2008-02-19 10:53

Strange things I see: the roof statue of Carupá

Walking near the train station of Carupá, heading for a customer's I saw a rather shabby house in the industrial area, white and with green painted doors made of metal. And on top of it, standing as if about to jump, there's a statue of a chubby guy wearing a white shirt and black pants. Why is there a statue in the roof of that house? Why is it so creepy?


The awful picture is courtesy of my phone.

2008-02-18 10:06

Text-based presentations

There have been a few posts on planet KDE about text-based presentation tools (1 , 2 , 3) and while their solutions are all probably better than mine, I have to say I did something in the area about a year ago.

Since I like restructured text and PyQt that's what it's based on, but you can just use it with vi and a wyse60, if you want.

My project is called Tobogan and it has a working version.

It has a GUI, but let's ignore it for this post about text-based software ;-) and show the text behind it:

Why use Tobogan

(If you are a nerd)

:transitions: from_left,to_left,from_top,to_top,from_right,to_right,to_bottom,fade_out

It's nerd-oriented

It's trivial to display source code, with
proper syntax highlighting.

.. code-block:: python

    from base64 import *
    def myFirstFunction():
          print b64decode ('YnllIHdvcmxkIQ==')

Even for things like shell sessions.
Dammit, I am a nerd, I will try to add every nerd
feature I deem cool.

It does things simply

This is a subtitle?

Wanna show a flickr photo?

.. code-block:: rst

    .. flickr:: myPhotoTitle

How about using openomy.com to share your files?
And whatever else you can think of, it probably
**can**\  be done.

.. footer:: Smart thing goes here

And here is the result after running rst2sl.py on it.


  • If you move the cursor to the top, you will get (broken?) previous/next arrows
  • If you click on the window, you get to the next slide.

I have not touched this in almost a year, and it would need lots of love, but it's not a bad concept, IMVHO.

2008-02-13 12:57

Update: wicd is not insane after all

Its dependencies seem to have reverted to something sane lately:

Package: wicd
Version: 1.4.2-1
Section: extras/web
Priority: optional
Architecture: all
Essential: no
Depends: python, python-gtk2, python-dbus | python2.4-dbus,
wpasupplicant, python-glade2, wireless-tools

I may still keep on working on my Qt frontend but just because I enjoy it. Good job wicd guys!

2008-02-12 12:15

Open with: Google Docs

The eee is small. It has very little storage. So, why should I use dozens of MB on a word processor? Because I get word documents in the mail every once in a while.

In fact, the only word documents I get are error messages from windows users. Here's the procedure every one of them seems to have found to tell me what's inside explorer's error pages:

  1. Capture the screen
  2. Paste it into Word
  3. Mail it to me

I suppose copy&paste of the page contents was too hard. But anyway, I usually manage by having kword or abiword handy, but I was thinking...

I am reading my email. That means I am on the net. That means google docs is right there. And they have a python API! 15 minutes later... open_with_gdocs.py

#!/usr/bin/env python
import gdata.docs.service,gdata,sys,os

# Create a client class which will make HTTP requests with Google Docs server.
client = gdata.docs.service.DocsService()
# Authenticate using your Google Docs email address and password.
client.ClientLogin('[email protected]', 'whateveritis')

ms = gdata.MediaSource(file_path = sys.argv[1], content_type = "application/msword")
entry = client.UploadDocument(ms,"tmp_open_with_gdocs/%s"%sys.argv[1])
os.system("firefox '%s'"%entry.GetAlternateLink().href)

Try it, as long as you have firefox, a decent version of python and gdata it should open the doc you pass as first argument on google docs in firefox.

Remember that you need to delete it later if you don't want it, and rename it if you want to keep it with a decent name.

I am not turning it into a real app, but it's good enough for me. Put it in your path and associate it to your .doc files.

A similar thing for .xls is trivial. A script that would handle both, also.

Could please someone take this and make it a real app?

2008-02-11 16:40

Dial *pi for emergencies

If you are in the Buenos Aires subway, this is the number you dial if you have an emergency:


Good thing they limited it to 5 figures and phones don't let you use punctuation. I really, really, really would like to know why they decided to use this number. It's not easy to type, it's not particularly easy to remember, it's not used for emergencies anywhere else, as far as I know. Is it a case of a math nerd with power?

BTW: this is the first time I buy a cellphone with a camera. It also happens to have bluetooth, and it works flawlessly with Linux.

