Red alert in Chiapas

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 06/22/2005 - 18:20
Who the fuck knows what our government is up to now? Regarding the indigenous rebellion that started (in the eyes of the world) in 1994, our oh-so-dear government has played a stupid but very effective tactics: The Mushroom principle: Keep them in the dark, feed them with shit. This rebellion, where the Zapatist Army for National Liberation jumped to the spotlights, is very different from what you will find in many other countries in this region - and that's why the EZLN was not crushed on its first days. This insurgent army is not about toppling a government and seizing power - It is about bringing decent life and equal rights to the indigenous population of my country. Seems easy, yes, but it is such a fundamental and radical change that it has had the political class for over 10 years in a stalemate. First of all: EZLN is not a violent guerrilla. Much to the contrary, it is a peaceful group. They resorted to an insurrection as that was the only way to get any attention - but the fight lasted for only 12 days. There has been a truce since then (except for two sad but very short periods). The government has set up many paramilitary groups (the guardias blancas) to weaken them and to scare the population. There have been important killings (the largest one, over 40 women and children, in Acteal, 22-12-1997). But the EZLN is about dialogue, not about power. Two years after the rebellion, in 1996, the rebels and the government signed the San Andrés Larráinzar agreements, in which the government agreed to pass a law granting freedom and recognition to the traditional organizations and ways of self-government for the indigenous population all over the country. The problem was, it was never implemented. The actual president, Vicente Fox, made a promise when he was on campaign: I will solve the Chiapas conflict in 15 minutes. As a side note, Fox has been the most prolific contributor to the Mexican folklore in the last 50 years, overshadowing great contributors such as López Portillo (Defenderé al peso como un perro) and even Luis Echeverría (No es ni bueno ni malo, sino que todo lo contrario). Fox is a master of words and responsability evasion, as we can easily witness in this Vicente Fox phrasebook. Well, back on topic. Last Sunday, Subcomandante Marcos published the (impossible) geometry(?) of the power in Mexico, a harsh criticism of basically every politician out there - specially of some of the worst aspects of López Obrador (the only one from the left wing, however centrist he is, with real possibilites of being elected). One day later, a general red alert was announced in the Zapatista area. The caracoles and the juntas de buen gobierno were closed, friends of the movement were asked to leave. Simultaneously, the biggest army movilization since 2001 into Chiapas was reported, although it has been continuously denied by any high-ranking officers. The army reports it found large plantings of marihuana in the Zapatista-influenced area. It is not even surprising for us: the areas they talk about are not Zapatista at all. Today, the Zapatistas announced their reason for the red alert: The EZLN is having an internal consultation regarding their reorganization, and is freeing whoever wants to leave them from any responsabilities in their future path. And why a red alert? Because the last time they had a consultation, in February 1995, the truce was broken by the Mexican Armed Forces. I don't know what comes next. I am posting this in good part due to [friend]Alex[/friend]'s pressure - It is important to get the word going, to spread the news before -as it often happens- our practically-state-controled duopoly spreads false news. So, help spread the word in any language you know. The Zapatista movement has gained tremendous support from people all over the world, and thanks to person-to-person communication and the pressure coming from around the globe, they are still around, demanding their right to live with dignity. Just a couple of final links: Natorro's article, explaining this situation with more background information, Narconews' Mexico: The False Narco-Smear Against the Zapatistas, the overly stupid reaction of our politicians to the recent events, and -more general- Frente Zapatista de Liberación Nacional will surely keep us informed (unless they are attacked again, as it happened on Monday), and -as not everything must be that serious- the beautiful lyrics of Oscar Chávez's Chiapas record, to which I am currently listening.
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/.ing yourself - Some people never learn

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 06/17/2005 - 13:20
Ok, so I am advertising our very nice Sarge T-shirts. Now, lives on a 512/128 ASDL line - And, as I did a long time ago, I once again included images in my blog text. I thought that my auto-slashdotting last time was because of my poor old resource-starvated server - No! It was bandwith. I just moved the images over to my work server (just for some days, don't hang me for that!), and as soon as pulsed again, my home connection was once again usable.
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Release party in .mx / cool T-shirts!

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 06/17/2005 - 10:45
We Mexicans are known for taking too long to do things... So, nine days after Sarge stabilized, yesterday we had our release party. Much larger than what I originally thought (we only announced it to the almost-dead debianmexico list AFAIK, and most people there do not live in this city). We were over 30, and there were people coming from surrounding cities, up to ~200Km away. We had a good time, food and beer at Hamburguesas Memorables. I arrived over 1hr late because we were printing. What were we printing? Well, that's obvious: I am very proud of Nadezhda's work. She dedicated many nights to having it just perfect - Of course, we found a couple of details we will continue working on for the 3.1r1 T-shirt - But I am quite proud of what I am now wearing. ...And, yes, I am surprised I have not seen any other Sarge artwork yet. Am I blind?
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First CPAN upload!

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 06/15/2005 - 13:48
Some weeks ago, I registered via PAUSE as a CPAN author - I did this because I am a frequent user of the CPAN request tracker, because of the modules I maintain in Debian. But... Well, now that I am in there, why not clean up some of my own modules and, if they are somehow interesting/useful to the general public, upload them there as well? Well, as of today, I just became a CPAN contributor: I uploaded User::Simple, a simple user sessions management, much lighter to use than other tools I have seen, and not married to any particular framework (Well... Yes, it requires you to have a RDBMS, but can be used for any front-end you wish). Of course, I already filed an ITP for it, and you'll all be able to laugh at it from within a clean, nice Debian install quite soon.
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/me shivers...

