Hitch Hiker's Cast
Disney have annouced who will be in the upcoming Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy movie. Martin Freeman is Arthur (as we already knew) and I think he'll do well. Mos Def is an amusing choice for Ford, but I've not seen a film he has been in so I can't really comment. The oddly spelt Zooey Deschanel is Tricia/Trillian.
I notice there is no mention of who is going to play Zaphod. I'm guessing it's safe to assume he will be CGI...
So Curtis might be switching Medusa to Redland. This is very cool. OOo documents have a pile of metadata which is trivial to access (OOo documents are zip files, the file meta.xml contains Dublin Core and custom OOo metadata) and can be mangled into RDF easily. I'm following in Dave Beckett's footsteps by putting RDF directly into PNG and JPEG files. MP3 files normally contain rubbish, but with Sound Juicer the metadata is at least consistent, if a little lacking (MusicBrainz doesn't handle genre or year for a start).
If Medusa can slurp all of this metadata, and applications will actually set it, then we have a seriously cool metadata-driven desktop. Personally I can't wait.
Death By Mobile Phone
In my pocket right now I have what is possibly the most annoying mobile phone in existence -- the Siemens A55. Why do I have this instead of my ever-faithful T68i? Well, it turns out my T68i (ever-faithful, remember) decided that instead of sending noise into my ear when I use it, it would send electricity instead.
Imagine the scene: I want to make a quick call to see where a friend is, so I put the phone up to my ear and it feels like someone has stuck a pin on my phone. I look at the phone, it seems okay. I put it by my ear, and Slow Death By Invisible Mobile Phone Needles is back. Twenty seconds of scientific experimenting later, and I discover that the needles appear to retract when I remove the phone from the charger -- it appears that my computer science degree was useful after all. Vicky wonders what I am doing (did I forgot to mention I've been shouting curses at the phone?) and as I explain she pokes at the phone, and also gets a shock in her finger. The next day I was down the Vodafone shop explaining about the Death By Tiny Needles the phone was trying to inflict on me, hoping that they would upgrade me to, say, a T610, but no. Instead I get this crappy red A55 whilst they repair my phone, which takes a fortnight.
One interesting thing came out of all this -- Vodafone obviously have a stash of phones they give to people who break their phones. It is logical to assume that when they get the phones back again they don't have any SIM cards in, so they can't wipe the phones memory easily... (well, they could use another SIM to boot the phone and wipe it, but they don't). Turns out the lady (she has a boyfriend) who last had this phone didn't delete the SMS's she had received. She is "a ploncker" (sic) says one. Another gives me someones bank details. One more suggests they engage in "phone nookie". One of the others is a little more risqu&eactute; and not suitable for this forum...
RDF in PNG
A long-running goal of mine is to write a image gallery for my web page, so the screenshot and photo galleries can have categories, titles, dates, etc. Being a fan of metadata, XML, Dublin Core etc, I've planned to do this by embedding the metadata into the image files instead of relying on a database.
A little poking and emailing comes up with interesting links. Dave Beckett has embedded RDF into a PNG by using a tEXt field called 'Metadata'. However, he doesn't have any nice tools to do this and usually uses pnmtopng (which allows the user to specify text chunks). I poked a libpng but that doesn't really allow me to fiddle with the chunks.
So I'm announcing PyPNG! A very small and rather poor Python (plus a smidge of C to do CRCs) library with grand ambitions. At the moment I can copy a PNG file (by reading the chunks, and then writing them again), display the text chunks, et la piece de resistance: a tool to set the content of an arbitary text chunk! PNGs with embedded RDF, here I come.
Once I've fiddled with the library design a little I'll write a PNG Explorer (hmm, png:/// in Nautilus is tempting) and a Metadata Editor for PNG files. Then I'll try and do exactly the same for JPEG files. Finally of course I'll have to write the web front-end.
No downloads yet, but if you want the source ask for it. Hopefully I'll have a sane tarball of PyPNG done this week though.
The Big Chill
Since the Met Office mentioned last week that this week could be a bit chilly, the media have been in full-on tabloid-frenzy mode. "Big Chill To Hit In 48 Hours" for example. To be honest, if we don't get a full-on blizzard and proper arctic conditions -- I'm thinking at least -10°C before wind-chill and a foot of snow piled up, I'm going to be very disappointed.
