Life

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My greedy hands are full of books! (Made With Creative Commons) @ccmx @creativecommons @xattack @scannopolis

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 12/05/2019 - 19:44

FINALLY!

Made with Creative Commons is translated to Spanish, printed, and available!

Over two years after starting the project, 976 commits, getting involved in long processes (besides the scope we originally envisioned, such as waiting for the translation to be refereed or going over two quite long rounds of copyediting), after leading a team of five translators to Spanish and working closely with a similar team that's quite close to publishing the equivalent translation in Norwegian... Behold!

I won't get again in details on the contents of this book, as I have repeatedly talked about it in the blog. The photo above is of the pages where the CC licensing schemes are presented. And the following is a page I like including in all of my (so far, three) published books:

I have made a point of requiring my university's editorial department to use the legal page to be very explicit regarding the expected usage of this book, by inviting every person that comes across it to copy this book.

So... Where can you get your paws on one of them? Well, of course, you are welcome to come to our institute's bookstore and buy one. For people in general, MX$280 (≈US$15), for UNAM-community, MX$140 (≈US$7.50).

Of course, that's quite inconvenient for people living over 15Km from me, right? What about those living in other countries?

The book can also be downloaded from the Institute's repository. And I will soon upload it to an online, on-demand printing site (probably lulu.com or something like that. Can you suggest one?).

Many random blurbs on Debian

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 03/25/2019 - 23:03

I have been busy as hell this year. I might have grabbed a bigger bite than what I can swallow – In many fronts! Anyway, sitting at an airport, at least I have time to spew some random blurbs to The Planet and beyond!

Voting
We all feared when no candidates showed up at the first call for DPL. But things sorted out themselves as they tend to (and as we all knew that would happen ;-) ), and we have four top-notch DPL candidates. It's getting tough to sort through their platforms and their answers in the lists; the old-timers among us have the additional advantage of knowing who they are and probably having worked closely with some of them. I am still drafting my Condorcet ballot. It won't be an easy task to completely rank them!
DebConf 20 and world politics
For personal and selfish reasons, I am very, very happy to have a reason to go back to Israel after over two decades. Of course, as everybody would expect, there is a bothering level of noise that's not going to quiet down until probably late August 2020... DebConf has often taken controversial turns. Israel is not the toughest one, even if it seems so to some readers. And... Well, to those that want to complain about it — Please do understand that the DebConf Committee is not a politically-acting body. Two bid submissions were presented fully, and the Israeli one was chosen because its local team is stronger. That is probably the best, most important criteria for this conference to be successful. No, it's not like we are betraying anything — It's just the objective best bidding we got from completely volunteer teams.
DebConf 19
What are you waiting for? Register! Submit a talk! Pack up and get your ticket for Brazil!

I'd better get moving, the plane might be getting some ideas about taking off.

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Mob justice and extreme violence in Copilco Universidad — @Alcaldia_Coy @CopilcoUniv @CopilcoVecinos @manuelnegrete22

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 03/05/2019 - 01:03

Some days ago I read a piece of news that shocked me at different levels: Three blocks away from my home, and after being "unclearly" denounced for harassing a woman, a guy was beaten to death. Several sources for this: El Diario MX: Por acosar a mujer lo golpean hasta la muerte; El Siglo de Torreón: Asesinan a hombre por presuntamente acosar a mujer en Coyoacán; Zócalo: Matan a hombre en Coyoacán; Milenio: Por presuntamente acosar a mujer, golpean y matan a hombre en CU.

Of course, when anybody cries for help, it should be our natural response (everybody's!) to rush and try to help. However, stopping an aggression is a far cry from taking justice in our own hands and killing a guy.

Mob justice is usually associated with peri-urban or rural areas, with higher socioeconomic margination and less faith in authority. Usually, lynching mobs generate a very bad and persistent name to wherever said acts of brutality happened. While I don't want to say we are better than..., it shocks me even more to have found this kind of brutality in the midst of the Universitary neighbourhood, at a very busy pedestrian street, at all times (this happened somewhat after noon on Thursday) full of teachers and students.

