Present Perfect


Picture Gallery
Present Perfect

Filed under: General — Thomas @ 14:25



Finally got back to packaging our stuff for Fedora Core 1. Have more or less decided and agreed with FreshRPMS how we plan on packaging it. The GStreamer repository on our website will be compatible with the repositories of fedora.us and rpm.livna.org. Matthias and I will pretty much have the same set of packages, I think.

The 0.7.x will be packaged with gstreamer07 as a base name. When 0.8 comes out, that will become the gstreamer base, with 0.6.x moving to gstreamer06 for parallel installability.

I'm still finding small bugs here and there that should really be cleaned up before 0.8.x, but I'm happy that they're all easy cosmetic bugs that are nevertheless important to get right. I'm happy that I'm running into them one by one.


Time to announce this baby... I have to write something up about this soon.


Wanted to spend some time this weekend on looking at the kernel module packaging issue. Sadly I got into a very unproductive argument with someone over mach using --nodeps to actually build the package. I should have spent my time actually working on mach itself, but I guess I got very irritated because of the person coming over as agressive and not really interested in why this was done in the first place, or that he was using the tool to something it was not intended to do yet.

That doesn't mean it's not a bug (which I acknowledged from the start) and that it couldn't be fixed. I guess some people expect their software to automatically do whatever they think it should do, and be perfect and contain no bugs.

So if you find a bug, and report it, think about this. Project maintainers get bug reports all the time. If they can choose between working on a bug that got filed by someone who was polite and respectful, and someone who came across agressive, irritated, and impolite, and all else being equal, which of the two bugs is the maintainer more likely to work on ?

Anyway, the next day I decided to really work on stuff I wanted to and not get in endless discussions again. I reworked the way quoting is used in mach so that it now can correctly execute stuff like

mach build --target i686 --define 'kernel 2.4.22' kernel-module.spec

Then I worked some more on the linux kernel macros in autostar sandbox until it was an easy patch to build qc-usb kernel modules correctly. And then I built a bunch of kernel modules :) If you're on fedora core 1, and have a simple Logitech QuickCam webcam, please try packages from this dir and let me know if it works for you.

Now I need to finish these properly for linux 2.6 too (I've heard you really need a writable kernel source tree, and all the spec files I checked for 2.6 kernel modules indeed seem to copy the whole kernel tree as part of the build process, ugh), and then I need to pimp these autoconf macros to upstream kernel module projects to get rid of their crappy custom stuff that always breaks when you're not building for your actually running kernel.


So far, Orkut has only helped me to find people I already know and have regular contact with. That's not really what I need, is it ? I guess I'll take a break for a bit :)


It's been a while since I typed that. Must be muscle memory from the good old MS-DOS days ...


Finally started skating to work. This morning I still took about half an hour to get here, so I guess I need to find a somewhat shorter route. I am getting good at not falling down, and I hope the regular exercise will make me feel a bit more healthy in general.

Filed under: General — Thomas @ 14:24



Felt daring and listened to Explosions In The Sky on the plane flight to Belgium. They were playing Barcelona that night and I was missing it so this was as close as it was going to get.

Arrived home with the living room door open and my mother sitting outside on the terrace sunbathing at five degrees Celsius. The drawbacks of living in a cold country.

Drove to police office to report loss of identity card and driver's license. Made sure the police officer didn't see me arriving or leaving in the car. Raced to the administration office to actually get my new driver's license so I could end my brief life of crime.

Took the train to Brussel to put my stuff at my friends where I would be staying for the weekend. Went to the King of Spain (hm, I thought that was me) on the Grote Markt to meet up with all of the other hackers. Good to see all of them back. Hallski provided very good picture source material; here he demonstrates the size of a certain anatomical part of his.

dolphy wanted an authentic Belgian restaurant to eat mussels and fries, so I took him, wtay, jdahlin, Matthias and Noelle to some place on the Vismarkt. Everyone was happy, though my mussels were a bit on the dry/overcooked side.


Went to see Robert Love's talk. The place was packed. Novell cunningly sent a rock-star-like stand-in for Robert while the real Robert was probably still locked in a basement somewhere in wintery Boston hammering out code. Nevertheless the talk was very good, hope some people got motivated to pick up some of the stuff the decoy talked about.

