Tim Retout's www presence

Tue, 10 Aug 2010

Sunny Southampton

On my last night in New York, I didn't sleep much. At 6am, I said farewell to Central Park by running round the reservoir, which I hadn't yet done. There was a very nice red sunrise to be seen from the west side.

Unfortunately I didn't sleep much on the flight home either. The British accents sounded quite unusual when we landed in Heathrow, and it was quite confusing not being able to find a Starbucks.

Once I was back home, I crashed, and woke up at 10pm. I spent last night clearing the pkg-perl review queue - gregoa is taking a short break after DebConf.

Then I went running at sunrise again. This is quite a different experience to Central Park - first, you have to run 2.5km just to get to Southampton Common, and secondly it is raining quite heavily. I dug out some winter gear that had turned out to be completely inappropriate for New York.

Posted: 10 Aug 2010 08:06 | Tags: , ,

Tue, 03 Aug 2010


I was up early this morning for the 17km run with bubulle over the George Washington Bridge and back. We had an interesting diversion near the start, as we tried to go cross-country through a woodland path that slowly disappeared. I was quite happy to have finished at the same time as the "real" runners... and grabbed a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast.

During the day I attended a few talks from the Java track. I had afternoon tea with Safir, and then chatted to a few people before the Cheese & Wine party this evening. My kettle and teapot were commandeered to provide Taiwanese tea.

The US supplies electricity at about half the voltage of the UK. So my US kettle has a power rating of a mere 1500W (compared to 3kW for my UK one) and takes twice as long to boil water. Also, if I took it home, it would probably blow a fuse, I guess. This is probably why everyone uses stove-top kettles here.

While walking back from the hacklab to Carman, there were some fireflies glowing yellow on the corner near where the Columbia flag flies. They didn't seem to be there on the way back from the party - maybe they only shine at dusk.

Posted: 03 Aug 2010 04:47 | Tags: , ,

Sat, 31 Jul 2010


I'm going insane in this country - the accents, the jaywalking, the food, the money, the poverty in the heart of Manhatten... suddenly I appreciate the UK much more.

So I have purchased an electric kettle, and set it up in the Carman basement, for the moment. I have also splashed out on a teapot, and one mug. (So far I haven't found any other mugs in the place, so bear that in mind if you wish to join me - $2.49 from the homeware store across the street.) I have brought two boxes of Twinings tea from the UK, and in the unlikely event that it runs out there are some brand names I recognise in the Westfield Market.

In the spirit of US philanthropy, I intend to donate this equipment for the betterment of Columbia University when I leave.

Posted: 31 Jul 2010 20:16 | Tags: , ,

Thu, 29 Jul 2010

Reverse build-depends

I've started to build up to actually doing some development-related activities. Maybe. But first, we've got QR Codes dotted around the hacklab and on our namebadges if we're taking part in the keysigning - I persuaded zbarcam (from the zbar-tools package) to reveal their mysterious secrets.

I'm looking into packaging some Java libraries that use maven. Fun. I think I'll be attending some of the talks in the Java track, although I feel like I'm three years late to the party.

While trying to find a good example, I wanted to list all packages which reverse-build-depended on maven-debian-helper. This must be a common task? With some stuff stolen from lamby, I hacked together a shell alias:

rbuilddep() {
    grep-dctrl -sPackage -i -r -F Build-Depends,Build-Depends-Indep "\b$1\b" \
            /var/lib/apt/lists/*_Sources \
        | awk '{ print $2 }' \
        | sort \
        | uniq

But this surely can't be the last word on this. For one thing, it might also be useful to recursively find these reverse dependencies. I hope I've missed some obvious way of doing this.

[EDIT (2012-04-13): That would be build-rdeps(1) from the devscripts package.]

I reckon my attention span has got really poor over the last couple of years. More running tomorrow morning. But first, ice cream, I think.

