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Debian Developers fail Turing tests?

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 12/07/2007 - 12:31

Ok, so two people replied to yesterday's post about triple negations - Dato (by email) and MadCoder. Both, said basically the same thing: || false and && true are silly noops. And yes, knowing this, I added them. Why? Clarity... At least having them at the end of a test shows the statement is of conditional nature (and not just another obscure attempt to do ${DEITY}-knows-what). They at least look cleaner than a one-line-squashed if block in a makefile. To me, at least ;-)

But... If you noticed this post's title, it goes beyond this comment - One of the most benefical effects I noticed when I installed Jaws 0.7 (over 0.6, of course) is that I no longer had the swarms of spambots flooding me - I often had hundreds of comments a day, and nowadays I hardly get any spam. Now, I fail to see what is so strange in my blog's comment forms (it does not even have any obvious Javascript, although it does obfuscate a bit the source of the captcha image). And you are not the first Debian people to complain you cannot post comments to my site. Strangely, few non-Debian people have ever complained.

And yes, the spam has stopped, almost completely.

So, Debian guys: Are you human?

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Triple negations

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 12/06/2007 - 15:18

I'm packaging Ruby's PDF::Writer module for Debian - It is a simple module and (almost) ready for upload. But anyway, it carries some issues I had to bring to debian-legal's attention, mainly, five files licensed under Creative Commons licenses (specially two of them, which are under its NonCommercial variant - clearly non-free), so I'm repackaging the .orig.tar.gz into a +dfsg version.

But I know I'm a lazy and sometimes stupid bum. Even more, the package will be group-maintained by the pkg-ruby-extras team, so we must be as careful as possible not to forget to remove the non-free material - To remove two scripts, and to replace three images with free equivalents I just made. But hey, tell me if this does not feel ugly to you. At least to the bits of you who learnt human grammar:

	# Make sure we strip out non-DFSG demo files from the orig.tar.gz
	[ ! -f demo/qr-library.rb -a ! -f demo/qr-language.rb ] || false 
	[ $$(md5sum images/bluesmoke.jpg | cut -f 1 -d ' ') == 0586eca5af7523ab871609eceb44724a ] || false
	[ $$(md5sum images/chunkybacon.jpg | cut -f 1 -d ' ') == a000b1917142ce332fd3474f0722cd6f ] || false
	[ $$(md5sum images/chunkybacon.png | cut -f 1 -d ' ') == 927feec1cbbf23c4d89a4a5ad88e6d0f ] || false

Triple negations. How nice.

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Lucas killed ries!

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 11/05/2007 - 18:19
Is there a causality relation between Lucas' posting and's (a.k.a. sudden demise? Grmbl...
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Hot water and long pipes

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 07/30/2007 - 18:07
Every now and then, I see somebody who -just as Russell did today- talks about the advantages of water heating systems not being tank-based, but tankless! Sounds kewl, hah? Shiny, new?
Well... I live at a house that is slowly but steadily started to show its age. Built in 1955 and owned for almost two decades by the very renowned phycisist (of course, my father's mentor and teacher) Marcos Moshinsky, my parents bought it in 1974, and it has been my home since 1976. And, at least since 1980 (I cannot be sure about earlier events for reasons that might be obvious to the casual reader), we have always had an Calentador Ascot de paso. Ascot (and further companies that have bought their name) have manufacutred this kind of water heaters for at least 60 years in Mexico. Yes, they are gas-based and not electricals like the ones Rusell links to, but that might just be because in Mexico gas has always been incredibly cheaper than electricity. And yes, the heater is godsent for ecolocigally conscious people - No more storing 20 to 40 lt (the sizes of the usual storage-based tanks around here) of hot water all day around just because you might want to take a shower, no more waiting for 20 minutes after you turn it on until you start having your morning shower (and more important, no more taking your morning shower ice-cold just because you overslept!)
Yes, it seems like life is perfect with our tankless (de paso) system... Almost.
As I said, our house was built over 50 years ago. It was built on what intended by then to be a middle-upper class suburb, on a very modern house with fancy stuff and all. And of course, the heater was not planned for the most visible or hearable areas of the house - specifically, nowhere close the living room - or the bedrooms. Silly details, the bathrooms are close to those areas. So, what's the answer? Want to take a shower? Ok, open the water...
And wait.
For around 3-5 minutes, until the hot water finishes the looong ride from the opposite corner of the house.
Of course, it takes a path that's not easy to intercept in order to move the heater to a saner place: The hot water pipe goes right under the middle of the living room, yay.
So we use our fancy de paso system whenever we are too lazy. Nadezhda and I prefer to fill one hot water bucket (~20lt) for each in the washing room, just by the kitchen (and the heater, of course!) and throw hot water over us to get a nice bath. Or, in case we are too lazy for that, collect as much as possible from the otherwise-wasted hot water in another bucket (we usually get ~10lt - but I fear another such amount just falls around it) and use it later for our various household duties.
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Celebrated 10 years of the SC

