Posts for June 2009

2009-06-08: INN 2.5.0

After more than six years of development, I'm pleased to announce that INN 2.5.0 has finally been released, due primarily to the work of Julien ÉLIE over the past few years.

As one might expect from a development release that first branched six years ago, the changes are too numerous to mention in a journal entry. For the complete list, see the INN 2.5 NEWS file. Major changes include SASL support for nnrpd, significant improvements to support the standardized NNTP protocol, a rewrite of the network code for better IPv6 support, and significant improvements to innreport.

It's great to see this release become the base for future development, since a lot of cleanup work went into it. INN 2.4 was old enough that it was becoming difficult to maintain, and INN 2.5 has a much stronger test suite, uses a modern Autoconf, and has other similar improvements.

You can get the latest version from ISC's FTP site. Documentation and other details are available from my INN page, and open bugs, source code browsing, and similar pages are available from the INN development site.

2009-06-08: Resurfacing

Leaves in fence

Another Stanford-area picture. It's not as good of a picture as I thought it was when I took it (a bit over-exposed, for instance), but I still like the feel of it. It matches my feeling today, which was a day for picking leaves out of the fence that had caught them until I could look at them.

I've been silent over the past few days because I was helping organize and host the 2009 AFS and Kerberos Best Practices Workshop. There were the usual unexpected last-minute problems, but we managed to sort them all out and everything went exceptionally well. Most of the thanks for that is due to Lucrecia Kim-Boswell, who did all of the hard coordination work and did an absolutely wonderful job.

As you might expect, though, I had basically no free cycles to post photographs, reviews, or journal entries during the conference. Not only was there too much to do, it was also intensely social, which exhausts me. A very close friend was able to come out for the conference as well, so I spent evenings and the surrounding weekends talking and playing video games. It was a great week, but very high-energy.

Surprisingly, I came out of it feeling much less tired than I expected and much more energized. Sunday and today I did a ton of cleanup and catch-up. I'm now feeling on top of things and excited and interested in doing some coding and diving back into projects. I'm taking next week off, so I should have lots of time to use that energy for non-work things for a change, such as catching up on Debian work and some of my non-work software projects.

2009-06-09: Progress on all fronts

Purple catkin

This is a cottonwood catkin lying across a root. I thought the purple color was remarkable, particularly how it stains the root a little around where the catkin fell. These days, I'd probably take this picture closer, but I like the sense of context it has.

One of the things that's making me the most happy about the past three days after the conference and company is that I'm accomplishing things on a wide variety of fronts. I didn't just get the house cleaned up, or some surprise high-priority work done, or a few work projects pushed forward, or some background cleanup and conversion done. I did all of that at the same time, and it felt relatively effortless and natural. This is rare, and I suspect it won't stay as good as it is now (and I'll have to avoid the natural letdown when I lose the momentum), but while it lasts it's a great feeling.

I'm trying to watch what I'm doing so that I can copy those actions when I'm not feeling the same degree of momentum and try to recreate it through putting myself in the right mental state.

I've converted the wallet repository to Git, so you can now view it on I probably won't have time to do a new release before I go on vacation, but I'm hoping to get at least one and possibly two releases out this summer. It's been far too long since I've been able to put work into it, and there are a ton of things I want to do.

2009-06-15: Vacation

Amtrak Superliner

An Amtrak Superliner car at the San Jose Diridon station. This unfortunately wasn't the train I was taking, since I love the Superliner cars with their legroom and nice reclining seats. The new cars they mostly use around here do have tables, which the Superliner cars don't, but the seats aren't quite as comfortable.

What with the short week before going on vacation, I didn't get entirely back into the normal rhythm of things, so I've not been updating as regularly as I'd planned. But it's a nice excuse. I have the next week off, which may mean more time to work on some non-work software projects, but which more importantly involves a lot of reading and playing video games.

2009-06-18: Relaxation

Gold Glow

One of my mother's roses ('Gold Glow' is the cultivar).

I've now reached the part of my vacation where I've recovered energy and I'm enjoying poking at things instead of just reading and playing video games. I like this part of vacation. It gives me an opportunity to work on things that I normally don't have either time or energy to do when working full weeks.

Also accomplished: showing my mother some of the highlights of the Food Network, getting her hooked on the excellent Teaching Company linguistics course that I've been listening to, one bit of picture-taking around the neighborhood and front yard, and showing off all the pictures I've taken in the last four months.

Today, the plan is to do a few more software releases and maybe write some book reviews.

2009-06-18: Lintian 2.2.11

It had been about a month and a half since a Lintian upload, so we of course had accumulated a ton of fixes that no one was yet benefitting from. I probably should have done a release a while back.

