Fri, 31 Dec 2004

Happy 2005

Another year is gone... 2004 has been quite good for me: a job, another triathlon session, being more happy than unhappy, government change at last, moving to a new house...

But I can't forget the few things that have been worrying me throughout the year: the horrible situation that some people provoked in Iraq, the 11-M terrorist attack in Madrid, the death of my grandmother (the first close relative I lose), and very recently, the terrible tsunamis in southern Asia.

I expect that things can go a bit better in 2005. There's a lot of open doors ahead!

Anyway, I wish you all a happy 2005!

Sun, 26 Dec 2004


I've been with a bad cold since Tuesday, one day after Mako arrived to València. It started as a slight throat annoyance and has ended with a total dependency on a variety of pills which has been going for 3 days now.

Despite of this, Mako's visit was quite nice. I think we managed to let him go after having shown most of what one wants to see in València, and focusing on the historical monuments in the centre.

When he arrived, he had plenty of hours to explore the centre alone, as I hadn't arrived yet. He (and I, when told about it) was quite amazed about what he found at the top of the Micalet tower of the cathedral. At sunset, apparently everyone up there was smoking pot, which I guess is something you don't expect too much. On Sunday, we had a Christmas family meeting at my father's house, and just after that we went with Kiko, Brande and Marta to the Albufera, a quite unique lake we still have just a few kilometres away from València, to see his second sunset in a row. I think I hadn't seen a sunset in the Albufera, and it was pretty cool, despite the horrible cold wind, and no pot involved.

On Monday, I accidentally left him trapped in the flat, as I forgot to leave my keys with him. Oops! During the morning he would stay at home doing work while I was at office, and in the evening we'd try to do something. We visited the Glop, had tapas for dinner with Carlos, and went for food to a cool Kebab place near the stadium one night, and to the buffet another one. In Radio City, he showed how the American dudes attract the girls, and it worked quite well...

On Thursday, Kike gave us a tour through the centre of the city, and explained (with me as translator) the history of València since the pre-arab era. The explanations were very cool, because we walked into the buildings, and he gave us both architectonic and historic background for the Lonja de la Seda, the Mercat Central or the Cathedral. I don't know if he did, but I did enjoy the small facts that I didn't know yet about these buildings.

The last night, I was just too ill to go out, so after a brief visit to Terra, Kiko and Mako went to some Brazilian salsa club where according to the reports, they found HOT women all around.

Hopefully, soon it'll be our turn to cross the ocean and visit NYC. I'm really looking forward to that!

Tue, 21 Dec 2004

Dinner with the Softcatala crowd

Last Friday I attended to the dinner Softcatalà organised for all of the members and supporters. Just 3 days after coming back from Mataró, I was on a train again for my shortest trip ever: less than 24 hours.

Softcatalà organises a dinner every year that helps all the contributors to put faces to names and nicknames, discuss a few of our problems in person and in general have a nice time. After two years of being heavily involved in the organisation, it was the first time I went to Barcelona to meet them.

Núria, one of the LliureX translators, came with me, as she's currently working on the OpenOffice 2.0 documentation Catalan translation. I arrived a bit early to the train station (for the second time in two weeks I arrived early to some place!), and while I waited for Núria to show up, I saw two police men asking two immigrants for their documentation. I guess I couldn't help looking at them (the policemen) in dislike as I passed near them. They apparently noticed, and 10 minutes later they came over to where I was standing and asked for my documentation, and searched my bag and pockets, for absolutely no reason. One of them took my ID card away and spent 10 good minutes asking about my background through the radio. After a while, he handed the card back and they went away, not even saying "thanks" or anything. As this brings some old memories back, they managed to piss me for the following half hour.

Just as the policemen went away, Núria appeared and we got on the train, which left the station 30 minutes late for apparently no reason. After a long chat, we arrived at Benicarló, where an 80 year old man got on the train and sat next to us. As he sat, he started talking to us, and at first we didn't react too much, as we didn't know what the stuff was about. He talked about how sucky people are now in our society, as they only think about things that benefit themselves. He asked "What do you do to help the rest of the world?". Of course, I didn't even try to explain what Free Software is about... :)

He linked this topic to explain us how fucked his life was, and how his family ignored him. Honestly, I couldn't feel too sorry, because just listening at him you could tell he was a very conservative man, with very sexist ideas and all of that, but neither Núria and I found a polite way to stop him and get rid of him. He kept talking, and every once in a while, Núria turned her head slightly to see how I was reacting, as she was about to explode in laughter. Everytime she did this, I thought I would burst in laughter myself, but we managed to show some respect for the man. In the end, we said we were going to the cafeteria to have some food, and fleed the wagon.