So Bastien has aquired a Scottish accent from reading Irvine Welsh. I hope the same doesn't happen for me -- I'm currently reading The Adventure of English and if I start speaking in Old English I'll get some very odd looks...
So Far So Good
The wedding plans, so far, are going well:
We've met with the caterers and discussed exactly what we want -- which included the news that they do a hand-made tiramisu. On the whole they seem very professional and prepared for all eventualities, including being prepared for torrential rain in mid-July.
We've finally sent out the invitations after a long weekend of cutting, folding and glueing. Making a final list of people to invite, and what part of the day to invite them to, sounded easy but turned into a hellish task we avoided very quickly. If we invite only our family -- parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins -- we'd have over 100 people already where the registry office can only seat 75... Adding to this other relations and of course friends, and still fitting, has been quite a challenge.
We've even booked our flights to Italy for the honeymoon. Hopefully the hotel will confirm our booking in the next few days and then we're all done for the honeymoon at least.
NP: Shine, by Aswad. Gotta love mid-90s pop-reggae!
In fit of red-hot packaging action I produced some HAL debs. Yes, I know someone else has already filed an ITP. But they didn't reply to my mail within 12 hours, so I got bored and created some myself...
Get them at the usual place in the experimental distribution. You'll need udev 0.014 from Marco d'Itri of course.
This month I have been mostly...
[Apologies to The Fast Show]
Carter is an exciting 1920s story about a magician, the death of the President, the invention of television and personal tragedy. Overall this is a good fun book, which kept me from blogging as I read it on the train.
Strange Places is a very interesting read. It is basically an account of John Simpson's work (a BBC journalist) over the last 30 or so years. The range of people he has met is amazing, but also the personal details of the people are very interesting. At times he comes over as a little pompous, but on the whole he is very down-to-earth and manages to retain the legendary BBC impartiality. Overall an interesting book offering a rare personal view of the world's politicians and leaders, which often meant I was reading until my bath water turned cold.
Last Chance is the classic Douglas Adams doing his great "comedy sci-fi author travels around world, looks confused" act. This time he is traveling with Mark Carwardine, trying to find a range of endangered species. DNA's writing matches the standards set by Hitch-Hikers, and often led to me trying to control my laughter on the train. Overall a enjoyable and enlightening read about the state of the world and the destruction we seem to inflict wherever we go.
Contact Lookup Applet 0.5
A new release of the applet is available.
- Change the completion search to match in full name, nick name and email address
- Add a tooltip to the applet explaining what it is
- Use the "contact card" stock icon instead of the "person" icon
- Use the word "search" instead of "lookup"
I'm currently tackling showing the IM fields, this is leading to a redesign of the interface... The next release will either be next week, or not for a long time, depending on how many Inspirons I absorb over the next few days.
NP: Six Million Ways To Live, by Dub Pistols
 The particle of inspiration
Personal LDAP Server
I've been thinking recently about the fact that I have 4 separate address books on my computers, all managed by Evolution. My laptop has one, my home desktop has one, my work desktop has one, and we have started configuring an LDAP server at work too. Obviously none of these are synced and this is a right mess.
So, why can't I run a personal LDAP server? I was thinking about a minimal LDAP implementation (just enough to keep Evolution happy) which writes Maildir-style to many files, meaning Unison can be used to sync any changes. Or write a new backend for OpenLDAP which writes multiple files instead of this posh bdb business. Or use OpenLDAP with the default backend and use the LDAP Sync protocol, which may or may not do what I want.
Of course this hits problems -- an LDAP server needs to open a port, so what port does it open if it is started by a user, and what happens if multiple people login on the same machine. SLP or D-Bus could be used to find the LDAP server, but this is getting rapidly too complicated.
I know Havoc was wondering about LDAP for every user, and I've heard rumours that MacOS X comes configured with a bit of the LDAP server for every user. If anyone knows of answers to my problems, please contact me.
NP: From the Choirgirl Hotel, by Tori Amos (very loudly).
