Yesterday I attended one day of the UbuntuBelowZero conference in Montreal:
"Ubuntu Love Day."
Canonical employees work from home, and they meet up for one or (in this
case) two weeks in a different location around the world twice per year. The
first day was the most community-oriented, and the attendance was well over
100 people. It was packed.
Installer: In the next version they will supercede the Debian
installer. The liveCD will boot as it normally boots into the desktop, and
there will be an "Install" icon on the desktop, with a graphical wizard. It
will allow for a much simpler interface than the current Debian Installer,
including something that works like gParted.
kubuntu: The KDE-based Ubuntu is headed up by Jonathan Riddell. He
makes it a point to backport latest patches to keep their KDE fresh. Their
main difference to other KDE distros is that they build the GStreamer
backend into the multimedia applications as the default.
edubuntu: A really neat implementation of the Linux Terminal
Server Project. I witnessed very, very fast booting on the thin clients.
Translations and LaunchPad: With their big "LaunchPad" project,
the Ubuntu guys are trying to revolutionize how translations are done.
Basically, when all of their default packages are built, all of the .po
files are moved to a few big "core translations" packages. The LaunchPad
already lets people translate strings online, and the translations package
can be updated frequently without bumping binary packages. Another big goal
of Launchpad is that it will aggregate all of the various Bugzillas out
there so that bugs can be found quickly, duplicates thrown out, and patches
not left unnoticed.
Obligatory Funny Quote: Jeff Waugh: "Ubuntu: ancient african word
that means 'I'm sick of compiling Gentoo.'"
] | posted @ 23:58 | link
Celestia + GTK + WindowsXP = Pure Crackery
To end the month with a bit of a bang, I set my project for today (well,
yesterday, I guess) to port Celestia's GTK+ UI to native Windows. After all,
both GAIM and The Gimp have done it, and I knew that GTK's OpenGL widget,
gtkglext, has been ported, though I didn't know how well it worked.
After a half day of messing around with trying to make it work under
MinGW32 (after a full day of getting all the GTK+ libraries to work
correctly), I decided that the Unix Makefiles were just far too centered
around X and Mesa to be useful for this test. Instead, I decided to give
Microsoft Visual Studio .NET a try, with the GladeWin32 libraries and
development headers. These were very easy to install. Compiling even vanilla
Windows Celestia proved a little more tricky.
Changing the Makefiles to work with the GTK files was pretty much the
other half of the day. The code itself only needed a one function change
(that will work under Linux as well), one define (which will be fixed in the
Makefile eventually), a couple of locales lines temporarily commented out,
and a dummy WinMain() that just calls main(). I even left the Win32
resources compiling in, giving me the pretty icon built into the binary. The
biggest addition looks like this:
int APIENTRY WinMain(HINSTANCE hInstance,
return main(__argc, __argv);
Considering that there was some talk in the past of unifying some of
Celestia's GUIs, GTK might be a viable option. By this time next year, this
same trick should work on MacOS, which would cover all of the platforms.
There is also no reason why this GTK Celestia can't reuse the existing
Windows Registry functions for settings. I thought that there might be some
limitations to the OpenGL capabilities, but all of my card's shaders are
recognized and the rendering is surprisingly fast, with no apparent FPS
GTK+ has come a long way.
] | posted @ 00:50 | link
The History of Star Trek Stages
After exactly six months of hard work, I am launching the site devoted to
what is my largest non-academic research project ever. Having started on
April 23rd, it is pure coincidence that the work is done today, exactly
half of a year later.
The site is devoted to the history of the Paramount Studios stages as
they concern Star Trek. The series of shows have occupied the soundstages on
the Hollywood lot for many, many years. For the first time in many years, no
stage of the lot is occupied by Trek. Still, there is a rich history behind
so many of the stages. It's neat having the plans, seeing how shots are
planned, sets reused, etc.
