There and back again

I just got back from a roadshow that took us to northern Ghana. We were a group from AITI who went all the way up to Paga just at the border to Burkina Faso.

We departed from AITI at 5 o’clock on Friday morning. I hadn’t slept at all the night before, so I was quite tired. Our first stop was at Kumasi where we ran a number of workshops. I was supposed to go to Kumasi Polytechnic to do a talk about open source but the person we were to meet was nowhere to be found. The others had better luck over at KNUST. We spent the first night at Engineering Guest House on KNUST campus.

Saturday morning we all had to get up at 4 o’clock which pissed me off. But we had a long journey. First we went to Tamale where we had lunch. Then we moved on to Bolga where we stayed the second night. A small group went to Navrongo to give another presentation. There wasn’t space in the car, so I didn’t take part in that presentation either. That night a few of us had quite a few drinks. I got very little sleep.

Sunday morning we got up at 4 o’clock again, and I was pissed off again. The trip really sucked from that point of view. After breakfast we departed for Paga, where we went to the Burkina Faso border as well as one of the crocodile ponds. I had been to one of those before but that was many years ago. Crocodiles are fascinating animals. Turning them into tourist attractions isn’t.

When we were done in Paga we spent the rest of the day on the road. We had a long distance to travel, because we had to be back in Kumasi that evening to spend another night at the Engineering Guest House. I reached Kumasi hungry and tired. After dinner a few of us went out to one of the local night clubs. It was quite okay, but after a couple of drinks I needed to get back to the guest house to catch a few hours of sleep.

Monday morning we didn’t have to get up as early. We had breakfast and started the journey back to Accra. It seemed to take forever, but finally we were back. It was so great to be back home.

All in all the trip was quite okay. There were a number of things I wasn’t happy with however. Like the strict military-like disciple. I’m not a disciplined person, period. Early mornings suck. Discipline sucks. Bad food sucks. Not having time to do the things *I* want to do sucks.

Published in: on 2006.11.21 at 12:44  Comments (1)  

Slayer in 2006

Slayer - Christ Illusion

I finally got my hands on Slayer’s latest: Christ Illusion. My direct impression was that it was still quite fast and aggressive, which is surprising considering the fact that the guys must be like 100 years old by now.. 😉

The album was quite decent, but nowhere near to “Reign in Blood” or “Seasons in the Abyss”. After the first listening, it feels a bit too flat. I couldn’t find a single song that really stood out. The aggression, as I already mentioned, is there, but aggression alone is not enough. We need things like “Postmortem”, “Dead Skin Mask” or “South of Heaven”.

And, before I forget, don’t go searching for the lyrics. Kerry King had a bad case of lyricwritingitis, and ended up writing a majority of the songs. As a result many of the songs sound similar to “I hate on you and I will poo on you…” I hope the next time Kerry decides to write lyrics, Tom and Jeff break his arms or something. The guy is a great Thrash guitarist, but I’m sure that 100 rabid pigs with baseball bats shoved up their asses can write better lyrics. I wish they would let Araya do the lyrics and Hanneman the music.

Published in: on 2006.11.14 at 18:33  Leave a Comment  

A “Hero” from Brocken

I’ve been spammed with this story from several sources (for example from here) about Linus Torvalds “officially” being recognized as a hero. It is Time Magazine that obviously has people who are overpaid and under-worked enough to find time for this sort of meaningless rabble.

The article lists “Heroes of the last 60 years”. So who does Linus share this achievement with? Nelson Mandela and Mikhail Gorbachev, among others. Another person on the list is Margaret Thatcher..

No, wait, wait, WAIT ONE FREAKING MINUTE! Since when did that conservative, blood-sucking vampire deserve to be called a hero? What has she done to deserve this? Was it helping a friend in need, never mind that this particular friend happend to be the Butcher Pinochet? Or perhaps it was calling Mandela a terrorist? Interesting that she should be mentioned on the same list as this “terrorist” (I wonder if she’ll approve). Or maybe it was just living off the blood of the British working class.

Margaret Thatcher is an old hag, and should be remembered as such. In fact, I’d be willing to reinstate witch hunts temporarily just so that we could burn her on the stake. If she has been a hero over the last 60 years, then maybe we should also add the likes of Stalin, Charles Manson and Karl Rove to the list as well.

Published in: on 2006.11.14 at 11:01  Leave a Comment  

Programming books

I meet a lot of people who claim that they want to learn how to program. That’s really great, but why they tell me this instead of just getting on with it, is beyond me. The follow-up is usually a question about which programming books I recommend. Since I get asked this with annoying regularity, I will post my recommendations here for everybody to read.

The one most important programming book you can ever read is K&R’s classic “The C Programming Language”. I could end it all here, but with only one book it wouldn’t be much of a list, would it? So I’m going to add one other book, and that is Jonathan Bartlett’s not-quite-as-good-but-still-excellent “Programming from the Ground Up”.

Any of those two books should give you a solid foundation in programming. After that, you don’t need books. You need to download and mess around with code.

