Monday, September 29, 2008

Whole Foods in Honolulu

Karen and I went to the new Whole Foods Market that just opened in Honolulu.  It's in the Kahala Mall, so we also went to the toy store and Jamba Juice.

Malls here are a bit different than what I was used to on the mainland.  For one, they usually aren't isolated large buildings.  They are usually several connected buildings with relatively little parking and many entrances and exits.  Sometimes stores will have outside facing doors and sometimes they will have inside facing doors.  So you can have a store, such as a grocery store, with an outside facing entrance that is technically part of the mall, but appears to exist on its own.

Neither of us were new to Whole Foods.  I'd been several times in Atlanta and then again in Boston.  It's got some good stuff, but only if your paycheck can support it.  Whenever I went there, it was to buy only a few things.  I couldn't afford to do all of my shopping at Whole Foods.  Funny, that still holds true.

They have a decent selection of Hawaii-grown produce, which is cool.  They also carry Seventh Generation products (but those are also at the store Down To Earth in Honolulu as well), which I bought frequently in Boston.  Here it's a bit more expensive, but that's because it's hauled out here to this island.

We purchased a few things and decided to leave.  On the way out, Karen saw Jorge Garcia coming in to the store.  She wanted to covertly point him out without making a scene.  She called him 'Hurley', his character's name on LOST.  I didn't make the connection.  I thought she was pointing a Hurley shirt or something.  Eventually I got it and I saw him walking up and, like an idiot, I pointed at him and said, "oh yeah, that is Jorge Garcia."

He was on his phone and headed in to the store.  We were headed out.  If we had bumped in to him in the store, I probably would have said hi.  Oh well.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

METRIC: Get Ready

Gallon, Inch, Pound - They won't always be around.  Get ready for the metric system.

I'd like to thank everyone who commented on the blog or emailed me regarding my last metric post.  I've already got a list of posts to make and I hope you enjoy reading them.

All of the posts I make on this topic will have a 'metric' label and the title will begin with METRIC: so you can spot it more easily.

Until my next post, enjoy this article from Dr. Wacek Kijewski.  You may also find his book useful.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How Many Ounces Are In A Pound?

Karen and I went to lunch today at the deli at Safeway.  Oh yes, eating at the grocery store.  You get a container and fill it with food and the price is $6.99 per pound.  I proceed to fill my container and then think I should weigh it to figure out where I stand.

The scale they provide next to the buffet is in ounces.  I place the container on the scale and it reads somewhere between 23 and 24.  Then it occurs to me that I have no idea how many ounces are in a pound.  I ask Karen and she can't remember.  I look at the scale and see it has units printed up to 30, so I'm guessing this scale can read up to 31.99 ounces or something like that.  Seeing the prices are per pound and the scale is small, I figure they are providing a pound scale.  So I guess that a pound is 32 ounces.

I would be wrong.  A pound is apparently 16 ounces.  I mention this here because it shows the failure of the imperial measurement system in use in the United States.  Everything is arbitrary and you have to memorize conversions.  I know 16 ounces are in a pound now, but I have no idea about any of the other weight measurements.  I'd have to look those up.

"But didn't you learn this in school?", you ask.  No.  I went to grade school in the 1980s and we were taught the metric system.  There was some coverage of the imperial system, but it was assumed that we would pick that up through everyday usage.  The thought was that we all needed to be ready for the big metric conversion.

"But you have to memorize metric conversions too!", you say.  That's true, but the big difference is the conversions are common across all measurements.  You only need to know 3 base units and then know the prefixes.  And it's base 10 too, so it's shifting the decimal point.  What are the three base units?
  • meter - This gives us a measurement for length.
  • gram - This gives us a measurement for weight.
  • liter - This gives us a measurement for volume.
There's also the second and the unit for temperature, but those can be discussed later. [The SI temperature unit is actually Kelvin, but all SI using countries use degrees Celcius for everyday use.]

