Stuff I have written/presented
Submitted by gwolf on Sun, 08/18/2013 - 21:37
As I slowly read my good friends wishing each other a good trip, telling they got home safely, and the IRC channels form thick drops of a bitter-sweet etheral substance, I cannot help feeling DebConf13 is over — For me as well, from the distance. Many friends gave me warm greetings, and without being there, gave me that beautiful feeling of real community that Debian has given me for ten years already, since I met in real-life many of its developers at DebConf3 in Oslo. And –yes, I have stated this far too many times– I have attended every DebConf since (and worked organizing most of them). This year, over 300 people were gathered in Switzerland to enjoy the always most intense weeks of the year.
This year, I was unable to attend due to calendar clashes. Even so, without the stress that organizers have, and thanks to the great work of the always-loved Video Team, I think I was able to be present at more sessions than at in any of the last few years. Oh, and for the readers of this blog who were not there — Do you want to follow what was presented? You can download already the videos for all of the recorded presentations (that were, due to the planned coverage and the manageable size of the Video Team, about ⅔ of the total scheduled sessions). And, as always, I was able to follow many very interesting talks and take part of a couple interesting meetings/BoF sessions. I still have a bit of catchup, partly due to the timezone difference (I was only at one of the sessions during the Swiss morning, at 02:30 local time, the pkg-ruby-extras team BoF).
Anyway... Not being there, I surely was an avid consumer of the photos posted in the DebConf13 gallery, and will surely follow it for some more time as some of you upload your pending material. It was clear from the beginning that, no matter what your definition of consensus is, the chosen venue was beautiful. A beautiful place between the lake and the mountains where our sportiest guys had a very good share of morning runs, cycling sessions, competition sports of different types, outright plain fun for attendees of all sizes and all species...
But, hey, wait! During a chat in the course of DebConf, a friend told me a bit worried that all this beauty and fun might make our dear and very important sponsors they are paying for a geek vacation, is it so? No, not at all. Not by a long stretch. And just looking at those same galleries makes it clear and obvious. After all, it's widely known that Debian is the operating system for the gurus. Simple: It's impossible to have all those geeks without getting amazing work done, in ways that even seem clichés (this last photo had Joey Hess explaining dpkg format version 3.0 (git) ideas, sketched after waking up at 3AM on the first sketching surface available to him). After all, Debian people are famous for their inclination to use any excuse to open their computers and hack away. We can find Debianers hacking in small spaces and also hacking out in the fields. But this time, people were able to hack indoors while enjoying the nature and hack outdoors under a tree. And, yes, one of the things that makes organizing DebConf worth it is, after ≈eleven months having low-bandwidth meetings over IRC, having the opportunity to plan for the next days face to face, in a relaxed but work-full environment.
Anyway, here at home I didn't sit idly just longing over them. How could I? We are just celebrating the Debian Project's 20th anniversary!
http://gwolf.org/content/jonathan-host-and-organizer-rancho-electr-nico">Jonathan, a Debian enthusiast, student at my university, and collaborator for several free software-related collectives in Mexico City, invited me to the celebration at Rancho Electrónico (which I recently mentioned in this same blog). While I was unable to stay for the whole celebration, we had a very good time; I talked about some ways on how to contribute to Debian. Although I didn't have much of a presentation prepared for it, I feel it was successful and interesting for the attendees — I just hope to start seeing some of them get into any of the ways for helping Debian soon. I also stayed as a listener and ocassional commenter for a talk on the Debian Project's history and goals, and to a presentation on a nifty electronic music programming tool called Supercollider (of course, available in Debian).
Now, "regular" life should continue. For some value of "regular".
Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 08/09/2013 - 11:19
So... Well, contrary to the popular sentiment in Planet Debian, this year I'm very sorry to inform that...
This is the first DebConf I miss in ten years, so... Yes, it's a big bummer for me. I'm not attending because this year, DebC(amp|onf) coincide with the two first weeks of classes at my university — And as a new teacher, I cannot afford to miss it!
Anyway, but that should not stand in the way to attend a nice Debian 20th anniversary party!
