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Andrew Pollock


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Thursday, 27 March 2008

LugRadio Live USA 2008

LugRadio Live USA 2008

I've never been much of a podcast listener, largely because I haven't gotten my act together and downloaded any on a regular basis, and partly because the iPod is tied to Sarah's iTunes on her laptop, so it's not convenient to go fiddling with the iPod. If I ever manage to get back into the swing of things and get to the gym regularly, I think I'd prefer to listen to a podcast rather than straight music, so I can hopefully expand my brain while I'm slogging my guts out on the treadmill.

Kynan and Shona have both talked about LugRadio events from when they lived in the UK, and I've been vaguely aware of it as a podcast (it's probably the first podcast I'd name if you asked me to name one). I vaguely knew that Kynan had been trying to organise something LugRadio related in the Valley for a while now.

Well, it turns out he's succeeded, and it's good to see he's gotten some credit for it as well. Onya Kynan!

So I got all excited when I went and looked at the schedule and discovered it was going to be something vaguely like a mini-linux.conf.au, I scurried off and bought a couple of tickets. Then Sarah pointed out that it's the weekend that we're going to San Diego for a four-day weekend. Oh well, at least the tickets were pretty cheap.

So, if, unlike me, you'll actually be in the Bay Area on April 12th and 13th, check it out, it sounds like it'll be fun.

[21:43] [tech] [permalink]

Mutt configuration find of the year

I switched from Pine to Mutt as my primary email client around the time I decided to become a Debian developer, because Pine's PGP support was abysmal (it also beat building Pine packages by hand all the time).

The other bonus feature was it threaded emails, which made it easier to follow mailing lists.

It's been a very gradual learning process since I switched, and I certainly don't consider myself to be a Mutt power user. I initially really hated it, I think largely because of the concept of "old, unseen" messages, versus "new" messages, and the behaviour of the Tab key. Once I unset the mark_old variable, it got a lot more tolerable. I think at some point I either plagiarised someone's .muttrc from the Internet, or sat down with the manual (or possibly a bit of both) and came up with a config that I could live with, and it's been workable ever since.

One problem I (more recently) started having was that when I had 200-odd unread emails in my inbox, which has been pretty common occurrence in the last couple of years, and someone replied to an email in an old thread, because I wasn't necessary scrolling through all 200-odd emails (as new, unthreaded emails usually sorted chronologically at the bottom of my inbox), I'd miss the fact that the email had arrived, often for extended periods of time.

I was lamenting this problem to Sarah over dinner last night, and saying how I preferred Gmail's behaviour, where the position of a thread in the inbox was determined by the date of the most recent email in the thread.

I figured Mutt must have a sort option to be able to deal with this, and so I went rummaging in the manual last night, and discovered the sort_aux configuration variable. I've set that to last-date-received, and now I'm very pleased. I should never miss an email again. Of course, I should really try practising Inbox Zero, then it wouldn't be an issue.

[21:18] [tech] [permalink]

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Run Fatboy Run

Sarah and I caught an advanced screening of Run Fatboy Run tonight.

I thought it was really great. Dylan Moran was hilarious. I really liked him in Black Books, and his character in Fatboy had a lot of Bernard Black in him.

[22:28] [life] [permalink]

Thursday, 13 March 2008


So my flight from SFO to AKL was nice and uneventful. I even managed to sleep for about 6 hours. The flight landed about 30 minutes early in Auckland, but alas, the connecting flight had some sort of "engineering" problems, and was delayed from a 6:30am departure, past 7:30am, and then the next thing I knew they were handing out bits of paper saying the flight wouldn't be departing until 10pm and we were all getting shuttled off to a hotel for the day.

So I don't really know what happened to the flight, but the same flight number is now departing this evening. Fortunately I didn't have a huge amount to do today in Brisbane (but I have no idea what Nick had intended to do today). I currently estimate I'll get into Brisbane at around 11:30pm tonight.

I've got plenty of reading I was planning on doing on the flight, which I didn't do any of, so I can keep myself occupied. I'm also going to try and catch up with Rowan and Kelly. Oh, and it was good to be able to have a shower. It sure beats sitting around in Auckland International all day.

I think this is the first time I've had a delay like this. The moral of the story? Direct flights, hang the expense!

[14:57] [life] [permalink]

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Crazy wedding trip

I'm getting on a flight to Brisbane, via Auckland, shortly. My mate Nick (yes, that one), is remarrying, and asked me to his Best Man, and I could hardly say no, given he was my Best Man (and we've been friends for years)

So I'm flying out of SFO tonight, arriving in Brisbane on Friday morning, going to the wedding on Saturday, and flying home on Sunday morning. Fortunately with the time difference, I'll arrive on Sunday, so I get to walk around like the living dead for a day, and then go back to work.

