Lars Wirzenius: Random thought, 2007


Monday, October 08, 2007

Random thought: Free Thursday, 2007-10-11

Free Thursday, Thursday, October 11, at 18:00, bar Teerenpeli in Kamppi. See also home page.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Random thought: Free Thursday

I don't usually announce Free Thursday gatherings in my web log anymore, the dedicated web page and mailing list are for that. If there's interest, I can even set up a dedicated RSS feed.

However, since I'm always the first one there and the first few people seem to find the thing by finding me, I figure I should announce widely that I'm probably not going to be there, this time, due to a cold.

So, anyone attending Free Thursday, the monthly "have a beer, talk about free software" event in Helsinki, Finland, please find each other anyway.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Random thought: 911

Today is the sixth anniversary of the horrific terrorist attack commonly known as "911". This is its legacy: the use of fear as justification of the erosion of human rights. This time, it's the EU, but it's happening globally.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Random thought: Corruption and OOXML

Interesting. EFFI correlates OOXML yes-votes with the Corruption Perceptions Index scores. Result: corrupt countries were more likely to support OOXML.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Random thought: Floppy icons

This thought just struck me: the GNOME "save file" icon is still an image of a floppy (or it is at least in Gnumeric). How many people still remember what a floppy looks like?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Random thought: Free Thursday today

Free Thursday today, at 18:00, at Teerenpeli in Kamppi.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Random thought: Ode to my laptop

I've been cleaning out my home directory from cruft, and re-arranging things so that I can more easily find stuff in the future, without resorting to grep -r. As a result, I find old stuff I'd forgotten about long ago, such as Blinkenlites, which was not at all my own writing. Today's amusement is all mine, from 2003 when I bought a new laptop.

Ode to my laptop
by Lars Wirzenius

Oh, my laptop, how I adore thee!
Wherever I am, so you will be!
If my co-workers I don't want to see,
I'll take you to the cafe with me!

You're compact, and have every device,
nothing extra, but enough to suffice.
You're closed, I can't commit the vice
of adding hardware, even something nice!

This makes my life rather easy,
hardware makes me queasy,
it's never logical, often greasy,
code is better, even when cheesy.

Oh, my laptop, you are my friend!
My true and my trusted friend!
To your welfare I will tend,
my true and trusted friend!

Random thought: bzr uncommit

One of the things that occasionally happens to me is that I mistakenly commit too much. I use Bazaar (bzr) as my version control tool of choice, and tend to do "microcommits": every time I make a change that is a useful, if very small, step in its own right, and "make check" still passes, I commit, even if it is only a one line change.

This means that usually all the changed files need to be committed. Sometimes, but rarely, I make unrelated changes in several files at the same time, and then I need to commit each change separately. But then I forget to specify the files on the command line.

With CVS, I would just shrug and continue. With Bazaar, I do "bzr uncommit", which removes the latest commit from the branch, and then re-commit with the proper files.

This is a small, but important, change from CVS, for me. It makes me happy. "Ha! Foiled you again, you stupid over-eager Enter key."

I have no idea whether other modern version control tools have the same thing; this entry is not to advertize Bazaar, but share my joy in victory over Enter.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Random thought: Productivity fear

Every time I do a "Getting Things Done" weekly review, I am amazed at how easy it is, and also how much it energizes me. Yet every time it is time to start one, I fear it, and procrastinate, sometimes for several weeks.

Obviously I have a deep-set fear of being productive.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Random thought: 3re Free Thursday a week from now

A week from now is the second Thursday of July. That means it's time for another Free Thursday event: meet others intereted in free software and open source for a beer or two.

The time: Thursday, July 12, at 18:00.

The place: Kamppi Teerenpeli (not the one in Kaisaniemi).

For background, see: a previous announcement.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Random thought: 2nd Free Thursday in a week

A week from now is the second Thursday of June. That means it's time for another Free Thursday event: meet others intereted in free software and open source for a beer or two.

The time: Thursday, June 14, at 18:00.

The place: Kamppi Teerenpeli (not the one in Kaisaniemi).

For background, see: the previous announcement.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Random thought: Free Thursday on May 10 at Teerenpeli, Helsinki

Open Tuesday is an attempt to build a regular meeting place for people interested in free software (open source), both technical and business people. The goal is to have an event the first Tuesday every month, and some company or another sponsors it by picking up the bar tab.

It's fun. You meet people, and can chat about various things.

Unfortunately, it isn't quite regular enough, and the website and mailing list aren't updated reliably enough, or early enough, that an event is happening. It is now Sunday evening, and I still don't know there's an event the day after tomorrow. There doesn't seem to have been one last Tuesday, which is sensible, since the first of May is a big hangover day in Finland; it's also an official holiday.

Since it's fun to meet people like that, I am going to see if I can't get a "Free Thursday" event going. This is partly in competition with Open Tuesday, but a friendly kind of competition. I hope Open Tuesday will continue, since it's a different kind of event from Free Thursday.

Free Thursday is simply people who want to have a drink with each other. No sponsors, no organization, no prepared talks, no web forums, no web site, just show up and have a good time. You'll have to pay for your own drinks.

Free Thursday will happen the second Thursday each month at 18:00. The first event will be Thusday, May 10, at the Teerenpeli bar in Kamppi, Helsinki.

In case people want to discuss or announce anything related to Free Thursday, I've set up a mailing list. E-mail to subscribe, and check the archives if you're not a subscriber. Posting is free to subscribers, everyone else gets moderated; this is for preventing spam, all non-spam will be allowed through.

Please come, and please spread the word.

Now, if someone will start a "Net Wednesday" event, all will be perfect.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Random thought: Energy meter

A few weeks ago I bought a device for measuring how much power other devices use. An energy meter, that is. You plug it in a power socket, and the device you want to measure into the socket in the meter, and it tells you how much power gets used at the moment, or over a period of time.

