• Reading Confessions. Enjoying it.

  • Bought a Macbook. Running Feisty. More info later.

  • Missing iCal terribly.

  • Was ill over the Eight Hours Day long weekend.

  • Tasmania's bus system doesn't cater to weekend tourism.

  • Just watched all of Season 1 of 24. I love how every second sentence ends with "now!".

  • Looking to pay people to host mail for myself and Crossroads (several mailing lists and addresses).

  • Finished every single level on Super Mario World except the final battle with Bowser.

  • Everyone at Crossroads loves WarioWare Smooth Moves. Unfortunately, someone filmed me doing the dance routine from the Tiny Wario section.

  • Not contributing much to Twisted at the moment.

  • There is a testing-in-python mailing list. There is some interesting discussion going on there. I just hope that the people there who are writing things learn from xUnit, Trial, nose and bzr.tests and don't just make the assumption that not having to write a 'class FooTest(TestCase):' statement makes something cool.

  • On testing, glyph has promised to finally tell me what he means about xUnit.


Regular readers will know that I am shopping for a laptop.

Currently, the Macbook is the front-runner, especially now that I have a canary to descend into the mines and check whether it will run Linux properly.

Still, the Thinkpad X60 looks like a fine machine. If only it didn't cost 3,599 AUD to buy one. If only I could find some magical wonderland where hardware is a cheap as chips.

As it turns out, this magical wonderland actually exists.

Come with me to New Zealand!

Cross the ethereal Tasman and go to Lenovo's New Zealand website. Gaze upon their X Series range. Gasp in amazement at the price of the 2GHz X60—3,129 NZD. That's about 2750 AUD. Or, as like I to say it:


I called Lenovo's Australian sales centre and asked them about the price difference. They pointed out that the New Zealand price doesn't include Australia's 10% GST. However, even with GST, it's still about 575 AUD cheaper in New Zealand. They pointed out that Lenovo Australia is offering a free MP3 player worth over $200 for free with the X60 laptops. They speculated that demand for the Thinkpad X60 might be higher here in Australia. They sounded unconvinced.

Wild plans have been buzzing around my head. Perhaps I could fly to New Zealand and bought a laptop there. No, the tickets alone would cost between $700 and $850. I could arrange for a friend in New Zealand to order the laptop and then ship it over. Still, that's a lot of hassle. Perhaps it's worth it.

The information is out there, let the market forces do their work!

"Linux" Annoyances

I've started using Linux on the desktop again after a couple of years of using OS X. By 'Linux', I of course mean Ubuntu Edgy running Gnome with the default window manager. Here' what irritates me so far:

  1. Lack of a keyboard-driven way to launch applications or switch between open windows by name. That is, lack of Quicksilver.

  2. No convenient way to cycle between open windows of an application. The equivalent OS X operation is Cmd-`. I suspect this is why many linux apps have sprouted tabs.

  3. New windows steal focus. I've talked about this a little on IRC. If you launch an application from the menu, then switch to IRC to type something witty, the new application's window might appear and steal your focus mid-witticism. Very irritating.

I'd say more about applications, windows, switching and launching and how some of them are the same and others are different, but I'm really, really hungry.

Punters, let me know what I can constructively do about my Linux annoyances.

Let's Go Shopping

I'm shopping around for a new laptop. My Powerbook is getting a little long in the tooth and, more importantly, has a lot of troubles running Linux.

My new laptop has to be able to run Linux. In particular, the built-in wifi needs to work. I won't mind it if I'm forced to spend some time doing non-custom config, as long as it will work.

I'm going to have to travel a bit more than usual, so I want my new laptop to be smaller and preferably lighter than my 15" Powerbook... and I want good battery life too.

Now, looking around, the best value-for-money laptop appears to be the Macbook. If you take a similarly sized Dell and add features to it until you have a Macbook equivalent, then you'll end up paying more money.

I'm still not set on getting a Macbook -- I'm a little scared about Linux support.

What advice do you have for me, O reader?

Update: Someone recommended a Lifebook. More expensive, but all its innards are Intel, which makes for Linux goodness.