The site has been added to the Filmography section of my page. It looks
like crap in IE, though try as I might, I couldn't fix it. IE is just too
damned broken. Instead, when I detect IE used on the main page, I put up a
big red DIV-box informing them their browser is broken and to get FireFox
(it looks great in Opera and kHTML-browsers as well). But, unlike the
numerous IE-only sites out there, I don't actually restrict any content
based on their browser.
Working on this site has been a good experience. It makes me realize just
how many books on the subject I own. Being able to write about them was
surprisingly easy. I really enjoy set planning and design.
] | posted @ 23:32 | link
After a few years of molding, damaging, casting, sanding, researching, and
painting, I finally finished my communicator badge replica. This is the one
they've been using on Star Trek since 1994 with the movie
Generations. The project started as an exercise in resin casting
skills, based on a commbadge toy I acquired years ago. This one is painted
just like the ones on the show, and I'm quite happy with how it turned out.
Goes well with the phaser. I wrote a page about it in the Models
section of my site. Maybe now I can get back to models in a scale other than
Today was spent sleeping and working on the car. The driver-side constant
velocity joint's rubber boot decided to disintigrate and I got a replacement
part earlier this week. However, undoing rusty bolts in and around the wheel
wells always takes time. In the end, I got everything out of the way and am
stuck trying to get the end of the transaxle out of the transmission. A
mechanic is coming by Monday morning and hopefully he can get it out, if I
can't get it done myself tomorrow.
] | posted @ 23:42 | link
A Whole Week
This week just flew right by. I spent some time considering why I take the
time to attach a photo to most entries here. Is it for a lack of online
album? To show off? Sometimes. In the end, I came to the conclusion that
it's usually because it helps reflect on the subject of the photograph and
write around it. Without the context of the photograph, entries would just
probably be a plain summary of who-what-where-when-how. The image adds a
theme. And so...
After a week of high wind and rain, yesterday was mild, had a remarkable
sunset. It also happened to be my turn to take Luna out for a walk. We went
to the pond, where there were literally a hundred geese off in the distance,
going about their evening business. I like how the silhouette turned out,
with light streaming through the fur. The fall colours have come and gone
very quickly due to the wind and rain.
Also, last night I took on another project. It's a rather large PHP
project. Seeing as I expect it will take about 100 hours, it's questionable
whether it is the right decision. I am, after all, just getting settled into
the forty hour work week. The real motivation is keeping my skills alive.
Without university, keeping current with things beyond work is tricky. The
question then becomes: what skills is it worth maintaining?
I just typed the following line and it made me giggle:
emerge -fu world
] | posted @ 23:47 | link
I had a lousy day today. Most of it was caused by how yesterday's events
played out. I had gotten a KDE mailing list eMail forwarded to me at work,
written by an attendee from their kamp to Gnome Summit. It was thoroughly
negative. I mentioned it in the Gnome IRC channel and people didn't know
what I was talking about, so I let people in on what was in it. Only later
did I discover that it was from a very private KDE mailing list, without
public subscriptions or archives. This morning I was "approached" by one of
the KDE people demanding I tell them who leaked the information or have that
person mail them an apology. That obviously placed me in a very tough
situation, given the company structure. The eMail does not even contain any
sensitive information, just a misguided summary of the events plus a few
I acted in anger yesterday; anger that the guy I was talking to over beer
and who seemed to be content with the Summit could write such things. This
anger overcame my normally careful judgment to check the source of the
eMail. This entire business left me a little shaky. I am upset.
Later I got my first pay cheque. I wish I had a third-person recording of
my expression. My eyes must have widened beyond their normal limits when I
read the line "Tax: 480.91". Yikes! I'm not used to seeing that kind of
In more positive news, I got full Gnome Bugzilla access yesterday. This
lets me close, reassign, and do everything else with bugs. I immediately set
out to close bugs in f-spot and Muine. I'm also motivated to write patches
to fix several bugs I've noticed.
] | posted @ 23:58 | link
Gnome Summit 2005
Rather than spending Thanksgiving with family, I once again went off to
Boston for the Gnome Summit at MIT.