Published in: on 2006.11.10 at 13:15  Leave a Comment  

Feisty breakage: let the fun begin

The Feisty repositories have been open for some time now, but initially there was very little coming in. Now its slowly beginning to pick up, and today looks like a good day. How about this:

1. Gnome panel has its usual development cycle issues. It’s not refusing to start, and it doesn’t throw off all those annoying “Panel already running” crap, but loads of applets die after a while.

2. Fonts are so ugly at the moment that reading any text gives me major headaches.

3. Of all the Mono-based applications I’ve tried so far, only two seem to be working: MemoryEaterPerfected (aka Beagle) and Tomboy. Everything else refuses.

4. DRI is not working, which means no UFO:AI until kernel, Xorg and Fglrx are in sync again 😦

Well, that’s it for now, but more should start breaking soon. The big breakage fest will start after UDS. I hope they do their worst this time. Edgy development was outright boring..

Published in: on 2006.11.09 at 11:14  Leave a Comment  

Leaftag is cool

I recently compiled leaftag and have been toying around with it. It’s actually really cool, despite all the disgusting marketing terms you can attach to it (Semantic Desktop, Desktop 2.0, Social Desktop, Moronic Desktop, etc). Leaftag allows you to attach tags to files on your file system. These tags could be things like “Important”, “Todo”, “Nude babe”, “Divorce letter” or whatever you like.

There are loads of ideas about integrating leaftag desktop applications like Nautilus, which is probably a good idea. But I’m personally happy with the “tagutils” command which does pretty much what I need it to.  You can tag files with tagutils tag, find files that have a tag attached to them with tagutils ls and so on.

In a way leaftag works like locate. Both build up indexed databases of files in order to speed up searching. The difference is that locate searches by file name, tagutils by tag. If you tag your files well, finding them based on “concepts” should be simple.

Leaftag uses an sqlite database for its index. I’m not sure how well that scales, but I guess time will tell. I’ve heard some rumors about leaftag possibly using tracker as a back-end. It cannot yet cope with moving files, but you could always overcome that by creating a zsh function that calls mv as well as updates the index for the file. Oh, by the way, when I say file, think URI.

All in all, leaftag is cool. I like it because I can see this being useful, as opposed to so many of the other “technologies” that the marketing droids are vomiting at us these days. It would be cool if one day Gnome decides to integrate it, but I think that is highly unlikely. The Holy Prophets of the Temple of Gnome in Their Infinite Wisdom will probably come to the conclusion that Gnome users are too stupid to tag files. *sigh*

Published in: on 2006.11.08 at 11:12  Leave a Comment  

Shitting in my home directory

One thing I really don’t like about Gnome and KDE (but trust me, Gnome is more offensive than KDE) is that they like dropping turds into my home directory. I have set up my directory structure to my liking. All, and I mean all directories are lowercase only (this obviously includes getting mutt to stop assuming I want a Mail directory).

So why the hell do both desktop environments insist on farting out a ~/Desktop right into my center of harmony? Freedesktop spec, you say? To hell with them and their ideas. This should be configurable. I, for instance, would have liked to call the directory ~/.desktop, since I have absolutely no use for it anyways. I *never* do a cd Desktop, so why should it be there polluting my home directory?

With KDE, the story pretty much ends there. Enter the tyrant of all desktop environments, Gnome. Gnome’s ability to do evil and mess up people’s hard work is unrivalled. All of a sudden I have a Templates directory. What for? For templates, obviously. Well, I’ve got news for you: vim already does templates for me. I don’t need it from Gnome as well. And plus, if you insist, please hide it away as ~/templates?

It doesn’t end there. Various media players assume that my music is stored in a directory called Music, MyMusic or some other stupid name that clashes with my own naming scheme. No, I want to call my directory ~/music, period. Muine, which is the superior Gnome media player, at least doesn’t have a problem with this.

Now to the dumbest of all applications: f-spot. Don’t get me wrong, I like f-spot in a way. For most parts, it’s a neat application (although digikam is better). But any time I want to import pictures it wants to copy my pictures into a directory called ~/Photos, never minding the fact that I already have my images sorted out in a directory called, believe it or not, ~/pictures. Now there is a checkbox you can untick so that f-spot doesn’t create a Photos directory and copy your images there (wasting valuable disk space), but guess what? Just to spite you, the developers force you to go and untick that box every time you import. Thanks for nothing, assholes.

And why the hell do you insist on calling the damn directory Photos? Maybe you only use f-spot for photos, but I don’t. For instance, I’ve got a bunch of images related to Tolkien’s Middle Earth. I’ve tagged all these images by character, location, artist etc. It works really well for me. But these are *not* photographs, so why insist on this stupid name?

*sigh* (I needed to get this off my chest)

Note that fluxbox doesn’t behave this way. Of the applications I normally use, only mutt is a bit braindead with its naming. But in mutt this is easily fixed, in Gnome not (remember, in Gnome-land the luser is a complete idiot who doesn’t deserve deciding how their own home directory should be structured).

Oh, and if you think I should submit a patch, forget it. Remember, we are talking about Gnome here. You can only contribute if you belong to the Holy Temple of Gnome. Normal users are simply too stupid to help out. Normal users should just sit back and happily accept it when the Profets of Gnome shove feces, in bit-sized pieces, into their carefully crafted home directories.

Published in: on 2006.11.02 at 07:57  Leave a Comment