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Talk submitted for YAPC::EU

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 02/22/2007 - 18:03
I just submitted my talk proposal for YAPC::EU, which will be held in Vienna in late August. The topic? Integrating Perl in a wider distribution: The Debian pkg-perl group. I took part in YAPC::NA (Yet Another Perl Conference - North America) in 2001, in Montreal, and YAPC::EU (you guessed right: Europe) in 2002, in Munich. While in Munich, I met Debian's Erich, Weasel and the late Jens. It is a very nice conference with all kinds of Perl-heads, apt for different experience levels. the talk I am proposing will be about what do we work for in Debian, how can we get a better synergy from our upstream group and (oh, this point is quite itchy - specially in strongly opinioned communities such as Ruby's! Perl people are quite nice to play with, however, but still...) what do we (as Debian maintainers) request from them in order for life to be smoother. Of course, I only submitted the talk. The CFP has just been launched, and so far, mine is the fourth talk offered - It can still be rejected (as it is not really related to Perl development, the heart of YAPC), but I guess it will be deemed interesting by the Perl monks reviewing them. In any case, hope to see you in Vienna as well!
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Back from [VAC]?

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 02/20/2007 - 18:47
On January 13, I sent a mail to debian-private saying I'd be on a semi-vacation until around February 10 - And yes, for over a month I've basically not touched my packaging, and for around three months my general profile in Debian has been really low. I sent this message because the Institute I work at moved, and I got the task of taking care of everything related with electrons flows carrying information (namely, voice and data networks). It's not that I'm really-really-back now - Work is still too absorbing, users still come too often to me expecting me to solve their problems. I can often try to do so on the data network, but I'm far from even having access to the voice equipment (I've done my hardest effort not to get such access, because that'd instantly turn me into the phone operator for life). However, for the first time in many weeks, today I had some quiet time, I catched up with some mailing lists, and... Well, I expect to work on my QA page. Boy, team-maintainership rules! pkg-perl friends, thanks for saving me from the creepy bugs sometimes too often. I expect to pick up work I haven't even looked at since I committed to doing so with the pkg-ruby-extras team as well, specifically, getting mongrel in shape and into Debian, despite our deep differences with its author. This will make Rails roll smoother and faster in Debian. And of course, there is Debconf. After last year's burnout, I think I recovered - I'm not a core organizator anymore, but I'm back to work my way to Edimburgh ;-) As for my local activities (Mexican Free Software conferences, meetings and people): Partly because so I decided and partly because so it happened, I've been off the hook with the local community since before Debconf 6. Before, because I was too busy to think about anything besides it, and after, because I was burnt out and somewhat bitter at several facts. I've been to few regional or local conferences, also because I knew that between last October and today I'd be too tied up at work. But last week we had both CONSOL and BarCamp Mexico. Somehow I managed to be at both (well, at CONSOL I was only enough time to do my two talks, for which I miraculously managed to get prepared, and BarCamp was during the weekend). Both were very positive for me, and I'm willing again to find some time to devote to promoting and developing Free Software in our country. Oh! One more note: Thanks to Sergio Mendoza for pushing me and for co-discussing on the subject, we are getting small but tangible results pointing to a Debian-UNAM project. Not much to see yet, besides having received the domain authority, which for now just means a nicer name for Nisamox, Mexico's main (and only long-running) full Debian mirror.

Reflections on the air

Submitted by gwolf on Sun, 10/15/2006 - 13:02
[2006-10-13 18:00] There is a popular saying in Spanish, "en viernes 13 ni te cases ni te embarques" - Roughly, On Friday the 13th, don't get married and don't board a ship. That makes perfect sense - I'm already married, so I'm not worried about the first part. About the second, you never now - So I'd better take the plane to a country without sea access. Bolivia, here I go. [2006-10-13 23:30] I'm writing this blog entry as I fly out of Mexico towards Bolivia, via Panama, on Lloyd Aereo Boliviano's flight number 911. The captain just announced that dinner will be served shortly, and invited those of us who want to enjoy the meal to open the tables, in order to get a better service. I fear that if I don't open it, I might get soup served straight over my pants, or something like that. [2006-10-14 02:40] At the Panama airport. Captain informs again: "Passengers, we inform you we will replenish fuel. Therefore, if you choose not to go out for 15 minutes, we will request you to sit down with your seat belt unlocked. You will not be allowed to walk along the ailes. The bathrooms will be closed. Please do not ring the bells." Damn, that brings quite a lot of quiet about the refueling process - Of course I went down for 15 minutes, along with everybody else. BTW, shame I didn't take my laptop with me, as the battery is now at 15%... The Panama airport has (contrary to most airports I've been to in recent years) plenty of power outlets. Anyway, maybe on the way back. It's now 03:00 (Mexico time), and I think I'll have a better use for the next four hours until we arrive to Bolivia than coding.


Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 10/12/2006 - 08:07
Ok, so I am going to be in Bolivia next week - or so I hope ;-) I don't usually take care to do this, but being it Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano (more on this later), and having heard first-hand and even almost lived stories of ticketing errors, I decided to call the airline to confirm my flight details. ...Only that the airline does not have a web site any more - It was grabbed by an online casino. Or maybe... Am I getting a casino ticket? Holy crap, no, it's a casino evangelism blog, explaining you how fun and interesting it is to lose your money online, how fair are the online slot machines, and such crap... Unbelievable. Anyway, I found Lloyd's Mexican office phone number in some online directory, and called. My ticket was, yes, reserved - It was not paid, though. Or maybe yes - the clerk told me that sometimes tickets get paid in Bolivia and they don't know about that. That could explain why Álvaro almost lost his flight. Ok, we got that point fixed in ~20 minutes (thanks to Dydier and Ramiro, in Sucre and Potosí respectively). I called again Lloyd, and yes, I'm confirmed. Phew. About Lloyd: I flied with them two years ago, when I went to the IV National Free Software conference in Sucre. The only problem I had was due to myself: I spent some days travelling around after the conference, and my plane back was set to depart from La Paz, change planes in Cochabamba, then change planes in Santa Cruz, then on to Mexico. As I was in Cochabamba already, I decided to skip the first hop - Well, that accounted for a couple of hours on the phone getting my ticket back to life once it had been cancelled as a no-show :) However, Lloyd has went through a serious financially troubled period, and its reliability seems to have gone seriously down. Even two years ago, when we both were in Bolivia (in the conference I just mentioned), Álvaro had to spend over a week he didn't plan on in Bolivia, as Lloyd's transatlantic plane was being repaired (!!). I found a similar report about an Argentinian passenger stuck for a day in Mexico and three further days in Santa Cruz due to broken aircraft... I can only hope for the best ;-) Anyway, in Bolivia I'll have quite a packed schedule. As I've told to Dydier, I don't care too much about the details on what will we do each day (my hosts are free to own 100% of my time), but I'll give at least five talks (three in CCBOL in Potosí and two to diverse auditoriums in Sucre). Of course, this is prone to change somehow, but the plan is I'll have a tutorial on PostgreSQL, a set of talks regarding computer and network security, and a talk about Free Software as a model of knowledge production rather than as a technical or social movement. Of course, wherever I go I talk about Debian as well at every possible chance ;-)
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More != better

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 06/02/2006 - 18:38
This is the time of year when most Free Software-related conferences in Mexico have their calls for papers. /">send my proposal by mail, and I do hope it gets in the official program - For sentimental reasons more than anything else ;-) CONSOL is, after all, still my baby!). Yesterday I had to come up with something, as CICOL's deadline was also hanging upon me. Now my attention has been brought towards FSL, for which I still have almost one month to think. And, of course, although at other times of year (but, of course, still clashing with other conferences) we will not have one, but three instances of GULEV this year.. WTF? Mexico's Free Software community is a small and not too productive one, as most communities in our (culturally defined) continent, Latin America. And yes, conferences are quite fun, it's always nice to go to a nice place and meet your friends. But we must not forget the real motivation for them all: The academic program. We currently have four conferences that try to reach to the same audience (yes, in different places of the country, but all of them with a national scope). And if you compare the list of proposed talks (visible currently for three of them), you will see there is no real difference between the set of talks on them. Please explain me, what kind of incentive does this give to anybody to attend? Just to hang out with the friends, entering a talk here and there? I ended up submitting the same talks for both CONSOL and CICOL, as running Debconf didn't leave me time to prepare or think over anything - That's not what I like to do, and I hope I can be a bit more creative with the topics for FSL. There is no published criteria yet on what will be the focus for (each of the) GULEV, so I'm not committing yet to them. And yes, being a very active Free Software promoter in my country, I try to be present everywhere - but of course, everything has a limit. I will most probably not skip CONSOL (as it is on the city I live, and it is the one I am most sentimentally attached to) or CICOL (as it is just 1hr south from here)... But I'm still uncertain if I'll be at FSL or any of the GULEVs. Back on my initial questioning, anyway: Do we need four perfectly equivalent conferences in this country? Besides ego clashes, wouldn't we be best served if we had only one or two big conferences a year?
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I have been hugged