Don't I Know You?
So there I was, standing on the train home reading Carter Beats the Devil (note to self: create a reading list page) performing my life-time dream of door-open-button-pusher (with a bonus of having to pull the doors apart sometimes too) when I heard "Don't I know you?" in a rather familar voice...
Enter long-time-no-see friend Cole, who I haven't seen for many years. Good to see him again, albeit for about 15 seconds. At least I got a book recommendation out of him -- the latest Jeff Noon novel.
Joy and Pain
Joy: Ben Kahn looked at my contact lookup applet last night, and said it looked good. I also aquired a large To Do Now list, which I'm half-way though. Then Luis mentioned that the Groupwise team wanted to write such an applet, and were pleased to know it exists already. Fab -- now to see if the rumours that it might appear in xd2-unstable will become true.
Pain: my lower left back tooth is obviously having sympathy pains for Daniel -- I've assumed until now that it was just moving again and making my gums sore, but the top of the tooth looks worryingly non-white. I'm going to spend 10 minutes cleaning my teeth tonight with a new toothbrush, it will turn out to be stains.
NP: Dub Come Save Me, by Roots Manuva
Today is the last day of working at SENaPS for Vicky, and from tomorrow she'll be a Learning Support Assistant at a primary school in Roydon, which hopefully will be far more enjoyable.
Logarithmic maps of the universe sound weird, but are pretty cool.
Wedding invitations are looking good -- 95% are printed now. I'm glad to say they are produced using 100% Open Source software.
Quite an eventful weekend. Terrible news about Mark Finlay, who has passed away. Obviously battling (and hacking) to the very end, his illness never showed on IRC and the mailing lists. My promise to him to implement gnome-scan has been renewed -- the mockups hashed out on his blog were looking very promising.
My grandmother went to hospital last week with pluracy and an irregular heartbeat. Outlook is good, but having a nasty cough I thought it would be best not to visit her just yet.
Saturday I played with Thomas's audio profiles for a while, creating a combobox listing all available profiles. Thomas rewrote it on Sunday, so hopefully I'll be able to put it into Sound Juicer shortly. This will entail a rewrite of SjExtractor, but it has been needed for a long time. The same rewrite will allow the gnome-vfs method to be a far cleaner patch, and satisfy my problems with the user interface.
Finally, Mr. Kilroy-Silk, apart from having a silly surname, is also a fool.
NP: Run Come Save Me, by Roots Manuva
Contact Lookup Applet 0.4
I've now committed the API changes to evolution-data-server, so can finally do a new release of this applet. Featuring display of video conferencing URL, complete asyncronous lookup and demonstrates a rather annoying bug in gnome-panel 2.5.
If you run GNOME 2.5, you will not be able to focus the text area by simply clicking. Alt-click instead to focus the applet, and then click to focus the text area. Hopefully Mark McLoughlin can figure out a way to fix this before 2.6 is released...
Download it here.
Daniel Elstner, Rediscovered
Hopefully he will come back to the GNOME/Debian world one day, and I'm sure he will be surprised at the welcome he'll get...
New Hard Drive, Part II
$ df Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on /dev/ide/host0/bus0/target0/lun0/part4 33G 4.7G 26G 16% / /dev/ide/host0/bus0/target0/lun0/part2 38M 11M 26M 31% /boot /dev/ide/host0/bus0/target0/lun0/part1 4.0G 2.7G 1.4G 68% /mnt/win
Yay! It's not exactly a massive hard drive, but this is a laptop, so its quite respectable. GNOME 2.5 from CVS, here I come!
Sound Juicer "Amphibious Nostrils" 0.5.9
- Use the new tagging API if using GStreamer 0.7.3 (Christophe Fergeau)
- Created files have correct permissions (me)
- Better labels in the Preferences (Jens Knutson)
- Several memory leaks fixed (Michael Henson)
- distcheck fixes (Thomas Vander Stichele)
New Hard Drive
Sitting right next to me is the hard drive adaptor for my Thinkpad slice. Sitting in the post office at home is my new 30G hard drive for my laptop. Tomorrow morning I plan to get up at an obscene time, grab the drive, and do some partitioning on the way to work.
