This feed contains pages in the "musing" category.

For quite some time now, I've neglected my desktop, I have become lazy. The default desktop has been sufficient in many ways and there really hasn't been any need to modify it.

Lately I've ran in to a few blog posts all around where various people discuss how certain items waste space and so on. Since I already tweaked my VIM installation, I started to look at my desktop and realized that there are a lot of things in the panels that I don't need. I started thinking about which items I use and just dropped the ones that I don't use. Next I minimized the space needed by various applets. Like the 'fast user switch applet', which by default looks like this got turned in to this . Which makes a lot more sense since I already know my own name.

I also switched from the window list applet to window selector applet. Which was a logical choice since I hardly ever use the window list and when I do, it's usually just random selection since the relevant parts of the window names are hidden. So insted of this:

I now have this:

A big improvement.

I also changed the theme from the original Human theme to DarkRoom, which is a nice change. As for the background, I dug up an old wallpaper I had put aside just for occasions like this. So after a quickly going through the files on my desktop (it was overdue), I ended up with this:

There are still certain items I should remove, but now that it all fits in to one panel, I'm in no rush ;)

Posted Tue Jan 27 23:47:37 2009 Tags: musing

Sometimes I wonder why I'm not a millionaire... I keep having these odd strokes of luck.

Today the HD on my laptop broke. And I had such a good plan for backups. It should have been foolproof. I meant to run incremental backups every so often and put the data in to external drives, which are mirrored. It turns out there was a flaw in my backup plan: I forgot to implement it. Yes, my HD broke down and I had absolutely no backups of my HD contents. Since it's not the first time I've seen a HD failure, I immediately started making a clone of the disk. I didn't want to waste time looking for individual files, since a clone of the disk contains all the data that is accessible on the broken disk anyway.

I decided to try with clonezilla, because it's intelligent enough to backup the data I need but still has a decent GUI to work through the command line options. After all, I don't clone disks daily.

After starting the clone, it tried to access the data and after a while I saw a message from kernel saying that the disk froze. I almost gave up hope when the partitions showed up on screen. I gasped for air when I finally realized what happened. Apparently the swap partition was the only thing that was lost! Feeling hopeful I left clonezilla to do it's job and headed out the door. Once I got back all of the data had been backed up.

At this point I already had a new drive so it was time to do the reverse and restore the backup, which was an uneventful 2 hours of waiting. Before rebooting I ran mkswap on the swap partition and rebooted.

The system is now back up and running.

It's not the first time I had problems with HDs, recently I've lost 3-4 HDs due to various failures. Only once I've lost data, but the lost data wasn't anything that couldn't be regenerated. Maybe it's not luck, maybe I'm a cat in a human form. Maybe I just always land on my feet... Time will tell.

Posted Mon Sep 1 23:18:57 2008 Tags: musing

It's interesting to think about what kind of moods you need for certain things. Today I needed to write some code, at first it was pretty painful. Every line I wrote was a stretch. After a while I got the right mood and it got easier and easier to write.

I've said in the past that the last thing I want to do is to become a full time programmer. I would go insane if I had to force the code out of me. Then again, every time I get in to the mood I start to think about doing this for a living. Programming is in many ways just the right thing for me. At the same time it's challenging and easy; challenging when you want to do things the right way and easy when you finally figure out the best way to do things.

Now I'm in the mood for some sleep...

Posted Sun Oct 28 23:43:09 2007 Tags: musing

It's apparently a little known fact that you can easily convert files from format to another with gstreamer. For example, i wanted to convert an Ogg/Vorbis file in to MP3 format.

gst-launch-0.10 filesrc location=export.ogg ! \ 
   decodebin ! audioconvert ! audioresample ! \
   lame ! filesink location=export.mp3

That's a single command, split in to multiple lines for readability. If i had wanted wav files, i could have used wavenc instead of lame.

Sometimes i wonder why people want to build applications to do a task. Instead you could build on an existing framework and get a lot of features for free.

Posted Wed Sep 12 21:53:13 2007 Tags: musing

From time to time it's good to reflect a bit on the past. It's not always that easy to see ones accomplishments and to admit failures.

One thing I've both failed and succeeded in, is this blog. I've managed to keep it more alive than the previous blogs I've tried to work on. Still I have way too few technical posts, which was my primary goal.
The reason my I chose to work on more technical posts is that every day I learn new things that I should be sharing with others. As things are now far too much gets forgotten.

It's also interesting to think about the journey from the point where I was introduced to computers to here. I've learned a lot and forgotten a lot. There are things that I can't decide if they are good or bad, like struggling with certain obstacles for way too long just because I've been too stubborn to give up. Those obstacles have usually taught me valuable lessons, but I could have learned the same lesson faster by asking for help.

But in the end, if I had done things differently I might not be where I am now.

Posted Tue Aug 14 01:22:38 2007 Tags: musing

For a while now I've been pondering how to handle a package that has Debian packaging in upstream tarball. The upstream packaging is pretty much written by me, so there is no duplication of work. The big problem is the packaging changelog.

