Jeroen van Wolffelaar's blog

Thu, 21 Feb 2008

Phase change

It's done: today I heard about the last (passing) mark for the last course I need to follow for my Master in Applied Computing Science, at Utrecht University: a paper about RFID security and privacy as part of the Cryptography course.

Besides some small paper still due for (ahum) my Bachelor, the only thing left is my thesis with associated research. Today I got an invitation for my first working day at ORTEC in Gouda, next month, where I'll be doing research (and implementation) on some exciting new route planning algorithms. It'll require some getting used to it, five days a week, 8 hours a day, for the rest of the year. One of the biggest challenges will be getting up in time every single day, but I'm sure I'll be fine with that – eventually. I have confidence that the interesting research will make up for it completely!

Already this Friday I'll be going to FOSDEM with Thijs, partly by train, and partly hitchhiking a ride from Joost. Too bad my laptop practically died... But reading mail etc. not the most important thing in FOSDEM, you can do that at home too — I hope to meet yet again a whole lot of old and new Debian people over there.

For the first time in 3 years no talk from me, other duties took too much time lately. I'll need to discover how much time I'll be able to spend on Debian as a full-time employee, but I think it'll make it easier for me to divide my time: I really missed doing Debian stuff from time to time, and I need to fix up a number of neglected areas real soon now.

Good night!

posted at: 01:01 | path: /debian | permanent link to this entry

Mon, 11 Jun 2007

Summer of Code

June is the last month before summer holidays, and at this phase in my study, courses take a lot of time: practical assignments, seminars to give, multiple exams. And mid-June, I'll be attending DebConf in Edinburgh, including delivering a talk about Mole, the subject of my Google Summer of Code project.

In the period of April/May students participating in the Summer of Code project had the time to get more familiar with the project they were going to work for. Because I'm already somewhat familiar with Debian, I opted to organize an Etch release party together with some friends, because, well, what better way is there to get to know the community?

During the past two weeks I've been really starting with the project. I updated the wiki page, added a new development page where I keep track of my work – listing the subtasks I'm working on and their status. The first month will be mostly work on the internals, but starting with the second month I'll also be working on the web interface, meaning that there should be some stuff to show off.

At the moment I'm refactoring some bits of Mole that are currently implemented in a hacky way, in order to make it all as extensible as it should be. This includes defining a config file format for mole tables, so that it's no longer necessary to modify the python code for new tables. It also involves some better way of stacking tables to each other, so that the package file extraction code can be moved away from the core of mole into a separate worker – to keep mole itself pure and simple – and generally applicable.

I'll post irregular updates to my blog. I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of you again this Thursday, when I'll arrive in EDI!

posted at: 01:29 | path: /debian | permanent link to this entry

Sat, 31 Mar 2007

40 minutes

Yesterday I had one of the more stressful and eventful 40 minutes of my life... events basicly initiated by the fact that I arrived at Schiphol airport 40 minutes before my plane was scheduled to take off.

The first thing I noticed was that the queue for security extended beyond the check-in desks next to it, so just that bit would probably take more than fourty minutes. Oops. What are all those people doing flying out on friday noons?

Second thing I couldn't help to notice is that the check-in desk was actually already closed, double-oops. Well, the lady that was sitting there anyone concluded after a phonecall that my bag was fine as hand luggage and so that I could still make it. She also queue-jumped me straight to the security X-ray machine and ordered me to run from there on. Well, not so fast, running through security isn't appreciated. Actually, since I planned to check-in this bag, I kind of violated this whole anti-liquor^Wliquid silliness with no less than 7 items. The guy that unpacked my luggage let me keep my lenses fluid, and forgot to notice 3 of the items, so damage was limited, and I proceeded with my explosives, I mean, toothpaste and such, to the gate.

In my hurry to run to the gate, I put my boarding pass in my pocket... and upon arrival at the gate, I noticed my boarding pass was gone, so I went ask some lady at the desk there about it... and overheard the guy next to her, who was on the phone, mention my last name. "Someone found your passport".

Turns out they also had my boarding pass, but I appreciated knowing where my passport was anyway, since obviously I didn't have it on me anymore either. So within a minute I was running off again to a different gate to pick up those two sort-of-important items. You'd say that after having once seen my plane taxi away from an empty gate – upon returning there from picking up my boarding pass from lost&found for the second time that very morning – would've taught me a lesson... But apparantly not.