OK, then you need to know the prefixes.  Kilo- is 1000.  Milli- is one thousandth.  Centi- is one hundredth.  All you're doing is shifting the decimal point.  And those prefixes are the same across the meter, the gram, and the liter.

I'd also like to point out that with metric being base 10, you never need to look at decimal values on measurements.  You can always shift to another prefix so that you are looking at a whole value.  Most people won't do this because you always want to see the same units for a particular task, but it's still valid.

The imperial system is arbitrary.  For length, we have the inch, the foot, the yard, the mile.  Others?  One inch is something, so that's the base I guess.  A foot is 12 inches.  A yard is 3 feet.  A mile is 5280 feet.  How many yards are in a mile?  How many inches in a yard or mile?  Wait, let me get a calculator.  You either memorize or do multiplication and division on a regular basis.  With metric you shift the decimal point.

Volume and weight?  I can't remember them all.  I know we have a US gallon which is 3.8 liters or 4 quarts.  A quart contains either 4 pints or 2 pints, I can never remember.  And then a pint contains some number of cups, I think.  And then the system is all messed up with the notion of fluid ounces.  Using ounce for something else!

Weight has pounds and ounces, I which I now know it's 1 to 16.  I know of nothing else for weight in this system.

We already use many things in the US that are metric labeled.  Coca Cola comes in 2 liter bottles, FDA labels on all food containers use metric measurements, prescription and over-the-counter drugs are sold in metric units, car engine displacement is in liters, injections are in "cc" units (cubic centimeter, which is a milliliter), IKEA manufacturers everything to metric dimensions, the entire automotive industry is metric, and the list goes on.

This is why I joined the United States Metric Association.  They seek to encourage metric usage in everyday measurements and in businesses.  They offer conversion assistance for individuals and businesses and explain what laws are currently on the books in the US.  Did you know you can do business exclusively in metric in the US and it's legal?

The goal is to encourage metric usage rather than forcing the conversion by law.  We all know that failed in the 1970s due to poor execution.

Get ready for more metric blog posts than you care to read.

Apple Store Waikiki Opening September 27

My inbox has a message from Apple announcing the grand opening of the Apple Store in the Royal Hawaiian in Waikiki. Doors open at 10:00 AM HST on September 27. The first 1000 or so people in line (line?) get a free t-shirt.

While I don't care about the t-shirt, it will be nice having an Apple Store literally around the corner from me. Now, if the Royal Hawaiian could also get a Lego Store and a Tower Records [sic], that would be awesome.

O'ahu now has 3 Apple crack deal^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H Stores for your spending pleasure. The Waikiki store is the largest. The Ala Moana and Kahala stores are the same layout. Mall stores that look like shotgun houses. The Waikiki store opens on to Kalakaua Ave and will probably have a big giant Apple logo hanging from the building.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Software Packaging on MacOS X

When I first used MacOS X, it was version 10.0.  It was a little rough around the edges.  I remember trying to do some pthreads programming and discovered that pthreads hadn't been completely implemented yet.  Ooops.

I then found another problem and started poking around in the kernel source (the kernel project is called xnu, the installed kernel file is /mach_kernel).  What I found was a huge disappointing combination of BSD code with Mach kernel code.  Yuck.  My attempts to submit patches upstream were met with failure.  But I wasn't the only one.

I upgraded to 10.1 shortly after 10.0 and it improved some things, but not much.  For example, I still couldn't have a UFS filesystem and run iTunes.  iTunes would crap itself if it was running on UFS.  It wanted HFS because of its case-preserving ability (I guess the programmers were lazy).  I hear Apple fixed this later on by making it more difficult or even removing the ability to install to UFS filesystems.  That's one way to fix the problem.

I left OS X after 10.1 and went back to Linux for my workstation.  I should point out that when I moved around between operating systems, it was always for my workstation system.  My servers have always been Linux and most likely always will be.  And Linux is still where I do almost all of my software development.