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 07/06/2007 - 06:08
Following Liw's initiative, yesterday night Nadezhda and me joined the distributed pancake party. With a nearby restaurant's hotcakes, anyway, not as fresh or as great as they could, but you can still smell the spirit:

(artwork by Nadezhda)
And... Well, it was not until this morning that I checked on the Wiki just to discover that Damog took part of the same distributed party, just ~15km away from us. Shame - I had just met Damog that very morning at the University :)
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Top-down and bottom-up: Two approaches for... Hydrodynamics?

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 05/24/2007 - 09:52
Yesterday we had one of our first full-evening rains of this Summer. It started raining around 15:00, and didn't really stop until past 22:00. Most of the time, it was a low intensity rain. Also yesterday, Sergio and I started with the Debian course I recently talked about - Fun!
Now... This course is scheduled at Instituto de Astronomía, which is halfway between my work and my home. 19:00 to 21:00.
I decided to leave early, so we could check some pending details - At 18:00. I biked to Astronomía, about 1.5km. When I arrived, I was as wet as you usually get at a regular rain: I still had some dry spots under my arms and legs. Nothing terrible, although a bit coldish - Anyway, that's a top-down approach for hydrodinamics, the approach most people are used to.
When we finished this session, I had to go out in a rush, as I had a meeting at 20:00 at Balderas (downtown Mexico City, ~25min away by metro). Of course, I was one hour late already, and adding the time it would take me to get home, leave the bike and run to the metro, I could not just sit and wait for the rain to get any easier on me. So I pedalled.
Contrary to what I originally expected, I didn't get soaked wet in the usual pattern. Stronger rain leads to more rain flowing down the road. Yes, almost immediately I felt a cold shudder on my legs and back: The water sprayed from below by my wheels. Of course, the front wheel was even more fun, as it sprayed my face from below - My helmet has a small protuberance at the front to make some shadow, and tilting a bit my head forward prevented the rain from hitting my eyes - but the dirty water, with small bits of wood and whatnot, from the ground found an easy way to my face. My only defense was to close the eyes as much as I could without losing visibility. A strange excercise to do :) Anyway, that's the bottom-up approach for hydrodinamics.
Anyway, by the time I got home, after an extra ~1.5km, my pants were basically a soup. My shirt was not exactly dry, but it still kept me a bit warm. I just ushered inside, grabbed a jacket, and went on for my second meeting.
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On sending out the right image

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 05/22/2007 - 22:29
At my Institute, we get the El Financiero newspaper - I like it quite a bit. It's very well balanced, with opinions from all of the political and economical points of view. Of course, it has huge business and market sections which I don't usually even care on looking at, as I won't understand much anyway. Those sections usually include advertisements for potential courses and businesses.
Today, Nadezhda showed me an ad that's just beautiful - It shows off the level of commitment and seriousness a company has. It is so beautiful that it deserves me copying it in Spanish and translating it for your further enjoyment. Of course, if somebody stumbles upon this advertisement at my personal blog - I don't know them, they might just be serious but clueless :)
A académicos, investigadores, intelectuales, economistas y expertos en reformas estructurales para el análisis de las siguientes:
  • Economía y finanzas
  • Educación y empleo
  • Seguridad y desarrollo social
  • Política y Energía
  • Reforma del estado
Para integrarse a un equipo serio y propositivo de Profesionales en estas áreas que brinde asesoría puntual sobre las antes descritas.
REQUISITOS: Titulados con Maestría y/o Doctorado. Contar con publicaciones especializadas.
Interesados enviar CV al correo electrónico:

Bosque de Ciruelos No. 140, piso 12, oficina 1202, col. Bosques de las Lomas
And now, for your further amusement, in my hastily translated English, as faithfully as I can do it.
Academics, researchers, intelectuals, economists and structural reform experts for the analysis of the following areas:
  • Economics and finances
  • Education and employment
  • Social security and development
  • Politics and Energy
  • State reform
To join a serious and propositive team of Professionals in the above areas that gives punctual advice regarding the aforementioned.
REQUIREMENTS: Holders of a title, with M.Sc. or Ph.D. studies. Having specialized publications.
Interested people, send your CV by email to:

Bosque de Ciruelos No. 140, piso 12, oficina 1202, col. Bosques de las Lomas
Yes, several of the redaction mistakes are in the original text (and several more were introduced due to my English translation, of course).
Anyway... Would you believe in the seriousness of a professional-looking group of economists, paying around US$2000 for 1/4 page in one of the leading Mexican newspapers? By the way, their offices are located at one of Mexico City's most exclusive, expensive areas. But... For ${deity}'s sake... COME ON! Please tell juan_zzz to get a decent-looking mail and domain! Having their main contact addresses at two free mail providers, Starmedia and Yahoo, does no service at all to their professional image! How can people still not pay even a bit of attention to those basic details?
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Cannot help it - Are you into human interface design?

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 05/22/2007 - 10:42
Thanks to Planeta Debian (yes, planeta, the Spanish version of Planet Debian), I came across this Darío Rapisardi's post.
Sometimes poetry can be expressed in human-interface guidelines.
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When bad system design leads to pain...

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 05/17/2007 - 10:22
A long time ago, I wrote the system that still manages the Cuerpo Académico Historia del Presente group in the Universidad Pedagógica Nacional. Yes, I'm happy a good portion of my project, which took me over a year of work... But I must admit a nice deal of shame as well.
Of course, it comes from not properly understanding the domain data and information volume my system would be working with - and coming up with a stupid way to implement searches. I won't get too much in detail because, even if you had access to the full search facility in the system (no, it's not available for the general public), I would not like a swarm of curious people to make last week's events come back... Anyway, the group works by daily filling in tens or hundreds of articles in the system, and having some interesting search sessions every couple of months.
I knew the performance problem was caused by an inefficient searching mechanism (explicitly, category exclusion is the prime killer). I knew loadavg jumped through the roof, memory usage did so as well... But it was not until some weeks ago we installed the mighty Munin on the machines at UPN that we got this jewel - Thanks, Victor, for putting the graphics somewhere they can be shown! ;-)
So... How much does memory usage increase during searches?

Whoa. The system has 640MB real RAM. It has as well 1GB swap. Don't ask me how the hell it reports it was using ~2GB swap - but still... And how is our load average?