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 06/09/2005 - 18:36
I had not updated my Sid boxes since last week as I feared the mirrors would be too full. I knew this was coming. Lots of invasive, destabilizing changes were told to wait for post-Sarge... Now we will get back our feeling of good ol' Sid's unstability. First, Mathias' message warning about the C++ ABI change (which, being über-optimistic, will only mean a complete recompile of a shitload of stuff, but will surely mean hundreds of new open bugs). Now, I did my first post-Sarge update/upgrade, I see that GCC 4.0, PostgreSQL 8 and Perl 5.8.7 are all invited. I am reading that Jordi's having fun with Gnome 2.10. And it's still not a week... Ok, let the breakage begin! That's the only way we'll get the fun of picking up the pieces and glueing them back again!
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Ok, I managed to do it again... / dripping

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 06/09/2005 - 18:20
Some minutes ago, my poor and neglected debian-devel mailbox reached the 1000 unread messages. The last couple of days I have mainly spent my time either working on Debconf-related stuff (fortunately the last two days seem to go back to normal), answering mail^Wstupid flames on two local lists, and sweating my ass off. No, I am not doing any kind of excercise - Mexico City is _hot_, and I hate it. The highest temperature in over a century. We have reached 35 Celsius, at least five degrees over what we percieve as "too hot". But I have managed to do very little real-life work. And it's not because I don't have any. It's quite hard to focus on code while sweating. We should already be in the rainy season!
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Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 06/06/2005 - 18:57
Ok, so everybody now knows it: the beast is out there! I missed the big moment on IRC due to an appointment at my shrink... My thanks go to Thaddeus Black, who sent me a complete IRC log, which I just followed trying to imagine I was there ;-) Now... Who was that said it? Long Live Sarge! ^U... ummmm... Short Live Sarge!!! See you in Etch, guys! Congratulations!!!
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Power failures and Gaim

Submitted by gwolf on Sat, 06/04/2005 - 15:17
We have had quite a few power failures lately in my area of the town, both at home and at my building in the University (which is kind of logical, as we are so close). Power failures tend to happen at the worst possible time - Yes, I know that basically any journalling filesystem will assure the disk integrity is right even if the last information written got lost. Which has happened to me quite a few times. Some weeks ago, we had the power failure in the middle of an aptitude operation. Darn, I lost /var/lib/aptitude/pkgstates and /var/lib/dpkg/available - Not too much hassle to re-create them, so no too much damage done - but, yes, it made me lose some time and temper. Now, fortunately I don't have Aptitude running all the time - those important files are rarely touched. However, there are some programs I am running basically all the time. One of them is Gaim - And it is the only one that continuously suffers from such disasters. Every time I lose power, .gaim/blist.xml gets lost. And _that_ is quite annoying - No critical information is recorded there, only my contact list. And fortunately, contact lists are now saved server-side on most protocols I use Gaim for (yes, I do use Gaim for IRC - I am rarely connected to any channels, so I don't suffer its lacking interface too much). But I do have important information there - For example, the real name of people. I hate that habit of the MSN crowd of just changing their alias as if it were some kind of useless blob - effectively, turning it into an useless blob. Thank the Gaim people for letting me override that... But it is _very_ frustrating to be forced to group them all together again according to my style and finding out who the hell is each of them. Yesterday, I lost it. Twice. Well... as of now, .gaim/blist.xml lives on my CVS tree. I am not yet convinced to take all of my home into version control (basically because I am too disorganized), but files that are written to in such an unorderly manner do deserve being in a safe place.
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Why is my firewall leaking packets?

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 06/02/2005 - 18:32
As we Amiga fans and ex-users use to say: "Oh, no, not Boing again". The network has been quite shitty for the last couple of days here at IIEc. I was a bit pissed at it - but hey, I have one of those surges of things to do. I have not seriously even read my mail for most of the week... It'll get better eventually. :-/ Today, my boss came to my office, and we started talking about why the network was _so_ fscking shitty. He told me there was a new virus on the loose there - Perhaps I could stop it with the firewall? Well, just to a certain point, as I cannot control what enters our users' mail - after all, most of them have their mail at, one of this University's largest sources of headache... No, he says this virus spreads itself via SMB connections... And we have already two machines that caught it. Hmmmm... After a quick tcpdump, I see some packets from outside my network. A shiver... iptables-save... Empty rulelist... Well, it turns out that some days ago, I was debugging some rules, as some machines at our library couldn't connect to a service they require, which is provided as an Access-based system on a remote SMB share. I disabled the firewalling rules to rule out I was the culprit. The problem persisted. I was on the phone for ~20 minutes with the guys at DGB... And, yes, as I am looking at too many things at once, I simply forgot to turn them back on. As a result, two users got infected. This particular virus seems to wipe the MBR or something like that - And, as I don't usually fix virus-related problems (thanks $DEITY), I didn't offer my help to rescue the data. Two users lost some days worth of job just because I forgot to re-enable the rules... Well, they run Windows, so at least I am sure they now have a faster machine ;-) But anyway, it is depressing to screw up this badly so easily.
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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 addresses over the last year in favor of - It is now official: will die soon. Please update. I am, my website is
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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] Can't locate object method "dir_config" via package "Apache2::RequestRec" at /usr/share/perl5/Apache/ 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/ 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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