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Filed under: Fedora — Thomas @ 00:45


I was just as excited as everyone when revisor hit Fedora. I think I even remember helping those guys out getting started, at a FUDCon hotel in Boston where I was too jetlagged. But I could be misremembering.

But every time there was a new Fedora, I tried out revisor again because I was hoping to do a simple Live CD showing off Fluendo stuff, like Elisa and Flumotion. And it just never worked. I think in F-8 it was trying to install both an i586 and i686 kernel at the same time, then complaining that those rpms shared the same files. In F-7 it just threw tracebacks for everything I tried. And I just don't know if I'm alone here, and everyone else is happily spinning these custom distros using revisor.

Maybe it's because there are so goddamn many options that I keep chosing the wrong ones ? Maybe I should actually break out my editor and fix the bugs I run into ? I created a bug report for my current issue, but I found only 3 bugs against revisor. So I checked some more and apparently there's an upstream Trac (can't blame those guys for not wanting to use the mutant RedHat Bugzilla).

My bug's not in there (though there are a lot more bugs, so that's comforting, it means people use it). There's no New Ticket at the top, but also no way to register for an account. There's a helpful link to create a new ticket on the front page, but of course that just tells me off for not having TICKET_CREATE privileges.

I guess that also means I'm not filing tickets for the following problems just yet:

  • Using the F accelerator both for File (menu) and Forward (button)
  • Having a Quit button at the bottom right during the whole process
  • being told my password is wrong in two (not one) dialogs in a row
  • not getting graphical feedback on the above-mentioned exception
  • a bunch of missing images the console complains about
  • not defaulting to the distro you're actually running (If I'm running F-9, why would I want to create a CentOS live-cd by default ?)
  • Not having a keyboard accelerator for "Get Started" (the only way to do anything useful on the first page
  • Having to click "Apply" when changing "Configuration Section to Use" dropdown to select a different distro
  • Not having a simple way to save a set of choices before it starts the long process of building the install media (how do you guys develop this software if you have to click all the options again every time ?)
  • (this one is my favourite) every time I came on the page where I was forced to give a root password, I would end up with a dialog saying my password didn't match, and sure enough, the first one was missing an asterisk. Turns out that revisor has a bug where, after I click the entry box to start typing my root password, it ignores the first character I type there. It is almost impossible not to run into the double dialog bug I mentioned above
  • Default Desktop: choice between GNOME and KDE. Except that both radio buttons are checked (I didn't even know that was possible) and there's no way to uncheck them. I guess it's one way to settle an eternal conflict users imagine there being :)
  • After working around the bug I filed (by adding /bin/bash before the script's path), and lots of console spew, and half an hour of waiting, it again died with a traceback on the console and no UI feedback:

    File "/usr/lib/python2.5/site-packages/revisor/pkgorder.py", line 36, in
    import iutil
    ImportError: No module named iutil

    Apparently this is a module that's part of anaconda. Maybe revisor could use a general-purpose exception handling dialog that at least tells you to file a bug ?

  • After working around THAT bug, another one:

    File "/usr/lib/python2.5/site-packages/revisor/pkgorder.py", line 95, in addPackages
    revisor.misc.resolve_dependencies_ugly(yumobj, logger)
    NameError: global name 'yumobj' is not defined

What I'd really like to know is, has any of you fedora heads been able to use Revisor successfully ? If so, which options did you pick ? Someone have a "5 minute click only these things" guide to revisor that is 100% guaranteed to work so I can at least see that this thing can be made to work ? Or should I be switching to Ubuntu to make live cd's instead ?

And to the revisor guys, don't take this the wrong way. I feel guilty for never actually having tried to do proper bug reports (I considered the bugs straightforward and easy to see, so I thought it was still in the experimental stage, until I noticed it was touted as one of the big features of Fedora).

