First rule of karma: You don't talk about karma

OK, so I made it to LCA08 in Melbourne, eventually.

However, I managed to have the following happen on the way:

  • Got the time of my flight to Melbourne wrong, arrived at 5:30pm for a flight that left at 5pm.
  • Caught the wrong tram from Melbourne CBD to uni accomodation, had to walk from Royal Melbourne Hospital back to the university. This was precipitated by me misreading the tram t
    imetable thingy.
  • Failed to wave at a traim outside the uni, meaning it sailed right on past me.
  • Locked myself out of my room, the third time I left it. (They’ve got those dumb swipe-card locks which are always locked except when you’ve just swiped from the outside, but are open from the inside.)
  • Asked on about the URL for Planet LCA 2008 while it was in the topic. (Unlike on #debian, not only was I not mocked for this, no one noticed before I did, a while later)

On the other hand, I caught up with Brad, Evelyn, Bek, Jason, Phil, Naoko, Geoff and Ange, all in the one day. That was fun, we had dinner, I stuck my sore feet in the ocean and felt better, and I manged to catch the right trams from the university _to_ the city. Well, lunch with Naoko, the rest with the others. (Actually, that’s in reverse chronological order)

The actual conference first day was interesting. I was at the Debian Mini-conf all day, seeing a neat thing about using git for managing packges sensibly, which is something I was trying to figure out when I was packaging Second Life last year, as well as some cool stuff coming into Debian over the next year or so.

After the Debian Mini-conf all went over to the keysigning (I didn’t go again this year, I wasn’t organised in time) I went to see a presentation about Ingex which is something the BBC have developed to try and take Digital Betamax out of the video production process (since Digital Betamax only works in real-time, as I understand it) with some success so far, and it’s pretty interesting.

Speaking of not being organised in time, I only thought today to look at the Tutorials, and both Wednesday’s tutorial about hooking up hardware to Second Life and Thursday’s tutorial about hacking on lguest require preperation. I was able to grab Jon Oxer at the Debian Mini-conf and get my name put on the one remaining spare development kit, and so now I’m down in the Junior Common Room of Trinity College (no wireless in the rooms yet) updating my blog instead of trying to get lguest running under qemu. I’ll have to go dig up Rusty’s and Robert Love’s instructions from LCA05 preparing for their kernel hacking tutorial that year. Wow. Archiving the old LCA websites kicks ass!

Edit: I actually was dumb on, not #debian. As an aside, I managed to lock myself out of my room again later that week.

It takes surprisingly little bad karma to get a good karma payout

Good news! Having worked for most of the traditional Christmas break, I’m now going to to 08 in Melbourne next week, and Game Developers Conference 2008 in San Francisco in late February.


For those of you who don’t already realise, my dream job since age six was to be a video games programmer. Having now achieved that, you’d figure I was now in for karmic mortgage payments for a while. And sure enough, having an umbilical hernia become quite painful on Friday night, 28th of December (I was working that day) would certainly seem to be within reach. I’d actually had the hernia for a couple of months, I reckon, but hadn’t known what it was or what to do with it. (I thought I was just getting fatter. -_-) Anyway, a mix of mentos, Coca-cola, lifting a heavy TV that week and who knows what else ended up with me spending the night in hospital on morphine. (Well, I dunno if I was on morphine all night. They gave me some) Thankfully, the surgeon registrar was able to push the bits of bowels sticking out back in (before the morphine. -_-) without problem, and no problems appeared overnight, so I’m now waiting for the letter to let me join the waiting list for surgery, and occasionally stopping to push bits of my bowel back through my belly-button.

This means I’m no longer a hospital virgin (not that I really was. I went to hospital when I was three years old or so, to get my forehead stitched up after falling off the wall above our driveway in Oyster Bay, Sydney) but it was a scare that I wouldn’t be able to go to LCA this year, having already booked and paid for it, and LCA being my main actual holiday each year.

Also, it was lucky my sister was in town, since when I told her where and how it hurt, her mind went straight to hernia, so she and my mother came over to check me out and took me to hospital, hours earlier than I would have gone myself.

Anyway, early last week I saw the surgeon consultant, and he said I’d be fine to travel, since the surgery was fairly far off in the future anyway (“several months” I believe) and as long as I don’t put sustained lateral strain on my abdomen, I’ll be fine.

He also said to lose weight, of course.

So yeah, I reckon that the hernia prolly balances out LCA, GDC, my job, and maybe even my paying off of the ATO this year. I hope the universe agrees, ’cause if I’m still in the red for those good things, I’ll have to be sure to backup my new laptop before I travel.

Conga-line parking

Oh you lucky things, today this blog becomes a photoblog!

Anyway, walking back from LCA07 to International House…

Front-to-rear An unusual sign was seen in a UNSW parking area

Front-to-kerb This is probably what they actually meant…

Scene from a UNSW parking lot They are of course referring to the same parking lot. But at least they’re not in the parking lot of a department which has a large amount of contact with cars and the like…

Identity revealed Oh.