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 05/19/2006 - 13:08
Debian is love. After my scream for help a couple of days ago, and after a mountain of hard work, things are just running. No, we are not -by far- free of incidents, and it would be foolish to expect it to be so, but we are working nicely. And by the way, thank you, I have been receiving the largest amount of hugs ever, and believe me, each of them has been important. We are not over yet. At least two more days of work, and onem more day of taking all the shop back home, and that only means that the next step in the round will start: Handing back all the lent equipment, doing the travel reimbursements, closing all of our accounting stuff... And, of course, get the ball rolling towards Debconf 7. So... Well, six days into Debconf, I am currently sitting in the third talk I have opportunity to attend (of course, I have missed most of the ones I was interested in - Video team, I trust you to make a brilliant end product ;-) ), Nadezhda is printing 150 beautiful new T-shirts Pixelgirl designed a couple of days ago, and... Trust me, I still have a stressed face - but I am finally enjoying every minute of this fscking mess we decided to put up. Thank you all, folks. I am in Cristoph Berg's talk about reworking NM - And this comes very good to wrap up my post. Debian is much, much more than technical work. It is a social club. I love this social club. Just sitting here makes long months of work really worth it. A great hug back to you all!
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Submitted by gwolf on Sun, 05/14/2006 - 12:25
Debcamp was really stressing - It seemed we would not be able to get things to work for Debconf. And it would suck. I was quite down when I last wrote a blog entry - Not in mine, but in Debconf's. Things looked quite hellish, and I was _very_ annoyed - Well, I must say: Thanks to you all for the support. Mooch's request has been honored extensively, and it does help. Really. Yesterday we had the Debian Day. About 50 Mexicans showed up, after we had to jump through some hoops with the Oaxtepec management people (thank you, thank you, you are great! Real dedication to your job, to make us feel welcome and important). The talks were interesting and well presented, and the people left happy - and some of them, left quite late. We had presence from at least one national newspaper (La Jornada and a magazine, Software Guru. Good. Then, during the night, we were flooded by arriving foreigners. Boy, the hacklab was packed! Good thing we now will have both hacklabs running. I have to thank most than to anybody else to my wife, Gaby a.k.a. Nadezhda - She has done all the ugly paperwork... Without her, we would all not be here. And later, I would probably be sitting in jail or something ;-) Seems that the bugs are ironed out. Now I'll try to attend the "Sun and Debian: can we be friends?" round table.
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Visas for Debconf - Sorrow for our government's great history and current blindness

