Jogging Week 3: The Funk of Forty Thousand Years

So Aimee and I started off week 3 of our running programme last night. We were both a little uncertain as to how the 3-minute jogging blocks would go for us. I’d have to say we were both rather pleasantly surprised. It was definitely a tiring workout, but we could have both continued beyond the 3 minutes. It really was rather amazing — and a first for us.

I keep thinking, though, that I need to supplement the running with some upper body type exercises — press-ups and crunches and stuff. I may try one of the lower key Tae-Bo DVDs I have, or I might just do the bits before the floor stomping stuff. We’ll see.

At Dan’s house on Friday, we went to a Hallowe’en party. Since my hair is closely cropped anyway, I decided to “bic” it. Meanwhile, Aimee bought some fiery phoenix type wings. She wore a black outfit and strapped on the red/yellow wings and voila — phoenix lady. I bought a gangster hat that, to me, actually looks more like a reporter’s hat from those old movies. Anyway, I wore a black suit/black shirt with a green tie and the hat over my shaved hat. That’s right, I had 3 costumes on. With the hat, I was a mobster. Without the hat, I was Lex Luthor. Without the hat, sitting down, I was Professor X.

I may put up an actual pic sometime.

Bonus points if you recognise the title of this post.

Another Team-Mate Gone

Emanuele officially announced his retirement from the project last night. Real life duties are catching up with him, and he’s suffered a loss of motivation within Gentoo, and so he’s decided to move on. This saddens me greatly, because in his short career at Gentoo, he did some pretty amazing things: he cleaned up xterm, he set the clean up of kerberos into motion (which my long time readers will note is something I utterly failed at), and posted various and miscellaneous fixes all over the place (I’ll link to his CIA stats when that site comes back for me).

Anyway, there’s a trend of developers leaving or wanting to leave due to a loss of motivation. I hope it stops soon, because I’m getting sick of writing all these farewell blog entries — I prefer to write welcome messages.

So, any of you kerberos using Gentoo readers, please talk to me about how we can continue Emanuele’s good work in that area. I’m very very fortunate that Thomas pays attention to our xterm bugs, but Emanuele helped him too.

Mood: sad/slightly discouraged.

Boston’s Best South Indian Restaurant

So, Friday I went in for my verification blood test, as planned. I guess I’ll find out this week some time whether I really do have a gluten allergy or not. While I’m all for being the rare exception, this time it just doesn’t appeal to me. I’d rather be below the radar when it comes to medical things.

Aimee and I also did our third day of jogging week 2 on Friday evening. I got home early in the afternoon (right after my blood test), so we got to go while the sun was still up. It was, however, a little cold. Speaking of the cold: ever since it got cold around here, it seems my knees are acting up somewhat. The tendon or something below my knee cap on both legs (and both sides of each) hurt a bit when I bend my knees, etc. I’ve been applying Tiger Balm every night to my knees and to my achilles’ tendons. It has mainly helped, but my right knee (which I injured about 10 years ago on the b-ball court) still aches a bit on one side.

So anyway, long story short: the run was very good for my spirit, but a bit painful on my lower legs. In many ways, it was the easiest day, but in other ways, it was really really hard. On week 2 runs, you basically do 6 jogging stints of 90 seconds each (with 2 minute walks in between). The first and last 2 jogs were painful, but the three in the middle were like gold. Towards the last few, though, I had to run on the grass rather than the concrete sidewalk, for a bit more comfort.

Yesterday, most of the Boston conspiracy met up for lunch/brunch in Brookline. I did not make it, because my wife and I do the Indian food thing on the weekends. We did not go on Saturday, because the weather was a prohibitively unfriendly. It was basically the perfect day to stay in and drink soup, which we didn’t. We instead had vegetarian chilli, and we had to make a quick run to the grocery store for some ingredients.

Thus, on Sunday we met up with SpanKY and his girlfriend at Boston’s best South Indian Restaurant. Actually, I daresay Chennai Woodlands is simply the best Indian restaurant in the greater Boston area. I grant you, they’re not actually in Boston. In fact, from our house, it takes 45 minutes to get there, with about 75% of that time spent on the freeway travelling at high speed. And it’s always completely worth the journey. The thing is, I don’t like to pimp places, (I like my secrets!) but that’s honest to goodness the best Indian food you’ll find for miles around (barring people’s own home cooking).

They’ve always been friendly, but now it’s gotten to the stage that they know what drinks we want, and what kinds of dosai we want. Maybe that’s sad. And if it is, I’m happily sad.

