Hi-dilly ho-dilly. Time for another semi-regular update from the Life of Don.

First, thanks to all the people who responded to my previous blog post. The results were most useful. But more on that in a minute.

Second, (belated) congrats to Buddhika and Szilveszter for being selected to work on FoieGras for the Google SoC. They both have some great ideas and seem enthusiastic to get started. They'll be working on different parts of the application, with Buddhika working on the WYSIWYG widget (mentored by me) and Szilveszter working on the application framework surrounding it (mentored by shaunm).


I'm off on my jollies soon. First stop, Sevilla for the Ubuntu Developers Summit. Thanks to Canonical / whoever volunteered me to receive sponsorship. I leave on Saturday from Gatwick at 4.10pm, for those wanting to form a fan-group holding signs for my departure (personally, I'd like a "We'll miss you Don" sign and several crying girls to make me feel like a rock-star ;) ). My return flight is at 1.55pm the following Saturday from Sevilla, for the same again (although, can I request the signs be in Norwegian? Just to be slightly odder). Alternatively, if anyone is on the same flights let me know, since I have no idea what's going on (although, this is a more general problem in my world).

After that (a couple of weeks later), it's off home for a few days to do the graduation thing (yay!).

Then, in July it's off to GUADEC, where I shall be giving a talk on Sunday about Project Mallard. I haven't a clue what I'll say (yet), but I'm sure it'll be a brilliant talk, possibly the best there, that will be talked about for years to come and analysed in detail in talks entitled "The way presentations should be done".


Labyrinth work hasn't stalled. I'm still working on it, it's just going slightly slower than I'd like due to the perennial lack of time. The new release (which will be made Real Soon Now) has support for zooming, infinite canvas, text attributes (bold, italics and underline), link selection. Before release, it'll also have support for rudimentary keyboard navigation (working on at the moment). Right now, there are a few "nice" bugs that are posing problems to track down, but I'll get there.

I really should figure out a list of love bugs for it. It is quite nice to see it being recommended to people though. I'm also quite impressed that people are coming up against performance problems in it already. Figured I'd have another couple of releases before things began to get slow.


We (I use we liberally, I really mean the Fearless Leader, shaunm) have been hard at work reworking the internals of yelp to fix a few long-standing bugs and give us some more performance. My own little part in this has been to work on meta-data (Spoon). This work is progressing and I now have a table 'o content working with the fantastic new yelp internals. Though, it doesn't quite work in yelp yet, just the test program (since the hooking up of the new system will require some serious re-engineering).

Project Mongoose

erm, nothing to report. Oops. Ignore this part.

Other, possibly interesting stuff for someone

There's apparently a pub near me called "The Mallard", which made me smile and made me look like an eejit in public yet again, when I stopped and laughed at it. Also, walking back home yesterday, a mother was teaching her (4 year old) son the word "Mallard". Again, a grin from me made her think I was crazy.

Work at Imagination is really quite cool. Won't say too much (as I don't know how much I'm allowed to say), but I am learning quite a lot and discovering a few new things to make me cry. Suffice to say I'm working on device drivers for graphics chips which is really cool, if a little strange. Will point out that they're always looking for more people that like programming in C, and it is a great place to work. If you want to learn the low-level details of device drivers, I'd recommend it.

Now that I've written all of this, I have to go back and add in appropriate links. 2 minutes. Done. Well, that's it from me. I'm off to find some food / commit work to SVN / watch telly / pace / try to discern the exact colour of the sky / hunt for a small piece of lint / all of the above.

Little help


I have recently come into a problem. While working on spoon, I have felt the "need" to incorporate man page metadata into the mix. Unfortunately, each and every system seems to handle man page metadata in a different way. Therefore, I need to collect some information about the usage in different situations. So, are you running a *nix that isn't Ubuntu Feisty? If so, please consider helping me out by running this script and emailing the results file (spoon-man-info.txt) back to me [1]. The script doesn't collect any personal data. It only collects the /etc/issue data, whether the manpath program is available, whether the MANPATH environment variable is set and the locations of mandb index files (whether they're in specified locations). No identifiable info is collected.

I'm ideally looking for any and all *nix systems, where (e.g.) GNOME 2.20 would be expected to run. This includes: any Linux distros (except Ubuntu - I've got that one ;) ), *BSDs, Solaris, Mac OSX etc.