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 05/03/2006 - 20:19
One of the most bitter and hardest tasks of running a large international conference such as Debconf 6 is the absurd process to ensure that every person interested in attending is able to do so. Before I start ranting, let me point you to a very well written text my father wrote about two years ago, out of a similar frustration after organizing the XXV International Colloquium on Group Theoretical Methods in Physics - On travelling to Scientific Meetings. Mexico is not a first world country, as you all know it (you didn't know? Well, please take note). Mexico is not a country that gets heavy migration - quite to the contrary, it is a country from where masses of people live in the United States (seven to ten million). We should not fear migrants staying at our country and stealing our precious job sources. The countries Mexico requests visa for are mostly those at or under our economic level (i.e. most of South America) or those with infrequent travellers coming (i.e. most of Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa (of course, we have to make sure they don't suddenly become tourists and give us more money). Were it not for the "intelligent borders" the USA government is demanding on ours as a precondition to walk towards a migratory agreement that could in the future legalize at least part of the Mexicans that live in the USA, it would be impossible for me to understand why does a situation like what we have experienced happen. We started, yes, the visa request process a bit late, due to some organization problems which should remain internal to the local organizing committee - However, we requested the visas for 25 people coming from Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Brazil, Colombia, Croacia, El Salvador, India, Perú and Russia with a process that started on March 25 - Well before May 5, where the first of them is scheduled to arrive. Of course, we knew the process would not be easy, but we were armed by the written assurement of a migration officer to my father assuring him the migration procedures would be vastly simplified during 2005. I will try to keep the story short. I cannot also speak the whole experience, as it was my wife together with the Nul-Unu people who had the burden of doing all this. Once you enter your request, it is impossible to track where it is - INM is a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. You cannot get any information by phone. When the papers were submitted, Nadezhda was told to come back in 10 days for getting the status update. Ten days later, she was told no information was yet available. Some days after that, she found the papers had been sent to Cuernavaca (Morelos state capital), where we should have presented them, because the conference is taking place in Oaxtepec, Morelos... No, they didn't pay attention to the fact that we repeated over and over that the organization running the conference, AMESOL, was based on Mexico City. Ok, no big deal - We went to Cuernavaca so that the AMESOL president was interviewed on what the conference is about and why should we let all that people in our country, and demanding from him to accept personally the responsability of making sure each of them leaves the country as promised. Not only that, we had to go again because not all of the requests were sent the same day, and they belonged to different batches. They also asked the Oaxtepec people if the list of people had a room booked - of course, the hotel crew knew the group was coming, but not the list of individuals! But no reply yet. The office in Cuernavaca said they would fax the results back to Mexico the next day. That next day took almost two weeks. With the results already in Mexico, and with the help of some insiders we came in contact with thanks to different coincidences (I'm not giving any names or functions here, hope you understand), we finally got notice last Friday (April 28) that most visas were approved, but a handful (Bosnia, Bangladesh and Colombia) were held for national security reasons. At long last, yesterday (May 2) we told most of the group was approved, and got the magic authorization number with which they could go get their visas. Not all of them yet... I really hope the authorization can come on time, and we can get the rest of them here. At least it helped a bit that we as a committee invited them - Otherwise, people from poorer countries would have to show bank account statements assuring they have had an average of US$2000 in their savings account for at least one year - Impossible even for most Mexicans. But the story, incredibly, does not end here. Why didn't I write about this before? Because I was just pissed off. Today, I am enraged. Not only you have to go through a stupidly long process to be awarded a visa. Once the visa is awarded, you have to pay its fees. The visa is expensive, more or less as expensive as the USA visa is for us - around US$40. But the visa is worth nothing without the FM3 migratory document - I knew the FM3 was used by foreigner residents. It's basically a complete passport. A stupid, unnecessarily long document, where your entries and exits are recorded, where you should note your work place, etc. - All fine for a long-term resident... But we are being awarded limited one entry tourist visas. Oh, and by the way: An FM3 costs around US$100... So for the poorer countries, after being mistreated, ignored and degraded, you have to pay US$140, probably one whole fucking month of your salary just to get the needed permits?! We complain a lot on how the USA government does not respect Mexicans. Just this Monday, May 1st, there was a massive migrant movement in the USA, seconded in Mexico via an (symbolic, yes, but nevertheless true) one day long economic boycott against USA companies. Mexicans speak of the rights of our migrants, of the abuse that the USA authorities make... But we are unable to treat others with dignity, to welcome them as our country did for many decades. This makes me very sad. And very angry. I should have been writing information for you all to have a good and easy time when coming to Mexico, but that will have to be a bit later - I cannot just stay and stand this situation.

