Making a hash of it

The Economist recently ran an article titled Making a hash of it. Neither the article nor the actual story is news, of course. What surprised and impressed me was the relative depth of the coverage of the subject, which is very rare in the mainstream media.

It's true that The Economist oversimplified what hashing functions do and understated how difficult it is to find collisions. Still, for people who don't program, writing a program to find a one-in-one-thousand collision is no more or less baffling than finding a one-in-one-hojillion collision. So, even if such simplifications make more technically astute readers cringe, the simplifications were necessary for the majority of its readership.

For those for whom simplified discussion of hash collisions is too esoteric, I offer you instead this link to a story about the rights of poop-eating worms.


No El Guapo for me when I'm in Massachusetts in a few weeks

I just found out that El Pelón, my favorite taquería (outside of Mexico, anyway), burnt down. I used to eat there a lot, when I worked in the Ximian office in the Fenway.

(There's more info on some livejournal community page, but they ruined it by adding a lolcat image. I won't link to it. Lolcats are not funny.)

Oh well. I be extra sure, now, to not miss another of my old haunts in Boston, Pino's.



packaging day

On November 30 through December 1, members of the openSUSE GNOME and KDE teams will be holding a packaging day. If you would like to contribute by picking off packages on our wishlists (here's the GNOME wishlist and here's the KDE one) this would be a great chance to do so.

People with all levels of experience are welcome, although you'll probably benefit most if you have some prior experience compiling software by hand (eg, the usual ./configure; make; make install steps).

More information is available on the wiki.


You gotta know what a CRUMPET is to understand CRICKET!

ATV will soon be running a channel on XM Radio (XM159).

They're saying that it will include live cricket coverage.

How's that?


Biking in the DF

Yesterday, Alma and I went bike riding along some of Mexico City's largest streets. We were able to do this because they were closed to regular traffic during much of the day.

The route we took is barely visible at MUÉVETE EN BICI. Unfortunately, the map is very low res, and zooming in won't help.

We picked up the trail at the junction of División del Norte and Churubusco, went through a stretch of Patriotismo, and then went through parts of Condesa, Roma (where the stopped for a brunch of barbacoa), and the Zona Rosa. From there we picked up the Paseo de la Reforma towards the Centro Histórico, rode along the edge the Zócalo, skirted Merced, and went on to areas where I've never been on foot (and much less on a bike) and don't really know. When time ran out -- the streets were only closed from 7am till 2pm -- we were close to the Palacio de Deportes. There we got on the Metro and went home under someone else's power.

Along the route, there were police protecting every major intersection and most if not all of the minor ones too.

It was a great way to spend the day, although I wish we'd started earlier, or, better yet, that it went until later in the day. It was very nice to see Mexico City from a new perspective. It was kind of like being in a car, yet without the traffic and all that the traffic entails. And it was kind of like being on foot, except we were going much faster. I won't say that Mexico City would become paradise if everyone got out of their cars and started walking or cycling, but it sure would be a lot nicer. Seeing the surrounding mountains clearly would be a daily occurrence instead of a rare treat, and there would be much less noise. For many people, daily commutes would be substantially shorter. I am not joking about this last point.

Biking here is usually a harrowing experience. But not yesterday.

Me on my bike in front of the Ángel de Independencia

Here's a picture of me by the Ángel of Independencia


ginger ale

On Sunday, Alma and I brewed a small batch of ginger ale. We roughly followed the directions at http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Ginger-Ale. We deviated from the recipe a little bit in using limes instead of lemons. Hey, we're in Mexico — what do you expect?

It finished brewing this morning (by our estimation). We let it refrigerate during the day, and just now opened and tried it. It was pretty good.

Next time, we'll probably use fewer limes, so it's less citrusy; more ginger; and more yeast, so it comes out fizzier.

Not bad at all for a first try!


a humble suggestion

Let's change today, Talk Like A You-know-what Day, into a mere hour.

Seriously. Talk Like A Pirate Hour: it's the new hotness.


frantically moving to gnome 2.20.0

We openSUSE GNOME people are updating what will become openSUSE 10.3 to GNOME 2.20.0.

So far, it's proving to be rather light work, and really not all that frantic, although we do intend to finish this update very soon. The mail Gary sent last week has the details.

The fine work done by the GNOME release team makes this relatively easy, so many thanks to them.

interesting interview

An interesting interview with author Haruki Murakami. (In Spanish.)



If you don't speak Spanish ignore what follows.

s/evento/acontecimiento/. Por favor.