Once in Barcelona, we got to the place quite easily, a Via Fora! in the barri de Gràcia, where most of the attendees were already waiting around the table. We met Jordi Mas, Jesús, Mireia, Toni, Marc, Òscar and others and we had a nice meal, even if we were quite tired and sleepy and the place was very noisy.

After the dinner, most of the people quickly left the place and for a moment, it was just Núria, Toni and me. Núria and I would be sleeping at the house of one of her friends, who lived quite far away, and worked until 3:30 in a pub. Our idea was to go to the place to wait for her, but then we found Jordi Mas and a bunch more that hadn't gone yet, and decided to have a drink in some bar. At 2, we were kicked out, and it was too late to take the Metro, so Toni came with us to the barri del Raval, which meant a a 1:30h walk. We got there, and Toni had to leave, but unfortunately Ana wasn't home yet, so Núria and I had to sit on the street for like one hour until she appeared. At that point, I was freezing, and quickly went to sleep, at around 5 in the morning.

I woke up at 10 and got out of the sleeping bag at 11, just as Ana's flatmate left her room too. She seemed pretty puzzled, as she didn't have a clue of what I was doing there, but anyway... I left the flat before Núria got up (even if she said she'd wake up when she heard noises) and phoned my uncles, which luckily were around the Plaça de Catalunya area. At their house I had a nice shower, downloaded a Ubuntu CD for my cousin and had lunch with them.

Unfortunately not long after I left for the train station, as my train left at 16:00, and there was no way I could get one a bit later: Mako was already in València waiting for my arrival.

Wed, 15 Dec 2004

Back from the Mataró conference

Oh well, the 8 days quickly expired and yesterday I had to return to València. I wish I could have stayed until the end of the show, I always miss the last day's party...

I spent Monday reminding myself that it was my last day at the Conference, which made me feel a bit sad. Mixing that with the remains of the Ubuntu virus, made my last day at the conference not the greatests of all...

I woke up around 10 minutes late for the group session, and a series of laptop lockups made time fly until 13:00, where we had our great "lunchpack". The cheese sandwich was delicious :P and I managed to steal a few extra bananas to compensate the lack of "bocadillo". I discovered some clever dudes ordering pizza in the lobby, but it was too late.

The rest of the evening was spent packing up, doing a few Debian packages and filling in the paperwork for travel expenses and then trying to print it using the printer lu had previously broken (according to LaMont, at least). After unbreaking it (ie, removing the plastic protector to the new toner). When it was dinner time, kiko and I agreed that going to the same place we had gone the night before was a great idea, and soon had a few people that would follow us. Too bad Mark had other plans for the Launchpad people: their fate involved pizza in the hack room that night. Of course, there was no swimming that day either. Oh well.

Another group joined us in the lobby, and then another one outside the hotel, and then another one as we walked to the centre. Suddenly, we were a group of 18, not 6, but we still managed to fit in a long table in the restaurant. During dinner, Jeff was loud enough to annoy the waiter, who ended up yelling at him "Shut up!". Of course, Jeff did. The food at this restaurant is very good, but I didn't expect that my first plate, a salad crepe, would be so big, so I couldn't finish the spaguettis.

I had a very nice chat with lulu at the restaurant, I think I'm going to miss her quite a bit in the next conference, and I really wish her luck in her new adventures! She introduced me to Charles, the South African dude that was around the conference who speaks a variety of South African languages. Of special interest was one which lots of "clicks" phonemas, which are totally impossible to pronounce for me. It'd be very cool to learn an African language. But I guess Arabic is first on the list...

Back at the hotel, I said goodbye to everyone at the hackroom, and thanked Mark for this new opportunity. It's been a fantastic week! Erinn said she'd go up to my room to exchange signatures, but she never did, even if I was awake well after 2AM. Boo, helix! After finishing the packing up (and realising I really had lost one of my gloves), I went to sleep, after asking Sjoerd to put his alarm clock at 5AM too, as I could not oversleep at all.

Just a few hours later the alarms went off and a long day started: of course, there was no breakfast for anyone at 5:20 in the hotel, but the lobby man suggested that I went early to the train station, where the cafe should be open at that time. Having nothing better to do, I left the hotel, and discovered everything was closed at the station too. So, hungry and very sleepy, took the 5:56 train to Barcelona, arriving to Sants with more than enough time to fetch my 7AM train to València.

3 hours later, I was in the Metro to get to work, and uppon arriving there, I discovered my clothing wasn't the best for the ocassion: we had to go to see the LliureX presentation by the Valencian Minister of Education. At least, I could go home slightly early, although I never got a well deserved nap.

