Thursday, June 26, 2008

NetworkManager Hacking

While in Boston for the Red Hat Summit, FUDCon, and team meetings in the Westford office, I was also able to get some coding done. One of the big things I've been working on in Fedora is IPv6 in userland, specifically the installer. I've have started looking more closely at NetworkManager in Fedora and worked up some patches (along with Dan Williams) to add IPv6 support to NetworkManager. The first level of support is there now, Dan committed it to the repository on gnome.org tonight. It's actually moving faster than I thought it would, which is nice. It's also fun hacking on a project like NetworkManager because it's a tool that Fedora users run all the time.

What is NetworkManager? Put simply, it's designed for laptop users who move around frequently and connect to different wired or wireless networks. NetworkManager runs in the task bar and presents a simple menu to select your wireless network. It remembers networks you've connected to so when you go back to those places, it will automatically connect. This is a feature that Macs have had for a while and I think Windows does it probably.

NetworkManager is undergoing some improvements and changes so it can be used by more than just laptop users. Support for static network configuration as well as support for other types of networks (modems, mobile broadband, and so on).

Aside from the coding, my team has been meeting all week to plan out improvements to the installer. We have come up with a lot of ideas and have some really good plans in place. But it'll keep us busy for some time.

Tomorrow is my last work day in the Westford office. I'll be down in the Boston area for the weekend and fly back home on Monday morning.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Red Hat Summit and FUDCon 10

It was a busy week. Up really early, all day at conferences, then out late with people. It was fun, but exhausting. What occurred?

On the Monday and Tuesday before the conference started, I was in the Westford office. Among other things, I met with two IBM System z guys from Stuttgart. We had a lot of discussions about how to work out installation issues on the System z platform.

On Wednesday, I headed to the Red Hat Summit at the Hynes Convention Center. Busy day. Talked with a lot of people and hacked on some projects. Thursday was the day I gave my talk. It went really well. Room was packed and no one got up to leave, which to me meant it was actually interesting to the people there. I had a lot of people who wanted to talk after the presentation. Friday I spent most of the day hacking on NetworkManager code again.

Every day at the Summit at 4:00 PM, they had free beer. That was fun.

Parties each night after the Summit. The first night was at Fenway Park. The entire facility was rented out, food catered, open bar, band, etc. It was fun. They tried to organize a pub crawl after the Fenway party, but a group of us wandered off the path and ended up bowling at midnight near the convention center.

Final day of FUDCon 10 was yesterday at Boston University followed by free food and drinks at the BU Pub. Mostly just hacked on code all day at FUDCon. All in all, a busy week.

Tomorrow starts the week long anaconda team meeting. We are planning to plan and other such things. Early each day, which will be challenging. This trip is turning out to be incredibly exhausting. More details later.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Two Dollars Means a Snack To Me

Actually, it means a big deal to me now what with the cost of fuel, the upcoming election, and El NiƱo.  I checked in at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in Sunday afternoon to catch my 5:18 PM flight to Boston.  I was leaving Wisconsin after the wedding Karen and I attended.  I had the rental car to return.  Wreck on I-94 caused a big delay for me, but I did make it in time.  I had decided to purchase the fuel option because I hate looking for gas stations near airports I don't know.  We only used half a tank to go to Wisconsin and back, so I should have either floored it in 2nd gear most of the way back or just skipped the fuel option.  Lesson learned.

In addition, Illinois has the worst highway system in the nation.  At least the highways I have traveled.  I don't understand how more people don't die on I-94.  It looks to be forever under construction and with lack of adequate signage until the last minute and lane splits here and there, I am surprised more people don't meet the Jersey barrier more often.  Illinois, I hope you are reading this.  Fix freaking I-94 already.  I see you are able to collect tolls just fine.  Finish the damn road!

Oh, speaking of tolls.  I-94 has tolls.  I was used to this in New England.  However, some of the tolls on I-94 are exit tolls, but are unstaffed.  You have no option but to throw change in a basket.  80 cents to exit to the airport.  What?  I have no change on me.  I have a $10, but you're not getting that, basket.

I got to the airport and saw about 49572390749023745983465293 people inside waiting to check in for United.  A United employee walked up to me and asked if I needed to check in.  "Sure," I say.  I was sort of astonished to see a real employee.  Most airlines have replaced airport staff with touchscreen kiosks and phones and little plastic signs that read "POSITION CLOSED".  I felt special.  Like I had come in to contact with the last real United airport employee.

He checks my bag, prints my boarding pass, and then asks if I paid him.  I look a little confused and he points at a sign that says "$2 to check in".  What the hell?  I don't know if this is new across the board or just because I was using the curb side check in.

