Thu, 20 Aug 2009

Operation PANTS

Debian has shown, once again, how a strong community of friends and workmates it is. Here's a success story, not related to our common duties as Debian Developers. This has nothing to do with packages, mailing lists, PO files or britney runs. This is all about pants, and the ties that bind them.

Let's introduce this story a little. Four years ago, if memory serves right, I had the pleasure to host Clint in my flat when he visited València for a few days. When he eventually left to go back to NYC, I was at work so I couldn't help him check he had packed everything in his bag. It took me weeks to realise he had left his yellow pyjama pants hanging behind the door of the bathroom I never use. I couldn't help making fun about his kidnapped pyjamas on IRC, and unfortunately this has kept going for years. I would go shopping for new speedos with my mom, and wear the pants during the shopping trip, when I needed to sample some jamón ibérico, I would always wear them. When I required lounging in the sun, his pants were a constant companion. The pants became more to me than just pants I found hanging on the bathroom hook. They became a private confidant, metalic objects would fly out of people's hands and stick themselves to the pants. I once went outside in the middle of the night, wearing only the pants, everyone who I passed in the street got a sunburn. The pants radiated joy, they cooked eggs just by standing near them, weekly they would push out perfectly formed flan that I would enjoy while wearing the pants. People's monitors would self-degauss when I walked by. I no longer shaved yaks, they simply were shaved seeing me in these pants. The pants were magical. They are so soft, I think they are made out of a combination of baby's bottoms, astroturf, handlotion, cotton candy, and hair from the hide of the mystical Softasaurus, a beast so soft that if you were to look at it your eyes would soften in their sockets. I am pretty sure that the Torta del Casar from Cáceres is made from the milk of the Softasaurus. As you can imagine, I became attached to these pants, we lived together, we went out together, I would always tell Clint about it of course, but we developed our own special relationship. My girlfriend became jealous.

Of course, I took care of keeping the trousers in a safe place and I always meant to return them to Clint, if I were to meet him again. I did not want to return them, because they were my precious. But if someone came from the US who could bring them back I vowed to hand them over to them to act as a proxy. However, even if it was my best intention, somehow I kept forgetting about it when friends flew to NYC. My idea was to get them posted to Clint by someone in the city, as a nice way of returning the pyjamas... but the pants held some kind of power over me, and it never happened, I don't understand what happened.

On July 23, I went to Debconf 9 in Cáceres. In the very last moment before leaving, the pants called out to me from the small shrine I kept them in, "take me to my leader!" I could see them glimmering in the candle light, somewhat obscured by the incense I burn there, they were pulsating, I became afraid and knew that maybe I had gone too far. Clearly, it was time to return them, and so Operation PANTS officially started!

During Debconf, the pants began to exert some kind of bizarre magical influence over the attendees. They were afflicted by a mania that frantically lit up their eyes, they sparkled in freakish ways. They would get cold sweats, and shake uncontrollably. Someone puked on the printer, a host of carrion birds circled above the venue and the security guard began carrying handcuffs and a billy club. People would drool on their OpenMokos and emit soft moo'ing sounds. They talked in hurried and hushed tones while always looking at me suspiciously. Something was clearly exerting a strong force. As an example, on the day that Launchpad was released with a Free Software licence, people were crying and hugging each other in the halls. It was like the ring to Gollum, but this was pants, one pair to rule them all. More than once, while someone was eyeing me askance, another Debconf attendee would grab hold of the pants and yank them from my body, laughing maniacally. I would be left naked, without my glorious pants, and it was then, crestfallen and forlorn, that I finally realised that I had hit rock-bottom. I was addicted to these pants, and it was only when I lost them did I know how powerful of an influence they had on my life. I needed help, I was addicted to pants.

I found Micah, and we began to stage interventions to free people from the powerful grasp of the pants. We would find someone, huddling in the corner with the pants, bloodshot eyes, typically with jaundice or some other malnourishment, dried drool on their chin, etc. who was doing some unholy thing with the pants. We would then use the camera flash to temporary blind them by saturating their fully dilated pupils and in that moment, we could take back the pants. We could only touch them with rubber gloves, for fear we would be tainted. Luckily, there were many cameras around, and there is evidence of our interventions that can be used to rebate denials of these happenings. Be careful, for you will find there fellow Debianistas in compromising states, at embarrassing lows in their life, you may find yourself and remember how horrible your pants addiction was, it is an unholy sight. For some this addiction was as if Hell itself opened up began spewing out MORE hells, until the universe, the cosmos and all dimensions were infinite hells stacked on top of each other and they were each individually oozing some ghastly fluid.

Micah took the pants back to NYC, in a hermetically sealed bag, illegally transporting them across international borders. Something happened along the way, Micah could not resist one last chance with the pants. So on a warm summer night in NYC, he took them to meet their rightful owner. Everything was going well. He and his handler (Karl Fogel) met Clint at a nice, quiet restaurant in the Village. They ordered food, and things were proceeding nicely, but suddenly Micah was overcome with a desire he could not withstand. This was his last chance, just one more taste of the pants! What could possibly go wrong, he just had to visit the bathroom for a quick change into the pants, and then he could give them back. He got up, under the auspices of cleansing his hands, went to the bathroom and put on the PANTS. He stood there, shivering in bliss. He exclaimed, too loudly, "They are SO SOFT!". It was too late, he could not take them off. He left the bathroom, with them on. He returned to the table, and Clint DID NOT NOTICE!

