Behdad Esfahbod's daily notes on GNOME, Pango, Fedora, Persian Computing, Bob Dylan, and Dan Bern!

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Monday, September 26, 2005
 Dylan on PBS tonight

Last night watched the second part of No Direction Home: Bob Dylan again. Wanted to blog about the closing scene, but will not, since it's on air tonight and tomorrow at 9PM EST on PBS.

A good portion of last night was spent on English Wikipedia. Also found these two: Uncyclopedia, the content-free encyclopedia (funnier), Encyclopediadramatica
"It's like Wikipedia on crack, heroin, and meth all at once."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005
 No Direction Home

Brooklyn Bridge
I was lucky enough to find a ticket online on Sunday 1PM for 2:30PM premier No Direction Home: Bob Dylan documentary by Martin Scorsese at the closing day of Toronto International Film Festival, at the Roy Thompson Hall, home to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. The doc was awesome, 200 minutes of inspirational Dylan documentary, lots of never-seen/heard-before shoots and recordings, with footage from the controversial 1966 tour of the British Isles as a centerpiece. Awesome. If you want to get an idea of what Bob Dylan is all about, watch the two parts on PBS on September 26th & 27th.

Woke up today at 9AM sharp with the phone ringing, it's from the lobby, we've got a UPS package, they're sending them up. Dress up, open the door. Cool, I say, it's the CD I ordered from last week. Pretty in time. The delivery guy's asking for nine bucks something of import tax. I'm already nagging: nine bucks of import tax for a single CD?! When I notice that I didn't order from amazon US, but amazon Canada. Then I notice that a CD is most probably shipped in a box far smaller than what I'm seeing. Signed a few papers and had the package in my hand. Read the invoice, takes some time to understand what it is, woohoo, the full No Direction Home set: The double-DVDs, double-CDs, and the most fanciest book, and all at 9AM on the release date!!! But I didn't order them, just added them to my wish list last week! I think for a second that maybe I added them to shopping cart instead of wish list, and then checked out! Go check wish list, they're there, remove them. Somebody already picked them up from the wish list?! Wait, the package is addressed to my suite-mate, not me. What?! He's not even in Dylan.

Ok, it's definitely mine, but somebody's playing hide'n'seek. Open it up rapidly, to find the billing address. Aha, there's a name there. Gosh, I don't even know her! I can't help myself, bring out the book and skim over. Brilliant design. Clicks, it should be the hint in my previous post. Somebody's managing this show from Iran! I know who you are! Wow, wow.

My suite-mate wakes up, I can't help but showing him the package and start laughing. Heh. "I know" :-D. He gets the package that I've put back together and hides somewhere in his room, to bring it out next week. I can't help but wait for him to leave, and pick the audio CDs up before leaving to office. So much previously-unreleased tracks, This Land is Your Land, Man of Constant Sorrow, w00t. In celebration, I'm wearing my Bobby 05 US Tour t-shirt today.

Thanks again, wow, thanks. I'm totally shocked and impressed. You know who you are!

On other news:

Enjoyed reading The Six Dumbest Ideas in Computer Security, and Richard Feynman's Personal observations on the reliability of the Shuttle.

Apparently Ikke has broken his left wrist. Po'boy. Jeff, would you please hook his blog up on planet? He said he sent you a note long time ago with no effect.

And Oh, 1GB MP3 watches are on eBay now, for as little as 210CAD!

Friday, September 16, 2005
 Welcome giulia

Thanks for everybody who voted, the poll result are in favor of:

giulia - GNU Internationalization & Unicode LIbrary & Applications

(I wish more people have had voted for g11n, the next contender), anyway, I still don't know exactly how to pronounce it, but we agreed on to use "gl_" for function prefix. No, OpenGL uses GlCamelCase.

That said, Bruno would appreciate if one of sysadmins would import his CVS tarball into GNOME CVS sooner than later, if one happens to read this. I sent an email a few (couple?) days ago. Thanks.

 Masters of War

[At the risk of being contacted by Roozbeh for copyright violation, I'm pasting here the lyrics of one of the two songs that I've been listening to like crazy recently.]
Lyrics: Bob Dylan

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You've thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain't worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I'm young
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand o'er your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead

Copyright © 1963; renewed 1991 Special Rider Music

Other than that, the problems in the Persian GNOME translation team have finally spilled into gnome-i18n, which means I have to take one day off this weekend to write down my side of the story, that in fact goes back to as early as 2002.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005
 C Programming irresources

Picked this up the other day on #gnome-hackers, passing here for the record: Infrequently Asked Questions in comp.lang.c and The Ten Commandments for C Programmers.

Job hunting goes pretty good too.

Saturday, September 10, 2005
 Free Software Freedom Day Foundation!

[Woke up in the middle of the night for no good reason, and posting here thus far looks the best way to kill time.]

So it's around the Software Freedom Day in the western hemisphere too. Apparently the Toronto team contact-person is a jerk who has not replied to my two emails. He should have received some cool tees... Anyway, I've burned a few GNOME 2.12 LiveCDs to hand out tomorrow.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Free Software Foundation too, one of the main copyright holders over the code underlying our GNU/Linux desktop. It would be quite interesting to do a SLOC analysis of a typical GNU/Linux system based on copyright holders and licenses. For what it's worth, I've become an associate member of FSF for a year now, pretty painless way to donate a few bucks every month to one foundation that fights most for your software freedom rights, join now.