Anyway, we wound up talking and chatting till the wee hours of the afternoon, so by the time we got back home, the sun had set and the wind had picked up. We decided to demote Sunday from being Day 1 of Jogging Week 3. Monday (tonight) has been promoted to that title, in its stead. I have to say, the whole daylight savings thing helped in screwing that up. Now, every day for the rest of the season, I’ll arrive home after dark, which sucks.

On Masking Popular Packages (XMMS)

I remember xmms as well. I used to use it a lot. In fact, it used to be one of my favourite applications. I was even friends with one of the upstream devs (I used to maintain Gentoo’s ebuild for it for a while). Well, two years ago or so, upstream decided that the xmms2 project was sexier. I even got a glimpse of an early version of xmms2, and I was slightly less than impressed. For one, they moved to a different build system that didn’t play well with portage and me at the time (that may have changed by now). For two, they moved to a client/server model. Now I had to fire up two things to listen to music.

In retrospect, however, the XMMS upstream devs were being quite forward-looking. For example, they were the first project I’d heard of that was using dbus to communicate and send messages. All this happened before Gnome 2 came out, by the way. However, XMMS (1) was dead to them. They didn’t want to have anything to do with it. As a result, our patchset for it started to grow like mad.

In that light, I can completely understand Diego’s sentiment and his desire to extricate xmms from the tree (or shall I say, exorcise it from the tree?). My only complaint would the method behind his madness, as it were. As popular as xmms is out there, I think Diego did a disservice to its users, by not warning them in advance of this happening. Luis had barely announced his retirement from the project, when xmms and its plugins got masked for removal.

In the interim, Luis has decided to just go on vacation instead of quit. When he returns, he will contemplate exactly how to take care of XMMS. My guess is that he’ll stick to his original plan of putting the thing into an overlay.

So, to the users out there who are in some way pissed off, please consider a few things. While a lot of devs may agree with you, and certainly everyone sympathises with you about the loss of a favourite package, please consider that we don’t want to become the upstream maintainers for packages. The removal bug has become a place for random users to insult Gentoo developers, which really does not help anyone.

There are two ways to help yourselves and the community:

  • take over the xmms code and become the new upstream
  • embrace audacious

aybe you’re not talented enough to start hacking on xmms. That’s ok. But then let it go, please. The power you do have is in helping the audacious hackers to fix bugs in the code. You think it takes up too much memory? Well, then, report that upstream! Talk the audacious developer, who seems to me to want to go out of his way to improve the audacious experience!

Please, though, enough with the “you developers have your heads up your asses” comments. The problem is a simple one: we don’t have the time and the resources to become the upstream maintainers and resurrect a dead package.

Dan Armak: A Long Overdue Send-off

You know, Dan left Gentoo a few months ago. And he was another who left with a whisper rather than a bang. Dan (danarmak) was already a developer when I joined. At the time, I couldn’t stand KDE. I was a fluxbox user. A few months prior to my joining, Dan had basically become Gentoo’s KDE team. He took care of all the version bumps, he made the decision (a very good one, by the way) to have the /usr/qt and /usr/kde directories in which to house the installations of Qt and KDE, respectively.

He was the classic ideal developer. He tested relentlessly, he made patches, he shot bugs, he communicated with upstream to ensure fixes and patches went back and forth. He helped people on the mailing lists, on IRC, via private email. Dan always made you feel like he maintained KDE just for you. He’s an incredibly nice person. Incredibly nice. Talking to Dan always put a smile on my face and cheered me up. (I only hope to have had a similar effect of him for a fraction of that).

You know how you love the concept of eclasses? The idea behind eclasses is that you don’t have to duplicate code. You just shove it into eclasses, inherit them in your ebuild, and you have access to them. That’s how come Ciaran was able to make the excellent versionator eclass, and how Bart Verwilst (verwilst) (another old time dev) made the flag-o-matic eclass. The first eclasses, people, were the KDE eclasses. That’s right, kids, danarmak invented the very concept. A month into my joining, I’d tried (and loved!) KDE, thanks to Dan. During one of those nights, Dan asked me if I would like to see “object orientation in bash”. Boy, did I! He pointed me at the kde eclasses (portage didn’t have native support yet). What an exciting idea! Granted, it’s not *real* object orientation, but I don’t have to preach the concept of eclasses to you, really. (I will, if you argue too much, in a future post).