On the current Oaxtepec weather

Submitted by gwolf on Sun, 04/30/2006 - 21:29
Turns out my blog is becoming some sort of metereologic forecast for Oaxtepec... Would you say it's because Debconf is getting dangerously near? Replying to H01ger's question on IRC: It is raining. More than usual for this time of year. It's a good thing, though. Why? 10 days ago, I was bitterly complaining April was the hot season in Mexico. Rains usually start in mid- to late- May - But this year, they came a bit early, and this week we have had low to medium intensity rains almost every evening. Now, how is the rainy season in this part of Mexico? Unless it is extremely rainy (we get a couple of such days in August/September), most of the day will be sunny, and at around 16:00 it will start getting cloudy. Rain usually starts between 18:00 and 20:00. If everything's fine, then it will be gone by 22:00 - it might go on a bit longer, but usually it does not. So don't worry, a bit of rain will not spoil your sunny days in Oaxtepec. It will make the heath much more bearable. Or at least, I hope so ;-)
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Comas is moving

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 03/27/2006 - 13:09
Hi! This is Comas, the conference management system we all know and love! Perhaps you remember me from CONSOL 2004 and 2005, Debconf 5 and 6, CICOL, Seminario Globalización, Conocimiento y Desarrollo or other such great conferences! Well, it is a pleasure for me to announce I am moving. That's right - My developers have felt too constrained by CVS to keep being merry and productive, and decided to move away from it and to Subversion. If you are tracking my development history, you should have noticed a new file in my base CVS directory, called DONT_USE_THIS_REPOSITORY_ANYMORE. I will reproduce it here following Gunnar's wishes, and hoping it is useful to you.
PLEASE DON'T USE THIS REPOSITORY ANYMORE! Just in the meantime, while we migrate our current installations to point to the correct server, while our users take note, and while the kind GBorg admins lock down this project: PLEASE DON'T USE THIS REPOSITORY. WE HAVE MOVED. The Comas project will no longer be hosted at GBorg - We are moving to Debian's Alioth. Comas' webpage (although it is still ugly :) ) is still the same as always. The repository will no longer be handled through CVS - We switched to Subversion. Don't worry, the usage is basically the same. You can use anonymous access to get the Subversion tree. If you want to participate in the project, register at Alioth and ask us for commit access. You can also use the very nice SVN Web interface, which allows you to look at each of the files, view the changes, and even subscribe to the Comas RSS feeds! Development goes on. Stay tuned! Greetings, - Gunnar Wolf
Of course, as in any migration, there is still a lot of things to do. Mail the other contributors and interested people notifying them of the move. Migrate (and check the validity of) any tickets we have in the old site. Point all the places where there is Comas-related information to the new repository. Close the existing project page at GBorg. Sanely re-structure the repository in a more standard and functional way (and hope it does not break current installations ;-) ). Rework the documentation that has been neglected in the last months. Rework the bits of logic that never smelt very good but -as a dead rat- now positively stink. Fixe the things that will eventually stink as well... Anyway, I'm sure this will speed up my growth! I am very excited on which way my dear authors will continue to push me - I know I'm quite a lousy program for many things, and I know there is a lot for me to learn until I am a military-grade conference management system - But my many parents have written me with deep love, and I understand they had to write hastily parts of my code. I understand their mistakes, but I hope they make them go away soon.
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My presentation in VI SIIS in Tacna, Perú

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 11/30/2005 - 14:02
I am about to give a presentation in Tacna, Perú, at the VI SIIS, Universidad Nacional Jorge Basadre Grohmann. What is different this time? That I am waiting for the conference to start, sitting in my nice workplace at IIEc-UNAM. Yes, I was supposed to go and talk there (and was quite excited to go to the I ConclaDeb at Arequipa last week). Anyway, why cancel my talk, having the technical means to carry it out? Less than five minutes from now we will start. There is only one thing I regret: As a complete multimedia neophyte, I could not suggest an application to do this from within Linux - We will be using MSN for the presentation. I have a friend's computer on my desktop, and MSN worked great (and at the first try!) for this - Who can suggest me a free alternative for doing this (specially taking into account that I cannot go to the other end and do much configuration on their side - It must be something speaking a standard format) Anyway... Time to talk! I'll have my paper (Spanish only, sorry - Analizadores morfológicos aplicados al lenguaje natural, aplicaciones para la búsqueda de información) online. Right now I only have my presentation there, but in a couple of hours, the paper should be there as well.
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...So I did it

