{September 25, 2007}   almost back in action, maybe, kinda

Sebastian: thanks for that development priorities list. it’s just the sort of thing I was looking for :)

the paid project I was looking at is ‘on hold’ now, although I’m told it really will happen eventually, so over the weekend I cleaned out my kde4 stuff and rebuilt it from scratch, to make sure I had no cruft left over that might cause extra bugs. I’m happy to see that keyboard shortcuts work again now :) and the krunner finally appears to work well for me – until plasma freezes, that is ;)
I still can’t get scim to work, though. :( I can run it, and it believes it’s running just fine, but trying to turn it on does nothing. no idea what could have caused that.
…while fiddling with it, I seem to have broken keyboard shortcuts, though. doh.

now I’m trying to figure out what I should work on… I want to get some of the useful important stuff done, and it sounds like there’s a lot of that in plasma, but thanks to inconvenient timezones and net access being like a yo-yo recently, I haven’t really achieved much in the way of communication, so I’m not quite sure what would be most useful to the plasma team.

also, maybe I should try to find out why scim stopped working, or why the keyboard shortcuts died, or something – but I’d have no idea where to start with such things.
now I just hope that my laptop doesn’t fail to hibernate, because the fscking net is down again… [and it returned – the next day.]

{September 17, 2007}   almost, but not entirely, off-topic

since someone complained about my being utterly offtopic for planetkde (and sadly he’s right) I figured I’d make an attempt at getting at least somewhere close to being on-topic. I have actually begun coding again (yay!!!), which is nice. despite the start-of-school madness, I’ve found time, and have regained that obsessive desire to code which mysteriously vanished for a semester. I think it helps that our jindu class is only doing one chapter a week, instead of one a day (that was insane and I hardly remember anything I learnt and I’m so glad it’s over).

first, let’s get the RL stuff out of the way: school is school, but we’ve been split into different classes, which means new friends and also having an amount of time when my bf is in class and I’m not. I was expecting electives to take a chunk of my free time, but when we got to see the sheet today, the class I really wanted to take conflicted with my schedule. I’m really pissed off about that right now; you’d think china would have lots of martial arts courses, but no, there’s just. this. one. and I can’t frigging take the class. and last semester they said we couldn’t take any electives because we arrived too late in the semester. and the semester before, in canada, I dropped my martial arts class because I needed more time to study. grrrrr. I’ve only had one semester where I successfully got into a course, and it was such fun…

aanyways. at least that leaves me with more coding time, I guess. I did get kde4 compiled again a week or two ago, and played with it a bit, but I wasn’t really sure what I might want to work on, or what I might be able to do. I quickly got distracted by an old project I keep reviving and attempting to rewrite… I got a fair bit further in that than other attempts, because this time I was using pyqt4, but it never really gets far because I just can’t decide where it’s going. :) it’s dropping into the background again already.

yesterday I spent a lot of time playing around with django, because a friend has asked me to do some for-profit coding. it’s a really small project, so I’m only expecting it to take a couple of weeks… I just have to figure out what tools I want to use to do it. :) django seems fun, but might be overkill… I dunno. pylons looks interesting too.

something I was discussing last night was the state of plasma. I was really surprised that it doesn’t yet have panels I can toss things onto, and the taskbar and systray seem such a mess… I was a bit less surprised by this when I found out qt4.3’s qgraphicsview can’t have qwidgets on the canvas. doh. that would make things a bit harder, wouldn’t it? :) shame we can’t just make 4.4 be out already :P I guess that’ll just have to wait… there are several things I’m really looking forward to in 4.1, now.

in the meantime, maybe once I’m done this paid code I’ll dive into plasma and see if I can lend a hand there. I’m also interested in making kde’s proxy stuff suck less (since I have such a crazy mess of proxies here) but I’ve been told that has to wait until 4.1.

{September 15, 2007}   another loss of innocence

I’ve been doing a lot of reading in the last few months. it’s been quite an eye-opener, so I thought it might be good to document what I’ve been reading and how it changed my perspective on stuff. I really should have started this at the beginning, since my bookmarks have gotten all jumbled up, but back then I hadn’t a clue what I was in for. :) so I guess I’ll just have to do my best now.

it all started way back in october-ish, really. one of my required courses for my first semester at SFU was PHIL 120, an ethics course. in one of my essays I was using the word ‘anarchy’, and the TA kept crossing it out, so I realised maybe it didn’t mean what I thought it meant. at the time I was too lazy to even check a dictionary, though, so I didn’t think about it again for quite a while.

