akuchling: Sherlock Hemlock (Default)
I've been away on two weekend trips, and checking in on the progress of the Privacy Handbook re-licensing. I am not optimistic; the FSF doesn't seem impressed by the need to change the document's license.

I was pointed to an old repository of the Handbook that may pre-date the copyright transfer to the FSF, but this is starting to get increasingly archaic -- do I want to assess the even-more-outdated SGML in this old repository and re-convert it?

Frankly, if I'd just started writing a new GnuPG tutorial back in September, I would probably have finished a first draft at this point. So I'm going to start thinking about the outline for a new GnuPG introduction.

  • Limit conceptual explanation of cryptography to the high-level; don't bother explaining hash functions, symmetric ciphers, etc.
  • Try to avoid suggesting overrides to GnuPG's config; instead, we should trust that GnuPG has sensible defaults.
  • Encourage people to use mailer integration. Don't try to document the various GUIs; just link to them.

Possible outline:
  1. Cryptography and GnuPG concepts.
  2. Generating a key.
  3. Using GnuPG in your e-mail program.
  4. Using GnuPG from the command line. (Possibly make this an appendix?)
  5. Managing your keys.
akuchling: Sherlock Hemlock (Default)
The Privacy Handbook's copyright is held by the FSF, and it's under the GNU Free Documentation License (FDL). The FDL isn't viewed very favorably these days -- using invariant sections means the document is no longer considered "free" under the Debian Free Software Guidelines -- and today the CC family of licenses are more popular than the FDL.

(I think the FDL's complicated DRM and "Invariant section" language make the FDL hard to understand, and don't apply to the common use case for writers. IMHO relatively few people need to have some parts of a document modifiable and other parts invariant; instead people care about the commercial/non-commercial usage of the document as a whole.)

So the Privacy Handbook's license needs to be changed. Werner Koch, the GnuPG maintainer, has now made this request to the FSF. I don't think the FSF responds very quickly -- presumably this decision will have to wait for some committee or the FSF board to decide -- so now we wait.
akuchling: Sherlock Hemlock (Default)
Sunday I worked on translating the Docbook form of the GNU Privacy Handbook to Emacs org-mode. I didn't try to script it or parse the SGML at all, but just copied the original manual.sgml file to manual.org and began whacking
away at it in Emacs, doing search-and-replaces and manual editing to translate between the two markups.

Docbook provides minutely detailed markup. In a code example, you can mark the system prompt by <prompt></prompt> and the user's typing by <userinput>. All these details are discarded by the translation to org-mode, which only offers the basic formatting of emphasis, italic, monospace, and a few other styles.

I'm working on a branch called akuchling-modernize in my new gph repository on github. The next step will be to apply a patch to make various small updates that's been sent to me. The patch is probably old enough that it's slightly out of date, so then I'll start reading through the document
and consider what revisions I want to make. I also need to figure out what to do for a glossary; the Docbook has a <firstterm> element marking the first use of a term. For now I've left them in. I don't know if I should add a glossary section or just link to the new FAQ.
akuchling: Sherlock Hemlock (Default)
The master source for the GNU Privacy Handbook was kept in CVS, and the CVS server is no longer up. (GnuPG itself has moved to git, but its repository doesn't seem to contain the handbook.) I wrote the original author of the Handbook several weeks ago and again yesterday, but have gotten no reply.

Today I had a brainwave: the Debian-packaged version of the Handbook must include the original source! And the gnupg-doc Debian package page has a link to the package source. I've taken it and published a gph github repository, and set about trying to get the documentation to build on a more modern Linux distribution. (Autoconf and automake configurations don't age well.)
akuchling: Sherlock Hemlock (Default)
About two weeks ago, I had another spasm of activity and wrote a bunch of new entries for the GPG FAQ, both filling in entries that were blank and adding a few that I thought were a good idea. Happily the maintainer accepted my pull request.

The next step will be to request that the new FAQ be posted and replace the outdated FAQ.
akuchling: Sherlock Hemlock (Default)
The existing GnuPG FAQ is very outdated, referring to versions such as 1.0.4 that were released around 2001. Rob Hansen is working on a new FAQ. Today I read through the XML source for the new FAQ, made a bunch of edits and fixes, and filed a pull request. Once that's accepted, the next step will be to write some of the entries that currently only have FIXME.
akuchling: Sherlock Hemlock (Default)
Last week the BACON-PIG decided to have an informal sprint to hack on core Python, and today we held it at my (newly-purchased!) house.

