Please describe yourself

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 10/26/2005 - 16:20
Ok, so my brain is right now thinking on how to make Comas (my Conference Management System, which is quite nice, but somewhat unflexible. Sorry for the butt-ugly and incomplete webpage...) more flexible - And I have come accross some quite nice things. First of all, I want the fields for each person (the person table) to be easily modifiable, allowing me to add/remove attributes at will between different instances of Comas. Ok, this is the muscle behind my new idea. Yes, PostgreSQL-specific, as basically everything in Comas:
CREATE OR REPLACE VIEW table_attributes AS SELECT c.relname AS tablename, a.attname AS attrname, t.typname AS type, a.attnotnull AS required, d.description AS description FROM pg_class c JOIN pg_attribute a ON a.attrelid=c.oid JOIN pg_type t ON a.atttypid=t.oid LEFT OUTER JOIN pg_description d ON d.objoid=c.oid AND d.objsubid=a.attnum WHERE a.attnum>0 AND a.attisdropped = 'f' AND c.relkind='r' AND c.relname NOT LIKE 'pg_%' AND c.relname NOT LIKE 'sql_%' ORDER BY tablename, a.attnum;
Nice, but still not enough - As with any other RDBMS, fields can not only hold data, but -of course- they can be foreign keys, referring to data in other tables. Ok, in order to check those relations and be able to build a map of the relations in my DB, I came up with this:
CREATE OR REPLACE VIEW related_tables AS SELECT c1.relname AS referrer, c2.relname AS refered, a.attname AS ref_key FROM pg_constraint con JOIN pg_class c1 ON con.conrelid=c1.oid JOIN pg_class c2 ON con.confrelid=c2.oid JOIN pg_attribute a ON c1.oid=a.attrelid AND a.attnum=ANY(con.conkey) WHERE contype='f' ORDER BY c1.relname, c2.relname;
In the first query, note that I am excluding from what I report all the tables starting with pg_ or sql_ - While that's a usual convention in Postgres, there surely is a better way to do it, some attribute signalling it's a system catalog... But, at least for now, this covers my needs. Anyway, this might come useful for your projects. PostgreSQL introspection is fun! (Yes, those two queries are the result of many lonely hours going through the documentation and a couple of spontaneous questions to several friends - But it's worth it!)
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On nice, closed numbers

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 10/25/2005 - 09:38
Wouter: I also remember finding it shortly in the future and missing it. It sucks. Anyway, try to be creative: gwolf@mosca:~$ LC_ALL=C date -d '1978-05-06 + 10101 days' Sat Dec 31 00:00:00 CST 2005 Yes, I know this looks like binary but is decimal, but... Well, looks nice :) I think the sanest for me will be to wait ~11 more months: gwolf@mosca:~$ LC_ALL=C date -d '1976-04-27 + 11111 days' Thu Sep 28 00:00:00 CDT 2006
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Meme time!

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 10/12/2005 - 12:01
Following Tolimar, Kov, Noodles, Amaya, and the people who have fallen off the edge of the Planet:
  • Gunnar needs to stamp images with time when captured
  • Obviously gunnar needs a world map store and use the information he has gathered
  • Gunnar needs a box for his blocks
  • Gunnar needs to finish his clean-ups he planned or I guess already started.
  • Gunnar needs to develop more body rhythm to advance in this style.
  • Go rent "Scars Don't Sweat' because Gunnar needs the .003 cents he earns from each rental
  • Asther and Gunnar need a miracle! Asther needs her healing and Gunnar needs an additional measure of God’s strength and grace as he cares for Asther
  • Gunnar needs your help with Dwellingup data
Scary... Some of them even make sense!
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Of floods and the longest distance between two points

