Older blog entries for beto (starting at number 15)

7 May 2005 (updated 9 Jun 2005 at 23:04 UTC) »

Today I wrote a very little Perl program, called 'gale' that creates HTML galleries.

Well, what it really does is to create a thumbnail of each image found in the working directory using ImageMagick's 'convert' program, and then to write an 'index.html' with each thumbnail linking to its corresponding image.

I recognize it's very simple and very ugly, but I'm only trying to (re)learn how to program in Perl. Excuse me, please.

Update (21:59 GMT -0500): I decided to upgrade the program. Well, it's actually a minor upgrade, only. Now, it creates a single HTML file for each image in the gallery, and you can place a comment for it. Nicer, ¿no? :-)

7 May 2005 (updated 9 Jun 2005 at 23:02 UTC) »

Today I started reading Lawrence Lessig's Free Culture: How big media uses technology and the law to lock down culture and control creativity. It seems to be a very interesting book.

23 Apr 2005 (updated 9 Jun 2005 at 23:00 UTC) »
Jaws 0.5 has been recently released. Jaws is a CMS mainly developed by Mexican programmers, though some European ones have joined recently.

I downloaded the source code to give it a try. Although I will not use it in my personal site (coded by hand in XHTML, except for my WP powered Spanish-written blog), I wanted to try it mainly because it could be used in another site I have in mind. So, as I was saying, I downloaded the source code and started uploading the required files to the server via FTP (because my hosting provider doesn't provide SSH access). I installed gFTP, mainly because the files to be uploaded were a lot and were distributed in a lot of subsubsubdirectories (I think that the only reasonable use of a GUI is that, to manage multiple files at once). Well, gFTP logged in the server, started uploading files, and lasted ~2 hours uploading ~7 MB!!! Only to discover that they were not correctly uploaded.

Well, it ocurred to me to remove them all, which should not be a very dificult task. But, well, I discovered that the FTP server was just fscked. It kept disconnecting the gFTP sessions every couple of minutes, so I logged in via the 'ftp' command, and the same thing happened. So I spent ~2 hours deleting almost every single file and directory by hand! (I really think there should be a FTP equivalent of 'rm -r') Well, the conclusion: I've spent about four hours just trying to upload the files, without even being able to install Jaws at all. This has been very frustrating.

Update (20:54 GTM -0500): Finally, after letting my computer rest for a few hours, I could install Jaws. It is worth giving it a try, because is a very nice system with a lot of features, very nice graphics and really easy to use yet powerful and highly customisable. Unfurtonately, I don't really need it, I'm quite happy with my current website. But if you're planning to run a new one, you should try it.

22 Apr 2005 (updated 9 Jun 2005 at 22:58 UTC) »

Today, I finished reading In the Beginning was the Command Line, by Neal Stephenson. It was a very good and interesting reading about operating systems, GUIs, etc. I strongly recommend it.

14 Apr 2005 (updated 9 Jun 2005 at 22:57 UTC) »
Installing Debian Sarge

I've always been atracted by the Debian Project, because besides being an excellent operating system, there is an admirable philosophy of support to the Free Software Movement. Debian is not a distribution, it is a way of life.

I started using Debian on December 2002, when I got the eight discs of version 3.0 (Woody). I switched to Slackware on May 2003, because the Woody packages were a little bit obsolete then and I couldn't upgrade to Sarge due to the pretty bad Internet phone connection I had. I remember myself trying to upgrade tho whole system; I thought it would take around fifteen hours to download all the needed packages, so I left my computer turned on the whole night. When I woke up next morning, only about 5% of the packages had been downloaded, and the conexion had ended many hours before. So I used Slackware versions 9.0 and 10.0 until past February, when I decided to give Ubuntu a try.

Several months ago I got a more or less decent cablemodem connection that lets me download files faster and without the disconnection problem, so I decided to install Debian Sarge.