Barry Warsaw is the release manager for Python 2.6.9, so we looked at various release-blocking issues for 2.6.9. The bulk of them at this time are various DDoS possibilities where .readline() is called with no size limitation. An attacker can then feed large amounts of data and consuming an arbitrary amount of memory. The fixes all take the same general pattern: add a size limitation to the .readline() call that varies depending on the protocol, and then report an error if the line hits the limit.

I also committed the traceback.clear_frames() function that I was working on last week.

akuchling: Sherlock Hemlock (Default)
Today I was poking around on the Python bug tracker and noticed issue 1565525, which dates back to 2006 and the old SourceForge bug tracker. The issue has a lot of discussion, but today it boils down to adding a helper function to clear all the frames in a traceback. That's a straightforward task, so I implemented it and posted a patch.
akuchling: Sherlock Hemlock (Default)
Last Friday I finally remembered to write Steve and correct my error in supplying the wrong IP address. After he changed it, that meant the new bitofpython.com web site is up. The site is a static one, built using the Pelican site generator. No new podcast episodes, though; I still have secret hopes of reviving it, but I never seem to get around to writing an episode or setting up an interview.
akuchling: Sherlock Hemlock (Default)
Over the weekend I worked on various Python bugs.
I should probably just commit my edits to the Unicode howto at this point, and then move on to updating the regex howto.
akuchling: Sherlock Hemlock (Default)
Yesterday I re-ran my WriteTheDocs presentation on Python's "What's New" documents at the DC-area Python meetup. I was wondering if the talk was too far off-topic for a Python-specific group, but it was paired with Daniel Beck's introduction to Sphinx so our talks made a coherent program.
akuchling: Sherlock Hemlock (Default)
Generic book discussion questions

What are the central ideas in the book?

Were there specific passages/chapters that were especially interesting, arresting, or memorable?

What will you carry away from reading the book?

Discussion questions specific to ‘Rabid’

What do neurological illnesses like rabies imply about free will?

What does the rising occurrence of zoonotic diseases say about our relationship to animals? Can anything be done to reduce them? What does this say about our changing relationship to animals? (e.g. the Scottish lady who kept her little dog and became infected)

Rabies was an incurable scourge until the time of Pasteur, and then his vaccine was a post-bite cure before the onset of symptoms. Do you think coma induction is indeed a potential cure for post symptomatic rabies and should research be done to further this theory?

How likely is it that the Rabies RNA and protein coating can be used to integrate curative retroviruses into the brain to cure such ailments as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's?

Are slow-moving horde vs. fast-moving Zombies vs. vampires really an economic/social indicator?

Does rabies seem like a plausible influence upon werewolf and vampire legends?
akuchling: Sherlock Hemlock (Default)
My 50-examples book uses the standard library's turtle.py module for graphics. I'd like my examples to work on a Raspberry Pi as smoothly as possible. But turtle.py is written on top of Tkinter, which adds an extra layer and requires running X instead of starting from the Pi's console.

In theory, turtle.py should be portable to a different graphics subsystem. I've therefore created a game-turtle repository on Github and will try to implement the necessary classes using PyGame.

akuchling: Sherlock Hemlock (Default)
My Raspberry Pi arrived back in November and since then has just been sitting around on my desk or filing cabinet. After the RPi excitement of PyCon, I resolved to finally set it up. Earlier this week I bought a 4Gb SDHC card, which the Pi will use for storage, and copied the standard Raspbian image.

Today I finally got to try it out. Our new TV is the only device in the house
with HDMI input, so I hooked the Pi up to it. Starting up is easy: you get an initial installer screen that lets you select the locale and timezone, keyboard country, whether SSH is enabled or not, and a few other things. Reboot and you end up with a standard-looking Debian system.