In other news, I may not have mentioned, but I got a Kodak C310 camera for Christmas. Happily, it is supported by gPhoto’s libgphoto2 so I can pull my photos and movies (no sound) in linux

Things to do in Sydney while the wireless is dead

Well, now that I’m back on the ‘net fairly reliably, I can post on what I’ve been doing for the past few days.

Firstly, I was off the Internet because I was flat-out busy on Saturday, in transit on Sunday, and wireless did not arrive at International House until about 11pm Monday night. That time I did spend on the ‘net today, at the conference, was spent in a combination of processing CBIT emails since Friday, and wrestling with my wireless network card.

My local build of the d80211 version of the bcm43xx driver got signal, would even get traffic through, but when it tried to reassociate to a different AP (all the APs here are running on channel 11… Although I was sitting next to someone who saw one on channel 1, which I’m guessing was rouge… I also saw some IBSS networks on the same SSID….) it would corrupt something nasty, kick the screen brightness up to full and oops with slab errors in short order.

The 2.6.18 (2.6.18-3-powerpc Debian build) bcm43xx softmac driver didn’t crash or anything, but generally performed worse, and when the Debian miniconf’s theatre (Mathews A) was full, my connection suffered or would completely fail to dhcp. >_<

On the plus side, the presentations were great. AJ gave us a rundown of debian-devel (ie 12 months of flamewars) and other significant Debian going-ons. Keith Packard produced a whole bunch of neat X things slated for 7.3 (input hotplugging, dynamic output selection and modesetting, which is exactly what I need to get the projectors I keep plugging into to work better than 640×480…). Russell Coker talked about the various security gaps still remaining in Linux.

In non-conference goings on, I was talking to someone on IRC who’s gotten Second Life Viewer building under Linux/PowerPC (a previously unsupported platform) and I’m going to see if we can get a .deb built. I’ve already created an ELFIO package, and have the OpenJPEG source to try packaging tomorrow. I’ve also sent off an email to the person who ITP’d secondlife-client for Debian already, to see if he wants to co-operate, or if I’m just tooling about.

Speaking of tooling about, I decided it’d be a good idea to upgrade my bcm43xx-d80211 build to something more recent than mid December, but it seems the 2.6.20 workqueue changes mean I can’t compile it against 2.6.19 anymore. The rt2x00 d80211 stack has backwards compatibility macros for the workqueue stuff, but I don’t really feel like hacking those into bcm43xx, it’s already a large and unsteady beast.

BTW, cogito’s update could handle resuming better. Although it happily detected it was resuming a failed update, it had to keep refetching the packs. I eventually realised it would eventually time-out a fetch if I didn’t ^c it and happily try again, presuming I had in the meantime walked outside or reloaded the driver.

Anyway, so I’ve decided tonight (while I was still off the wireless) that I’d finally bite the bullet and build myself a custom dscape.git kernel, to see if the pain I keep suffering from the bcm43xx-d80211 driver is just my cheap-ass backport. That was still building when the wireless came up, and then barfed because KConfig happily let me include both the PCI and SoC versions of the OHCI USB host driver, which provide the same symbols. I must remember to file a bug report about that, or at least check linus’s git tree in case it’s already fixed. (Both drivers recommended yes, but are patently incompatible as they require different endianness of the host interface). I’ve restarted the make-kpkg, hopefully that’ll build overnight and I can try it in the morning.

I also put some time into my Remembering the Kanji book. I was going to do an hour, but after about a half-hour (with a break to configure and fire the kernel build off) I was yawning, and figured I’d prolly left the imaginative-memory zone. I was going to watch some Gokusen but thought I’d take a last wander over to the IH whiteboard to see if the wireless was up. Bizarrely, it was.

So I wandered onto the ‘net, checked email, volunteered myself to package Thousand Parsec for Debian, added the Kanji I studied to Reviewing the Kanji (a web site for reviewing the stuff you learn in Remembering the Kanji) and updated my blog.

Which funnily enough, is where we came in

ごくせん Vol.1ごくせん Vol.2ごくせん Vol.3

Pledges of allegience to free software…

In good news, the pledge drive to raise $10 000 towards a reverse-engineered NVidia DRI-3D-accelerated driver has succeeded. Dave Nielsen, the instigator of the pledge, gave a canned history of the pledge drive on his blog, and handily demonstrated that the free software community are willing to put a little bit of extra cash towards a little bit of extra freedom.

In bad news, the bid to purchase “The Saga Of Ryzom” from failed developer Nevrax has failed. They were outbid by Gameforge AG. A ray of sunshine is that the project looks like it will continue, and there has already been the suggestion that they instead consider Asheron’s Call 2 which closed in 2005 but was apparently quite good.

Co-incidentally, I was in one of the beta tests for Asheron’s Call (I don’t remember if it was 1 or 2), and today beta-testing applications opened for Tabula Rasa. I don’t remember signing up for the mailing list, but I do have a PlayNC account through having purchased Guild Wars, a model I still hold up as being an excellent way to structure a MMOG’s income, at least from a payer point of view. Of course, my job here at Micro Forté is as a programmer, not game producer, so my views aren’t exactly changing the world… but give it time. ^_^

Speaking of Micro Forté, the Gaming Miniconf at LCA2007 is having Paul Murphy from <a href=’’BigWorld Tech (MF’s MMOG technology development subsidiary, based in Sydney) as a guest speaker. I’ll prolly have to sneak out of the Debian Miniconf to see that.