Micah was overcome with guilt and said, "Look what I got from Jordi!" Clint still did not notice, the pants were somehow camouflaged from Clint's gaze. Micah, was forced to vigorously point to the pants he was wearing and say, "Its your pants!"...

... at which point Clint noticed...

... and Micah was forced to take them off in the restaurant.

   ― Plot and execution by jordi, micah, nattie, pabs & all the people addicted to the PANTS!

Fri, 14 Aug 2009

Unread email

I've just come back from my hiking trip in Andorra, just after DebConf. This year's summer vacation has been a mix of a fun geeky week at Cáceres where I met many old friends, immediately followed by a lovely trip around the Andorran GRP, a hiking route around the borders of the Pyrenean tiny country. The last few days were spent in several Catalan towns like Bellver de Cerdanya, Figueres, Cadaqués and Girona, before getting back to València to sadly go back to work. I'll try to write about DebConf and Andorra in length in the following days.

The downside of all of this is when you find this in your mail.log:

Aug 13 00:47:05 nubol fetchmail[3047]: 6123 messages for jordi at (136533726 octets). 

Sigh. Please bear with me while I work through this huge pile of spam mixed with a dozen or so of legitimate email. :/

Fri, 21 Nov 2008

Chimo Bayo... live!

Wow, in an hour or so I'll be heading to The Mill, where the unique Chimo Bayo will be performing live. HUA!

Fri, 02 Nov 2007

Valencian children and foreign languages

Recently, GozRita unveiled the names of our two Falleretes majors for 2008's Falles festivities. All the free newspapers did some extensive coverage, with reports on who they are and what they do.

Qué Valencia interviewed the little Fallera major, and then posted this:

Little Victoria learns Valencian

So, Victoria Blázquez speaks English and Valencian "nearly perfectly". Great! I think having newspapers treat Valencian as if it were just another foreign language that students are forced to learn is a great example of the dark future our language will face in just a few generations.

Sat, 20 Oct 2007

You might get an email from me tonight

Sometime in August, I said I would watch the Inbox Zero talk later on that day. Well, I finally did today. And I'm ready to mass-murder my (now not so) fat inbox folder and start from scratch, and becoming a good boy.

In fact, I've been on probation for a few weeks. While I wasn't watching the talk (which is pretty insightful and fun, and useful if you also have these horrid mail handling problems) I did roll up my sleeves a few times and worked on reducing the problem. After a few rounds of fighting, things were looking slightly better. I deleted TONS of spam which still was sitting in there. I deleted entire threads of list mail which for some reason wasn't being filtered properly. I archived a lot of random, misc email. I even replied to some job offers, for a change. I fixed my .procmailrc a little to get rid of lots of useless stuff that appears in my mail. It got better, but not entirely better.

I went from the 6600~ which was probably the figure when I said “Enough!” to around 2580. It's still a lot, and I can still get rid of a lot more with easy pattern searches in mutt. The good news is that, for the first time in ages, the number of emails in the mailbox has stayed stable for more than a month. I tell you: I'm proud!

So Merlin gets asked in the talk what to do when you've been a naughty boy for a long time, and you've ended up with this HUGE mailbox you can't handle anymore. His answer was what some people suggested in blog comments: put it aside, start from zero. Merlin calls it mail-DMZ, and that's probably what I'll do in a few hours, admittedly with a sentiment of guilt deep in my chest. And from that point, I'll have my mailbox be a TODO list. Delete. Defer. Delegate. Respond. Do. Simple!

Other Planet Debian participants like joeyh commented that something that really helps is reducing the number of times you poll for email. For me, that means

set daemon      1800            # Pool every 30 minutes

when it was 5 minutes before. I hope I won't find myself issuing awaken commands often...

I remember when, more than five years ago, having more than 100 mails made me feel bad and go cleanup. After some vacation, it went up to 150. Then Christmas came along, 300, until I found myself nearing 7000 last summer.

Before moving my junk to a demilitarised mailbox, I'm having some fun replying to some email. The first one in my mailbox is from a member of a Catalan "Mallach" family.

From: Conchita Broquetas <>
Subject: Hola!
Date: Sun, 17 Jun 2001 16:55:17 +0200 (CEST)

who discovered there was a "Jordi Mallach" other than his brother in the Internet. Apparently we had an exchange on where our families came from (Mallach is all but a common surname... anywhere, and my family has always wondered where it came from).

So that's more than 6 years ago. I think I'd love to get a reply to some email sent by me years ago which has been sitting for years in a mailbox, because "I need to reply to this sometime". I think the Mallach-Broquetas are getting one tonight.