I got in to the airport, had something to eat and drink at the airport, talked to a guy coming back from Alaska (not someone from the Deadliest Catch, but could have been), and then wandered over to my gate.  The board counts down by saying "boarding begins in __ minutes".  Then it said we were boarding, but I looked out the window and saw a key component missing:  the airplane.

Sure enough, we had no plane.  They waited around and finally told us to go to gate B10.  That was even more confusing because at that moment, gate B10 was boarding for New York.  So people thought we were supposed to get on that plane and wondered if we were going through New York to get to Boston.  I skipped all that and went and got some tea.

We departed over an hour late, but the pilots floored it and we went as fast as the 737 was allowed to go.  Got in late though.

Today I went to the new Red Hat office building in Westford, MA.  My team has a really cool work area now.  I talked with a lot of people and did get a good bit of stuff done.  One more day this week in the office, then the Summit starts.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Heading to the Mainland

It's currently 2:30 PM on Wednesday and I am in the process of getting everything ready for my trip to the mainland. The first part of this trip is to attend a wedding of two of Karen's friends. After that, Karen comes back home and I head on to Boston where I will stay until the end of June. The first week is the Red Hat Summit and FUDCon. I finally finished up my presentation for the Summit and I'm looking forward to that.

We just got back from running errands. Went to the drug store and picked up medication refills, OTC drugs, and other stuff for the trip. Needed a few random things for the trip too, so went over to Wal-Mart for that. Back at home now.

Completely unrelated, but very annoying, I was told yesterday by my company that I have to get new health insurance because our current PPO plan offered to US employees is not valid in Hawaii. They are researching alternatives for me. Unfortunately, this notice comes at a bad time because I am traveling until the end of June and the end of June is when I have to have new insurance in place. Hopefully I can get it all sorted out by the end of the month.

Flying United this time because it was the cheapest. $25 to check an extra bag. Fun.

OK, time to finish packing.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Response to new iPhone

Media outlets from all over the world have been seeking my opinion on the new iPhone that was announced at today's WWDC in San Francisco.  I shall wait no longer and give you my take on it.

I think everyone should throw away their current iPhones and go buy these.  I know nothing about them except that (a) they are now available and (b) they are from Apple.  So, knowing nothing else, I highly recommend you dump your current gadget and buy the new one.  Immediately.  And buy several.  Disassemble one or two of them and post photos showing the innards.  Send one to some guy in Asia so he can make an unlocking or locking program or something so we can buy the iPhone and use it with Boost Mobility and feel like we're sticking it to AT&T.

In all seriousness, no one is wanting my opinion and I am currently waiting for my devel box to finish installing rawhide, so I thought I'd say something about the iPhone.  The new one comes with everything that everyone was assuming, I guess.  Three copies of the letter G, a built in GPS for better mapwork, the ability to buy apps from the AppStore, more storage, less weight, less cost.  All cool features.  Things I saw that look bad:
  • New iPhone costs too much for existing customers to upgrade to because...
  • New iPhone requires an entirely new AT&T contract, not just a renewal of your existing AT&T leash and...
  • New iPhone raises the data plan cost to 30USD per month instead of the 20USD per month all current customers pay.
If you want my professional and non-professional opinion of the new iPhone, feel free to send me one and I will gladly take a look at it and give you your options.  I can review several iPhones at once too.

Hawai'i is a State

The 50th, even.  It surprises me that people find this difficult.  I mean, if you grew up in the US, you were taught US geography and that usually meant learning all 50 states and capitals.  In fact, they usually let you slide and not know where they all are (Sadly, some people think Hawai'i is in the Gulf of Mexico due to it's placement on maps in school books.  I wonder where they think Alaska is.).

I spoke to someone today who asked when I'd be "back in the states."  Back in the states?  I am in the states.  "Well, you know what I mean....the main states."  What?

I was told that Hawai'i residents take offense to statements like this from tourists.  I must say that it's starting to annoy me to purely because it shows how STUPID Americans are when it comes to geography.  Know your damn states!

Here's an example of conversations you hear a lot in Honolulu.  Yes, people ask if we take American money.  I've heard it several times.  I'm sure car rental places are asked what side of the road we drive on.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Protecting the Environment Hurts the Bank

We are leaving Wednesday night and flying to Chicago and then driving to Delavan, WI for a wedding for two of Karen's friends.  Last night I was searching for cheap car rentals.  A week ago I looked at joining Zipcar, but that would cost too much.  The monthly fee then the daily fee would be more than double a cheap car rental from places like Hertz.  Too bad because I think Zipcar is a neat service.

