Older blog entries for raph (starting at number 131)

11 Jul 2001 (updated 11 Jul 2001 at 06:30 UTC) »

I finally have a draft outline and intro chapter of my thesis on the web: thesis.ps. It's 31 pages now (admittedly, somewhat padded), and starting to feel real. Yay!

It's definitely tricky to juggle Ghostscript and thesis, but I feel like I've been keeping up adequately. Of course, if you're waiting for me to review some code, you probably don't agree :)

Just a quick note regarding certification: I haven't increased the capacities assigned to subtrees in a while, so the metric is being pickier than usual, almost certainly too picky. Apologies to those who should be cert'ed but aren't. I agree that the choice of seeds could stand some revision, as well, but how exactly do you choose them? Put it to a vote?

Also on the subject of Advogato, I'm really tempted to add a field for geographical location. I think it would be neat to visualize the trust graph overlaid on a globe. To make things even more fun, I think I'll make it so that you can put in the location for your friends if they're too lazy to. Hopefully, I'll have a little time opening up soon and can hack on this.

Fixed some bugs in GS this week, which was nice.

I talked to the guy from Wired about Mono a couple of days ago. The result wasn't too bad at all - certainly not as bad as I was fearing from his post asking for comments.

I also talked to another reporter (Rachel Chalmers of the451), and am still waiting to find out if that's a disaster. One of these days, I will learn to keep my big mouth shut. Uhm, maybe.

I'm having trouble juggling between work and thesis writing. Hopefully, I will be able to take two solid days for writing next week, and have some pages to show for it.

p2p and trust

I've been devoting quite a few cycles lately to p2p networks, including popping my head into the p2p-hackers mailing list. It's a frustrating field for me, because of my belief that real progress in p2p network design is going to come only from serious intellectual work. The usual methodology of cobbling together a little network, then crossing your fingers and hoping it will scale will lead to lots of toy networks that won't scale. Unfortunately, the impression I get the p2p-hackers mailing list is that most people are still there.

I played a bit more with Mojo Nation over the weekend. It's one of the few p2p networks good enough to criticize. Unfortunately, it left me with the impression of still being pretty far from prime time. It's still got scaling problems up the ying-yang, and I believe it's vulnerable to all kinds of fun attacks as well. Even more disappointingly, there seem to be all kinds of low-level implementation problems, including memory leaks, and still-poor handling of failures (the logs show lots of failed "pass this along" messages). Block availability is still spotty, so having file downloads fail because of unavailable blocks is still common. That said, it is possible to use the network to pirate music and stuff. I'm not giving up on it yet, I just wished it was a little farther along.

I think I've figured out how to combine the attack resistance of Advogato with Simic's Chord protocol. I've sent an email about the subject to the few people I know who would even know what that means, or why you'd want to do it. Feel free to prove me wrong!

I am such an elitist.


Life is good. Both Alan and Max have new pictures scanned and on the web.

Quick update:

I am officially resuming work on my PhD thesis! I'll post a link here soon to the working directory, so people can watch my progress. My name has been taken in vain recently on the p2p-hackers mailing list (or at least I'm vain enough to take notice when my name is in print :). With luck, there will be more people interested in the work than last time around.

Yoda vs. Confucius

If concepts are not clear, words do not fit. If words do not fit, the day's work cannot be accomplished, morals and art do not flourish. If morals and art do not flourish, punishments are not just. If punishments are not just, the people do not know where to put hand or foot.

--Confucius, Analects XIII, 3.

Now, if I could only see them in a light-saber battle!

Incidentally, I found this quote in Bryan Garner's excellent Dictionary of Modern American Usage. If you write, you should have this book.


I just wrote a ridiculously detailed screed on gamma. There's a lot of misinformation out there, and it causes a lot of trouble. Hopefully, this post, in all its pedantry, will clear some of that up.


I've been thinking a lot recently. Topics for thought have included trust in peer-to-peer networks (I have hazy ideas for extending the Advogato trust metric work), the state of free software today (I'm still optimistic, but have much to criticize), Rebar (it's a worthwhile project), how cool it would be to have a C interpreter to do Purify-like checking (very), and other things. I think I need to cut back. See, there I go again, thinking. D'oh!

A lot of stuff seems to be happening now.

sleep and dreams

I had my sleep study a couple of weeks ago. My sleep disorder is considerably more of a mystery now than it was before - I was convinced that it was sleep apnea based on the fact that I've been observed by at least two people stopping breathing in the middle of the night. The study confirmed that my sleep is abnormal, but didn't pick up any actual apnea. It may be that the disappearance of the apnea is because of the ~13 pounds of weight loss, but that's not clear.