Parties will be held around the world. (Didn't find your city? Plan something and add it *now!*). In Mexico City, the nice guys at the very interesting Rancho Electrónico hackerspace took the lead, and organized the following activities:
Don't you yet know the hackerspace? You should go there! It's in a very centric location, just two blocks West from Metro San Antonio Abad (Juan Lucas Lassaga 114, col. Obrera). And the only two times I have been there, it has been good fun. Surely this Saturday we can have a nice party as well!
The planned activities are from 13:30 to 20:30. See you there!
Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 07/23/2013 - 14:41
For all Spanish-speakers that read my blog, specially for the cyclists among you, and most specially for those that dwell in Mexico City's streets: I was recently pointed to a project started inside the Faceboook labrynth by Sandro Cohen, writer and academic: El zen del ciclista urbano.
I met Sandro around twenty years ago. He writes in a very good, simple style. What I didn't know until now is that he has also become an urban cyclism promotor, just as me and many of my friends. In this page he started, he posts snippets on the topic of being an urban cyclist: As of today, he has 44 meditations, each of them a joy to read — And very instructive as well.
Thanks, Sandro, for the great resource!
[update] I always find it... almost funny to read comments by so many people saying they'd rather have a lobotomy than to cycle in Mexico City. Hey! Mexico City is among the best places for cycling! Yes, we have to keep our eyes open and our instincts awake, but... Most of the city's area is flat. Many avenues have wide lanes and span a long distance. And yes, although there are some careless or aggressive drivers, after six years with the joy between my legs I can just say that... things are not as bad as you might imagine. I have very few (thankfully!) bad experiences, and so, so many good ones!
Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 07/15/2013 - 23:29
I just came back home from the «Open Repositories 2013» conference, in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada; a conference on Open Access publishing, digital repositories, preservation strategies...
It was quite an interesting conference, and gave me the opportunity to meet several interesting people. Mostly worthy of note, I spent some good time with the team behind the EPrints software, which powers my institute's repository, and with whom I expect to do some work trying to get EPrints more in shape to be considered as uploadable to Debian.
I presented a (very non-technical) talk titled RAD-UNAM: Genesis and evolution of a repository administrators group, describing the experiences we have had at our group in UNAM setting up a federated repository (link to the talk in the OR2013 site).
It was a very good experience as well as a nice trip. Oh — And if you come over to my blog, you will see here the photos I took during the week of a very nice, little Canadian city.
Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 06/17/2013 - 00:43
I found the following news item; if you can read Spanish, you will most probably prefer the original version in the Proceso magazine's site. The subject? The federal police (PGR) and army arrest 17 artisans for «making money out of» Spiderman.
The following translation is mine. Done past midnight, and being quite tired, and translated so this news item can reach a broader audience. All errors are mine (except those carried out by the security forces, that is).
And yes, the copyright insanity does not stop. Spiderman is by today a clear part of popular culture. Marvel brilliantly succeeded in creating such a popular icon that everybody recognizes, that everybody identifies with — And that everybody should be able to recreate.
We are not talking about brand protection. Marvel does not, and will never, commercialize piñatas, ceramics or wooden toys. And even if they were plastic-cast — While Spiderman is still under the protection of copyright, as the Berne Convention defines it (and of course, as the much stricter Mexican laws agree), that does not mean that any and every product resembling a Spiderman should be protected. Many ceramists and piñata makers will create unique pieces of art — Ok, handicraft. But reading the copyright law more strictly, Spiderman is more treated as a trademark than as a copyright. And it is a trademark that should be declared as having passed on to the public domain.
Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 05/31/2013 - 13:23
I like Drupal. It's a very, very flexible CMS that evolved into a full-fledged Web development framework. Mind you, it's written in PHP, and that makes it a nightmare to develop for (in ~6 years I have used it for all of my important websites I have only got around to develop a set of related modules for it once).
PHP programming sucks and makes my eyes and fingers bleed, but happily there are people who disagree with me — And they tend to write code. All the better!
Minor upgrades with Drupal are quite easy to handle. Not as easy as I'd like (i.e. whenever I upgrade the core system or a module, I have to log in as
The updates that have to be run via this URL are usually on the database's structures, so I understand they have to be started (and watched) by a human. And yes, I know I could do that with Drush, the Drupal shell, but it is not very friendly to Debian-packaged Drupal... But easy enoguh.