Went to see Jonathan Corbet's kernel talk, which was really good as well. Gave me some insight in 2.6. Not sure if I'll be able to make use of it though.

Left for the wedding. Lots of atmosphere, people started dancing before desert was served. Someone finally succeeded in making a decent picture of me.

It was great to see old friends again, and I even made it onto the credit list of Tineke's movie - it showed "the winner took them all", and then a quick list of past conquests :) The list was quite a bit shorter than I remember it to be however.

All of her friends from school were complaining about how Tineke got married before them ... If you're a single guy, weddings should be your favourite place to go.

I'm having a harder time each time to restrain myself from killing DJ's that manage to do any of the following

  • download crap mp3's well below 128 kbps and use them at parties (I'll take a listening test to prove them you really can tell the difference any day)
  • download the completely wrong/crappy version of songs
  • manage to break off songs right before their best part
  • TALK between songs
  • play completely undanceable/crap/slimy slow songs
  • bring a small set of speakers, then ruin the quality completely by completely distorting the output

Seriously, it can't be that hard to make the musical part of the evening at least enjoyable.

Ended the evening with a nice dance though with the bride. The DJ managed to play Disarm right before I was leaving.


Due to getting to bed at 4.30 I slept late and missed the DirectFB and X talks I really wanted to see. The afternoon really didn't have talks that interested me, so I had wished it was the other way around. Tried to uncover the Robert Love stand-in by pretending to fanboy him and getting my kernel book autographed, but he passed the test admirably. Gave up.

Tried to stay awake and not make too much of an ass of myself for the rest of the day. Got drawn into witnessing the formation of a new Dark Alliance between Dag and Matthias, scary.

Got the best news of the year up to now at the end of the day. We went out to celebrate by buying real Belgian fries from a real Belgian fries stand and ate them in the car.

Went back to friends, watched 24. While watching I noticed a big cardboard box that read "Aibo" on the side (Hans works for Sony, btw). I asked him if it really did contain what it said. He said yes. I asked him why it was still packed. He said he brought it home two weeks ago but never bothered to try it. The nerve of some people.

I unpacked it, but it wasn't charged. So I hooked it up, then Delphine and I played the two-player Settlers card game. Called Kristien to buy it for us too.

After that, played with the AIBO for a while. It really is pretty well done; it asked for the ball, it followed the ball, it tried to get your attention, wiggle its tail, express "emotions", and so on. But I can't imagine myself shelling out that much for it until it at least makes less noise while moving around and looks slightly less metallic.


Spent the morning waking up. Really wanted to see the Belgian movie Steve + Sky since everyone is saying how good it is and it's probably not going to be shown in Barcelona.

I went into the movie really wanting to like it but got disappointed. I'm pretty sure if this movie was in English everyone would think the dialogue and story is crap. For me the only entertaining thing was that the movie was funny because it was in my local dialect, and it contained some scenes filmed close to where I live, and I also spotted my best friend's sister in the movie.

But if the movie had been in another Belgian dialect, I'm sure I'd have hated it.

On the plane, back to Barcelona, and happy to arrive home. Then even more happy to realize I really feel it's home. Then even more happy and unable to stop smiling for two days at the good news I got on sunday.

Filed under: General — Thomas @ 14:23



Forgot to mention that last weekend Kristien and I went shopping for a suit for me. I guess I forgot it because I mentally blocked out all memory of it. I just DON'T like to go shopping when everyone is doing the same thing and every store is filled to the brim with people. I especially don't like to go shopping when it's to buy stuff I don't feel I need. Because I like the suit I have already, but Kristien doesn't.

Anyway, so we found a suit but had a bad time finding it, and I didn't feel like explaining a lot to her what was wrong, so I hid behind Standard Guy Excuse #593059: "We just don't like shopping for clothes. We do not have breasts."

Well, that's a bit of a lie. I love to go shopping when everyone else is working, when I have the place to myself, can try out stupid stuff, and act like a kid in the booth while annoying my companion on purpose by embarassing them to hell. All of this cannot be done when there are lots of people around.

It didn't help when I wanted to go look at watches to replace my broken watch, and she tried to get me away from them. After two minutes she broke down saying she got me a watch for our one-year-togetherness. She always complains I'm too good at guessing what present I'm getting, and this time she forbade me to even try to guess. And now I managed to guess it without even trying, and it made her cry.