Mon, 13 Dec 2004

GNOME 2.8 in Sarge

gconf-editor is currently the last of the components under the GNOME team's control that is pending entering testing, and the last blocker for the 2.8 meta-packages to be candidates for sarge. If the s390 gconf-editor build is uploaded in time for today's dinstall, the transition will be complete tonight, and besides uploading a few new upstream releases from the GNOME 2.8.2 release, who knows, the GNOME team might get involved in some new fun...

Still, we are missing a new upstream GDM release, plus evolution 2.0, which got a new RC bug, trivially fixable. We're finding out if Takuo is able to do a quick upload, else we'll do a GNOME team NMU to speed things up.

The GNOME team is still getting big thanks on IRC and in some online forums. That's the stuff that makes us want to keep going. :)

Beware of Canonical conference cleaners and Ubuntu viruses

NB: refrain of bitching in comments if that should read virii or viruses. We'll leave that to the language police in the various planets. ;)

After "lunch" on Friday, Steve Alexander found out that elmo's friends, the Conference cleaners, had silently attacked Canonical again. This time, we were missing one big paper with all our notes for the Rosetta presentation during the Mataró Sessions.

Without panicing, we decided to try to rethink the ideas as soon as possible so we could prepare the slides, but some problems in Launchpad had SteveA busy for most of the evening. mako, daf, Steve and I ended up working while we had dinner in a restaurant, thanks to Steve's micro-laptop, where we managed to get everything back in place.

Back at the hotel, daf and carlos kept hacking on Rosetta to iron out the last few bugs before the conference. While they did so, mako, LaMont and I had fun reading past entries of mako's and mika's blogs using the projector, some of which were just too good. I also read my mail and mailed my triathlon team mates without remembering my computer was still hooked up to the projector, allowing everyone to read my private stuff. Yay.

In the meanwhile, some of the guys from Madrid (telemaco, Ismael, etc.) rrived at Mataró, which left mako prepare his presentation with Ismael for a while. Carlos and daf kept banging on rosetta, and at around 2:30AM we started doing a demo exactly as we planned doing the day after. At 3:30AM or so, everything we needed to navigate through was working correctly, so we finally went to bed. No swimming on Friday either. Of course, no running on Saturday. I needed to sleep more than three hours...

Saturday was the big day at the Canonical meeting. Less people than I expected showed up, but there still was a good number of very active participants. While the presentations kept going, SteveA and I finished up our slides and decided which computer we would use for the Rosetta presentation. Given I had to type in a full translation of GNOME Hello, I really wanted a keyboard I felt comfortable with, so we discarded using daf's lappy and used mine, even if it was a bit slow.

After Mark's introduction, Steve and I started explaining what the problems currently are in the l10n world, and the presentation kept going smoothly until we had to demo Rosetta. After importing the template I found out some of the keys in the computer didn't respond. Uh-oh... not knowing what was going on with it, we quickly decided to switch to daf's laptop, and then the fun began... writing accents in a Welsh keyboard is a bit more complicated than usual because you have to use compose, so my typing efficiency decreased quite notably. Also, daf had his Japanese input method active, so every now and then I accidentally enabled it and started writing Japanese stuff, which amused the audience quite a bit. I managed to complete a few strings, and we decided to not finish the whole po as it would take too much time. We exported the file and I guess people could get the idea, but I really was not that happy about how things were going...

After the demo, SteveA and I finished what was left of the slides without using the slides, and luckily Steve remembered the bits, because at that point I was suffering some brain failures due to the lack of sleep and wouldn't have remembered much... People seemed quite interested in knowing more details about Rosetta and what it would be able to do in the future, and we got much feedback during the 20 minutes of debate.

After the presentation, I was interviewed by two girls from the Canal Blau of Vilanova i la Geltrú, which asked me the typical "why are you involved in Free Software" questions. We had a chat after that, as I told them part of my family descends from Sitges, where one of them lives.

I had a chat with Jordi Mas from Softcatalà during lunch, and then wondered if I should go to Barcelona to spend the evening. I decided to wait at the hotel until Sergio left to go back to València, and then back to my room for a long nap. I was woken up by the mobile phone, and didn't know where I was... found that mako was having pizza in his room, and got elmo and Kinnison to order one with me too. After completing Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja again and showing people how President Ronnie goes to have some burgers with the bad dudes (Mark loved that, while elmo thought mako and I should be locked up in different rooms) we went out for some beers, where I met Juantomás and had a long chat, with him and his wife.