 This and This

Now this blew my mind: Rhino, Mono, IKVM. Or: JavaScript the hard way (thanks Behnam for passing.)

And this one was the funniest thing I have read in a while: Microsoft tries to recruit me, by Eric Raymond. Thanks hub for passing. I believe it's just been lack of information on side of the poor recruiter. Microsoft crawls the web like Google does, but gathers resumes instead.

/me goes reenumerate his potential job opportunities...

Thursday, September 08, 2005
 Vote for your future!

As roozbeh previously announced, some of us have started a project to build the locale and Unicode support library of the future. It consists of a set of libraries, and some configuration applications and things like that.

The problem is, yeah, the name. We have been discussing the name problem over the past weeks on the list, and we have decided to run a poll. As Bruno Haible put it:
These were the proposals (without "lib" prefix):
  • cupus - Complete User-Programmable Unicode Support
  • g11n - Globalization
  • gilles - GNU Internationalization and Localization LibrariES
  • giulia - GNU Internationalization & Unicode LIbrary & Applications
  • giovanni
  • gliu - GNU Locale and Internationalization with Unicode
  • glocale - GNU locale
  • glocation
  • gludge - Gludge Locale and Unicode Data for GNU Environments
  • gnudge - GNU Desktop Globalization Environment
  • gnugl - GNU Globalization Library
  • gnuicode
  • gnuni
  • grapes
  • gucill - GNU User Customizable Internationalization & Localization Libraries
  • guni
Everyone has 1 vote. If a person gives N votes, every vote counts 1/N th.

Please reply to the list until Monday.

There are reasons for and against some of the names, but I don't repeat them here, for fairness! Ok, if you like to vote, no, leaving a comment to this blog post isn't counted. You need to subscribe to our mailing list here and send your vote there, before Monday.

 Rock on jrb!

So Jonathan Blandford has got over the whole planet :D, I really like his blog template.

Found Michael Kaplan's blog thorough Joel on Software entry.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Seems like the gucharmap-1.4.4 release that we made yesterday didn't end up in today's GNOME 2.12 release of today. No big deal.

Downloaded the GNOME live cd to burn a few to hand out during Toronto Software Freedom Day event


With the help of davyd and desrt, I managed to make a release of gucharmap; man..., I thought that module is better-maintained (hi Noah ;)). Anyway, I like the way desrt is making more noise these days. We need warm blood, and I personally appreciate it. We are planning to hit Ubuntu Below Zero together in early November. Anyway, if anybody planning for a release party around T.O., invite me too.

The rest of this post I wrote on September 1st, but was generally too exhausted to polish and post sooner:

So, finally, after ten days of intense hacking, I managed to produce a release:
A new preload release 0.2 is now available from:

which can be verified with:
d08fac3ffc0aa2ead473a915d9c422fc76815974 preload-0.2.tar.gz
(signed by Behdad Esfahbod)

An RPM package is available too. You can access all from:

preload 0.2 release

This is the first public release of preload. It runs as a daemon and
monitors processes through /proc and predicts applications that may
run and prefetches binaries and shared object. In my experience, it
reduced the startup time of writer right after a reboot
from 13 seconds to 7 seconds, and Firefox from 9 to 7. It also decreased
the time from entering login/password information in gdm to a usable
desktop is loaded from 37s to 32s. On the other hand though, the time
from power button is pressed to gdm login screen is functional, was
increased from 65s to 85s, due to excessive harddisk activity caused
by preload.

When I initially wrote the preload proposal, I believed that the idea works, then in the course of the Summer I managed to move my belief to that it works at least at login time, donno whether it does much after that. I'm glad to see after running it that as I initially thought, it works: it simply sees what applications you are interested in and may run. It prefetches all your desktop prior to login too, but that can reduced the GNOME login time only a fraction, say from 37s to 32s. Which makes sense, since GNOME binaries and shared objects are not more than a hundred megs, which is four or five seconds of work loading off the disk. GNOME's startup time problem is known to be caused by gconf, which is what Lorenzo is working on. The combination should be interesting.

The effect on application startup was mixed. For one thing, it reduced the startup time of writer by more than 40% (from 13s to 7s), while for Firefox the improvement was a mere 20%. The revealing fact is that the swriter binary has more than 400 maps associated with it, that preload prefetches them all. So, we are talking about something like hundreds of harddisk seek times, which takes some time...

I know people are giving me weird looks about the increase in boot time, but 1) I'm going to fix that, preload is being too aggressive right now, 2) my experiments show that any kind of readahead during boot only makes a tough job tougher and increases the time. This is true for the readahead packages in Fedora Core too.

Update: The 0.2 release had a problem with 64-bit archs, that's fixed in CVS now. Will make a release later this week.

Friday, September 02, 2005
 Torontonians, we need your help

Ok, this is a public petition in response to BadgerBadgerBadgerTour. In short, Torontonians, we need 20 or something signatures by the end of September to have Jeff Waugh (aka jdub), a publicity *hore of GNOME and Ubuntu fame visit us in November. So, vote in by leaving a comment to this entry. Much fun guaranteed. Until recently Jeff was the release manager of the GNOME project, and he was awarded the Google-O'Reilly Open Source Award for evanglism last month.