Sun, 30 Mar 2003
So I was pretty excited when Mandrake 9.1 was released last Friday -
I've been waiting for a long time to upgrade from 8.1 (I never install a
dot-zero release, even given the good reception 9.0 received).
Download and CD burn went smoothly. The CD didn't boot on my machine
though, which had me concerned for a while. Reading the docs though, they
mention that the first CD has some new-fangled autoboot mechanism. The
second CD has the old, reliable mechanism. I used that, and it worked fine.
The install went without a hitch, detecting my old partitions and all
(though they don't seem to detect existing users, which would be extremely
This all happened in the space of about half an hour, and I was very
happy. Until I booted up. X11 just refused to work. All flickery and such.
After poking around for a while, I discovered that it wasn't X11 - that
worked fine - but all KDE applications just quit as soon as they opened a
window. Turns out that Mandrake had compiled Qt (a fundamental
building-clock of KDE) to require the RENDER extension in X11 - and my
crappy cheap video card doesn't support that. I discovered this after about
a couple of hours and several emails on the very helpful mandrake mailing
lists (using Evolution ... shudder.) I installed nicer Qt RPMs
supplied by one of the mailing list users, and all was well.
Then on to firewall configuration. Well, long story short is that it
took me another few hours to convince the Mandrake tools that I don't have
a ppp+ connection to the internet, and yes I'd like Rachel's PC to be able
to use my shared drives even if I don't want the rest of the Internet
I ended up upgrading to a
GeForce 4 (AU$100 for a name-brand 440SE with 64Mb RAM - nice bargain) and
all was well and zoomy (850fps in gears, nice :).
That was until my boot hard disk appeared to catch
fire (no, really, it made an orange flash and there was a strong
So now I'm looking for a new boot disk (fortunately, it was the boot
disk, not one of the data disks).
Thu, 27 Mar 2003
Whedonesque reports that a
DVD release of Firefly has been confirmed by
Fox. Woo hoo!
Wed, 26 Mar 2003
"Return to the state of nature" by David Held.
The US-led war on Iraq is more than a failure of American strategy,
diplomacy and thinking; in its heedless rejection of international
institutions and their norms of co-operation, it represents a dangerous
retreat to the law of the jungle.
Mon, 24 Mar 2003
Protesters may be angrier in some
demonstrations overseas, but they're
anything but that here in Melbourne, Australia. The two rallies I went to
at the end of last week (about 15-20,000 people attending each time)
were perfectly peaceful affairs (though missing that air of hopefulness
of the pre-war rallies). And they retained the same mix of people;
young, old, feral, middle-class, ...
I can't speak for the rest of the people at the rally, but I'm protesting
the human cost of this war - not necessarily from direct bombing. The
number of Iraqis that will be killed due to the destruction of their
infrastructure remains to be seen, but it will be high, and it's not even
being acknowledged by the media hacks "informing" the public.
There's other reasons too, but they border on conspiracy-theory nutjob
stuff that I won't go into (you know, the US plans to take over the world,
or at least make sure the greenback doesn't lose its current
It's important to me that I stand up and make it known
that just because the war's started, I haven't just changed my mind and
decided that it's a good idea after all.
I don't really believe it's possible for the troops to be withdrawn at this
late stage (though the withdrawal of our troops really wouldn't affect
things, would it?) - I just want to add my voice to the masses that are
saying that we didn't want this war.
As for the "shock and awe" war guaranteed to be over within the American
attention span ... well, it looks like the Iraqis aren't just rolling over.
The Yanks still have to take several major cities (including the one
holding Bush's Grail) and that fighting is going to be extraordinarily
ugly, and drawn out. I desperately hope I'm wrong about this, but I can't
see this war being over any time soon.
Wed, 19 Mar 2003
Gawd, it's all ups and downs, innit.
When I started Roundup out, I told Ka-Ping Yee (the author of the
original design) about it and he said words to the effect of "woohoo!" -
I've since lost the email though, which is a shame.
Roundup's been in development a long time, and many a good and bad
idea have been tried and hopefully in the case of the bad, discarded. It's
been fun, mostly, and I've had a relatively loyal following of users who
are willing to put up with the changes in templating, tracker
I even get some words of encouragement - sometimes from people I admire
- and that's something that really helps keep me motivated. As one of these
people observed, because it's an open-source project, there's often no
reason for users to feed back to the author(s) when things are going well,
just when they're going wrong. Most of the feedback is embedded in message
of thanks after I help users out with a particular problem (a sample of
these may be found on the Roundup
Then, there's the occasional ... well, misguided user who just wants to
point out all the things that are wrong in your software. Never mind that
they've not offered to help remedy any of it. They're just pointing out
that your software sucks in this way, this way, this way, and that they're
never going to use it.
A pointer for those who approach open-source projects this way: don't
tell the author(s) that their software sucks. Take note of the bugs, and
file bug reports. Help them build a better piece of software. You're
achieving fuckall by just putting them down.
On this point, I just noticed that the Mozilla project has Bugzilla
Etiquette which outlines some guidlines and indicates that
generally a friendly bunch, and will be towards you as long as you follow
these guidelines." It covers some of the things I've already said
here. At least I'm not alone in all this :)
Fri, 07 Mar 2003
... because I've changed jobs and have had little time to do anything
else. I'm now working for Common
Ground Publishing, doing more Zope and Python work (yay!)
Not much else to report on though... except that I'm using OS X again,
and that's very cool. Even better, I'm using KDE 3.1 apps seamlessly under
OS X. Well, the X11 window manager for OS X, quartz-wm, is seamless, but it
lacks a lot of useful generic WM features, and stuffs up some WM hints so
KDE apps somtimes don't get window resize handles (or do when they
shouldn't). It's nice to be able to use iTunes, OmniGraffle and a bunch of
other OS X apps right alongside Konsole, Konqueror (mmm... KIOSlaves) and
Oh, and having an antialiased Helvetica is something I'm still getting
used to :)
Tue, 04 Mar 2003
Dan, of Dan's data, reviews a
couple of miniscule MP3
players - in his usual fairly thorough/rambling manner. Go read it, it's
interesting. To cut a long story short, he names "George" the winningest of
the two players reviewed, for a number of reasons including usability,
battery life, price, and sound quality (I think that's a complete set,
Anyway, if anyone's paying attention out there, I'd like a "George",