The changes in this release are mostly lots of little things that most people aren't likely to notice unless they had run into the specific problem that was fixed. Lintian now uses libapt-pkg-perl to do version number comparisons instead of forking a copy of dpkg, which I hope will be a lot faster and consume less memory (due to the version comparison cache we no longer need) on archive-wide runs.

Thanks to Adam D. Barratt, who did the lion's share of the work for this release.

2009-06-18: Policy 3.8.2

Due to an ill-advised change to the build dependencies of debian-policy that I made and could have sworn I'd tested (still not sure what happened), debian-policy was failing to build. We knew about that a while back and talked a bit about what to do, since we hadn't accumulated many changes, but then we all ran out of time. Someone finally filed the bug, so Bill Allombert took care of doing the upload yesterday (thank you!).

This is a very incremental release since I still haven't had a chance to work on some of the larger changes we have pending. The most significant change is that debconf is now mandatory for all user prompting, including for essential packages. They have to at least try to use debconf first. However, since debconf is not essential (and making it essential would create other bootstrapping problems), essential packages or their dependencies are allowed to fall back on other prompting mechanisms if debconf isn't available. Regular packages must just depend on debconf and use it.

A new Lintian release updated for 3.8.2 is forthcoming, probably later today.

2009-06-18: Lintian 2.2.12

This is the release that knows about Policy 3.8.2. It ended up being a bit more extensive than I had expected, since I started poking at the bug list last night and added fixes for three or four other things. I also read over the X fonts portion of Policy and added checks for several things that weren't previously checked.

Nothing here should be particularly exciting and hopefully won't cause any problems.

A complete archive-wide run of Lintian is now in progress. Hopefully the change to use libapt-pkg-perl will make it run faster and take less memory.

2009-06-19: Vacation Friday

Rocks on wood

The arrangement of rocks on wood had a zen-like calm feeling for me and an interesting subtle pattern. I love noticing prosaic things like this randomly when I'm out walking with a camera.

Vacation is concluding quickly, unfortunately, but it's been a nice vacation. A bit packed with things I wanted to do and look at, but I've also finished a couple of books, played some video games, and poked at some Debian work when I've felt like it. And I still have a long weekend left.

The archive-wide Lintian run is making good progress, and I think the changes in version comparison are making it a little bit faster. Lintian still eats a lot of memory, which indicates to me that there's still something less than ideal, but hopefully it will be better.

I've been successfully ignoring work other than keeping up on e-mail and letting other people pick up the problems. I'm hoping that after I get back to Stanford I'll be able to take some time to release new versions of a few software packages before diving back into the project grind. Despite some worries about losing portability, I think I've talked myself into using libtool for building my PAM modules, and I'd like to set up a test suite for pam-krb5 and do a new release of it soon.

2009-06-20: Last vacation weekend

Alder knot

Well, I could use another week of vacation, but I seem to be gathering more momentum and finding it easier to do accomplishment-like stuff instead of relaxing-like stuff. Hopefully that means I have enough vacation to feel refreshed and able to dive back into work. I didn't do quite as much reading as I wanted, but now the US Open is on and I'm enjoying watching that more than reading at the moment.

Yesterday, I uploaded new OpenAFS 1.4.11pre1 packages for Debian, which include the new documentation built from editable source. I still need to update some of the supporting Debian documentation a bit and we should yank the old documents from the OpenAFS CVS repository so that I can remove the disclaimer in debian/copyright. But I should be in fairly good shape for the 1.4.11 release.

I also did some work on Debian Policy last night and this morning, committing five bug fixes and proposing wording that's now awaiting seconds for several more. I sent out a heads-up about eliminating the provision for packages to modify and so far haven't gotten any feedback; hopefully we can get that into the next Policy release.

2009-06-21: Meandering

Morning glory

I'm in an uninspired mood this evening for picture selection, so have a picture of morning glory from last year. Flower pictures are always pretty. [ETA: Apparently this is actually calibrachoa or trailing petunia, not morning glory.]

Today was a rather meandering day, in which I had little focus for anything in particular and just did a bit of this and a bit of that. I suspect this is largely because I had the US Open on TV most of the day, and while it doesn't feel that way at the time, having anything on TV takes a lot of focus away.

Nothing wrong with meandering for a vacation Sunday, of course. I do wish I were feeling more of an energy bounce coming into the last days of vacation, though. I'm mostly feeling it slip away faster than I want and dwelling a bit too much on the things I'd wanted to do and haven't done. This is making me irritable and unnecessarily negative. Tomorrow, I'll work on snapping myself out of it, and probably take some time away from both the TV and the computer after the US Open concludes.

