Posts for January 2010

2010-01-01: 2009 reading in review

Despite the best of intentions, 2009 was an even worse year for reading than 2008. For the year, I finished 56 books, 12 fewer even than last year and again the lowest total since I've started writing reviews. This was also the first time since I started writing reviews that I went a month without posting any new ones.

Given the sort of year last year was, though, I think this is both an anomaly and to be expected. It was a stressful and packed year, with a few major events like an illness in the family that ate up a lot of time, attention, and emotional energy. Hopefully, those factors will not repeat. On the good side, I also devoted quite a bit more time to playing video games in 2009, which necessarily took away some time from reading. That is likely to continue.

Even though the quantity was down, the quality of books I read this year were a delight. I rated three books 10 out of 10 this year, two non-fiction and one fiction. The novel was Ursula K. Le Guin's Voices, the second book (after Gifts) of the Annals of the Western Shore. The entire series is very good, but that book was exceptional: a deep and moving look at occupation, anger, friendship, tradition, and cultural identity. I highly recommend it and the entire series.

Two non-fiction books got 10 out of 10 this year. The first was Ben Goldacre's Bad Science, an eye-opening look at how the scientific process is abused, ignored, and misreported in medicine, including detailed looks at medical misinformation ranging from the comical to the deadly. I recommend it to anyone exposed to the regular stream of medical alarmism and alternative medical theories that come from the popular news media. The second was Rory Stewart's exceptional The Places in Between, the story of his walk across Afghanistan shortly after the fall of the Taliban. I picked up this book after seeing Rory Stewart on Bill Moyer's Journal and it didn't disappoint. It is an insightful and often beautiful look at the people and interior of Afghanistan in a way that rarely appears in the news media.

Other non-fiction highlights of the year ranged from the last volume of Orwell's edited non-fiction to Marcus du Sautoy's excellent book on the Riemann Hypothesis, The Music of the Primes. Along the way, I read Jane Jacobs's The Death and Life of Great American Cities, which fully deserves its classic status, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's Flow, which is a fascinating and very informative look at the psychology of a concentrated and productive state of mind. I also re-read George Gamow's One Two Three... Infinity, a favorite from my childhood, which is still one of the best bits of popular science writing that I've ever read.

The other fiction series find of the year was Karen Traviss's Wess'Har series, the entirety of which I read this year. While I thought the middle of the series sagged, both the beginning and end are excellent. Other fiction worth special note is the first book of Jacqueline Carey's new D'Angeline novel, Naamah's Kiss, which starts a new series that I'm now eagerly looking forward to; Robin McKinley's Sunshine, the best urban fantasy with vampires novel that I've ever read; and the non-SF novel A Coffin for Dimitrios by Eric Ambler.

There is also a version of this post with additional statistics that are probably only of interest to me.

2010-01-01: Begin as you mean to continue

Reflected clouds

Another picture of the beach near the Chinook Winds at Lincoln City, this one taken from the balcony of my hotel room a bit more than a year ago. As you can tell, I've been sorting through more old pictures and annotating them.

Today was an excellent day. Most notably, it was a well-balanced day, with a bit of reading, a bit of enjoying football, and a bit of being productive. I worked on Lintian some, for the release tomorrow, and I updated my web site in a few places, but I also went and read for a while and sorted through a bunch of pictures. A good omen for the new year, I think.

My charities page has gotten a substantial update and is now a more complete list of the charities I support. I tried to add a bit of explanation for why I support each one.

I'm completely caught up on book reviews for the first time since the middle of November, so it will be a few days before I post another one. I'm most of the way through Iain M. Banks's Against a Dark Background, after which I have some Le Guin queued up. Two more days of vacation, and then it's back to work. I'm feeling ready for it, though, and I'm doing much better with working from a to-do list and focusing, which will make work more rewarding and productive than it was at the tail end of last year.

I hope everyone else's new year started off as well.

2010-01-02: control-archive 1.2.1

I haven't really accumulated enough to warrant that much of a release, but there were a few problems with the previous release and some outdated documentation, so what the heck. This release fixes some information for szaf.* and updates the key for eternal-september.*. It also changes the config README to stop mentioning a component length requirement that we're no longer enforcing.