When ever a new upstream package is released the changelog is changed and since I keep my packaging in a VCS this causes conflicts and I end up manually merging the two changelogs.

The problems is, how should I handle this? I'm starting to think that I should move to the Ubuntu style. Just include my changes to the upstream Debian packaging in the last changelog entry and just carry that along with the Debian package.

The other options are to for the changelog in to changelog.upstream and my own. That would cause me to loose the upstream changes (if any) unless I mirror them in my own changelog. Or I could just split the Debian packaging from the upstream completely and just keep my own packaging instead. This would make it harder for me to provide the changes upstream that I've made for the packaging. Or I could just try and cope by merging the changelogs manually.

It might be easiest to just keep the changes to the upstream packaging in the latest changelog entry since it should be quite obvious to me what I've changed. The downside is that the upstream changelog isn't really that informative and people using apt-listchanges get to see the same changes over and over since some of the changes are kept without including them in upstream packaging.

Posted Mon May 21 22:25:03 2007 Tags: musing

In opensource software world it's rather common to hear something like "Does it work just like some-other-application" or "Why can't I use application-X instead of this one, everyone else has application-X".

In a way that's peer pressure. Microsoft is prime example of a company that uses peer pressure for marketing. They managed to acquire a fair share of the market by getting their operating system to OEM markets and by donations to schools. It's interesting that the old saying "There is no such thing as free lunch" applies here too. By donating something they are creating a user base that already knows some application or operating system. By using that user base it is possible to push your products to new markets.

That is actually brilliant marketing.

How is this related to me? Well, some time ago I decided to rebuild my old server. I decided that I would utilize the skills I've learned through my work experience, even if it is a home server. I set up a Xen server that separated my jabber server from my firewall. And since I already had a working IPv6 tunnel and plenty of addresses for my local network I could allow direct connections through IPv6 and forward ports through IPv4. I already knew that XMPP system had already implemented SRV records that allowed me to create clean rule sets how I wanted my servers to be contacted.

But there was a problem. It only occurred to me once I had finished the DNS configuration. It appears that Google Talk doesn't fully support SRV records. It appears that the IPv6 only record throws the servers off and I'm unable to connect to Gtalk users.

So due to peer pressure I was forced to change my preferences on how to connect to my jabber server. Suddenly it became clear to me why it is so hard to introduce new services and technologies. It's not enough if it's innovative or useful, there has to be solid interoperability with the competing products and minimal learning curve. Knowing this, it's not a wonder that the e-mail system is still in place even if it's flawed by design.

Posted Sun May 6 22:28:00 2007 Tags: musing

Every now and then I see a post that talks about certain VCS, usually that VCS is something that the poster has discovered recently and is now discovering more useful features from the VCS. This is the time when the user is most valuable to the VCS communities. The user is valuable to the community from which (s)he left, because that community is able to learn what the users really wanted in their VCS. At the same time the community of the new VCS benefits because they can see what are the strong points of their VCS, what the users really think is useful. And in the end, it's useful to all the other VCS communities since it allows a glimpse in to the users minds and how to add features to their VCS to get more users to use.

This is all good. If you look at it reasonably it's always a win-win situation when a user changes to a different VCS.

If you put the objectivity aside, you can see how people get jealous. If someone likes a feature in some other VCS they are seen as a threat and either they get attacked or manipulated in to converting or simply both.

This all reminds me of the past desktop wars and editor wars. Of course both of these still are burning hot. Both of these wars (like with many wars) carry similar features. When a user switches over, both parties should try and find out why and work on improving that feature. It's a common good that way.

It's like the saying: 10 000 Flies can't be wrong. If 80% of the user base likes a certain feature, that feature is worth working on. If 10% likes a feature, it might be useful, but one should really think about investing time in to the feature. I'm not saying that you shouldn't implement the feature, just that the time invested to that feature is taken from some other feature. If you think that your time is well spent with that feature, for example, if it matches a set goal in that application, go for it! Don't go for feature bloat, you can't please everyone. Making a sensible plan and sticking to that plan (or reworking that plan) is a good thing.

In the end, we should all try and see what the people who selected some VCS saw in that VCS. Improve that feature, assuming it fits the goals, and make the world a better place.

As for me, I've picked Bazaar because it's straight forward. There are no magic commands to issue before the first checkout and the commands are reasonable. Sure it's slow and uses disk space, but the issues are being worked on. Speed is getting better all the time and the repository format is being worked on. I've used CVS and Subversion and tried quite a few others. And it's always the same thing, when ever I switch, there is a reason for it. I hardly ever switch to something just because someone recommends switching.

In the end, I should write more about the reasons why I don't like something. Not in the 'Bah! This sucks' way, but a constructive manner. It's hard to write that way, but usually it pays off.

Posted Tue May 1 11:14:45 2007 Tags: musing