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 11/16/2005 - 00:19
So it seems I cannot uphold my word - Well, yes, it was because of the trouble it would represent to the fine Moquegua guys - But anyway, I ended up accepting the invitation practically at the last minute, and went to Moquegua, Perú, probably for my life's most tiresome journey. Saturday, after lunch, we headed for the airport. I left Mexico at 17:30, and arrived five hours later in the Lima airport. Thanks to Antonio, José and Laura, who picked me up at 23:30 and arranged me a room in a hotel. I met the DebianPeru crowd, a very nice group, Sunday morning - We had breakfast, chatted for a while, and went for Lima's famous ceviche (assorted seafood cooked in cold in lemon. VERY good). At 3:45PM, I took the bus to Moquegua... For 17 long hours. Got to Moquegua at ~8AM, went to the José Carlos Mariátegui University. I met the other guest speakers for breakfast, went with them to meet the Univerity Rector, hooked up some minutes to the net, went to a typical Moqueguan restaurant, gave my talk... Then hurried up to get the bus back to Lima. We got there five minutes before it left. I don't know why or how, but the bus back took 14 instead of 17 hours - I will not complain ;-) Back in Lima, Carlos met me at the bus station, we went for breakfast, and hurried to the airport. I crossed the gate at 12PM, hurried by the airline personnel (and didn't manage to see Rudy/Stone_Head, who was on his way there)... Just to find the plane was delayed, although by little. Sat down for a while, hacked for a bit, and took the plane back home. Summing it all up, I traveled roughly 40 hours, out of the 72 hours I was out of Mexico. Of course, you could add 1hr travelling to the airport and 1:30 back home... Anyway, 40/72 is quite close to 42/74 :) I am tired. Plain tired. I am just waiting for Nadezhda to get home, as I want her to find me alive, and I'll crash down in bed.
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Arriving in Colombia for a... Sauna?

