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“rock” verses “rocks”

A guy on the Summer of Code asked about the following.

Linux rocks, FreeBSD rocks – but Linux and FreeBSD rock.

Which is correct use of rock verse rocks but I have no idea why. Suck also works like this,

Windows sucks, MacOS X sucks – but Windows and MacOS X suck.

This just proves that I know nothing about this language I use every day. Could a linguist please explain this?

Packing your bags…

About 6 months ago I started interviewing with Google Australia and about a month ago they made me a job offer that I could not refuse. So now I’m packing my bags and heading to Sydney, I start work in about three weeks but I am being sent to the States for some training first. Unlike most of the Googlers in Sydney, I’m not going to be working on Google Maps.

I’m very excited too start working with Google but it has been pretty big decision to make. I have never moved anywhere permanently before and I’m currently still living at home with my parents. I did live in Sweden for 6 months, but that was always with the intention of coming back home. On the other hand, it is not like I am moving to totally a different country and I already have loads of friends and family living in Sydney.

I have been thinking that I want to move to a big city for a number of reasons. An example of this that I often use, is that “I want to be able to order pizza after midnight”. It is annoying that just when I’ve started getting more involved in the local FOSS groups I’m leaving for another state. I do hope to continually be involved with SLUG and other FOSS events going on in Sydney too.

I’ve spent most of this ANZAC Day long weekend trying to organize all my stuff. You never realize how much crap you have until you decide to move and I don’t even own any furniture yet! Luckily my parents have plenty of storage space. Having never done this before, I’m sure that I’m probably doing it all wrong.

I’m a little bit of a technology pack rat (like most geeks) but I have been trying to give away all the old computer bits that I had always being meaning to fix or use. There should be plenty of happy Adelaide FOSS people soon 😉

If you are in Adelaide and want to catch up before I head off (Friday the 16th), or in Sydney (or even the Mountain View, USA) and want to come and say “Hi!” please feel free to email me.

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I’m sure most people are wondering what he hell “quotidian” is, I myself did not know this word existed. The word actually means mundane or everyday, a work colleague suggested it when I asked is anyone knew what the opposite to epiphany was. So you probably wondering why I’m going on about some stupid word, well the reason is that I have finally converted from the gnome Epiphany web browser to Firefox.

For thoses who don’t know, Epiphany is generally described as “the closest thing to Gnome’s official web browser”. It has lots of nifty features and use to have much better intergration with the Gnome desktop (things like actually using the Gnome print dialog). I use to advocate that Gnome should push Epiphany instead of Firefox.

So why have I given up? I’m tired of my browser being broken.

The developers of Epiphany decided to make some huge changes in the latest version, they started adding support for the WebKit (the render behind Safari) instead of just being dependent on Gecko (the same render Firefox uses). This is actually a very good goal, being able to have a choice of renders in my browser would be great. However, in the process of doing this change they broke everything! Things like the vitally important Adblock extension no longer work and the password manager is totally broken in a number of ways – for a long time they didn’t even show up in the dialog.

I’m okay with a few bugs here and there (even these quite serious ones) to get something better in the long run. I have diligently reported bugs as I found them (even firing up a different browser when the gnome bug browser was crashing Epiphany). I even started porting Google Gears to Epiphany because I had faith that Epiphany was going to remain a killer browser.

Now I find out that it has all been for nothing, the developers have decided they are going to totally ditch Gecko and move only to WebKit (with all the compatibility problems it will bring). There are so many reasons why this is a bad idea, none of which I’m going to repeat here.

So I’m now writing this in Firefox instead of Epiphany and I’m pretty happy. Having access to all the extensions that Firefox has is really nice for once. There a number of features which I miss from Epiphany and extensions have filled most of that void, so what did I install?

