F-word on BBC and shot Muslims

Pre-story: In Forestgate in London police stormed inside a house, shot one man and arrested him and his brother. After 10 days it turned out that no evidence of any gilt to them was found in the raid and the raid is only based on some secret intelligence.

During the day when I was watching the news the brother that was shot was describing how policemen dragged him down the stairs shouting him to "Shut the f*** up!", the F-word was bleeped and that was ok. The real surprise to me was that it was not bleeped out when retransmitted in the evening news at 22:00. I am glad that UK's media are not as puritan as USA's.

P.S. I think that this incident with another innocent Muslim person being brutally shot by the police without any warning is the best thing that Al Quaeda could have organized. I just hope that this will get the same outcry internationally as here in UK and that will turn the tide from "war" to "freedom".

The curse of Montesuma - a British Internet manjana

A couple of days before going off to Debconf6 the wireless access to the Internet stopped working for me in the network of my university. I went to the network guys and they told me that I was using too much of it, so they blocked my IP address and now need to check my laptop for anything that could be of a copyright violation. When they found out that the laptop in question only has Linux installed and that the "high traffic" was mostly bunch of podcast downloads and some CD's of Linux distros (including some Dapper beta CDs), they decided to not look at my laptop (they would not know how anyway) and assured me that my laptop would be connected back the next day. I still could access the net by tethering myself to an Ethernet socked, so I was not worried.

The next day the wireless was still non-functional and so it was the day after that. I was working on with Ethernet and then left for Debconf.

Almost three weeks later I come back to the university only to find out that my wireless is still blocked. I go to computer guys again and they again assure me that it will be enabled the next day ... or at least on Monday.

During the weekend I do all I can to get my Debconf6 photos out to somewhere you could see them and do it in proper format and quality. In the end I get them uploaded to http://koyanet.lv/~aigarius/ as zip files (no compression). "aday" is the day of my arrival, "cday*" are the DebCamp days and "day*" are the main conference days with "day0" being the Debian Day.

I go home satisfied only to come back next morning and find that now _both_ wireless and Ethernet access is blocked for my laptop. Apparently my interactions with the photos and catching up on some audio and video podcasts have generated around 14 Gb of traffic (both ways summed together) and that looks to be a big NO-NO in this university.

After long and heated negotiations between my boss and the IT department the best we could agree on was that my laptop will be reconnected tomorrow, but if I use more then 2 Gb of traffic (both ways) in one month again, the laptop will be removed from the network permanently.

Wonderful studying conditions, right?

The only solution anyone could offer me is to get a ADSL connection in the place I am renting. That will cost me 12 pounds per month for "line rental" and 25 pounds per month for 8 Mbit down / 512 Kbit down ADSL connection with 40 Gb monthly traffic cap. And that is the best deal that I could find, because if I do exceed that cap for two months in a row they will not charge me per Gb as other will, but will only downgrade priority of my traffic until the end of the month. And the traffic cap in this service only applies to peak time and I can use it all I want during the night. But still the prices are just crazy and there still is a traffic limit.

Encouraging the use and discovery of new Internet technologies, right?

(.... sarcasm-o-meter overload ....)


My mind apparently short-circuited due to jet lag - I was fully convinced that my flight from Riga to London was leaving at 19:45, soI arrived to the airport well in advance - at 18:00. Only then I found out that the actual flight that I had the ticket for was scheduled at 11:20. Doh! Sunday evening, nothing works and I am stuck in Riga.

I am lucky to have great friends in Riga who lent me some money and let me stay at their place for a few more days.

Luckily I was able to get a relatively cheap British Airways ticket for Tuesday (<150$ one way :$) online at www.lidot.lv that I could buyout in cash at the day of the flight.

Two days waisted - see subj.

P.S. I am too still jet lagging slightly.

Debconf6 last days: Hugs and goodbyes

May 21st & 22nd.

The last days of Debconf went under the banner of a "hug day" - everyone was encouraged to hug everyone else for whatever reason or for no reason at all. Gunnar was group hugged several times.

Number of people declined rapidly during the Sunday and very little people were left there by Monday, but everyone continued hacking until the network connection was dismantled.

In the evening there was chatting, Mao, relaxing and generic photography.

It is kind of sad that the Debconf is over. It has been as wonderful as ever and more exciting then ever. Now we can only return to our everyday lives and wait for the next year. Manjana*(365+x)!