Not only that. The guy who was attacked was allegedly a homeless guy, in his mid 20s. Some reports say that after the beating took place, he was still alive, but when the emergency services arrived (30 minutes later!) he had died. We are literally less than 200m away from Facultad de Medicina, and hundreds of students and teachers walk there. Was nobody able to help? Did nobody feel the urge to help?

If this guy was a homeless person, quite probably he was weak from malnutrition, maybe crossed with some addictions, and that's what precipitated his death. But, again — This raises other suspicions. Maybe he was pointed to by some of the store owners that wanted to drive him away from their premises? (he was attacked inside a commercial passageway, not in the open street)

Also... While there is not much information regarding this attack, I'm quite amazed almost no important local (or even national!) media have picked this up. We are less than 1Km away from the central offices of Grupo Imágen! This is no small issue. Remember the terrible circus raised around the Tláhuac lynches in ~2005 (and how Tláhuac still carries that memory almost 15 years later)? What is the difference here?

No attack on women should be tolerated quietly. But no lynchmob should be given a blind eye to. This deeply worries and saddens me.

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Back to the teaching business!

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 01/30/2019 - 23:29

Sometimes, life is measured in semesters.

This is the 13th semester I teach. I can no longer feel a newbie. I am still just a part-time teacher, but I know it's an activity I very much enjoy, and I hope I can at some point manage it to become full-time activity.

After three months of slumber (three weeks of which were the hard vacations, but then there's the intersemestral active period), our university came back to life and full occupation.

Due to one fellow teacher taking a sabbatical, I have the largest group that I have been assigned. 40 students does not seem an easy task! Lets see how it comes...

Anyway... I am happy!

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Tecnicatura Universitaria en Software Libre: First bunch of graduates!

Submitted by gwolf on Sat, 12/15/2018 - 16:32

December starts for our family in Argentina, and in our second day here, I was invited to Facultad de Ingeniería y Ciencias Hídricas (FICH) of Universidad Nacional del Litoral (UNL). FICH-UNL has a short (3 year), distance-learning career called Tecnicatura Universitaria en Software Libre (TUSL).

This career opened in 2015, and today we had the graduation exams for three of its students — It's no small feat for a recently created career to start graduating their first bunch! And we had one for each of TUSL's "exit tracks" (Administration, development and education).

The topics presented by the students were:

  1. An introductory manual for performing migrations and installations of free software-based systems
  2. Design and implementation of a steganography tool for end-users
  3. A Lego system implementation for AppBuilder
  4. The TUSL staff is quite well aligned to freedom, transparency and responsibilty, so it's basically a requirement for projects to be freely available. For the curious, here they are:

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Desktop keyboards with a trackpad

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 08/31/2018 - 15:21

As most of my readers, I am a heavy keyboard user. Most of my computer usage is mediated through the keyboard, not the mouse as it seems to be the norm nowadays (and don't even get me started on touchscreens – When I talk about computers, I am not talking about phones. Ever.)

In the past, I suffered a lot of upper back pain. It has thankfully improved, but in big part due to changes in the way I interface with the world. Again, if I do most of my work sitting and in front of my computer, being comfortable is an important part of it!

Years ago, I found that after a long period (say, vacations) using a laptop, my back pain lessened. Why? Because I don't have to carry my right hand constantly ~30cm to the right just to move the mouse when I'm using the browser. I tried (and mostly failed) to use Mouseless Browsing. But, after some time, I decided to get myself a keyboard similar to a laptop's — In November 2013, I got an Adesso Win-Touch Pro USB Keyboard:

My opinion with that keyboard? An unconvinced "meh". The keys are not nice to touch, the trackpad is too small, it lacks a middle button which I had to map to one of the often-useless multimedia keys. Still, it's been my main keyboard for five years already.