Update: People have asked me for figures. A
2.0GHz Macbook
with 1GB RAM and 120GB HDD costs AUD 2399. A similarly specced ThinkPad T60 costs AUD 3699. The ThinkPad X60 1706H7M costs AUD 3599. The Lifebook S6311 costs AUD 2999.

Good Morning Freedom Lovers!

Just back from linux.conf.au 2007 and first week of working at Canonical, makers of fine software. Working on Bazaar / Launchpad integration, which promises to be a lot of fun.

Two crazy ideas I had while in Sydney. I'm posting them here because I think they are worth discussing and there's pretty much no other way I can act on them.

1. A Google Maps-style app which showed real estate / rental prices as contours / altitudes / colour.

2. A OLPC application designed to let children make up their own games with their own rules and play those games with other OLPC-laptop owners. No clue how to do this.

What do you think?


From Riastradh on #emacs:

What irks me is that `lol' no longer has any relation even with humour, hilarity, or laughing, let alone laughter out loud, annoying as it is with that application. It has become a new form of punctuation mark that doesn't actually mean anything and serves no purpose but to lower the level of the conversation.

Well said, sir!


Even though Australians don't celebrate Thanksgiving, I thought I'd get into the spirit of the season by giving my thanks to the various free and open source software projects that I use every day.

I know you guys get a lot of flack and you need to sort out your crazy, crazy licensing, but I still love you anyway. Thank you for DOM Inspector.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
We've been together for years. Even though I've used other editors, you've always been there for me, patiently waiting and improving.
X-Chat Aqua
Even though I'm stranded in OS X, it still doesn't mean I can't pretend.
Adium X
I can't tell you how much I appreciate being able to have exactly one IM client. Merging contacts is such a good idea.
Definitely not perfect, but who is? When you are actually up and running, you are reasonably effective at tracking bugs, and I'm thankful for that. Wiki markup in commit messages and ticket comments is an excellent idea.
Namespaces are one honking great idea -- let's do more of those!
I've learnt so much from working on Twisted. Once you get past the weirdness and the brash exterior, the community has a heart of gold. I'm glad to be a member.
The rest

Those are the applications and libraries I actually, regularly use. However, most of them owe their existence and vigour to a host of libraries and tools. Thanks to gcc, libgaim, openssl, pyopenssl, gtk, the python standard library, expat, ssh, screen, vim and on and on and on.

The foundations are so vast, it is hard to imagine so many programmers giving so much time. Spending hundreds of hours chasing down bugs, reading specs, writing tests, composing arguments for mailing lists, packaging, implementing UI edge cases, triaging bugs and occasionally actually writing code that does stuff.

Thanks to the men and women of the FOSS community.

There and Back Again

I've been wanting to run Ubuntu on my Powerbook for some time now. However, I've let "I dare not" wait upon "I would", like the poor cat i'the adage. After two years of using OS X, I've got all my cruft set up just the way I like it.

So I backed up my OS X install (using the very nice Super Duper) and took the plunge. I had a plan. It had a lot of steps.

Step 1, install the OS. No problems here.

Step 2, set up wifi. Uh oh.

There are some very clear and simple instructions on how to get Ubuntu talking to the nasty, proprietary little wifi card inside the powerbook (thanks nickm!). I followed these, and was able to scan for networks. Alas, I wasn't able to actually connect to any of them.

It appears that other people have had this problem. Unfortunately, hours of search left me without solution or diagnosis. No one has replied to my forum post. The people on #ubuntu got me to try all the obvious things (I'd already tried them), and the people on #ubuntu-au did much the same, except they were more friendly and had longer attention spans. The aussies also gave me a lead -- apparently cafuego has bundled some firmware and I should try that.

Unfortunately, by the time I got that lead, I had already begun to restore my OS X installation to its natural home.

I'm a little disappointed about the whole experience. Apart from taking up a slab of free time that I could have spent on other things,
it means I still lack a Linux workstation...

... which could be embarrassing when I'm at LCA 2007. I've registered and booked my tickets. I'm not sure if I've paid yet. They wouldn't let me pay when I registered. Hmmm. I should talk to someone about that.

Anyway, it's my intention to be in Sydney for LCA 2007. I hope to see you there, dear reader.