Yep, I'm a sucker for punishment.

I've never been Best Man before, so I'm nervous. My speech is pretty short and sweet. Fortunately someone else is being Master of Ceremonies.

[18:09] [life] [permalink]

Tuesday, 04 March 2008

Viva la fortnight!

I'm slowly converting the team I work with to use the term fortnight. It's so much less ambiguous than "bi-weekly".

(Provoked by Dave Jones' post)

[20:33] [life/americania] [permalink]


apollock@caesar:~$ host mirrors.kernel.org
mirrors.kernel.org has address
mirrors.kernel.org has address
mirrors.kernel.org mail is handled by 10 hera.kernel.org.
mirrors.kernel.org mail is handled by 20 zeus1.kernel.org.
mirrors.kernel.org mail is handled by 30 zeus2.kernel.org.
mirrors.kernel.org mail is handled by 999 bl-ckh-le.kernel.org.
apollock@caesar:~$ GET -H mirrors.kernel.org | md5sum
4f053c0db4bc9d851059c0899b85f338  -
apollock@caesar:~$ GET -H mirrors.kernel.org | md5sum
c4ba9d980e675875079bf5fea46cffd2  -

It's shit like this that makes my job that much more difficult. Back to archive.ubuntu.com we scurry. (This is obviously not Ubuntu's fault, it's just a pain in the arse nevertheless)

[19:54] [ubuntu] [permalink]

Rant for the day: Firefox 3 in Hardy

Disclaimer: I may well be an ignoramus with respect to the release schedule for Firefox 3 with respect to the release schedule of Hardy.

It grabs me as breathtakingly stupid to be shipping a Long Term Release of Ubuntu with a pre-release version of Firefox. I can't see how anyone can think this is a good idea.

That said, I remember a thread on ubuntu-devel, where someone was shot down for complaining about a release candidate of the Gimp shipping with Gutsy, so there's certainly a precedent for shipping stable versions of Ubuntu with non-released versions of software. I still think it's sloppy. "Bleeding edge" and "stable release" should be mutually exclusive, yet it seems they're not.

I predict dragons ahead.

[18:25] [ubuntu] [permalink]

Monday, 03 March 2008

Living the dream

I first heard about Jon Oxer's home automation setup when he visited Google last year to give a tech talk (heh, that's right, I introduced him).

After reading this latest article on his house, I've come to realise that he's implementing pretty much every cool thing I wanted to do when I get around to building the "dream house" (except I'm not too keen to go microchipping myself).

The main difference is Jon's actually electronically inclined, whereas I have all the ideas, but lack the ability to go hack them together myself.

So many things I'd like to learn, so little time to learn them...

[21:18] [geek] [permalink]

And today's hardy uninstallability is brought to you by...


I'm struggling to understand, from a casual inspection, what the change that introduced this is trying to achieve.

So it was trying to fix this bug, which is actually in a completely separate package.

I guess the first thing is to understand what this net-update mode for apt-key is.

Aha. That appears to be an Ubuntu-ism: AptArchiveKeySignatures

Anyway, having looked at the /etc/cron.daily/apt script that ships with Ubuntu's apt package, I fail to see how the changes to ubuntu-keyring address bug 192074. The net_update() function of apt-key is still going to spit out stuff.

Oh wait, I see. The cron job will still spit out output when it actually decides that something should have been done. The presence of /var/lib/apt/keyrings/ubuntu-archive-keyring.gpg will mean the stat call will return a valid mtime, so more often than not, because the mtime is unchanged, the cron job won't feel the need to actually do anything that produces output. I guess it's reasonable to produce output on the odd occasion that a key update actually occurs. Fair enough.

I'm not sure I'd be using mtimes to make the decision though. I'd be more inclined to use the MD5 checksum of the files, but that's just me.

So guess I've now had less of a casual inspection, and understand what the change was trying to achieve. It just failed miserably by not ensuring the directory existed. Oh well, patch supplied.

[17:38] [ubuntu] [permalink]

New Ubuntu category

So I started an Ubuntu category in my blog a while ago, the intention being to document the trials and tribulations of trying to derive (and I use the term loosely) another distro.

The hope has been to get it added to Planet Ubuntu's feed, where I'd like to engage in some discourse with the Ubuntu development community, and perhaps challenge some of aspects of how they do things.

I'm not feeding it to Planet Debian, since me blathering on about Ubuntu's foibles is probably not of interest to that audience.

[17:07] [ubuntu] [permalink]

Sunday, 02 March 2008

Australia to American translation #4


[16:37] [life/americania] [permalink]