2008-02-09 12:02

rst2pdf: New and improved

My rst2pdf script has had several things happen to it.

  1. It got another guy working on it: Christoph Zwerschke
  2. It's on googlecode now: http://rst2pdf.googlecode.org
  3. Christoph made a number of improvements:
    • bulleted and enumerated list simplified, use same font as text for bullets and numbers
    • links in table of contents work
    • compress literal sections horizontally so that they always fit on the page
  4. I have integrated hyphenation using wordaxe (works only with reportlab 2.1)

The output using hyphenation is really ugly right now (for example, I get a black square instead of an hyphen) but it's a small step forward.

2008-02-05 19:44

Rebelling against insanity: Wicd requires half of GNOME

UPDATE: you can get this program now at google code

I have been using my eee for a while already with a sort of Kubuntu in it.

However, my favourite wireless/wired network management app is wicd, which is a Python/GTK application. Or was, since version 1.4.1 requires python-gnome2-extras.

Which depends on ....

libart-2.0-2 (>= 2.3.18), libaspell15 (>= 0.60), libatk1.0-0 (>= 1.13.2), libbonobo2-0 (>= 2.15.0),
libbonoboui2-0 (>= 2.15.1), libc6 (>= 2.6-1), libcairo2 (>= 1.4.0),
libfontconfig1 (>= 2.4.0), libfreetype6 (>= 2.3.5), libgconf2-4 (>= 2.13.5),
libgda3-3, libgdl-1-0, libgdl-gnome-1-0, libgksu1.2-1 (>= 1.3.3), libgksu2-0 (>= 1.9.6),
libgksuui1.0-1, libglade2-0 (>= 1:2.6.1), libglib2.0-0 (>= 2.14.0), libgnome-keyring0 (>= 2.19.6),
libgnome2-0 (>= 2.17.3), libgnomecanvas2-0 (>= 2.11.1), libgnomeui-0 (>= 2.19.1),
libgnomevfs2-0 (>= 1:2.17.90), libgtk2.0-0 (>= 2.12.0), libgtkspell0 (>= 2.0.2),
libice6 (>= 1:1.0.0), libnspr4-0d (>=, liborbit2 (>= 1:2.14.8),
libpango1.0-0 (>= 1.18.2), libpng12-0 (>= 1.2.13-4), libpopt0 (>= 1.10), libsm6,
libstartup-notification0 (>= 0.8-1), libx11-6, libxcomposite1 (>=1:0.3-1),
libxcursor1 (>> 1.1.2), libxdamage1 (>= 1:1.1), libxext6, libxfixes3 (>= 1:4.0.1), libxi6, libxinerama1,
libxml2 (>= 2.6.29), libxrandr2 (>= 2:1.2.0), libxrender1, zlib1g (>= 1:,
python-support (>= 0.3.4), python (<< 2.6), python (>= 2.4), python-gtk2,
python-pyorbit, python-gnome2-desktop

In short: a 87MB download. That can't be good. In fact, there are almost no changes from 1.3.1 which didn't require all that! Except for one change that makes all the difference on a eee PC: vertical resizing to under 400px. :-(

So, because I am who I am, I did this:


It's a replacement for wicd's gui.py and tray.py. Only needs PyQt4 which I already had and depends on:

libc6 (>= 2.6-1), libgcc1 (>= 1:4.2.1), libqt4-core (>= 4.3.2),
libqt4-gui (>= 4.3.2), libstdc++6 (>= 4.2.1), python-central (>= 0.5.8),
python (<< 2.6), python (>= 2.4), python-sip4 (>= 4.7), python-sip4 (<< 4.8)

See a difference there?

Took me about 3 hours to hack together, and works (except for wired config, the prefs dialog, static IP and scripts) but the hard work is done.

If anyone wants a copy, just ask. I expect KUbuntu could use something like it?

2008-01-24 17:47

Yes, Xandros was horrible. But this ubuntu thing is working out nicely!

As I said before, the bastardized Xandros [1] sucked. In fact, I managed to destroy it. So I decided to switch to another distro. Any distro.

Enter eeeXubuntu, a eee-tuned Xubuntu [2].

Since I prefer KDE to XFCE, I started hacking at it, and produced, IMVHO, a much nicer thing.


As you can see, it takes slightly less space than eeeXubuntu's default, and a whooping 1GB less than the default distro.

How did I do it? First, by deciding what I wanted.

