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Present Perfect

Filed under: General — Thomas @ 2:30 pm

2:30 pm


Phew. 0.8.0 out the window. Made releases of core, plugins, and ffmpeg. Rebuilding Fedora packages, seems to work fine. Thank god for all the work I have done in the past on mach. It was almost as simple as just changing the base names I inflicted upon myself, and rebuild. Mach took all the other pain of package building away.

Need to update the site to announce the packages, too. Now I have to submit all the depencendy packages, and the actual packages, to rpm.livna.org and www.fedora.us.

The good news is, installing gstreamer-universe on Fedora Core 1 does the right thing, pulling in the “old” 0.6.x series packages, so RhythmBox, gnome-media, sound-juicer and nautilus-media keep working fine. Exactly as planned, sigh.

A mail from Jeff about GStreamer not sticking to release processes. I’m not the person who needs to be convinced in this case. There are other people on our team that seem to either not think the GNOME policies apply to us, or think we can get away with not following them.

People seem to think GStreamer lacking one clear maintainer is a problem. On the one hand, they might be right. On the other, sharing maintainership is IMO both possible and preferable. It’s just not something that is done much. In our case, there seems to be a fairly natural distribution of maintainer-related tasks. I think that’s fine, personally. If there is no clear natural maintainer candidate, it’s better to split up responsibilities than shed them all.

On the whole, I think we’re doing a good job of putting processes in place, slowly but surely. We’ve successfully moved to using ChangeLog’s, we’re trying to enforce a common coding style on the .c files now (I never thought we’d “agree” on one), we’re doing more regular releases, a lot of work has gone into making the release process itself more streamlined, the website is easier to manage…

Also, a lot of the things that were requested from us have happened – more formats supported, internationalization infrastructure in place, decent error messages with translations work now… I think we’re doing good. Still enough room for improvement not to get bored though.

As for packaging, Matthias and I seem to agree on the packaging. Now it’s a matter of getting them to QA at www.fedora.us and rpm.livna.org as quickly as possible.


Went back to IKEA to buy new parts of life. Recursive coffee table and a bunch of plants, all of which made Kristien happy. She has her first real tours today, I hope everything turns out well.


With the right combination of CVS versions of stuff and recompiles, I finally managed to get a DirectFB stack running that allows me to execute stuff from XDirectFB and not mess up the framebuffer after stopping. So, now it needs some clear packaging, and some twiddling, and then I can finally go back to actually watching stuff on the TV by using the remote. I hate video cards that just stop working one day :)


Off soon. Looking very much forward to it. Skating has seemed to exercised my leg muscles a lot, so I should be ready. OTOH, my left middlefinger hurts a bit from RSI. Hope I can get rid of that over the course of a week.

Filed under: General — Thomas @ 2:29 pm

2:29 pm


(Warning: if you don’t care about music, skip this entry)

So, when I set off to Spain I thought it would be interesting to bring only a small set of CD’s to see which CD’s matter to me. I had told myself to choose only 20, but after three hours I realized that was impossible, and settled on 30.

Here’s the list:

Afghan Whigs – Congregation

This is probably their only flawless disc, even though other discs have better songs at times. But this one flows from beginning to end, hinting at their later potential.

Afghan Whigs – Gentlemen

If you’ve ever been in a broken/unhealthy relationship, this is the soundtrack to it. My favourite band, and this disc shows why.

Arab Strap – Philophobia

drunken Scotsman songs mumbled over a beatbox and sparse instrumentation, but with ever so subtle and stinging lyrics

Arid – Little Things Of Venom

Have to both bring and plug some Belgian artists too, no ?

The Blue Nile – Peace At Last

They make about one album every ten years, but manage to make it result into crystallized beauty

Buffalo Tom – Let Me Come Over

Another one of those era-defining discs, where not a song is bad. Excellent guitar sound all through the album.

Catherine Wheel – Adam And Eve

One of those vastly overlooked bands that managed to perform consistently with each album, changing their sound as they go. This one has a huge atmospheric soaring sound.

Counting Crows – August And Everything After

Later albums never quite managed to capture the raw emotion and naive but perfect musicianship from this album. Today he’s huge and looks like a pineapple, but he feels a lot better. An argument for the case that torn-up artists make the best records.

dEUS – In a bar, under the sea

A lot more variety than on their first album, but still as exciting as that first one. Selected only because of the bigger song selection.