But...

Time takes its toll. A mediocre keyboard easily becomes a shitty keyboard. So, I have several keys where the spring is just dead (mostly 'E', 'O', Enter, right-shift, right-control) that, while still work, have a somewhat inconsistent behavior.

In late 2017 I bought a would-be-replacement: A 1byone Ultra-Slim Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard:

And the results? Well... Clearly, I can take some sh*t, but it has a limit. I could not use it, not even for a full day.

It is basically the same with all keyboards in the tablet space. Function keys require pressing Fn. I am lacking some keys for a decent keyboard layout. Keys are less spaced than required for serious work. Besides, it's bluetooth only, USB works only for charging its battery (I have used keyboards that can be used both with USB and without).

Anyway, so I'm on the hunt again for a decent keyboard. My old Adesso model is available, but at US$49... Quite a premium price for a shitty keyboard. They have a cheaper keyboard, their Tru-form Ergonomic Touchpad keyboard:

However, I'm happy the world mostly moved on from such monstruosities which were the thing 15 years ago. And I guess they use the same crappy mechanism. There is a smaller ("Slim Touch") Adesso keyboard available (and locally, which is a plus!):

But it still has the same crappy trackpad and... I have no reason to believe the keys will be any better.

I found a very small offer from other companies. On one hand, I found a Perixx 11005 PERIBOARD-510H PLUS, but the layout seems too similar to my 1byone failure. Its reviews say keys are quite usable, but someone mentions they are too small. Am not risking for yet another micro-keys keyboard.

Poweradd 78 Keys Micro USB QWERTY Keyboard with Touch-pad seems quite good for some reviews, but filmsy on others. I don't like the feel of too-thin keyboards - there cannot be much key travel space if the keyboard is 2.5mm high!

E-SDS Waterproof Industrial Machine Keyboard looks like a potential winner, although the trackpad area is still quite limited. Still, being a "waterproof industrial" keyboard at least does not sound like it is a tablet keyboard, where weight and compactness are more important than usability. It is, though, among the most expensive (US$54.99 + $16.50 Shipping & Import Fees).

I don't understand why I cannot get a decent keyboard that is not a toy meant for tablets. I want to do real work, and I'd love it to be with me for several years. I have seen a desktop version of the great Thinkpad keyboard:

And it's even at a decent price... But while I love my Thinkpad, I don't feel comfortable with the TrackPoint, and I would hate to hate my new keyboard because of it.

So, dear lazyweb, some advice? Should I just give up and get the E-SDS?

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A very nice side-project that has come to fruition: Fresh from the 1960s, my father's travel memories

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 07/16/2018 - 19:03

So... Everybody I've interacted with along the last couple of weeks knows I'm basically just too busy. If I'm not tied up with stuff regarding my privacy/anonymity project at the university, I am trying to get the DebConf scheduling, or trying to catch up with my perpetual enemy, mail backlog. Of course, there's also my dayjob — Yes, it's vacation time, but I'm a sysadmin, and it's not like I want to give software updates much of a vacation! Of course, my family goes to Argentina for a couple of weeks while I go to DebConf, so there's quite a bit of work in that sphere as well, and... And... And... Meh, many other things better left unaccounted for ☺
But there's one big extra I was working on, somewhat secretly, over the last two months. I didn't want to openly spill the beans on it until it was delivered in hand to its recipient.
Which happened this last weekend. So, here it is!

During the late 1960s, my father studied his PhD in Israel and had a posdoctoral stay in Sweden. During that time, he traveled through the world during his vacations as much as he could — This book collects his travels through Ethiopia (including what today is Eritrea), Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Czechoslovakia, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and India. As he took those trips, he wrote chronicles about them, and sent them to Mexico's then-most-important newspaper (Excélsior), which published each of them in four to six parts (except for the Czechoslovakia one, which is a single page, devoted to understanding Prague two years after the Soviet repression and occupation).

