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Prologue - Blogger Definition (via mulix)

Muli said in one E-mail that he heard that a blogger is defined as someone who'd rather write about doing X than do X. Am I an avid blogger? Right now I have 14 (!) items that I'd like to blog about, and would rather do something better than write about all of them. Some of them actually contain useful technical information and others talk about my hacktivity.

The blog entries of most bloggers focus on one or a few issues and if more issues are discussed, the blog is updated more frequently. I, on the other hand tend to collect many topics, and write about them in one swoop. Thus, many people who read my Advogato/LiveJournal blog may be overwhelmed by it. But most Advogatoers do something along this line as well, partly because the Advogato recent-log does not like small entries much.

But I digress. What I want to say is that while I find my online diary important, and a good way to remain organized as well as to sharpen my writing skills, and to hopefully entertain a few really bored souls (hi guys!), I find that if I do it often it becomes very time consuming. When I write blog entries or E-mails, I usually take a long time to think about what I'd like to say, what I wanted to say and forgot while writing what I have written until now, etc. It's quite time consuming for me. So I might try to avoid doing it too often.

I also thing that I find writing about things I did in a weblog less entertaining than actually doing these things in the first place. But so far I treated it as something I just need to do.

Aside from this thought, I'll entertain you (ha!) today with two other topics of the remaining 13. One of them is copied from an E-mail I wrote to a correspondant, but still is very much a classic blog entry. The other one talks about etymology.

Hectic Thursday and Friday

On Thursday, I woke up prematurely at 3:30 AM and decided that it was one of these days that I did not want to go back to bed. I stayed awake until I went to sleep at around 23:00. At first I started working on making sure a Perl module (HTML::Parser) has 100% test coverage as part of the Phalanx project.

However, some things in the module were relatively anachronistic and quite annoyed me so I delayed continuing working on it. So instead I went to continue working on preparing a vector graphics sketch of the left pane in this Ozy and Millie panel strip.

I made a lot of progress. What I have now seems to resemble the lower part of the original, but the curves are still quite non-identical. Nevertheless I want to complete everything and then to fine-tune everything at the end.

Working on such an image is relatively tedious, so I alternated between doing it and doing something else. Throughout the day I found myself to be pretty bored, so I decided to try doing something productive and hope that the appetite will follow the food.

So I set out to work on a project which I started and then abandoned to write the SVN::Pusher module and the svn-pusher command line client. I wrote a basic version of this utility called "svn-push" in C which is working but is very limited, and I wanted to write it in Perl so it will be more flexible. Someone wrote a module called SVN::Push and placed it on CPAN which contained a similar functionality, and I decided to base on it. However, after converting the code to do what I want, I encountered some problems, and thus abandoned it for a while.

So on Thursday, I went back to it again, was able to find a workaround for the bug that troubled but encountered other bugs. I resolved them as well, and when I finished late at night (22:00 or so) I had a working version. I still have some work to do, but I'm glad that I was successful. Most of my problems were caused by the fact that what I wanted to do was quite different than the original's code, but at least the API was bug-free.

I conversed on the IRC almost the entire time, in hope that people can help me. I think I found out the problems on my own eventually, but it was still a fun conversation. Here is an excerpt from towards the end of it:

     <rindolf>  Success!!!
     <rindolf>  I discovered another copy-and-paste-bug and now everything is
                working. In Perl.
     <rindolf>  Problem between the keyboard and the chair.
      <Rytmis>  The most common sort
     <rindolf>  _My_ keyboard and chair.
      <Rytmis>  I stand by my statement *grin*
     <rindolf>  That's the problem with starting from a code that does things
                differently, and does more.
     <rindolf>  It's a good thing I wrote this test case.
     <rindolf>  ayita: kfogel interview?
       <ayita>  I don't know anything about kfogel interview.
     <rindolf>  ayita: learn kfogel
       <ayita>  rindolf: I don't understand what you are telling me.
     <rindolf>  ayita: kfogel interview is
       <ayita>  Thanks!
     <rindolf>  ayita: good girl.
     <rindolf>  ayita: kfogel interview?
     <rindolf>  ayita: kfogel interview?
       <Dave`>  kfogel interview?
             *  Dave` smells ayita timing out
       <darix>  ayita: index kfogel.*
       <darix>  you killed her it seems
     <rindolf>  darix: LOL
  <davidjames>  It's not nice to hurt people
       <darix>  eh: pokes
       <Dave`>  Oh my god, they killed ayita!
     <sussman>  hiiiiiiiiiidey ho!
             *  rindolf quickly finds someone else to blame.
     <rindolf>  a scape-goat!
     <rindolf>  sussman: excuse me?
     <sussman>  obscure tv reference, it's ok
     <rindolf>  sussman: you'll be the ideal scape-goat for the murder of ayita.
     <rindolf>  Here's another t.v. reference:
     <sussman>  I think you'de be good at the 'werewolf' game
     <rindolf>  "You know it would be the easiest thing to blame it on Nanny."
     <rindolf>  "Let's do it then."
 <littlezoper>  sussman: mr hankey?
       <Dave`>  sussman: the werewolf game? Is that the card-based RPGish game?
             *  rindolf is listening to The Beatles - Come Together
     <sussman>  littlezoper: ding ding
 <littlezoper>  woo hoo! :)
     <sussman>  http://svn.red-bean.com/repos/sussman/software/werewolf/
 <littlezoper>  that show's horrible :P
  <davidjames>  sussman: South Park is obscure? :)
     <sussman>  it was to rindolf
     <sussman>  http://svn.red-bean.com/repos/sussman/software/werewolf/wolfbot.py
     <rindolf>  sussman: I maybe watched 10 minutes of south park in total.
     <sussman>  ah
     <rindolf>  "Got to be good-looking cause he's so hard to see."
     <sussman>  Beatles?
     <rindolf>  sussman: yes, from "Come Together".
     <rindolf>  I was listening to it now.

Pretty silly I'd say.

Then when I checked E-mail I found out that some folders had 30 or 20 messages. Apparently the flame-war in discussions@hamakor really heated up. It all occured because someone who is a member of the Israeli local Free and Open Source Sotware (FOSS) Community is quite tactless and tends to troll and insult people a lot. As a result this discussion heated up and people tried to reply against the accusations. When this member was decided to be moderated, people tried to say it was a wrong decision to moderate him, and as a result a lot of further accusations were thrown.

This has caused several subscribers to leave the mailing list, some people to request to revoke their membership from the Israeli FOSS NPO, and one member of the board to resign. (claiming that the board should have the approval of the assembly) Now it seems like it has hopefully cooled down a bit.

In any case, I did not have a time to catch up with it too closely at that point, because I had to go to sleep. I was waked up at 6:30 AM by my Sleep Alarm, because I was picked up at 8:00 by Lior Kaplan in order to upgrade the server iglu.org.il (known as eskimo to the adminstration group), from Debian GNU/Linux 3.0 ("Woody") to Debian 3.1 ("Sarge"). Despite the fact Sarge is a .1 release, it was about 3 years since the previous release, so it's the most fundamental upgrade to Debian so far. We also wanted to install a new 320 GB hard disk there.

The upgrade took some time, but went quite well. Lior was a big help. One problem we encountered was with setting up the RAID array. It seems that the previous tool chain for managing them was no longer available, and the replacement required some tweaking to be compatible with it. I won't bore you with the technical detail, but eventually we had to do a relatively ugly kludge to get it to work. Luckily there was pretty good documentation available on the hard-disk.

After we installed the hard-disk, we had to format it, which took a long time. It's strange, but I don't recall that formatting an XFS partition takes so long. Granted, my hard-disk is quarter the size of the hard-disk we installed there, but I think it took less than quarter of the time. Maybe I should ask Linux-IL about it.

In any case, this gave us the opportunity to eat, so we went outside, and bought Shawarma, and went back. The formatting was finished and we decided that everything was in order and we could continue doing the rest from remote.

I should note that the place has left quite an impression on me. The Eskimo server is hosted in the server farm of an Israeli ISP called Actcom, which is very friendly to Israeli Open Source Activities. It occupies most of the second floor of a building called "The Tower of Haifa" which is relatively old. The rooms and corridors looked relatively aged and neglected. The server room was heavily crowded with servers one next to the other. I was told it "looks like shit" on one occassion but I was actually relieved when I saw how it really looked like. We spotted other servers we were familiar with there.

We had to work in the room of the Technical support people. (Four supporters crowded in one room with microphones, computers, etc.). So we listened to their conversation and had to be quiet. We worked on the remote computer through a mechanism that allowed seeing the screen output of the computer on our local screen. The local computer which we sat next too has ran Windows 98 and we had a graphical browser, an SSH client, etc. available there.

After we were finished, Lior drove me to the Train and Bus station. The last train to Tel Aviv was leaving, so I decided to take the bus instead. Then my father drove me from where the bus stopped. I arrived at the house at around 16:00, washed my face and ate, and then went to the computer to catch up with the E-mails.

