FOSDEM and more

So, elevator fishing was a wash - I lost my magnet. Sigh. Now waiting for the elevator company to come on routine maintenance and get the damn things back for me.

Now, on a happier note - I was talking to David Barth (our new Mandriva tech overlord) today and got some nice bits of news. First, we'll have an informal presence at FOSDEM this weekend - the devs were too busy to get in any talk proposals etc, but David and some other members of the development team (probably including Oden Eriksson, who maintains half the distro in between saving the world and kissing babies) will be there, wearing black t-shirts with the yellow Mandriva star so they'll be easy to spot - feel free to stop them and have a chat about Mandriva.

David also told me some interesting stuff about our approach to getting Shiny Accelerated Stuff into (we're taking a longer term approach than Novell and, to a lesser extent, Fedora, based on the project which was initially supposed to be where this stuff was done in the first place, xegl), but I need to talk to him and boiko (the new maintainer) some more before I know what we want to say about that project, so for now I'll just say it's a definite priority and we're working with lots of different communities and organisations to make it really shine. yay!

Gone fishin'

Well, wish me luck, everyone - I'm off fishing today.

Elevator fishing, that is.

"What's elevator fishing?", I hear you cry. Elevator fishing is a fine recreational sport involving the gap between the elevator car and the corridor, performed using a bit of string and a magnet, which one generally gets involved in when one drops one's keys down aforementioned gap. As I did last night. Sigh.

I just hope the magnets at Canadian Tire are strong enough...

Life in general

Hmm, time for a general-y update.

The best thing to happen lately is that the weather suddenly got much better - it stopped raining last weekend and hasn't started again yet. Thus I managed to play tennis six days out of seven last week, which was nice (if rather tiring and, by Sunday, inducing nasty cramps in my right leg). Had one rather intense game with my nemesis, who I still couldn't manage to beat (6-7, 4-6), but I did manage not to collapse at many points (4-5, 5-6, 0-4 in the tie break, 0-4 in the second set) and served ten aces, so at least some positive stuff. I really, really need to beat him some time, though. It's annoying. Other than that, I won just about every other game I played, which was nice.

Have been quite scarily healthy lately, as well. Yesterday night we went to a tiny Korean place just up the street for dinner - they had no other business and it felt like we'd just been invited to dinner, they kept plying us with unpaid for bonus dishes and meticulously cut oranges and things. I had a traditional mixed vegetable dish which was very nice, and Sammy had something seafood-y which was also apparently good. And the oranges were great. We'll have to go back. Saturday night was another time we decided we wanted to go somewhere new, so after driving around for a bit (we were with a friend who has a car) we ended up at a (fake) Japanese place in Kitsilano which was unreasonably cheap (the prices were already a little cheaper than regular Japanese downtown - say $6 for a noodle dish - but after 7p.m. there's a 40% discount!) and excellent. And tonight Sammy made vegetable chowder. If I eat any more vegetables I may actually explode. I've also been eating more bananas lately. If it weren't for the 48 ginger cookies I baked the other night it'd be all healthy eating, but that'd never do...:) Of the new music I mentioned last time, I'm definitely liking Bloc Party, the Jimmy Chamberlin Complex (best solo Pumpkins album yet, actually), Modest Mouse, and the surround-sound Yoshimi (which is just eye-popping at times). The Decemberists stuff is nice but not as good as the albums (at least not yet), Bright Eyes is also OK but really just another live album with nothing massively special on it, 29 is pretty good but I preferred the Cardinals stuff - more fleshed out, with better production - and the Dears album is pretty decent but not quite as good as the second one.

Today I bought a USB phone handset for my PC - basically it works as a second soundcard which you can configure Skype or some other voice / video program to use, then using them is just like using a regular phone and there's no more fiddling around with the mixer settings and microphone configuration on your main soundcard. Definitely worth dropping a few bucks on, and it works perfectly with Mandriva (I just plugged it in, snd-usb-audio was loaded, and it popped up as /dev/dsp1 and ALSA soundcard #1 - reconfigured Skype and Ekiga to use the new device and everything was good. Excellent.)

We had a party for one of Sammy's friends who was leaving Vancouver recently - I uploaded the pictures to the Gallery. The restaurant (Japanese 'fusion') was odd - almost no vegetarian stuff on the menu so I just got them to make me some yakisoba which was fine, but the others ordered the ten-course menu, which really didn't add up to much food (one of the courses, I kid you not, was a leaf on a plate) but, to compensate for it, was liberally supplied with heavy ingredients (the 'fusion' part, I suppose) which (according to Sammy) kind of ruined the taste and left you feeling full but not satisfied. There was also an obnoxious caucasian waitress who obviously believed herself to be the only white person ever to have learned Japanese, was unreasonably proud of this, and had decided it was sensible to broadcast the fact by screaming everything at the top of her lungs in fluent but rather poorly accented Japanese. (Every time someone came through the door, no matter where she was in the restaurant, or if there was already someone at the door welcoming them, she would without fail emit a piercing yodel of "O-KYAKU-SAMA DESU!!!!!" which resonated my skull perfectly. Augh.) Still, we managed to have a good time anyway.

