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Present Perfect


Filed under: General — Thomas @ 09:18


Lovely how flashback is spelled on the RDS feed of a radio station.

So, GStreamer summit coming to a close. I'm happy with the outcome, even though we still haven't managed to constructively hack together, but I have some plans for that for next time. The main focus was to decide on a direction to take from here on, get started with 0.9, merge the different technical approaches, and so on. My personal focus was on discussing the development process as such - how do we avoid the big free-for-all during a development cycle that breaks the core for months on end, how do we apply some of the best practices we learned from other projects, what can I do to make our long-term quality more measurable and visible without blocking other people in their flow, ...

I think we've come up with a nice procedure we agreed on for the nearby future that addresses a lot of my previous concerns:
- we are aiming at a shorter turnaround cycle for GStreamer, more in the 4 month range
- this makes it easier for people that for some reason weren't able to finish their subsystem rewrite - the next train will be ready to go soon after
- subsystem rewrites (ie, the ones with a fairly huge and API-breaking impact) are done on a branch until they work in such a way that unit tests pass, and a first set of about ten reference elements work correctly
- when this subsystem is ready, it's put on the merge schedule to be merged ASAP
- when it gets merged, the person responsible mails docs and info to the list, where people can ask questions and discuss; a mini-freeze on HEAD happens
- other people take up the task of porting a second set of about ten elements to show they can follow and understand the changes; people test their apps with the new changes
- if for some reason the merge to HEAD is broken, it gets backed out so the person responsible can go back to fixing whatever didn't work very well

This is pretty much the gist of it. I went into more detail in a mail to our mailing list.

In practice, this means:
- we are aiming for a GStreamer 0.10 release around May 15th
- Wim will probably spend the first few weeks chunking up his patch that involves threadsafety and refcounting, as well as some other niceties, so that people can follow each of these rewrites. That'll be nice to test this process with
- GStreamer plugins will be split into three modules, to satisfy both the "distinction between unencumbered and dodgy" requirement and the "please don't let autogen last an hour" requirement

As part of this, I'm also going to really focus on nice Buildbot integration. Yesterday I hacked on better branch handling in Buildbot, and today I can finally set up nice separate buildbots for all these branches. As soon as they're set up correctly, I can branch 0.8 off, and I can get started doing the plugin split.

It's also a tough act balancing the requirements of the company with the requirements of the community project, but I think we did well here. For us as a company, this schedule is also good - it means we can start selling some products for the next stable GStreamer very soon, without having to jump to really big hoops to backport stuff to 0.8 that will never work quite right.

Exciting times ahead for GStreamer, I'm sure.

In related news, we've had Dave and Nora stay at our place for the last week. Beside my being pretty tired most of the time, I had a good time having them over. Of course, the fact that Nora is a chef helped a lot as well :) Two days ago she made the most wonderful dish involving seared tuna (so that it's still raw in the middle) with sesame and coconut rice... And it all seemed so simple.

Yesterday evening as we got back from the restaurant where we almost didn't pay because we asked for the bill twice and they didn't bring it, Kristien and I stopped at blockbuster's to rent a movie while Dave realized he forgot his backpack at the restaurant and went back. Sadly, blockbuster had just closed one minute before. Luckily, we did eventually pay at the restaurant, otherwise Dave would have had a hard time getting his laptop back. It's all karma.

We ended up watching Tesis, which was OK, but really not as good as I had expected. All in all, it was pretty slow and pretty predictable. Oh well.
Exciting times ahead...

Computer trouble

Filed under: General — Thomas @ 00:34


So, a while back I mentioned how I have this computer put together with some new and some old parts that I was having problems with. The motherboard got replaced twice and still the damned thing wouldn't boot anymore after a few days.

Since then, I had taken my machine to work to experiment with swapping out pieces with other hardware - processor, memory, video card, ... Nothing made my machine do anything other than turn on the motherboard LED and spin up the CPU fan. No video on the card whatsoever.

