20 Dec 2002 pjcabrera   » (Apprentice)

Wow, how time flies!

In the two weeks since my last entry, I've been having lots of fun on my copious free time, reading up on X, GTK+, GTKMM, GTK#, and GNOME component-based programming. I've written a few example programs in each of these libraries, getting a feel for how native UNIX GUI software is written.

From my 5+ years of Java experience and the smattering of Delphi and C++ Builder I did in 1997, GTK+ and its Object Oriented ilk are nothing new; only the toolkit and API is different. The overall concept is identical. So it's not going to be difficult to learn GNOME programming. It's just going to take practice and time to learn all the GNOME specific gotchas and tricks.

Halting steps

I tried looking over the code of GNOME-calculator (I thought it would be easiest), and quickly got lost. So I still have a ways to go before I can start contributing substantially to the body of free software. But I'm getting there.

I built GNOME 2.1.3 using GARNOME, to help submit bug reports towards GNOME 2.2. I know that when something fails to build, it's a GARNOME bug. But when something fails to run or crashes because it couldn't find some configuration something or other, how do I know it's a GARNOME bug or a GNOME bug?

Maybe this knowledge too will come with more experience. In the meantime I will be discussing what I find on the GARNOME mailing list, to get the help I need to file the report in the right place.

Biting more than I can chew?

In a gutsy move, I've volunteered to help write documentation for Mono (and by proxy, for GTK#). Like I said above, GTK+ programming really isn't all that difficult. It is only different from what I already know, and that never ever killed anyone.

Cross dressing, or "How I nearly lost my virginity at a clam dig and loved it"

Many, many weeks before I started this diary, I began reading Linux kernel hacking guides. And by far, the most accessible guide and resource has been the "LinuxChix Kernel Hacking Lessons", written by Val Henson. Val and gals' kernel hacking guide is complemented by a mailing list, the cleverly named "grrls-only" mailing list.

This mailing list presented me with a conundrum: it is only meant for women, and to join I would have to write a statement of some sort certifying that I am female. Yet this grrls-only mailing list could well be a very valuable resource I could use to learn about kernel hacking. What's a guy to do?

I am obsessed with ways I could fake my way into that mailing list. For almost a month, I've been listening to Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand and Bette Midler at work, and watch chick flicks like "Driving Miss Daisy" and "Thelma and Louise", "Notting Hill", "Three Weddings and a Funeral", "Pride and Prejudice" (Hugh Grant is just so cute) on DVD nearly every night. I hold my tea cup just so, and sigh deeply as I read old tattered copies of Ann River Siddon's novels at lunch.

But I'm afraid that when push comes to shove and I sit to write that message showing I'm female, something would slip by and I'd say something utterly masculine.

I imagine Val teaching kernel secrets to her tribe of amazons, secrets only known to her because of the keener insight of the gentler sex. Perhaps they all have their own cleverly tuned scheduler, much more clever and efficient than Ingo's O(1). Perhaps their virtual memory runs rings around FreeBSD. And alas, maybe they have crafted their own working version of Hurd. God, how I want to be in the grrls-only list!

If I ever make the attempt and get in, I probably will not have the guts to pipe up and ask any questions or reply to any posts. I will probably lurk for years, absorbing all of Val's arcane arts. And when anybody asks me anything, I'll just giggle and hold my index finger to my cheek. But I'm scared I'll freak and type the wrong emoticon.

Maybe this tribe of amazon hackers is really benign and I have nothing to be afraid of if I'm caught, and I come out of this experience without losing body parts. On the other hand, I worry about something else: for like three weeks now, I wake up every morning humming show tunes. :p

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