Debconf6 day 7: Lightning and splashing

May 20th.

The day started with an important meeting that was aimed at getting our priorities straight for the Google Summer of Code (SoC) program. Many good and some not so good applications have been proposed to Debian by students from all around the world. Now it was the time for Debian to choose the best of these proposals and rank them according to our priorities. We did not know how many applications Google will grant us, so we had to get our rankings right through the whole scale. We want to be sure, for example, that after this meeting project ranked 5th would be less useful to us then any of the first four, but more useful then all others. The discussions were short and very on topic. Rankings were determined quickly and mentors for all selected project were appointed. AJ leading the BOF was very helpful in making decisions when they had to be made. Now we only need to wait and see how many application slots Google will give us.

A set of lightning talks followed. The talks were very different: some were funny, some were serious, some were too fast, some got to get boring. The one talk I want to highlight especially is a talk by Joey Hess about what Debian can learn from Gentoo. Especially handling of configuration files on package upgrades was raised as an example. Gentoo is an interesting distribution that is developing very separate from Debian, so it is quite possible that upon closer inspection there are other things that Debian could use from what Gentoo is doing. That only needs some closer inspection by someone with in-depth knowledge in both systems.

Right after the lightning talks I want off to prepare for the second group photo - the fun photo in the pool. It was planned just before lunch. The start was small and easy - 15 people easily make a swirl by the side of the pool. As people continue to join maintaining order becomes harder and harder despite all efforts of self-organization on the part of all people involved. The swirl grows, deforms beyond recognizability and then straightens out again, just to be deformed again by newcomers. Just like Debian.

When the number of people grew to 50 I decided that we no longer can get a better swirl in any reasonable timeframe, so I called that shot done and called everyone to group into a single bunch for a different take on the fun group photo. That was much easier except for the splashing fight that broke out in the back rows and took over the whole group as soon as I called that the second fun group photo is also done. After that all went for lunch.

The next thing I went to was the discussion about the Debconf7. Apparently it was not supposed to be a public discussion, but after a while the consensus of open discussion prevailed and candidate cities for Debconf7 started their presentations. Edinburgh was the first candidate - they had it all: good transport connectivity, good Internet, nice facilities, nice living places. It was not clear about the food and the prices were very high - 30 EUR per person per day, not including food. As the presenter from next city could not come because of visa problems, stockholm presented for her. Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia and the organizers have all needed problems solved already: facilities are provided by an UAE company (so they are the best one can get for any kind of money), 20 Mbit of sustained throughput Internet connectivity, very cheap food with good adaptability, 15 minutes from the airport. In total the Sarajevo Debconf would cost around 15-17 EUR per person per day. After that "Brixon boys" presented their city for Debconf7. The presentation was more concentrated on skying and other relaxation issues then on the questions that are more relevant to the organization of such conference as Debconf.

>From this meeting and from talking to people later on I have two conclusion on the matter: 1. it would be very good to make a decision on the next Debian conference place slightly more open and also pool people about issues that concern them (which is planned now), but I still think that one person should be entitled to make the final decision; 2. I think Sarajevo is the best choice for next year for many reasons, but most important because of cost. The less it costs per person to hold a Debconf, the more people can be there and the more people could get sponsored travel. Some people might even agree to come to Debconf by a bus, which should be quite possible from most of continental Europe it the conference is in Sarajevo. It would be much cheaper and would still be not as exhausting as the 40 hour flight mambo jumbo that I had to take to get to this event here.

Bubulle spoke afterward summarizing the i18n situation in Debian before Debconf6 and the discussions that took place at Debconf6 that intend to improve it. It was a good summary, so you only need to watch the i18n BOF videos if you will be working in the infrastructure.

CAcert signing event was conducted after that. I have no idea of the real use of those certificates, but some apparently do.

As the final discussion a meeting specifically about the Google Summer of Code i18n infrastructure project was conducted. We were deciding what shall we ask Gintautas (the student that proposed the project) to do, how will we define the scope of his work, so that we can have a definite way of determining if he did that or not be the end of the SoC program. The final decision will ultimately be on me. The result of this meeting was that we will ask Gintautas to take the current code of Pootle and make of it an translation system with clearly separated backend where other translation frontends could be plugged into. After that (optionally) he should work to create such plugins in cooperation with other Debian i18n and Pootle developers and also continue refactoring and remaking the codebase to allow for other plugin development. But the essential part of Gintautas contribution will be a clearly separated translation backend with Pootle frontend and a stable API between them. After the SoC will be over Gintautas will be welcome to present his further vision on the whole infrastructure at the I18N meeting in Extramadura. This work will also serve as a research base to clarify Debian i18n needs, so it is very well possible that at Extramadura it would be decided to abandon the current code and make a new system from scratch in Zope 3. :)

Debconf6 day 5: Formal dinner.

