Pat's Log
Mon, 24 Jul 2006

Ottawa Linux Symposium
20060723 Linux Symposium is an event I always look forward to. Being local, it would be foolish of me not to attend.

This year went as smoothly as previous years, with many talks, much developer-to-developer discussion, and excellent evening outings. It really is amazing to have so many of the minds behind my favourite operating system in one place. As someone pointed out during the week, "if there were a bomb at the Congress Centre during this week, Linux would really be set back a fair bit."

As with every year, there are one or two general topics that drive many of the talks. Two years ago it was the splitting up of, last year it was virtualization. This year's most interesting talks focused around the new kernel debugging mechanisms and the challenges around optimizing everything from the kernel through to the highest-level applications.

A large portion of my time was spent talking to X developers are trying to get a grasp on how AIGLX ("aiglix") and XGL work, where they're going. There is much misinformation out there, and everything is constantly changing. I think I got a good feel for how the next year of X development is going to pan out, which is good for both my curiosity and professional goals.

This conference, as with every conference, always has one person who really stood out, with whom I spend more time than with others. This year it was Aaron Seigo, best known for his involvement with KDE. Aaron is very approachable, knowledgable, fun. It all started when I overheard on the first day that he needs a place to crash. I volunteered Hubert, thinking to myself that it would be funny to impose a KDE developer on him. Naturally, I only told Hub after Aaron accepted. It turned out being a great way to make a new friend. Also, Aaron is a karaoke ninja.

Admittedly, after an entire week of festivities, I'm severely drained. Nonetheless, I'm already looking forward to next year.

[] | posted @ 03:48 | link
Thu, 20 Jul 2006

Roadtrip to Milton
20060720 Last week Markus invited me and the usual suspects to spend the weekend at his place in Milton, Ontario. I was reluctant to go at first, spending the last few days before OLS away from home, but going turned out being a good idea. Despite extreme heat, we had lots of fun. Markus made me promise to blog about it.

On Friday night we went to a bar called Nascar. The goal was to find a bar that best says "hicktown." I ended up feeling sorry for the place, seeing as they had all of about eight paying customers on a Friday night. That figure includes the really bad karaokeists. Also, through no fault of my own, the letters on the sign in front of the building happened to rearrange themselves to spell "Ball Me Soon." Funny.

Saturday was even more fun, if "fun" is interpreted as "pushing around a 3800kg Ford Excursion." Markus' work truck was having some serious problems after we got far away from his place. It would just run very well and then suddenly choke and die. For better or worse, its frequent stalls and unwillingness to start added to an entire layer of adventure to the trip.

We'll have to do this again some time.

[] | posted @ 19:57 | link
Fri, 14 Jul 2006

What The Internet Could Have Been
20060713 This entry is a follow-up to the article about my first homepage.

Back in the summer of 1996, the fourteen-year-old me was youngest ever employee at Corel Corporation. My job was as a "Quality Assurance Assistant" for a little-known product, Corel WEB.SUITE. This product was composed of WEB.DESIGNER, WEB.WORLD, and WEB.DRAW, a slimmed down CorelDRAW with focus on output to screen graphics as opposed to paper.

Of particular interest to me was WEB.WORLD, an early (and very simple) VRML editor. At the time, this technology seemed to me as the future of web sites. Information could be organized spatially, objects could be hyperlinked, it ran decently fast on the blazing-fast Pentium-133s of the day, and it was generally quite popular. Sites all over the place required a VRML plugin.

For my testing purposes (and because it was fun), I made my online gallery of computer renderings into a virtual 3D gallery. They were grouped by "room" and you could click on the images on the walls to get the full version of the image. It was a fun way of navigating the site.

Somewhere along the way, VRML died off, and now Flash has essentially taken its place everywhere. Yes, the intended purpose of Flash is different. Another big difference, however, is that VRML was based on an open specification that anyone could write a plugin and an editor for. That fact, coupled with majorly increased 3D graphics performance toward the late nineties, make its fate a curious anomaly of the web.

Why did it die? I don't know. But if it had taken off, the net could literally be a completely different virtual landscape today.

[] | posted @ 03:53 | link

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