So baby, I should take you out for a rematch soon and do some real shopping.


Sometimes Barcelona weirds me out, in a good way. Yesterday there was some sort of taxi strike - a huge colonne of taxis was blocking the major streets close to work, tooting their horns. Nobody knew why.

I looked on the net for tango places - apparently I could go out and tango EVERY NIGHT. I have to get started soon.


Started throwing random files at GStreamer and the player to test for robustness. File number two was a tar.gz. It triggered an endless loop. After some debugging, it seems the typefinding functions serve up the file to gdk_pixbuf, who passes it on to the librsvg pixbuf loader, which tries to see if there's an svg inside it. Then when it tries to close it, for some reason it triggers an infinite loop. Not knowing anything about librsvg, I dug in and managed to find and fix the loop quickly. It taught me again I should always check for error codes on functions.

Anyway, made me think about the general problem - if GStreamer uses 50 libs, should we really trust all these libs not to have a simple mistake in them that makes all of GStreamer lock up so easily ? So I decided I wanted to set timeouts on lib function calls when we know they cause a problem.

After a day of experimenting, it seems this is possible, but a bit convoluted. Basically, the best/most portable way to do this is

  • start an alarm thread that listens to ALRM, or any other timer signal

  • block delivery of ALRM to the main thread

  • alarm thread should send USR1 to the current process when catching an ALRM

  • before calling a function, set a USR1 handler (which will run in this thread), store the setjmp point in a global per-thread hash, and set alarm

  • if the next function call doesn't return in the given time, ALRM is raised and delivered to the process. Since the alarm thread is the only one listening to ALRM, it will be the only one receiving it. It will then raise USR1, and since the actual thread that is calling the function is the only one listening to it, it will receive the notification correctly as well. So the USR1 callback can then longjmp back to before the blocking function, and it can thus be skipped

Fairly convoluted. Drawbacks ? Right this doesn't allow more than one thread at the same time to use this timeout mechanism (which could probably be fixed by keeping track of alarm times and setting them, so that each thread catching an alarm can check if it's meant for that thread, and reraise if needed). Also, people might complain they cannot use ALRM for their own program anymore (though we can make the whole timeout optional too, which I'll probably do). And, some people may feel this is a hack.

Well, it's not actually a hack, it's the right way to do this. Only it is so low-level that people automatically consider it a hack. I, on the other hand, feel we really should do this if we want to make sure GStreamer answers to user expectations in general. Which means, it just shouldn't lock up when trying to play a random file.


Leaving tomorrow morning, yay ! Hope to arrange some paper matters too while I'm in Belgium, and visit some friends. Now playing

Six by Seven - eat junk become junk. How this amazing disc got so widely ignored is really beyond me.

Filed under: General — Thomas @ 14:22



Spent most of my weekend struggling with RefDB, a database to manage bibliographical references. My dad's doctorate thesis is due Friday, and he didn't use the program I installed 20 months ago. Now, in his final days, I get to put the pieces back together.

But I never really thought xml/docbook was an intuitive toolchain to get running, and RefDB doesn't help much either because it's so completely untransparant. Tools fail silently on bad input, or fail generically without saying where something was wrong, so I spent most of my time trying to figure out what exactly it was not parsing.

In the end it turned out that the RIS file my dad gave me contained garbage control characters, and it also looked like RefDB didn't really like names with accents in (like, all the Irish guys and some Dutch guys). I also started my use of RefDB with a simple FILE* non-cleanup patch. I'm not entirely sure though I want to go through the pain of sending all stuff I find upstream for a package I myself have no use for.

Then I started thinking, man, this is probably exactly how some people feel about GStreamer. Some stuff I consider natural is completely nonintuitive to them, and things break in mysterious ways when they are run slightly differently from our local setups. I mean, I'm pretty sure the RefDB author has everything running very smoothly on his home machines...

Anyway, after 30 hours of fighting with docbook, xml, RIS files, unreadable C code, mysterious options, and unforgiving configuration files, I sort of cooked up a RefDB-based xml file containing my dad's bibliography. I hope he gets back to me soon on whether or not it's ok - you can just know he's going to want to have everything fixed on Thursday when I don't have any time for it...