Enter 2008.  I get frustrated with my company-provided laptop.  It's old and slow and can't do virt under Linux (technologies such as Xen or KVM).  I ask for a new one that can do virt and am told no several times.  So I go buy my own laptop and start using it.  I buy a MacBook and load it 4GB of RAM.

Since it is a personal system, I decide to keep OS X installed on it.  That, and I wanted the ability to edit video and easily work with my camera and OS X is just better at that (JWZ sums it up pretty well here).  But I also use the system during work to check email, IRC, IM, and read the web.  In an effort to do more from it, I start installing the few tools I need to access our source repositories from OS X and tools so I can work with the build system from not-just-Linux.  The result is the horrible time wasting project found here.

[Why don't I use MacPorts or Fink or something else like that?  I did and I hate them.  Both systems want to _own_ your OS X system.  If I go to install, say, GNU sed, don't install a truckload of other crap because it's all interdependent.  I am perfectly fine with the system utilities when they work for me.  Look at my osxpkgs collection and you'll see a very short list of what I had to install to do Fedora Linux development from OS X.  With MacPorts and Fink, I had huge trees of basically every single thing you'd find on a Linux system.  WHY?  I don't need it.]

Development on OS X is certainly a lot better now than it was under the 10.0 days.  Lots of recent tools are available as well as a modern Python.  I like it.  For the things that did not come with OS X that I need to do work, I compiled and installed them to /usr/local.  Here is where we get in to irritating things.

I'm a little more careful with how I manage systems now.  First, I backup every system I care about.  My laptop is most important to me, so I have several backups.  I found that JWZ basically has the same backup philosophy as me.  I say basically the same, because here's where we differ:
  • I only care about my home directory.  When the system's hard disk shits the bed, I buy a new one and then do a reinstall from scratch.  I restore my home directory and then install the software packages I have in my home directory.  I find this to be easier than backing up the entire system.
  • I don't want to wait to backup the entire system, which is currently 138GB and like a kid on Flintstone vitamins...growing.
Still, his page about backups is as perfect as you can get.  Do what he says.  It only takes one disk failure to really piss you off.  You will want backups.  As a Digital Unix developer once told me, "In order to move forward, you have to backup."  (ok, he was old)

For everything I add to the system, I keep the bundles or packages in my home directory under a subdirectory titled "Crap I Use" or something like that.  When I rebuild the system, I just drag the bundles back to Applications or I run the installers again.  For my osxpkgs software, I decided to make packages so reinstalls will be easy (this follows the Unix train of thought where if I can use this hack in at least one place, I might as well spend the time and effort to do it).

Packaging software is one of those annoying developer tasks.  Developers tend to have only a passing interest in packaging software.  It's almost like a task that falls between development and system administration.  I hate system administration.  You want to have something to release, but you don't want to learn all of the details of _any_ system's stupid packaging software.  What the hell is packaging anyway?

When you install software on a Unix system, files all go to the same directory structure.  We don't have a "C:\Program Files" notion on Unix (except for /opt, but that's another story), so we need a way to track what files belong to a specific piece of software so we can remove it later or upgrade it later.  Every reasonable Unix system provides a way to do this.  On RHEL and Fedora and many others, it's RPM.  On Debian systems, it's dpkg.  On Solaris systems, it's the SysV pkg* commands.  On AIX, it's two systems: one is AIX LPP and one is RPM (!).  Each system has a set of commands that lets the user pack up the files that belong to their program in to a single file for delivery to the user.

So what does MacOS X have?  Apple wants developers to create self-contained programs where everything is in a bundle that users can drag to anywhere on their system and run by just double clicking it.  A bundle is a subdirectory that is named NAME.bundle.  Everything the application needs is stuffed in this subdirectory, such as libraries, images, documents, and so on.  This works great for software like Microsoft Office or iTunes or Mozilla.  But for command line Unix-type software, the model fails.  Apple provides another system to track that.

