Miriam Ruiz
random thoughts on technology and life

{June 29, 2007}   ¿Somos sagitarianos?

Parece que después de todo no pertenecemos a la vía láctea, sino que somos habitantes de Sagitario, y estamos siendo canibalizados por ella. Me resulta curioso leer que “Lo mas interesante de este descubrimiento es la relación que establece entre este movimiento del sistema solar con el calentamiento global y la profecía maya que predice el fin del mundo para el 2012: Estaríamos hablando del momento en que la Tierra atraviesa el ecuador galáctico, una zona con elevados niveles de energía, lo que tendría un impacto perceptible sobre nuestro planeta.”. Ya que por fin habíamos salido de los efectos del nuevo milenio, nos enfrentamos a un nuevo fin del mundo. ¿cada cuándo tendremos uno? ¿Podremos verlo tranquilamente desde una agradable cafetería como en la “Guía del autoestopista galáctico” (“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy“)?

{June 28, 2007}   Happy Birthday Miry!

Well, today is my birthday!

I don’t think I’ll be doing anything special at all, and I’m quite a bit far away from my family and friends, and sometimes I miss them so much! I hope it’s a nice day for me anyway! :)

{June 25, 2007}   Newer packages for Gnash

I’ve just built a newer version of Gnash for Debian, which I want to push into experimental. I’ve created some binary packages for i386, powerpc (thanks, nueces), and amd64 (thanks, bencer), precompiled for sid, so that people might test them while the package waits in the NEW queue. You can also download the source package, but it might make more sense to create the latest one, getting Gnash from their CVS server, and the package building system from our subversion server:

svn co svn://svn.debian.org/svn/pkg-flash/packages/gnash/trunk/ latest-gnash
cd latest-gnash
fakeroot debian/rules get-orig-source
cd gnash-0.8.0+cvs*.????
dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot

{June 25, 2007}   Classifying games for children

Parents and educators should be aware about what kind of games their children play. In the current state, this means that the parents must be gamers themselves to know about that, because there’s no way of knowing whether a game includes sex, violence, sexism, etc. until you play it.

The idea is to provide a way of classifying games so that parents can know in advance whether the game involves certain culture-dependent controversial stuff, and being able to use that when considering what games they want their children to play, or what games they want to play themselves. Not that I’m the proper one to make the classification myself, but it should be done by teachers and educators, who I think are the best suited for this kind of task. In any case I’m willing to lead and coordinate the project, with the support of just some Spanish teachers for the moment. I hope that in the future teachers of other cultures will like to get involved too and the system can evolve to a multicultural one.

The result should be as culturally independent as possible, but that would only be possible if members of different cultures help. There’s no way to provide a totally objective classification of moral stuff, so instead of trying to make the classification as aseptic as possible, it might make more sense to make it the other way round: trying to have all the different possible points of view, even when some of them might not even fit my own beliefs.


{June 13, 2007}   Gnash 0.8.0 is released

The third alpha release of Gnash has been released, with the version number of 0.8.0. As the package is now waiting in the NEW queue, I’ve made some packages available for those who want to test them. They’ve been compiled with Debian SID, not with Lenny or Etch. You might notice that the version in NEW is 0.8.0~cvs20070611.1016-1 instead of just 0.8.0. The tarball for the packages in NEW has been obtained from the 0.8.0 branch of the Gnash CVS, while the ones in the directory I mentioned have been created a bit later from the official 0.8.0 tarball release. They should almost be the same in any case.

We have packaged Gnash with the OpenGL backend this time, to be able to support Konqueror‘s plugin. If you want to be able to watch YouTube or Lulu TV videos, don’t forget to add the recommended packages: gstreamer0.10-plugins-base, gstreamer0.10-alsa, gstreamer0.10-fluendo-mp3, gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg. If you’re not using ALSA, you might need to replace gstreamer0.10-alsa by the corresponding package providind gstreamer0.10-audiosink that suits your system. Without this packages, you will be able to reproduce Gnash films, but not to see video streams.

There seems to be some kind of JavaScript-related problem with Konqueror anyway when visiting YouTube. The videos don’t seem to play from the page, even though they do if you use the .swf URL directly.

Feedback is welcome :)

{June 11, 2007}   Gnash 0.8.0 about to be released

The newer version of Gnash, that is 0.8.0, is about to be released. Though it has many improvements, it is still not modular (that’s a goal for the next release). That means that the decision about the backends have to be made at compilation time, not in runtime.

As the backend for graphics, the most appealing options are AGG and OpenGL. While OpenGL might seem quite attractive for people who have graphics cards with hardware support for OpenGL, AGG seems to be the better option for those who doesn’t. In fact, AGG works quite good for me.

The second problem is that KDE support only works with OpenGL for the moment. In fact, if some KDE Developer wants to help Gnash Developers about that, I think they would be really welcome. In any case, if I compile gnash with both OpenGL and KDE support, everything seems to depend on kdelibs, which is not reasonable for the diversity of users out there.

