Older blog entries for cinamod (starting at number 91)

10 Dec 2005 (updated 10 Dec 2005 at 21:09 UTC) »
svg hacking

Today I deprecated the old 'rsvg' command-line tool in favor of the new hotness, rsvg-convert. rsvg is now just a small python wrapper around rsvg-convert. rsvg-convert has a bunch of useful improvements over its predecessor:

  • It's faster and lighter on RAM, since we no longer go through the intermediate step of converting the SVG to a GdkPixbuf, and then the GdkPixbuf to a PNG
  • It can accept input from stdin [default behavior]
  • It can emit output to stdout [default behavior]
  • It can preserve the image's aspect ratio when you scale it
  • It can set the image's base uri, so you can download a SVG from the web but not resources (PNGs, JPEGs, etc.) relative to it, and it will all "just work"
  • It can emit things in the PDF, PS, and SVGPrint (!!) formats, thanks to Cairo hotness
  • It can merge multiple SVGs specified on the command-line into a single PDF/PS/SVGPrint document (caveat: due to Cairo API limitations, all pages are constrained to the size of the first image)

That last point was made possible in large part due to Emmanuel Pacaud's nice work on an exprimental Cairo SVG backend. Today, I did my part and modified his SVG backend to be a SVGPrint backend so we can get multi-page output. Not that any renderers I'm aware of support more than the first page of output. But that's probably a chicken-vs.-egg kind of problem.

8 Dec 2005 (updated 8 Dec 2005 at 15:50 UTC) »

So, I took the LSAT last weekend at Northeastern University. I think that I did pretty well, but of course, we'll know for certain in a few weeks. I'm hoping to do well enough to be known as "the white Luis", as Ruthie affectionately calls me now.

So, with the admission slip, there's a list of rules. One of them says to "dress appropriately" because you can't control the temperature of the testing room. Also, it enumerates about a dozen prohibited devices and activities that might be distracting to one's fellow test-takers - alarms, eating and drinking, cell phones, etc.

So the room I'm taking the test in is apparently the only room on Northeastern's campus with heat on this Saturday. About 45 people are stuffed into a relatively small room, and big glass windows face East on a sunny morning. All of this adds up to one hot classroom and a bunch of drowsy test-takers.

I'm sitting next to a very attractive girl - maybe 22-23 years old. At the beginning of the test, she has about 7 layers of clothing on - it's < 0C outside and she followed the LSAC's clothing recommendations. During the test, she gets hot and starts stripping. One layer after the next comes off, until about 3/4 through the test, she's sitting next to me in a bra, a tatoo between her shoulders, and a belly button ring. Far more distracting than any beeping alarm clock, let me tell you! These certainly weren't on the list of prohibited, distracting items ;^) Not that I'm complaining...

Havoc proposes a data-only theming system. This is a fine idea, so long as a fine-detail programmatic API is also available so things like a native Win32 theme or OSX theme are possible.

26 Nov 2005 (updated 26 Nov 2005 at 17:00 UTC) »

I don't know, Robsta. It seems to me that if one followed your Python suggestion, we'd still experience Morten's problem. The theme in question would try to query the property of a "None" GtkWidget. Sure, it wouldn't crash like the C code will. Instead it would throw an Exception that probably wouldn't be caught, thus causing the program to exit. Even if it were, the widget part wouldn't be drawn correctly. The end result is the same. Python won't protect you from "thinkos".

The only real solution I see for people to pay more attention to their code. Or make "one theme engine to rule them all", ala the librsvg theme engine. I'd need to upgrade to GTK+ 2.8 and make it work, but stranger things have happened :)


Was my nephew's 2nd birthday yesterday, but unfortunately, I couldn't make the trip down to Phildadelphia. Ruth and I started the day off spending 2.5 hours at a nearby homeless shelter in Cambridge, MA. We cooked some stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, baby carrots, gravy, and other things for the expected ~100 guests

Gnome Foundation Elections

If things go as planned, elections start tomorrow, November 25th, and run until December 9th. I'll kiss your baby if you'd like, but if you'd probably be more interested in reading my reponses to the questions. What follows are threads with all the candidates' responses:

[1] [2] [3]

If you're a member of the Foundation - no matter who you vote for, be sure to vote :)

Christian, while your poll hypothesis is likely true, turn the situation around. If a 25 year-old male teacher was in a position of authority over a 14 year old female student and had sex with her, his ass would be going to jail for a long time, even if that teacher was People's 2005 "sexiest man alive," Matthew McConaughey. And rightly so.

Regardless of the boy's wishes, he was not legally capable of providing consent. The teacher was in a position of power, knew what she did was wrong, and did it anyway. Her sentence of house arrest and probabation is a mockery of our legal system. Attractive 25 year-old blonde women can date a lot better men than 14 year-olds. Something is clearly wrong with this woman.