I did this work starting from the yellow-to-brown and quite brittle copies of the newspaper he kept stored in a set of folders. I had the help of a digitalization professional that often works for the University, but still did a couple of cleanup and QA reads (and still, found typos... In the first printed page, in the first title! :-/ ). The text? Amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed it. He wrote the chronicles being between 23 and 27 years old, but the text flows quick and easy, delightful, as if coming from a professional writer. If you can read Spanish, I am sure you will enjoy the read:

Chronicles of a backpacker in a more naïve world

Why am I publishing this now, amid the work craze I've run into? Because my father is turning 75 year old next weekend. We rushed the mini-party for him (including the book-as-a-present) as we wanted my kids to deliver the present, and they are now in a plane to South America.

The book run I did was quite limited — Just 30 items, to give away to family and close friends. I can, of course, print more on demand. But I want to take this work to a publisher — There are many reasons I believe these youth chronicles are of general interest.

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Yes! I am going to...

Submitted by gwolf on Sun, 06/24/2018 - 18:44

Having followed through some paperwork I was still missing...

I can finally say...

Dates

I’m going to DebCamp18! I should arrive at NCTU in the afternoon/evening of Tuesday, 2018-07-24.

I will spend a day prior to that in Tokio, visiting a friend and probably making micro-tourism.

My Agenda

Of course, DebCamp is not a vacation, so we expect people that take part of DebCamp to have at least a rough sketch of activities. There are many, many things I want to tackle, and experience shows there's only time for a fraction of what's planned. But lets try:

keyring-maint training
We want to add one more member to the keyring-maint group. There is a lot to prepare before any announcements, but I expect a good chunk of DebCamp to be spent explaining the details to a new team member.
DebConf organizing
While I'm no longer a core orga-team member, I am still quite attached to helping out during the conference. This year, I took the Content Team lead, and we will surely be ironing out details such as fixing schedule bugs.
Raspberry Pi images
I replied to Michael Stapelberg's call for adoption of the unofficial-but-blessed Raspberry Pi 3 disk images. I will surely be spending some time on that.
Key Signing Party Coordination
I just sent out the Call for keys for keysigning in Hsinchu, Taiwan. At that point, I expect very little work to be needed, but it will surely be on my radar.

Of course... I *do* want to spend some minutes outside NCTU and get to know a bit of Taiwan. This is my first time in East Asia, and don't know when, if ever, I will have the opportunity to be there again. So, I will try to have at least the time to enjoy a little bit of Taiwan!

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15.010958904109589041

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 23:10

Gregor's post made me think...

And yes! On April 15, I passed the 15-year-mark as a Debian Developer.

So, today I am 15.010958904109589041 years old in the project, give or take some seconds.

And, quoting my dear and admired friend, I deeply feel I belong to this community. Being part of Debian has defined the way I have shaped my career, has brought me beautiful friendships I will surely keep for many many more years, has helped me decide in which direction I should push to improve the world. I feel welcome and very recognized among people I highly value and admire, and that's the best collective present I could get.

Debian has grown and matured tremendously since the time I decided to join, and I'm very proud to be a part of that process.

Thanks, and lets keep it going for the next decade.

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DRM, DRM, oh how I hate DRM...

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 04/10/2018 - 23:43

I love flexibility. I love when the rules of engagement are not set in stone and allow us to lead a full, happy, simple life. (Apologies to Felipe and Marianne for using their very nice sculpture for this rant. At least I am not desperately carrying a brick! ☺)

I have been very, very happy after I switched to a Thinkpad X230. This is the first computer I have with an option for a cellular modem, so after thinking it a bit, I got myself one:

After waiting for a couple of weeks, it arrived in a nonexciting little envelope straight from Hong Kong. If you look closely, you can even appreciate there's a line (just below the smaller barcode) that reads "Lenovo"). I soon found how to open this laptop (kudos to Lenovo for a very sensible and easy opening process, great documentation... So far, it's the "openest" computer I have had!) and installed my new card!