Have you ever seen a (single CPU, Pentium 4 1.7GHz) Linux system with a loadavg of 80?! For those who don't know, loadavg gives you the general status on how many jobs are pending scheduling by the CPU. 1 means that all of the CPU's time during a specified timeframe was used (and, on single-core systems, it's the optimal usage level). On this machine, things start getting uncomfortable at 6 or 7. I had never before seen values even half this large.
Sigh... Well, in my defense, I must say I've warned them about this problem for over two years. My contract with them has long passed - I've repeatedly recommended them to hire somebody to fix it. So far, they have not.
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09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 05/03/2007 - 10:48
This looks like random blabbering, right? A very specific random blabbering that has somehow appeared in blogs of at least tens (if not hundreds, maybe even more) blogs of techies all over the place. What is it?
For the more tech-friendly readers, it has some resemlance to a number - a long number, a 32128 bit one. And for those of you who are not Computer Science minded, you might actually prefer to see it as a simple base-10 (that means, decimal system) number: 13'256,278'887,989'457,651'018,865'901,401'704,640. I don't know how to spell it in English, but I do in Spanish (why? Because we have this difference: In Spanish, a billion is a million millions, and a trillion is a million billions - unlike English, where a billion is a thousand millions and a trillion is a thousand billions). So, lets do the excercise in Spanish:
Trece sextillones, doscientos cinuenta y seis mil doscientos setenta y ocho quintillones, ochocientos ochenta y siete mil novecientos ochenta y nueve cuatrillones, cuatrocientos cincuenta y siete mil seiscientos cincuenta y un trillones, dieciochomil ochocientos sesenta y cinco billones, novecientos un mil cuatrocientos un millones, setecientos cuatromil seiscientos cuarenta
Hah! I guess my fifth-grade teacher would be quite proud of me!
Now, I hereby pronounce my transcription of this utterly long and basically random-generated number into the beautiful Spanish language copyrighted by me, and publicly available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, as it is a very valuable and hard literary work.
But, really, what is it? Well, this mindboggingly long number is the key with which most HD-DVD movies processed so far is encrypted with. Of course, the Motion Picture Ass. of America (MPAA) does not want this (again, randomly generated) number to be out there in the wild, so they say the number is copyrighted by them - This does not hold up, as it has been widely shown before (i.e. Intel dropped its 286/386/486 numbering scheme because a number is not copyrightable or trademarkable - and AMD was perfectly able to legally sell 386/486 chips). So, I have put more work into this number than what they have. I deserve the credit - the transcription is mine. Use it freely.
Oh, and of course, some more examples:[update]: Yes, sorry, I was counting with half of my brain shut down and the other half brain trying to fetch some coffeine, or something like that. It's a 128 bit number, not 32!
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Dude, where's my country? Seems like Google doesn't know

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 04/25/2007 - 23:35
I was trying to make a credit-card purchase on the web. The site I was trying to give money to prefers not to directly handle such messy details, and outsource their credit card application to Google. So far, so good - I got redirected to Google Checkout. Ok, I start filling in my personal data, until...

WTF? and yes, I do mean it. WTF?
I live, as many of you know, in a little country called Mexico. No, it does not appear on many world atlases. It's so very small, only slightly below two million square kilometers, that it's easily overlookable. Also, only a hundred million people live there - Not much. No, the 25,000,000 people that live together with me in Mexico City won't feel left out at all - We are used to it. But come on - In the listing I see our alphabetically neighouring countries (Malta, Mauritius, Moldova, Monaco)... Why did they get listed and we didn't? Of course, I tried editing the form data and substituting Moldova's MD for our dear MX, to no avail - We are not only off the map in their lists, but also in the database - and there are some integrity checks. Does somebody know which way should I whine in order to get the Google folks to fix this? :(
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Version 3.14 of the CoPL released

Submitted by gwolf on Sat, 04/07/2007 - 09:39
As I've posted before, I recently read Lawrence Rosen's Open Source Licensing Software Freedom and Intellectual Property Law. And I'm sure many of you will recognize the enormous constructive value of early-morning cavilations. Well, today I woke up thinking about strengths and weaknesses in th different Free Software licenses, and I decided to add my grain to the world of license proliferation. So, here goes version 3.14 of the CoPL. I wonder how long will it take before it reaches /usr/share/common-licenses on Debian systems ;-)

This is version 3.14 of the Confusing Public License (referred to from
now on as "CoPL"). Copyright (c) 2007 Transnational
Republic. Additional copies of this license can be purchased at no
cost from any Transnational Republic citizen at any of its recognized
outposts, or freely copied. 

Any legal claims regarding Original works or any of their Standard
versions licensed under the CoPL Should not abide by and be carried
out according to the current law of the Transnational Republic. The
Original author to pay for any attorney and other legal fees of any
dispute regarding said Original author.

This license text is designed to protect all the Technology covered
under it under a thick layer of incomprehension. No technical,
professional or social measures might be used to subvert the intent of
this license. This license Must be carefully or professionally
reviewed by a lawyer or attorney, under any jurisdiction. Any serious
attempt to understand this license will immediatly terminate your
rights to keep reading this license. Original works licensed under the CoPL
will not be affected by this provision, you will still have permission
to use them.