But major updates are a royal pain, and they usually amount to quite a bit. First, disable all of the modules and revert to a known-safe theme. Ok, it makes sense. Second, check whether the modules exist for the newer version (as they won't work — Drupal changes enough between major versions that not only it's API-incompatible, I'd classify it as API-unrecognizable). Ok, all set? Now for the live migration itself... It has to be triggered from the browser.
So yes, I am now staring at a window making clever AJAX status updates. I am sitting at 46 of 199, but following the lovely ways of programmers, it's impossible to forsee whether update #47 will just be an UPDATE foo SET bar=0 WHERE bar IS NULL or a full-scale conversion between unspeakable serialized binary structures while rearranging the whole database structure.
And yes, while the meter progresses I stand in fear that update #n+1 will bomb giving me an ugly red error. I must keep the magic AJAX running, or the update might be botched.
And, of course, the update has sat at #69 all while I wrote the last two paragraphs. Sometimes the updates can progress after an interruption... And it seems I have no choice but to interrupt it.
/me crosses fingers...
[update] Wow... I am happy I got bored of looking at the meter and decided to write this blog post: After several minutes, and just as I was about to launch a second update session (130 updates to go), the meter advanced! I'm now sitting watching it at #75. Will it ever reach 199?
[update] And so it had to be... At around 115, I now got:
*sigh* The update process was aborted prematurely while running update #7000 in biblio.module...
Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 05/24/2013 - 21:28
Wouter still does not like the 3.0 (quilt) packaging format. And as he writes on his blog, I shall answer on mine.
And what if one of the blogs becomes unreachable with time? Aha! That's one of the weaknesses, Wouter, on yuor closing comment:
I am aware this would not be so much of an argument, or so much of a change. But the way I view a shipped package is that it should, by itself, be as a snapshot with its whole, full description. Say that three years from now Apple has scrubbed your brain and you went to work with them. And you decided to pull all of your non-iOS repositories. They have convinced you working for Debian is bad for mankind. So you erase all of your Git repos, including those in Alioth or whatever.
But Debian Wheezy has some of your packages. And three years from now, I decided to be the maintainer.
So, having fully commented and individually marked patches is a sort-of-way to avoid a situation akin to the tentacles of evil.
Now, it's not that I'm criticizing your workflow. I have sen many ways to manage patches in quite a natural way, and I undestand it might be way easier when dealing with complex packages (FWIW I usually deal with very little complexity). Still, it is an argument.
Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 05/09/2013 - 12:45
Some weeks ago, I contacted Rosa Martínez, a tech journalist with some questions regarding what I regarded as a trick interview with an e-voting salesman. Well, not only she offered me to publish an answer to that interview, but she also offered me to write another article on a second site she also works with.
So, I accepted. Being quite time-deprived, although I managed to send her the first answer quickly, by April 22, I only sent the second article yesterday night.
Anyway, the links. The texts are published in Spanish:
Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 05/07/2013 - 11:59
Last Saturday, I was invited to talk about Debian to Hackerspace DF, a group that is starting to work at a very nice place together with other collectives, in a quite centric place (Colonia Obrera). I know several of the people in the group (visited them a couple of times in the space's previous incarnation), and wish them great luck in this new hackerspace!
Anyway — I was invited to give an informal talk about Debian. And of course, I was there. And so was Alfredo, who recorded (most of) it.
So, in case you want to see me talking about how Debian works, mostly on a social organization level (but also regarding some technical details). Of course, given the talk was completely informal (it started by me standing there, asking, "OK, any questions?"), I managed to mix up some names and stuff... But I hope that, in the end, the participants understood better what Debian means than when we started.
Oh, and by the end of the talk, we were all much happier. Not only because I was about to shut up, but because during my talk, we got notice that Debian 7.0 "Wheezy" was released.