Shortly thereafter, I took over the perl ebuilds because they were lagging and bugs were piling up. Well, I asked Dan if these eclasses would help ease the burden of perl module maintenance. He agreed they would. I presented the case to Daniel Robbins, and he liked it. Now, not only KDE, but also dev-perl were using eclasses. So Daniel threw in native support into portage itself.

And that, kids, is how come my closing dev-perl bugs for perl module updates became a mass influx of bugs for more perl modules, because people just used the eclass (and had to code nothing, basically). That led to the idea of g-cpan, which attracted Michael Cummings to the project to make g-cpan a reality, which led to him being our Perl team. That, in a nutshell, is how KDE led to Perl.

That, in a nutshell, is one snapshot of one small set of contributions that Dan Armak made to Gentoo. Two years ago, Dan went on hiatus because duty called: he was obliged to join the Israeli military for a tenure. That tenure is almost up, but he might be called again. Dan decided to leave Gentoo, because he just didn’t know where life would take him in the next few years.

Well, I’m here to say that I have a candle burning for him to return. As far as I’m concerned, Dan Armak will always be welcome back to Gentoo.

PS Thanks to spb for inspiring me to write this article. It was one of the easiest I’ve ever written.

Farewell to Old Gentoo Friends

A few developers were retired from the Gentoo project in the last couple of weeks. I’d like to acknowledge those people here for a moment.

First up: Sascha (cybersystem). Sascha was 14 when he first joined Gentoo. He was immediately put in charge of our mailing lists and went on to set up our jabber system and maintained a few packages. At the time he and Jon were the youngest developers on our roster. And, I make no secret — they were both exceedingly trustworthy and dependable. Sascha and I became friends during his tenure here, though his interests had begun to diverge out of gentoo a couple of years ago. I’m sad to see him go, but I believe him to be full of potential, and I know he’ll meet with only success in all his ventures.

Next up: Brandon Low (lostlogic). Lolo and the third person below (wait for it!) joined Gentoo at around the same time in mid 2002. They both attended the same school (IIT — that’s the one in Illinois, not in India), in the same year. They were friends, and during the years they became my friends as well. Lolo did many many many things during his time year, but he might be best remembered as the kernel maintainer for a while (gentoo-sources and for those whose memory goes back enough: lolo-sources!). I think lolo felt increasingly out of place in the growing ecosystem in Gentooland (not unlike a lot of us), and he started focusing on his interests outside of Gentoo, but within the linux community (he’s still active on LKML, I believe). Again, my best wishes to him, and hope for nothing but success for him.

Finally: Nicholas Jones (carpaski). Carpaski took over portage maintenance from Daniel Robbins back in 2002. Before then, he had been sending patches to Daniel relentlessly for various fixes and enhancements. Finally, Daniel handed carpaski the reins to portage and let him be. Carpaski did very very well with it. He even expanded the team to include Jason Stubbs and Marius Mauch. to whom he delegated portage related tasks. Together, the three of them figured out plans for portage maintenance as well as next-generation development. Due to time and real-life constraints (like working for a living), carpaski eventually became a silent member of the portage team. He was elected to the Board of Trustees last year. He was on the initial board as well, when Daniel created it. Nick finally retired from Gentoo once his tenure on the Board ended. Nick, wherever you are, I hope you’re well and I wish only the best for you as well.

These three were good friends to me, they were my confidants, and they are very talented people. I’ll be watching their progress in the next months and years, and I will always be here for them.

Good luck, gentlemen.

The Liver Cleanse: Autopsy

OK, I’ve been asked on a number of occasions since Saturday how I feel. Truth is I don’t feel that much different, physically. The only noticeable thing is that my digestion seems faster, but I’ll chalk that up to psychological.

There is a behavioural difference, though. What I’m not sure about is whether that’s the result of the liver cleanse or the master cleanse. That is this: I chew my food a lot more now, and as a consequence I eat a little slowly. I used to eat really fast, but now, I takes my time about it. I’m still fast, I think, but definitely a lot slower than before. We’ll see how long that lasts. The other thing is this desire for raw foods that I have. Last night we made a pizza and had salad. I had a lot more salad than I did pizza. Also, during the day, I get hungry and I want to eat apples and grapes and stuff. I bring more fresh fruit with me to work than I do leftovers.

Now, let me tell you about Saturday night’s running experience. One word of warning — if you do a liver cleanse, please stay in bed or a couch the whole day/evening. In other words, relax. I thought I was all that and a bag of chips. we hadn’t run since Wednesday. Friday I started the liver cleanse, and couldn’t ingest anything (not even fluids, I don’t think) after 6pm, so running was out then too. So we thought we’d try on Saturday evening. It was really chilly and cold as it is, but we went out.