Elbow – Cast of Thousands

Within the confines of modern rock music, Elbow manages to sound quite like they’re the only band who does what they do. With the simplest of guitar figures, using silence as an instrument, with a gifted singer and some splendid songwriting craftsmanship, something to discover.

Embrace – Drawn from good will

My personal selection of their first two CD’s, because it was too hard to choose between the two

Gorky – Gorky

My first ever CD, and still containing my favourite song ever. The only disc I brought that’s in Dutch

Grandaddy – The Sophtware Slump

Proving that you can have a beard in music without being ZZ-Top, these guys manage to express fear of technology and progress with recycled instruments, mix it in with guitars, and pull out the nicest tunes. With album artwork appealing to the hacker in me.

Grant Lee Buffalo – Fuzzy

I can still remember the day when I first heard the title track. One of those discs I still play today even though the CD is so badly scratched these days that I should buy a new one.

Interpol – Turn on the bright lights

Lots of people who find this boring or a Joy Division ripoff. But if you let yourself get swayed by the washing guitar sounds and the hypnotising vocals, you’ll soon find that musically they’re completely the opposite of JD in aural density.

Jeff Buckley – Grace

Every time I hear one of his songs I am sad for all the songs we’ll never hear. A truely tragic loss.

Lift To Experience – The Texas/Jerusalem Crossroads

The hardest band to explain to people. Sonically touching Jeff Buckley’s guitar style, but with the sound of Texas canyons echoing. A concept album about the Apocalypse and proclaiming the USA to be the centre of Jerusalem. With a lead singer who sounds like a repenting preacherman in sin, reigning fire over God’s land. Still not sure whether to take them seriously, but the music is incredible.

Mansun – Six

Hard to tell if they were egomaniacal or just plain crazy. It took me more than a year to even start liking this album. It sounds like each CD track was cut in the middle of the actual songs, and each song sounds like a patchwork that only after repeated listening manages to sound like a coherent whole. But once you have made a mental map of this album, you are hooked, and there’s no denying the incredible thrill it ends up giving you.

Muse – Origin of Symmetry

Sometimes there is nothing wrong with teenage angst, hard rock guitars, screeching vocals, and opera-like delivery. Each song on this album manages to surprise and entertain.

Pixies – Surfer Rosa

How to describe the first band that managed to excite you and open up your eyes to a completely different world of music ? I couldn’t stand this album at first, and I laughed at a friend who came crying to school when the Pixies broke up. He retaliated by giving me this disc and soon I was crying along with him. To think they are touring again this year, yay !

Radiohead – The Bends

Hard to choose a disc from a band that’s actually been three bands already in their lifetime. While my favourite songs are on the first album, and while everyone seems to applaud them for all of the albums from the third one, as a complete album none of theirs can top the Bends.

Six By Seven – The Closer You Get

A perfect rock album from beginning to end. One of the songs proves that the only reason drum’n’bass is so BORING is because it’s played by computers – by having a human drummer play the dnb rhythms, and making the perfect rock version of such a song.

Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream

Another seminal 90’s record. Dreamy guitar figures alternate with edgier alternative guitars, and the songs actually are good all the way through, in contrast with later albums.

Spiritualized – Ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space

Coming in a package making it look like medication, with a booklet written like a medicine leaflet, and a perfect flow from beginning to end. Defying traditions of rock/jazz/gospel/blues, and mixing them all together, adding a drugged-out soundscape to all the songs, there is no easy explaining what this album sounds like.

Tindersticks – II

Their finest album by far; sparse instrumentation leaving room for each of the accents, the graveyard vocals, and their best songs. This disc is only better because it was accompanied by a 70-minute live set with a complete orchestra.

Tom McRae

Stunning debut album; not consistent in quality because it contains some spectacularly beautiful songs.

Tool – Aenima

An album showing that metal can also be intelligent, well-played, and that it’s ok to have variety. Songs easily passing the 8-minute mark, but keeping listeners on their toes all the way through. One of those rare albums that can be listened to from beginning to end and back again.