You can get the latest version from the control-archive distribution page.

2010-01-02: Lintian 2.3.1

This is primarily a bug-fix release, cleaning up some issues introduced in 2.3.0. Specifically, it fixes collection of the contents of *.a files, fixes the severity of spelling errors in man pages, properly parses Depends starting with a newline for weak-library-dev-dependency, and fixes the spurious display of archive areas in some cases in the HTML reports.

This release also includes Raphael Geissert's work to eliminate unpack level two (which means having a full unpacked copy of the package) in favor of a collection script that does this and a new type of collection that's automatically removed after processing. This is the first step towards eliminating the internal Lintian distinction between unpack and collection scripts and implementing both using the same mechanisms.

As usual, there are a variety of other fixes and improvements, but there shouldn't be any major user-visible changes in this release.

Note that, following advice from Joey Hess, Lintian now warns about missing ${misc:Depends} dependencies for any package that uses debhelper, since any debhelper script may start adding dependencies there. This was already mostly in place in 2.3.0, but is the source of a large number of new warnings in the archive.

2010-01-02: filter-syslog 1.23

This release adds a third type of configuration line that specifies a regex to match against the entire syslog line, which can be used to filter out non-standard or malformatted lines (such as ones where the program contains whitespace).

You can get the latest version from the filter-syslog distribution page.

2010-01-02: Fiddly bits

Pull!

A rope buried in the sand near Road's End at Lincoln City, Oregon. One of those ordinary items that catch my eye when I'm walking around with a camera.

One of the tricky parts of being productive that I'm still working on fitting into my time and task management is that a lot of the things I do prompt response. I ask people for help with something and get replies, I submit patches and get feedback, and I release software and get questions or patch submissions. When I get that mail in, it tends to act as an interrupt, and then I spend the time that I would spend working on my to-do list processing that mail instead. Sometimes that's the right prioritization, but sometimes it's not.

Also, when I'm in catch-up mode, trying to feel like I'm getting more on top of things, that incoming mail feel like setbacks. This is another version of the basic time management problem for me: I want to be "caught up," which is not a meaningful concept. What I want to aim for is productive, making effective use of my time. It's hard to pull my mind around to that, though.

This hit a bit today, but what ended up working was to just ignore the mail for a while and start another project off my to-do list that would take a while. Once I finished that, I felt more positive about getting things done. Even better, in the long run, would be to move the mail into pending folders and add it to the to-do list, but one step at a time.

One day of vacation left. I could use another week, but I'll also enjoy getting back home. I'm not horribly enthused about switching from the things I'm working on now back to work projects, but I'll cope.

2010-01-03: Antisocial

Reflecting chain

A close-up of the chain of a dog collar that was draped over a piece of driftwood on the beach at Lincoln City, Oregon.

Today is the last day of vacation. Tomorrow I head back home and do a bit of work in the evening, and then it's back to a regular schedule and back to working on work projects instead of whatever I feel like. I'm not entirely ready for the work project part, but I am looking forward to being back in my own place. I've had a very good past two weeks, but I'm also feeling the antisocial reaction from being around people for a couple of weeks.

Work will, unfortunately for my introversion, involve more meetings and interaction with people during the day, but it will be nice to have the evenings to myself. Plus, I get to work from home on Wednesday.

I'm generally annoyed at the distribution of holidays, since they tend to cluster in November through February, but I must admit that I'm glad Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is coming up soon. I suspect I'll spend much of that weekend playing video games, since I didn't do any of that over vacation.

2010-01-04: Back home

Sand waves

Wave patterns in the sand. I know this is made by the wind, and there's some standard explanation for the physics of it that probably explains ripples on water as well, but I've never gone and looked it up. One of those things I should do one of these days.

I'm back home, after a really great train ride. It was calming and relaxing, I finished a book (The Lathe of Heaven, which surprised me as Le Guin tends to do), and I feel much more ready to tackle the world than I was afraid I would.

Today was a travel day, so I gave myself permission to not get anything else done besides travel, even if I was hoping I would. And indeed, that was all I got done. Oh well. The main point of today is to transition back to my regular schedule and my regular patterns.

Tomorrow is the test of my new system and my new focus on using to-do lists more effectively.