Therefore, I had to build the whole stuff two times, once with AGG, and without KDE support, and another one with both OpenGL and KDE. The next problem would be that the generated libraries have the same places and the same directories in both of the configurations. I had to change its –release parameter from 0.8.0 to 0.8.0.agg and 0.8.0.gl. That seemed to do the trick.

So, I have two set of packages for Gnash right now:

{June 07, 2007}   Sponsorship of Debian Packages

One of the worse things for a maintainer that happens not to be a DD (Heh!) is finding a sponsor for the packages. I remember some time ago I preferred to send the packages I had developed to upstream so that they could hang them in their own pages, instead of Debian repositories, because it was much more effort for me (and more emotionally stressing) to deal with finding a sponsor than to develop and maintain the package itself.

I still have that feeling when I need to find an sponsor for any of my packages. The fact that I’m maintaining much more of them now doesn’t help, and I seem to be needing a sponsor almost every day lately. Even though I might have been spending lots of hours in getting a package ready for Debian, solved the problems with upstream, replaced non-free stuff inside, getting everything ready so that other people can benefit from my work, I still have that strange feeling that they’re doing me a favor by letting me put that package into the repositories. I wonder if the people developing other distributions have that feeling too or if it’s Debian-specific.

Of course, having a lot of friends as DDs, knowing them in person, knowing that they trust you, helps a lot. At least you don’t have the feeling that you’re being scrutinized that you have when you’re a newbie to Debian Development. Still, when I need sponsorship for any of my packages, I still have the feeling that I’m appealing to friendship to achieve it, and that I’m pestering my friends. I’ve even been directly accused by some of pestering them about sponsoring my packages. It makes me feel bad. I don’t like spending lots of hours doing something for other people, and afterwards feeling an egoist for wanting to share it. That’s how the current sponsorship process makes me feel, and I guess I’m not the only one out there feeling this way. Do people doing stuff from Ubuntu feel this way too?

“Finish your NM, Become a DD“, I’m often told when I complain about this. Yup, it’s true, I agree. Anyway I’m mentioning this not as a personal problem I myself have, but something that many non-DD maintainers feel, and that might be one of the reasons why some of them might decide in the end to jump into another distribution that doesn’t make them feel kinda bad people just for doing stuff. It might be surprising to here, but I don’t feel myself ready for becoming a DD yet. It might be kinda Impostor Syndrome, dunno, but I cannot keep myself from feeling it.

{June 06, 2007}   Fénix: Un sistema para crear juegos 2D de forma sencilla

A finales de los 90, en los kioskos de al lado de todas las casas aparecieron unos cartones de esos con plástico, de los que cubren los escaparates de todas las tiendas de periódicos, que contenía un CD y un manual para aprender a programar videojuegos. Los usuarios finales no tendrían la necesidad de ser expertos programadores. De hecho, como bien decía el manual, está pensado para crear juegos “sin saber programar”. El sistema se llamaba DIV Games Studio.

El nuevo lenguaje combinaba características de C y Pascal con un entorno completo que permitía la creación y edición de todos los aspectos de los proyectos: programación, edición gráfica y sonora y un largo etc, y se basaba en un compilador que transformaba los juegos a bytecode, y un intérprete que era capaz de ejecutarlos.

El proyecto Fénix surge de la idea de desarrollar un sistema multiplataforma de Software Libre para programar videojuegos, creando un compilador alternativo al lenguaje DIV. Con el paso del tiempo se han ido añadiendo nuevas características, de tal forma que el resultado es un nuevo proyecto más ambicioso, hasta cierto punto incompatible con el lenguaje DIV original. Fénix dispone de compilador e intérprete para múltiples plataformas y sistemas operativos ( Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, BSD, GP32, GP2X, etc ).

Fénix, que ha pasado ya por varias manos, se basa en la biblioteca SDL y se encuentra actualmente en la version 0.92, la cual ya posee mejoras importantes en cuanto a performance, estabilidad, prestaciones, etc. Como principales críticas, la falta de documentación actualizada, el carecer de una buena base multilingüe, la lentitud del intérprete y la ausencia de IDEs completos.

Ayer por fin terminé de empaquetar la versión 0.92 de Fénix (para Debian), y ya espera su turno en la cola NEW. Es el primer paso para empaquetar alguno de los numerosos juegos libres que hay por ahí programados en este curioso sistema. Muchas gracias a Pablo Navarro (“panreyes”) por su ayuda y consejos a la hora de crear el paquete.

{June 03, 2007}   Ubuntu Women R00lz!

Sarah Hobbs became an Ubuntu Core Developer this week, becoming AFAIK the first women to enter it. Elizabeth Bevilacqua had her Ubuntu membership approved some days ago.

Yay Girls! :)


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