Saturday for lunch, we went to a Japanese restaurant to have some sushi. Well, I wanted some easy to digest raw food, so miso soup and avocado and cucumber sushi seemed quite appropriate and tasty. I did have a little bit of vegetable tempura as well, mind you. The food was delicious, but let me tell you this. I was feeling pretty tired after the cleanse. Plus, I lost a lot of water in the process, that I apparently didn’t make it up during lunch.

So, five minutes into the running (the second 90 second jog), my lungs and chest started hurting as did my right side. I had to stop because the pain just intensified. So, we decided to just call it a night and started walking home from the park (which is just down our street and across the road). Partway down our block, I started blacking out and feeling like collapsing. I spent a few minutes prone on the ground to get my wind or whatever back. I struggled upstairs and just went to sleep for a few hours, drinking water every now and then. For dinner I had some saag from the dhaba.

Sunday, we went out to Framingham for the superior South Indian food that I hadn’t had in weeks. It delivered as per usual. Oh, here’s a surprise. I didn’t even know. This weekend was Diwali. Aimee and I usually light up candles all over the house to celebrate it, but we didn’t even know it till my sister told me late on Saturday night, and they confirmed it at the restaurant (by wishing us a happy one). Weird.

You might be happy to know that we did indeed go running last night. We decided we’d just do week 2 of the run over again this week. It went well and felt great!

To end: I will do the liver cleanse again in two weeks — my intent is to do it several times until the pea green stuff stops coming out.

The Apple Juice Fast: Day 6 – The Liver Cleanse

Well, I did what I said I’d do last night. I started drinking the epsom salts mixture. Let me warn you, the damned stuff is bitter. Pretty nasty. The only way to do it (you have to drink three-quarters of a cup) is to throw the stuff back. Just chug it. If you sip some water right afterwards, the water tastes sweet. So that’s pretty good, and a sip is enough to remove the taste.

At about 10:20 or so I squeezed one and a half grapefruits (a little over half a cup, a little under three-quarters of a cup) into a jar. I added a half cup of that olive oil (organic, cold-pressed, extra virgin) into the grapefruit juice (or maybe the other way ’round, I don’t remember exactly), and then shook the stuff vigorously to mix. It wound up fairly liquid. Again, the secret is to chug the stupid thing. It didn’t taste bad — a little sweet. Grapefruits are usually notoriously bitter on my tongue, but not last night. There was a hint of olive flavour though.

Right after chugging (I chugged at the bed), I lay down on my right hand side and fell asleep. Conveniently, when I side sleep, I do it on my right. I thought I felt contractions or something, but I think I was just imagining it. I slept fairly comfortably, actually. I woke up at 5, as usual, but went right to back to sleep again. I woke up at 6 as well, but by then I was feeling a little nauseated. And the flavour of olive oil kept wafting up in my breath. A little icky, that. At about 8 I got up and had another drink of the epsom salts drink. By 9:15, I started what would be the first of many forays into the, um, office.

ICKY BIT WARNINGL So, here’s the thing. They say you’ll see pea green stones or something floating at the top. Well, they don’t lie. There were thousands through the day. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t expel any big stones. I guess we’ll see in the upcoming months whether this stuff is real or just boogaboo. I’ll have my verification blood test this week (the whole gluten thing). And then the week after will be another liver cleansing, though I won’t fast for that. I will drink the apple juice, but life will go on as normal.

I’ll keep you all posted on how the next cleansing goes, and how the blood test goes next week.

Thanks for reading me, everybody 🙂

Follow how I got here in the in the first place

Edit: added navigation

The Apple Juice Fast: Day 5

Well, here it is. We’re at T-minus-zero today. So, I had a breakfast of toast and blueberry preserves (2 pieces of toast, thanks!). And I had as much apple juice as I could before 2pm (14:00). According to the recipes I’ve seen, I’m not allowed to eat or drink after 2 (14:00). So, it’s 6:45 in the evening (18:45) now, and I’m home. I didn’t get to write my entry at midday today due to various scheduling conflicts.

So anyway, I did actually do the salt water flush this morning, with the usual expected results. Apart from that, I drank a lot of apple juice, but I didn’t get around to eating any of the apples I took. Even for lunch, I only had 15 minutes between the end of one task and the beginning of a meeting, so I had to eat my rice and beans with the quickness. I find I’m chewing my food a lot more since coming off the cleansing fast. It’s weird the things that I’ve become aware of that way. I used to just scarf my food down like the earth was ending or something. Now, I take a little more time about it.