I check the usual rental places like Hertz, Avis, Budget, and Thrifty.  The cheapest one I found is an off airport location in Chicago (something called Advantage Car Rental).  After my fiasco with Enterprise in Boston and not being able to find the damn return place, I've decided to only rent from on-airport rental companies.  I don't care if it's more expensive.

In this case, the off airport company was $2 cheaper.  Whatever.  The cheapest on airport company was Budget.  The quote I got was $107 for an economy car.  Fine by me.  I decided to check to see if anyone had hybrids.

Several companies had hybrids available and they were all over $500 for the four days we needed the car.  Isn't that a bit crazy?  Sorry, but I'm going with the $107 rental this time.  I am all for helping the environment, but with a price difference that high... environment, you lose this time.  I fully expect to see Iron Eyes Cody crying as I drive off the O'Hare lot with my Hyundai Accent (or similar) car.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Last Temple of the Crystal Skull Crusade Doom

That pretty much sums it up.  I am a big fan of the Indiana Jones triology.  They are fun movies that you can watch in mixed company and not worry about awkward scenes.  There is usually little swearing and the violence is so far fetched anyway that I don't worry about that.  Raiders of the Lost Ark was great, Temple of Doom was scary but also good, and Last Crusade was a great way to cap the series.  So many great lines to quote, so many great scenes...it's a blast to watch.

Fast forward to 2008 where Spielberg and crew give us a new Indiana Jones movie.  Rumors were always circulating about whether we'd see another one.  But really, what would it be about?  Also, isn't Harrison Ford old now?  If you want to stop reading now, yes, he is old.

Last night we saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.  OK, so the title is a bit flimsy.  Granted, Temple of Doom wasn't that strong of a subtitle, but it worked.  The movie was still good.

As per usual, we are offered up a healthy dose of previews and the entertaining Consolidated Amusement Company bumper (seriously, is it bad to like the theatre's bumper?), we are presented with the LucasFilm logo.  OK, movie is beginning, shut up!

Keeping in line with the previous films, the Paramount Pictures logo fades in to scenery (most people don't spot this _except_ in Temple of Doom).  And we see gophers.  Or groundhogs.  Some sort of critter.  You make a mental note of these wondering if they will be important later.  Then a car speeds over the gopher home.  Woo, stuff happening!

The opening is much like the chase at the beginning of Last Crusade, except they are just racing in this movie.  Also, there is no train.  We quickly learn the time period is more in the future and the bad guys in the film are Russians instead of Nazis.

The first scene with Indiana is probably the worst in the film.  It feels very forced and he doesn't really have the character like in the other movies.  I dunno, but that was the vibe I got.  Fortunately it changes later on in the film and he's more like Indiana from previous films.

The Russians have taken him to a warehouse at Area 51 looking for a box.  The warehouse looks exactly like the one featured at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark when the ark was being stored.  During their action adventure chase scene gunfight, they crash through the box containing the ark and you catch a glimpse of it.  Funny!

Indiana has aged in the story, but it still as much of a daredevil in previous films.  For example, he is beating up a Russian guy because he always has to have a fight with just one guy.  And wouldn't you know, they've ended up on a rocket sled and accidently hit the GO button.  Indiana and the Russian guy rocket away in to the desert and we get some shots similar to those seen of Dr. John Stapp and his test at Edwards Air Force Base.

Next, we see Indiana getting away from the Russians by finding a nice little American community....full of mannequins.  Oh my gosh, it's the nuclear test site and they are about to test in 30 seconds!  Indiana is quick to act by hiding in a lead-lined refrigerator and surviving the blast itself and being blown up in to the air and bounced around.  This event caused him to show up on the FBI's radar.

The FBI questions and threatens him, but that's it.  We never see or hear from the FBI again in the film.  Waste of time!

Because of this nuclear blow up test survival thing, the university he teaches at lets him go and his superior (the Sandford inspector from Hot Fuzz) resigns.  Indiana decides to leave, but gets interrupted by Shia LaBeouf on a motorcycle wielding a comb.  Indiana is easily convinced and they go have some drinks.

LaBeouf gives Indiana a letter written in pictures and asks what it means.  It means we have to get on planes and show the map animation these movies are famous for.  But first, I see the KGB over at the counter, so we need to get away from them first!

They start a fight and proceed to get away from the KGB on motorcycle.  They ride through buildings and the university and all over and eventually the KGB decides to go home and Indiana and LaBeouf head to Indy's place to start preparing for this trip to South America.

LaBeouf is still attached to his motorcycle at this point (it even flies with them), but we lose it in South America eventually.

Everyone reconvenes in South America and we find the letter is sent by Marion Ravenwood from Raiders of the Lost Ark who is LaBeouf's mother.  Indiana and Marion fight, there's something about an elongated Mayan skull, and we get to see a crazy whacked out John Hurt.

