Wed, 23 Feb 2005

Going to Telemarken, Norway

I just bought tickets to go to Norway at the end of next month. It's taken a while to make up my mind, but thankfully Brande was persuasive and kept insisting that I should come. I'm sure I won't regret.

Brande is my sister's boyfriend, and has British/Danish double nationality. For some reason, his Danish family owns a part of a hotel in Telemarken, so he can book rooms for a totally ridiculous price for Spain, which is like 10+ times cheaper than the normal price in Norway, apparently.

The plan is to go there, three of us at the moment, and do some skiing, climbing the hills all over the place for one week. I fear the low temperatures, despite we'll go at the end of March. I'm simply not made for the cold. The other day Brande showed me a few pics of his other ski trips to Telemarken and it looks like we'll have a great time.

Oh, and then, there's the crazy sauna thing. I hear that there's this tradition of going into the sauna after your long ski day, and after you've been inside that hell for a while, you go out naked and lay on the snow for as much time as you can. That can't be good for my health.

I'm looking forward to my longest trip (in distance) ever. The farthest place I had visited before was London/Oxford, so imagine.

Tue, 22 Feb 2005

MaratOOó 2.0

During the past weekend, Softcatalà held a meeting with the unique goal of advancing on, or finishing if at all possible, the Catalan translation of 2.0. The meeting place was one of the research buildings in the Campus de Burjassot of the Universitat de València, and took place during two full days at one one the computer labs.

Despite there are a lot more potential translators in Catalunya, it was decided to favour a location like Burjassot, just 5 kilometres away from València to see if the event could get us a few more contributors and translators in an area where the Catalan language, here known as valencià, is not going through its best moment due to a number of reasons. We knew we would have support from Valencian users of the area for hosting the MaratOOó here, but would we have an acceptable turnout of people willing to help during the weekend?

We were delighted to find out that a good group of people showed up early on Saturday morning, which as soon as we got started was mostly used by Marc and me with two introductions about what Softcatalà is about, the conventions we use to translate software and an explanation of how to deal with gettext PO files. After this, people installed either KBabel or PoEdit and started translating more and more OpenOffice 2.0 modules.

Marc, Mireia, Jesús, Francesc came from Barcelona, being the main "foreign" group present. Two pleasant surprises were to meet Jordi and Ana from Tortosa, and some other people, like David or Laia, from towns near València, making a total of 18 translators during the day. Some of them were professional translators, or people studying it at University, and the resulting translations were very good.

After the day ended, I excused myself for not going to have dinner with the people from Catalunya as I hadn't had much sleep the day before, and I wanted to be around Benimaclet that night for the carnestoltes party, so I went ahead and had a 4h nap from 9PM to 1AM and then went out until 4:30AM. That's an excellent way of totally skewing your internal clock...

On Sunday, I arrived inevitably late after sleeping too little again and after casting my vote in the referendum about the European Constitution (but this issue deserves a blog issue for its own). There was less people, as expected, but not having to do any introduction or anything, it felt like it was a bit more productive than Saturday. Ivan Vilata, the guy who got me started doing translations, showed up in the middle of the morning, making a good addition to the team. At 5:30PM we were tired enough to officially end the MaratOOó, and the Barcelona crowd left for their 3h trip back home.

In general, we're very satisfied with the outcome. We haven't finished translating the beast, but it's probably more important that some new people have been introduced to Softcatalà and into translating software, and hopefully some will stay around and will keep volunteering their time to help us. We're grateful for everyone who gave their entire weekend for something that at times can have little or no reward like doing translations for free. I'm specially thankful towards sto, who handled our contact with the University to get the computer lab over the weekend, even if he's not into the l10n world at all, taking over tasks that I should have probably done but couldn't because I've been way too busy and half sick over the last week or two. I'm also very happy about Jesús making it to València even if he went through a serious personal problem just two days before the event. Thanks to both of you!

Softcatalà will probably make an official statement on how the two days went on the main webpage. We're also going to get a 3 page article in the El Temps magazine, besides the coverage we got over the weekend in some online Catalan news sites.