Inbetween, we watched Grosse Point Blank and Antitrust. I recognized Miguel right off the bat in that very short flash. The movie wasn't too bad, it just made my toes curl a little at points. Let's just say it wasn't very believable. Grosse Point Blank was very good on the other hand.


Picked apart the Fedora 2 test rpms to check for patches. I just don't get why people don't submit their packaging patches upstream. The spec looks really ugly without it having to be. It also has the docs disabled, while they build fine here in a clean root. Why aren't we getting bug reports for this ?

Anyways, I guess I just have to mail and prod and make people aware that we care.

The build bot setup is starting to look nice now. We added the powerpc machine on my desk in two minutes. I'm sure the other GStreamer developers are starting to get irritated at all the random commits we're doing.

I'm sure Ronald is going to kick my ass some time soon too, but it just had to be done.


I got a mail from someone asking about it, so I went back to check and noticed I had some stuff to change in my savannah checkout. After resubmitting keys and changing config files, I could check out my project again. It still works, I guess that's not a bad start. I have no way to develop on it anymore however as I don't have any RDS encoders lying around :)


Man, our company logo is so unbelievably sexy as a favicon... I just keep staring at the tasklist at the bottom and the cute little cartwheel.

Filed under: General — Thomas @ 14:21


Short recap

Too much has happened, so let's make it short.

Fluendo exists now. wtay paid us a visit. Spent long days and nights at too many restaurants, too many bars, and too little time in bad. Had productive discussion with Wim. He's just amazingly good at designing. When we got sidetracked he showed me a beautiful sound server design he had prototyped, but he stopped working on it after seeing that his test code worked. Sigh, I hate that guy :) Maybe an idea to pick up later ?

Norwegians complain a lot then buy presents to make up for it :)

Discussed clocking with him too - not sure what was wrong in 0.6 with it, it seems like it was just some stuff left to implement. Will need to pick that up really soon and decide what to do.

Johan set up buildbot. Output looks nice, will be useful ! Hope we can fix the last issues with it.

Sister dropped by too. Nice to see her again, I don't really have time to miss people, they drop by anyway :) Next time have to get her over in the weekend, not much time during the week.

Spent a whole day listening to Jeff Buckley, then the cocktail bar at night was playing Grace. Nice. Sad.

Pushed out releases of nautilus-media for GNOME 2.4 (0.3.4) and GNOME 2.5 (0.5.3) Next week Johan and I will be working on fixing all bugs that are in it, but jdub needs a release now.

This week I fixed around 12 open bugs in GStreamer. Still too much in maintainer mode, fixing dist issues, breaking up modules, and so on. Did manage to finally write the unversioned frontend binaries for the tools, was happy about that. Simple idea, simple design, works as expected.

Did a release of 0.7.4 for GStreamer and GStreamer Plugins. Then did a release of 0.6.5 for GStreamer so they both use the same frontends. Tested theory of parallel installability by making packages and discussing with Matthias. Seems to work out fine. Now I need to figure out how to handle the GConf schemas. I guess I should make them versioned too. Sigh :)

Got my wallet lost or stolen. Suckage. I paid for one of the dinners with my bank card and got the money from the others, so I lost 150 euro. Should have treated them, wouldn't have cost me anything afterwards :) Will be painful to get cards and papers back.

Mailed booqbags to ask where the hell my bag is. They're sending it again. I hope this time arrives.

After two years, the quest is finally over. Three Ruperts made their way to Barcelona ! One is sitting on the Powerpc at work, one on the stack of DVD's containing three complete series of Family Guy (that sadly don't play on my PS2, so need to finish getting DirectFB output on Dave/Dina so I can watch them), and the third is keeping Kristien safe in the bedroom. I owe someone a bunch of thanks !

Got Soulcalibur 2 from Wim and Christian because they complained I didn't have any real games (Not sure how they missed great stuff like Britney's Dance Moves and Buffy The Vampire Slayer though). It's sucking up all my time, I'm going to stop hacking on GStreamer I think so I can become an expert at Soulcalibur 2.

So, so far for the short update. I'll go back to trying to be more regular now.

« Previous PageNext Page »