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!
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!
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.
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).
June 13, 2013
Cuernavaca, Morelos. Policement from the General Republic Attorney (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) and the Army entered and searched the "3 de mayo" neighbourhood, in the municipality of Emiliano Zapata, detaining 17 ceramist artisans that sold candies, dolls and piñatas shaped like Spiderman.
This search was done on the evening of last Wednesday, around 16:00. Federal ministerial policement and army soldiers closed a street with several informal stores and detained workers taht were selling this Marvel Comics character, following said company's denounce.
As a result for this operation, 17 artisants were detained, although the same day five of them were freed. The policemen also seized 12 bags of candies, piñatas, ceramics and wooden figures of the superhero.
PGR closed down 11 stores where ceramics with this same figure was being sold, accusing the detainees of plagiarizing Spiderman's image, protected under the copyright law.
The 12 that remained under detention were put at the Federal Justice's disposal, which prompted that this Thursday, around 10AM, hundreds of sellers of "3 de mayo" went out to PGR's building to demand their friends' freedom, who are facing a bail of up to 200,000 pesos (~USD$18,000).
Outraged because –they said– they were treated as if they were part of a drug ring, hundreds of artisans closed intermitently Avenida Cuauhnáhuac, where the PGR representation in Morelos state is located.
The artisans' pressure helped for the amount of the bail to be lowered from MX$200,000 to MX$16,000, and so they were set free.
Francisco Fernández Flores, president of the Ceramists Association, criticized the operation because, he said, it was as strong as if they were "drug dealers".
The artisans explained that they don't even make the Spiderman figures, they are made by the interns of the Centro Estatal de Reinserción Social de Atlacholoaya (prision), located in the Xochitepec municipality, who offered them to the ceramists so they could be sold.
"The Atlacholoaya inmates do them, we buy them to support them, and turns out we are the delinquents now", said Miriam Monroy, sister of one of the detainees.
This information was contradicted by Jesús Valencia Valencia, responsible for Morelos' state prision system, who assured that in said prision no ceramics are done.
Fernández Flores insisted though that from within the prision they are being offered piñatas, candies and "piggy banks" with Spiderman's shape.
José Luis Pozo, vicepresident of the Ceramists Union, said that to avoid more such federal operations for copyright breaches, they have committed not to produce or commercialize Marvel superhero figures, and any other characters the authority demands.
"We do commit to, from now on, those products singled out to us will not be commercialized", he said.
Pozo said that the PGR operation caused losses not just to the detained producers and salesmen, but to over 200 ceramists that had to close their stores in solidarity with their friends.
Acording to the artisans, the products were a success until the PGR came, seized the products and detained the salesmen.
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.
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
root^W admin^WUser #1 to ~15 different sites and run http://someurl/update.php — It very seldom causes any pain.
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...
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 have all my packages stored in git with a proper Vcs-Git: header; if people really want to look at individual patches, they can just use debcheckout, kthxbye.
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.
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:
- Lo que muchos no saben del voto electrónico — The interview intervened :-) Published in Oh My Geek!, a Chile-based technology news site. Local copy of the same article in my blog also available.
I answer to the same questions that were presented to Edgardo Torres, General Manager for Scytl Latin America, basically explaining why the arguments the voting machines sellers are pushing are flawed.
- Voto electrónico: Es cuestión de confianza was published in MoofMonster; I understand MoofMonster is based in Costa Rica, and is also a technology blog. The content is –again– copied over and posted again locally at my blog. This is more of a free-form article, where I compare two elections that were very close calls (Mexico and Venezuela), one with paper-based voting, the other with electronic voting, pointing to the fact that having a set of computers totalizing the votes does not gain any confidence from the voters (nor should it).
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 )
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:
- Introduce people working on different corners of this topic
- Explain in some more detail what TPP is about
- Come up with actions we can take to influence Mexico's joining of TPP
- And this will be at Facultad de Ingeniería. Another explicit goal of this session will be, of course, to bring the topic closer to the students!
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
- What is the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)?
- #yaraTPP, #internetesnuestra
- ¿Qué hay de malo con el #TPP?
- La DMCA (norma de derechos de autor de USA) es aún peor de lo que piensas. Informate de cómo la DMCA convierte en ilegal el acceso a contenido a personas con discapacidades
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:
(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 email@example.com, 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!