Posted: 29 Jul 2010 03:19 | Tags: , ,

Tue, 27 Jul 2010

Running around

So apparently the route I took round Central Park is 9.7km, which explains a lot. This morning I checked out Morningside Park, but it's really too small for running - there's a loop of about 400m at one end, and you can go down the long bit to 123rd St, but it gets boring very quickly. Most of the park is taken up with a big hill and stairs. I'll try Riverside Park on Thursday, or find a shorter loop at this end of Central Park.

This morning I had breakfast at Nussbaum & Wu, because it seemed like a good name. Then I went to Duane Reade down the road (a pharmacy open 24 hours a day, which is quite impressive), and picked up some hand soap for a couple of dollars - none is provided in the bathrooms (and I didn't read the checklist about what to bring). And if anyone forgets/loses their wherever-to-US power socket adaptor, the Best Buy in Union Square has four left.

So far I've missed about three sponsored meals. In related news, if you ask for all the salad at Subway in the US, you seem to end up with something much hotter than in the UK.

Posted: 27 Jul 2010 21:01 | Tags: , ,

Mon, 26 Jul 2010

Arriving at DebCamp

Yesterday my brother and I checked out of the youth hostel - it was a nice place, but I think it would have been better if we'd had the time to focus on the youth hostelling experience. As it was, I felt like we were just interlopers peeking into a world where we didn't belong.

We headed across Central Park and visited the Met, which is huge - and noted with some satisfaction all the things that came from England. When we left, it was raining, and we walked down Fifth Avenue in the downpour. After so much heat, it was a great relief - but it'll probably be straight sunshine for a few days now.

After a visit to a Barnes & Noble (which was a novelty, since I don't think they have a UK presence - I bought a book on JQuery), we went up the Empire State Building on a whim. Quite a view, and a cheesy but informative audio guide. Then after fetching our luggage back from the youth hostel, we went our separate ways to our respective accommodation.

For me, this meant finding Columbia University. I don't have a great track record with the whole "taking a note of where I'm meant to turn up" thing, and this time saw me wandering around the campus asking directions of people who couldn't understand me. For anyone else with the same habits: you want to find the corner of Broadway and 114th St. (you might get off the #1 subway at Broadway and 116th and walk south), and then proceed down 114th and through the first set of gates on the left. There's a green sign on the gates saying something about "Tech Campus". The Carman building is the first entrance immediately on the left after that. Alternatively you could go through the main campus entrance on Broadway opposite 115th St, and follow the path round the large building on your right until you get to just before the gates.

So then stumbling into all the DebConf people, we went for dinner at a local restaurant; and later out to a bar. Now I need to haul my ass outta bed (it's almost 12pm local time) and find the hacklab, or maybe breakfast.

Posted: 26 Jul 2010 17:06 | Tags: , ,

Sun, 25 Jul 2010

New York

Well, I made it to New York, along with my brother. Yesterday we walked down most of Manhatten Island - we've been staying in the youth hostel on 103rd street, and made our way on foot as far as Battery Park. Along the way, we visited McDonalds (twice) and Starbucks (was that two or three times?), both featuring free wifi and air conditioning. We went up the Rockefeller Tower as well, and got a few photos out of that.

It's really quite warm here. It's shorts and sandals weather (just like last year in Spain), and I'm tired of walking in sandals.

Interesting differences from the UK: the New York Times crossword is quite different from what we call crosswords. I think Monday's one is meant to be easiest, so perhaps starting with Saturday's was not a good plan. There are water fountains dotted around the city, which is awesome.

This morning I went running around Central Park. Except it's tougher than it looks - I'm not sure whether it was the humidity, or the inclines, or not eating anything before setting out... I ended up walking most of the second half, and it took half an hour more than I thought it would. I ran counter(anti-)clockwise - I think it would be better to go clockwise, because there's a hill in the corner with a steep side that I'd prefer to run down rather than up.

Posted: 25 Jul 2010 15:46 | Tags: , ,


Tim Retout tim@retout.co.uk
JabberID: tim@retout.co.uk


I'm afraid I have turned off comments for this blog, because of all the spam. Let's face it, I didn't read them anyway. Feel free to email me.

Me Elsewhere

Copyright © 2007-2014 Tim Retout