(En el evento que lo de que hablas sea un evento sigue usando evento.)


I like emacs.

Here's some emacs lisp I whipped up yesterday. It helps out when running quilt against new .spec files on old systems. It's a bit crude, but so far it's proven quite the little timesaver -- it's certainly already repaid the 10 minutes I put into writing it.

;; Temporarily comment out %gconf_schemas_prereq, %lang_package,
;; %files lang, etc.
;; Useful when using quilt setup. Don't forget to save. You can
;; undo this with M-x ab-undumb-down-spec.
(require 'cl)
(setf replacements '(("^%gconf_schemas_prereq"
("^%files lang"
"# FILES LANG" "%files lang")

(defun ab-dumb-down-spec ()
(let ((old-pnt (point-marker)))
(progn (mapcar (lambda (arg)
(progn (beginning-of-buffer)
(replace-regexp (first arg) (second arg))))
(goto-char old-pnt))))

(defun ab-undumb-down-spec ()
(let ((old-pnt (point-marker)))
(progn (mapcar (lambda (arg)
(progn (beginning-of-buffer)
(replace-string (second arg) (third arg))))
(goto-char old-pnt))))

Adding new pieces of text to replace and unreplace is easy: add a list containing a regular expression matching the text to destroy, a(n ideally) unique temporary replacement, and the original text to replacements. I use a regexp in the cars in case there's the same text elsewhere, which I wouldn't want to change.

Now I visit a .spec file, run M-x ab-dumb-down-spec, do quilt setup whatever.spec and other quilty things, and then revisit the .spec and do M-x ab-undumb-down-spec prior to doing actual builds.

(By the way, the meat of this post was created by setting a region around this chunk of lisp and running M-x htmlize, although it looks like blogger is eating the colors.)


136 years of solitude

/dev/sda2 has gone 49680 days without being checked, check forced.


back home

I arrived uneventfully in Mexico City last night. Was good to see my wife and cats again. Alma bought a bunch of plants during my absence. They make the apartment feel a little nicer somehow.

I got stuck in an extra small seat from CDG to MEX -- there was a big metal box under the seat in front of me bolted to the floor and occupying about 1/3 of the "legroom". At 193cm tall, I find all seats cramped, but this was ridiculous. Ridiculously uncomfortable, that is.

Being back at home is like stepping into a pair of old, comfortable shoes.


in Germany

I'm in Germany. I haven't been having a great time, though. I felt really sick a day after I arrived, and although I've been feeling steadily better since, my recovery has been quite slow. At least I'm able to eat and enjoy food (assuming it's edible and enjoyable, of course, which most of it is) again, although I get full quickly and stay full for a long time.

Seeing people whom I mostly know as email addresses and IRC nicks has been productive and nice, of course. That's the real value in this sort of trip.


off to Germany

I'm off to Germany in a few hours, to meet and work with colleagues in Nürnberg. I'm looking forward to my time there, even if the flight itself will be more than a little unpleasant.

Pork, potatoes, cabbage, and beer, here I come!

think small

Mauro and I have created language subpackages of most gnome packages that will be going into openSUSE 10.3.

Since I was touching so many packages anyway, I've made the install process of virtually all gnome packages call fdupes. Second (and third and fourth and ...) duplicate files in the install root are converted to symlinks to the first. For some packages, this is effectively a no-op, but now it's done nearly everywhere and will help with keeping packages lean and mean in the future.

Both of these changes should result in a nice size reduction, which is especially sweet given that they don't cost anything in features or performance.


why the the?

When writing is translated to English and where credit is given, the credit is usually phrased similar to this: “translated from the Japanese by Jay Rubin”.

Why the “the”? Nobody says “I speak the Japanese”. Is the word “language” implicit? That is, should it be read as “translated from the Japanese [language] by Jay Rubin”? Or could the word “original” be implicit? Or is it a holdover from the past when the definite article was used more often? (Was the definite article even used more often in English in the past?) I have no idea; googling this is proving to be difficult.

gnome 2.19.6

Gnome 2.19.6 is slated to be released on Monday the 30th of July. I expect that Mauro and I will be submitting it to Factory starting shortly thereafter. Hopefully it will make it into Alpha 7.

per-blog settings in blogger

Is it possible to show a different profile in each Blogger blog one maintains?

frist psot

First post. Woo. I'll be writing about things I do at work, in English.

My other blogspot blogs are where I embarrass myself with my poor French and where my wife and I review various things, in English, Spanish, and, in theory, French. Both are, currently, updated sporadically.