On Sunday morning, kiko and I dragged Mark out of bed and went running to the promenade and the beach. Kiko and I went ahead of him at the end of the promenade, through a small trail at the side of the railway tracks, and around 1 km to the north of Mataró we found what apparently were two bunkers from the Spanish Civil war. After wondering why they might have been needed, we turned around and picked up Mark on our way back. The streets were already prepared for the start of Mataró's Half Marathon, which was going to happen that morning. Too bad I'm not fit enough for that...

At 13:00, a small group including lu, stub, Adi, Chris Halls and I took a train to Barcelona, and we walked the way from Arc de Triomf to the Sagrada Família, where we decided to go up to one of the towers. We met another Canonical group (elmo, daniels, jdub, thom, etc.) by chance around the building and we all started to climb the stairways. Soon enough, people afraid of heights (jdub, keybuk, Anthony Baxter, myself) started feeling unseasy up there as at some points the protection bars were nowhere to be found and I couldn't help imagining myself diving into the void accidentally. Also, the stupid doll that Daniel gave to me a few minutes before didn't help because it meant having one of my two hands occupied during the way down. Naughty Little Daniel!

I rushed to my uncle's house, and despite running quite hard for 15 minutes I arrived late as I first started running in slightly the wrong direction. I had a great lunch and at 6 left for Mataró again. In the train I found the Async guys, who had visited the Parc Güell, and I wondered where the rest were. I found out from thom that they probably were in the same train, but in the first wagon.

For a few hours, my head had been spinning for some reason, and I really felt quite sick. I could just think of go to have some sleep, and woke up at nearly 22:00 wondering if someone had not had dinner already. Luckily, the pyGTK BOF people hadn't, so we went to the town centre to look for some place. Apparently my face showed that I wasn't feeling very well, because soon enough Matt described the syptomps of his illness a few days before, and it sounded quite possible that it was the same thing, given that elmo had been over it. It was the Ubuntu virus! After an excellent dinner in an Italian restaurant, I found sjoerd and mako in my room, but we quickly went to bed until today. Again, no running or swimmingpool. kiko has promised me we'll go swimming today. I'm not so sure now, though!

Fri, 10 Dec 2004

Halfway through the Mataró conference

Woah, I haven't had time at all to blog since I arrived here. The daily activity never stops, so it's going to be quite difficult to summarise what's been going on here for the last four days

First of all, it's a pleasure to be with all the Canonical people and the other few guests that have been around the conference since the first days. Mako and I have been spending quite some time just discussing stuff, both technical issues here and there, and the really important things in life like what MAME game is more crackful. I hadn't been laughing so much in a few months.

The conference is as interesting as Oxford was. Every day is packed with BOFs and discussion, with our daily dose of technology presentation early in the morning. Of special interest to me were the "language packs" BOF, which showed how hard it is to update translations on a Debian system without changing the package or recompiling anything; and the branding BOF, which also showed some problems in that direction: changing conffiles without recompiling.

Everyone misses the Oxford days for one main reason: some people, like James Blackwell, are starving, and others are just getting rid of a few extra kilograms. :) There was a proposal to look for the local jail to get some food there, as our "lunchpacks" are really not that attractive. Mark has been heard to refer to them as Death in a bag. You get the idea. Food at night is a lot better because we're free to go wherever we want to look for food, which is working very well.

As for what's my main focus for this conference, Rosetta, it's great to see how things are being polished day after day for tomorrow's debut. Rosetta has a big potential to become a tool that most of the l10n communities won't be able to do without, specially the ones that are starting now or will be starting in the near future. My main activity in the mornings is to make Rosetta blow up, and see how Carlos and Daf fix it. :) Then, I make it blow up again, and they come and clean up after me. It's a fun game. :) Fortunately, it's getting more and more difficult to make things crash lately, and hopefully everything will go smoothly during tomorrow's presentation I'm doing with Steve Alexander.

Of course, I'm also keeping and eye on the Desktop team BOFs, but not as much as I'd like to, as the Launchpad stuff is downstairs. There was a good BOF two days ago about new aproaches to easy software management for Ubuntu. The ideas that were thrown out rocked, and I guess Hoary will be a great advance in that area.

Yesterday I found some time to upload HOWL packages for Jeff, while doing a double-round of alsa-lib (to be completed today with alsa-driver and -utils) and an update of ephy-extensions. In the meanwhile, GNOME 2.8 is getting better every day. According to Sebastien, we're just missing gconf-editor and evolution; gedit made it in yesterday, gnome-control-center, gnome-applets and gnome-utils will hopefully go in today, and this morning's evolution upload should have fixed the last two remaining RC bugs for the 2.0.x release.