If you think I'm dumping random thoughts on a vim buffer, it's probably due to me feeling sad today. Sorry, but I feel like typing, and I don't have a typewriter with me. Speaking of sad, nothing beats the next email which sat for some dramatic 6 months in my messy inbox until I found out in the worst of the possible scenarios. Let's go back to late February, 2004, when I had no job, and I didn't have a clue on what to do with my life.

From: Mark Shuttleworth <>
Subject: New project to discuss
To: Jordi Mallach <>
Date: Sun, 29 Feb 2004 18:33:51 +0000

I'm hiring a team of debian developers to work full time on a new
distribution based on Debian. We're making internationalisation a prime
focus, together with Python and regular release management. I've discussed
it with a number of Debian leaders and they're all very positive about it.

I'm not sure if I totally missed it as it came in, or I skimmed through it and thought ”WTF?! Dude on crack” or I just forgot “I need to reply to this email”, but I'd swear it was the former. Not long after, popped up, the rumours started spreading around Debian channels. Luckily, I got a job at LliureX two months later, where I worked during the following 2½ years, but that's another story. I guess it was July or so when Ubuntu was made public, and Mark and his secret team organised a conference (blog entries [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]), just before the Warty release, and I was invited to it, for the same reasons I got that email.

During that conference, probably because Mark sent me some email and I applied a filter to get to it, I found the lost email, and felt like digging a hole to hide for a LONG while. I couldn't believe the incredible opportunity I had missed. I went to Mark and said "hey, you're not going to believe this", and he did look quite surprised about someone being such an idiot.

I wonder if I should reply to his email today...

Tue, 21 Aug 2007

Inbox Zero

jordi@nubol:~$ countmail



I'll watch the talk this evening.

Tue, 29 May 2007


19:12 < Данило> jordim: btw, you should look up what 'dude' means in Serbian :)
19:13 < Данило> jordim: (old slang for 'boobs', but don't tell anyone I told 
                you that)

(danilo's name obfuscated in cyrillic so he can't blame me)


20:52 < kaol> jordi: dude, you fail at obfuscation
Wed, 17 Jan 2007

Frenando Alfonso visits València

So last monday, the F1 team “Vodafone McLaren Mercedes <youraddhere>” unveiled their new car, new drivers and all the stuff in València. Many Valencians are still wanki^Wexcited about the event.

Our Great Leader Paco Camps and his Great Team of Consellers prepared a urban racing circuit emulating Monaco, so people could enjoy Fernando Alonso's driving skillz right next to their homes. To accomplish this, one of the most important arteries of the city was closed during 8 or more hours, during a working day, when transit is busiest. And better yet, 1,200,000€ of public money, our money, was spent to set up a show which basically was a huge advertisement of a private team.

This is València though, the land of “mosatros, més!”, and Valencians are pretty much happy with how their taxes are used, or how the city is quickly becoming a huge circus, after 12 (soon to be extended to 16) years of Partido Popular. I can't wait for the 32nd America's Cup!

If anything positive, this show may change the name of the bridge where the Pope did his stuff last Summer (at the time, it was closed to transit during 3 months). Until now popularly called “El Puente del Papa”, hopefully it'll morph to “El Puente de Alonso”, at least until the next show. If I need to choose between Ratzinger and Alonso, hey, give me Alonsomania!

Sun, 14 Jan 2007


Today I woke up with a strong determination to do some badly needed house cleaning. A series of rushed travels have left a few rooms full of stuff all over the place, after I emptied a bag or two to be able to pack on time.

Just before going to Tunisia, I decided my wallet was way too fat so I got rid of shopping receipts and other random shit I had in it. That included quite a few PGP keys from people I had been collecting in previous travels, and I had forgotten about.

So, armed with my willingness to get rid of all of those dust puppies, first thing I find in the living room is the pile of wallet papers, and my clever procrastinating mind apparently thought it was time to postpone real cleaning; instead I needed to sit down and sign all of those really old PGP keys.

Many of you reading this will have got a few emails from me this morning. It was about time! Some of the silly strips of paper dated back to the Open Source World Conference 2004 in Málaga, when a decent group of Debian Developers gathered in a really small hacking room and talked about some Debian topics.

Signing the keys has let me identify a few non-revoked ids which really should be, as the accounts are no longer valid, etc.; many others have greylisted me for a while and finally accepted my email. There was one mail recipient which may have gone a bit too far with the anti-spam policies, though:

9323170A74B     4007 Sun Jan 14 17:55:38
(host[] said: 421 call 09001000057 for admin support (in reply to MAIL FROM command))

Alexander, I'm not doing calls to Germany to send your key, but I can resend if you want, once you open up your mail server... (my tries to also failed).

It seems I have misplaced a few keys from the Ubuntu Summit in Sydney, but I think I know where to find that sheet. More in 2 or 3 years!

PS: dust puppies are alive and well, they managed to survive yet another tough day.

Fri, 10 Nov 2006

GECS, the GEGL's happy cousin

Via Mako and Mika I learned about the discovery of a living close relative of GNOME's GEGL. Her name is GECS for obvious reasons, lives in China and she seems to be very happy with her blue daddy.

Cow or goat, equally cute!

(Brought to you by yet another shocking URL posted by mika)

Page 0 of 8  >>