5 Jan 2004 shlomif   » (Master)

Linux Events

I attended Aviram Jenik's lecture on Sunday. Before the lecture I had enough time to give a quick appetizer in the form of my "Template Toolkit" Lightning Talk. I received one positive criticism, and two others that said that it was not very understoodable. I believe they were correct and I understood how to improve it. (but think it may make it into a seven minutes or ten minutes talk).

Immediately after I was finished (and before I had the chance to hear any feedback) Aviram came, and started with the lecture. The lecture was very good, funny, and interesting. I first believed it was going to be a "preaching to the choir" type of lecture, but it ended up also bringing up alternatives for full disclosure, and many cases from the security history. (some of which were very amusing) The room was crowded, and Shachar (who is also a humorist "behesed") also contributed things.

There was also a Haifux Lecture on SMTP and Qmail by kilmo. It seemed interesting and Eran was there, but I was very tired that day so I decided to leave prematurely. I dozed off at least twice during the ride back home, so I guess I couldn't have made it through the lecture.

I ended up modifying my Template Toolkit lecture and am looking for a chance to give the modified one before the YAPC.

Talk with Ya'el Marksemer

On Monday, I drove to the Technion with Ya'el Marksemer (the girl who studied Game Theory with me, and also was Orr's Officemate), and had a very pleasant talk with her on the way. We discussed many topics. Among them:

  1. SQL - she said she studied about databases in a course, and found the bare SQL standard very hard to get by with. I told her that database vendors create incompatiblity on purpose so people will not want to port their databases to something else. I then told her of my (so far failed) Extended SQL initiative.
  2. I told her about a Technion lecturer I know. When I came to see him once he was running an old PC computer with fvwm on it probably running Linux. What he did was that he invoked one Emacs window and worked on it exclusively.

    When I came to meet him again, a year ago or so, his computer was upgraded. Now, he had a Red Hat system with the Red Hat icon instead of the K, anti-aliased graphics, flashy looking and all. What did he do? Invoke an Emacs session and worked in it exclusively.

    Of course, he was quite old and studied at MIT back then. I'm still very fond of him.

  3. Software Management Stuff - we discussed having private offices (Peopleware, etc.) vs. two or three people in an office. I told her of a company I worked for, where people had to move their chairs to let me out and she said that was indeed unbearable. I told her that Microsoft U.S.A. allocates an office even for interns. Like I said, she was a theoretical computer scientist, but she was still interested.
  4. Her Thesis - she said she and her instructor for the M.Sc. were now writing a scientific article about the proof she did for his conjecture. She said she only used high-school Combinatorics there, but there was a certain tricky part. I told her I wish to write an article for a scientific journal about Freecell Solver, but said I would need someone to tutor me and instruct me exactly what to do.

Forums Threads of Interests

My post to Hackers-IL's about "Reading Open Source Code" took several interesting turns. First of all we came into conclusion that reading code was relatively neglected in university, even though it's a very important skill and can possibly teach students how to write better one. Otherwise, Tzahi Fadida said that some open source code (and non-open-source code) was very hard to read, and we discussed what measures could be taken. We discussed the XP-belief that no documentation should be written for the code, because the code needs to be self-explanatory. And we further discussed the validity of XP and how "scientific" it is or should be.

My post Some Thoughts on FogBUGZ for Windows on the Joel on Software forum may be of interest, because it contains a answer by Joel.

Here's another one: More Linux Developers than Windows Ones . This recent statistics, and what does it mean. (and what would be the implications of open source on programmers) An offspring of this post is Open source complexity Issue.

There was an opinion piece in the Register that was Slashdotted and discuss.fogcreek.com'ed. See this thread on Joel on Software for some of my comments.

Finally, if you want to converge the two most common themes in the JoS forum (outsourcing and open source vs. the world) to one big conspiracy theory, look no further than here.

All in all, mailing lists, the Joel on Software forum and Whatsup.org.il are a huge productivity killers! But they do add some insights and understanding even to very knowledgable persons.

Linux Problems

Here's a bootload of problems I've encountered recently. Ever since I installed the Bitstream Vera TTF fonts, many fonts on my desktop got uglier. I don't know why it happens and I don't know how to fix it, but I'll look into it. (removing the package did not help).

I also was able to install and use kernel 2.6.0 today, with some advice from a Linux-ILer (to install the module-init-tools package). At first, the Internet did not work because I did not compile the Tulip-class modules (they were off by default), but now everything is in order. (I'm writing this E-mail on 2.6.0)

The mouse cursor however, became much faster after the upgrade. I found a good workaround by issuing "xset m 10/10" (play around with the numbers), but all in all it is quite frustrating, and I'm not sure I'm happy with it as it is now.

Finally, an old problem which still was not resolved. When I play an mp3 file using XMMS with artsd, then I must set my buffer size to over 1000ms (precisely that - 999ms does not work) or else the sound sounds garbled. It does not happen with directly to ALSA playback or with KDE's Noatun. It is annoying because the music gets played for another second when I press the stop button or when a song is switched.

Recent Update: - my computer accidently rebooted itself when I shut down X, and some of my files got corrupt. Luckily I had a backup and was able to restore .ICEauthority and the .kde sub-dir to a working state. Other than that, I found a way to change the font in gvim to something more likable. Now for the other apps.


I populated some of the Israeli Perl Mongers Wiki (created a page there for non-Perl Israeli Projects) and created a Wiki hypertext base for WWW::Form. I also wrote some of the outline for the second draft of an essay I wrote a prelimary version of some time ago. Now comes the hard part of writing it in DocBook, entirely.

I also wrote the Cross-UNIX Portability - Facts and Myths technical article. (first on paper and then on computer - don't ask).

Too much time E-mailing. Far too less coding. Teh teh.


Certified graydon as Journeyer for his work on the Monotone version control system.

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