So far, I've used it on two devices: my laptop, and the so called desktop machine I have, which acts as my music player, movie player, disk server, local Debian mirror, and so on.

The results: the laptop used 2.25 kWh (kilowatthours) over 164.5 hours, for an average energy use of 13.7 Watts. That's measured over 24/7; since I put the laptop to sleep while I sleep, the laptop probably uses about 20 Watts while I'm actually using it.

The desktop used 22.07 kWh over 232.0 hours, or about 95.1 Watts. Again, I shut it down while I sleep, so it's probably around 140 watts actual use while running. Quite a difference. That's for the case and contents only, the display is separate (but used only when I watch a video).

Yearly energy use would be around 120 kWh for the laptop, or under 10 euros (at 8 c/kWh), and 830 kWh or 67 euros for the desktop.

Both machines use cpufreq to slow down the CPU when load is low (which it is, almost all the time). I'll have to figure out other ways to optimize energy use in other ways.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Random thought: Roomba scare

I'm scared. I suspect my Roomba vacuum robot is trying to rebuild itself to be bigger and more dangerous. Last week I lost my phone's charger, and today I found it inside the robot. I thought I'd take a picture of it for this web log, but now I can't find my camera's batteries, either.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Random thought: Honya budo

Honya budo is the martial arts skill of visiting a bookstore without buying a book. It is an arcane art, practiced by secret masters in obscure parts of the world for several centuries. During the 20th century, when literacy went up in the western world, and people from every social strata started frequenting shops selling books, this venerable art has begun to rise in popularity.

The first level of honya budo is the "Way of the In-Out". It consists of going into a bookstore, looking around to see that they do indeed have many books for sale, inhaling the intoxicating smell of new books, and then immediately leaving the premises. This way, a novice learns to use the door and gains the right to use a plain white bookmark.

The second level of honya budo is the "The Feeling of the Touch". This consists of the novice doing the "Way of the In-Out", but before leaving, actually taking a book off a shelf, opening it, caressing it with gentle hands, feeling the texture of the spine, and enjoying the exquisite sensual smoothness of the paper. When the novice can do this, and put the book back on the shelf and leave the store without buying anything, the novice has achieved enlightenment of the second level and becomes an apprentice, and gains the right to use a colored paper bookmark.

The third level of honya budo is the "Path of the Randomly Hopping Rabbit". The apprentice enters the book selling establishment, visits every department therein, and looks for a book they have previously shown a special desire to have, which may not have been published. When they can't find it, they then speak to a salesperson, inquiring about the book. When the apprentice can do this and leave the establishment, without making the salesperson annoyed, and without buying anything, they have achieved enlightment of the third level and become an adept, and gain the right to use a leather bookmark.

The fourth level of honya budo is the "Stretched Leg of the Giraffe". The adept visits a bookstore with another adept, and spends an afternoon there, wandering from book case to book case, taking out books and discussing them with each other, commenting on their good and bad points, and recommending especially good books to each other. When an adept can recommend a book that the other will happily buy, but they themselves do not buy anything, then they achieve enlightenment of the fourth level and become a master, and gain the right to use a bookmark signed by the author of a book.

The fifth level of honya budo is the "Flight of the Serpent". When the master can visit a bookstore, and get given books for free, they have achieved enlightenment of the fifth level and become a supreme grand master, and can use any kind of bookmark they wish.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Random thought: "You write free software, therefore you..."

In a discussion on a mailing list, on a topic that isn't relevant to this log entry, someone wrote: "I just have expectations that if there is going to be progress in the [civil liberties/equality issue], that the 'Free' software world would be at the forefront of that effort". This is a common mistake.

The thing that unites the free software developers, and the only thing that unites us, is that we make free software. Even though many of the us are liberal, or libertarian, or "leftist", or "green", or whatever you perceive as the common trait, it is wrong to assume all of us are.

Some free software developers are very much "leftist", to the extent of being members of the communist party. Some are stout, Bush-voting Republicans. A couple are neo-Nazis. Some are worried about global warming; others are working full time to prove it isn't happening. ESR has a gun fetish, I'm nervous even of policemen carrying guns.

All free software developers aren't even united in their opinions on matters that affect free software development directly. Some organize campaigns against software patents, others (although admittedly very few) apply for them.

I'm a free software developer and the only thing about me you can deduce from that is that I develop free software.

Random thought: A touch of neophilia

I'm not going to make any New Year's resolutions this year. I will, however, use the New Year as an excuse to re-think many things in my life. To start with, I have re-subscribed to several Debian mailing lists, even debian-private.

A second new thing is that I have a new toy, an iRobot Roomba GR. In other words, an automatic vacuum cleaner. I used it for the first time today, and it was hilariously funny. Not excessively expensive, either.

A third new thing is that I re-installed my laptop, with the Debian-Installer daily build from 2006-12-31. It worked like a charm. The old installation on this laptop had deteriorated over several months, as I did unspeakably evil things to it, so starting from fresh was a bit of a relief. Now I have an encrypted hard disk, and a working suspend and hibernation (suspend-to-ram and suspend-to-disk), apart from the backlight not coming back on automatically after resume. Yay! Etch is going to totally rock.

A fourth new thing is that I switched over my web log from CVS to Bazaar (bzr). It was the last vestige of my youth. When I was a child, I used RCS. When I was young, I used CVS. Now in my old age, I use Bazaar, because it is comfortable.

Incidentally, Notetak is up to version 0.4, and I'm getting comfortable with it, too. I'm going to experiment with adding tags to notes. I don't yet have an idea what would be a good UI design for that, but it will come to me eventually.

New things are good, even for neophobic luddites like myself.