The other system is a bastardization of the half-assed system that was on NEXTSTEP (and OPENSTEP and CamelCaseStEp, please don't argue with me about how it should be written).  Apple provides a tool called packagemaker that can create package bundles (a subdirectory called NAME.pkg) that you can install with the package installer.  They also provide a program called pkgutil which sort of helps you see what's installed and maybe do things with those packages.  Problems I've seen so far under MacOS X 10.5:

  • The --root option to packagemaker is a bit picky.  You have a add a trailing slash on the path you specify, otherwise your staging root directory will end up on the target system.  For example:
    mkdir pkg-root
    # put stuff in ./pkg-root for the package
    packagemaker --root ./pkg-root [options]
    The resulting package will install /pkg-root to your system (dumb!). You have to run it this way:
    packagemaker --root ./pkg-root/
    And then pkg-root is treated like a staging root.
  • To show all installed packages on the system: pkgutil --pkgs
    However, this only shows packages that pkgutil can see. It won't show you any installed packages recorded in /Library/Receipts. It only shows packages with an entry in /Library/Receipts/boms. The locations appear to be mutually exclusive. Why?
  • It is possible to remove an entry from the installed packages database.  All you have to do is:

    pkgutil --forget PACKAGE

    This removes the entry from the database, but not what is actually on the system. Why is this even possible? Also note that this will again only work for what packages pkgutil can see. If you want to forget something in /Library/Receipts, just rm -rf the directory.

  • Want to completely hork your system? pkgutil does offer a way to forget a package and remove the files it owns. You can do this:

    pkgutil --unlink PACKAGE
    pkgutil --forget PACKAGE

    No dependency checking is done, pkgutil just deletes whatever is owned by that package. You do this on the BSD package, for instance, and totally hose the system. Great work, Apple.

  • If you pass the --target option to packagemaker, the resulting flat package it generates won't contain anything from --resources. It just ignores Resources. Great!

  • The different package formats created by packagemaker appear to be recorded differently in /Library/Receipts. A flat package gets a bom file in the /Library/Receipts/boms subdirectory. A package bundle with metadata gets a receipt bundle as /Library/Receipts/NAME.pkg with the bom file in the bundle as

So that's what I've discovered trying to package software on MacOS X.  It's frustrating and annoying.  Packaging is a solved problem.  And uninteresting.  Why can't OS X just use any of the dozens of packaging systems out there that are open source?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Misc Updates

Got back from Europe middle of last week and played catch up during the end of the week.  Lots of work to do and I feel like now I'm basically in good shape with where my stuff is.  When Fedora 10 is released, I may actually like it.  The last release of Fedora that I really thought was solid was Fedora Core 6.  After that, we [the project] hit the gas on development and it's been rapid progress and less testing.  But that's just my opinion.  The releases are good, in general, but when I compare Fedora Core 6 to what we currently have, I just get the feeling that we've traded stability for rapid development.

Over the weekend, Karen and I took our current visitor (Gen, which is short for a name I can't spell, but it's pronounced 'Jen') to Maui by way of the Hawaii Superferry.  I enjoy transportation, especially boats and trains.  I don't know why trains are fascinating to me.  Boats are equally fascinating.  We took the car this time, so I got to experience the process of taking your car on the Superferry.  The quick verdict:  it's definitely much nicer and a much easier experience when you take your car than being a walk-on passenger.

We drove the Hana Highway.  It was a nice drive, but very stressful since it was my first time driving it.  It's single lane in some places.  Lots of tourists as well as locals, who drive way faster than anyone else.  We came up on a single lane portion of the highway and it was about to take a 90 degree turn to the right and a huge garbage truck rounded the corner.  Yeah, that was a close call.  We ate in Hana, then headed to Lahaina for the rest of the day.  Stayed in Kihei the night before.

People complain about Oahu, but I like the roads here more than Maui.  And the roads here are nothing to rave about.  I posted pictures of the trip on my Flickr page.