Twilight Singers – Blackberry Belle

Afghan Whigs frontman going solo and teaming up with a whole bunch of guests, including Mark Lanegan. While the music is different, this disc manages to catch some of the essence that the Afghan Whigs left behind.

Weezer – Pinkerton

A completely personal and emotional album from beginning to end, which they caught a lot of flack for. After that they went back to writing the regular catchy surfpop tunes with bubblegum contents, and apparently the singer doesn’t want to hear about his “failure” disc anymore. Incredible, this is easily their finest, coupling their catchiness to lyrics that matter.

Much ado about nothing

A two-disc set mixing audio excerpts from the Kenneth Brannagh movie adaptation of the Shakespeare play with some of my favourite songs from that time. One of those stupid projects you have time for as a student and that you end up doing when you’re madly in love with someone and want to show them you are without saying so :)

Of course, to be fair, I have to admit that my Dave/Dina box holds about 1500 CD’s, so it’s not like I don’t have any music here. And I already bought a few CD’s since coming here, of which Sophia’s “People are Like Seasons” and Explosions In The Sky’s “The earth is not a cold dead place” deserve honorable mentioning.

Hm, I pulled a jfleck-y diary entry, sweet.

Filed under: General — Thomas @ 2:28 pm

2:28 pm


All in all, pretty scary that this is still possible today. Eerie too how it was exactly 30 months after the WTC buildings collapsing. Doesn’t say much however…

I called the one person I know in Madrid to check if she was alright. She was.

Today in the building where we work (which is Barcelona’s own WTC), there was a fifteen minute silence gathering outside on the square. Seeing more than a thousand adults trying to be quiet for fifteen minutes makes you think.

There’s not much I can say – my heart is with all those people who were there.


Released a new version yesterday, with a bunch of nice fixes for a lot of issues. Already put in two new fixes today. One was a bug report from Matthias from last night; the other was to add –promoteepoch when supported so that with the recent epoch changes, it’s again possible to build packages that were unable to install their deps due to this.

Am now thinking of splitting up the distro files, and after that it’s time to start thinking about a reworking with everything abstracted nicely into classes.


Everything is getting pretty much ready for the 0.8.0 release on Monday. Tweaked the packaging some more, sent out a mail to interested packagers about how we would like to see it packaged. Decided to drop the gstreamer08 set of packages obsoleting the 07 ones, since apt didn’t handle it nicely.

Decided not to implement release-device, even though I think Benjamin is wrong about the importance of the bug or the way he chooses to express his opinion :) But OTOH, I think it’s bad for our internal community if I keep complaining about stuff I think is important on behalf of other people who for some reason don’t really take part in the discussion. Even though they’re our primary users. I need to figure out first how I can make the community around GStreamer a bit more vocal.

I think I found the correct way to do gst-ffmpeg, so that we can be a good community player and send patches upstream where it makes sense, but also make it perfectly easy for users to build it from CVS. I think I found the right mix of procedures to do this correctly. Let’s see how it goes; if it turns out well, I can write something up about it as a general solution to the “how to pull in other people’s CVS and use it in a project” problem.

Open Carpet

I’d like to have some of the big repos use Open Carpet themselves, instead of the completely crack umbrella repository set up at the OC site. It’s completely wrong to make people believe that all these repositories can be freely mixed :)

Anyway, since all these people build their packages themselves, not having the sources readily available to all the red carpet components is kind of a problem. What’s more, I tried to convince snorp that this really is an issue, but for some reason he thinks it’s not a problem and “they should just use build-buddy to build the packages”. Apparently he doesn’t understand what these guys’ life mission is…

Anyway, buildbuddy is nice, but solves a completely different problem. It’s aimed at “how can I make packages for all different distros from one control file”. Unsurprisingly, it generates very ugly spec files. The repos out there are, at the most, concerned with getting it to run on only Red Hat/Fedora. Some of them even explicitly limit themselves to a subset of this. And they want clean spec files. And src.rpms that can be rebuilt without problems on the target platform. Something that’s very much not possible with the red-carpet stuff.

So, I’m going to take a stab at trying to figure out how to do it correctly. To warm up, I made ximian-artwork rpms, where I actually use their .src.rpm as the Source: in the spec file. Neat trick. Probably be necessary for the red-carpet components too.