GNOME 2.5 here I come! A permament chroot for building Debian packages in! GStreamer 0.7! Thanks must go to Christian Schaller who contributed hard cash towards the cost of the hard drive.
Over the weekend I wrote a small plugin for Pyblosxom to let me set the title of a particular section. For example, normally the document title in the Sound Juicer page would be "Burtonini - computers/sound-juicer", but now I can change it to just "Sound Juicer". The is very simple, if it can find a file called .title in the current section, it reads the first line and uses that as the document's title. Download it here.
Now all I need to do is rewrite the body plugin (note how the Sound Juicer section always has a certain article at the top) and release it, and make a book list plugin. Yes, I know these is one already, but I don't like the way it works.
When I left the house this morning, my minidisc player claimed to have a full battery.
20 minutes later, the music stopped. Dead battery. Not good. Normally I get around this by playing some music from my laptop, but I've only got music on the lappy when I'm taking a download from Sharing The Groove home. Life is unfair at times.
When I bought this minidisc player it could go 10 days on a single charge (at ~3 hours a day), but now the player is so dusty inside it spends most of its time trying to seek, thus rapidly eating the battery. The rumours of the $65 iPod are very interesting...
Debian's Centre of Gravity
The location of Debian's centre of gravity in England was confirmed again yesterday, when Martin Michlmayr moved there to study. At the same time I found this out, I also discovered that he fixed the Developer's Packages Overview. When I eventually get my sorry arse up to Cambridge (a whole £6.80 on the train) I shall have to buy him a drink.
NP: Keep It Unreal, by Mr. Scruff.
Last Day Of Peace
Well, today is the last day of my holiday, back to the daily grind tomorrow. Typically, my Christmas cough is nearly gone... I got ill the day before the holiday started and it lasted until the end.
I spent most of Saturday watching Return of the King -- a deserving finalé to the story. Peter Jackson did very well, on the whole I was very pleased with the translation from book to screen.
After LotR, I spend a while getting kernel 2.6.1-rc1-mm1 built. It even booted after I stopped making the IDE and ext3 drivers as modules... I found a udev .deb, but as I wanted to play with HAL and maybe even gnome-volume-manager, I need it built with D-BUS. Several email later, Daniel Stone had packaged D-BUS 0.20, and the udev packager was making positive noises about packaging the latest release and adding D-BUS support.
I then felt brave and built 2.6 for my ThinkPad... which didn't go as well. When I use APM (works 100% in 2.4.22) the kernel refuses to suspend when I shut the lid, and once I'd configured ACPI (I thought) I could get it to sleep, but not to wake again -- I had to take the battery out to reboot. So much for 2.6 on my laptop, anyone got any ideas?
Hopefully I'll be able to get a new DevHelp release out soonish, which actually builds against GNOME 2.6. Then I need to fix libgnomecups which isn't showing some jobs for me. And at some point, I'll get around to fixing Sound Juicer, and finishing the CD writing patch for Rhythmbox...
NP: Love Is Here, by Starsailor.
Last night while watching What Women Want I pulled apart my Evolution patches and sent a series of mails off to evolution-patches and Chris Toshok. Hopefully they will be accepted soon, and my plans for World Domination via Evolution 2 can continue. MWHAAHA! For the interested, the patches fix the asynchronous EBook API, and adds a video conferencing URL field to contacts.
NP: The Invisible Band, by Travis.
Whilst updating my Amazon ratings, I noticed that Iain [M.] Banks has a new book listed, cunningly titled "SF Novel".
Now that The Culture is dead (the fanzine that is), and alt.books.iain-banks isn't what it used to be, I have no idea what this book is about. Anybody know?
Happy New Year everyone!
Hopefully it will be a good one. New hard drive for the laptop coming soon, meaning far more space for hacking on cutting-edge GNOME. Getting married in July, to my wonderful fiancée Vicky. And maybe even the next release of Debian will be out in 2004, which will contain ~20 of the packages I maintain.
Glynn: yes, Counting Crows rock and August and Everything After was a wonderful album (one of my favourite albums), but they haven't been able to match it since.
NP: Parachutes, by Coldplay.