Present Perfect


Picture Gallery
Present Perfect


Filed under: General — Thomas @ 11:48


I'm doing a talk on Flumotion at 15.00 CEST here at GUADEC in the Mannheim room. Make sure you catch it if Flumotion interests you.

Great news about Richard Hult and Matthew Allum ! Two years ago at the Oslo GStreamer summit we made sure Jorn met his still-current girlfriend, this year Jeff and Pia got hitched, and now a free software community has done it again. Of course there's a twist this time, and I think it's pretty brave to make such a clear statement in public. Free software doesn't necessarily mean free love ! I'm sure some companies will get renamed to Closed Hand and In-Hand-io after this news.


Filed under: General — Thomas @ 14:17


Considering that we've only had internet access since this morning around eight o'clock, I'm happy to say that the streams were up around 10.30. If you're not at GUADEC, you can follow the streaming. If you're actually at GUADEC, it would be nice of you if you'd use the local streams instead.

40 people are watching Colin Walter's talk on SELinux at the moment, and 55 are watching Wim's talk about GStreamer. Time to announce a bit more widely.

We are currently streaming three rooms at the same time: the big auditorium called Königshalle which mainly hosts keynotes, the Bertha room which holds "the main track", and the Mannheim room, which hosts the multimedia track.

If there's anything wrong, feel free to drop in on #guadec on irc.gnome.org and let me know.

Veronica Mars

Filed under: General — Thomas @ 22:52


I guess I have Moshe Zadska to blame for our unit's watching of the addictive Veronica Mars series. The series is well written, and I don't understand how some other people fail to pick up on the fact that the stereotypical high school stuff is precisely meant to be stereotypical so it can serve as a backdrop for the story. Sort of like a kiss-and-punch approach, the school backdrop suckers you into thinking it's just another teen series, making you lower your defenses, until you're drawn on. Sort of the same quality Buffy has.

Tonight though I was pleasantly surprised to see an episode that propped Ubuntu and GNOME 2.8. I had to rewind to confirm that my ears actually heard what they just heard :) Congrats to Ubuntu for hitting the mainstream !


Filed under: General — Thomas @ 19:08


Back from holidays. More on that later. For now ...


finally found out that where his fancy power block is. But he's insinuating that I'm a thief. Now, if I was a thief, would I really be so dumb as to link so obviously to a picture of his belongings ? No, of course not. The truth of the matter is that this power block was taken with me to Barcelona on the last day in our house in Gent. The day where Peter said "I'm sure I took everything that's mine, if you find anything else you can throw it in the trash." But would a friend throw one of another friend's most prized possessions in the trash ?

Well maybe another friend would. But not I.


The good thing about moving to Python is that I've completely forgotten Perl. I've tried to read some code recently from someone in Perl and it was *hard*. I think that's great.

The bad thing is that there's still Perl out there. Someone recently asked me about a small project I did at the radio station, libuecp. This is a library that speaks the UECP protocol to send commands to RDS transmitters. RDS is the system that sends info your (car) radio like text, station ID, traffic announcements, ...

He had a small issue with it so I decided to clean it up and possibly hand it off. Call it hobbyist pride if you will - this is code I wrote three years ago and really, I should at least make sure it works and can be used, even if I won't rewrite the perl bits just now. I was trying to fix make distcheck, and I noticed I had to put in a hack because perl-generated makefiles do have an install command. But the uninstall command says that uninstall is "unsafe and broken", so it doesn't actually *do* make uninstall. That makes it pretty annoying to integrate with autotools.

I'm sure other people have tried doing this, but google didn't find anything and I couldn't be bothered solving an integration problem for a language I'm pretty sure I'll never use anymore myself anyway in the future, so I put in an uninstall-local rule with lots of finds. Ugly, but works.


An and Mike passed by after we got back from holiday. And suddenly I'm a godfather-to-be.
Found a new restaurant close by our place yesterday, it's only been open for two weeks. Had a very good tuna fish tartar.
Andy feels I should really write about every little thing I do, like tying my shoe laces, not just this overview stuff. For now I'm showing remarkable restraint.