then sometime in winter, I discovered some songs I liked that were by David Rovics, so I got some more of his songs… they seemed kinda nutty at the time, but I almost never delete music (even the pokemon songs downloaded by a kid I used to babysit) so I kept them, and they kinda started to grow on me.

sometime around the end of june or beginning of july, before our week-long vacation, I remember mentioning to pete that I wanted to actually learn some history – I had never paid much attention in school, ’cause school makes almost everything boring, but devon’s knowledge of history made me realise it could be interesting. I’m not sure what made me decide I finally wanted to do something about it this summer – maybe a video we watched, or maybe something I saw on pete’s computer… who knows.

anyways, pete recommended a book: A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn – and since it was one of the few books available entirely online, I started reading it. I didn’t really fancy the idea of searching for history books in english at a chinese library, and buying stuff on amazon can get kinda expensive, even before shipping.

It’s quite a good book. I’ve only reached chapter 6, though, because from there I started finding more things to read. and more. I discovered the site it’s on has a bunch of other interesting documents, most of which I also haven’t read yet.

I came across an assortment of random articles, either from irc, wandering wikipedia, or googling other stuff. I found this one on a bad day, and it made me sad, but somewhere on the internet is an article about some group who got to keep their garden – that lifted my spirits back up. I wish I could find the darn link. articles like this and this raised my curiosity – life seemed to be a whole lot more complicated than I had believed.
I started poking around more; I read a bunch of wikipedia articles (unfortunately I didn’t bookmark those) about various models of government and decision-making methods, like direct democracy and consensus democracy. I signed up to rss feeds for sites like mostly water. one thing that really shook me up was finding out that canada wasn’t above all the nastiness that made me not want to enter the US; our police could be kinda mean too, and our “peacekeeping” nation has been involved in some rather unsavoury incidents.

it’s pretty depressing to find out that the world isn’t the nice happy peaceful place you thought it was. I had a pretty sheltered childhood – I thought that most countries had learnt to get along, and that there wouldn’t be much war left. I thought organisations like the WTO were meant to *help* poor countries, not keep them poor so that we could have cheap sweatshop labour to support our modern lifestyles.

the more I read, the more I realised what a mess the world really is, and how unfair it is to all the poor exploited masses. it’s easy to put such thoughts out of your mind when you’re surrounded by shiny malls and everyone you know has enough food to eat, but out here in china I’m a little less insulated from the poor, and the pollution here is a constant reminder of how little the government cares for these people. at least the people here *know* that their news is censored, though.

one thing I noticed eventually was that some of the things I was reading about were mentioned in Rovics’ songs. also, one of those mp3s was missing the ending, and it was really starting to bug me, so I went and downloaded lots more. then I started looking into the stuff mentioned in the songs that I didn’t understand… like the situation with Israel and Palestine.

I found some really interesting articles along the way, including one about pirates. youtube’s got some good stuff too – video can be a bit more interesting than pages and pages of text, sometimes. :) I also ran across some stuff that sounded interesting at first, but then turned out to be totally loony.

after spending a large part of the day reading, I’d often go up to pete’s room to watch a movie in the evening. sometimes just fun movies, sometimes serious ones. The Corporation was a very interesting one. another must-see is The Take – it’s about workers in argentina taking over factories and making stuff work again after their economy collapsed (thanks to US guidelines on how to ‘improve’ their economy).

what’s most depressing is the feeling of helplessness – I mean, these a big multinational corporations and strong governments killing people and selling off our resources and generally screwing the planet in their insatiable thirst for power (which these days is equivalent to oil). movies like The Take gave me some small amount of optimism for the future. it’s also good to remember the great accomplishments of the past – outright slavery is now illegal, women can vote and are pretty darn close to having equality in canada, and we do have laws to protect the environment. people had to fight for all these things, and in the end they won. we still have to protect those things, though – our pesky human rights have a tendency to get in the way of corporations’ profits, so they keep trying to get rid of them.

eventually I remembered that phil paper, and decided it was about time I found out exactly what that word meant (well, I had read the wikipedia article already, but that had left me with more questions than answers). damn, that faq is big. I’m only on the second page so far – partially because I still have a bunch of other huge things I’m trying to read, and partially because there’s still this pesky studying thing I have to do occasionally. ;) however, what I’ve read so far makes a lot of sense, and reminds me a lot of the lessons I learnt from Free software. while I’ve noticed I have a tendency to want control, and want to act like microsoft, in the end I’m really happier when I’m working on GPL’d stuff and not trying to control anyone. I think a lot of the same lessons apply to real life – we just have some pesky problems to work around, like not being able to copy real objects so easily ;)

This post isn’t entirely accurate – I think there was some stuff that I thought I read online but actually heard about in RL, and simply writing the post has made me go dig up better links for some topics… I have a bad enough memory as it is, so trying to remember stuff that happened several months ago is hard. especially since I started writing this post over a month ago – it got interrupted by my vacation. :) anyways, I’m fairly busy with school stuff again, so I’ll just have to put my perfectionism aside and post what I’ve got.