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 10/12/2005 - 11:40
In order to understand this post, if you are not familiar with Mexico City (specially with Ciudad Universitaria), you should get this flood experience route, which illustrates the longest and wettest possible route between two points I have ever had to use. Yesterday, we had quite a nice Debian México group meeting. I invited the people over to my Institute, and we started on time, at ~17:00. I should note that my office has no windows, so until 16:50 I still had the impression we had nice weather - I came back from lunch at home at 16:00, and we still had sunshine. When I got to the Ángel Bassols room, on the fifth floor and with a beautiful view of the south west of the Mexico City valley, I noticed we had a severe storm - People got to the meeting anyway, which is admirable... But from time to time I was more into watching the rain fall than hearing people speak. We had four small talks out of the five scheduled: I spoke about Debconf - What it is, how are we advancing, what can local people do, where/how to get involved (hint: We are meeting this Sunday, October 16, at 19:00UTC, which means 14:00 Mexican time, in #debconf-team in irc.debian.org). Rodrigo spoke about public key cryptography, GPG, and the usefulness to have a Web of trust (meaning, it's not only good for becoming a DD). Sergio spoke about his experience setting up and administering Nisamox, Mexico's only Debian mirror (of course, in UNAM as well). Damog spoke about the fine job he has been doing on cleaning up the WNPP. Ana was scheduled to talk, but we had the room only until 19:30, so at 20:00 we had to leave. Well, we should take this meeting to the traditional restaurant, right? 20:45, still in the lobby of the building (Torre II de Humanidades), we were all watching one of the most intense rains I have ever come across. We were hungry and didn't want to be there anymore - Ok, lets move. Rain started to give way, so we headed to the cars. Yes, many of you know I live really close to the Institute (see the map again), but I wanted to go have dinner and talk a bit more. I went with Sergio to his car, parked in the Facultad the Ingeniería parking lot, some 40m from the Torre. The sight was amazing. The "Las Islas" park (sorry, I could find no photo) really became islands. There was even a considerable waterfall in the border between Las Islas and the parking lot! We took off our shoes to get safely to the car. Ok, traffic would probably be hellish, but we thought it would be 1hr until we got to the traditional Vips Altavista. One hour later, 22:00, we were only in front of Rectoría - What is it, about... 400 meters away, at very most? Sergio decided to park and wait until we got some possibility to move. After some 45 minutes, people started opening way towards Insurgentes Sur - We went that way. Even though it was in the opposite direction, we had the hope of movement. As we already knew (thanks to the radio) that everything in this city was chaotic, we headed to Sergio's institute (Astronomy). Before reaching there, we found yet another group of cars which did not move, forward or backward. Amazing - We entered the Facultad de Ciencias parking lot - The queue was of people trying to exit through the Cerro del Agua exit (which is ~700m away, northward, by Metro Copilco). We realized nothing would save us from getting soaked - At least rain was not severe anymore, but it was still falling steadily. We walked a bit, Sergio went on to his institute, and I decided to go to the metro and go straight home. I got to Metro Universidad at around 23:30, and waited there for about 15 minutes (metros in Mexico usually take between two and five minutes between each other, depending on the demand). Only that... Well, we were told that Metro Copilco was closed as the area was completely flooded. Crap. Crap. Crap. Later, my wife and her brother confirmed that the flood was severe - We were lucky not to get a flood at home! I decided to ride the metro anyway, as Metro Miguel Ángel de Quevedo is quite closer to my house than Universidad. And, yes, I walked back home. 3 frigging hours to go from my Institute to my house. ~300m away. Probably the most severe storm I have ever seen in Mexico City. Unbelievable. The only thing I really must thank for is that in my wife's family's house everything was OK - They live just next to the natural course of an open river, and they have had terrible floods, with up to 1m of water... The city government did some work, which proved to work correctly this time. Thanks to whoever made it!
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I like understanding why I am not a Gnome user

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 10/05/2005 - 12:02
Erich: Most Linux users expect me to run Gnome, KDE or -at the very geeky extreme- xfce. I hate them all - I hate xfce and KDE much more than I hate Gnome, yes, but I cannot live in a Gnome-based world. It is just not comfortable. It is not fun. Some months ago, I tried them all. One week with Gnome, one sour week with KDE, three very sour days with xfce. The world makes you feel you should be using an integrated feature-bloated desktop, and that good ol' beloved Windowmaker with {rxvt,emacs,firefox} is an anachronic no-go. I find it interesting to read other people explaining why they think as I do, and I also like reading the counter-arguments. Besides, if there happens to be an integrated desktop user who is dissatisfied with his current environment, why not tempt him to try something different (like my WMaker) or completely different (like their ion3)?
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Isn't it Galeon 1.2 which went off the path?

