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MJR's slef-reflection

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To contact me, email mjr AT dsl dot pipex dot com.

Limbering up

Limbered up for today's serious hacking by putting together a small library for doing Condorcet ballots in MzScheme. You can see some output on ALUG main. Yet another bit of code that I should upload somewhere. Something to convert submitted ballots into email would be next, but it's not worth developing further yet.

It's now lunchtime. Maybe for this afternoon's limbering, I'll hack the improvements I want into MaBloss.

I'm sure there was something else. Never mind.

# | 2004-03-11 12:13:29

Mentoring in the UK

After commenting about mentoring to Adam, I looked around for UK-centric mentoring sites. The best three I've found so far are

  1. The Coaching and Mentoring Network - sometimes a bit vague, but a lot of info there
  2. National Mentoring Network - terrible site design, almost unusable for me, but a good starting point?
  3. Mentors Forum - I hate frames, but this site is pretty practical otherwise.

There's probably better ones out there, but that's not a bad start. Must get trackback implemented so people can tell me when they write their wonderful words on their blog.

# | 2004-03-08 17:57:22

Strangled fruit

Thanks to all answering my appeal for UK language info. I'll reply ASAP if I haven't already.

Another Monday and another "do today" mailbox of 22 items, as well as the paper items on the in-tray and whatever else turns up during the day. Good mix of topics, with some sysadmin, some koha, some AFFS, some GNUstep.org, some financial and some other stuff. Should be an interesting day.

Not sure what I've been doing for the last week, other than working. I have some simple software that I should package up and release this week, doing web/email "cloaking" (framed bounces and aliases to us). Still not hacked the new ideas into mabloss or jewel. Had an email about web site stuff. I should update my savannah project page.

Also need to upload the fixed wily to unstable, as upstream seem uninterested in the patch (or anything much I write). Maybe one last try at sending it to them first.

# | 2004-03-08 11:04:03

Today went silly

The "do today" mailbox suddenly has 16 tasks in it and the in tray is overflowing. Two hours this afternoon are already allocated to a customer project. I've two pieces of failed hardware to fix. There's probably more to do as well. How did that happen?

Maybe I'll rebel later this afternoon, stop work and start hacking on MaBloss, as there are some cool ideas I've had since nearly 2 weeks ago. I want to go simplifying the code in jewel WM too.

ALUG yesterday was good, but the snow put some wimps off. Borrowed a Palm reference book from the library, to see if I can use LispMe to do some simple IR tasks. My last surviving non-free-OS computer, the IIIese, is mainly used for Plucker, but I have working IR on it. Someone mentioned very cheap IIIc refurbs: I think they can be flashed to run LinuxDA, so that might be a better bet for a handheld project machine.

I don't get SPF and SRS. How the hell is that going to work without some of the seriously big ISPs supporting it?

BTW, I think Daniel Barlow's lisp rant is worth reading. Help your neighbour to help yourself. So often true.

# | 2004-03-01 12:09:23

Well Come

Those who have met me are either not very observant or know I am ill. A few days ago, one of my illnesses started to leave me. I'm glad, as it's very annoying and I won't use the drugs with their nasty side-effects, but I wonder what changed. Maybe it's the snow! I like snow. I'd rather it didn't snow tomorrow, but it's Syleham ALUG and that normally means bad weather. (To understand the title, search the web for "Well Come" "Fall Out".)

# | 2004-02-28 13:00:44

Bizarre connections

Looking around for things useful to a blog and I found two. GeoURL and local-news.

local-news is nothing really earth-shattering, but it's handy to have an aggregated local news RSS feed. GeoURL threw up a fun link between other web sites in the town. It seems that the very confrontational (and IMO depressing) West Norfolk Labour site was done by the same GeoCities-based web designers as a range of anti-MacDonalds sites and a mock Labour news site. It seems that Labour and the webmasters fell out. Not really a surprise, is it?

# | 2004-02-27 20:22:05

Absurd "licensing doesn't matter" defence

As I occasionally do, I questioned the use of a non-free licence. This one forbids derived works and some types of commercial distribution. It applied to some new software I like the look of, so I probably should have let the draft brew for a while. Like a moron, I sent the question after one edit, hoping to get a fix before too many downloads.

The reply seemed to claim that licensing doesn't matter. That is absurd. If you think licences don't matter, then why use a restrictive one? Presumably, you won't enforce it (because licensing doesn't matter to you), so those who ignore your copyright can do whatever they want, while people who respect it won't. Usually, you don't call people who ignore you friendly.

Summary: if you don't care about licensing and pick a non-free licence, you hurt those friendly towards you. Please don't do it.

