I just got back from Albury which is on the NSW-Victorian border about 250 km north of Melbourne. It's actually far greener and wetter out west than I was expecting, the last time I saw past the great dividing range* it was in the height of the drought and there was nothing but empty fields, dry grass and skinny livestock. I can't say it was green and blooming, but it was not nearly as depressing as I had anticipated, mainly because of heavy rains in the time before. This was my first long distance family road trip since I left home two and a half years ago and the tension between some of the six members of my nuclear family was fairly high. Albury is a small city of 50 000 residents or about 90 000 residents when you add in the population of Wodonga which is on the Victorian side of the river. We were there mainly because it was where my father grew up and 2 other members of my nuclear family (including me) were born, and Dad wanted to see some of his school mates while his parents were still living there so he'd have someone to stay with. Because of my exams we were only able to stay one and a half days before returning, which made the 14 hours of total time on the road seem a lot more significant. The road was the Hume Highway which the main route between Sydney and Melbourne where B Doubles (articulated trucks with two trailers and 34 wheels) outnumber passenger vehicles for most of the year. The road starts off as a 6 lane freeway in Sydney, degenerates into a 4 lane highway past Canberra and peters off into a 2 lane goat track 80km or so before it crosses the state border. All up, I got to see where I grew up, I had an excuse not to study and I managed to get free food so I'm quite satisfied.
* The great dividing range is a tall mountain range that goes down most of the Australian east coast and provides a profound climatic barrier between the coastal and inland areas. It also contains all of Australia's ski slopes and provided a settlement barrier throughout Australia's early years of white settlement.
This morning I found out that I didn't get that Google Summer of code stipend. To be honest I was slightly bummed out by it, though I never really expected to get it or really made more than a superficial effort to get it so I can't say I'm too surprised or pissed off. It's good to see that Behdad got one, his proposal looks like it would be pretty awesome if he gets it working. Frankly, if anything peeves me it's how little support Gnome was given in light of the enormous number of applications that were filed. Of cause, all up US$60k is a very generous sponsorship, and I think I speak on behalf of most Gnomers by expressing gratitude for it, but come on, it was half as many as KDE and they had far less submissions, that kinda seems lame. Of cause Mono, Gaim, Ubuntu and Fedora were all supported generously too and that could intersect a fair bit, but it is quite obvious that this is not the same thing. I think that a major part of the problem was the completely uninspiring list of proposed bounties given by Gnome. It's sad that nobody managed to think up something fun to do that may have got some development done or some new recruits. Nobody wants to have their first developer experience with Gnome involving tedious memory or CPU optimizations and nobody wants to do anything involving documentation. I think it is very sad that the bounties list did not reflect that obvious truth, having the least fun six suggestions first is just asking for nobody to consider doing any of them. Of cause that would never have helped me, since my problem is that from the beginning I wanted to keep working on librsvg, a project that it is universally accepted that nobody cares about, but it really could have done some good for other candidates to have something fun to aim for.
Orwell is 73H r0x0r
I've been reading a book of George Orwell's essays. I am renewed in my belief that George Orwell was the best writer ever born. George Orwell is admired by me for a few different reasons. Firstly, because he was compelled by integrity (or by his ego, according to him). This means that if he believed something, he would tell the world how he saw it. He spoke out against imperialism, communism, class inequality, mistreatment of the unemployed and totalitarianism in various essays and novels, each one covering at least of of these issues. He was compelled to represent the truth, even when it detracted from the overall aesthetics of the books. Secondly, his command of English prose has never been surpassed by anyone... ever. Orwell used the language for what it was designed for: saying stuff, clearly, succinctly and elegantly. Orwell understood rhyme, rhythm and the sound of beautiful phrases yet his linguistic beauty was that of sheer simplicity, a language that could be read by anyone and could be read smoothly and quickly and goes straight to the soul. Orwell was a great linguist but did not flutter around, wasting time with nice sounds or overly poetic imagery (except for maybe his first novel "Burmese Days", still a good book of cause). Orwell would never say that his "vocabulary is a canonical embodiment of the English lexicon" like a pompous git, although he'd probably have the right to (he'd be more likely to tell an allegory about George W. Bush then go back to his grave). An example of his awesomeness is the appendix to "Down and Out in Paris and London" where he gives a short treatise on bad language in English. However, before it could be printed, the publisher bowdlerized the dirty words out of it and of cause it lost it's meaning since one could not tell what words were being referred to, yet Orwell demanded it be included in it's cut form, just to make a mockery of that censorship. George Orwell's decayed, inanimate skeleton could beat Dan Brown in a fight easily.
I hate Dan Brown