2010-01-05: reminder 1.11

Version 6.x of Date::Manip now chokes on date modifications with two consecutive pluses (<date> + +2 weeks, for example), which caused reminder to choke on repeating reminders where the repeat time started with a plus. Since this was previously supported syntax, continue to support it by stripping off a leading plus in the reminder data before adding a plus to do the date calculation.

You can get the latest version from the reminder distribution page. New Debian packages will be uploaded to my personal repository.

2010-01-05: Back to work

Sand under water

I'm keeping a Zen-like mood from the calm of vacation, so you get more sand texture, this time under water.

This was about as good of a first day back to work as I could have hoped for. The only place where it fell short is that I didn't make forward progress on my current big project, but just about everything else worked. The schedule worked, I felt unhurried and capable, I crossed things off my to-do list, I made commits on multiple projects, and I worked out a tricky bit of work I've been wanting to do for a while. I'm feeling very positive about it.

Tomorrow, I need to do grocery shopping, and then I get to work from home. This will be another significant test, since I've had a great deal getting started when working from home before vacation. I'm going to do shopping first-thing to see if that settles me down, and then see if I can dive directly into work before getting caught up in answering e-mail.

I'm still working on my evening schedule. I'm supposed to be in bed reading by now, and I'm running late. I did that yesterday as well by about a half-hour. This may just be acceptable variation, or it may be something I want to push harder on. Still deciding.

In general, one of the challenges is how much I want to have a fairly strict schedule and how much I want to let things move around. Ten years ago, this would have been an easy question: moving things around was how I was the most productive. But as I get older, I'm finding more and more signs that I'm benefiting from a fairly strict schedule. Among other things, it seems to be useful in kicking me out of sitting around staring at the screen being unproductive. But I still haven't figured out the balance.

(You're likely to get lots of noodling about schedules and time management for the next few weeks. This is what I'm always like immediately after clearing my head from vacation.)

2010-01-06: Fail better

Step shadows

A climbing vine hiding in the shadows of steps. I played a bit with the contrast on this. Must remember how much that helps with making things jump out.

Today was the first work from home day after vacation, with one of the major goals being to get started sooner and work more smoothly than I had been before vacation. I can't say that it was a complete success, but I think I failed better. I like that way of looking at things: for a lot of things in life, the goal isn't really to do it perfectly, but to keep trying and keep failing better.

The plus side is that I got up and did the grocery shopping first thing, as planned, and that went very well. I also got the laundry done between doing other things and thinking through work problems. And I got a long period of mostly uninterrupted solid work done, understanding and reworking some patches.

The minus for today is that I'm increasingly feeling like I prioritized badly and what I did today was not really the highest priority. It's something that I need to get done, so this is not a completely grounded feeling, and there are pluses to doing what I'm doing. But it's been niggling at me. I also didn't start on real project work until late again (afternoon, although not as late as was typical before vacation), and I didn't work from my to-do list, so some fast tasks didn't get done today. All of that plus some goofing off during the day created pressure to run late and not stop when the day was over, which meant that I didn't get this post and photo done early, which in turn means that I didn't get a review written this evening. However, I'm letting tasks move to later days instead of pushing my schedule, which is exactly what I want to be doing.

I think ideally I'd like to post the photo and the noodling about life in the morning instead of the evening, since in the evening I want to be writing book reviews. I may try experimenting with that tomorrow.

So far, a firm schedule is looking like a fairly good idea. We'll see what happens when we get to the weekend, when there will be more pressure to stay up late and do things with friends. I haven't quite worked out how to fit that into my schedule yet.

2010-01-07: Morning routine

Hanging on

A rock with what looks like the imprints of fingers feels like a good image for determination. Not one of the best pictures I've ever taken, but I thought it was an unusual-looking rock and worth posting.

This is the first morning I'm trying gathering my thoughts and posting a picture in the morning instead of in the evening, so I have few additional thoughts since last night. My schedule is holding, I seem to be getting enough sleep, I'm quite happy about having extensive reading time every evening, and I'm in general feeling quite positive about life. The goal for today is to get caught up on the little tasks that I didn't do yesterday, but only after making some concrete forward progress on my main project. Then, if I have time, I'll work on finishing off the things I did yesterday and the day before.