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 10/05/2005 - 11:13
Axel Beckert was ranting regarding how Galeon 1.3 sucks so badly he sticks to his Woody (Gnome 1.4 IIRC, Galeon 1.2) desktop. In one of the lines of his rebuttal/statement of what he wants from Galeon, he states:
I just strongly disagree with pure simplification being the right way in UI design.
This is the problem with Galeon: That it went far away from its original intention. Its original motto (which I discovered to be still in use) is The web. only the web... Well, I really enjoyed pre-1.2 versions of Galeon, but it just bloated, bloated, bloated until it was no longer usable for me. I too hate many aspects of Firefox, only it is the most usable browser I have seen... I still have to look at Kazehakase, but from the little that I can get from its page, it is not what I want. I want, just as you, something light, not over-featured, but tunable to my personal preferences. And while Firefox's configuration is closer to the extra wheels for a bycicle you complain about in Galeon, I have been able to tune it quite a lot via extensions.
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IBM keyboards / Enter and return

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 09/23/2005 - 00:19
Romain: IBM keyboards rule. I still have mine, dating from 1989, and in perfect shape. Delicious to touch. I think yours is a special edition, however, as mine has one E key only ;-) Bubulle: In Spanish and Latin American keyboards (yes, they are different and they both suck - The Spanish one sucks doubly), it is common to see keyboards labeled with Intro, a strange attempt to translate Enter. I have never seen a person call that key "Intro", althought some programs do refer to it. But anyway, for extra points: How would you call the icon for the numeric pad Enter key in Apple's keyboards? What does ⊼ mean? Where did it come from? I think it is the biggest oddity in the otherwise very rational design of the Macintoshes that I don't understand.
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On usability and on what Debian is about

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 09/22/2005 - 21:11
Andres Salomon rants on the apparent lack of focus on usability we have in Debian, compared to Ubuntu. First of all, I think that directly relating the word usability with the concept desktop is a very big and common mistake. I know I am not in the 99% of the computer users - but usability for me almost always means the opposite: Interfaces that stay out of the way giving you easy access to whatever you need (and I do mean whatever - think a nice and cozy shell, think ol' beloved Emacs). Once again, I know I am not in the majority, I know that many people will prefer spiffyness (if such a word exists). And, of course, I know perfectly the shortcomings of my style for the non-techie user. However, back to my point: Debian does not target a specific set of users. Debian targets anything deemed interesting and worthy by its developers - even if its developers try to go in opposite directions. Partly because of that, Debian as such, will probably only be useful for some people... It took me quite a while to grasp what might be the meaning of our often quoted slogan, The universal Operating System - What does that mean? I have always spoken against the one-size-fits-all approach - And that's precisely why I chose and continue to choose Debian. And that's Free Software is all about. I think I only came to terms with this slogan (which I hated before) after understanding why were many people pushing for CDD (Custom Debian Distributions): Because our work must be staged to really be universal. Debian provides a great deal of the needed integration work. Debian provides a well-established base, very usable and very (some people would say, excessively) complete. Of course, for most users, it is way too much. I have (numerically) 6% of the available packages installed in my main system - I suppose the proportion would be closer to 30% if I used any other mainstream distribution. It's easy to cut from there, to throw away most of the packages you will not need for a particular user profile, and provide a better solution for them. And that's precisely what Ubuntu -and many, many other derivers- do. Yes, I also -as most DDs and Debian supporters I've talked to as well- have some doubts and viewpoint shifts regarding how is Ubuntu good or bad for Debian. There are many, many sensitive spots. That's not what I want to tackle here... Call it Ubuntu, Progeny, Linspire, Libranet, LinEx, GuadaLinex, or whatever you want - We work on giving them a good, solid foundation. They work on improving this foundation for the kind of users they need. And, of course, those users will be happier than having the generic thing. Well, too much typing already. That's that.
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Who gets to cut the cheese