Poop. Paul Murphy’s talk clashes directly with Anthony Town’s “State of The Project” address. So there you go, first session of LCA2007 (barring keynotes, which don’t conflict…) and I’ve got a scheduling conflict. >_< Maybe this year the recording will all work…

Edit: Someone floated the open-source Asheron’s Call 2 idea the day it closed…

LCA 2007 Ho!

Well, it’s nearly LCA time again. This is just a quick post mainly to see if my syndication at Planet 2007 is working yet.

I’ve been working at MF (Milestones just seem to come at you faster than the calender would otherwise suggest) and particularly in the last couple of weeks getting a good vector-math workout.

I’ve also been working at picking off RC bugs to try and help Etch along a bit, since kind of hoped to be upgrading to it in the half of January that’s just passed.

I’ve also been looking for a CMS for the ANU Anime Society to try and resolve the fact that our web admins never seem to last as long as we’d like. At the moment, Joomla! is top of my list for trialling, as I’m familiar with PHP and looks to have the relevant modules (forum, calendar, eventing system that’ll need modification to work for screening scheduling). However, I’m open to other suggestions, and will see if anyone at LCA has any useful suggestions.

And of course, by adding Planet LCA 2007, I’ve had to read it. And I came across ThreatNet, which is a distributed compromised computer identification system. It’s actually really simple, you do something to identify a certain IP as a threat (the sample code scans postfix logs for “REJECT: noqueue” which usually comes from “no such user” although I noticed it also comes from greylister at CBIT) and sends that IP address to a nominated IRC channel. I dunno what’s next, actually. Presumably, sites can block that IP address as they see fit, and if the responsible parties for the machine become aware of it, they can take action. I’ll be adding this to my ever-growing list of things I need to consider implementation of at CBIT.

On the plus side, I recently installed Debian on a Slug with a 512MB USB flash stick, and I’m going to see how Nagios performs on it. If it’s up to scratch, I’ll prolly shoehorn in a wireless card and see if I can monitor two disparate networks effectively.

CeBIT: Prologue

Yup, that’s right. I’m in beautiful Sydney for CeBIT. The joys of trains mean that not only am I out of the office for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, but also Monday and most of Friday.

At this rate, all my holiday leave will be spent on trade shows and suchlike. The first three months at CBIT, I spent a week at LCA2006. This quarter, a week out for CeBIT. (Well, actually, that’s the Feb-Mar-April quater’s week). So now I’m looking for a tradeshow or other event that’s both local, cheap and in the next three months… Then again, Clare’s MedRevue is coming up, so I’ll need to save a day or two for that.

Anyway, CeBIT. Having just spent an evening on dial-up Internet planning my schedule, here’s how it looks:


10:15 – 10:55
Hall 6: Telstra
11:05 – 11:50
Hall 6: Disney
12:00 – 12:50
Hall 6: Music
13:00 – 13:45
Hall 6: LG – Mobility/Convergence
2 pm
Stand P1, Hall 4: Digital Broadcasting
3 pm
Stand D50 – Hall 2: The realities of Fibre to the Home
4 pm
Stand D50 – Hall 2: Digital Media and Convergence
5 pm
Stand D50 – Hall 2: Utilities and Broadband Power Line


Stand J1, Front of Hall 3: Future parc launch
Stand P1, Hall 4: IT Services
12 pm
Stand D50 – Hall 2: Next Generation Networks, IP and VoIP
Stand P1, Hall 4: Open Source 1
Stand P1, Hall 4: Venture Capital
3 pm
Stand D50 – Hall 2: Fixed wireless broadband developments
4 pm
Stand D50 – Hall 2: $3 billion for Regional Telecoms
5 pm
Stand D50 – Hall 2: Mobile voice still the killer application


10:30 – 10:45
Stand J1, Front of Hall 3: Ontologies and topic maps for smart information use
Hall 3: CompTIA
13:00 – 13:15
Stand J1, Front of Hall 3: Disaster prediction, response and recovery
13:30 – 13:45
Stand J1, Front of Hall 3: Health data integration
Hall 3: CompTIA
Stand P1, Hall 4: Open Source 2
12 pm
Stand D50 – Hall 2: The battle between 3G HSDPA and WiMAX
4.00pm to 5.00pm
Stand J50, Rear of Hall 3: The BlackBerry Advantage for Small & Medium Businesses

In summary: All of the keynotes, all of the open-source stuff I can manage, and what time’s left for Internet and Blackberry stuff. I think I’ll have a short period to wander around the stands too, visit the Linux Australia guys.

I’m also meeting a vendor down here, with luck, so I’m feeling all well-travelled-businessmany today. ^_^

The disadvantage of being in Sydney is I’m on dialup, and also a few hundred kilometres away, so logging in to the office Terminal Server for email is a painfully slow experience.

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll find an Internet cafe in the city where I can plug my laptop in and get some work done. ^_^