2010-01-08: First week

Foggy point

Well, I didn't post this first thing today because I had a meeting at 10am and, while I got up early enough to take the time to do it, I took that time to write a necessary document for my current major project instead. That was something that had been on my to-do list for a while, so getting it done since I felt inspired to write it was more important.

Other than that, today was mostly meetings, and I think I abruptly ran out of steam this evening. Everything from about 6pm on has felt rather hard. So I didn't get laundry done this evening, I still have a bunch of little work stuff I need to clean up, I'm a bit dissatisfied with some things I did this evening, and I didn't get my weekly review done and will have to do it tomorrow. A bit of a foggy evening, hence the picture.

However.

This was a kick-ass first week after vacation. I set new patterns that I think are good ones and I stuck with them, I got a lot of exercise, I got unblocked on my major work project and made good forward progress, and I managed to deal with some emotional disruptions and unexpected setbacks without having them stop me. And I read every evening, and I finished another book this week. So that was a great start to the year.

I'm carrying over a few more things to tomorrow and my weekend than I wanted to (laundry, weekly review), but I stuck with my schedule. I'm going to go read and sleep after posting this, which means I'll be able to get up nice and early, as opposed to around noon like I was before vacation, and have a full Saturday to get caught up and to relax, watch the playoffs or play video games, listen to new music, and enjoy myself.

All in all, a great start to the year. Begin as one means to continue.

2010-01-09: Day off

Fall sun

This was the picture where I learned how much fun taking digital pictures into the sun is. Of course, I had to do some rotation and cropping since I was shooting it blind, but I'm very happy with how it came out. The birds next to the sun make it.

Today ended up being a day off. I did do some laundry and got through all the accumulated paper mail from before and during vacation, but otherwise I played video games and watched TV. I didn't even do any of the online things that I was planning on doing.

I'm a little annoyed by that, but I shouldn't be. Have to give myself space to take days off. Although I do wish I would have posted this entry earlier in the day and written a review.

My schedule is fighting back a bit. I woke up too early this morning, and I'm running late this evening (I should have gone to walk already, but will have to do so after posting this). But still holding so far.

Tomorrow will hopefully be a more interesting day. (But playing some video games for the first time since before vacation was good.)

2010-01-10: reminder 1.14

The fixes for compatibility with Date::Manip 6.x in reminder 1.11 turned out to not be complete. I fixed only one place that used repeat intervals, but the removal of a leading + had to be done in all other sites as well. There was also a problem with marking reminders done in Date::Manip 6.x due to a different interpretation of "today" as a date.

While testing, I also found a few other bugs: reminders wouldn't be considered active and wouldn't have their active interval advanced if they were due at exactly the time reminder was run, and edited reminders that failed validation and were re-edited wouldn't be properly revalidated. Those bugs are also now fixed.

You can get the latest version from the reminder distribution page. New Debian packages have been uploaded to my personal Debian repository.

2010-01-10: Football

Seagull

This seagull hunkered down in a pool and eyeing the camera pretty much matches how I feel today. I spent the day watching the playoffs and eating.

I go back and forth on watching football. It's probably the organized sport that I follow the closest, in terms of being occasionally willing to watch the whole season and not just the playoffs. At times when I was younger, I followed it obsessively. Then I didn't follow it at all for years. Now, it's an occasional thing; I turn it on if it's on and I feel like watching TV. So far, the playoffs have been a disappointment both in terms of who's winning and in terms of the quality of the games, although the Phoenix and Green Bay late game was rather exciting.

I suspect, ideally, I should watch less TV over all and cutting back on it would help my concentration, so I'm pushing back a little on automatically turning the TV on during weekend days.

The weekend is sadly almost over, but I get another long weekend next weekend. I feel somewhat more tired than I normally do, but I'm not sure yet if that's a normal downswing or if it's an effect of better scheduling and focus leading to doing more and hence burning more energy. I'll probably have a better idea after another week.

2010-01-11: Meeting Monday

Balcony in snow

In honor of the winter weather throughout much of the US, have a picture of snow. This was taken during a freak spring snow in Nanaimo a few years ago.