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 09/14/2005 - 10:03
Lars: I also like very much the typical Norwegian cheese slicers - I have had one for a long time, even before knowing where they come from. There are still many ocasions, though, when what you want is a simple, plain old knife.
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'Delete' as in 'Leave it hidden'

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 09/14/2005 - 09:56
I am quite happy: I found a 256MB memory stick card for ~US$60, so I just ran to buy it. Since then, I have been much more active with my camera, of course. I was baffled, though, last Sunday, when after only (!) 170 (1 megapixel) photos I got a memory stick full message. WTF? Well, we have been using Nadezhda's iMac to move the photos to our server's album - I don't like iPhoto, I prefer moving them to the destination directory. And, as the memory stick is a full RW filesystem (unlike the camera's internal memory, that can only be mounted read-only), I just told MacOS to trash them. Silly me: I assumed that having a plain old FAT filesystem, this would mean what I told it to - Nope. It just means 'create a /.Trash directory and move everything in there'. Of course, the /.Trash isn't viewable by MacOS' finder. It also stays hidden when doing a simple 'ls'. The camera does not report it, as it is outside its universe (/DCIM). Bah.
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The Universe is conspiring against me

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 09/06/2005 - 21:52
There is no other rational explanation. Today, I finally finished upgrading my Institute's ancient network infrastructure - Our network was still running over a 10mbps shared segment, one week ago I replaced the hubs by switches in three of the four floors, and today I did the last one - of course, my floor, the only one that's densely populated, and where the firewall and servers live. Instead of two lockers with one hub each, with a small mess but nothing more than that, today I replaced four hubs with three switches, in a major mess. Ok, nothing the average sysadmin hasn't done before. Estimated time? 90 minutes. I plug the net back in, and can see my internal network instantly. Beautiful. I can check the Institute's web site from a random machine. Gorgeous. I can even reach the University web site - Life is good. Or so it seems. I reach nothing else. For ${DEITY}'s sake... What can it be? Well, after some 20 minutes of bad luck (this means, I could not understand a bloody thing why was everything working fine on my end but I could not reach out of the University), I had to head back home, as the Institute closes at strictly 9PM, and it was already 9:15. I even tried logging in to the Physics Institute, where I have an account - Success! Anyway, no time to debug. I come back home... Well, before anything else: Please, don't forget that UNAM is home to over 300,000 students. It is the largest University in Mexico, probably in Latin America. It was founded over 450 years ago. I mean, it is a serious place. Ok, please explain me this: $ traceroute -n 132.248.10.2 traceroute to 132.248.10.2 (132.248.10.2), 30 hops max, 38 byte packets 1 200.23.113.30 0.627 ms 0.404 ms 0.381 ms 2 192.168.254.1 0.179 ms 0.159 ms 0.153 ms 3 200.23.113.254 2.333 ms 0.893 ms 0.862 ms 4 148.223.225.210 32.014 ms 24.159 ms 3.464 ms 5 200.38.132.90 20.342 ms 30.751 ms 31.827 ms 6 200.38.209.150 18.951 ms 31.810 ms 31.688 ms 7 200.38.209.29 32.680 ms 16.426 ms 30.449 ms 8 200.38.196.75 20.964 ms 46.971 ms 62.977 ms 9 200.79.4.141 48.579 ms 56.504 ms 48.209 ms 10 * * * 11 * * * Bloody crap... I am trying to reach one of the central servers of the University! What the Fsck, this University has 3 B-class segments (that is, over 192,000 IP addresses, and over 60,000 connected computers). It is one of the main Internet providers in the continent! Why on Earth did the network feel like going on vacation precisely the night I am working on infrastructure!?
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Ahí viene el tlacuache

