Older blog entries for mattr (starting at number 31)

Ah that's more typical, having almost a month between entries...

Been a fairly down period for me though. I wrapped up what was needed first for the GOVIA queue around the first of the month. It's got issues, but it can at least accept submissions again and allows for revision of metadata and commenting. Since then, much to Barbicane's dismay, I've been somewhat less than motivated. A combination of things, I think... On one hand, I'm working on code and assorted other hacks more and more at work, leaving me a little less enthused about spending my nights at the keyboard too. In addition, a cloud of depression has settled since the initial shock and emotional turmoil of having my wife leave... Kinda leaves me sitting at home half the time staring off into space. I've never been less productive.

Even went so far last weekend as to go buy my first ever video game console, a PSOne, and Final Fantasy VII (watched my roommates play it while still in school, but never saw them finish...). Some mind-numbing, time-wasting entertainment is what I was after, and it definitely does the trick.

Still, there are good days and there are bad days... What remains to be done with the GOVIA queue is sketched out on paper. I'm looking into getting a handle on CVS just to help me keep up with things... Getting to be too much trouble to eyeball what's changed between three or four different machines with files scattered here, there, everywhere.

A bright spot over this period has been WOPN, streaming radio project of freenode (formerly Open Projects Network). My real interest in school was communication theory, so it's fascinating for me to simply observe the evolution of media.... I'm watching things happen now that I wrote about in my senior thesis four years ago. And not to give Barbicane a big head, but he's had some really great shows, the first 'talk radio' segments of WOPN, so to speak. Keeps things interesting, and of course, lively with the 'voices in his head' (folks in #wopn interacting in lagged real time with the 'ogg-jay').

Anywho... blah. Enough for now. On to some workish things.


I knew I'd have to break a few things night before last when I realized the database schema I had going was making message/comment threading more difficult than it needed to be. I didn't necessarily realize how much I was breaking everything, but that's to be expected from the sloppy code of an amateur attempting to learn everything at once... ;)

At any rate, things are nearly patched up again for the queue system to return to functionality. Still have a few things yet to implement, but it should be looking good by the end of the week.

While it's a bummer sometimes to suddenly see how clueless I am (!), you can't beat this kind of hands-on education, one that will lead to something worthwhile and beneficial to many (we hope!) rather than just another expensive piece of paper.

And now, though I didn't quite make it to bed last night/this morning, it's just about time to go to work... Whee!

Thank God for coffee.

An entry three consecutive days?!

Ever since the day that staff at the 9to5 were trained on using the new 'weekly activity report' (aka WAR, of all things, which is funny, all things considered*), Fridays have had me kinda nervous. The system works fine all week, but Friday means I have to hold my breath and cross my fingers. I have a sandbox I test in first, but I still have to hold my breath when changes 'go live.' Whipped up a bash script this morning to diff the live and sandbox code, which gave me a little more confidence that I'd covered all of my bases.

Heh, last week, I neglected to change a cron job to affect the live WAR. A minor thing, really, but a little detail that got lost. I was glad I was holding my breath with crossed fingers nearby, as it was no problem to uncross and breathe long enough to run the script manually; but more significantly, I did have to be nearby, watching and waiting for the details that turn into bugs.

This week, however, my parents have come up to visit. I needed (really needed) to leave work early to clean up the house a bit. This is their first time up since I've lived here, and it's been in typical disarray. Really, I just had to pick up all of the Coke cans sitting everywhere and hide them in the recycling bag so they wouldn't get overly concerned about the amount of Coke I drink. ;) Whatever the reason, it meant I couldn't babysit the WAR this afternoon. As I said the script to diff everything helped, but currently lacking a way into the machine from home, I was still a bit nervous. I set up a couple of cron jobs to email me at home after certain things had happened, crossed my fingers, held my breath, and went home.

I have extraordinary lung capacity.

I was already online when I got home, thanks to a cron job on that machine that brings up ppp0, usually just to check in with me. And before long, the first email had arrived... a scheduled action (the one I goofed up last week) had occurred on schedule. But the next email would be 1.75 hours away... So I cleaned up the house.

Finally, the second email arrived and I could breathe with uncrossed fingers in a clean(er) house... From what I can tell based on those two emails, things went well this afternoon. Any number of things could have fouled things up and prevented the second message from being sent, but apparently they didn't.

I took a nap and went to meet my parents at their hotel later, got some dinner, hung out with them, did some open source advocacy :), highlighted SchoolForge and the absurdity of wasting ludicrous amounts of money on software licensing in our schools when open source software, the dialogs it can inspire, and the creativity it can channel is an education unto itself. It draws together what education should involve:

  • logic, in the form of code or simply 'grokking' how a computer works and can be used
  • history, particularly as it applies to our concepts of free and freedom
  • community, including interaction, involvement, investment, and responsibility
  • creativity, whether it be with The GIMP, Audacity, or in a vim buffer
  • economics, as they observe a new global economy struggling to understand itself
  • other things, which I can't think of at 3am after a night with only two hours of sleep and a 45-minute afternoon nap
I didn't have a list for my parents, just rambled a bit. After I told them the good news about the WAR standing on its own two feet (so to speak, and only somewhat (it would fall down on Monday if I didn't come in to catch it)), they asked a question I hadn't even considered. "Have you ever had any training in this?" A simple question, but it made me think. It's a symptom of a mindset, one I've observed in others also, a line of thinking that dictates courses of study, some sort of more or less meaningless certification... But I don't think we're meant so much to be trained (beyond a certain point perhaps...) as we are meant to guided in discovering and exploring what makes us tick.