New week, new focus, new plans. I'm starting off the week somewhat deluged with meetings, including a meeting with the executive director of my part of the organization to express some concerns about a proposed plan. That's unsurprisingly eating a lot of brainspace. Tomorrow, I have a pile of upgrades, patching, and conversions to work on. Then the rest of the week should be more open and provide some time for project work. I'm hoping, though, that I can also work between meetings; that's something that I was bad at towards the end of last year and that I'd like to get better at.

Primary goals for today: finish the planning, organization, and completion of quick tasks I left from Friday, and then start making progress on testing packages for the next phase of the current big project. I'm taking it as a very good omen that I woke up by myself before my alarm and feeling quite rested.

I'm always surprised by this each time I get back from vacation, but once again I'm struck by how little energy I have in a week to do anything productive other than work. It's extremely difficult to find the energy to work on Lintian, for instance, or new releases of software that aren't work related, or Debian Policy. There's a long weekend coming up, which should help, but it's just a mite frustrating and long weekends are sparse. It would be lovely if I were able to do some of that work in the evenings, but even though I have the time, mustering the energy is very difficult. I always say that I wish I had more time to do all the things I want to do, but actually I couldn't use the time if I had it unless I also got more energy in each day. Eight hours of heads-down, concentrated work takes a lot out of one.

Some people have a regular job, work on Debian, and have children. I have no idea how they manage it.

2010-01-12: Long, long day

Falling light

Today started at a little before 8am and lasted until 9pm. It was really productive, even though a lot of it was meetings, and contained some significant milestones, but I'm still rather tired. I have a review queued up (finally), but I don't have the energy to post it this evening or to write another. These things can wait.

Our Puppet configuration repository has now been converted from Subversion to Git (which takes a while when we've had over 21,000 commits). The OpenAFS project is approaching an important milestone for charitable status (not directly, but through an umbrella organization). I got a few quarterly patchings done and a KDC upgrade finished, cleared my last to-do item for a project I can drop, and got a few other minor things done as well. Very happy about that.

Now, I'm going to go read for a while and then sleep the sleep of the productive. I've already worked an extra six hours this week and will be doing an upgrade Friday night, so I think I'm going to finish one or two moderate things tomorrow morning and then take the rest of the day off.

2010-01-13: Day of relaxation

Dandelion

I declare today in advance to be a day of relaxation. Both Monday and Tuesday were meeting-heavy and interaction-heavy, I get to spend today at home, I have a surfeit of productive hours for the week, and I don't need to work as hard.

I think the plan is to prepare some testing builds this morning and confirm that my password strength checking stuff is working as expected, at least on Heimdal and possibly on MIT as well if I feel inspired. Then, I'll either do a bit of work on kstart or go play video games for a while, depending on what I feel like.

It's been a good year so far. I'm feeling myself settle into a schedule, and I'm also feeling considerably more on top of things than I normally do.

2010-01-14: Almost weekend

Walkway sand

Sand on an asphalt walkway from the Chinook Winds down to the beach.

A lot has been happening this week, even with taking Wednesday largely off. I had another two hours of meetings today (on two completely different topics than any of the other meetings I had previously this week), plus drove a friend to a routine eye appointment this morning. The week has felt very packed, and I'm looking forward to the weekend a lot.

But it's also been very productive. I had one minor bug-fix patch to Heimdal accepted today, sent two more, and finished testing both the external password check and password quality check module components for Heimdal in the next version of krb5-strength. Now I just need to test the new version of the MIT Kerberos patch and submit that, and I can release 1.0 and be done with half of the KDC modifications that I'm working on. This evening, I wrote most of the documentation that I needed.

Tomorrow, I'm going to take some time and do a real weekly review and figure out where I stand and what the priorities are for the next week. I will hopefully have time to apply a pile of patches for some other software and do a few releases, either this weekend or next week.

Now, off to read a bit before sleeping.

2010-01-15: WEEKEND!

Plant spigot

I like the symbolism of this picture: a plant growing out of a hole in a concrete wall. I think this fits a lot of things about the way that I like to think about my job. For instance, the free software that I write comes out of solving problems on my job a little like that. And I find all sorts of fun things to do even in things I don't enjoy that much, which become like that plant.

I'm doing the last bit of work that I have to do for the week right now, and then I'm done and have a nice, long weekend.