  • Tab History, this means that new tabs have the same history as the parent tab. This is something Epiphany does by default and I find absolutely vital.
  • Compact Menu 2, a little extension which gives you the ability to have all your menus in a single button saving you precious vertical screen space.
  • Ad Block Plus, got to keep away those evil ads. It’s amazing how annoying the web is with ads, I had gotten so use to not seeing them that I didn’t know how bad it actually was.
  • NoScript, get rid of all that annoying flash and evil javascript. In epiphany I generally ended up just apt-get removing flash, now I can still watch stupid Youtube videos without being violated by monkies.

I also installed two extensions that have no equivalent under Epiphany, they are

  • Greasemonkey, the extension for making websites the way you like them.
  • Firebug, a really cool tool for figuring out how a website is made up and various problems with them.

I’m still looking for an extension which makes the Firefox 3.0 URL bar sane. I really like how the Epiphany one behaves and will probably end up writing my own extension if I don’t find anything. The important features that I require are,

  • Single line per URL with the title on the right.
  • Support for “smart bookmarks” as the last option. These let you search for the current term at Google or Wikipedia without prefixing it with a stupid keyword or something.

Here is what my Firefox looks like currently. As you can see I have significantly customized the toolbar to remove all that excesses.

Screenshot of my Firefox

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Thousand Parsec accepted into Google Summer of Code 2008!

As I’m too lazy to write a post myself, here is one from JLP:

Google has just published the list of accepted mentoring organizations for Google Summer of Code 2008 and it is great to see that Thousand Parsec has made it once again. We must be doing something right 🙂

So, if you are into turn-based 4X space strategy games and would like to help in game development, this is your chance. Take a look at our Google Summer of Code and Ideas for Programmers pages and get involved. There is even US$ 4500 to encourage you to take that step into the world of open source software programming.

Interested students now have about a week to get to know us better. You can chat with us on IRC (Freenode network, #tp channel) or write to our development mailing list. Starting March 24 student applications can be submitted, all applications must be in by March 31. I’m looking forward to be a mentor again.

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Gaming Miniconf Videos

At 2008 the AV team did a great job of recording the main conference and almost all the talks can be downloaded from the main website. They where however, unable to record all the miniconf proceedings. I ran the Gaming Miniconf again and like last year I was able to record the proceedings myself. It took me a while, but I have finally finished encoding the videos and you can now download the videos. They should be of similar quality to the main conference videos.

The day on a whole was fairly successfully and there where lots of interesting talks, panels and tutorials. One of the coolest talks was Douglas Bagnall’s “Playing with Crayons“, while we had a number of technical difficulties with getting his laptop talking to the projector (he has an evil Nvidia card), it was really cool to learn about this program which turns a kid’s crayon drawing into a playable game. Douglas has now open sourced the code and looking to port it to the OLPC!

We also had some very cool panels sessions. The first was about using FOSS in Game Development education, we had some representatives from some of the top game education institutes in Australia. The second was an interesting licensing panel which includes Jessica Coats from Creative Commons Australia and Kimberly Weatherall – a former Rusty Wrench winner. I think our last panel was the best however, people got to grill representatives of the Australian commercial game industry on how they are using FOSS at their commercial game companies!

There where also some really good talks by Richard and Alex about pyglet, including the most impressive live coding I have ever seen. As the pyglet tutorial is so cool and I have also uploaded it to Google Video for your viewing pleasure. Of course, we couldn’t keep Rusty Russell away, he gave a short lightening talk about his new Pong Hero!

So why not download the Gaming Miniconf vidoes and take a look.

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Google Summer of Code on again!

Leslie Hawthorn has announced that the Google Summer of Code is on again. Like, nobody saw that comming! Hopefully, Thousand Parsec will be a mentor organisation again. Have to keep those southern hemisphere mentor numbers up!

Thousand Parsec primary client 0.3.0 released!

As announced at, I’m happy to point out that we have finally anounced the 0.3.0 release of the Thousand Parsec client which I work on.

It’s been a long time since the last release of the primary client for playing Thousand Parsec games. Now, the wait is finally over and it was well worth it. Large parts of the client have drastically changed. Connecting to game servers is simplified. The new user interace enables you to more easily see important information and then more efficiently issue orders. Translation support makes it possible to conqueror the universe in your mother language. For all the details check out the full release announcement. If you downloaded a previous release and didn’t like it, please give this new release a try!