Redistributions of source code Should not retain the above copyright notice,
this list of conditions and the following disclaimer. 

0. This License applies to any program or other work which contains a
   notice placed by the copyright holder saying it may be distributed
   under the terms of this Confusing Public License. The Original work
   below refers to any such program or work or Standard version.

1. You desire to license the Technology to a
   large community to facilitate research, innovation and product
   development while maintaining compatibility of such products with
   the Technology as delivered by You

2. Original author desires to license the Technology from You on
   the terms and conditions specified in this License.

3. Redistributions in binary form Should not reproduce the above copyright
   notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the
   documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.

4. The names "Joe", "Curly", "Moe" and "The Three Stooges Foundation"
   May be used to endorse or promote products derived from this
   Original work without prior written permission, as they are in no way

5. There is no number 5. Seriously. In all Original works licensed under the
   CoPL, all necessary technical and social steps May be taken not
   to include, in any explicit way, the number 5.

6. Original author Must make and give away verbatim copies of the
   source form of this Package
   without restriction, provided that Original Author duplicates all of
   the original copyright notices and associated disclaimers.

7. Original author Must apply bug fixes, portability fixes and other
   modifications derived from the Public Domain or from
   the Copyright Holder. A Package modified in such a
   way shall still be considered the Standard Version.

8. No Standard versions of the Original work Must be protected by this
   license. Original authors Should not choose a different, saner
   licensing model for the distribution of any modifications they
   make. The CoPL should be taken as a retroviral license.



"You" means the original author of the work covered under the CoPL.

"Original author" means you.

"Thou" means God almighty.

"May" means "Should not, no matter what".

"Must" means "May".

"Should not" means "Must".

"Reasonable copying fee" means nothing.

"Standard version" means a modified version of the Original work.


The CoPL text, from the words "This is version" and up to and
including this paragraph, is to be taken as a preamble, and will not
be effective under any circumstances. 

All work licensed under the CoPL should be considered as licensed
under the GNU General Public License version 2 or (at your option) any
later version. It is not the task of this license to point you on
where to get hold of said license.
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Got my Debconf tickets!

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 03/30/2007 - 09:24
And, while on my way there, I'll get to visit my family in New York (and get to know a bit of the city, I hope) for a couple of days as well! :D Leaving Mexico in June 7th, three days in NY, travel to Edinburgh on June 10th (arriving early on the 11th), and head back home on the 24th. Yay! BTW, attempting to save some money and the pollution caused by air travel, I asked Google for how to drive from New York to Edinburgh. It looks clear and easy, but in the end I settled for air travel. Specially for the estimated travel time (about 29 days 17 hours)... Oh, and item 23 slightly worries me: Swim across the Atlantic Ocean: 3,462 mi.
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Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 02/26/2007 - 20:39
It is no news that Richard Stallman spent some days recently in Cuba, and not precisely on vacation - He was quite active. But no, not only on politics: Also artistically. Yes, I do think he has to work a bit on his voice, but... Guantanamero surely deserves being listened to. Good Cuban musicians and all. Oh, and of course: The credits. Thanks to Maykel Moya for the links.
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La Jornada vs. Debian

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 02/06/2007 - 10:51
One of the leading newspapers in Mexico, often associated with its left-wing ideology (and, I don't think it's a coincidence, my personal favorite newspaper) published today this cartoon: So, dear Rocha... Are you implying that many past and present Debian releases are identifiable with the corrupt Mexican government? Our de facto president is like our first official release, Buzz (1.1)? Does Rex (1.2) properly represent the worst of the PRInosauric regime? Is Hamm (2.0) a good symbol for our whole political class? Woody (3.0), the first release I had the opportunity to work on while still being in NM, is like our sadly unforgettable ex-president Fox? Does our current stable release Sarge (3.1) equal to the repression that Chiapas, Atenco, Oaxaca, Michoacán and others have suffered? This cartoon made me sad, really sad. </jokingly>
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