I had a completely kick-ass week. Despite having ten hours of meetings, I got nine hours of project time in, which is remarkable. Overhead came in at about fifteen hours on the week, which given that we're going through reorg discussions is excellent.

The reorg is actually going to make my job considerably more fun, although I'm feeling guilty because I feel like it has the net effect of taking a bunch of boring work away from me and giving it to other people. Hopefully they won't find it boring! But any reorg, no matter how good, consumes just amazing amounts of time. It seriously hurts productivity usually for at least a month if not more. I don't think managers usually realize that a reorg costs something like $300,000 or more in lost productivity and work that didn't happen if you value time spent dealing with the reorg according to the salaries of the people involved. It may be more than that. Do they really think that the changes will recoup that much money in the long run? For nearly all reorganizations, I'm dubious.

But I can still focus my own reaction on what's productive, and I did that last week.

I haven't done much except work, though, partly because I've been putting in that extra effort. I even largely took Wednesday off and still hit 41 hours for the week (and I played video games on Wednesday, rather than doing something requiring brain). I'm not letting myself focus on using this weekend to do work-like things, but I may do some catching up if it feels fun.

I didn't do my regular weekly review today, so I'll do that tomorrow, and take stock against my goals for the year.

2010-01-16: Two week recap

Pile of chain

A pile of chain in the grass. For some reason, this seems nicely symbolic of what it feels like to have a good underlying structure of organization but have new things that came in that I should deal with and haven't organized yet.

It's been about two weeks now since I got back from vacation, which means two weeks trying a new schedule, a new set of habits, and attempting a new attitude. I still haven't done my weekly review, but it's feeling like time to take stock, and I'll probably do a bit more of that tomorrow.

Overall, I think I'm fairly happy with the changes. Keeping a consistent schedule seems to be a good move for me (and deserves a bit more focused attention, since it's drifting just a little bit right now). I'm also being more productive at work and making serious progress on the project that had me feeling overwhelmed before vacation, despite a reorg going on at the same time.

It takes longer to do things than I think it should. It takes longer to keep generally caught up on my life than I expect. Today, for instance, feels like a day in which I did almost nothing, but I played video games for several hours, put away clothes, did the dishes, and sorted through several days of pictures, not to mention went through all the paper mail for the week. That's not nothing at all. It's just not to-do list sorts of things, which is different. I'm not going to do things faster than I am now (although I'm continuing to work on focus and not multitasking so much), so I need to change my expectations.

I also have to keep reminding myself that taking a day entirely off and doing something like reading or playing video games is a lot more effective and leads to more productivity than feeling tired but poking at things absently, accomplishing neither relaxation nor productivity.

2010-01-17: Picture sorting continues

Rock and grass

One thing that I'm happily making progress with since the start of the year is sorting through pictures. The primary reason why I've been able to post a photograph every day is that I sorted through enough to have an index of pictures that I know I want to post. I have about five days left from my 2008 beach pictures, which is one of three large blocks of pictures where I've not yet written notes about where I was when I took them and what I was thinking.

I caught up on sleep last night, which was good. Now I'm watching the NFL playoffs. I'm not pushing myself to do very much since the TV is also on, which is always distracting, but I'm tentatively planning on catching up on some non-work on-line stuff later today.

A few other things that have gone well so far this year:

One of the big things that I want to create time for this year is to start learning programming again. For the last several years, I've been resting on existing skills, existing languages and techniques, and implementing things well within my current knowledge. I don't want to rest on that. I think the first step is to learn AJAX and JavaScript, which is going to be increasingly important at work. I'd also like to resurrect some of my efforts to learn different languages and read a few of the many language books that I've bought over the years and then never cracked open.

There's basically no chance that I'll be able to start on this before March, so this is future pondering at the moment, but I'll be disappointed if I come out of this year with the same programming skill set as I currently have.

2010-01-17: control-archive 1.3.0

Thomas Hochstein did a comprehensive review of German regional hierarchies and sent me a bunch of updates, and this release includes those updates. In some cases, there was no active control message sender but the hierarchy was still in use, so the control.ctl generation software now supports that and adds a standard comment.

While I was at it, I added support for comments in the general configuration syntax and added a new reserved hierarchy type, so many of the special entries can now be handled with regular configuration. The key fingerprint pseudo-header now looks like all the others, with a colon instead of an equal sign.