What the study did show is that the cycling between the different stages is awry. On the night of the study, I had no REM sleep at all. Normally, you'll have several segments of REM sleep during the night. I know that lack of REM isn't my problem, because I do remember my dreams quite frequently. Often my dreams are very detailed, as if they took at least an hour of wall clock.

My dreams of last night are typical in this regard - they were of a court trial for intellectual property infringement against a large multinational company. The dream itself was an entirely unrealistic portrayal of a trial, with the judge cracking jokes all the time, people speaking when they felt like it, and a general lack of focus on the legal issues of the case. When I was awakened by the phone, the second of three witnesses at my wedding was speaking, correcting various overstatements of the first witness (who claimed that there were thousands of guests, among other things). The dream was full of odd details such as this.

I made a small speech which I can remember almost verbatim: "Your honor, I'm not asking for any special treatment because I'm a good boy. I'm asking to be paid for the violations of the intellectual property. The law says what companies can and cannot do with a patent, and I'm fully confident that my lawyers and your honor will arrive at this legal truth." Written down like this, it looks silly, but in the dream it was quite a speech, and was greeted with applause by the people in the courtroom when I sat down.

It's not hard to see where the subject of this dream came from. Obviously, when you're preparing for potential legal action, you have to be careful about what you say, especially in public. That said, I think it would be enormous fun to have to defend my dreams in a trial.


dirtyrat: From the sound of your post, I'd suggest you take a look at medium format cameras. I have a Koni Rapid Omega 100 that I bought for about $200 used, and it's been both fun and an excellent tool to take pictures with excellent image quality. The downsides are, of course, that you will pay more for film, and there are many fewer options for getting the film developed, but it's a totally different world than consumer or "prosumer" 35mm cameras.


I put in a bid for a used Gateway Connected Touch Pad on ebay last night. In addition, if anyone has a friend who has one, an ls -laR of the system flash card (cramfs included), along with information about the date the unit was shipped, would be greatly appreciated. I'm not expecting much response from this - friends don't let friends use AOL. My brother got on for a while because it was bundled with his Dell computer, but saw the light a couple of months later and switched to real Internet. According to him, the AOL slogan should be "You've got... goodbye".


We just had staff meetings, which were good. We got a lot of things resolved that I thought might be contentious. Among them, I have the green light to develop Fitz (the bastard son of Libart and the Ghostscript graphics library) under GPL. You'll see more design documents and so on soon - I'm feeling more than a bit lagged right now. Among other things, I need to get the 6.51 GNU release out the door, which means updating to the newest versions of hpijs and Omni.


In other news, I might have a chunk of time become available to finish my thesis. This would be enormously satisfying to me, so I really hope it works out.


neale and crackmonkey continue to make cool new patches, and are also in the process of getting access to Gnome CVS so that the thing will be developed like a real free software project instead of my personal toy. This is good. Of course, reviewing the patches is one of the things I'm lagged on. I'll get to it soon, I promise!

Did you know that you can close tags in Advogato with </> syntax? It's valid SGML that never found its way into HTML or XML (even though I believe Microsoft pushed for the latter), but I implemented anyway in the mod_virgule HTML massaging code. I personally find it quite convenient.


The whole family ran the Bay to Breakers this weekend (as did a good chunk of the Ghostscript team from Artifex). Our time was 2:58:12, which is pretty good considering we were pushing a stroller, and I was holding Max for much of the time.

gregf: while I'm sure your post is interesting to many, I don't see how it's relevant to Advogato. On the other hand, there is a site that would be quite ideal for this sort of discussion: Skolos, which is run by my friend Dr. H. Martin Malin, an accomplished sexologist. The site hasn't been very active, because Marty has been busy with lots of other things, but if the people here who are interested in sex want to "move in," I'm sure they would be most welcome.

Skolos also runs a mod_virgule, as do a number of other sites. neale and crackmonkey in particular have been putting a lot of work back into the m/ codebase. I plan to fold Neale's patches back into the mainline tree. The possibility of mod_virgule picking up development pace is exciting.

One particularly appealing change is the ability to post comments in projects (used for evil plans in Badvogato, among other places). This is clearly useful, but I'm also intrigued by the idea of setting up "rooms" or topic areas, not linked to any particular project. I can easily imagine rooms for sex, politics, movies, books, etc. Or, perhaps the organization should be a little less directory-like and more fluid, with rooms coming with the whim of a poster, and going as the result of inactivity.

Is this something people would find useful? With crackmonkey's patch in hand, it really shouldn't be that difficult to deploy.

