28 June 2010

Dead man's switch

A dead man's switch is, in Wikipedia's words, "is a switch that is automatically operated in case the human operator becomes incapacitated" and beside being a simple but cool project to work on, it may prove useful if you for example got threatened - your friends may notice you disappeared from the face of the internet, but will not be sure what is it about and won't know which actions to take.

So here is how I coded my own using some very simple Bash and php scripts (precise details are left out to diminish the possibility of an attack): there is a cron job running at a predefined interval, every N days. IT checks for an existence of a file, if the file exists, it is deleted and I am sent a reminder to update my status. If the file does not exists, then it assumes I was incapacitated and unable to update my status in the last N days, so it releases the payload, publishing some important content on the web.

The reminder directs me to a web page where the viewer is asked for a secret password, if the correct password is entered the status is updated, the check file restored. Every operation there is logged.

For security reasons, the software does not run on any of my computers or, if that matters, on any computer in my country, so it can't be reached by any person who has physical contact with me.

The code is trivial and sloppy, with sensitive info inside, so it is not worth or sane to publish the sources, but I am sure any of my readers can reimplement it in a matter of minutes, a couple of hours at most, reading the design specifications above.

Note: if you wonder, I did not got threatened by anyone in the FLOSS world or software world nor I feel in any immediate danger, is mostly a geeky exercise.

27 June 2010

Fedora support

These days a big metal festival is taking place in the city (which unfortunately, for various reasons I didn't attend) so many people are visiting Bucharest, this was a good opportunity opportunity to get out with a couple of friends for some beers. At the pub we were joined by another guy, one of their friends, also visiting the city for the festival and when he saw me wearing the Fedora "splatter" T-shirt he was shocked and asked me why, was that the only T-shirt I had available, I grabbed something randomly or what?

I replied saying I am a Fedora contributor and inquired about his reaction: apparently he hates Fedora in particular and Linux in general (Fedora is his only Linux experience) for being forced to use it at work, for some VoIP software: he has troubles installing apps, wasn't able to install multimedia playback (MPEG codecs) and had read on some forum PulseAudio is crap. I tried to explain the part about users and program installation is good from a sysadmin point of view, explained PulseAudio may be troublesome if you use other crappy distros or playing with advanced stuff like Jack, which is not his case, and introduced Rpmfusion.

Conclusion? He now has my IM address (from the Fedora official business card) and hopefully will call me for precise answers (more than in front of beers). And I can't resist the coincidence with the festival: Rock it!

note: for those not aware, the Fedora 13 slogan is "Rock it!"


On one hand I am somewhat disappointed to see how little reaction is caused when a rockstar from our community like tatica get out and shout her frustration with politics in Fedora LATAM and not only but on the other I am not, knowing how she was driven out of Planet mostly by the same people and now is posting half-anonymously under the "Fedora Venezuela" label.

Back to the topic (yeah, is week-end and everything goes slower, including for me) I know communities are very complex: there are people who I consider the closest ting you call a friend and there are people I despise with all my guts, there are people I have deep respect for and there are people for whom I wont waste 10 seconds of my life learning more about, there are people from whom you can learn a lot and some not so much (and I am sure there are people including me in some of those categories). And just as people, there are happenings that make you feel your day is worthy and happenings that make you want to go away.

Frustration from people and happenings will build and from time to time you see people passing a threshold and reaction: some go in troll-mode and flame everyone and everything, some vent-off with a bang on a list or aggregator, some lose interest and scale back their contributions, some go away silently, some swallow-up and try to continue, some take a long pause, some do a combination of the above. I wonder, when I will pass the threshold (is not a question of "if" but one of "when"), what will be my reaction?

17 June 2010


A couple of my friends:


PS: if you are wondering, that's the wet T-shirt dried

14 June 2010

Will you take a picture with me?

This week-end I had another photo session with my wet Fedora T-shirt one of my models and after the shooting we were enjoying some nice cold drinks after one of the most torrid days so far in this summer (we had ~37°C in Bucharest). Me and her manager were wearing Fedora T-shirts (I got them sold in the community idea, not in the software yet) and much to our amusement a random guy approached us: "please, you you want to take a photo with me?". Intrigued, we accepted.


Then the story unfolded: he knows a woman named "Fedorca", which is an unusual name and everybody in their circle of friends makes fun of her name. So he got the idea to take a photo with us, wearing Fedora T-shirts, then edit the photos and add a "C", then have even more laughs.