Pet peeves

#19028475: people referring to Windows using any variant such as windoze, winblows, winslow, window$, ... Seriously, stop that crap. It makes you so unmoney. It wasn't funny the first time and the joke hasn't aged well from that point on.

#19281741: autoconf making configure check for all sorts of versions of fortran. There must be some fortran lobby out there sitting on INSANE chunks of money ! Seriously ! WHY ??? Can someone tell me how to make configure not check for all this fortran crap ?


Filed under: General — Thomas @ 16:04



Since dmix is heralded as the solution to desktop audio, I decided to give it another go on my laptop. Sadly, I was incredibly underwhelmed (I know it's not a word cause I looked it up). First of all, it manages to add a little distortion on my left channel. Really weird, I don't know why this would happen, but it does. Second, the mixing is not very good - playing a song and a sine tone at the same time shows obvious bleed that shouldn't be there. Third, and this is much worse, every ten songs something goes wrong. Either it goes into continuous interruption mode, much like a skipping CD player, or it just locks up completely. a pause/play solves it, but it's damn annoying.

I don't know if this is my driver, my sound card, whatever. All I know is that if a fairly standard Thinkpad T40 can't rely on dmix, it's probably not yet something that should be enabled by default...

Got a new webcam for work handled by the spca5xx driver, since we got a bug report for it. I got a nice little Creative camera that's really small and attaches to your laptop easily. I've built RPMS for this webcam for FC3, so please try these out and let me know. I got a nice mail from someone this week that just said thank you for the PWC kernel packages, and a thank you once in a while makes all the difference :)

Finally finished our buildbot setup. Zaheer was the first volunteer to set up a slave - a nice 64-bit gentoo slave. I added it to the "test" set of builders, so it wouldn't insult anyone while we were fixing all the issues, and then we went through all the compile and run problems yesterday one by one. 24 hours later I added it to our 0.8 buildbot, and now look at all those purty green colors :)

If you have some architecture or platform lying around that you wouldn't mind setting up a buildbot slave up on for us, please contact me. I'm looking for Sparc, S/390, powerpc, Mac OSX, ubuntu, suse, mandrake, ...

Are you listening, Sun ? This is a way for you to feel less like a secondary citizen in the GNOME world and beyond...

A 0.8.10 release of GStreamer that works on 64 bit and for gcc 4 is being cooked up as we speak.

I dreamt I was at a dinner party. I had blue furry ears and I had a blue cloud on my belly and a taste for honey. I was feeling anxious because I was supposed to show and tell and I didn't bring anything so I zipped off on a rainbow to my cloud.

Gnome Fun
While there's a grain in truth in pretty much everything everyone is saying, I do have to say that I don't think that it's really as bad as is being said. In any community I've ever been a part of for a longer time, there's always the sense of wonder and fun and discovery at the start - and there is always a sense of disenchantment somewhere along the way when you realize that there's a lot of work to be done, there's a lot of time to invest, and things just aren't as fresh and new anymore as they used to be. And people change along the way and become interested in new things.

It has been this way for me in scouts, at the college radio, in GStreamer (though it comes in waves), and in GNOME. So I tend to think it's not necessarily something that changed in GNOME that has stirred this feeling. It seems to me that a lot of people who have stopped having fun hacking GNOME are precisely people that have been around for a while. When I see new people coming in on any of these projects, they still seem to be very enthusiastic and full of energy.

Maybe "us" old-timers need to realize just how much is the lack of fun because the project changed, and how much is due to the lack of fun because we ourselves have changed. I can't blame GNOME for my lack of hacking on the platform - I am just too deeply immersed in other stuff right now. And sure, valid points have been raised. But at the end of the day, the only person who is responsible for making a project fun to hack on is you.