I saw a strange commercial on TV earlier.  It's for a MVNO, or mobile virtual network operator (which is telephone nonsense speak for a company that masquerades as a phone company, but doesn't actually own network equipment, they just use other companies...sort of like natural gas suppliers in Georgia), called Jitterbug.  They promote it as cell phones for old people.  Even the title of the main page says Senior Cell Phones.  Hilarious.  I only wish they offered rotary cell phones.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Government Spending

In May, I got a $2 note while in New Mexico.  Technically, my friend John received it as change from something, but he was uninterested in the note as much as I so, so I got it.  We do still have $2 notes in circulation, just like $1 notes.  Personally, I think both should be eliminated, and maybe they will, but as long as they are out there, we still accept them as currency.  The $2 note has the lowest circulation count of all notes.

Looking at the note, I thought the paper felt a little strange.  I went to the Secret Service web site for info on what to do if you suspect a note is counterfeit.  Surprisingly, the Secret Service web site was easy to find...haha...I crack myself up.

The paper was strange and the seal looked odd to me.  It was rounded and not really sawtooth like the site described.  What next?  I called the Secret Service field office in Honolulu and they had me check a few other things over the phone and finally they asked me to mail in the note.  Done.

About a week later, they called me and said they have verified the note is genuine and I can come by the field office to pick it up.  The United States Secret Service field office in Honolulu is inside the United States Department of Homeland Security facility near Honolulu Harbor and none of that really sounds inviting to visit.  I wasn't really interested in going through 9 layers of voluntary security scans to get my $2 note back.  I made it a low priority.  If I had a day to spare, I'd drop by and pick it up.

... skip to September ...

I receive a notice that I have a registered letter waiting for me at the post office.  I get this notice before I leave for FUDCon in Brno, so I can't pick it up until I get back.

I went by today and they checked my ID and had me sign my name twice, write my name, and write my address on the credit card signature pad (have no idea what that will be valid for since it looks like I just played with an Etch-A-Sketch for a few minutes).  Then I was handed the letter.

Normal sized US letter envelope.  Says it's from the U.S. Secret Service office in Honolulu.  And it has the big giant registered mail sticker on it.  Once I see Secret Service on it, I have a feeling it's the $2 note.

I open it and sure enough, there it is, stapled to a letter that some field agent wrote explaining that three different field agents examined it and determined it to be genuine.  They stapled the $2 note to the letter they wrote, so I'm going to take that as an OK to staple money from now on.  They also included a copy of the original letter I sent them back in May.

The U.S. Secret Service gets an A for effort and an A for completeness and checking their work.  However, I'm going to give them a C in the things that make sense column.  If you read the postmark on the letter, you will see it cost them a grand total of $13.42 to mail this $2 note to me.  That's right, the government paid thirteen and a half dollars to mail me a $2 note.

I figured they'd just return it to circulation some other way (you know, like buying lottery tickets or booze), because when it comes down to it, I really don't care that much.  I do appreciate them returning it, but damn, $13.42 to send it across town?  Come on.

The U.S. government does things like that, but won't provide universal healthcare.

Back from FUDCon Brno 2008

Left Vienna at 10:10 AM on 10-Sep-2008 and arrived around 9:00 PM on 10-Sep-2008 in Honolulu. Before leaving Vienna, I called home and it was Tuesday night. Oh yeah. I calculated up how much awake time I had and it was a little over 30 hours. I expect it to catch up with me at some point.

FUDCon was great. I am very glad that I got to meet Fedora people in Europe as well as a lot of Red Hat people in our Brno and Stuttgart offices. I have been working online with those people for years and finally got to meet them in person. All great people.