I now realize I should actually push you guys a little, provide some useful feedback, and some ideas for improvement. Because your tool obviously struck a nerve, and I want this to be good, and deserve the place it has been given. So, please start by telling me how you want me to report bugs.

And I'm going to go out on a limb and wager a guess that you guys only test your TRUNK versions, not the versions that actually get packaged and shipped with Fedora. You would help your project immensely by making sure some basic Q&A gets done on the versions you actually package and ship, because there is a lot of low-hanging fruit there.

wordpress and comments

Filed under: friction,General — Thomas @ 15:57


Every time I want to reply to a comment on my blog I am stupefied at how badly commenting works in WordPress.

Here's what I can't figure out:

  • Why can't I comment on a specific comment and start a thread of discussion ?
  • Why can't I easily quote some other comment ?
  • Why can't I comment from the admin interface ?

But these probably are relatively minor. The number one thing that annoys me is how this comment system does not help at all in creating a discussion. It would be so much better if, assuming there was a way to comment on a specific comment:

  • your comment to someone else's comment would get automatically mailed to that person (if he left his email)
  • that mail contained a link that would take him to "create a new comment on this comment"

This way, you can keep a discussion going without too much mental friction. Imagine how I would have to do it now - I would have to comment in general (using the @ symbol to indicate at which commenter I'm directing my comment), send them a mail (hey, I saw your comment, and replied), cut and paste my comment or send them a link to it, and ask them their opinion. Then if they still cared enough, they would give it to me, I'd have to ask them if they're ok with posting their comment again, and then manually post it again. And so on.

Right now often I don't reply because I'm pretty much sure these people aren't spending their free time going back to comments they've written to see if they got a response. So much possibility for goodness wasted...

My hope is that one of you knows of a plug-in that just Does The Right Thing here. Care to share ?


Filed under: TV — Thomas @ 13:32


Apparently my new life involves a love triangle.

Great, the voices are back.

I have no words to describe how awesome Dexter is. Procured it on the intarweb after being tipped by a Barcelonan friend, and captivated ever since. Luckily my snapping up the show coincided more or less with my purchase of a big 40 inch LCD TV (which I can now finally put to use given that we have an apartment with a couch-to-wall distance of more than a few meters), and this show was made for it. It just looks gorgeous.

I used to watch some TV on the many plane flights of my work commute - mostly sticking to finishing all five seasons of Angel, interspersed with my DVD Buffy watching - but this show I specifically wait for to be home and able to watch it on the big screen. It's just that good.

The story's an interesting twist on the serial killer theme, and it's thoroughly entertaining to be trapped in the mind of this drywitted psychopath. Every single actor in this show is excellent (And it's fun to see Julie Benz in a non-vampire role, although she's considerably more sexy as Darla than in this series). The storylines are well above par, and the writers do an amazing job at pulling off forcing you to like this character.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - ever since The Sopranos showed how good TV can be, we've been getting some excellent TV shows (no, I'm not counting Lost among those) that are showing that TV can be just as good a medium as movies.

Though Dexter really is among the best of that crop. I can't wait for my next lunch break...

So, obviously this series is not on in Spain or Belgium. I'm not sure it ever will be, given its content. So, in a world gone entirely digital, do I have any legal way of watching this excellent show, or do their creators prefer that I miss it entirely instead ? Surely they want to reach their audience wherever it is... This is the kind of stuff I would gladly pay for.

did you know

Filed under: Life — Thomas @ 21:46


that wee kittens have the same farting power as adult cats, and a lot less reservation in using it...

Random updates

Filed under: Belgium,Conference,GNOME,GStreamer,Life,Spain — Thomas @ 11:59


Looks like I caught part of the flu my Barcelonan flat mate was having. It started - as these things usually do - on Friday evening. My psyche knows when it's the weekend and when I want to relax, and schedules diseases breaking out accordingly. I'd feel guilty about getting ill on working days, I'm sure.