So, anyway, at 6pm (18:00) I’m supposed to take a 3/4 cup of water mixed with epsom salts. Well, you’re supposed to actually mix 4 tablespoons of epsom salt with 3 cups of water and then refrigerate (at 14:00/2pm). I wasn’t home so that wasn’t a possibility. Instead, I did it when I came home at 6:15 (18:15). At 18:40 (6:40pm) I drank my 3/4 cup. So at 20:40 (8:40pm) I will drink another 3/4 cup, and shortly thereafter I will mix a half cup of olive oil (cold pressed extra-virgin organic) with a half cup of freshly squeezed grapefruit (what else? organic) juice.

I basically have to get prepped for bed, then drink that mixture in under 5 minutes and lie down immediately and go to bed. That’ll happen at about 22:20 (10:20 pm) tonight. So that’s what’s in store. Tomorrow I’ll report on my unpleasant night. Wish me luck!

See what happened on Day 4

Read about my liver cleanse tomorrow

Edit: added navigation

The Myths and Realities of the Gentoo/Government: Part 2

So let’s catch up quickly. Daniel started Gentoo, he led it, Gentoo grew and attracted all sorts, including (and especially?) those who would rather see Daniel not in power. I have a theory: some of those people who lobbied for distributed power structures were actually after being in control for themselves. It was certainly true of Zach (he admitted as much). To be honest, it was sort of true with me, as well. There were times when I thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea for Daniel to step aside for a while and let me drive things. There, I admit it 🙂

Anyway, the momentum for distributed power started building (I believe largely due to back water conversations rather than any largely shared sense of unhappiness). After that, there was little choice left for Daniel but to relent. So Gentoo Technologies, Inc. gave way to Gentoo Foundation, and the Gentoo Managers gave way to the Gentoo Council. And of course, Daniel gave way to the Board of Trustees (13 in number). Various proposals happened in between, of course, to not let any one entity have too much power. So managers had to be neutered in order to be on the council (a note about this later).

And this brings us to the status quo for the last couple of years. Nobody allowed to “have” a vision for Gentoo. Actually, I think many people have visions for their projects, very few have a vision for the distribution itself. And of those, nobody has the power/blessing to see that vision through. There’s a big power vacuum, a complete state of anarchy. Democracy has brought to us that everyone can have a voice. Thus people believe that they should shout, no matter whether they make sense or not.

The new thinking is that the Council itself should have a head (told you we would come back to that point). Part of the thinking is that the anarchy is good. It hasn’t destroyed us, that’s for sure. Maybe the dictatorship did almost destroy us. I don’t know, to be honest. What I do know is that it’s a lot more agonising these days, with endless discussion on endless discussion because of endless discussions about endless tangential points to the original endless discussions, ad nauseum. At least when the buck stops, you can feel a little bitter but at least you know it’s done, and you can move on.

The point of bitterness for me is that two of those three who first advocated the idea of socialism/democracy to Daniel in the first place only succeeded in substituting one problem for another, and then not bothering with trying to fix either problem. I believe the best direction for Gentoo is to split itself into a core with overlays, as I’ve mentioned before in other posts.

The beauty about the old days that most people seem to miss for some reason was the size of the Gentoo development community. It was as efficient and friendly as it was precisely because of the kind of intimacy that is inherent in a small group. And in all honesty, that sort of happens already, because people tend to only care about the projects in which they have direct involvement — be it the amd64 architecture, science packages, clustering, gnome, whatever. Most of those devs lose nothing by having their own out-of-portage overlays. Hell most people with could probably even keep that address (or a derivative like maybe, who knows).

The core group of devs would be people who make packages and programmes that are crucial to a running Gentoo: baselayout, kernel and sys-*. Even portage itself should be in an overlay — with a party on the core team to determine the requirements for acceptance as an officially sanctioned package manager.

Things would work, because overlays could be given a lot more independence and a lot more visibility. Right now they are all overshadowed by what’s in the tree already. Instead, overlays would create competition, and thus increase the quality of submissions. The barriers to entry in our current system are high. Overlays reduces those. Anyone can enter — it’ll take a lot more quality and skill to be accepted as official (requirements to be determined).

Those are my thoughts. I’ve tried not to slander anyone, but feel free to take issue with me.