That should be about everything, I guess. Just to fill out the final possible category, I should mention it's only a little more than a month to the start of spring training, and this season's Mets lineup looks like being the best for a long time. Woop. Could be an interesting season.

GNOME memory

I must say, I'm deeply disappointed in all this GNOME memory usage optimization that's been going on lately. My working desktop (GNOME, Evolution, Firefox, Xchat, gpass, gnome-terminal, gaim and audacious) now takes up a mere 250MB of RAM. What the heck did I buy that gigabyte for?! Darn it, people, code more bloat so I can justify my spending. :)


Odd tennis thing. There's a shot I never managed to hit in my life before - a come-backer, where you hit a sliced drop shot and it bounces back to your side of the net. Then this year I've done it twice, once by accident and one a planned shot. Weeeird. Must be the new strings.

Mandriva magazine

A nice new project has just come to fruition at work - Mandriva Linux Inside, the new Mandriva e-magazine, published by the new community department (Gael's pet project). The first issue is here. There's a few things that could be improved and we hope in future more content will come from the community not the company, but it's a nice idea and should be really great once we have some more practice :)

Music day

CD buying day today - joy. Went to Zulu Records, which embodies both the good (great selection, used section, good music on the in-store speakers, clerks who actually know something about music, large wall displays about Big Star) and the bad (high prices, odd smells, 'whimsical' takes on alphabetical order, clerks who know something about music but very little about clerking) of indie music stores. Picked up Ryan Adams' 29, Bright Eyes' Motion Sickness, the Jimmy Chamberlin Complex's Life Begins Again (Smashing Pumpkins drummer...), The Dears' End Of A Hollywood Bedtime Story, The Decemberists' The Tain and 5 Songs (which, obviously, contains six songs), The Flaming Lips' Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (shiny, surround-sound DVD edition), and Modest Mouse's Good News For People Who Love Bad News. That'll keep my expensive headphones happy for a bit.

Had dinner at Gyoza King downtown, one of the minority of Japanese restaurants in Vancouver actually run by Japanese people (they're mostly run by Chinese). Very good spring rolls and spinach gyoza, though the oolong tea and vodka that Sammy ordered as an experiment was not exactly a hit. Stopped in at Konbiniya for some more pocky, caramel corn and chocolate (Japanese chocolate, while not terribly good, is about the best eating chocolate easily available here, given that the alternative is American chocolate, which tastes more or less exactly like poop. Decent European chocolate is hard to come by and costs a fortune when you do.) I learned the kanji for 'art gallery' and 'wine' (well, sake) yesterday, which (as I remarked to my mother) is exactly as much Japanese as I'd need to know in order to take her on holiday there...


This absolutely shocks me. People discussing religious "limits" on freedom of speech? Boycotts? Threats? I'm sorry. I do not believe in your religion, be it Islam, Christianity or any other. I'm an atheist. Your religous laws and taboos have no domain over me, or a Danish or French newspaper editor. They have an absolute legal and moral right to express their opinion of any religion in any fashion they choose, no matter how much it may piss you off, and you have to sit down and swallow it. It's one of the fundamental freedoms of a free society, and no society in which it's not allowed can be considered free by any rational standard. "Freedom of speech has its limits when it concerns others... How would it feel if Jesus Christ was the one insulted instead?", says Randa Ahmed. I don't know, Randa, why don't you ask a European Christian? European newspapers have been depicting the Christian God, and Jesus, and every saint going in cartoons for well over a century and Christians seem to have learned to live with it. You can, and must, too.


Today's "why?" moment: people who go to major, internationally televised sporting events and spend the entire night concentrating on filming it from several hundred feet away using a crappy Sony digital camcorder. Why? Who, in the entire world, is going to be remotely interesting in watching your footage, as opposed to the coverage on ESPN or Fox or whatever which is filmed by several dozen professional cameraman, sound recordists, editors etc, and can easily be videotaped by anyone with a brain? Why not just put the bloody Handycam away and watch?

Tennis, again

Finally it stayed dry for a day so I got to play some tennis. Met a guy I hadn't seen at the local courts before, went 3-0 love on double faults and missed smashes before I got into a rhythm and won 6-3. Feels nice to actually win a singles game after playing my nemesis for the last few months. Managed to serve very nicely, too - two aces, a couple more near-aces and a couple more that just missed the center line. It's not raining yet today either, so I may get another game in...