The drive south was terrible, with heavy rain the entire way. In Vermont
and New Hampshire, there was fresh pavement that was very slick and was not
properly designed for drainage. Going over 80 km/h, the car would hydroplane
immediately. It took over nine hours to get there. At one point I noticed my
small finger was numb: clenching the steering wheel strongly had cut off the
blood past my engineering ring. I was very fortunate with one thing: I had
applied Rain-X to the windshield for the first time ever the week before
leaving. I hardly used my wipers at all -- that stuff is amazing.
The first day of the summit revealed a much larger crowd than what I
expected; perhaps twice as many as last year. It seems as though the other
half showed up from Europe. Nevertheless, the day was a little slow for me.
I left in the afternoon to do some planned shopping. I hoped it would take
an hour or so, but with Boston being the way it is, it took almost three
hours. But I got my paint.
On the second and third days I was much more involved, but I never got to
any serious hacking. I was simply too tired after the busy first week of
work. I had some excellent discussions. I would like to get involved with
f-spot and the bug squad. Talking with Larry Ewing, f-spot's author, was
motivating. I met Jeff Waugh for the first time and he's quite a character.
The rest of the Boston crew were great, as usual.
In general, this year had less groundbreaking new technological ideas.
From my point of view, the conference was largely about testing, usability,
and visual appearance. Of particular interest to me were the BetterDesktop
and Tango Project talks. Both focused on the thought to user experience that
other open-source projects lack. The optimization presentations were also
amazing -- a tool like Sun's dtrace could go very, very far on Linux. I also
got to play with a Nokia 770 PDA. What can I say?: "Very cool" comes to
mind. The screen on that thing simply blows the highly-acclaimed PSP's
The drive back was uneventful, though I realized soon after leaving
Boston that I took zero photos during the event. So, I took a photo of that
one-and-only metric sign in Vermont, since I keep talking about it.
Luna turns two today! Woof!
] | posted @ 23:38 | link
Presentations and Life
I presented Gnome 2.12 and Celestia at the OCLUG meeting last night. Both of
the presentations went really well. In fact, I don't recall any OCLUG
meeting with a reponse as positive as the one I got. The turnout was good: I
estimate 30-40 people. The Gnome 2.12 presentation ended up being almost
twice as long as I had planned: people kept on asking questions, including
some surprisingly good ones. The Celestia presentation was very well
received, with lots of "oohs" and "ahs". I did the presentation in the order
of simplest to most complex features, starting with just browsing Earth,
then moving around the solar system, then going out really far, then
constellations and labels, then an increase in resolution and zooming in to
within a very near distance of spacecraft. At first, I left it just in the
opening view while giving an overview, and I got the impression that people
thought it was just a spherical Google Maps. But people really seemed to
like it once I started moving things. I spent a total of 80 minutes talking.
Work is going well, I am really getting into the nine-to-five schedule.
Despite the fact that this week is insanely busy both in and out of work, I
am enjoying it.
Over the last few days I have been doing heavy planning for going to the
Boston Gnome Summit this weekend. I found a hotel at a decent price just 30
minutes from MIT. Should be fun!
] | posted @ 23:45 | link
It is October already. Amazing.
Tomorrow I will begin my full-time employment at Xandros. That means
having to get up at a decent time and getting back into a routine. It is the
"getting up at a decent time" part that will cause problems.
For my last day of freedom, I decided I must finish the phaser. After
all, it's been over nine months since I bought it for myself for doing well
first semester last year. Also, the days are getting shorter and less
suitable for spray painting. On the subject of spray paint, this weekend I
had to redo the paint three times because it did not look good. However,
time and perseverance paid off, and now I have a near-perfect prop. I added
it to the models section of my site,
I caught a bit of The 4400 while channel-flipping on a Simpsons
commercial break. It caught my attention because it was filmed at UBC, in
the area of the Rose Gardens and Chan Centre, just like BSG. All of these
Vancouver locations catch my attention (ding!). I vote that the Canadian
movie industry move to Ottawa for new locations.
] | posted @ 22:41 | link
copyright ©2004-2012 pat suwalski