As for some points raised by people in particular:

  • John, why the hell do I have to find out about Snagglepuss like this ? :) So you're a cool Multimedia Hacker and none of us ever knew ?
  • Mikael, I agree in part with what you say. It is true that pieces of our development platform could be better. My number one source of irritation is my innate desire to want to follow the HIG (because this is an aspect where I want to be told what to do because I acknowledge my incompetence in the field), but the huge disconnect between GTK+ and the development tools, and the HIG itself (As an example, here is what your slider should look like, but if you really want to put in tick marks, you have to hand-code everything). I guess that either working on a project to translate the HIG to widgets, or working on a project that uses HIGGY widgets would be heaps of fun, but working on a project that tries to respect the HIG today is not that much fun. However, it needs people to pull together and define a direction.
  • Beside that, I'm particularly interested in your opinion on how much of your discomfort is because of your personal changes. You've been around for quite some time, you've started a company related to GNOME, you got married and now are going to have a kid ... I would expect your priorities have shifted somewhat, and you've probably changed as well ?
  • Benjamin, the Sullivan thing is a prime example of cubicle humor - something that only happens in a corporate environment :)
  • Questions about D-BUS ? Poke J5 or davidz on IRC. They're almost always around and two of the most helpful people you'll ever encounter on IRC
  • The comment about GStreamer is understandable but particularly unfair - but I'll move that to below since it's going out of scope
  • If you think that not being allowed to break ABI makes things less fun, you have a wide open 0.9 branch where ABI doesn't matter. Nothing is stopping you.
  • People in companies come and go. When you started on GNOME there were already people quitting their jobs over it.
  • I can see where Edd is coming from. Hacking out your place on a very specific subject that not a lot of people deal with - in his case, Bluetooth - can be a lot of fun at the start, but inevitably you need some help and feedback about the choices you make and sometimes that just does not happen. I wish there was something I could do to help GNOME hackers in this situation, but it's just not there. Same for all of those SUN hackers out there wishing people would care more about Solaris - we're just not using it. Reach out that small bit, like James said, and provide access to your hardware, and you will see people fix all the problems.

GStreamer & Fluendo
So coming back to Benjamin's point, I want to expand a little. It's a bit of a stretch to go from a temporary lack of motivation and a discussion about GNOME Fun to blame The Evil Company.

No point in going into details, but people should consider that we invited the core developers from GStreamer to come over in February and discuss ideas and design stuff for 0.9 to resolve the standstill. We did that the year before as well and I feel it was very motivating. Benjamin, you were there too, and you told us you were working on reverse-engineering stuff and weren't motivated enough to hack at the time. Also, you always have said you don't like designs and don't want to waste time on it, preferring to let the code speak for itself. We discussed the plans, everyone got their say, we came to a fair consensus, and we went on. Wim chunked up his changes so everyone could follow, and we're still waiting for comments and discussion on his design documents, be it on IRC or by mail. At no point during this whole process did we lock you out. If anything, not taking the chance to participate in this process makes me feel that at some points you locked yourself out.

The point is simple - I think Fluendo as a company puts quite some effort into being very cooperative with the rest of the community. Sometimes I wonder if that's worth it at all. Companies are evil by definition and some people always reason from that starting point. Nothing you do as a company will ever be pure and unsuspect again - some people will always complain no matter how much effort you make. I see very few companies out there doing this at all. Sometimes I get disheartened by that and wonder why we bother. On the other hand, there are enough people that seem to see us for what I think we are: a company hacking on GStreamer and building stuff on top of it, and genuinely trying to make it better for everyone involved. If you disagree with this, feel free to drop me a line and tell me why, because I'm interested in knowing what we can do better.

You know, even if Wim was really doing all his designing behind closed doors and no one was allowed in - I'd still prefer a design I can trust over a heap of code that's thrown together and starts breaking as soon as people silently disagree on the way to fix things. A problem GStreamer surely has suffered from in the past. I, for one, welcome our new threadsafe overlords.


So, tomorrow morning (way too morning) Kristien and I are leaving to go to the south of Spain for ten days. I'm not in an urgent need for holidays, but I think I'll enjoy this one regardless... See you all in ten days.

One type of SPAM I really don't get at all is the "Want your sex life the way it used to be" type. When I was fourteen my sex life was lonely and self-involved. Of course I don't want it the way it used to be - what makes you think you will get me to buy your product this way ?