Tonight we're hopefully going to the swimming pool, after a failed try yesterday. And tomorrow I *promise* I'll be down in the lobby at 7:15 to go running with lu, kiko and SteveA. I've failed to wake up for two days in row now and I really don't feel too proud about it... Staying up until 2AM mostly every day doesn't help much anyway.

Mon, 06 Dec 2004

Arrived at Mataró

I arrived a few hours ago at Mataró, after a 4h train trip. This was, for a change, one of my best travels in the last few years in terms of preparation and timing. I even managed to be at the railroad station in València around 45 minutes early. Of course, that didn't avoid me forgetting to buy the newspaper or a bottle of water, but other than that, everything went ok, unlike recently in Madrid. ;)

As I walked down the street looking for the hotel, I came across a small, lost group of Canonical people, including Mako, Rob and Matt, and Quique from Sindominio. Mako went back with me to the hotel, and we quickly went out again to find the main group. We didn't, as it seems phoning to an Aussie mobile phone using an American mobile phone through the shittiest Spanish telco doesn't work that well, so we ended all alone in the main streets of the town. We decided to have dinner in a restaurant specialised in ham and other pig products. The food was excellent, and we took our time to finish it all, while we talked about, ahem, our past experiences with alcohol and other substances.

Good news is that Mako will most probably spend a few days in València when the conference finishes. Kinda cool, he needs to see how our government spends money in great buildings, and he can have a look at the great LliureX office, otherwise known as the ZuleX. That stuff will probably give him ideas for a ton or two of blog entries.

Back at the hotel, I met fabbione, bob2, thom, Mithrandir, tbm, garnacho and a few others, but it wasn't long before I went up to my room, where I spent a while listening to Mako's stories until we decided 2AM was enough.

The Canonical meeting starts tomorrow. It's going to be fun.

Sat, 04 Dec 2004

Looks like everything will Just Work

After a very much needed long sleep, I wake up to discover that joeyh decided that another well known FAQ isn't what Debian really needs, so he put code to base-config that adds the first user to the plugdev group, if base-passwd added a static plugdev group.

Not long after, Kamion said this was acceptable and uploaded a new base passwd. When these two packages hit testing, the problem will be solved. Thanks to both!

In other news, I was a bit too optimistic on the amount of things that would hit testing last night. Unfortunately, a few missing s390 builds are also holding gnome-panel, gnome-applets and control-center, which I guess I can't call "minor bits" too easily. They will be in soon, hopefully today.

Fri, 03 Dec 2004

GNOME 2.8 about to land in Sarge

While we've been a bit quiet and haven't reported about the status of GNOME 2.8 as it entered unstable, things have been moving in the background at an incredible pace.

This has been the smoothest transition to testing since GNOME 2.0, and unless something unexpected happens today, most of the important GNOME bits will hit sarge during tonight's testing run. During the short life that these packages have had in unstable, we've had to deal with just two release critical bugs, a very unusual mark given how many source packages are involved in a full GNOME upload.

A few bits like gedit, gnome-utils or gnumeric will have to wait some more days before they can enter testing, due to missing builds or dependencies, but the core of the desktop is now ready.

In the end, we've decided to include GNOME Volume Manager by default, even if sarge's default kernel is 2.4. It wasn't trivial to take this decision, as there's quite a few factors that will make it not "Just Work".

gvm depends on HAL, which in turn depends on Linux 2.6. This means that Debian GNOME users will likely want to upgrade to kernel 2.6 if they aren't already using it to get a completely functional desktop, with superb automounting of cameras, USB memory sticks and removable media.

Additionally, we've chosen to enable pmount support in gnome-vfs for sarge, so hal won't be doing scary business with your /etc/fstab. The drawback is that for users to benefit of pmount, they need to be added to the plugdev group, or the won't be able to mount stuff automatically using gvm.

This sucks, but we have no way of handling this in a sane way, while pmount isn't part of Debian's base system or the plugdev group isn't added to base-passwd. People suggested that base-config added the user that is created when Debian is installed to the group, as it does with cdrom, audio and video, but this was rejected by joeyh for a good reason.

In short, we'll have to find a way of pointing our GNOME users that this stuff doesn't work because they lack permissions, but it's hard to do it in a non-intrusive way. I'm inclined to think that this will end up as a well known FAQ, just as the need to add people to the audio group so they can use their sound hardware has been in the past. But of course, the GNOME team would like this to Just Work.

Going back to the testing transition, it's been a fun one, although admittedly it wasn't as complicated as 2.2->2.4 or 2.4->2.6, but still, it's wonderful to see that everything went ok. Go, GNOME team!

(And now, Murphy will come out of his hiding place. He was probably waiting for this post...)