When we begin to stumble upon that treasure trove, passion takes over and we develop a hunger for that growth and development of who we are, a hunger that naturally extends into our surroundings and makes us want to help out, do some good.

I was eating dinner at the table with people from the music industry.
They asked me if I liked it in "The City." I said I liked it better in the country.
The label representative asked me what about it most appealed to me.
"I love to listen to the yellowhammer singing 'a little bit of bread and no cheese'."

Then I commenced to do a tap dance on eggplant Parmesan before their eyes.
Guided by voices, whole bag of tricks. Raised by Druids and Horses.

(Then I told them):

"Never underestimate the power of Love. You dig my new horseshoes?
Never underestimate the power of Love."

"Come here quickly he's lost his mind!"

"Frightened? Well I'm not surprised, you've never seen the likes of me.
Check it, I want a big fat advance and my alfalfa free!"

"Come here quickly he's lost his mind!"

The manager removed me from the restaurant. A crowd got to gathering around.
I said, "You can throw a man out on his ear, but you can't keep a good horse down!"
Mounted police sprung to action. Never cut me any bit of slack.
But I wasn't going anywhere 'til they got off my brother's back.
Clutch, Raised by Horses


I managed to get a good bit done last night / this morning before my pre-day-job nap. Revamping the queue is my current task. The contribution queue in place right now was thrown together in a night or two and generally sucks. The new and improved, kinder, gentler queue will, if nothing else, suck less.

What's neat is the fact that I'm learning so much... I finally picked up a book on PHP on Monday. Should've done that a LOOoonngg time ago... Very handy, very informative. Also picked up O'Reilly's Learning Python and the K&R 'required reading' on C. Good books, all, thus far.

Also picked up a few CD's -- all in all, spent way too much on Monday. A manic Monday, perhaps.

But back to learning... It's especially interesting with a few projects going on at one time. Thoughts on the differing project rub elbows and cross-pollinate (yeah, elbows are important to pollination) other thoughts, and so on and so forth. I'd truly intended to learn to program when I got my Amiga back in 1991, but it just never happened. My main problem at the time was having no practical application, no problem to solve or project to complete. A side-effect of the educational system, where I could always excel easily by remembering some crap long enough to ace a test, I've decided.

A decade later, I see the educational system for what it is (or what it amounts to, which is an indoctrinational system), and have found that all I ever needed to get into programming was simply something I was interested in doing...

GOVIA fits the bill... Aiming to turn the tables and let us get a little more involved in the media. As the mainstream media continue to seek out more and more ways to charge us for consuming their drivel, more of us will begin to give their drivel the thumbs down and taking more of a DIY (do-it-yourself) attitude to media/entertainment/life in general.

Ramble ramble... Got a lot going on this morning, but wanted to get that out... More later, eventually...

Everybody's playing along, nobody writes the song

Time, time, time

Time for an entry...

If I can get one written. I have Mozilla open below a few terminals, and thoughts are taking me away from diary entries... Maybe not the time.

Couple of minutes later...
Here's the thing, though. I'm finding that groove... Sometimes it can be hard to catch; sometimes it's not time to code. A time for everything. But I don't think I completely lost the groove from last night... that place where you have enough in your head at one time to know where you are, what you're doing, what's involved, and what will come next. Let's see how near the groove I am...

Aren't you glad you don't have to read in real time as a writer writes?
So more time passes, I have an "aha" at how I'll handle something...Hear Soupy (the new Super Beagle that 'replaced' Loki) bark outside, go to check it out for whatever reason (usually just let them bark their fool heads off outside...), find that a nice storm-coming-breeze is blowing up, feels nice... I quickly check the aha idea to see that it's a worthwhile aha, type this real quick, and now I'm out the door for a few...

But back before long
And I still know where I am.

Later still, and I'm...
Utterly distracted, talking to my dad with ICQ, whipping up a quick bash script to grab a bunch of images, and still holding onto that handle for the groove...

Sometimes it's easier than others. Sometimes the groove is gone for days, time to spend thinking of design or other completely different things... Sometimes a groove spans a few days, where you can pick it up and put it down at will...

But sometimes it's a wonder I get anything done at all.

8 Jul 2002 (updated 8 Jul 2002 at 00:17 UTC) »

How time does fly... In the past week, I've downloaded nearly 500 MB (over dialup!), building stuff from pkgsrc all day and all night. I really love NetBSD... Hope I can contribute to the project at some point.


Barbicane finally added GOVIA as a project here, and has become a Journeyer far faster than I did... ;) I've been busy with that day-job project the last couple of weeks, but it's more or less done. Just have a few cron scripts to set up, so it's time to fix what I left broken with GOVIA now... :)

That involves a lot of sanity checking and finalizing how we're going to pass stuff to the master server, where all the GOVIA media will finally reside.


