ago as it is right now the only universally accepted ID document we Mexicans have, and has not voted in over 30 years). I was also surprised at walking next to my friend [friend]negrabarba[/friend], a strong critic of anything political. update: I just read even my right-winged friend Pop was there. If you talk Spanish, take a look at this entry in Cofradia. How many people were we? Nobody will ever know... This was, yes, something huge - Even the most right-wing media (such as Monitor) acknowledge we were over 600,000. In my favorite newspaper (and, no wonder, a newspaper often seen as the left-wing official divulgation media) says we were 1,200,000 people demonstrating against this abuse of authority. This number is also held by El Universal, which also compares the number to the population of the state of Zacatecas or to Mauritania. I laughed at Crónica's coverage, stating in whatever way they could that this was not that impressive - They just compared a picture of this demonstration to a picture of last june's demonstration against insecurity, widely perceived as a right-wing demonstration - I don't understand what they tried to show. Both were huge, and we cannot really compare them... But I know of many people who attended both, in the end both basically demand our rights as citizens. I do remember exhaustive media coverage back then, compared to basically none this time (the attention was all directed to the new Pope's first mass, my family says only ocassional shots of the demonstration were aired). Whatever, let's say we were 900,000, a middle point... I do have some numbers to share (you can take a look at the Reforma map to locate the points I mention, starting from the extreme left (Auditorio Nacional) - I doubt the map is on scale, but it will give you a rough idea), as we were at the very end of the group: We started at the National Auditorium, a long way behind the supposed meeting point (the Anthropology Museum). By the time we started moving, the head of the group was already at Zócalo (as we heard via the security personnel's radios). Shortly before we reached the Monumento a los Niños Héroes, the speeches began, indicating the Zócalo was basically full. We kept slowly moving. López Obrador's speech finished when we were passing by Ángel de la Independencia. That means, at least five kilometers packed with people. We kept walking until we got to Av. Juárez, and went back home to rest. So, in the end, one out of every 25 inhabitants of this city took part in this demonstration. It was not, as it was planned, a silent demonstration - of course, that'd be impossible being it that large. But anyway, if one million people with their feet aching cannot make our federal government rethink its virtual coup, we will keep moving, working for this country to move forward, to get out of the dark ages in which it still lives. Update thanks to Natorro: Around the world: Toulouse, Berlin, New York, Sydney, London, San Francisco, Brazil, Barcelona. ¿Anybody else? update2: Visit Mauricio José Schwarz's blog.
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What is peje?

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 04/20/2005 - 11:38
Warning: This will make so little sense for most of you non-Mexicans that I'll post in Spanish. Me comentaba mi esposa que se asomó al diccionario de la RAE para averiguar qué significa el apelativo que le dan -aparentemente en tono despectivo- al Jefe de Gobierno del DF, el Peje. Sí, yo sé que el apelativo viene del pejelagarto, pez de su natal Tabasco. Sin embargo, el Diccionario de la RAE nos indica el significado de peje:
peje. (Del lat. piscis). 1. m. pez (vertebrado acuático). 2. m. Hombre astuto, sagaz e industrioso.
...Eso explica algunas cosas, para bien o para mal :)
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Bureaucracy

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 04/18/2005 - 14:10
So today is paperwork day. 9:00 AM I get to the institute, ready to fix some bugs I have been thinking about 9:20 AM As I am halfway through my (first) morning coffee, the Academic Secretary calls me - I am invited to a seminar on a specific International Relations Negotiations Toolkit (??!!) - I talk her out of sending me there, as it falls completely outside my scope. I will, of course, talk with the organizers to find out about its technical requirements, licensing, etc. 9:35 AM Ok, I'm down here... Lets go ask what has happened to my request regarding the travel to Debconf5 - To the Director's office. His secretary kindly tells me I should have directed the request I handed him (exactly one month ago) to him and to the Internal Council. 9:50 AM Back to my office. Read some mail, breathe deeply. 10:30 AM Go to my boss to talk about the subject, to ask him for his opinion on how should I manage requests to go to conferences (as I have right now on my desk invitations to go to three conferences and am waiting for two more). He tells me everything (even a 1-day pop at a neighbouring town) needs to be approved by the Internal Council. Of course, if something is important for me to attend, I should not just ask for the approval, but include a complete justification for it _before_ it is requested from me. 10:50 AM Find the request you sent to the Director. Modify the date, the recipients (it should be addressed to the Director, the Internal Council and my boss, and I should print an extra copy for my record), and some details in the text. Find the invitation (thanks, Aschwin!), get four copies of it. 11:30 AM I start writing my justification - It covers basically:
  • What is Debian
  • My role inside Debian
  • Debconf as an academico conference
  • Debian's relevance to the Institute
12:15 PM Go print the four copies. Staple them. Sign them. Give one to the boss, he says it looks OK. Great! Go to the Director's office... Whoops! Rocío tells me I should not ask for permission and air travel expenses. I should ask for an licencia académica con goce de sueldo (roughly: An academic paid leave), quoting the Academic Personnel Statute. She does not remember which article from the Statute I should quote, so she sends me over to one of the areas of the Academic Secretary. 12:35 PM ...The person at that area tells me I need to have two years working in the University to get this paid leave.
- But I have worked before at the University, for four years, only at another campus!
- Well, yes, but you were not a purely academic worker, you had an administrative position, and I think that does not count
- Ok, what can I do? Even if I have to ask for an unpaid leave, this conference is quite important for me!
- Ok, I'll check the legislation and will come back to you by tomorrow 13:00 PM Back at my office. Angry, hoping to be somehow lucky, hoping for the best... Looking at my invitations to Poza Rica, Bogotá, hoping to have something soon related to Chile, Puebla... [friend]Amnesiac[/friend] insists on me attending Puerto Vallarta, which I really want to... But I am frustrated by this. I have worked at UNAM, yes. I knew this University is too large for its own good, and that bureaucracy rules here. It is, however, by far the best University in my country, and the only place I really want to work in... But losing a full fscking day just to have the real fear of bureaucracy standing between me and my academic work just is a fscking PITA :-( Anyway... In the worst possible scenario, I will pay for my own air ticket, and will take a couple of days off on an unpaid leave - But I _will_ see your ugly faces at Debconf5. And no matter what, I _will_ host you in .mx for Debconf6. update: I think I have to write a thank you note here... Thanks to the Almighty Jergas and the great break from bureaucracy he gave me while working at UPN. Some things are better here in the productive and strictly regulated Real World(tm), but the rules at La Peda were much simpler, and so was life itself.
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Congratulations / on giving FS talks to a non-technical audience

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 04/12/2005 - 10:00
Branden: Congratulations! :-D We were all waiting for the day you finally took over - Now enhanced with an official Cabal! For the non-Debian guys reading my blog, it can be interesting to take a look at the Condorcet voting system.
...Interesting to know that joeyh is exactly 16 days older than me. Congratulations as well :)
In ~1hr I will be giving a talk - its title can be roughly translated as Free Software: An alternate model for knowledge production. Now, why am I excited about this? I have grown quite used to giving this kind of talks, explaining what Free Software is and how its development works, in front of technical or quasi-technical audiences. This time it is very different: As I work at the UNAM Economical Research Institute, I am giving this talk to economists. I hope I can find someone interested in working this more thoroughly with me, to have a formal economical analysis of our way of working. At the very least, I hope not to be laughed at - my first sheet reads:
What is Free Software?
  • A social movement that wants to correct a historic aberration
  • Thousands of volunteers breaking every economic prediction
  • A new knowledge production model
  • A fair scheme of intelectual property licensing
...Lets see how it works ;-)
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