The process was decently easy, and after patting myself in the back, I eagerly turned on my computer... Only to find the BIOS to halt with the following message:

1802: Unauthorized network card is plugged in - Power off and remove the miniPCI network card (1199/6813).

System is halted

So... Got everything back to its original state. Stupid DRM in what I felt the openest laptop I have ever had. Gah.

Anyway... As you can see, I have a brand new cellular modem. I am willing to give it to the first person that offers me a nice beer in exchange, here in Mexico or wherever you happen to cross my path (just tell me so I bring the little bugger along!)

Of course, I even tried to get one of the nice volunteers to install Libreboot in my computer now that I was to Libreplanet, which would have solved the issue. But they informed me that Libreboot is supported only in the (quite a bit older) X200 machines, not in the X230.

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Things that really matter

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 02/28/2018 - 11:34


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Is it an upgrade, or a sidegrade?

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 02/13/2018 - 14:43

I first bought a netbook shortly after the term was coined, in 2008. I got one of the original 8.9" Acer Aspire One. Around 2010, my Dell laptop was stolen, so the AAO ended up being my main computer at home — And my favorite computer for convenience, not just for when I needed to travel light. Back then, Regina used to work in a national park and had to cross her province (~6hr by a combination of buses) twice a week, so she had one as well. When she came to Mexico, she surely brought it along. Over the years, we bought new batteries and chargers, as they died over time...

Five years later, it started feeling too slow, and I remember to start having keyboard issues. Time to change.

Sadly, 9" computers were no longer to be found. Even though I am a touch typist, and a big person, I miss several things about the Acer's tiny keyboard (such as being able to cover the diagonal with a single hand, something useful when you are typing while standing). But, anyway, I got the closest I could to it — In July 2013, I bought the successor to the Acer Aspire One: An 10.5" Acer Aspire One Nowadays, the name that used to identify just the smallest of the Acer Family brethen covers at least up to 15.6" (which is not exactly helpful IMO).

Anyway, for close to five years I was also very happy with it. A light laptop that didn't mean a burden to me. Also, very important: A computer I could take with me without ever thinking twice. I often tell people I use a computer I got at a supermarket, and that, bought as new, costed me under US$300. That way, were I to lose it (say, if it falls from my bike, if somebody steals it, if it gets in any way damaged, whatever), it's not a big blow. Quite a difference from my two former laptops, both over US$1000.

I enjoyed this computer a lot. So much, I ended up buying four of them (mine, Regina's, and two for her family members).

Over the last few months, I have started being nagged by unresponsivity, mainly in the browser (blame me, as I typically keep ~40 tabs open). Some keyboard issues... I had started thinking about changing my trusty laptop. Would I want a newfangle laptop-and-tablet-in-one? Just thinking about fiddling with the OS to recognize stuff was a sort-of-turnoff...

This weekend we had an incident with spilled water. After opening and carefully ensuring the computer was dry, it would not turn on. Waited an hour or two, and no changes. Clear sign, a new computer is needed ☹

I went to a nearby store, looked at the offers... And, in part due to the attitude of the salesguy, I decided not to (installing Linux will void any warranty, WTF‽ In 2018‽). Came back home, and... My Acer works again!

But, I know five years are enough. I decided to keep looking for a replacement. After some hesitation, I decided to join what seems to be the elite group in Debian, and go for a refurbished Thinkpad X230.

And that's why I feel this is some sort of "sidegrade" — I am replacing a five year old computer with another five year old computer. Of course, a much sturdier one, built to last, originally sold as an "Ultrabook" (that means, meant for a higher user segment) much more expandable... I'm paying ~US$250, which I'm comfortable with. Looking at several online forums, it is a model quite popular with "knowledgeable" people AFAICT even now. I was hoping, just for the sake of it, to find a X230t (foldable and usable as tablet)... But I won't put too much time into looking for it.

