Older blog entries for jfleck (starting at number 10)

So it took a bit of digging, but I have determined I have an Erdös number.

It's a pretty cheap one, and I'm sure technically that it doesn't count, but here's how it goes.

I'm a coauthor with Alexander Kirillov on several GNOME documents, including the last couple of editions of the GNOME Users Guide. Alexander is a mathematician, so he's got an Erdös number as follows:

Erdos -> Peter Palfy->Jan Saxl->Pavel Etingof->Alexander Kirillov.

Ergo, I've got an Erdös number of 5, if a piece of computer documentation counts, which for my purposes it must, else how am I ever gonna get an Erdös number?

My questions - what about all the people with whom I have written double-bylined newspaper stories? Have we found a tenuous link by which we can extend the graph from the world of mathematicians to newspaper hacks? And what about Lissa? By virtue of being coauthor on a number of works, including our wedding vows, does she get an Erdös number of 6?

This is going to be a major distraction.

I got the review copy at work this week of a new book: "Einstein, Picasso: Space, Time, and the Beauty That Causes Havoc" by Arthur I. Miller.

This is the book I've been waiting for someone to write. I've long been separately fascinated by the work each did in the first decade of this century, and wondered about the connections. What was going on then that fueled such particularly mold-breaking creativity? What is the connection between Les Demoiselles d'Avignon and special relativity?

Lissa spent a good part of yesterday weeding in our huge iris bed in the front yard, picking through the plants. "It's like getting reacquainted with old friends," she said.

I had the same feeling this morning when I saw a pair of killdeer on my morning bike ride. It's finally getting warm enough to ride outside in the mornings, so I've been heading up the bike path along the flood control channel. There's a big bend in the channel where the water slows down and drops silt, and it turns into a little wetland every year, despite the flood control people's best efforts to keep it scooped out. That's where the killdeer hang out, pretty little birds with a white collar and a cheerful song. Old friends.

With Nautilus 1.0.whatever essentially out the door, I'm starting to focus on improving gnome-db2html2, though I feel like what I'm doing is more like hospice than anything else. gnome-db2html2 needs to die in favor of something more elegant for rendering our GNOME documents, but it will be of this Earth for a while longer, so we need to make its final days as comfortable as possible. I give it six months to live.

So all my GNOME friends are packing up excitedly for GUADEC, and I'm feeling way left out. Being a working stiff, I didn't have any vacation left to burn on a frivolous trip to Europe - plus I'm a little worried about whether I'd have been able to keep up with the beer thing.

It would have been great to go, though, if simply to meet in person all these people I have email and irc virtual relationships with. I'll have to find a way next year.

30 Mar 2001 (updated 5 Apr 2001 at 17:37 UTC) »

Maybe things like this happen in the big city. I don't know. But it seemed quintessentially Albuquerque.

Lissa, my wife, and I were driving up second street yesterday afternoon on our way to look at concrete patio bricks when she told me to pull in to a cool leather shop she'd been to once with my sister.

I need a new belt - my old one is falling apart - but mainly she just wanted to show me the place.

Stone Canyon Leather 6715 4th NW Albuquerque 87107

If you're in the neighborhood.

It's a little place, with a small retail shop in the front and a large leather shop in the back. I started looking at the belts hanging on the wall, comparing them to the one I was wearing for length.

Michael, the proprietor, looked at my old belt, where the crappy cheap bonded leather was coming apart, and said, "Oh, I can fix that. I'll just stitch it up for you."

He invited us into the back, into his shop, and we talked about running while he stitched. (I was wearing a race shirt - we runners know one another by our shirts. We both run the Albuquerque Turkey every year, Michael and I.)

When he got done, he handed it back to me, and wouldn't let me pay him. He showed me his new running shoes (We aging runners also have old guy stories to share too) and I told him about my newfound addiction to cycling as a way of saving my fragile ankles. We both bemoaned the fact that we don't stretch enough. No one every does, it seems, but as you get older it catches up. He was happy that next year he'll be able to compete in the 50-55 age group, and we talked about the benefits of age group creep.

So next time you're in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, and you need a belt or some leather work:

Stone Canyon Leather 6715 4th NW Albuquerque 87107

There's an old cliche, much abused, suggesting that one shouldn't ever see one's sausage or legislation being made. To that list, I will add free software, at least in the case of the final release of GNOME 1.4, which is being assembled as we speak.

This is the first time I've ever witnessed a release from the inside, and it's not been pretty - compromises made in the interest of schedule that are perhaps inevitable (there's always gonna be one more thing you could do to improve it, right?) but which means there will be some warts on the final product.

Do people always say, "Oh well, there's always the foo x.1 release", with a long list of things that will just have to be put off 'til then?

For a few odd hours Monday inkstain lived a bizarre parallel existence while I watched the new address propagate through the dns system, but I think we've finally got ourselves back up and running. If you click on the above link and you do not see Zippy the Pinhead, then you've got our new home, but aside from that most everything looks the same.

Ah, the joys of being an amateur system administrator.

24 Mar 2001 (updated 24 Mar 2001 at 01:27 UTC) »

Sad day.

I pulled the virtual plug today on inkstain, the little sparc that was our unix sandbox. The ISP that generously hosted inkstain for the last two-plus years is going through weirdness, and our access to inkstain has been up and down over the last couple of weeks. We've seen this coming for a while, so we put in the paperwork today to move the domain.

Inkstain will still exist, but the romance of having our own little box to play with is over. It's not quite like losing a pet - well, maybe a fish or insect I was fond of. But I still feel pretty sad that I'll never be able to log in to its "jello" greeting again.

Well, this is an adventure.

Changes DV is making in libxml1 are causing havoc with the DocBook rendering engine we use for the Nautilus help browser. This is not DV's fault, but the result of bad hacks and bad decisions we made over the last nine months catching up with us.

The route out of our mess is not clear, though one option would be to abandon direct sgml->html rendering. This might not be such a bad thing, as there are some ugly hacks needed to get the direct rendering to work. Another option, which DV is now looking into, is plugging a true sgml parser into gnome-db2html2, which would save us many headaches.

This is all somewhat painful, but I believe in the importance of learning experiences. This is one such.

I'm always amazed at the magic of it, the way no one's quite in charge and yet things sort of spontaneously happen.

So I got an email today from Manuel de Vega Barreiro, who has done the Spanish translation of some of my GNOME documents, and he included a link to a web page. My Spanish is almost non-existent, but with the help of babelfish I realized he and his mates are making a major effort to translate all the documentation for the entire core GNOME package. This is fabulous. And so spontaneous.

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