Mon, 21 Feb 2005

Guerrers de Xi'an

After being in Barcelona, during the suspicious Fòrum de les Cultures, and after in Madrid, the Terracota Warriors from Xi'an exposition came to València. The entrance is free for everyone, but there are long queues. I was lucky enough to get 3 tickets for a guided tour during the first day of the show, last Friday. These tickets get you a guide who explains the details about all the pieces, and also quite important, gets you past the queue. :)

I invited Kiko and his workmate Marisol to come with me. A few other members of my family also came with their own tickets, including my 93 year old grandfather, who didn't seem to have many problems to walk all over the museum without getting too tired.

Marisol, Kiko and I enjoyed the stuff, despite our guide being completely unprofessional... if someone was lucky to understand what she was saying (you could only do that if you were straight in front of her) and then asked something to her, instead of just answering "I don't know, sorry", she would invent something, which in some cases sounded quite funny.

The figures from the Qin dynasty were quite big and and impressive, while the objects and figures from the Han dynasty were smaller but a lot more varied. One interesting object was a female masturbation toy made in bronze, and quite big in size.

While the exposition was very interesting, for some reason I expected more. I had seen many pictures from the excavation which showed hundreds of big figures in huge trenches, and I thought the exposition would have a big number of them. But there were only a few 10 big Qin figures and another area with more Han stuff. This doesn't mean by any means that it's not worth visiting, on the contrary, if you're somewhere near València at some point from now to April 1st, you should consider finding some time to visit els Guerrers.

Blog is back

Shortly after posting about referal spam killing my box a few times in two days, things got a lot worse and the box would go down every hour or so. As is, besides a home webserver, a NAT box for my father's Internet connection, having the box more dead than alive was quite unacceptable, and I had to stop Apache2 until I found another place for the blog.

Mako, jacobo (who is back into blogging, for the joy of many in #gpul) and a few others offered temporary hosting for this site while sto and I decide on renting a UML-based box or whatever.

Before moving somewhere else, I tried a few of the last options at the old, slow box, and it seems PyBlosxom caches are really working, at least for now. Despite having gone over a few spam attacks since Saturday, it looks like the box is cutting it quite ok. mrtg reports a few high load peaks over the night, but nothing that kills it. I used the dbm-based pyblosxom cache driver, and the first difference is that apparently I don't get one process per request anymore, and only that prevents running out of memory. I've had one case where the blog would be empty, which was fixed by just rm'ing the cache db. If it happens again, I'll try with the entrypickle cache driver to see if there's any improvement.

Anyway, even if it still works, it's obvious a Pentium 150Mhz is not enough these days, and will have to find something cheap to host my stuff as soon as possible. In the following days I will finish the migration to a new domain name, which will be a start. doesn't make much sense anymore, and quite probably I will let it expire next year.

Fri, 11 Feb 2005

A few suggestions to parasites

Dear assholes,

If you plan to take advantage of my blog to rank your shitty pharmacy webpage high on Google, take the following into consideration:

Thanks for considering a symbiotic relationship in the future.

So the bastards did it again yesterday, and this time I had to drive to where the box is located and see what was going on in console. As expected, OOM killer fun, and by no means I could recover it, even after taking it off the network and trying to SysRQ it a bit.

It seems the spammers are trying to take advantage of referral stats now, and hit sites with tons of requests. Every request to /blog in this site means a not so cheap python process which takes quite some memory, which is a scarce resource in poor With just a few blog processes going on, the box starts swapping to its death.

I know, I should add limits to my Apache2 configuration, and possibly pyblosxom caches. For now, stopping spamd has helped a bit, as that process only was sucking ~35% of the memory.

Tue, 08 Feb 2005

Blue Gold never expires

One month ago I blogged about my awesomely b0rked Metro ticket and how I was being able to use Valencia's expensive metro system nearly for free. I also said that this "gift" would expire at the end of the month, as fees change on January and the old tickets are invalidated.

Yesterday, it started raining a lot in València, and when I woke up today it hadn't stopped. The rain was heavy enough to make me not want to cycle to work, so I had the first opportunity to find out if the ticket still worked after February 1st. At the station, I inserted my card with little hope, and 1 second later the gates opened. It seems Mako's prediction about the card being so fucked up that it would continue working no matter the date was right.

This totally rocks. The Metro here is expensive enough that it hurts to take it 4 or 5 times a week. Luckily I'm still on the Blue Gold Rush, and will have no problems with using it until the cardboard ticket breaks apart after too much usage. Others might think I'm stealing, though. :)