May 18th.

The fifth day of Debconf6 started for me with a very detailed overview of the debian installer. I have already been quite familiar with the system, but did not really know how to debug the debian-installer system, which was a good part of today's presentation.

Many were still tired from yesterday's evening's "testing" of international hard liquors. (Or the pancake party?)

At the lunch I discovered on my own skin how hard it was to announce something in the restaurant where we were having food - the room had very high ceiling with high an thick separation beams, so the acoustics of the place were just terrible. I had almost enough volume to fill the room, but after many reflections it was incomprehensible. I had to revert to walking around the tables to remind people about the group photo next day and about the place to meet for today's formal dinner.

The rest of the day flew by fast and it was soon time for the dinner itself. People slowly gathered at a parking lot behind the hotels and idly chatted while waiting for the boarding call. After a while people stopped minding me and that resulted in several good portraits.

We boarded the bus and went to the place of the formal dinner. The place was a large hall where local volunteers had placed the tables in the form of a swirl. That was a very nice touch. People wondered round and round 'till they choose a place they liked. AJ sat at the very inner end of the swirl and I somehow got to sit at his right hand. Not that it matters.

At one moment some person took a crown of Ted's head and rushed to put it on AJ's had. Many photos were taken at that moment (most of them very blurry), but I feel this one to be a bit of an irony: CLUE hanging over Ted, but he doesn't quite get it. But enough about him - there was enough fun at the dinner to satisfy anyone.

After a while of nice chatting time food started to appear. First the glasses came, then there were the huge 3l bottles of Cola. I managed to avoid the Mexican version of Cola before that, but now when I tried it Mexican Cola tasted very much like the Estonian version and slightly different from UK's or USA's versions. I guess the sugar type used and the water might be of the difference.

Few attempts at simulating a spiral "Mexican" wave along the tables were conducted. Only when AJ personally controlled every part of the way by running along the length of the table, the wave succeeded. :)

A Mexican band came in to lighten up the mood. They were met with a huge wave of applause and a burst of flashlights. The music was great - lively and exciting. Spanish speaking people knew most of the songs and sang along. But after a short while the music was started to being drowned out by the sound of a rain hitting the roof.

Soon after the food was served I heard scream of surprise with a hint of fear. When I turned, I saw that one of the wall of the hall strangely turned into a waterfall - gush of water was streaming from the roof into the building. People looked at the water, took a bunch of pictures, made a few water related jokes, picked their bags up from the floor and ... continued with the fun. I must say that I was slightly scared, but although others might have been scared as well, most did not show it and the event just went on with a half of the hall having a couple centimeters of water. Water also dripped down on some parts of the tables, so people shifted from there to other places.

Meanwhile, outside the rain became stronger, wind became faster, thunder became louder and came closer.

The climax of the evening was the sudden loss of power. I was jsut standing on the stage when all the lights inside and outside went out at once. For a moment there was a bit of confusion and the evening became slightly scary in a single instant. Then people took out their mobile phones, PDA's and other devices and lighted the place up with the light from their screens. Some others had handlights, and others made slightly more light for a shorter moments by taking flash photographs, for example, of the ceiling. In a few minutes the emergency light went up and after 15 more minutes the main lamps started coming back on.

For most people that was enough excitement for the night, so when the rain calmed down and Gunnar announced that first buses are ready go back to the hotel if some people want that, two buses were overfilled with people wanting to get back. Some stayed.

More fresh food was cooked then, including some cooked cactus leaves and some grilled meat after which a desert followed with a rollcake that included a swirl of some red jam. Very Debianish :)

After a quick local-optimal packing session the hall was left almost empty in a few minutes. The packing algorithm was interesting - one person was collecting all forks, other person was collecting all spoons, other people were only folding tables, while others were handling chairs. The work division was very effective and allowed people to share the work without any kind of central coordination.

And we went back .. to work.

On the way to the hotel I noticed pixie sitting in the walkway in a very careful was - it turns out she got one of the kittens to trust her and was holding it in her lap. It was sooooo cute. Kawai!