CFXS free at last!

Those who either know me personally, or have read more of my blog might remember my final year honours project. The project was to build a budget 8 line USB channel bank. Originally, I had hope to commercialise the project, the prospects looks good until two competing products where released into the market for only a slightly higher cost point. I had always hoped to make the system a piece of open hardware, but both the Uni rules and trying to commercialise it had made that difficult.

As a strange coincidence, David Rowe, a guy doing open source embedded Asterisk hardware, lives less then 15 minutes walk from my home. His main motivation behind this open hardware is to try and bring technology to the developing world in a way which empowers them instead of making them dependent on external supplies. We got chatting at a local LinuxSA meeting and he was partly inspired by my device to start the $10 ATA project. (David also has a bunch of other cool projects like his own electric car and trying to go off the grid).

Sometime during that, I removed the access controls on the subversion repository that I had used for the CFXS so that David could look at it. It turns out though, that I never told anyone else! So that is the main aim of this post, to tell you all where you can get a copy of source files for my honours project.

The subversion repository is located at the following url You can check it out using the following subversion command,

svn co cfxs

So why not check it out and build your own? I have some left over components which I’m happy to dole out if you agree to actually use them in a useful way. Just send me an email.

David (hopefully I’m not putting words in his mouth here) is hoping that we can use this device in combination with the OLPC XO laptop to bring telephony to a whole village. The mesh networking wireless would be ideal for doing VOIP, while my 8 port CFXS device and some very cheap handsets can give a bunch of people “real” phones. The system can also be made very low power as both the OLPC and the CFXS device can be in power down modes while nothing is happening.

So I guess we will see what happens in the near future, it seems like it’s an exciting area of FOSS to be involved in. Sadly, I don’t have much time to work on any of this.

Google Patchwork

I live in Adelaide and have been playing around with Google maps recently. I have no sense of direction which makes Google quite useful for getting to places. It appears that Google has some problems with satellite images for South Australia. If you take a look at the map below, you should see that it is built out of three totally different captures, you can even see a few clouds.

Google patchwork.

If you zoom out one more level, the map data totally change,

Google Transsision

I wonder how they decided what data to use?

LCA2008 all over :(

Well, I am back at work after spending last week at, it was a huge amount of fun and the organisers did a great job. I am really happy that I got to catch up with all the people cool I had not seen for almost a year. We managed to have a Thousand Parsec developer meeting which was pretty fruitful. As with last year, I ran the Gaming Miniconf and a large “Open Source Gaming” stand on Open Day.

The Gaming Miniconf was a little slow to start, my first speaker turned up late and my second speaker was unable to get his laptop to work with the projector. I was disappointed with the turn out during the morning, last year we easily had 70 people for most of the day, while this year it was closer to 40. The competition for people’s attention in the morning was tough, there where 8 other miniconfs running. The keynote speeches before the Miniconfs last year, really helped make everyone was getting out of bed.

I am much happier with the afternoon, things ran significantly smoother and the pyglet tutorial was a huge hit. It was amazing to watch Richard and Alex work, they really should give a main conference tutorial next year. I am currently encoding all the talks and hope to have them up very soon (for those who where silly enough to attend the wrong Miniconf). Watch this space for more information.

The Open Day was pretty cool, I would like to thank all the helpers – they did a great job and allowed me to concentrate on organising things (like setting up hardware and finding lunch for everyone). I do wish that the Open Day venue was much larger, it was rather cramped for most of the day. The open day is one of the best events we have to show the general public all the cool things FOSS is doing and I would like to see it become a bigger and longer event.

I belive that previously Miniconf organisers had been given the short end of the stick. The effort required to organise a Miniconf is significantly more then required for a talk, yet they received none of the perks or recognition that speakers did. I’m glad that the organising committee decided to make a change this year and I feel this small gesture made a huge difference.

Of course, I also managed to attended a number of cool talks. I would recommend going and watching some of them.