Oh no, Marc! You just accidentally voted for Pat Buchanan!

Gnome Foundation Candidacy Announcement

(mostly for readers of planet.gnome.org)

I am a long-term member of the GNOME community and employed by the Teragram Corporation (who are neither affiliated with nor interested in GNOME). I maintain several largish GNOME and non-GNOME modules such as librsvg and AbiWord.

As Dave Neary so recently pointed out, I can be pedantic sometimes. I promise to be a helpfully pedantic board member, ensuring that things get done on time and that they get done right. I subscribe to the Python mindset. I believe in forming rough consensus and acting by convention whenever appropriate. My presence within the board will hopefully be one of mediating the board's many goals, injecting a healthy dose of realism into them, building a roadmap to those goals, and then making sure that we succeed. To do so, the board will need increased transparency and greater accountability. I feel that these traits will become increasingly important with the transition from 11 to 7 board members and that I can deliver on my goals.

75 Word Summary:

I promise to be a helpfully pedantic board member, ensuring that things get done on time and that they get done right. I believe in forming rough consensus and acting by convention. My contribution will be one of mediating the board's many goals, injecting realism, building a roadmap to those goals, making sure that we succeed, and making our successes/failures transparent. These traits will become increasingly important with the transition from 11 to 7 board members.

17 Nov 2005 (updated 17 Nov 2005 at 23:38 UTC) »
Gnome Foundation Elections

I'm looking forward to voting in the upcoming elections. I've emailed maybe a little too much about it lately. I know that I'm being a pedant, but in a democracy, elections must be "above board" and beyond reproach. It's absolutely necessary to be a pedant, especially with the new foundation's power being concentrated in 4 fewer people's control. I'd like to thank David Neary, Vincent Untz and others for their hard work and for helping to clear up some issues that I and others had.

Currently, only 8 members' nominations have gone through to the foundation-announce list (as required), while 12 have gone to foundation-list (which is not mentioned in the election rules). At least one (Luis') seems to have been caught by a mailing-list admin bot.

The recent foundation referendum was a non-binding "advisory" referendum to reduce the number of board members from 11 to 7. Even though I disagree with the outcome and voted against it, I must and will abide by it. However, I don't think that enough mention was made that the board had voted to accept the referendum's outcome, considering that their decision to abide by it was apparently held in a private meeting before the vote. It is not completely illogical to think that a non-binding advisory vote will necessarily be honored or carry any real weight. See also: US Congress' countless non-binding resolutions to the President.

Given the above confusion and Tim Ney's recent departure from the Foundation, I didn't readily know how many board members there would be in the upcoming term. It appears that there will be 7, and thank Dave for clearing that up. I apologize for not investigating this further before emailing the list. I acted perhaps a bit too rashly to emails by Jeff Waugh and Dave. The results were finalized and mentioned in a few places, though because the "GNOME Foundation Membership & Elections Committee" and not "the board" said that there will be 7 seats instead of 11, I was confused as to the official-ness of the advisory referendum.

Finally, the recent referendum and upcoming election was/will be conducted by Vincent, a staunch supporter of the referendum and first-time board candidate. Vincent is a great guy, I congratulate him for running, and he will probably be getting my vote. He appears to be doing everything within his power to train others how to run the election before the polls close on December 9. I have 100% confidence in him and don't allege that he'll do (or has done) anything to effect the outcome of these votes, other than be the best candidate he can be :) But in an election, one must avoid even the spectre of impropriety. Our geek community doesn't tolerate Diebold making traditional voting machines, in large part because of their partisan donations/interests. We shouldn't hold ourselves to a lower standard just because Vincent is our friend and a top-notch guy.

I know that I'm being a pedant. But the question is, why aren't you? If you care enough to vote, care a little more to make sure that your vote really counts. Cheers and good luck to all the candidates. Let's have a great election!

13 Nov 2005 (updated 13 Nov 2005 at 23:36 UTC) »

True enough, Havoc, but I don't see any of these alternative players advertizing in the Superbowl, on busses, inking deals with U2 for exclusive roll-outs, etc. Apple's advertizing strategy and budget clearly count for something. To put this in perspective, I haven't seen a Cowon ad outside of Planet Gnome :)

I don't think that in the US, you can compete with the iPod on "it just works" because people will say "there's already a product that 'just works' out there, and it's called an iPod." They'll just buy the real thing instead. Apple's huge pre-existing marketshare and public perception is an enormous hurdle to overcome. The "dazzle them with features" approach might be the best way to wrestle back some of Apple's marketshare.

I can tell you that the iAudio's and iRiver's UI "just work", regardless of whether that's mentioned prominently on their sites or not. Also, remember that this is an Asian company. In say, Tokyo, people will buy gadgets like these because it can play videos while cooking your dinner. It's all about understanding your target audience and marketing your goods appropriately. And I give Apple ample props for their mad marketing skills, but not for their inferior player.

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