Both Brno and Vienna were very interesting and I wished I had more time while I was there. But I am glad to be back home and am getting back in to normal work mode. I plan on posting something more detailed about my trip later.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Last Day in Brno

FUDCon Brno 2008 is over and I must say it went really well. Hackfests on the first day and last day. The presentations were very interesting too. Martin Sivak and I did a crash course in the Czech language as the last session on the barcamp day. It was pretty fun for everyone. Martin wrote up a possible story that would play out during the social event later that evening. I would read the English, he would say it in Czech, and the everyone else was to repeat. Pictures are on on the Flickr group.

The social event at FUDCon was really good too and we also had a good time hanging out after FUDCon on Sunday night. Met lots of great people from all over Europe. Some people I've been talking to online for a while and finally got to meet them in person.

I am currently at the Red Hat Brno office waiting for our team meeting in a few minutes. After the meeting, I'm going to head back to Vienna taking the night train. I fly back home on Wednesday.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

FUDCon Brno 2008

I haven't posted anything since I got to Europe. Why? Well, Internet access has been harder than I thought it would be. And phone access.

I arrived in Vienna on Tuesday, September 2. I left Sunday night from Honolulu, so it was almost 24 hours of travel. I knew this would exhaust me, so I wanted to get to the hotel and try to nap.

Vienna is very easy to navigate. The map I purchased at Borders before leaving didn't really help that much because the grid quadrant I was staying in wasn't on the map I had bought. You could visualize the roads extending past the end of the map, and that's how I figured out where to go, but otherwise it wasn't a helpful map.

The hotel in Vienna was nice as well. It advertised free Internet access in all rooms....EXCEPT the part of the building I was staying in. Great. I asked the front desk if there was a public area with wifi and was told no. They suggested I try the cafe at the end of the block, but when I went there, they told me they didn't have Internet access and were surprised the hotel sent me there. I tried 3 other cafes before calling it a night.

I was not planning on getting a SIM card for my phone in Austria because that would cost more to use in Brno once I got there. My plan was to email home from Vienna and get a SIM card in Brno. Seems doable, right? Wrong.

The lack of Internet also posed problems because I was planning on finding the train station on Google Maps. I was also planning on emailing the office in Brno so they would meet me at the train station. All of this was fail. Once again, I depended on the Internet and was let down.

I woke up on September 3rd, packed up, checked out of the hotel, and then headed to the train station. It ended up being easier to find than I thought. I took the U4 line to a station that had the word Bahnhoff in it, exited, and followed the signs to the words that matched what was printed on my ticket. There was a bit of a mixup with the signs. Apparently the area around the train station is under construction and all signs were gone once I got to the surface. I walked around trying to find the entrance for almost an hour. Eventually made it.

At the station, I got some water and tried to find wifi. Fail. I found phone booths that would take credit cards, so I called home. I talked to Karen for a while, which was nice, and asked her to contact the Brno office so they knew I was coming. This was the first time I was able to call home since I had left.

The train left shortly after that. I found my car and seat and slept most of way. I bought a Pepsi on the train (it came in an actual glass bottle). Once we crossed the Austria-Czech border, a new guy came on to restamp your ticket. There were a few stops before Brno.

I got to the Brno station and started looking for who was meeting me. I realized I didn't have a clue what anyone in the Brno office looked like. After a half hour, I called home again and Karen said that they replied to her and were on their way, but would be 20 minutes late. They thought I was arriving on Thursday. Not a big deal. Got to the office and then Radek took me to where I was staying for that night.

The day I traveled from Vienna to Brno was when the jet lag really hit me. The entire day I was battling a headache. Finally around 5pm I got really hungry and proceeded to find some food. The Czech language is more or less impossible for an American speaker to grasp. I was doing ok in Austria, but Czech is a different animal. That, combined with the fact that fewer people understand basic English in the Czech Republic compared to Austria. That's not really their fault, I mean, I should be speaking the local language. However, no time for that, I wanted to find dinner.