I guess I might get some trollish comments on this post… whatever. I’m not so interested in getting into a silly internet debate about this stuff – I still have so much to learn. I just wanted to share some of what I’ve discovered, in case someone out there finds it interesting.

{September 7, 2007}   snipped posts

the internet is behaving like a yo-yo today, and it reminded me that a fair number of people on planetkde still snip their posts. considering the overwhelming number of comments last time I brought the subject up, I expected everyone would stop snipping, but that wasn’t the case. so I’d just like to say that if you could let the rss feed show your entire post, I’d really appreciate that while my internet connection is down. :)

I’ve actually almost caught up on all the planetkde posts from my vacation, since a lot of my other feeds don’t include anything at *all* in the rss. I suppose I really should have spent the time doing something a little more productive… oh well. :)

{September 6, 2007}   back in china

loads of things I haven’t blogged about, eh?
for starters, I am a very *very* lucky girl. I replaced the thermal grease on the laptop, put it through some tests, and did not see a single problem. it actually appears to be undamaged! (now watch as a power surge kills it just to prove me wrong)

I’m back in china again, and classes start on monday. didn’t spend any time in shanghai on the way back, and it turns out that was good – me and pete reached the school tuesday night, and in the morning when we went to get breakfast, we found out there was all this registration stuff to be done, and new student cards to get, and so on. we were going to have to write a placement test as well, which would have no actual effect on our placement, but after waiting in line for a while, we were told not to do it. ahh, bureaucracy :P

my hatred for bureaucracy grew on thursday. we had some sheet of paper in chinese telling us that we were supposed to do various things, one of which was going to zijingang campus (a half hour bus ride away) for.. something to do with registration. me and ivan were the only ones actually awake in hte morning, and ivan told me that we were supposed to be there at 8:30 – we left school at about 8:20.
we decided to take a cab to get there faster. ha. the cab driver didn’t know where the campus was – we pointed it out to him on the map, and then he didn’t know how to *get* there. he made some phone calls, drove a bit, stopped to ask random bystanders, did some more driving and stopping to ask people… eventually we got there, later than we would have if we took the bus, and 27 kuai poorer :P (he did reduce the price by 2 kuai to make up for his incompetence, though).
we managed to find the right building – luckily it wasn’t far away, ’cause that campus is huge – but then it turned out that we weren’t supposed to be there until 1:30. it was about 9:20 by this point. :P so we went alll the way back home (by bus this time).
we went out again after lunch, and had to fill out some papers for yet another new piece of ID, and then wait a couple hours to watch a lecture about registration… in fast chinese. neither of us could understand it, so after half an hour we gave up and headed out (and on the way out, found out from a teacher that all the info in the lecture was repeated in one of the books we were given – still in chinese of course, but at least we can use a dictionary with that).
happily, I got back just in time to go out for dinner at the fancy vegetarian restaurant, and that was delicious. man that was a long day. now it’s friday, and I’m just messing around on the computer.

I was expecting to have to adjust to china’s pollution all over again when I got back, but it’s been a lot easier this time. just got a bit of a cough – much milder than the first time I was exposed to this air. the temperature is much nicer too – it was a cloudy wet day when we arrived in shanghai, and the temperature was only 25 or so :) it was almost as if we hadn’t left vancouver. the weather’s back to being sunny now, but it’s still a lot cooler than when I left hangzhou. I can actually have the air conditioning off and not be dripping sweat! :)

I’m feeling a lot better now – far more energy, probably from eating so well in canada, an interest in actually reading some of my many books, and even a little enthusiasm for learning chinese again :) yay vacation! I seem to feel best in the morning, though. maybe because the air is actually at a temperature that could be called ‘cool’ then.

I’ve been a bit behind on news, but it looks like things have been going well in the open source world – OOXML lost the vote (by a margin small enough to concern me, though) and AMD has promised not only opensource drivers, but documentation too! :) I had resigned myself to getting an intel system next, but with this news maybe I can have AMD (I’ve always preferred their processors).

I never did blog about all the fun stuff in canada, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever get around to it… anyways, I’ve decided that it’s time I get kde4 up to date, so I’m going to go play with that now. :)

et cetera