The Python 3 version is a bit old; it's Python 3.2.3. I installed git and jed, because I intend to test my 50-examples book on the Pi. I also installed XBMC to see what it looks like.

akuchling: Sherlock Hemlock (Default)
Goodbye to the Python Catalog-SIG. Richard Jones proposed the mailing list be shut down and carried out the Mailman work required, so I moved the web pages from current/ to retired/. Discussion is now moved to the Distutils-SIG because PyPI and Distutils are closely intertwined and practically everyone subscribes to both.
akuchling: Sherlock Hemlock (Default)
A longstanding item on my TODO has been to build a new web site for the Little Bit of Python podcast that five of us did from 2010 to 2011. Finishing this will get the episodes off advocacy.python.org which isn't really used for anything these days (maybe it can be decommissioned), and having an attractive site will let us put the podcast on our LinkedIn profiles.

I wanted a statically-built site, because we don't need commenting or anything dynamic. Storing the source in github would be sufficient flexibility to let us collaborate on the web site; all of the podcasters know how to use git and edit text files. kernel.org recently switched to the Pelican web site builder, which was a good enough recommendation for me.

Today I worked on it enough to have a decent prototype and found Pelican was pleasant to use. Maybe it can do double-duty and be used for my personal web sites as well.

akuchling: Sherlock Hemlock (Default)
Today I looked at my slides for the 2009 'Giving a Talk', and took inspiration from how random my images were. So I gave up on the idea of a travelling theme and just thought up possible images for each individual slide, not trying to unify them with a concept. That made it easy to find a suitable image for each slide. Therefore, my slides are now done! All that's left is rehearsing!
akuchling: Sherlock Hemlock (Default)
My Macbook is from around 2007. It's an Intel machine, but a pretty old one. I couldn't upgrade it from MacOS 10.5, and Firefox and Chrome have stopped updating for this version. That means no more security fixes either for the browser or for Flash. The case is also cracked, and the screen sometimes goes blank when I adjust it. (Closing and re-opening the screen fixes it... at least so far.) Clearly this is a machine nearing the end of its life.

So I have two reasons to wipe the machine and put Linux on it: getting up-to-date browsers again, and getting any sensitive data off it before the machine dies completely.

For the past few weeks, I've been downloading Linux distributions, concentrating on ones and trying them under VirtualBox. A few were then burned to DVD and I tried installing them.

Ubuntu installed well and supported the Macbook's hardware fine. But I really disliked the Unity GUI, which wasn't easy to figure out -- I never figured out how to edit the contents of the panel, for example -- and it doesn't encourage using alternate things like KDE.

OpenSUSE's installer is impressively professional looking, and I really liked the KDE desktop that I installed. (To me KDE still seems to be the desktop that thinks about its users, not abstract goals and redesigns.) But the installation on the actual Macbook didn't work. After about 100 packages, the pre-installed scripts began reporting errors and aborting the installation of that package, affecting critical pieces like grub-install and linux-desktop-kernel. I found forum reports of similar problems, reporting that re-burning the DVD fixed the problem. But I burnt a second DVD that passed verification immediately after burning, and passed its own integrity check, and this second DVD still had the same errors. So regretfully I had to move on from OpenSUSE.

Finally I tried Linux Mint, using its XFCE desktop. It installed smoothly from the DVD and everything worked fine out of the box. All I needed to do was to fine-tune the trackpad sensitivity a bit, turn off transparency in the terminal application (what are they thinking with that default?), and install a few things such as Emacs and git. The resulting desktop is clean, the OS only takes up 4Gb of disk space, and I'm all set.

akuchling: Sherlock Hemlock (Default)
While Barb was out biking, I practiced my talk straight through, getting a more accurate time of around 16 minutes, still well within my limit. I haven't had any luck finding images for my slides -- I think I'll try for one more evening and then give up and leave them unadorned.
akuchling: Sherlock Hemlock (Default)
The DC Wikimedia group presented an editathon at the DC Historical Society in their library. I asked a librarian for suggestions and he got me a 1932 collection of biographies of notable contemporary Washingtonians, volume III of John Clagett Proctor's "Washington Past And Present".

I looked through it for biographies of people who seemed notable enough for Wikipedia. Many of them were lawyers or business executive who didn't seem to be of interest today, but then I found Crosby Stuart Noyes, who founded a newspaper, the Evening Star, that ran until 1981. I also worked on the entries for his sons Theodore W. and Frank Brett, who also worked at the newspaper. It was quite a dynasty: two further generations worked at the paper, and some of them already had stub entries.


akuchling: Sherlock Hemlock (Default)

September 2016

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