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 09/05/2005 - 00:47
Ahí viene el Tlacuache cargando un tambache por todas las calles de la gran ciudad. El señor Tlacuache compra cachivaches, y para comprarlos suele pregonar: ¡Botellas que vendan! zapatos usados! ¡Sombreros estropeados, pantalones remendados! Cambio, vendo y compro por igual! I remember a blog entry, possibly by Andrew Pollock, telling about the stupid road crossing habits of the kangaroos. Well, for us non-Australians, that's probably one of the most extravagant and folkloric tales that can be ever told. About 1hr ago, I was finishing reading a chapter, when I saw Santa staring out the window to the garden. But then again... She was not just staring at the void - She was staring at the nose of a very large rodent! I immediately called Nadezhda down to plan the action, and in one of the most varonile actions I have ever taken, I decided to go and solve the problem at whatever cost. Armed with a metal broom stick, I went out to the garden to hunt the large rat. Of course, at 11PM and in a garden so full of places to hide as ours, I wasn't precisely optimistic. My dear and brave wife was helping me (her sight is dramatically better than mine) standing over a chair. And then, we saw it. I was ready to smash it, but it was running over the wall, so I was some 30cm short - A huge beast. Over 30cm, plus a 30cm tail - Would not be that bad weren't it for the fact that my cats love to be in the garden, and they are usually there from 8AM to 8PM. Nadezhda reacted to the terrible beast's look: - That's not a rat, no way, that's a Tlacuache! - Well, yes, you might be right... Anyway, I don't want it to be anywhere near my cats! - Agree... But don't kill it! It's not a rat! Maybe... - Hmmmm... Then what can we do? - We can open the back door and scare it out! Ok, so we opened the door, sprayed water all over, made noise... In the end, we didn't see the tlacuache again. It very probably still is in the garden - And I am afraid to let the cats out tomorrow - It is easily bigger than Marabunta! Now, what is a tlacuache, and why did I remember (probably) Andrew's posting? The tlacuache is Mexico's only marsupial - yes, somehow related to the kangaroos and all those Australian-only animals. It is also known as churcha, zarigüeya, cuica, catita, zorra mochilera, llaca, coyopollin, comadreja overa or mucura in different parts of Latin America. Here is a nice picture of them. There is another interesting link about the tlacuaches in Mexico Desconocido - It is strange to see a Mexico Desconocido article that starts just around the corner, in the Pedregal area. I love living so close to the University. Besides not having to drive to work, UNAM has one of the most beautiful campuses (campii?) I have ever seen - And it has an ecological reserve of its own, the matorral de palo loco area. That reserve, and the beautiful way in which the whole campus is still integrated in the forest, is the main reason I have very unique and beautiful fauna at home: Every day, we chase out squirrels. In Spring time, we very often have humming birds. And... Well, today I had my first encounter with a tlacuache. I am happy to learn that they are very good climbers, so probably it just climbed out the fence the same way it climbed in - But I cannot be too sure yet. Oh! And what's that verse I started with? Of course, El Ropavejero, by Cri Crí, the sweet voice that saw many generations of Mexican children grow up - of course, with many critics as well.
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Conference backgrounds revisited

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 08/25/2005 - 15:50
Mako: So you thought you couldn't be surpassed Well, you should talk with Nadezhda... As this background image she gave me is still the winner in my book. Erich: IMHO, the problem with your suggestions is that they distract you from both your work and the conference.
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From my workplace: Intelectual property

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 08/25/2005 - 14:24
I work in a technical role at the Institute for Economics Research in UNAM, Mexico's largest university. This is an institute with relatively low computer awareness, although with a slight (or not so?) left-leaning political balance. I have found some points with which I can engage in interesting conversations with people here, but still, I am still amazed when I see something directly related to my Free Software interest areas. Today, I got in the institute's mailing list the link to a simple but interesting article called Intellectual-property rights and wrongs, written by the 2001 Nobel winner Joseph E. Stiglitz - It speaks about the common conceptions (and misconceptions) about intellectual property, and how the Free Software (well, I must admit - he used the "Open Source" wording) has proved many of its principles wrong. But even more, he goes on talking on how the strong IP protection can hinder development, how patents can be wrongly assigned (and how they have halted development even in industrial areas, even 100 years ago), and how IP protection is killing thousands of medication-deprived people. Nice article to point people at :)
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I would happily tell you...

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 08/22/2005 - 19:37
...that Panama or Oaxtepec have negative amounts of mosquitoes, but then again, I prefer not to register in livejournal just to post a stupid note :)
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