Back at the gate I was getting past the boarding pass checkpoint, and the person over there saw my pass, and said "Hey, so you're that guy that a bit ago lost this and that at the security checkpoint?" Since that happened at the other end of the airport, gossip must be going pretty fast at Schiphol...

At least I've never showed up at the airport at the wrong date (unlike two of my friends I'm meeting over here managed to do each independently)...


posted at: 14:42 | path: /debian | permanent link to this entry

Sun, 05 Nov 2006

Priorities of distributions


posted at: 11:33 | path: /debian | permanent link to this entry

Mon, 16 Oct 2006

How I'm going to recall the Dunc-Tank saga

Percentage of Debian Developers preferring new elections to having AJ as DPL in March/April: 17.3%.

Percentage of Debian Developers preferring new elections to having AJ as DPL in October: 14.8%

That's right. contrary to what one would expect from merely reading the mailinglists, an even larger majority now finds AJ acceptable as DPL. This does not render the objections of the couple dozen DDs irrelevant though, diversity is a great good. However, diversity can easily escalate to divisiveness when different opinions or more accurately the ways they are voiced start to severely hinder activity by others. I myself have been quite demotived by the whole discussion, as has happened to me multiple times before. We Developers do not seem to be able to have constructive discussion without getting extremely heated up.

I believe that this inability to hold discussions about tricky subjects is way more hurting the project than any of the "tricky subjects" themselves. Actually, the tidbit in my DPL-elections platform about Communication among Debian contributors is still equally relevant.

Several potential improvements have been proposed in the past, including debating by wiki, debating inside a smaller taskforce, or even having a representative democracy.

Let's explore the representative democracy principle a bit further: In general, I consider making decisions by GR (or to draw a parallel to country government, referendum) bad: A majority of voters doesn't have adequate and balanced information to make a reasonable decision, that takes doing quite some research. Instead, any discussion (vote winning?) is going to be significantly depending on emotions. Take the voting-down of the European constitution by France and the Netherlands: Hardly anyone has adequate information to really make a tradeoff, still quite a number of people voted, and supposedly one of most prevalent considerations was fear of this "Europe" thingy. Therefore, I'd really prefer that issues like firmware are dealt with by smallish team of people who really can look into the issue well, consider all arguments either way, and make a decision. As with every decision in Debian, it can be overturned by GR, but still. Note that we don't need any consitutional change for this, the DPL already has the power to delegate a person or group of people to make some decision nobody else specifically is responsible for already. A complicating factor is though that it's hard to compose such a taskforce that will have the project's support once a discussion is 'heated up'.

In other news, rumour has it that -private has blown up today. I'm so looking forward to opening that mailfolder.

posted at: 03:06 | path: /debian | permanent link to this entry

Tue, 26 Sep 2006

True bug ping-pong

#386363... Amazing. Just amazing. I especially appreciate the new arguments and insights contributed by both parties every time.

posted at: 21:36 | path: /debian | permanent link to this entry

Tue, 19 Sep 2006

Utrecht Bug Squashing Party

Tomorrow we'll have the first real-life meeting, together with Thijs Kinkhorst and dr. Bas Zoetekouw, to organize details about the upcoming Debian Bug Squashing party in Utrecht, The Netherlands, on the weekend of September 30th. As a study association, A-Eskwadraat has had Debian Developers for quite some time, from Bas since 2000 until our most recent addition, Thijs, but we've never organized a Debian event – yet. In 2002 though, there was a Mozilla 1.0 release party where also the release of woody was celebrated.

The university has been supportive of the initiative, and is offering the location for free, as long as there are not too many people around that they feel the need for (expensive) security to be on-site 24h/day. For that reason, and also for food planning, please do subscribe yourself in wiki. If more than 25 people end up subscribing, we'll let you know how we'll arrange that. We're still not having a definitive deal with a sponsor, so don't know how flexible we are in this regard. At this moment, we've also got a handful of international attendees too, including Debian's "Second in Command", Steve McIntyre.