The first thing I did was making a backup of all my personal data:

$ mkisofs -l -L -r -o backup.iso /home/beto
$ cdrecord -v speed=40 dev=/dev/hdc backup.iso

Then I downloaded d-i:

$ wget http://cdimage.debian.org/pub/cdimage-testing/sarge_d-i/i386/rc3/sarge-i386-businesscard.iso
$ cdrecord -v speed=40 dev=/dev/hdc sarge-i386-businesscard.iso

The next thing was to put the CD in the drive and reboot the machine. I typed 'expert26' on the prompt to get an expert-mode instalation and a 2.6 kernel. After that, it was pretty simple: it asked me for the language to use, the time zone, the keyboard layout, whether I wanted extra components, whether I wanted to specify special parameters for the modules being loaded, the host name, whether I wanted the installer to auto-configure DHCP, the country of the mirror to use, the mirror itself (I used 'ftp.lcs.mit.edu' because, amazingly, 'ftp.us.debian.org' didn't work!), the hard drive partitioning, the base system installation, the kernel to use ('kernel-image-2.6.8-2-686'), the GRUB installation, reboot, to create a normal user account, APT configuration, to install extra packages (I picked up "Manual package selection"), the end.

At this point, I had a working but minimal system, so I installed some more packages:

# apt-get install emacs21
# apt-get install x-window-system
# apt-get install gnome
# apt-get install gdm

Then, everything was OK: Emacs, GNOME 2.8, Evolution, Epiphany. But a little problem came up: when I halted the computer, the "Power down" was shown, but the computer didn't turned off! I searched a little on the Debian mailing lists and found the answer:

  1. Install 'apmd' (<kbd>apt-get install apmd</kbd>).
  2. Edit '/etc/modules' and add 'apm' on a line itself, to get such module loaded at boot time.

Voilá! At the end, only one thing remained to do; to clean the cache:

# apt-get clean

And that was all. I'm actually writing this from my brand-new Debian Sarge installation. :-)

5 Mar 2005 (updated 9 Jun 2005 at 22:50 UTC) »

I've sent the translation of /philosophy/motif.html to the GNU Spanish Translation Team mailing list, so it can be revised, commented and corrected as necessary.

Also, the (apparently) final version of /philosophy/wsis.html is ready, so it is only a matter of time for it to be uploaded to the GNU Project website.

17 Feb 2005 (updated 9 Jun 2005 at 22:48 UTC) »
A Computer: A Freedom Machine or just another tool?

I just needed to point this out.

Several times I have seen on various forums and news sites (e.g. Slashdot), that people (generally proprietary and/or "Open Source" software supporters, all of them against RMS ideals) argues that a computer is not kind of a "Freedom Machine". That a computer is just another tool to get your job done.

I must say that yes, a computer is a tool indeed, but the most important one ever. This tool lets you communicate with the rest of the world, lets you make enormous amounts of calculation at incredible speeds, lets you storage large amounts of data, lets you express yourself on the Internet, etc. And that's a hell of a good reason for the need of fighting for software freedom. Because this tool is so powerful, so complex, that can be manipulated by corporations and governments (via proprietary software, DRM, several agencies spying your communicatiosn, etc) so it obbeys them and not you.

Our life is increasingly depending more and more on computers and software, and if we shall not have the freedom to use, study and manipulate them, a very important part of our personal freedom will be lost.

17 Feb 2005 (updated 9 Jun 2005 at 22:46 UTC) »

I've been learning LaTeX, so I brought home a very nice book I found at the University library: Guide to LaTeX, by Helmut Hopka and Patrick Daly. I've been reading it lately, and I must say I'm very amazed by the power of this software. Kudos to Donald Knuth and everybody else at TeX and LateX projects.

I also brought another book: Mastering Algorithms with C, by Kyle Loudon (O'Reilly). It has very interesting topics: the classic data structures (lists, trees, hashes, etc), data encryption (DES & RSA), data compression (LZ77), sorting and searching, numerical methods, geometric algorithms, etc. It's worth reading it. At least for me.

6 Feb 2005 (updated 9 Jun 2005 at 22:42 UTC) »

I've just finished the Spanish translation of /philosophy/wsis.html. The translated file has been sent to the mailing list to be revised, commented, and corrected by the team if necessary.

3 Feb 2005 (updated 8 Jun 2005 at 23:24 UTC) »

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