Older blog entries for branden (starting at number 4)

Obviously I have not been writing diary entries very frequently. Since last I posted here, I have moved to Indianapolis and taken a job with Progeny Linux.

Hacking activities: I am finally getting Debian packages of XFree86 4.0.1 off the ground. I largely have Progeny to thank for letting me spend time on this.

Nonhacking activities: Books? Well, I finished The Final Days quite a while back. Currently on the pile is Overcoming Law by U.S. Appeals Court Judge Richard Posner (the same guy Thomas Penfield Jackson appointed to mediate between the DoJ and Microsoft); that's the one I'm reading at present. Next come Cryptonomicon and something I probably should have read long ago, Dune. On the musical front, I finally bought the guitar amplifier I've been wanting for so long: a Marshall Valvestate VS102R. 100 watts. Woohoo! It's definitely no practice amp, being grossly overpowered for the apartment, but I learned a few years ago that while 35 watts may sound plenty loud in your house, it's not enough when you're jamming with a few other people (other amps, drums, etc.).

I seem to have difficulty talking about software in these diary entries. I guess the Debian lists absorb most of that, leaving precious little for Advogato. Anyway, those who care about what I've actually been hacking on can just go the X Strike Force and make themselves sick on Debian packaging minutae, and fun things like app-defaults switcheroos. I just love getting my hands grubby with xc/lib/Xt/IntrinsicI.h.

Until next time...

Hacking activities

Well, the weekend didn't turn out as productive as I had hoped. Much of the time that I should have spent hacking on XFree86 4 was instead spent forking Debian's ALSA packages. The current package maintainer seems to have some staggeringly strange ideas about package relationships. Once these are finished, I'll make them available on my Debian webpage, put up a Packages.gz, and let users vote with their feet.

Not-so-hacking activities

Got through about eight chapters each of Tcl and the Tk Toolkit and The Final Days. Tcl's syntax is every bit as quirky as people warned me. Ousterhout is right, there really are just a few simple rules; I just have to learn to selectively switch off my mental Bourne (and, to a lesser extent, C) syntax filters. It is interesting to read about the Nixon presidency and contrast it with what is regarded as political malfeasance today. In Nixon's day, it was believed that if word of the Huston Plan got out, it would be terribly damaging to him politically. Today, Louis Freeh testifies before Congress, bald-facedly asserting the necessity of surveillance powers that were but a spook's masturbatory fantasy in 1974 -- and yet hysterical partisans try to take down the President for getting his pole waxed by a coat-tail riding fluffer. Things in this country are screwed. Maybe I'll have to stow away in Wichert's luggage next time we're at a Linux conference together.

How much do I owe the RIAA for this?

Popped a couple of CD's in the stereo, cranked it and the guitar amplifier up, and got in some practice today. Half a dozen Beatles tunes (Day Tripper, We Can Work It Out, Paperback Writer, Lady Madonna, Hey Jude, and Revolution) and Limelight by Rush. Two things really suck about the latter -- 1) trying to count through the guitar solo is unholy difficult, but also the only the way to play it right; 2) the clean channel during the chorus was a single-coil overdub, so I have exactly the space between two eighth notes to move the pickup switch *and* step on the distortion pedal to switch it to bypass, if I want to reproduce the original parts. Playing that clean part through the humbucker sounds awful to me. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to palm-mute the part instead. Did I mention how hard it is to count the solo?

Quaint thoughts

Frankly, I think people have the right to be disinterested in whatever discussion threads they choose, and don't deserve to have inflammatory rhetoric used against them. Connotating "quaint" as "brutally dismissive" -- very clever, reinforces that male stereotype of brutality. These are diary entries. People should take what they want and leave what they don't. They should also be left free to say why they're taking or leaving it. :) This is not a symposium. Diary entries should not be regarded as attempts at persuasive speech, though they may contain strongly opinionated remarks. IMO, the right way to write, and read, these entries is with a generous dollop of indifference to the interests of others. That said, may I should take my own advice and just start ignoring the person by whom I feel provoked. :)

Hmm, wish I had some more hacking talk, but today just wasn't a very hacking day...I caught enough of tonight's X-Files episode (written and directed by Gillian Anderson) to note that it seemed primarily to be showcase for the Moby album, and some really shallow introspective monologues. So I got myself an antidote to both; popped in Liquid Tension Experiment 2 and indulged myself in 75 minutes of anti-minimalistic instrumentals. :) (Actually, the final half-hour is a relatively laidback.)

Haven't made a diary entry in a few days.

Bought 4 books last night: Ousterhout's Tcl/Tk book -- old, but seems worth knowing; Lutz & Ascher's Learning Python -- I normally avoid O'Reilly where possible (it often isn't), but I will need to be getting my hands with sticky GUI prototyping languages for work; Erik Larson's Isaac's Storm -- apparently it's kind of a cliché to buy this these days, but hey, I heard Dick Estell reading it on NPR and it sounded good; Woodward & Bernstein, The Final Days -- I read All the President's Men last year so this seems apropos. Almost picked up Zinn's People's History of the United States but put it down after a cursory reading of some passages. When you repudiate both the Left and the Right, it sure is hard to find a political perspective that isn't aggravating. History simply is, we need neither apologize for it nor glorify it (or the people in it). Anyway, I needed some new books because I was falling back on my old standbys for bedtime reading material, The GNU C Library Reference Manual and The Columbia History of the World. Hopefully my fellow Advogatans have better things to do than laugh about my reading habits for the next few days in their own diary entries-cum-discussion threads.

I'm actually up somewhat early on a Saturday morning so I'll be spending the day beating on XFree86 4.0 as hard as I can. David Dawes quietly put out the 4.0a development release...a 1.6 megabyte diff! Some of the fixes are really important; I might have to make binary-only .deb releases until 4.0.1 is released. There are 94 bugfixes and enhancements identified in the changelog. Anyway, to say more would probably break my XFree86 development NDA, so I should just shut up and get back to work...

I have only two thread-type remarks: first, watching onionskin feminists and male chauvinist pigs fight is just as boring here as it is anyplace else, the Blys and Faludis should just excuse themselves and go scream at each other on USENET (though, to be fair, a glance at the bookshelves last night reveals that both Naomi Wolf and Susan Faludi realized at some point after 1996 that men are people, too -- I guess if you can't beat Paglia, join her, eh?); and second, it's good to see Joey Hess finally realizing just how evil Slang is as a screen library. Go with ncurses, my man, and learn the blessed way...

I just uploaded Debian packages of version 4.0 of X...trs. :) Tim Mann just released the latest version of his cool TRS-80 emulator a few days ago. Packages that compile in three minutes are nice.

Anyway, back to XFree86 4.0 .debs...when they are ready they will appear at the usual place.

A few of us Debian IRC guys (Jason Gunthorpe, Manoj Srivastava) hopped over here for the first time tonight and incestously cert'ed each other. Good to see that Joey Hess has master status; he needs to be disabused of his false modesty. :)

An interesting project, let's see what happens with it.

Okay, here's some diary-like ephemeralia: currently listening to Dream Theater's latest, Scenes from a Memory.

Boy, I really wish Advogato was more HTML 4'ish instead of this nasty 3.2 stuff. :)

Finally, I'm not sure that the TT tags are really working.

Nope, they're not...

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