Sat, 18 Mar 2006


I'm miraculously on my way back from London, after spending a week with daf, mvo and two guests, abel and thep, from Hong Kong and Thailand, working on improving some l10n aspects of the upcoming Ubuntu release, dapper.

The most visible result of the stuff that we've been doing is that if all goes well, users of the Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Bengali, Lao or Korean languages will get their required input methods, fonts and dictionaries Just Working as soon as their drives spit their dapper install CDs. We've learned quite a bit about the state of many of the Asian languages in the Free Software world today. Daf and I can certainly tell when an app renders Bengali or Thai correctly and when it doesn't, after closely comparing how different browsers do the job on various websites and font test pages.

We've learned more than we probably like about fontconfig, and thanks to mvo, there is now a mechanism to get custom fonts.conf snippets depending on the default language of the system set by language-selector, so users get the right fonts installed and used by default. Thep's and Abel's help to get this straight is invaluable.

On Friday, daf and I went to the ExCel Novotel where the Launchpad team is having a sprint, in order to lend a hand with the dapper translation import that is going on right now, but for a series of reasons we ended up working on l10n sprint stuff. At least I got to see the team again, and specially kiko, who greeted me with a "Qué pasa, hijo de puta!"

The real life side of this sprint has been less exciting than on other occasions, as due to being few in number and being quite tired, we haven't gone out of Earl's Court area until today. Still, our exploring around the hotel has yield some nice discoveries.

On Sunday, mvo and I were looking for a place to have dinner, and stumbled uppon the Troubadour a place which can either be a pub, a restaurant, a social club or a theatre, depending on your mood. The food was excellent, and the staff was really friendly. I found a Dictionary of Slang in one of the book shelves, and learned a few funny phrases.

Other days we've been to good Italian, Indian or Chinese restaurants, but we couldn't resist to go back to Trobadour again. On our last night, Mark took us to a place in the South Kesington area, with again was very good.

Abel left just after dinner as his flight was at 5AM from Stansted, and we hope he made it OK to the Netherlands, as at 00:30 or so he phoned us and seemed to be pretty lost somewhere. mvo left early in the morning, so daf, thep and I went to visit some bits of the city. My plane was at 16:45GMT, and we calculated that I should be leaving the K&K at 15:00 to be well on track for my flight. We went to Monument to see the tower, went up and enjoyed both the great views over London and the Thames river, as well as the really cold wind which made me swear once again about the %*@!# lack of Spring in the UK.

It was getting quite late for me, so we went to China Town for lunch. Despite the restaurant people being really quick, I only managed to leave the place at 14:50, but given my travel plan was pretty conservative, I was supposed to be safe still. Daf left me at the tube station entrance, and there I started my way too stressful journey back to València. If on our way to London Carlos and were quite close to find our flight closed, this time, I think I hit the limits.

I really don't know how daf and I arrived to the conclusion that leaving Earl's Court at 15:20 was acceptable to get in Heathrow on time. I ran up and down the tube stations, grabbed by luggage, and rushed back to the station, but I had just missed a train to Heathrow and that made me lose some precious 10 minutes. As stations passed by, it became clearer that we had fucked up somewhere when deciding at what time I needed to leave. At 15:35 I was still in the Hammersmith station, with half of the Picadilly line ahead before arriving to the aiport. I sent a message to daf, so he started to get prepared about me staying to sleep somewhere in London.

As soon as the train's doors opened, a number of people rushed out. Someone ahead of me fell when climbing the automatic staircase and I somehow managed to jump over him, with luggage and all. After a run that seemed like half an hour, I arrived at the Iberia desk and, panting, I could only articulate "Tarde para València?". The guy at the counter looked at me, and with a "this can't be true" expression in his face, he picked up a phone and asked "Is it already closed? [...] Can you open it for one more piece of luggage? Thanks."

In the meanwhile, I had been busy removing a 500 ml yoghourt from my bag, fearing having all my clothes smelling like strawberry back in València. The guy handed me a boarding pass, and gave me instructions about the "Iberia Room" near my gate. I asked him what that was about, and he says "oh, of course, you're in Business Class". For a second, I was reminded of stargirl's tricks to get free upgrades when flying, and immediately I was reminded that I was still in a hurry, and I should rush to my gate. And so I did, forgetting to thank the guy for being so kind. I left my yoghourt there though, so at least he could get some food if he was hungry.

The long line before the security check was exasperating, and when I finally went past it, I had to run all over terminal two to my gate, where everyone appeared to be waiting just for me. The doors closed as soon as I entered the aircraft, and I sat in the first row, got a free newspaper and a free meal. I couldn't believe my luck.

As I write this, we've gone over the Pyrenees, which are not as snowy as a month ago, but they still look beautiful from up here. I'm glad to be back in València.