I'm looking forward to it, and to meeting various Debian contributors (mostly again). See you in Utrecht!

posted at: 16:25 | path: /debian | permanent link to this entry

Tue, 06 Jun 2006

Dutch food considered harmful

Physical reaction while in Mexico for nearly a month on the food, water or weather: Some major sunburns, neglectible stomach issues. Physical reaction back home: severe stomach issues, for nearly two days now and 'running'.

Seems that Dutch food is much more dangerous than Mexican food. That's not what my tourist booklet said, but oh well. I'm glad I didn't have the issues I have now during DebConf, being sick abroad is doubly annoying. Montezuma's Revenge reaches far (if this is in reality a backlash, who knows).

At least I don't have a jet-lag this way: I don't get to sleep much at all, let alone at the 'wrong time'.

posted at: 03:04 | path: /debian | permanent link to this entry

Thu, 27 Apr 2006

Laptop back

Yesterday, the mailman delivered back my 'new' thinkpad from the IBM warranty repair in England, with a repaired LCD screen (connector?). On the results sheet they also ticked the 'cleaned' box, and one can see that. It looks much better then when I bought this T41 second-hand less than a month ago — it's now as if it's new. Maybe I should break something in my laptop more often ;).

Now I gotta fix my wireless, so that I can combine sitting outside in the sun (when it dares coming back) with working on stuff. I seem to be unable to get 'ad-hoc' mode wireless to work, for some reason. Unfortunately the wireless in my server doesn't support "master" (AP) mode, so I'm now opting for having my server connect as client to my laptop (which can act as AP) automatically, instead of the other way around. Oh well, as long as it works.

So much to do before leaving for Mexico... And upcoming weekend it's also Koninginnedag, so won't have much time in my last weekend in the Netherlands either. My flatmates gave me last friday a tourist book about Mexico (I gave a late birthday party), which I'm currently reading. And... last night I got mail that my ticket is arranged (in the same hour as that I took a tequilla on the bi-annual FullHouse student party, coincidence?). Thanks a lot to all involved for making this possible, and see you in Mexico!

PS: Happy birthday, Steve

posted at: 13:47 | path: /debian | permanent link to this entry

Thu, 23 Mar 2006

Planets all over the world

So, recently I've worked with Jeroen Schot to get Planeet A-Eskwadraat he created integrated in our member-administration system, such that all of the about 1600 members of A-Eskwadraat can add their own blog to it. Nobody did yet, but well, we'll need to do a bit more of promotion first, I guess.

I just read about yet another planet coming into existance, after a suggestion of Isaac Jones, Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho created Planet Haskell. Something you'll need to bookmark, because those pesky Finnish names are impossible to remember and later spell correctly. Not as bad as hugeurls, but... close :).

Haskell is really cool, and I hope it'll gain relevance and become more widespread. The more people are introduced to the somewhat radically different approach to programming compared to most traditional programming languages, the better. Even if you rarely end up programming in Haskell, you'll benefit from it.

posted at: 22:22 | path: / | permanent link to this entry

Tue, 21 Mar 2006

Jumping on the blogging bandwagon — DPL debate over

Last night, the IRC debates for the ongoing DPL elections were held. Having a record number of seven candidates, it was at least from a candidate point of view very chaotic, the time between questions was not enough to both properly answer the questions and also read the responses of the fellow candidates. However, for the public, I guess the tempo was quite okay. I hope it's been an informative event for Developers, even though the nature of such debate doesn't allow for in-depth discussions. See the debian-vote mailinglist for that. Only about 24 hours left to answer questions... need to hurry.

When finally reading though the debate answers now, I noticed Anthony Towns saying:

thanks to the wonders of blogging, there's plenty of opportunity to talk about things in a fun interesting way even when they're not finished, or not important enough to warrant a mailing list post

While I believe there's room for some regular reports on various Debian internal projects like I mentioned in my platform, this made me finally get around to actually creating a blog, something I've been meaning to do for over a year. And of course, I needed to because all the other teletubbies have a blog too!

Anyway, I'm glad the campaigning period is nearly over, so I have more time for such things as a lintian upload, some PTS hacking, or study. And of course decide on my ballot for the DPL voting period.

posted at: 22:04 | path: /debian | permanent link to this entry

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