Ted: Many questions were raised about Ted, the "fight" at the formal dinner and the following expulsion of Ted from the event and from the Debian project. An I have a unique perspective on that as I was sharing a room with Ted and talked to him and his friend John after the dinner, but before the expulsion notice.

I barely noticed the, now widely speculated about, events at the dinner itself. I noticed that at one point in time the lump of people around the door became a bit bigger and that Ted and John were in the middle of it. I heard no screaming and saw no struggle or fighting and did not see anything strange regarding Ted except this and the other event described higher above. Ted was siting by his table with a woman that I for some time believed to be his wife because of the very caring way he was handling her. After considering that he was from Canada, I assumed (with a though of the twisted humor) that she might then be his Mexican lover (either paid or not), but I did not care enough to find out about it or to raise any conflict about it. I remember thinking that it would sound quite funny in context of his latest blog post about killing of prostitutes which might also be the reason why people where very ready to believe the joke that one of Ted's companions said of the woman being paid to come here with Ted "or maybe not".

After the event I wane to sleep to be awaken around 5 in the morning by a discussion going on in my room about the dinner. I went into the discussion slightly irritated with a simple argument - inviting people to a party without an explicit permission of the organizer is a bad thing to do. That point sank in quickly and Ted soon was ready to apologize for that. After that a discussion about individual people and motivations went on for another hour. Ted's action were deeply rooted in the confusion of terms with "bravery" and "cowardice" versus "aggression" and "non-confrontational behavior". Ted's motivation was clearly based on avoiding anything that could be considered to be cowardly and putting emphasis on brave actions, however the most of the rest of Debian project is much more in line with the modern world and prefers non-confrontational behavior to any action causing trouble. Most of the time such behavior is essential for comfortable survival of any geek living in non-geek environment.

The difference in values between Ted and the rest of our project was just too immense. When I was walking out of the room at around 7 in the morning next day my final sentence was "Ted, even if you spend rest of the Debconf apologizing and making friends, I do not see a future for you in this project." and the most important was that Ted and John seemed to agree with me on that.

I soon found out that DAM's agreed with me too and took action just when I was talking to Ted expelling him from the project. He was also advised to leave the Debconf to avoid any further confrontation. It was harsh, but kind of expected for a long time. This event spoiled my mind for a few hours, but ... the Debconf must go on!

Debconf6 day 6: Main group photo

May 19th.

Fallback from the dinner and Ted's expulsion hanged over the morning of this day, but by the lunchtime it was mostly forgotten and people moved on to more interesting topics.

... for example, Sponge Bob! I mean I18N, of course. A big discussion about the future of Debian's I18N infrastructure was the highliht of the morning for me as I expected to later become the mentor of the respective Google SoC project. In some ways need of Debian translators are simple and very similar to the need of all other translators worldwide, but other need are quite different. Coordination with Wordforge to detect both those subgroups of our need was one hot topic, need that are related to OLPC use was another.

People went on hacking, but I went towards the pool to plan forward towards the group photos. I needed to check the angles and lighting levels, test the lenses and settings.

When 18:00 (the time of the main group photo) approached, clouds covered the sky and it went dark. At 17:58 it started raining. At the last moment Mark took a jump from the 10m tower. He later reflected that the decision was between jumping or remaining the highest point around while the air crackled of ever increasing electricity.

People slowly gathered under the roof nearby and waited as told. After around ten minutes most people were gathered and the rain stopped. People ran out into the field and I ran up the diving tower to my selected photography place 10 meters up from the ground. I took a bunch of pictures, more people came, I took some more pictures, others came, I screamed to people to say "Tequilaaaaa" and took loads of pictures. The group photo was done.

After that we had a quick and painless keysigning party (only two hours is quick). The trust network grew again.

After that there was a lot of dancing on the veranda of the hacklab. It was very cool thing to watch, but gave not so good pictures because of speed and low light. Those two dancing instructors were just great! With this number of DD's we have an expert in anything - dancing, photography, security, religion, patents, biking, ... ... We share their knowledge and we all become better. Inspiring.

One minute after midnight around 30 people sneaked into the room of sleeping Andreas and started to sing "happy birthday" ... because it was. Andreas looked very surprised. Very sweet idea. Cudos to the organizers. However it would be nice to turn on the light so that flashes of the 20 cameras would be less blinding. ;)

Fun group photos

The next day after the main group photo we decided to try and make something that is more funny and more sunny, so we decided to try to make a group photo in the pool. The event was completely voluntary and meant more for fun. At first we tried to create a shape of the Debian swirl in the pool.