The lady at the hotel told me to walk 300 meters down the road to a yellow building. Good enough for me. I walked down the road and found the building. It was even marked with a sort of international food icon (circle with a fork and spoon in it). Strange. However, this was fail because it was closed. Exhausted, starving, wanting to call home, and generally feeling not well, I looked in all directions to where I was standing. Nothing. I walked around the corner and saw what looked like a house, but was really a restaurant. I went there and fumbled through the menu and was able to order spaghetti and meat balls and Nestea. The total was 179 Kč. After that I went back to the hotel and fell asleep. At 9pm, two other Fedora guys showed up who were also staying in this room and were banging on the door for me to let them in. They couldn't believe I was asleep, but I explained where I flew from and they understood. I think they left and locked me in the room, but I didn't care. Too tired.

The next day I was fine. Got to the office and did some work for the day and then met up with more Fedora people and we went out for drinks and dinner. Dinner was good, but paying for it was made more difficult because of some people we were with. We had a large party and I was ok with just dividing the check evenly. However, some people only wanted to pay for their share. The waiter walked around both tables and recalculated individual checks by hand for everyone and each person paid. Amazing.

FUDCon is going well. There are some posts from people here appearing on There's also a Flickr group where people are posting pictures they are taking. I am giving a talk at 14:20, so I have some time.

I have not obtained a SIM card for my phone in Brno because I haven't been successful finding a vendor (that is, fail). At this point I don't know if I'll bother. Though it really is annoying not being able to call home.

Some things about Brno that I have to point out. Some of these overlap with Chris' discoveries.
  • The company no longer has the apartment in Brno, so got to stay in two different hotels in Brno. Coming from the US, hotels here are very different. Things you take for granted in a US hotel just aren't present here. For example, a TV, a phone, or even a comfortable bed. Beds are the size of coffee tables and have a rock hard mattress. You get one towel per bed, but the towel is like the size of a large dish towel. Most of the Europeans who came here from other countries brought their own towel. Noted for future trips.
  • Bathrooms are strange here. A lot of places will have a single door in to a WC and inside there is a sink or two and then two different doors for men and women facilities. So, they share a sink setup, but have different toilets.
  • Bathrooms in the hotel are different. The toilet has its own room. The sink and shower has a different room. Both have doors that lock.
  • Hotel rooms have actual real keys instead of plastic magstripe keycards. There's also one key per room, so if you are sharing with someone, you need to work out the key protocol.
  • You don't take the key with you when you leave the hotel. It's the same in Austria. You give your key to the front desk and when you come back, you just tell them your room and get your key. They don't want to lose the keys, which I guess are expensive or they don't want to force you to carry them around.
  • As I discovered on my London and Brussels trip, light switches are backwards and doors open the wrong way. Hot and cold are swapped in some places.
Public transit in Brno and Vienna is useful and understandable. The names of locations in Brno is more difficult for me, but I am slowly getting the hang of it.

The currency in the Czech Republic is also more difficult to get used to. First, there are no fractional amounts. The smallest is 1 Kč (one crown). Typical prices for things are 15 Kč for a 60 minute tram pass, 30 Kč for a beer, and 150 Kč for something for dinner. The currency comes in the following coins: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50. It also comes in the following notes: 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000. The thing I'm having to get used to is the large amounts. I go somewhere and spend hundreds of crowns and it's just bizarre.

I am giving a talk at FUDCon today on anaconda. It got a lot of interest, so I hope I can make it interesting. I have met a lot of people here who I have talked to a lot online. A lot of the guys in the Brno office have met me now, which is good.

FUDCon is run in a barcamp format. That just means that any attendee can pitch a session. If there's enough interest, you get to give that session. Anyone can pitch any idea, but since we are all here for the same purpose, the topics are usually related to Fedora and software development.

While we were pitching the sessions for the barcamp, I suggested to Martin (on anaconda team, here in the Brno office) that he pitch a session idea on rudimentary Czech language skills. That idea got a round of applause and a lot of interest. Should be fun.

Time for lunch.