I was really happy to have Industrial again, it’s so much prettier than Bluecurve. I had missed it ever since moving from my RH9 install to Fedora Core 1. For some reason metacity failed to change the window decorations though, which a quick metacity-message restart fixed.

Going home

Coming to work on blades is starting to work out fine. Going back home is slightly harder since there is no easy bladable route going home. I guess I’ll have to do some searching.

Filed under: General — Thomas @ 2:27 pm

2:27 pm

Things people do

We had someone with very strange GStreamer errors and we were unable to figure out what was wrong. Until we asked how he installed GStreamer. I had already noticed he had it in /usr, with the registry in /usr/var, which clued me in to the fact that he had compiled from source to /usr himself. He sort of didn’t reply to the actual question “How did you install GStreamer”.

Then I got floored after asking for the fourth time:

<thomasvs> So I’m asking you, “how come it ended up in /usr” ?

<*him*> okay

<*him*> i copyed /opt/gnome26/* to /usr/

After that it took quite some convincing that a) his system was now officially broken, b) he should reinstall, and c) we cannot debug or support our software when he deliberately screws up his system.

So, for people who didn’t know yet:

  • Never ever ever install stuff from source to /usr unless you are completely sure that this is what you want and the only way to work around something. If you don’t know if it is, the answer is it isn’t.

  • If someone is trying to help you figure out the problem, ANSWER the questions. Maintainers often know from the start what’s wrong, but lose too much time trying to help you figure out the problem because you didn’t reply to their questions. Don’t second guess them or think for them. Just answer the questions, so you can help them help you.

  • If this is news to you, and you didn’t know these two things, then don’t use a source install system like LFS/Gentoo/Slackware. There is nothing wrong with these systems, but you have to pick a distro that you can understand. If you didn’t understand why copying stuff to /usr was bad, you are missing some knowledge to control these systems, and they will end up controlling you.


Was hoping to do a 0.8.0 today, but I’m better off doing another 0.7 release, with the majorminor override to 0.8, to shake out the last few bugs.

“Fixed” the buggy MPEG playback yesterday; it would have been caught if the testsuite was running a few months ago. So we need to finish our infrastructure work so all of the key components are working well.

Fixed up and did a nautilus-media release in time for GNOME beta 2. I think I fixed all issues I still had with it, I hope I get some feedback still.

Off now to try and make the audio sinks have a release-device property so that Rhythmbox and Jamboree can stop setting the audio sink to NULL. It really is an application bug given the current GStreamer design, but of course everyone is going to blame GStreamer for not being able to unpause. So a hack is required here.


Finally saw Lost in Translation. Blew me away – easily one of the top five films of the last twelve months. The movie is 100% believable, and it oozes tenderness all over. As a bonus, it was pretty funny even though I didn’t expect it to be.

Also finally saw Kill Bill. Before I thought I had missed it here in Spain, but apparently it only just got released. Well, what can I say about a movie in which blood performs the best acting job ? The movie was very slow, which as a homage to Japanese samurai movies I can understand. But, if you’re updating a genre to present days, it tends to leave stuff you didn’t change stick out like sores. Take out the blood, the intense staring, and the ominous pauses, and you’re left with a five second video clip.

Anyways, I know a lot of people will disagree, so to them I ask: is Kill Bill better than True Romance, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown or Reservoir Dogs ?

As a bad point, it wasn’t funny much even though I expected it to be.

Filed under: General — Thomas @ 2:26 pm

2:26 pm


is gonna suck. Went to a bed with a smallish headache, woke up with a splitting one. I think I’m going to go for the low brain activity tasks today. The drawback of having a job with computers is that you don’t really have anything to do unrelated to computers when you could really take a break from them for your health.


Forgot to mention I finally, after seven years, got to see Swingers. This movie made me realize that I’m so money and I don’t even know it.

The funny thing is, the last four years I wanted to see this movie and each time I asked for it at the video store they looked it up and told me “Uh, are you sure you want to watch it ? It’s a porn movie…” and I tried to tell them “No no, really, it’s a regular honest movie !”

Of course today I could just give them an imdb link to prove I’m a regular customer. I really wonder how people managed to avoid renting porn movies in the days before the internet …

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