10 Aug 2000 dan   » (Master)

``The past is another country''

So, coming through Customs and Immigration from last month, what have I got to declare?

OLS was uniformly excellent - except for the Helixcode party (especially excellent; congrats Nat, Miguel, everyone else involved) and the ZKS party (less excellent; blame their marketers). Apparently something I ingested at the Helix party had an unfortunate disagreement with my nervous system, because I'm suffering memory loss about some aspects of the evening. And people keep asking me about doors; can't figure out why.

Memorable talks included

- Miguel's keynote. My position: yes, Unix sucks, but it's not absence of policy that does it, it's (a) non-uniformly applied policy - why does ls(1) behave differently when it thinks its output is a terminal?, and (b) the paucity of the everything-is-a-stream-of-text model, which is basically too limited (see ioctl(2)) and too brittle to rely on (are you sure that works when your filenames have spaces in them? What if I change $IFS?)

- Berlin, which looks really elegant - insofar as anything can be elegant when it's based on CORBA.

- XPCOM, the Mozilla thing. Most notable is that they've been developing it for two years and they're still counting references by hand. Half the talk was about memory management. Weird. They should have written the whole browser in javascript, they'd have got on much faster.

And of course, met many interesting and cool people (which is basically the point of these events, as far as I care). Many of these meetings I can still remember, which is good.

After OLS, I went on vacation in Canada for a couple of weeks. Four timezones. OK, three and a half. That was entertaining too, even if I did learn just how badly supported GSM mobiles are in North America. Didn't get a whole lot of computing done; no Internet access.

And now I'm back in the UK, back at work ("oh, what fun", parse that how you will), and back into the inline skating thing again. Thanks to advice from lkcl, who I met at the UKUUG Linux 2000 conference (damn, I forgot to mention the UKUUG conference already) I worked out how to stop efficiently using the heel brake: keep the knees together. It feels a lot safer, and after watching someone not do it (instead putting his right leg straight out, squirreling all over the place, and falling over) yesterday, I'm pretty sure it is safer. And feeling safe means I can go faster. So now I like to get out for a quick spin(sic) around the park after work each evening. My earlier advice ("find a smooth level place") I still consider to be valid.

Currently reading: Beowulf - the apparently-quite-famous Seamus Heaney translation.

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