Archive for May, 2008

Open Source Angst
May 18, 2008

Open source is supposed to make users happy (except when it doesn’t work). It’s supposed to make their developers happy (as long as it scratches their itch.) But it has been causing me angst.

I don’t get to write any.

Of all the years I’ve been working with free software/open source, I have only been hacking bits and pieces. I did write one thing that seems to have found its way into many project. A little ego trip. And, almost everything I did was work related. I never got to scratch a personal itch. I think back and realize, perhaps I didn’t have that itch at all.

In the past few months, I thought that I should get back to writing open source. For pure fun.

But the fun didn’t come. It never had a chance. I did not get motivated. Now I realize, I wasn’t really interested. I was just feeling guilty, feeling obliged.

I felt obliged because the Philippines doesn’t contribute much to open source. There are some significant people and companies who do, but in absolute terms it’s just a drop in the bucket of global open source contribution. This has been discussed before, in PLUG (Philippine Linux Users Group). The conclusion was, in the Philippines, the people who have the skill to contribute to open source need to make a living. If they had extra time, they would work on a sideline. Students could do it, as there are programs like Google Summer of Code that help. But someone told me, students are lazy.

I still want to help. I still actively use open source products – and thus help, as a tester. I’m not much of an advocate anymore. I have grown tired of it. Perhaps in other non-coding, technical ways.

In the PLUG thread that discusses this, the post that kicked off the topic was all about using open source to add to the portfolio or resume. At this point in my career, writing open source won’t help much. But I hope younger folks would find it useful.

bittersweetness
May 10, 2008

I will forever associate the word “Bittersweet” with Marc Almond. That 1988 song is stuck in my head thanks to the NU 107/99.5 RT of that era, mixed with the a killer melody and lyrics that tempt you – “Let’s Go To Paradise Jack.” Ultimately nonsensical but filling for the moment.

Just like that, memories of my 1995-2002 ISP career haunt me.

Jim Ayson reminded me of this because of his post on the Philippine Cyberspace Review, with some significant but mostly forgotten Internet history information.

I once blogged that I will share more of my personal experiences. But I still feel the time isn’t right. I just have too much regret over missed opportunities and what-could-have-been. The bitter. On the other hand this was a career and life-changing six years. The sweet. Need one to have the other.

But I’ll leave the stories for the planned EB, if the stars on that night shine right.

Unswitchable
May 6, 2008

I read MacRumors on occasion. It’s not just because I want tech gossip. I’m thinking, when shall I get myself a Mac? The old Mac Envy.

It’s still nowhere in sight. Even if technical articles showed to me demonstrating Mac superiority over Windows and even Linux, I have already invested in building a home Linux/Windows PC, which costs cheaper than a MacBook, is more powerful and expandabe, and is well-suited for me learning sysadmin stuff under virtualization.

Most of my laptop work is done on my office PC which needs to be Windows.

There’s just no ROI for me getting a Mac. It would be useful if I were a pure Java developer – no dependencies on proprietary stuff. But that’s not happening soon.

In the ideal world I would have lots of free time to hack on Java, Rails and other Unixy stuff that would run on OS X, but I’m not there.

What Page Represents You?
May 4, 2008

What Page Represents You? What is your homepage?

In the 90’s, it was a Geocities or Tripod.com page, or an ISP-hosted ~page. With links, pictures, about me, and blinkie-blinkie things.

In the 2000s, this became a blog. With blogrolls, pages, and then widgets.

But for those who are not defined by their blog, what should their page be now?

That is what I ask myself. What do I do with my domain? This blog barely represents me, so I shouldn’t point it there anymore.

How about my lifestream? There’s friendfeed. I could redirect it to my friendfeed. But it doesn’t paint a complete picture of what I do online. How about posts on other sites (famous only in the Philippines?) like Multiply? How about posts to online forums and mailing lists/Yahoo! groups. They represent me, and they are public. But they remain scattered in a million pieces around the web.

What page represents you?

VPS Migration Step 1
May 4, 2008

I have been hosting my sites or blogs on Virtual Private Servers (VPS) since 2003 or so. I thought that a Unix guy like me should eat his own dogfood and do sysadmin on his own server. And, I’ve been planning to run my own apps – Rails, Java, etc.

But that didn’t happen. I am still doing my own personal R&D, but in its current iteration it does not need a public-facing website. It all lives inside my PC.

So, to cut costs and save time (yet another server to update and check), I canceled my VPS. I still want paraz.com content to be visible and searchable, so I migrated it here to wordpress.com. But, I was using a custom permalink structure – my preference, which is /POST-ID/post-slug. wordpress.com uses the default date-based scheme.

Therefore, I had to make my own redirect. The post slugs are the same, but WordPress has no “search by post slug” query. I had to make a 1:1 mapping for each post. I did this by performing an XML export on both blogs, then writing a small Python script to parse the XML and do the matching. The output is a flat file with the old URI on the left and the wordpress.com URL on the right. This is used by a RewriteRule which looks for a match and issues a HTTP 301 redirect.

The effect now: people who click on my old URLs from a search engin, or from a link, will land here in wordpress.com.

The effect later: The new URLs should replace the old URLs in the search engine results.