We had a BBQ planned on Sunday with our old sport club - our yearly meeting. A simple flu wouldn't stop me from having it, even though we took over organizing it from the original instigator (and used Doodle to do so - do yourself a favor and use it every time you're planning something with friends to avoid fifteen thousand mails going "I can't on that date, how about that date" - I wish I had thought of that site)

BBQ was excellent, save for the fact that the ten-year-old-but-still-in-a-box-deluxe-barbecook was missing a whole bag of nuts and bolts. Peter to the rescue by going to the hardware store and getting some basics to at least allow us to have the BBQ itself working. And affected as I was by the flu apparently I didn't bring home charcoal but vineyard branches - not a good fit for the barbecook.

But all was well after a short wait and the meat was excellent, as was the company. And we even got some sports done.

Today being San Joan in Barcelona - my least favourite holiday, 6 year old kids running around at night shooting off fireworks without regards for their own or my life - I decided to stay home this week. I'm happy I decided to stay here because it's no fun travelling while ill. This also allows me to focus on setting up our new virtualized development platform at work, because we're working on a near-seamless migration from our old platform code to the new version. Flipping the big red switch just isn't a responsible way of migrating customers anymore.

Kristien took advantage of me staying to work from home this week and went out yesterday to get a new kitten. His name's Tonie (staying with the cat meme we started with Lunya), he's mostly black but with white paws, a white jaw, and a bit of white across his face. As far as kittens go, this is one of the more active I've seen - up and about and trying to break free from his temporary "get-used-to-a-new-place" area in two hours. Usually a kitten takes about a day hiding behind some couch in a corner to adjust. Also, this kitten hardly made a peep while Kristien drove him home - an hour car ride and only six meows. Lunya would wail like a baby the whole drive.

Anyway, I'm sure you all know kittens are cute and heartbreaking. This one's up and about and alternating between discovering this new place and resting on my lap.

In the end I've decided not to go to GUADEC this year, and go to Europython instead. It's not really a very calculated or well-thought out decision - I was hung up on deciding ever since I realized they were on at the same time. I probably would have booked for both months ago if they had been separate.

It's not that I don't want to go to Istanbul - I do, but holy shit, is it expensive - and it's not that I don't want to see all my GNOME friends again. I'm interested in the debate our dear rabble rouser has started, though I doubt people will get anywhere on that.

Maybe it's simply fatigue - I have to agree with some people that there isn't that much variety compared to other years looking at the schedule. Possibly it's also the fact that I haven't contributed much of anything at all to GNOME over the last year. I'm sure that's largely due to my focus having changed a lot. My involvement in GStreamer as well has waned over the last year, for various reasons I'll save for a possible other post.

Europython was fun last year, it's nice to see a different community interact once in a while. Breaks the entrenchment one gets into. It's also more work-related - we're looking for people with Python skills, so it makes more sense to go to Europython.

In the end, it wasn't a single thing that made me decide, it's really just a flip of a coin decision, and I'm sure I'll regret it somewhere down the line. Chosing is losing.

So, with my birthday coming up (and now having decided to have it in Vilnius) I've cleaned up my Amazon wish lists and ordered myself some goodies off of it already. Which leads me to wonder two things related to Amazon.

First of all, why does Amazon even *have* different frontend sites for different regions ? And why do these sites not interact in any way at all ? Every link on the web to an amazon item are always to the US version, so I always end up having a US wish list, though it is weird to order stuff from the US if it's also available on any of their regional sites.

Which leads me to point two - how is it still possible that ordering the same stuff from the US just comes out huge chunks cheaper than ordering it from the .uk or .fr sites ? And that's even when I choose priority air shipping. Shouldn't it be a hell of a lot cheaper to ship from their European warehouses ? Is this just the weak dollar ? Should I delete my UK wish list entirely anyway (which I only started for DVD's because of region coding and PAL vs NTSC) ?

Anyway, enough influenced posting for today. Time to do some non-work work.

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