There are a few other, more minor hierarchy and documentation updates.

You can get the latest release from the control-archive distribution page.

2010-01-17: faq2html 1.29

It's been quite a while since I've released a new version of any of my web tools (over a year, it looks like). I noticed a problem with converting the control-archive change summary to HTML. The entry for the 1.2.1 release was wrapped in a <pre> tag. This release of faq2html has a one-line fix for that problem, making the conversion less aggressive about using <pre> for single-line paragraphs that look like regular text and end in a colon.

You can get the latest version from my web tools distribution page.

2010-01-18: rra-c-util 2.2

I've been noticing that one design mistake I made in my library of shared C code is to use a single header file, util/util.h, to prototype all of the functions. I should have figured this out a while back, since I made the same mistake in INN originally. The specific problem with rra-c-util is that it made it hard to update to a new release, since I'd have to merge changes to util/util.h with changes local to that particular package.

This release therefore eliminates util/util.h in favor of separate header files for each function group. As I update packages to this release, I'll do the same thing for the functions that are local to that package.

Also in this release, I've tagged all functions with the relevant GCC function attributes, adding alloc_size, malloc, and nonnull where appropriate. This should help optimization and, in some cases, compiler diagnostics. kafs/kafs.h now defines HAVE_KAFS so that users have a simple way of knowing whether any AFS support is compiled in, and there are a few other, more minor improvements.

You can get the latest version from the rra-c-util distribution page.

2010-01-18: Life is good

Cracks in the sky

Immediately following a storm is one of my favorite times to take pictures, right up there with late afternoon light.

Today was a university holiday (Martin Luther King, Jr. day, one of those that most governments in the US get, but only some private employers), so I got to have an extra-long weekend. As always, I didn't get done everything that I was tentatively planning on, but I'm still extremely happy with the whole weekend. I did a fairly good job of focusing and gave quality attention to everything that I did throughout the weekend, which is the goal I'm truly striving for. I even made up a missed exercise session this morning, so I can still say that I exercised every day since I got back from vacation.

No playoffs today, so the TV was off for most of the day. When I'm watching it, I can see a remarkable difference in my ability to concentrate based on whether the TV is on. I'm not sure what this is going to mean for getting around to watching the various TV things I do want to watch, but I suspect I should do another significant purge of what I'm mentally committing to watching and focus on using music instead. Attention studies at Stanford have shown that attempting to multitask with any other input except music causes serious cognitive impairment, but music doesn't appear to have the same negative effect. I was one of those people who always thought he was good at multitasking, but most such people are nowhere near as good as they think they are.

When I first came to Stanford, I gave up TV entirely and didn't watch it except very occasionally at a friend's house for about seven years. It's occasionally tempting to do that again, not as completely but reserving it for video games, movies and TV collections that I know I want to watch, and the occasional rare program. I would miss good news programming, but Bill Moyer's Journal is going off the air anyway, and while The Daily Show is funny, I'm not sure I'd miss it that much. It would mean cutting way back or stopping watching the food shows I started watching, but it might be worth it. Worth additional pondering.

I still don't have all of the things I want to do in life all lined up and balanced — Debian and book reviews are the ones getting a bit short-changed at the moment — but I'm doing so vastly better than I was before vacation.

2010-01-19: kstart 3.16

This release fixes several k5start bugs around specifying the ticket cache and setting its ownership and mode. It fixes segfaults and behaves correctly if -k is not specified but -o, -g, or -m are specified, and it allows the argument to -k to be prefixed with FILE: (but still requires a file-based ticket cache).

Also with this release both k5start and krenew gained an -L option, saying to log any messages via syslog as well as to standard output and standard error. This should help with debugging when the -b flag is used to background the process.

In other, more minor changes, kstart now builds against Heimdal without using deprecated functions and the test suite properly supports a Heimdal userspace. The distribution includes some missing files, including one that fixes a build problem on Solaris 9. And support for PAGs is now advertised in -h if it was compiled in.

You can get the latest version from the kstart distribution page.