# | 2004-02-26 20:46:40

Mixed Day

Good day because one job finished, another moved on and we agreed yet another. If this keeps up, we can increase ttllp's pay and do more marketing.

Bad day because everything took longer than it normally does. Also had some unexpected delays, like the (upvc) windows salesman being interested in computing a little, and a psu failure just before 5. Kudos to HBC for having one in stock. Now to fit it.

# | 2004-02-26 18:34:58

Market review: Wisbech

K.Lynn weekday markets are suspended while the Mart (fun fair) occupies the Tuesday Market Place, so I visited Wisbech market this morning. It's a half- hour bus ride, which drops you right by the market place. Good selection of food stalls, with grocers, a couple of fishmongers and a retail butcher. Fish slightly more expensive (80p large mackerel fillet, for example) and greens cheaper, as you'd expect, but greens are a surprising amount cheaper (45p large hothouse lettuce, 50p very large cabbage) and mostly local fenland produce. Grocers pleasant and fishmongers snooty. Farmer's markets on some Fridays - follow link for site with details. Will visit again.

More info...

# | 2004-02-26 11:59:30

Back to work, slave!

The world got its revenge today. Nearly 2 hours to clear the email that arrived overnight. Most of it was work stuff, not lists, so can't really be ignored.

After that, this morning was solid work, doing a dependency chase on an archaic non-Debian machine that I can't upgrade. I just hope the customer's firewall is up to the job. It seems restrictive when trying to work through it, but I still worry it would let the box be used in DoS tricks. I've told the customer my thoughts, so it's their choice now.

Trying a new trick with todo lists, using an "action this day" mailbox and moving things to and from the inbox. If it works, I'll write it up.

Lots of stuff pending for AFFS, GNUstep.org and others. Everything is waking up from hibernation, it seems. Really doesn't feel like spring here yet, though.

# | 2004-02-25 14:22:51

Other people's views of you

I saw a lot of this sort of thing on Planet Apache, so I commented on some of the more bizarre rants. Then I get a reply and strange description of me, which starts to spread because no-one in blogland ever checks facts before repeating lies and half-truths about you.

So, I wonder, how do we map the trust metric into the planet planet? Would it do anything against this anyway?

# | 2004-02-24 10:30:27

What No Email?

This morning's message checking only took 31 minutes instead of the normal hour. Is everyone sleeping post-FOSDEM or something? I'll use the unexpectedly-spare time to finish some drafted emails. Lots of things to upgrade, so I'll start by breaking^Wupgrading my desktop. Speaking of FOSDEM, pictures are starting to appear. Must upload my few.

More info...

# | 2004-02-24 09:45:51

  1. GNUsteppers are very cool people.
  2. FOSDEM is chaotic. Very chaotic. Talks often appear not on the programme. Audience size varies from about a dozen to uncounted hundreds.
  3. Freeedem is more chaotic. Some of the talks are very interesting, but it is difficult to predict what you will see. 15mins between the two makes it harder to take chances.
  4. If there is no chairman, pretend to be one. Then you get interesting talks to watch instead of people standing around by the stage.
  5. GNUsteppers are cool people, but might not be slow drivers or good navigators.
  6. FFII swpat talks always contain new information and are worth tracking down. The gravestones make their stand easy to spot.
  7. FOSDEM barmen will not sell you closed bottles of beer for the train, even if asked.
  8. OGo seems interesting.
  9. The GNUstep Live CD is popular.
  10. I do not enjoy meeting people from Britain who I have already met, unless they have something to discuss beyond "how many beers I have drunk".
  11. Too many people know me now. Borrowed name tags do not work any more. I cannot impersonate a defence programmer. What's more, a lot of them tell me my name: "You're MJ Ray". I already know that.
  12. I must fully script talks.
  13. Referring to "all churches" when talking to a serious catholic on the train home starts an argument. "There is only one church." Hmmm.
  14. Did I mention how cool GNUsteppers are?

# | 2004-02-23 22:55:31


Well, FOSDEM is over, I am home, have cleared mailboxes and should write down some of the things I have seen, but sleep beckons. Snow during the 50min wait at Cambridge to change trains (bah engineering). That city is the coldest, in so many ways.

# | 2004-02-23 02:07:03

koha 2.0 RM

I just sent my nomination/platform to be koha's release manager for the 2.0 series, taking over from the development manager. Most of it was fairly uncontroversial normal practice (major fixes trigger a release, minors get batched into a periodic release, that sort of thing), but I plan to fix the lingering z3950daemon bugs by offering an alternative Z39.50 search, if one is developed in time. Z39.50 is a killer feature for libraries and I will allow in new code during a stable series if it fixes those bugs. I'd link to my full platform, but it's a sourceforge list and it still won't give me a page after 20mins trying. ETOOBIG.