09 June 2010

Sad panda, happy panda

This wek-end, when shooting cars & stuff (there was a drift competition in the parking lot of a mall) I stumbled upon those toys and decided I must have a piece too, as Pandas are kind of a sacred animal in Fedora-land, so they are sitting now right next to my computer.


PS: no plastic toy was hurt during this shooting, all the possible perceived sadness is due to GIMP alterations.

06 June 2010

Distro wars

Another week-end spent out, shooting people... I liked the expression on the face of this arm wrester so much, that I couldn't resist messing with it in Inkscape. Enjoy a bit of Sunday fun:

distro wars

PS: of course, after the competition they shook hands and maybe had a beer together.

02 June 2010

Big LGM photo dump

I thought I spammed the Planet enough, but I see everybody started linking theirs LGM photos, so I had to dump mine too in a gallery somewhere, so there is the bulk of my LGM photos (the most important are already on the blog, albeit at a small resolution).

In other Fedora photography related news, I have some more of those, but they are not to be posted on Planet, so if you know what is about, you know where to look for.

01 June 2010

Video: Fedora Design Team at LGM 2010

Until the official video is up, you can see a recording of our talk about the Fedora Design Team made with my pocket video camera (so low quality).

fedora design @ LGM

Slides are also available as PDF and if you want to reuse them under CC-BY-SA, just change the extension to .odp and will get the source.

PS: thanks to Martin for being the better half of the presenting duo and to Tatica for adding the final polish to the slides.

PPS: if you have problems playing hte video, you can change the format to Theora and download the original.


There are some rumours about Pierros preparing to blog a set of compromising photos made around LGM and supposedly featuring me in some embarrassing postures... I can only say bring it on!, I am a notorious troll and nothing posted in the interweb can make me feel ashamed further, not even the bunny years, let the Planets ROTFL on me. And he is having second thoughts, here is some ignition fire. Pay back and embarrass me, it's your turn:


LGM 2010, Postmortem

The Libre Graphics Meeting 2010 ended, today I returned home in the ugly but familiar city of Bucharest, grabbed myself a bag of nice strawberries and reserved some time to blog my conference conclusions. I'll do this using a few photos and useless ramblings.

First, I should acknowledge we officially proclaimed the secret Fedora lair in Brussels - no photos of it, since if I will tell you the location, I will have to kill you. All I can say, it is into walking distance (5 minutes) of the "Japanimantion" store and (10-15 minutes) of Delirium Cafe. Those wanting to know the exact location, have to perform the secret Fedora gangsta sign (hint: is not the "horns" sign, neither the "telephone" sign).

As I said, the place is awesome, it has a good price, good service, free Wi-Fi, a huge kitchen, breakfast included and so... it also has a shelf full of books... unfortunately most of them in French. I tried to use my bad French to read from one of them and my bad English to translate for the guys, but it was a massive FAIL, the got only the general idea.


As I said, I found nearby my new favorite place in Brussels, who dethroned Delirium Cafe from the top spot. And a few friends of mine are already craving for stuff from there and asking for my next trip:

It was also a perfect opportunity to reveal the homeless people of Fedora (how would you call other the guys eating fries from paper recipients on the stairs of a church?)

Speaking of Fedora, the truth is our talk was totally ruined by Hong Phuc Dang, who talked just after us and charmed the entire audience. Nothing could have surpassed her talk, probably not even Adobe opensourcing Photoshop and making it Linux-only:

LGM was also an opportunity to meet people, like the Argentinian Blender guy, with whom we discovered common friends:

Other interesting random encounters were with the guy from Morocco, who couldn't believe my blog is not written by a woman (!!!) and the Italian guy who talks almost perfectly Romanian:

From the backstage, I can show a "making of" photo of the group photo - yup, it was taken from the above;

My single complaint at LGM was the food: my stomach agreed with someone else I talked there, that green stuff was not food;

Surely, we were not perfect, I think our biggest failure was the inability to participate to the Fedora 13 release party in Belgium, which happened during the LGM, but in a different city, so we couldn't go there and back to Brussels, it was a missed opportunity (on the other hand, I was disappointed nobody from the local Fedora community attended LGM - I wrote on the Ambassadors list and blogged about it, hoping to raise interest).

In the end, I have to get serious and thank Red Hat. Fedora and Max for making the presence of the Desktop Team a reality, without this help it wouldn't happen.