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Fri, 22 Feb 2008

Where did last year go?

Counting off years at an arbitrary date on a calendar seems a bit meaningless - to many people I suppose it makes sense, because everyone gets together at New Year's Eve, and there's a big party to remember things by. With me it's different; for the last few New Years, things have been quiet. The big events in my life are not the times when I take a few days to relax, as pleasant as they are. Thinking about it, the biggest social events these days are software conferences. Sad, but true. I find myself reflecting on the year just gone.

So much has changed since last February. Looking back at last year's FOSDEM, I spent most of it in the GNOME devroom, as I recall. I met lots of people - I failed to meet any of the Hurd people properly, but made some GNOME UK friends that showed up later in the year at GUADEC. I also met Alasdair Kergon again (whom we had bumped into at the LinuxWorld Expo a few months previously), which led eventually to my being able to attend the LinuxConf.eu conference last September.

Even on the Eurostar we made contacts - Josette Garcia from O'Reilly was someone I subsequently encountered at almost every conference, and now she sends us free books. :)

Notably, I failed to really speak to any of the Debian crowd last year in Brussels, but made up for it at the Etch release party in May, and at DebConf7 in June. Those contacts led inadvertently to my current job, and since then I have picked up maintenance of a few Debian packages. In turn, one of those led to upstream maintenance of a GNU package. I'm not sure I would have predicted that a year ago - I was hoping to break into GNOME, iirc.

With the time off that I have this weekend, I want to give some thought to the direction that I want to take this year. I suspect I want to put more effort into Debian. Looking forward, it appears I'm also spending more time with PostgreSQL. Ideally, I want to help some of the more interesting GNU packages as well - helping gnash would be great, but there are some more obscure tasks that I've been thinking about. (Some things don't change.)

Posted: 22 Feb 2008 00:00 | Tags: , ,

Sun, 10 Feb 2008

New Jabber Address

It has been quite a while since I switched to using only Jabber (a.k.a. XMPP) for all my instant messaging. We use Jabber a lot at work, as well, and there are plans to set up an internal Jabber server eventually. (At the moment, everyone uses their personal Jabber IDs, which isn't ideal.)

I've been having problems with jabber.org.uk lately - they seem unreliable at times, although they're going through a complicated migration to ejabberd which should eventually fix things. In the meantime, because I rely on it so heavily, I need it to work now.

Also, I wanted a cooler Jabber ID, so I set up my own server. Hopefully, using ejabberd and being on a server with just one user will make things more stable.

So, as of now, you can add tim@retout.co.uk to your contacts, the same as my email address. The old accounts will be going offline as soon as I've migrated everyone away.

Posted: 10 Feb 2008 00:00 | Tags: , , ,

Thu, 07 Feb 2008

More Crazy Ideas

Lately I've been having crazy ideas. Even more than usual, perhaps. I think the trick is to try and break the wildly unrealistic goals down into bite-size chunks that could actually work. Like, for instance, getting the project you want to hack on mirrored into your favourite repository format.

In other news, I've finally got around to learning how to set up public git mirrors of cvs and svn repositories - there are plenty of tutorials about creating private repositories, but very few which deal with public ones in detail.

For instance, one nice trick is that once you have run git-svn to update the remote refs in your bare repository, you then want to turn these remote refs into local branches and tags. So, you can 'git fetch' from the same repository into itself, and at the same time convert svn branches into tags:

git config remote.origin.url .
git config remote.origin.fetch +refs/remotes/tags/*:refs/tags/*
git config --add remote.origin.fetch +refs/remotes/*:refs/heads/*
git fetch

(Stolen shamelessly from the blog post where I found it.) A similar method will work for the CVS tags that git-cvsimport produces - although I don't see an easy way to split tags out from branches, unless there are specific naming schemes previously in use.

Posted: 07 Feb 2008 00:00 | Tags: ,

Sat, 02 Feb 2008

I'm busy, honest.

I haven't been writing so much recently - only one blog post for January, and I didn't even find the time to finish all the things I did in December. This is because I'm busy. Honest. So, before it gets too far into February, I'd better summarize things a little.

Projects I worked on recently:

  • f-spot - Near the end of December, I joined the Debian Mono packaging team, and helped clear up a few bugs in the photo management application I use. However, it turns out that f-spot could really use more help upstream - the number of forwarded Debian bugs is quite high, and there are some pretty nasty bugs outstanding. In fact, the upload we made has been synced to Ubuntu Hardy, so a bunch of users are going to run into horrible problems unless we fix them before the release. Oh dear.
  • enscript - I finally started to write some code for GNU Enscript. Recently I fixed the build system so that it didn't fail `make distcheck', for the first time in over a decade. Win. I'm trying to work towards a maintenance release, rather like the new maintainer of a2ps has done.
  • gnu-standards - the GNU maintainers' information document was under a license that didn't allow modifications, so it had to be packaged in Debian's non-free section. I asked about it, and it got relicensed. So now I'm trying to get the Debian package updated and moved back into `main'.
  • postgresql-autodoc - this was a random package I picked up, adopted, and got uploaded sometime in December. I haven't heard any complaints yet, but then my fixes were mostly for typos.

Projects on whose sidelines I sat, while watching aspiringly:

  • gnash - I tried it. It more or less works for YouTube videos, and the next release (due in a few days) should be even better. I want to spend more time supporting gnash this year.
  • gnu pdf - a new high-priority project to produce a PDF library better than libpoppler. I joined the mailing list, and provided some input. Eventually I want to see PDF output support in Enscript or its successor.

Things that resemble a social life:

  • The Wise Guys had a concert in London in January. (They're a German a cappella group who are quite funny. It helps if you speak German.) So that was fun.
  • The Rugby LUG had its second meeting, with ten people attending. I asked O'Reilly for some books to review, and the LUG now has four... but I'm wondering whether Josette really meant to send us a second welcome pack. No matter, I'll deal with it next week.

Oh, and work is going well - credativ Ltd. now has a coffee machine. Oh, and a new office.

Posted: 02 Feb 2008 00:00 | Tags: ,


Tim Retout tim@retout.co.uk
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