Someone actually told me that he'd like to hear my opinion on that. I answered him that I was busy working on SVN::Pusher and upgrading Eskimo, and so could not engage in something less productive like a grand-scale flame-war. Productive work is a dirty job, but someone has to do that...

In any case, I cought up with the rest of the correspondence, and wrote some E-mails summarizing my opinion.

Meanwhile it seems that a server on the Technion (vipe.technion.ac.il) which I have an account on, to read E-mails and host some web stuff, has become disconnected yet again. I feel like I'm missing a bone or something. I went to sleep at around 22:00, but fell asleep only at around 00:30.

I had a good night sleep, and woke up on Saturday at 11:30 AM and today at 10:30. I feel refreshed from the sleep, which I did not get enough of for two consecutive days. Yesterday and today I also went to ride my bike, so I got some exercise, and did some physical travelling.

There's some more upcoming open-source related activity in Israel (either "real-life" or electronic), so there will be more things that other people and I will need to take care of.

Placement of Sentence Parts in Arabic and Hebrew

My family and I went to my grandmother for lunch. My grandmother and her husband are Iraqi Jews and my step-grandfather also knows Literate Arabic. So he asked me about Inna and her Sisters. So I told him that it was a group of connectives that included "Inna", "Anna", and others (he added "Lakinna" "La'anna", and maybe others.). I remembered it from my Arabic studies. Then I tried to remember what were they all about. And then it hit me.

You see, in Arabic, the verb usually precedes the subject: "Walked the Boy to the Garden" (pardon my Anglicalization of the Arab words, but otherwise this entry will make less sense to people who don't know Arabic than it already does). However, after "Inna", "Anna", etc. the subject precedes the verb: "I said that the boy walked to the garden.".

Now, in ancient Hebrew in regular sentences the verb also preceded the sentence: "And said God 'And there was Light'". Maybe after some of the Hebrew equivalents to Inna and her sisters, there was a similar rule regarding the placement of the verb and subject, but I don't remember. However, occassionally we can find the subject preceding the verb. For example, in Genesis 4, 1, after Adam and Eve have been driven out of the Garden of Eden, it says "Weha'dam Yada Eth Hava Ishto", which means "And (the) Adam knew Eve his wife". Only because the subject came before the verb, some people claimed that it means something like "had known" in English, and they actually mated when they were in the Garden of Eden already.

Now in modern Hebrew (both spoken and Hebrew), the subject, the action and the object (or indirect object) can come in any possible combination:

  1. The boy went to the garden.
  2. Went the boy to the garden.
  3. To the garden the boy went.
  4. To the garden went the boy.
  5. The boy to the garden went.
  6. Went to the gardent the boy.

The most commonly used form is the first, but they are all technically valid. Other combinations can sound funny, but probably less so than English. Also, when constructing complex sentences out of clauses, etc. it is possible that some combinations will no longer be valid.

I was told that in German, they have some kind of aural indicators for different parts of the sentence (the subject, the action, the object etc.). These things don't exist in Hebrew. A listener has to deduce which part of the sentence is which according to the meaning of each part.

To add to the confusion, in Literate Arabic, pronouns (like "I", "He", "Them") come before the subject. So you say "I walked to the garden" instead of "Walked I to the garden". If you think Semitic Languages are insane so far, wait till you get to the verb and noun formation...

E-mail, RSS, and doing something productive - choose two

(This entry is on the house). I came up with the conclusion that I can do two of either reading and writing E-mails, catching up with the RSS news, and doing something productive like programming or working on a site or an essay. If I read all the E-mails and read all the relevant RSS news items, then I don't have much time for doing something productive. If I'm doing something productive, then a lot of unread E-mails or RSS news items are gathered unread in my folders.

I think I'll just start using the "Mark all as read" menu option. If I don't read everything in "Planet Everything-Under-the-Sun-And-His-Mother" or miss some technical discussions in an interesting mailing list, (which may be enlightening, but not things I can't ask later on if I ran into this particular issue myself.), then I'll probably survive. And it will give me more time to do something productive.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Aug. 1st, 2005 04:00 am (UTC)
Hey Shlomi.

At least here on LiveJournal, it's more natural to create short entries, for the simple reason that they don't hog the friends list.

An alternative to that is to use an lj-cut. You really should have used one (or three) for this entry.

Also, now that LiveJournal added tags, you can use them to tag each entry, so people can filter and read only those of your entries that interest them. This encourages multiple entries with single topics.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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