The Russians want something with the skull.  Treasure, a location, whatever.  I dunno.  Not important.  What is important is it takes them trekking across the jungle.  There's a part where Indiana gets a hold of the vehicle they are in, they all transfer to duck boats and proceed to have a gun/sword fight similar to the mine train scenes from Temple of Doom.  All that ends when they crash in to each other on a giant ant hill.

The ants are those scary South American ants, super scarier for the film.  They kill some of the Russians and try to take Indiana's hat.  But all is well, the good guys pile in to a duck boat and drive off a cliff in to a river.  They then go over three waterfalls, which makes this whole episode sound like a much scarier version of the raft incident from Temple of Doom.

The skull is taking them to some hidden temple.  They get there, it's alien bodies, they return the skull, the aliens come to life somehow and kill the Russians and the hidden civilization.  A spaceship also takes off.  Seriously.

If the end of act III couldn't get any worse, Marion and Indiana get married.  Oh, we found out earlier that LaBeouf is Indiana's son.  Neat.

In conclusion, it felt like a parody of the previous movies.  Weak dialogue and lack of character development for the new people meant it was difficult to watch at some times.  The motivations of the Russians were unclear too.  Plausibility level of almost all of the action was nil, which is the case for the previous movies in a lot of instances, but it just seemed more over the top this time.

What this movie needed was more usage of Indiana's whip.  If they were referencing previous movies, they should have at least had the gun scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark where the guy throws the sword around and Indiana just shoots him.  Also, what was the deal with the gophers?  Or the FBI?  Also, where was Sallah?  Asps are very dangerous.  Speaking of, we needed more snakes.  A pit of snakes.  And since you already have aliens in the film and John Hurt, why not add a chest-burster to mix things up a bit.

Should you see this movie in a theatre?  I hate to say it, but no.  It's a renter at best.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Derrie-Air

The first carbon neutral, all first class, charge by weight airline:  Derrie-Air.  Finally, an airline I can support!

Fishing

There's a guy in our building who goes down to the beach every other day or maybe every day and catches a bag of fish to eat.  I see him in the elevator periodically.

The reason I point this out is he is not the typical fisherman that I would expect to see.  No, he uses a spear gun.  So he has a bag for the fish, a spear gun, and a mask and snorkel.

Hard core.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Cyberpizza Hawaii

Last night, Warren Togami and I gave a presentation about Fedora 9 at the Cyberpizza Hawaii.  We discussed a lot of the new features of Fedora 9.  I gave information about some of the installer improvements we've made and we also talked a lot about the LiveUSB with persistence and the LiveUSB Creator for Windows.  The presentation went over well and the group seemed pretty interested in the LiveUSB capability.  We had a number of 2GB USB jumpdrives preloaded with Fedora 9 as giveaways.

It's still surprising to me that in 2008, Linux is still really new to a lot of people.  When you've been working with Linux for over 10 years, you tend to forget that there are still people who have only heard about it.  Maybe they were given a really old CD of a release from many many years ago and they "have been meaning to try it out."  The LiveUSB method with Fedora makes that a little more accessible.  In Fedora world, it's impossible to wait to try a release.  You can't get an installable CD and shelve it for a year and then try it out.  By then, we've made two more releases.  It just moves so fast.  So we need a fast way for people to try it out.  The LiveUSB method is great for that.

I leave in a week and will eventually make it to Boston for the Red Hat Summit and FUDCon.  I am speaking at the Summit about installation in large enterprise environments.  More on that in another post.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Fuel Prices

Read in the paper today that the average price for regular gas on Oahu hit $4 per gallon (or $1.05 per liter).  I know other parts of the world pay WAY more than what Americans pay, but no matter what it is, a significant increase given what it has been will have an impact on people's daily lives.  Americans are very dependent on cars for things that really don't need cars.

I am glad I moved to Honolulu when I did because I don't drive nearly as much as I did in Boston or Atlanta.  In Boston, I was spending about $500 per month on fuel.  My car takes premium, which on Oahu is now $4.19 per gallon near me1, which means filling up an empty tank on my car is now $60 or so.  If I was doing that in Boston, I'd be broke.

Here, I fill up about every other month because I can walk everywhere.  That really is helping me out on these fuel costs.

I also read in the paper that Hormel posted high earnings, a lot in part due to sales of Spam increasing2.  An AP article I read speculates that combined with the drop in pork belly prices (Hormel called this pork input costs in their earnings report...gross) recently, more families are turning to Spam as a way to help the budget because of rising fuel costs.  Bizarre.