2009-06-25: Back to work

Vanishing point

Looking south from platform five at the San Jose Diridon train station.

I'm back at work, which so far is going well. Vacation didn't feel long enough, but it clearly was enough to recharge my energy. I'm doing reasonably well at prioritizing and focusing, and as a result I've already gotten quite a bit done this week. Wednesday was my most productive work from home day in quite a while, which is a trend that I'd like to see continue.

One thing that's easier to see coming off of vacation than it was before vacation is why some of my scheduling plans haven't been working. I keep trying to do things in the evening, but after working eight hours or more, I'm mentally beat. After I come home and eat and spend some time with friends, I'm having a great deal of difficulty focusing enough to post a journal entry or write book reviews.

I'm not sure how much is tiredness after working and how much is having cycles of energy through the day, but either way, the solution is probably to try to move more low-energy things to the end of the day and move anything higher-energy towards the beginning. This may mean pushing even harder to do things like writing book reviews before work instead of afterwards. I think the other key will be to not fight against being tired so hard that I stay up late pulling out tiny bits of productivity at the cost of being well-rested and energized during the more productive time the next day. I'm currently experimenting with a relatively hard bedtime to prevent that.

Anyway. Still doing lots of time management pondering, as you can tell.

2009-06-26: Weekend!

River path

A path along the Nanaimo River. This feels like a nice, summer picture (and a picture that feels cooler than apparently this weekend is going to be around here).

One week done after vacation, although of course it doesn't feel like a full week since I didn't come back until Tuesday night. I didn't do a great job of keeping momentum up today, and therefore didn't do a good job of leaving work early like I was planning on doing so. I have a hard time leaving early on a Friday unless I feel like I've been very productive that day, even if I did well for the rest of the week.

But I've made a lot of progress on the new features for the WebAuth 3.6.1 release (and the Git repository is now publicly available), and I'm staying current on my other projects. I feel very good about the week.

I'm doing laundry now, and then I'll have nothing specific that I need to do this weekend other than do grocery shopping (and even that I could put off if I wanted). I want to play some video games, since I've missed that while I was on vacation, and find other good ways to relax, although since I'm coming off a short week, I might work on some non-work things so that I'll feel more caught up for the next weekend (a nice, long holiday weekend).

Oh, and write book reviews. Since I'm within two reviews of being caught up writing them, for the first time in months and months.

2009-06-29: New desktop

Saturday, I finally built the new desktop system for work, which I also use as my primary home directory and mail server and a build system for Debian packages and other software. Today, I switched over to the new system. It's pretty and much faster, and also has the advantage of being built within the last five years, so I don't have to worry as much about the hard drive dying.

The new system is an HP Firebird 802, bought straight off their web site. The drawback from a Debian perspective is that it uses nVidia motherboard video (nForce 760i SLI), but it's supported by the non-free Linux drivers (despite being missing from the README). I'd prefer ATI or Intel video with free drivers, but not enough to veto the system for it. Otherwise, it's water-cooled, very quiet, and has a four-core Intel processor, 4GB of memory, and two 250GB hard drives.

I kept notes on the build and configuration in case they prove helpful for anyone else.

This is the first time I've built a system with LVM, and I even did an online resize of the root logical volume since the installer used an extremely small 7GB default size and I couldn't figure out the easy way to increase it in the installer. I like the flexibility of allocating space as I need it into separate logical volumes.

2009-06-30: Summer haul

I've not been reading as much as I normally do this year, but last month I found more time and devoured a few books (I have three more waiting for me to find a chance to review). So as a reward, I get to buy more books. I was particularly excited about this order.

Jacqueline Carey — Naamah's Kiss (sff)
Jacqueline Carey — Santa Olivia (sff)
Jane Jacobs — Dark Age Ahead (nonfiction)
Urusla K. Le Guin — Gifts (sff)
Ursula K. Le Guin — Voices (sff)
Ursula K. Le Guin — Powers (sff)
Jack McDevitt — Deepsix (sff)
Jack McDevitt — Chindi (sff)
Jack McDevitt — Omega (sff)
Karen Traviss — City of Pearl (sff)
Karen Traviss — Matriarch (sff)

I've already read (and reviewed) City of Pearl, but I read a borrowed copy and I like the series well enough that I wanted to own it. When buying the rest of the series, I'd somehow missed Matriarch, so now I can keep reading.

The only question is what I'm going to dig into right away and what I'm going to save for long plane flights later this month.

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