Activities facing the next round of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations ( #yaratpp #tpp #internetesnuestra )
Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 04/30/2013 - 16:31
Excuse me for the rush and lack of organization... But this kind of things don't always allow for proper planning. So, please bear with my chaos ;-)
What is the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Yet another secretely negotiated international agreement that, among many chapters, aims at pushing a free-market based economy, as defined by a very select few — Most important to me, and to many of my readers: It includes important chapters on intellectual property and online rights.
Hundreds of thousands of us along the world took part in different ways on the (online and "meat-space") demonstrations against the SOPA/PIPA laws back in February 2012. We knew back then that a similar project would attempt to bite us back: Well, here it is. Only this time, it's not only covering copyright, patents, trademark, reverse engineering, etc. — TPP is basically a large-scale free trade agreement on steroids. The issue that we care about now is just one of its aspects. Thus, it's way less probable we can get a full stop for TPP as we got for SOPA. But we have to get it on the minds of as many people as possible!
The countries currently part of TPP are Chile, Peru, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Vietnam — And, of course, the USA.
Mexico, Canada and Japan are in the process of joining the partnership. A group of Mexican senators are travelling to Lima to take part of this round.
What are we doing about it?
As much as possible!
I tried to tune in with Peru's much more organized call — The next round of negotiations will be in Lima, Peru, between May 14 and 24. Their activities are wildly more organized than ours: They are planning a weekend-long Camping for Internet freedom, with 28 hours worth of activities.
As for us, our activities will be far more limited, but I still hope to have an interesting session:
This Friday, we will have Aula Magna, Facultad de Ingeniería, UNAM, México DF, from 10AM and until 3PM. We do not have a clear speakers program, as the organization was quite rushed. I have invited several people who I know will be interesting to hear, and I expect a good part of the discussion to be a round table. I expect we will:
We want you!
So... I am posting this message also as a plead for help. Do you think you can participate here? Were you among the local organizers for the anti-SOPA movement? Do you have some insight on TPP you can share? Do you have some gear to film+encode the talks? (as they will surely be interesting!) Or, is the topic just interesting for you? Well, please come and join us!
Some more informative links
So, again: Friday, 2012-05-03, 10:00-15:00
[Update] So, 2012-05-03 came and went. And thankfully, Alfredo was there to record most of the talk! So, you can download the video:
Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 04/18/2013 - 20:49
(actually, please set your calendars to the day before yesterday — I had a mental tab on this, but it seems watching mental tabs is a low-priority task for brain.sched)
Ten years ago today, I got that long awaited mail telling me I had passed all of the needed hurdles and was accepted as a Debian Developer. We were at the first third of a very long release cycle, and the general spirit of the project was clearly younger — both as in "things moved easier" and "we were much more immature" — Try to follow the mailing list discussions we had back then, and even with all the vitriol that's every now and then spilled on firstname.lastname@example.org, it's clear we have more experience working together.
And yes, the main change that ten years bring to a group of people is social. I was at DebConf in Oslo when the now-historic presentation that prompted the birth of the Debian-Women group was given — Surely, Debian (and Free Software) still is by far predominantly male and white — But I fel it's no longer a hostile group, much to the contrary.
Over the years, I was first active (as was the norm by then) as a "solo" maintainer. When Joachim Breitner started the pkg-perl group in 2004, I joined, and was part of the group while an important part of my work was based in Perl. I joined pkg-ruby-extras, and slowly migrated my technical work from one to the other. For several years, I also maintained the Cherokee webserver. I started getting involved in DebConf organization in 2005, and (except for 2008, as I took a vacation from many topics due to personal issues). Back in 2009, I became an official delegate! I joined Jonathan McDowell handling keyring maintenance. One year later, another delegation: With Moray Allan and Holger Levsen, the three of us became the DebConf chairs.
This last couple of months, I have been quite inactive in most of my Debian work. I took up teaching at the univerity, and have been devoting what amounts to basically a full time job to prepare material. I expect (hope!) this craze to reach back a "workable" level by late May, when the course finishes, and I can retake some of my usual Debian tasks.
Anyway — 10 years. Wow. This project is one of the longest commitments in my life. I am still very happy I joined, it still thrills me to say I am part fo this great project, it still makes me proud to be accepted as a peer by so many highly skilled and intelligent people — But, as I have repeatedly stated, I see Debian more as a social project (with a technological product) than as a technical one. And as such, I am really happy to have made so many good, close friends in this project, to have the opportunity to work and exchange points of view about anything, and have this large, highly disfunctional but very closely regarded family of friends.