2010-01-20: On a roll

Scarred tabletop

This has been a good week. It's been a somewhat tiring week, and I ran myself into some internal pressure because I chose to work on kstart at the start of the week and then on AFS packaging, neither of which are current top priorities, but I made up for it today by getting all of the other things that I had to get done this week done except for one.

Pressure is going to be high for KDC work for the next couple of weeks. I'm not sure that everything is going to get done before I go on partial vacation, and my current target timeline is very aggressive. But I'm making good progress. The next big hurdle is doing comprehensive testing and some local packaging, and then testing replication. Once that's in place, everything else should settle down.

New releases of wallet and kadmin-remctl should be coming before too much longer.

Yesterday was the first day this year during which I didn't post a picture. I could have pushed through that evening and done so, and I made a conscious decision not to. I get too hung up on every single day patterns, particularly when they're unbroken, and breaking them from time to time helps me get over that. I'm doing fairly well right now at not pressuring myself. There are only two things that I'm going to push a bit on: structuring my evenings better, and catching up on book reviews.

Two things I've been enjoying recently and highly recommend:

2010-01-21: Plan B

Backhoe tracks

Well, today didn't go according to plan at all. I was going to take the afternoon off and totally didn't. This was for moderately good reasons (it was raining, I got a ride to play card games this evening, and I got some other on-line non-work stuff done), but I'm still mildly annoyed that I haven't figured out how to handle this work/life balance thing.

But I have now fixed the GNU Backgammon builds for Debian, hopefully, and I caught up on some long Usenet messages I wanted to reply to and fixed kstart packages. And I played cards tonight, so it's all good. I need to go exercise before sleep, and I'm running a late schedule again, both of which are kind of annoying, but hopefully I can make up for that somewhat tomorrow and then over the weekend.

The good side is that this week has been intensely productive and I'm much more caught up on lots of things that had been bugging me.

2010-01-22: Welcome weekend

Hanging on

For a short week, it's felt like a very long one. I worked forty hours on top of the holiday, so 48 hours for the week, which is a lot. That also involved going into work on Wednesday instead of working from home, failing to go home early both Thursday and Friday, and pushing myself through several things I didn't want to do. But I thnk it paid off; I got a lot done, and I have now cleared the way for several rather fun things to work on for next week amidst somewhat annoying testing setup.

Tonight, I hit one of those overwhelmed but feeling like I need to keep doing things moods, particularly since I still haven't written another book review and it's getting to me. But I'm taking that as not a sign to push through and do more, given the past week, but to just step away and relax. The world isn't going to end if book reviews are slow in coming. Tomorrow is going to be devoted to playing video games unless I wake up wanting very strongly to do something else entirely, since I need the unwinding time. Then, if I choose, I can decide to be productive during the games on Sunday.

And tonight, I read until I fall asleep and then sleep for as long as I want. I'm rather torn about what to read, since reading more about programming may not fit my mood, but I'm not sure I have fiction around that quite fits my mood either. Still pondering.

2010-01-23: Video game day

Turquoise rope

This picture isn't entirely in focus, but I love the color and texture of the rope.

The video game playing didn't go entirely according to plan, since I slept in and then Xbox Live didn't want to let me start the game that I was planning on playing. But I still got about three hours of video game playing in and watched a bunch of trailers that I'd queued up to watch. I may get a bit more in tomorrow morning before the football games. And the grocery shopping is done.

Still rather tired, but I think this was a good recovery day. Tomorrow is going to be another one.

2010-01-24: Term::ANSIColor 3.00

This release is due to the hard work of Jakob Ilves, who pointed out that the existing color escape sequences produced poor results on emulators with sixteen color support and explained why. Unfortunately, while emulators with eight-color support treat the basic colors as full intensity, emulators with sixteen-color support tend to treat the regular eight colors as low intensity and the additional colors as regular intensity. This release therefore adds bright_* versions of all the regular colors, which will look better on sixteen-color emulators.

There unfortunately isn't any good way to figure out whether the emulator supports sixteen colors, and on eight-color emulators the new codes will just be ignored. Unfortunately, for reliable colors one needs to use the base colors, which will look dim. The module can't offer much help in working around that, but at least all the colors are now available for use for programs that can assume sixteen-color emulators.

You can get the latest version from the Term::ANSIColor distribution page.

Last modified and spun 2017-10-16