11 May 2001 (updated 11 May 2001 at 07:59 UTC) »

Well, I'm almost caught up with my code-review duties. There's still so much to do, though. Next big thing on my list is to try to get the 6.51 release out, which will be GPL'ed. I figure this is the one most distributions will ship, so I want it to be good. At the same time, it's supposed to be a stable release, so I need to resist the temptation to add new features, and just get it the hell out.

I spent some time hanging out on #gnome. A lot of the old timers were there. It was great to talk to them all.

crackmonkey has a new mod_virgule based site. Beaujolais! The rather strange diary posted there by someone using the same account name as me was an impostor, though.

In any case, it's a good feeling when work you did takes a life of its own. In many ways, it's better than academic publication.

Took the kids to the Benicia farmer's market today. They had a wonderful time. It is truly a gift to be able to share in their joy at being alive.

The "90% of rape accusations are false" pseudo-statistic is of course complete hogwash. Even if there were a serious research study to support such a number, it would almost certainly be subject to methodological errors, sample effects, and fuzzy definitions, so the results would still need careful interpretation. Anyway, I'm glad that the discussion here has been mostly very polite and respectful.

We bought a stereo mini-system for the kids last weekend. After listening to just about every system on display at Circuit City in Emeryville, we picked out the Aiwa as the one that sounded best. I'm astonished that they're able to manufacture and sell such a system for only $150. In any case, the fun was not to last. After about two hours of listening, with a crackle the unit shut itself off. Attempts to turn it back on were met with a brief buzz in the right speaker, followed by another shutoff. And guess what? The replacement system we got died with exactly the same failure mode. Oh well. I guess we'll just have to pick out another system, because I'm not willing to take the chance that a third will die the same death.

Life is good.

Now that Ghostscript 7.0 is out, I'm more or less climbing out from under my rock. Boston was awesome - Seybold went well, and I had great times meeting Roger Dingledine and friends (of the FreeHaven project), the guys at Ximian, and rlk and gtaylor of Gimp-Print and foomatic. I spent all of Saturday with the last two, talking about architectures for inkjet printing on Linux and other free platforms. I'm excited.


Remember the etoys commercials? Remember the kick-ass music? I saw "Finding Forrester" on the plane to Boston, and they used the same music over the closing credits.

It turns out that the music was recorded by native Hawai`ian vocalist Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. This guy had incredible musical ability. This track (a medley of Somewhere over the Rainbow and What a Wonderful World) is just 4-string ukelele and voice, but it takes one to another place.

Often I've seen or heard something on TV ads that really touches me, and I usually find that it's some really good artist whose music (or other art) has been "borrowed". Same for Low's "Little Drummer Boy" in the Gap ads, the BMG in Intel's ads, etc.


Today was Cal day, and of course Alan had to go see the Museum of Paleontology. He had a field day, of course. One of the coolest things was to watch him talk to a student about invertebrate fossils. He's learned a lot out of books, but you learn a lot more from real fossils.

Max also enjoyed the fossils, and also the Zoology museum. Max now has a vocabulary of six words that I can make out: mama, dada, baba (bottle), dogga (dog), cat, and hot. However, any furry animal that's not a dog is a cat. We saw a lot of cats today, and he really enjoyed it.

7.00 is out!

Now I just have to pack for my trip to Boston for Seybold. The shuttle picks me up in a bit less than 3 hours. It ought to be a great show, and I look forward to getting in touch with a bunch of my hacking friends in Boston.

I'm in the process of putting out the 6.63 beta release of Ghostscript. I hope a lot of people bang on this - it's a pretty good release, and we really need a lot of testing, as the 7.0 release is set to ship by April 9. You can find out more (including the download locations) in this post.

The X driver in this release now has a working antialiased mode that's much better than the braindead x11alpha device that most people use. Try it, you'll like it!

This release also integrates PDF 1.4 rendering support more thoroughly. I don't think many people are actually testing this; there aren't that many PDF 1.4 files floating around out there (yet). That will change soon, I'm sure.

My mom visisted earlier this month. It was a very nice visit, and (as expected), she loved being with the kids, and they loved her.

She brought a very nice edition of The Hobbit (with illustrations by Michael Hague) for Alan. I've been reading him about 10 pages a day since, and he's absolutely enthralled. I'm surprised by how much I'm enjoying reading aloud. It's pretty challenging for Alan (he's asking me for definitions of quite a few words), but he's really getting into it.

I did my sleep study Thursday night. They didn't find a lot of apnea, but I do snore :) I've lost over 10 pounds since the consultation - it's entirely possible that the weight loss has improved the condition greatly. I do miss my Ben and Jerry's though :)

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