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 08/03/2005 - 19:03
-=[ Public health service announcement ]=- If you are ever going to Finland (or other countries with this tradition - I just happened to catch this sickness in Finland), don't go to a sauna. Or, if people talk you into it because it is soooo relaxing and enjoyable, go only once. At most once every four days. And don't stay for two weeks there. Otherwise, you might face a deep addiction. -=[ Back to our regular scheduled posting ]=- So today I woke up at 3AM. Why? Because I had my flight to Colombia departing at 6:40, my house is quite far from the airport, and I don't like travelling without a good nice shower just before that. Well, but that's not too amazing - The amazing part is that [friend]Tacvbo[/friend] woke up also at that time, and took me halfway to the airport. Why did he do it? Because he had at home the iPod that Jimmy Morales forgot in Mexico during CONSOL, and I am meeting Jimmy here in Bogotá. Well, damn, I also don't want to overextend writing about waking up at 3AM and having lazy friends... The thing is: I got to the airport on time, met there a good friend I had not seen for over six years and had a nice coffee with him, and boarded my plane to Panamá. We arrived to Panamá at 10:25, and my plane to Bogotá was scheduled to leave at 10:55 - At the opposite end of an airport. Well, yes, it´s not that big, but anyway, I barely made it to the final call - And, fortunately, so did my baggage. After that, a short and easy flight, slightly over one hour. I love flying over Colombia - The Andes are such an incredible sight! The terrain seems to have been squashed like a piece of paper... Everything is green, beautiful - Forests, fields, little villages, medium-sized towns, many rivers dividing each mountain from the next one, and many impressive lakes. And, this time, really amazing clouds. We even flied higher than usual (at 41000 feet) as it was too turbulent - But the clouds are just spectacular. Damn++, I am also not blogging about my flight - Back on track: A girl from the Javeriana University, Isis, picked me up at the airport, and brought me to the Andino Royal hotel. When I entered my room, the bellboy started explaining the different features of the hotel (I hope to tell about some of them later) - And he mentioned that in the seventh floor there is a gym and a sauna. My eyes sparkled at the memories of the DC5 sauna sessions... I slept a bit, and then went to find out how this sauna is. Surprisingly, it is built in a way you can almost think i is a genuine one - Besides the vents in the lower part of the door (WTF!?), this was quite good for a new adict... And, as the service is free, I asked them to turn it on. Came back some 15 minutes later... I don't think that you can find a bad sauna anywhere... But this one was quite lacking in the end. First of all, this is the first time I am in a sauna by myself, not talking to some other people (and not having Jesus taking pictures I am sure that are already at some geekporn site). Second, I was a bit nervous because people in Latin America have great fear for nudity - Of course, I would not insult the sauna by having a swimming suit on (even if I had brought it). But third, and most important: The sauna had a thermometer measuring up to 140°C, which made me a bit afraid - But they have it configured at 60°C, and they wouldn't have me put it hotter. So, to compensate, I poured water like crazy, just to get more steam. The water had very nice aromatic herbs, but well, once you have been at boiling temperature, you just cannot accept such a joke. But anyway, with all of its defects, this _was_ a sauna, and I do feel very thankful and relaxed. Next time I am in a hotel of this category, I won't wait for the bellboy to offer it - I have to be more aggressive!
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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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Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 04/18/2005 - 14:10
So today is paperwork day. 9:00 AM I get to the institute, ready to fix some bugs I have been thinking about 9:20 AM As I am halfway through my (first) morning coffee, the Academic Secretary calls me - I am invited to a seminar on a specific International Relations Negotiations Toolkit (??!!) - I talk her out of sending me there, as it falls completely outside my scope. I will, of course, talk with the organizers to find out about its technical requirements, licensing, etc. 9:35 AM Ok, I'm down here... Lets go ask what has happened to my request regarding the travel to Debconf5 - To the Director's office. His secretary kindly tells me I should have directed the request I handed him (exactly one month ago) to him and to the Internal Council. 9:50 AM Back to my office. Read some mail, breathe deeply. 10:30 AM Go to my boss to talk about the subject, to ask him for his opinion on how should I manage requests to go to conferences (as I have right now on my desk invitations to go to three conferences and am waiting for two more). He tells me everything (even a 1-day pop at a neighbouring town) needs to be approved by the Internal Council. Of course, if something is important for me to attend, I should not just ask for the approval, but include a complete justification for it _before_ it is requested from me. 10:50 AM Find the request you sent to the Director. Modify the date, the recipients (it should be addressed to the Director, the Internal Council and my boss, and I should print an extra copy for my record), and some details in the text. Find the invitation (thanks, Aschwin!), get four copies of it. 11:30 AM I start writing my justification - It covers basically:
  • What is Debian
  • My role inside Debian
  • Debconf as an academico conference
  • Debian's relevance to the Institute
12:15 PM Go print the four copies. Staple them. Sign them. Give one to the boss, he says it looks OK. Great! Go to the Director's office... Whoops! Rocío tells me I should not ask for permission and air travel expenses. I should ask for an licencia académica con goce de sueldo (roughly: An academic paid leave), quoting the Academic Personnel Statute. She does not remember which article from the Statute I should quote, so she sends me over to one of the areas of the Academic Secretary. 12:35 PM ...The person at that area tells me I need to have two years working in the University to get this paid leave.
- But I have worked before at the University, for four years, only at another campus!
- Well, yes, but you were not a purely academic worker, you had an administrative position, and I think that does not count
- Ok, what can I do? Even if I have to ask for an unpaid leave, this conference is quite important for me!
- Ok, I'll check the legislation and will come back to you by tomorrow 13:00 PM Back at my office. Angry, hoping to be somehow lucky, hoping for the best... Looking at my invitations to Poza Rica, Bogotá, hoping to have something soon related to Chile, Puebla... [friend]Amnesiac[/friend] insists on me attending Puerto Vallarta, which I really want to... But I am frustrated by this. I have worked at UNAM, yes. I knew this University is too large for its own good, and that bureaucracy rules here. It is, however, by far the best University in my country, and the only place I really want to work in... But losing a full fscking day just to have the real fear of bureaucracy standing between me and my academic work just is a fscking PITA :-( Anyway... In the worst possible scenario, I will pay for my own air ticket, and will take a couple of days off on an unpaid leave - But I _will_ see your ugly faces at Debconf5. And no matter what, I _will_ host you in .mx for Debconf6. update: I think I have to write a thank you note here... Thanks to the Almighty Jergas and the great break from bureaucracy he gave me while working at UPN. Some things are better here in the productive and strictly regulated Real World(tm), but the rules at La Peda were much simpler, and so was life itself.
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