The Thinkpad is 12", which I expect will still fit in my smallish satchel I take to my classes. The machine looks as tweakable as I can expect. Spare parts for replacement are readily available. I have 4GB I bought for the Acer I will probably be able to carry on to this machine, so I'm ready with 8GB. I'm eager to feel the keyboard, as it's often repeated it's the best in the laptop world (although it's not the classic one anymore) I'm just considering to pop ~US$100 more and buy an SSD drive, and... Well, lets see how much does this new sidegrade make me smile!

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Call to Mexicans: Open up your wifi #sismo

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 09/19/2017 - 16:52

Hi friends,

~3hr ago, we just had a big earthquake, quite close to Mexico City. Fortunately, we are fine, as are (at least) most of our friends and family. Hopefully, all of them. But there are many (as in, tens) damaged or destroyed buildings; there have been over 50 deceased people, and numbers will surely rise until a good understanding of the event's strength are evaluated.

Mainly in these early hours after the quake, many people need to get in touch with their families and friends. There is a little help we can all provide: Provide communication.

Open up your wireless network. Set it up unencrypted, for anybody to use.

Refrain from over-sharing graphical content — Your social network groups don't need to see every video and every photo of the shaking moments and of broken buildings. Download of all those images takes up valuable time-space for the saturated cellular networks.

This advice might be slow to flow... The important moment to act is two or three hours ago, even now... But we are likely to have replicas; we are likely to have panic moments again. Do a little bit to help others in need!

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It was thirty years ago today... (and a bit more): My first ever public speech!

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 09/07/2017 - 13:35

I came across a folder with the most unexpected treasure trove: The text for my first ever public speech! (and some related materials)
In 1985, being nine years old, I went to the IDESE school, to learn Logo. I found my diploma over ten years ago and blogged about it in this same space. Of course, I don't expect any of you to remember what I wrote twelve years ago about a (then) twenty years old piece of paper!

I add to this very old stuff about Gunnar the four pages describing my game, Evitamono ("Avoid the monkey", approximately). I still remember the game quite vividly, including traumatic issues which were quite common back then; I wrote that «the sprites were accidentally deleted twice and the game once». I remember several of my peers telling about such experiences. Well, that is good if you account for the second system syndrome!

I also found the amazing course material for how to program sound and graphics in the C64 BASIC. That was a course taken by ten year old kids. Kids that understood that you had to write [255,129,165,244,219,165,0,102] (see pages 3-5) into a memory location starting at 53248 to redefine a character so it looked as the graphic element you wanted. Of course, it was done with a set of POKEs, as everything in C64. Or that you could program sound by setting the seven SID registers for each of the three voices containing low frequency, high frequency, low pulse, high pulse, wave control, wave length, wave amplitude in memory locations 54272 through 54292... And so on and on and on...

And as a proof that I did take the course:

...I don't think I could make most of my current BSc students make sense out of what is in the manual. But, being a kid in the 1980s, that was the only way to get a computer to do what you wanted. Yay for primitivity! :-D

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gwolf.blog.fork()

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 08/31/2017 - 10:54

Ohai,

I have recently started to serve as a Feature Editor for the ACM XRDS magazine. As such, I was also invited to post some general blog posts on XRDS blog — And I just started yesterday by posting about DebConf.

I'm not going to pull (or mention) each of my posts in my main blog, nor will I syndicate it to Planet Debian (where most of my readership comes from), although I did add it to my dlvr.it account (that relays my posts to Twitter and Facebook, for those of you that care about said services). This mention is a one-off thing.

So, if you want to see yet another post explaining what is DebConf and what is Debian to the wider public, well... Thate's what I came up with :)

[Update]: Of course, I wanted to thank Aigars Mahinovs for the photos I used on that post. Have you looked at them all? I spent a moste enjoyable time going through them :-]

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