So, time to go back one last time to the store that charged me 30 euro for looking at it and trying to brush me off by saying "cables were not connected properly". Well duh - I tried it with everything disconnected since the hard disk and other stuff is of no concern - just the cables from the power supply to the motherboard.

So anyway - I take a cab from work to the store to arrive about half an hour before the store's closing time, only to find the store chooses to close earlier and doesn't allow me to bring in the computer. If I wasn't a big boy I'd have started crying there and then.

Instead, I bought a new stronger power supply from another store next to it - figuring it was the only thing I hadn't really tried a good replacement for and went home. Put in the new power supply, still no sign of life.

So then in desperation (I mean, what can you do if' you've swapped every piece of hardware in your machine for another one by one ?), I read through the motherboard manual and came across the section for BIOS reset where it explains how to remove the battery and also short-circuit two pins for ten seconds. For some reason I decided to give that a go, and what do you know - after doing that the machine booted just fine.

I have no explanation for this. The motherboard was bought new after the last failure, and had worked for about three reboots, and then stopped with similar behaviour as the previous one. But it leads me to believe that while I'd like to think about computers as logical mechanical things you can reason about it, in reality there's always a case to be made for "when all else fails, experiment".


Filed under: General — Thomas @ 21:50


Yesterday, a loud roar of defiance and victory shook the very foundation of the World Trade Center in Barcelona as Thomas Banderas pumped the last rocket of a vicious Quake Deathmatch into the now lifeless body of Tim Waymans. This cataclysmic event marked the beginning of an era in which Thomas Banderas is no longer a Certified Quake Loser.

I'm all set for the GStreamer summit. Benjamin and David already arrived, Ronald is coming in later. Let's do tapas !


Filed under: General — Thomas @ 08:38


I remember a girl named Hula. She was a hoop to have around.


Filed under: General — Thomas @ 09:34


Watched two more movies on Thursday - Baise-moi (acceptable but disappointing) and some other I can't even remember. Went to work for the afternoon on Friday to quell unrest, still feeling a but squeamish but better.

Kristien convinced me to tag along for the ski weekend, so I took a lot of books (didn't even take my laptop, so I must have been some kind of ill) in case I wouldn't feel well enough to ski. But everything turned out fine. First day gave us good snow, the second was a bit more icy and the day ended badly because lifts closed suddenly on account of violent winds (it wasn't me), forcing us to do a fifteen minute uphill climb and then a bunch of flat slopes. Snowboards and flat slopes don't mix. I also had a small accident at, of all places, a ski lift. Some guy that had more balls than technique managed to fall down getting off the lift blocking everyone else. Instead of looking out for myself, I tried to not hurt him and ended up landing on the edge of his board with my face and my ungloved hand. My face is sort-of-ok - or not much worse off than before - here's the result.

Yesterday I called my father the doctor and explained the situation and he sounded very gloomy and depressing when I described the details. I was starting to get the feeling that he was going to suggest amputation, but apparently I had woken him up. My dad never goes to bed this early, I wonder what's up. Anyway, first he suggested getting a special solution that (Internet is a boon for hypochondriacs) was used in World War I to treat infected wounds. Then he said I might consider going to an actual doctor. So I put the picture online so my dad can see if I really really really have to see a doctor, which I'd like to avoid.

When you move to some other country where you don't speak the language you build this perfect bubble around yourself in which everything is fine. This works for 99% of the time. When something is not fine, it's hard to deal with it because your common knowledge of the language that you get by on is completely inadequate for these situations and the emotions that come with it. You feel like a toddler making up new words to convey what you're going through, you're not able to get angry or sarcastic at people because you spend most of your brain cycles understanding what they're telling or asking you in the first place. It probably takes a while before you're fluent enough in a language to handle the 1% of your life that is not in the bubble...

In other news, a little girl peed in my couch. I am watching the Sopranos from the edge of my couch now.

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