So, guys, see you this August in Switzerland. I will be among the group celebrating we have been there for half of the project's history!
Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 04/18/2013 - 19:42
A colleague of mine at Facultad de Ingeniería pointed me to a note published in the Faculty's gazette about a short cycle of talks we had on April 4th, trying to get life and interest back in the once-active LIDSOL (Laboratorio de Investigación y Desarrollo en Software Libre, Free Software Research and Development Laboratory), which nowadays lies mostly dormant.
Good thing the official communication channels got notice of this! Only I am not sure if they can properly produce Spanish (as this feels more like an English redaction). Quoting only the first lines of the paragraph that referes to me:
Which translates to:
As far as I can tell (and I am almost sure I know all of the story — At least on that regard), I have no descent yet. Not Hungarian, Austriac, Polish, nor of any nationality.
(nitpickers: Yes, similar words are often used. In Spanish, it would be correct to say de ascendencia húngara, austriaca y polaca, and in my attempt towards English translation, it would be of Hungarian, Austriac and Polish descent).
Looking for a (small) place to host a Free Software-related meeting, course or similar in Mexico City?
Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 03/29/2013 - 11:00
Hey, Mexican hackers!
If anybody is interested in holding a small Free Software-related meeting (say, with up to 10-15 people) in the South of Mexico City, please tell me — We have adapted a nice room at our house where we want to invite people to come and do activities — Courses, meetings, whatever. It is not very big (~5×5 meters), but it has all of the needed amenities (some chairs, a projector, coffee-related amenities, and is very conveniently located). We are not charging for hosting your activities (but will of course want to schedule it beforehand with you).
So, if you have something to teach, or some project to hack on, and want a nice place to do it in, please drop us a line/call.
(hmh, yes, this is one of the posts that should probably be in Spanish — But this blog has a long-standing policy for English content ;-)
Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 03/11/2013 - 18:46
So we are at the beginning of this year's Debian Project Leader elections. And yes, after Stefano's long and (IMO) very successful DPL term, I feel as my voting machinery is somewhat stuck; it will not be so easy to get it back up to speed. Anyway, I have glanced over the three platforms, but only actually read 1.5 from the three DPL platforms. I know that whoever succeeds, I will be quite happy with the results.
This year there are three runners for the post. I have worked in several teams with two of them, and would love to know better the third. In the same order as presented in the vote:
So, it's not that I'm trying to bribe our next DPL with sweet nice words about how interesting a person or how good a friend he is, but am trying to look at the election process as something different. It seems for me that we are going to choose which Debian do we want to pursue for this starting period.
Now, for our soon-to-be-ex-DPL Stefano: As many will surely tell you (or already have): You rock. I truly enjoyed your DPL term, and there is much we should adopt and learn from your personality and leadership.
And, although it has waned over the past few years, many people tend to publish their (stated?) vote during the campaigning period. I (think I) have never done so, and this time I will surely not do so. Choosing a DPL involves personal feelings, sympathies, and many non-objective things. And although I know nobody will feel hurt if I don't put them in the first place, I prefer not to expose such issues. I can only assure you that this year, "None of the above" will sink to the bottom of my ballot.
Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 02/28/2013 - 00:30
Daniel tells his story building a wooly mammoth, and throws some ideas on how this could be implemented easily with free software. But if I read his post correctly, Daniel still misses the precise ways to do it.
Our friends Octavio and Claudia (twitted hereby) have given some Blender courses here at our classroom at home (Guys! Come again! We miss you!), and host the Spanish-speaking g-blender community. At one of their courses, they showed how to model an object/character, and in order to color/texture its parts, you can unwrap it — This process yields a flattened image with the surfaces that build your object, that you can then color. Well, you can also use it as a base pattern to cut and sew your plush!
It is not meant to be used for this (although it works), so it won't give you the extra tabs to be sewn in place, and the joints might not be at the most comfortable places. But it is base you can work from.
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