Had some good conversation going on in #schoolforge last night (er, this morning?), with much agreement on the problems facing our educational system.

To me, the potential of open source in education is much larger than saving schools some money by ditching Microsoft. Open source has the potential to stir up creative juices, get kids thinking in new directions, thinking of new possibilities... We do our children a disservice to teach them how to use MS Office and let them think they're proficient with a computer. Open source is a mindset as much as anything else, a commitment to openness, not just in source code, but also in general.


I've begun (barely) a complete rewrite for .3, simply because what I did in January is a big mess and I've learned boat-loads since then. Might be a few minutes though. ;)


Though it took typing a nasty NVRAM patch into nvedit by hand, I finally got the unbootable G3 to boot NetBSD off of its hard drive. If I'd been able to boot into MacOS, it would have been a few clicks. But I do have a nice collection of Open Firmware links and a deeper understanding of those whacky Macs now... Open Firmware is pretty interesting, really. sigh Too much too learn.

Tried X real quick, and it's working at least. I never did get X to work right on my NetBSD/i386 box at work. I guess I'll have to get pkgsrc onto CD and install some goodies.

1 Jul 2002 (updated 1 Jul 2002 at 11:31 UTC) »
What a day...

July 1 was our first GOVIA developer's milestone. It shouldn't be July 1 already, but there it is anyway, so I'm coming off of a 12-hour hack session. On #govia, I cracked (as surely others have before) "This is the bizarre as opposed to either the cathedral or the bazaar." An observer on the channel, just before that, had said "sitting here _trying_ to read what you two are writing ;)"

I guess our (the two primary developers) communications are reasonably secure by virtue of the natural language er, something or other someone mentioned here recently... And trust there also an issue; have to address it later though.

It was a good 12-hour day... And now, off to sit in front of a different couple of computer for about eight hours!

Oh, and how interesting that I should become a 'Journeyer' today, all of a sudden, of all days. Er, thanks, but hm, this thing must be broken! There's one actual Journeyer cert, but the accumulated Apprentices add up to a Journeyer?

1 Jul 2002 (updated 1 Jul 2002 at 02:30 UTC) »
raph said:

The use of the word "trust" is interesting in this context. Is it the same trust I talk about with trust metrics and the like? In one way, yes. The real question is: who do you trust? No sane, thoughtful person would trust the likes of Microsoft and VeriSign. But I think people do trust their social network, and are right to do so. We need massive research to explore how to map social networks into the digital world. I often feel quite alone in thinking about this stuff; very few people seem to understand it. Oh well. I'll just keep pushing it patiently.

For what it's worth, this work you're doing on trust metrics and applying it to the free software community (those of us present here, anyway) is why I'm here. I wanted to see how it worked, which also, of course, helps make it work. Starting a diary to chronicle my minimal involvement with and laughable development of free software wasn't necessarily high on my list of things to do, but I see some real value in this research, just as I see tremendous value in the free software 'movement.'

Far too many folks these days aren't thoughtful people and have no problems trusting whatever corporate entities they're 'supposed' to trust, but if we (er, you? hehe) can develop and demonstrate an alternative that has some basis in our subjective experiences as individuals (rather than as various corporate account numbers), there may be hope. Time may be among the largest problems facing such an effort however. I know I haven't been able to go back and state my certification reasoning and can barely keep up with a diary simply because there isn't enough time to get it all done these days...

Er, that GOVIA developer's milestone set for tomorrow, for instance, should have kept me from even writing this... ;)

Sigh, more later...


Well, how about another section in my notes -- Certification Temptations! Just a spur of the moment thought from a quick perusal of the recent entries... Someone stating they don't deserve a certification, someone a couple of days ago wondering about the value of the certifications... A trend. I figure the more insight I try to provide in how I'm looking at the trust metric, the better. Now if I could just spend more time reading...

"Trust in me..."
Only suitably imagined as sung by Siouxsie on Through the Looking Glass.

The ol' 9 to 5

Though I'm in fact not 100% finished with the staff activity report web app, everybody's getting training on it today. I even received a couple of changes last night after 5pm, so I actually worked on it a bit at home. Reworked several things while I was at it; think it's a little less kludgy in places now. And my, how much easier it was to actually get some work done at home!

At any rate, no doubt I'll have some tweaking, fine-tuning, bug-fixing to do with it in the next couple of weeks, but I'm just relieved that it didn't blow up this morning. I wouldn't have enjoyed looking like an oaf, and I'm sure my manager (conducting the training) wouldn't have either. Furthermore, the iPaq it's running on is handling the load beautifully... Not that the load is that great, but it had been a concern, simply because I hadn't the foggiest idea of what hardware would really be necessary.

Now let's see if someone here develops some interest in how some freaky-looking kid in tech support did this with free software and a spare machine. The doc root index lists what I'm using, complete with links to the main sites and license information. Even threw the uptime in there... And the page title? LAMP Light @ [my company] :)

Hmm... there was more floating around in my head earlier, but I'm not sure where it went. More later, I guess.

22 older entries...

New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!