26 February 2008

KDED & me (& Python)

It's clear that KDelicious needs a background service to periodically synchronize with the server without user intervention. KDED seems the perfect answer to this, right? You can build modules that will be started and stopped with the desktop and managed with the "Service Manager" screen in the Control Center (KControl).

Unfortunately, KDED will only load a compiled shared library, not a script or a generic command (which would have been quite handy). I've no idea why, but I guess the KDE devs had their motives when they designed the system. The latest version of kdedistutils (in the pykdeextensions package, hosted on currently-down simonzone.org) only supports the creation of C++ "glue" modules for kparts and kpartplugins, so once again I'm a bit stuck. I guess what one would need is a stub similar to the one that pykdedistutils generates for KControl plugins, KParts and KPartPlugins... I'm not fluent in C++, but I'll see if I can hack my way through. If I manage, i'll send Simon a patch for pykdedistutils.

On a side note, I noticed a few issues with kdedistutils when building KControl modules:

  • it fails creating source distributions (but maybe it's me doing something daft)
  • when building a binary distribution (bdist), it doesn't do static linking, which means that the produced libs are not really portable and require libpythonize to be in the exact same position on the target host.

24 February 2008

Faster or bigger...? (safe for work!)

In the last few months, I've been living in fear that may laptop's HDD would die on me; it's now more than three years old, and has lived through pretty rough times (e.g. 14 months of Gentoo, and quite a few nights compiling KDE4). Half of the smartctl status codes say "Old_age" and the other half "Pre_fail"...

Last week I took a long-overdue full backup, and I'm now thinking about buying a spare replacement as soon as I can, before ATA-100 (also known as PATA or good ol'IDE) models disappear from the market, now dominated by SATA. My choice seems limited to two models:

  1. 100Gb 7200rpm, which is exactly what I have now, or...
  2. a more capable but slower 250Gb 5400rpm
In my experience, Linux likes that extra kick from the HDD much more than Windows, but recently I've had to fight with my filesystem for every spare Gb so I'd really fancy soem extra space. I would be happy to do with something in between (say, 160 or 200Gb 7200rpm), but I can't find anything of that sort anymore. For some reason, it seems like one has to choose between size and speed. What should I do?

23 February 2008

KDelicious 3.2 out

Just a minor release really, I added some translations (thanks to Oliver Bock for the German one) and fixed a few bugs. I'm still looking for new features to add. Apparently, it might soon be reviewed by a magazine, which would be sweet.

22 February 2008

kdepyuic essential patch

This little patch for kdepyuic just made my day.

kdepyuic is a small utility to produce python files from .ui files produced by QtDesigner, ready to be used in PyKDE applications; it basically adds KDE-specific stuff to the standard pyuic utility (a .ui-to-.py compiler included in the generic PyQt distribution).
This i18n patch (courtesy of Stephan Hermann) solves a few headaches with importing the correct i18n function to translate stuff, and I'd strongly recommend everyone writing KDE apps in python to apply it.

(... and this means that a kdelicious release is on its way...)

19 February 2008

on Alan Moore and YouTube

First, a must see for everyone that knows Alan Moore, "the Wizard of England" (via Neil Gaiman):

This guy is from MJ Hibbett & the Validators, which is a pretty geeky name already for a band. If you liked this, you probably want to see Payday and the (quite famous) Hey Hey 16K:

Then, a rant on YouTube. How is it possible that a service clearly built on the concept of feed and "web 2.0" makes it so hard to create an RSS/Atom feed to "republish" a compilation of clips? Officially, they only serve "generic" feeds, either by tag (so free for everyone to spam) or by user (as in uploaded-by a specific user). But internally they DO have "playlists" and "favourites" to which you can "subscribe"... they just don't publish the feed for them; you have to sign up, in a facebook-style lock-in. Very disappointing. Luckily, there are unofficial third-party services like this YouTube Favourites RSS republisher, so you can subscribe to my feed of YouTube Favourites anyway. Sad.

18 February 2008

on Atomic

The new version of Atomic is good. I can finally work properly with my blogspot feed, and the included WYSIWYG editor is good enough for my needs. I only wish it could do feed autodiscovery, at the moment you have to display the feed to trigger it; and pre-fillable automatic namespaces for categories would save a bit of time. UPDATE: uhm, it seems like there are still problems with remembering the configuration...

What else is it left in "feedland" to do? Oh yes, decent torrent integration; after the demise of WritTorrent, I don't see anyone properly doing this yet.

16 February 2008

Democracy 2

"Democracy 2 is the ultimate political strategy / simulation game. Based on a complex Neural network, the game simulates the motivations, loyalties and desires of everyone in the country. As president or prime minister, it's your job to balance the need for income from taxes against the demands of the voters. Do you want your country to be an eco-friendly green paradise? or a socialist utopia? Will you pander to the patriots, the liberals or the religious pressure groups? Can you keep crime under control without destroying the civil liberties of your citizens?"