  • No OpenOffice. Koffice is enough to read docs, then there is Google docs, and I produce my texts using docutils
  • No printing. I have not used a printer in 5 years. What are the odds I will use one from the eee?
  • wicd for network configuration. It works for wireless/wired/encrypted and has no problem whatsoever reconnecting after suspend.
  • yakuake for terminal. It uses the least screen-space possible: none if you are not using it.
  • Firefox + Flash (I would use Konqueror, if flash9 had not broken it)
  • Kmail + Akregator for mail and RSS

It works great, boots in 35 seconds (and I have not tuned that, yet).

Here's the list of installed packages and here's the list of repos I am using

Maybe someone more enterprising will make a real distro out of it.

[1] Which is itself a bastardized Debian etch.
[2] Which is a XFCE-tuned ubuntu

2008-01-23 10:59

Asus eee PC 4G Surf: First impressions from an old Linux Guy

I finally got my eee PC last saturday. It's the 4G Surf in Galaxy Black [1].

Everyone says the same thing, and so do I: you can't understand how small the thing is until you see it.

And then everyone takes a picture of it sitting inside its previous notebook. So will I, 2 times.

Here's the eee with a HP Pavillion zd7000, which has a 17" widescreen:


Here's the eee with a Toshiba Satellite with a very unusual 16.6" 4:3 ratio screen:


But is it the smallest notebook I ever had? Nope.

Here you can see the eee, a Toshiba Libretto and a HP Jornada 720 laying over the HP notebook, so you can get an idea of how much smaller all are. The Libretto is smaller but thicker and feels heavier.


Regarding construction quality, the screen is decent, if you can live with the low resolution (I can). The keyboard is ok, even though I have large fingers [2] and the general construction feels good (not creaky, no flex [3]), but nothing remarkable.

The software... it works. But I am loooking to replace it with another distro ASAP. Let's get into some detail...

  1. Xandros package availability is abysmal. There's little, what's there is old, what I like is usually missing, if you start pulling Debian packages it will break, and if you don't want to use the Xandros File Manager you may have to do evil stuff [4]
  2. KDE 3.4 is worse than 3.5. There's no kopete?
  3. The menus are incomplete (in both the simple and advanced modes). There are a bunch of things installed but not showing.
  4. If you have only 4GB of storage, little RAM, and a slowish CPU, building from source is probably not a good idea, so I can't install that way even if I felt like it.
  5. No PyQt4? That means I can't blog from it :-(
  6. On the other hand, everything in the eee works using xandros, and I don't know if it will on another distro.

The only changes I made so far are:

  1. Switched to full desktop (KDE) mode.
  2. I got rid of the silly unionfs situation (BTW: I did it using the instructions at http://wiki.eeeuser.com, but used RIPLinuX as the USB bootable distro, it's the easiest of them all)
  3. I removed a lot of garbage (got 2.2GB free now)
  4. Moved logs to a tmpfs

Other than that, it's still the original stuff, and I have been using it to work around the house while watching the baby, and from bars, and such.

Happyness-meter: 8 out of 10 so far.

[1] A huge thank you to Feray Girgin, my mother in law who brought it from the US :-D
[2] My hands look like crippled obese octopuses (octopii?)
[3] Being so small, it's not supposed to flex even if it were badly built, I guess.
[4] I ended symlinking konqueror to xandrosfilemanager

2008-01-08 08:30

Dear Lazyweb: What should my company's site be like?

The day is arriving when Net Managers SRL will emerge from its cocoon of bureaucracy.

Net Managers is a company. Of which I own a piece. And it will have a website, at http://www.netmanagers.com.ar ... and I have no idea what to put there.

So, what should it be like?

Here's some data:

  • It's formed by Linux/Unix geeks of a rather high level, IMHO
  • Our business is fixing your Linux/Unix problems, and explaining to you how you can really use Linux/Unix to do cool things (which means, corporate Linux consuklting and support)
  • We have a relaxed corporate culture. Every partner would get the joke about how Christmas and Thanksgiving are the same, since 25dec==31oct. We would prefer to actually show it. We are usually hired by IT grunts, not suits.
  • I have a blog and it's really not enterprisey , but it shows (I think) that I know about this. Should it be linked?
  • We have no physical offices. Legally we do, but really, we operate out of each partner's homes, on two different provinces. So, no pictures of our corporation's digs available ;-)
  • We are sort of a startup, but more like a formalization of a way of working that has been going on for a while.

Ideas, suggestions, are welcome.

Of course, questions about our services are welcome, too ;-)

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