Debconf6 pool swirl

It really was the real thing: the shape was never perfect or to the spec, more people were coming in all the time, some people stood back and watched, some sprayed others with water, some tried to organize, some almost drowned ... all in all just like the Debian project. :)

After that we also took a simpler group picture in the pool

Debconf6 pool group

After I left, a flame^Wsplashwar ensued. Loads of fun.

Debconf6 day 4: The Daytrip + some hard liquor

May 17th.

Just before the daytrip an idea to go for a breakfast came, so at around 8:30 a small group went off to the local market in search for some food. We were seated by a counter and the food was prepared on a large coal heated metal sheet just in front of us. Learning from the last experience of such kind I ordered two tortilias, but I barely ate one of them - it just did not feel right. (Later I was kind of glad that I didn't because my stomach felt a bit funny until the next morning. I guess the body can feel what is good for it.)

After we came back to hotel, the buses arrived - large, metallic buses of the GMC (General Motors Company, I assume) that looked like they came straight from 1960s - 1970s. I expected that they will fell like frying pans in the hot midday sun, but in the end the buses turned out to be very nice and comfortable.

A half an hour before the leaving time people started to group up. Some took the time to chat, some took the time to take random group photos.

The drive to the place was two hours long. The guide told us a bit about the region where we are and its history. I do not remember much of it except that this state has always been the rich farming valley that provided food to many other regions. We also found out the name of the volcano whose picture I took earlier - it was the active Popocatepetl. I have heard that name before. That is the first name that I know here.

On arrival to the Xochicalco archaeological site we left our buses and wen into the on-site museum. The museum was built in a barren place without electricity and any water installations, so it was decided to make the museum to be very ecological - sunlight is used wherever possible, electricity is gathered by solar panels, rain water is gathered, collected and purified using natural treatment methods. ALso the building materials are very strange - the buildings look very green. The museum was of the classical site with texts and scenes and bunches of artifacts and a "no flash" requirement. That kind of impacts the pictures. Additionally the glass behind which the artifacts were was way too reflective.

After we were done with the museum we went on a 5 minute walk under the midday sun to the site itself. It was really, really hot. People got sunburns later But the view was great.

On the site there were some kind of containers that were masked as stones. They might be local trash containers or something else.

The whole excursion on the site took around two hours and was spent slowly walking from one shade to another while listening to the explanations of our guide. There were 6 groups in total, our group (the Pink 3) had around 20 people.

The ancient city was a well protected multilayer city where people of certain social status were basically locked inside on of the levels and people of the higher level governed them. At all levels there were pyramids and temples and places for parties. Our guide said that having a party almost every week is traditional for people of this region, it is a tradition derived from calendars of the ancient times.

There were several ball courts on the territory. Very fascinating game (judging from the available data). The winner was seen as becoming closer to godliness. We have no idea what happened to the loser. But there was a sauna where players went before the game.

The excavations at Acropolis section (the rich people section) is still going on.

But the main religious place - the temple of the feathered serpent was restored magnificently. It is relatively small (compared to my previously visited pyramids), but very well preserved and restored. Most of the carvings were fully visible.

In the end the site was nowhere near as impressive as Teotichuan. Not even close. The final temple was a nice piece, but the rest ...

After that we went for a lunch at an all-you-can-eat Mexican buffet. They were obviously notified of our arrival because seating and feeding 300+ people otherwise would be very hard. We sat in our seats and then went for the food at table by table basis. Th food was nice and simple. I had a lot and really considered skipping dinner when we came back.

There was also some local fauna at the place: a extremely friendly and lovely chameleon, a meat eating parrot, a hamster, a dog and a pair of pigeons. Apparently all of them were up for adoption. A lot of cuteness ensued.

After lunch we drove for an hour to the capital of the Morero state and went to the local market for souvenirs. The shopping was fast and productive even despite the soft rain.

In the evening after the daytrip and after the dinner there was a hard liquor party. Hard liquor from multiple countries was presented. I could not evaluate it properly, but I could evaluate the properly prepared Japanese green tea. It was really magnificent. This party was slower then the wine and cheese party - you can't rush with hard liquors.

In parallel a pancake party was also taking place in the hotel's kitchen. I looked very nice but I was very full by then.