I just bought it after playing the demo for a little bit. I'm a sucker for this sort of games.

UPDATE: Well, three hours later and I've won one of the several available scenarios, the "socialist agricultural" state that I led to excellence in technology, environmental bliss and fantastic economic growth... I even legalized cannabis to kill off organized crime! It's a simple but addictive game, really worth the money, and extremely educational. I wish there was an italian version to send to my father.

05 February 2008

The Italian Politics Club

  1. The first rule of politics in Italy is that you don't talk about real politics in Italy.
  2. The second rule of politics in Italy is that you DO NOT talk about real politics in Italy. You can talk about "parties" and have endless ideological debates, but absolutely DO NOT try to actually solve problems by enacting policies. People could get angry.
  3. The third rule of politics in Italy is that if someone can't pass a minor law on whatever minor useless subject, the Government is over.
  4. Fourth rule: at least three or four "parties" involved in any trivial discussion or commission. This guarantees instability and respect of the second rule.
  5. Fifth rule: try to fight at the same time with as many people as possible, especially if members of your own government. This will help to apply the second and third rule.
  6. Sixth rule: try to look and act the same as all your colleagues in politics. Otherwise you will be marked as "fesso" (stupid) and you will be ignored.
  7. Seventh rule: governments shouldn't last more than a couple of years at best. Again, this guarantees rule 2 and 3 are respected.
  8. Eighth and final rule: if this is the first time you try to understand Italian politics, you have to get dragged in endless arguments about the role of the Roman Catholic Church and the Mafia and the Big Money People, to conclude 5 hours later that you are absolutely powerless to change anything and the only answer is a south-american-style secular dictatorship that can kill the Pope, burn down the Vatican, put the Mafia in charge of enacting laws in the South, and nationalise all industry.

Note: this is my last post on the subject.

04 February 2008

NYC must be going crazy today

NY Giants won the Superbowl! When we were in NYC two weeks ago, they had just won the Conference (the "semifinal") and the local sport people were thrilled; the entire Madison Square Garden went crazy when it was announced that a couple of Giants players had come to see the Knicks. Now I'm waiting for Youtube to come back online just to see the final 32-yard and 83-yard actions, which must have been spectacular.

02 February 2008

Mandatory "Lost" Theories for Season 4

Fresh from watching the first new episode, I thought I would post a "you read it here first" list of what I think will be revealed or will happen this season...

  • The "freighter people" will be revealed as sent from the original DHARMA owner, Alvar Hanso, who was a weapon dealer and probably not the type of person that accepts to lose property (especially when it's such a property) just like that.
  • Hence, their original objective, of course, was to kill everyone on the island, as they are all deemed to be part of "the Hostiles" by now (and the island must be kept secret anyway). This is why Ben fears them.
  • For some reason (possibly the cover-up already in place, which was that Oceanic815 had been "found" near Bali and all people on board were dead; possibly because they'll end up in a "one helicopter only" scenario where only a few people can board) they will agree to rescue only 6 "losties" -- the confirmed Jack, Kate and Hurley, possibly the two "with-baby" ladies, and a third one who'll eventually die alone as seen in the Season3 finale.
    I would put money on Sawyer, who is smart enough to save his skin in all circumstances, or on Locke, who would probably have died alone in the Real World anyway.
    If Harold Perrineau really has come back not just to shoot flashbacks, then Michael is also an option (him and Walt come back to the island to save the others, Walt again gets trapped there while Michael is forced to escape); Jack tells Kate in S3 finale that they have some sort of debt with the dead man, this would be the one.
    (post-episode4: we now know Sayid is one of the six, which probably eliminates the two "family girls", no matter what Desmond said; as of now, the survivors are all involved in a big coverup-with-blackmail-cum-secretwar, so I don't see class-B characters as being part of that.)
  • From the mobisodes and this appearance in S4 episode 1, we now know for sure that Jack's father is really strolling around the island... probably as a host for Jacob, who will be revealed as a "Bob from Twin Peaks" kind of ghost.
  • We'll not see much of "Smokey" (the monster made of smoke) this year; since the only thing left to confirm is that it's just an artificial security system originally built by DHARMA, we might finally see how it is activated, but my guess is that the writers will keep this for Season 5.
  • Season 4 will end with the "Oceanic 6" flying away, after a struggle between losties and freighter people (plus the Jacob subplot); Season 5 will all be about them coming back for some sort of showdown. The writers very clearly stated, after the first season, that the original vision was for a 5-years story arc; I hope they're not tempted to backtrack and keep the series running after that, as it would be reduced to an endless war between losties+others and DHARMA/Hanso. (Update: it has since been confirmed that the series will end in season 6, so I guess the last showdown will be very long)
  • There's probably lots of space for a prequel that would tell the DHARMA story in detail (the initial project, the original colonization, the civil war with "the Hostiles", possibly even the post-purge struggle to regain the island); either a regular tv series, a movie, or more realisticly a few books. I guess it will depend on the ratings of Season 5.