Sun May 22 17:35:23 CEST 2005

The joy of breaking things

It seems that some companies just want to hurt their users. I've been using ICQ since around 1997 or so, and it's been quite interesting to see the decline of that company.
With ICQ99b their software had reached an "optimum". It was moderately slim, mostly stable and didn't have any bells and whistles.
Now I'm using licq because, obviously, ICQ for PC needs the Windows thingy that we all try to avoid here. It's minimal, but for sending and receiving IM it's very nice. Then I get this message today:
"System Server Message from ICQ Team (): Dear ICQ 2001b User,

ICQ will soon cease supporting the ICQ 2001b software versions. We recommend that you upgrade to ICQ 5 which contains enhanced communication features and with the new History Convert Tool you will be able to transfer your message history to ICQ 5!"
Well ...
I've seen it installed on my flatmates win32 box. It's ugly. Extremely slow (startup time in the multi-minute range on rainy days). Buggy. It has builtin commercials (Wheee! I'm getting an allergic reaction!).
And it doesn't run on my computer.
If these muppets break ICQ again as they did in the transition to ICQ2001 most of my friends won't be able to use ICQ anymore since almost noone uses the client (and most of them are using linux anyways). But apart from jabber (which noone seems to use) I see no alternative.
Vendor lockin and marketing idiocy are making my life unneccessarily complicated. I really hope OpenSource Software reaches world domination soon enough so that I don't have to fight this idiocy anymore.

Posted by Patrick | Permalink

Sat May 21 15:34:04 CEST 2005

Why Gentoo rules

Yesterday I fought with broken DVDs (No, I don't want subtitles. And by no I mean no.) Nothing that DVDShrink can't fix (makes me wonder what kind of b0rkage DRM will bring ...) but still really annoying.
Then I fought with my digicam and gave up.
But: Gentoo rocks. Seriously.
Within the hour of my blog post I got two emails with hints how to get it working. Within 24h I got four emails. That level of support is just amazing.
Thanks to you guys. Many thanks to those of you who spend hours in #gentoo and similar places helping others. Without you the world would be quite depressing :-)
I'll try to get my camera working with libgphoto2. I'll let you know what happens. And when one of you has a problem I won't mind helping because I know that when I need help someone is there.
That's why Gentoo rules.

Posted by Patrick | Permalink

Fri May 20 15:41:24 CEST 2005

The joys of Plug and Play

Recently I bought a nice digital camera. A Canon IXUS 40 to be precise. As a camera it is quite nice - small, high resolution, can record movies ...
Once again this nice product is castrated by the producer. After binary-only and 32-bit "opensource" drivers that have no source code we have a manufacturer who cripples his USB-capable device needlessly.
Whereas most cameras pretend to be a USB Mass Storage Device, these smart buggers pretend to be a "Canon Digital Camera". Teh cool. Only problem with that is that Linux has no idea how to talk with it (as far as I can tell). So I have to fall back to an MMC reader.
That MMC reader can only read MMC card up to 128M (mine is 512M).But instead of failing, bailing out or whatever it happily reads my 512M card, but drops all data past the 128th Megabyte. Without warning.
So now I've bought yet another all-in-one USB cardreader. This one works. With 21 different media types.
And the morale of this story? I don't know. I'm frustrated because a vendor cripples a product without warning. And I have devices sda-sdj now. So, kids - don't buy Canon if you don't use WinDOS XP.

Posted by Patrick | Permalink

Wed May 11 17:06:56 CEST 2005

Trustee Elections and Politics

Since most of the other Trustee candidates have presented nice writeups why they should be voted I'll try the same.
My qualifications are minimal: I don't have any diplomas or certifications, I have no "work experience" to show. There is not much I can say to "convince" you to vote for me, but that's not what I want. If I need to convince you of anything I've been doing something wrong ;-)
Most of the time I'm an honest person, so I'm not going to promise anything. Yes, some things should be changed, some should stay the same, but I won't do any political doubletalk. I'll try to do the best I can, if that is not enough don't blame me ...
My work for Gentoo has been limited, but I blame my University for trying to be 1337 and burdening the students with excessive workloads. I've been helping users in the forums and in #gentoo, I'm a Gentoo Evangelist and one of the remaining people to work on the GWN. On the side I'm working on some gentoo-related ideas, but nothing tangible yet.
Vote for who you think can do the job best. Don't flame / insult when you can discuss or shut up.
Have fun.
Patrick "the bonsaikitten"

Posted by Patrick | Permalink

Fri May 6 16:46:14 CEST 2005

Howto reduce people's expectations

So you've wondered how to reduce your workload? How to get people off your back? Here's some hints I've learned in the last days:
  • Ignore bugreports. It works for you, so the others must do something wrong.
  • Ignore devs who are not your recruiter or haven't been recruited by you. They are obviously miserable failures.
  • vi is better than KDE. That should confuse people to the point where they stop discussing.
  • If someone asks something from you, say "tomorrow" or some other reasonable timeframe. If you want something, demand it to be released now.
  • If someone offers to fix stuff for you or implement something, tell him you've got it almost ready. That should confuse them enough so that you can ignore them for another month.
If you consistently do that, you might even motivate people to stop bothering you. A sideeffect might be sporadic flamewars and insults, but since you know that it's none of your fault, you can just ignore them (and for even more fun, keep baiting them. They'll go totally bananas if you keep it up ...)
So what does that have to do with Gentoo?
Yesterday I found a partial solution to a really nasty software-raid bug that has sporadically surfaced after baselayout updates and then fixed itself a few weeks later. It seems that using modules for my controller causes udev to take really long to initialize /dev/md0, using kernel builtin drivers works. So I tell one of the baselayout devs and he answers "It's already fixed".
Anyways ... our little tinderbox project is getting to the point where we have a full depgraph with all the bells and whistles. Thanks karltk!

Posted by Patrick | Permalink

Tue May 3 11:57:50 CEST 2005

The freedom to chooooose

So I've not been blogging much lately. Well ... I didn't think there was anything important to say.
The last round of upgrades has pushed me to the point where I have to get rid of my mail client. Whoever thinks evolution 2.2 is usable should be forced to use Windows 98 with Outlook on a 486.
Not that I don't like evo. It used to be really cool. But what really kills it is the reverse feature creep that seems to be typical for Gnome. At first 1.4 -> 2.0 took away the preview pane with weather and RSS feeds (WHY????). Now 2.2 doesn't do filtering anymore. Yay - 50 mails in Inbox instead of the folders I created for them.
So I'll follow SeJo's sage advice and get rid of Gtk on my system.
In other news, the tinderbox is slowly taking shape. karltk has created a rough sketch that is almost but not quite able to generate a complete depgraph. Adding things like USE-based deps should be "for free". In about 2 weeks we should have something useful, and karltk will finally be able to close that bug #473.
Note to myself: Don't start apps from a terminal, they'll spew some random messages every now and then in the terminal, even if you're having a ssh session. Grrrr.

Posted by Patrick | Permalink