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:
La última conferencia fue presentada por Gunnar Wolf, que aunque su nombre nos hiciera pensar en una nacionalidad europea, él es nacido en tierras mexicanas pero con descendencias húngaras, austriacas y polacas.
Which translates to:
The last talk was presented by Gunnar Wolf, that although he has a name that makes us think about an European nationality, he was born in Mexican soil, but with Hungarian, Austriac and Polish descent.
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?
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 ;-)
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:
- Gergely Nagy
- I have not yet worked with Gergely, but enjoy reading him. The closest I have been to working with him was sketching a packaging tutorial during DebConf11, in Bosnia. Sadly, I was quite busy, and he picked up the complete workload — And correspondingly, got the credits. I can say that Gergely has a very important quality, the ability to put in seductively easy words the most complex processes. So, yes, being the Debian Leader post a public-facing one, I am certain he has one of the important qualities.
- Moray Allan
- We have worked together organizing DebConf for many years, first loosely as orga-team members, and starting two years ago (and together with Holger Levsen) as formal delegates. I think our team is quite well balanced, and Moray plays an important role. Holger and I are sometimes anxious to take measures, measures that IMO would have proven disastrous more than once. Moray is often the voice of reason. Given that another one of the DPL's roles is to mediate in social conflicts and keep Debian working smoothly (or something close to it ;-) ), that is also a very important trait of a DPL, and I'm also sure Moray would shine as a good leader.
- Lucas Nussbaum
- I have long been part of the pkg-ruby-extras team (although I am way less active than what I used to, where Lucas often dazzles us with his intense streaks of activity. Among this group of three, I see Lucas firstly as the most technically oriented, the biggest implementer. Also, as the proactive bug-finder and team-herder. And yes, Lucas is maybe the most enthusiastic about the (always) important Making Debian Sexy point. So, if elected, I'm sure this facet will also make him shine
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.
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.
I just got this message through my University, and the least I can do (given I'm still, although barely, in time) is to repost it here, hoping it helps to spread the activity we have on this regard in Latin America:
Saturday, February 23 is the International Day of Open Data. Following its policy of promoting free, open and unrestricted access to the results of research funded with public money, CLACSO calls research centers and individual researchers to free their public data so they are available for other researchers and, most importantly, for the community as a whole.
That's the reason CLACSO invites researchers and institutions to announce in social networks, mentioning "#DatosAbiertos #OpenData", which are their freed public documents, pointing to the web pages where they can be found.
The International Open Data Day is an effort to:
- Spread the concept of Open Data
- Debate on the why of Open Data
- Publish analysis done using open public data
- Find out how more local and national (not reserved) open data can be published (i.e. Brazil)
- Call towards using open data in research
- Find which applications have been developed to handle and visualize open data
- Organize events for the International Open Data Day (i.e. Monterrey
- Call towards adding data catalogs in Latin America and the Caribbeanin the Data catalogs directory, in Datacatalogs.org, and in Open data census.
We can between all contribute for the Latin American and Caribbean open data community to grow, democratizing access to public data about our societies.
So, what do I consider worthy of adding to a list of resources I can point to?
- I am part of the team that set up and has worked on convincing the Economics Research Institute (my workplace) academic groups to publish their research results and products in our institutional repository under Open Access-friendly licenses (CC-BY-SA-NC and more liberal). We have published a wealth of economics-related information there; I must thank and single out Víctor Corona, who has been long working on the digitalization and re-publication of the institute's journals from the (at least) past three decades.
- As the repository administrator, I am part of the RAD-UNAM (Red de Acervos Digitales, Digital Repositories Network) in our university. We administer at least 10 similar repositories in different institutes and faculties, and work on finding how to promote acceptance of open access ideas in UNAM's academic circles, and providing standards-based ways to share our work.
- As part of my information gathering activities for the e-voting analysis work we have been doing, I have set up the E-Voting observatory in Latin America site, where I gather the news I find on the topic, flagged by several categories.
- As for my personal work, although I am pretty young and little in formal academia, I publish most of I write in my personal webpage. Several different topics are at hand; of interest to this initiative, I think it's mostly the e-voting articles and presentations.