More info...

# | 2004-02-20 14:44:15

Moving streams

I often listen to RTBF R21 online. I can get some of the other channels on MW, but not that one. It was one of my saved playlist files, but they've started moving the stream around every few days. This morning, I listened to the "you can't listen on this link" tape loop for a full three minutes (until I had finished my coffee) before noticing it had moved again. I guess they want people to look at the web site occasionally, to click the stream link, but I'm almost tempted to leave the loop playing when I go out. Should be fun if they ever check their stream stats.

More info...

# | 2004-02-20 11:05:07

  • The UK government is still trying to allow Genetically Mangled (GM) crops to be grown here, the news said today. MORI opinion poll says that over a third of those questioned are strongly opposed to GM crops and just over a tenth strongly support them. Our representatives aren't representative, yet again.
  • Someone asked me about running ASP on Apache. I know it's still not a good idea, but since the last time I looked, there's Mono ASP.NET. If you know how well this works, email me please (replace DOT with a .) and let me know (review URLs welcome). Does it run ASP as well as ASPX?
  • It seems I'm down to speak at Freeedem about what happened at FLOSSIE. I'd best make sure I pack my notes and brain. I offered, but now is the first confirmation. This weekend looks busy and fun best make sure all spare batteries are fully charged tomorrow.

# | 2004-02-19 23:57:41

Conferences, Monopoly, News
  • Good day at FLOSSIE Conference. Shame about my talk (note: 24mins to 6 doesn't work). Really interesting conference, where I learnt a lot and enjoyed it far more than last year's near-equivalent. I'll see if I can lend a hand getting things online. I've a report to type up somewhere. I was dead impressed that the BECTA chairman stayed after his talk: far better than the DFES person last time around. Now I'm just dead tired.
  • OfCom reply that I cannot use many of the alternative suppliers to British Telecom if I want ADSL. No sir, we have no competition. I've asked them how that sits with their duty "to further the interests of consumers in relevant markets, where appropriate by promoting competition" as it says in legislation.
  • Allnet has now agreed to adhere to all clauses of the GPL for its use of netfilter/IPTables. Donations made to FSFE and FFII.
  • The Norwegian Board of technology says "The public sector must lead the process towards open standards".
  • Gah, more security updates.

# | 2004-02-19 02:46:27

Cambridge vote to kill transport link

This is really bad news, but was always likely to happen. Cambridgeshire County Council have voted to back the "guided busway" which will be built by ripping up the railway track between Cambridge and St Ives. If I were cynical, I'd point out that the rail group CAST.IRON were refused access to work on the line last month and only told the afternoon before the planned start. The problems with the busway are many: there's no way to ensure services even use it and this is the "longest in Europe" because the whole thing can be blocked by one bus (you can't shunt a dead bus out of the way). If you're in Cambridgeshire, support castiron.org.uk and the Hunts Post "Boot out the bus" campaign. Remember to vote supporters out at next elections. Cambs County were so proud that they put out this press release:

More info...

# | 2004-02-17 14:26:50

Sheep and blobs

Worked on some drscheme and wily debian bugs. Worked on some koha bugs. Made some koha web pages, but I'm sure I can do them better. Didn't manage to print GNUstep leaflet in time for the cheapest printers. Will take them to one tomorrow. Up late getting FLOSSIE presentation into shape. SCSI still doesn't work. It's a usb-storage device, which is probably relevant. I'll try it on another machine RSN.

# | 2004-02-17 02:58:57

Still No SCSI

The SCSI still doesn't work, but now I have an error message to work with: SCSI error <1 0 0 0> return code 0x70000 \n end_request: I/O error, dev sda sector 960 \n Buffer I/O error on device sda1, logical block 865 \n lost page write due to I/O error on sda1. Then it repeats, very slowly, with sector and block increasing by one each time. If you've fixed this before, drop me an email. I'll look elsewhere.

# | 2004-02-16 08:47:06

More fun with wireless

Tried to do a bit more to tie down the wireless networking here, rather than it being totally open (and powered down when not in use). Found an about.com guide, but I'd already done all of that and more, apart from the encryption.

Not used the encryption because the card driver seems screwed. iwconfig key just generates error messages about not being supported. I think I'm going to have to look into this and fix the driver, do something else or get a new card. I really don't like this card. It was overpriced IMO and the drivers are crap, but I let myself be talked into it because it's a 11g of the same make as the base station.

Now to try fixing the SCSI. I hope I have more luck there.

# | 2004-02-15 18:16:47

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