Hopefully, I can gather a nice clear picture of what's needed to get Spoon man-page metadata working. Also, if anyone knows whether mandb can handle / currently handles localised man pages, I'd love to hear...

[1] Don [at] Scorgie [dot] org. In the email, please mention what system the results are from (in case /etc/issue doesn't give useful information)
  • Current Music
    Tabitha's Secret - Dear Joan

I'm back, baby!

Hey. I'm back. Did you miss me? Ah, cut it out, I know you did really.

I moved into a new flat about 3 weeks ago and got my broadband installed yesterday (well, activated today). I started my job about 3 weeks ago and am really enjoying it so far.

And so, now I have broadband, a roof and an income, I can return to hacking labyrinth, yelp, spoon, $OTHER_PROJECTS. So, look out for all the new stuff I (hope I) will be committing soon.

For those that have sent me messages and are expecting replies, I promise I will reply within the next day or two. Unless the email was directly addressed to me, though, the chances are I won't see it. I have a total of 2741 emails now waiting for me to go through. Joy.

Anyway, enough talk. Now action.


Pick a day to fly from Luton back to Aberdeen. Any day. Yep, I chose today. The day of the worst snow in 7 years. Good news is that I now have a flat for my new job. And the bar is open. We shall see if I make it back to Aberdeen today...

Like everyone else, I shall write about my experiences with the N800 once I return. Until then, wish me luck as I wait to see if my flight is running.

Attn: Non-important notice

You know that feeling when you see roadworks and you wonder why they take so long to finish? I'm starting to get a sense of that with my life. Getting everything done is more complicated than it should be.

Anyway, the reason for posting: I have accepted a proper job, making me feel all grown up and stuff. As of the 19th February I shall (hopefully) be a Design Engineer at Imagination Technologies, which is pretty cool. Alas, this means more disruption and non-hacking for a few more weeks as I find somewhere to live near London and figure out what the heck is going on. It also means I have to give up my beloved Blueyonder email address, something I've been dreading for several years now. My new email address is (as of about now) Don at Scorgie dot org. I'm slowly making my way around all my subscriptions and switching them over. My other addresses (if you know them) will still remain. My Blueyonder address will still work until (probably) Friday, after that it'll be shut down.

That is all.

Back for the Time Being

Well, I'm back from my travels. Over the last 2 weeks, I've travelled about 2660 miles (4300 km), which might not sound much but by train seems to take far longer than it should. For reference, that's Edinburgh->Oxford->Aberdeen->Edinburgh->London->Edinburgh->London->Edinburgh. Anyway, out of this trekking, I've managed to get one job offer and one "we're just waiting to get the final go-ahead before giving out our offer.". By the end of the week (i.e. in 2 days), I have to decide which of the offers to take (I know which one I'll probably take).

So, onward. Thanks to Nokia / whoever suggested I was worthy of receiving a developer discount for the N800. My order is in (using my brothers credit card, bah) and am looking forward to receiving it :) Yes, I'll be looking into getting labyrinth running on it (along with all the other work to do on it).

New Year, New Dawn

Belated happy $HOLIDAY_PERIOD to everyone.
Just to bring everyone up to date on my life over the last month or so (since I'm sure everyone is interested)...

  • Home for Christmas, which was excellent. Got a new kilt jacket, which is all fancy and shiny (well, not shiny exactly), as well as a couple of excellent books

  • My youngest brother, Duncan, got engaged on Christmas Eve. He's 22. Congrats to him and Gordana (which I hope I've spelt correctly).

  • On Christmas day, my other brother, Gus (or Angy as he seems to call himself these days), returned from 2 1/2 years travelling around Australia / Africa. Brilliant to see him again, even if it did mean a 4 hour (round trip) drive to pick him up from Glasgow Airport.

  • On 29th Dec, I travelled down to Stockport (Manchester) for a wedding. Congrats to Colin and Helen. Note: wearing a kilt in Manchester is still an interesting experience.

  • The same time, I met with an old Uni friend, Kate, who I discovered is also getting married (what the...?). Congrats to her and Ant. She managed to invite me to the wedding because (in her words) "she needs someone in a kilt there. Plus, I want to see what's under it.". Bah.

  • For Hogmany, it was off to a little cottage in the middle of Perthshire (Rannoch) with the family. Consisting of 12 of us, which was nice, even without internet access. Even with a long walk up about 2/3'rds a mountain (where the snow reached thigh-deep and we turned back).

  • Had a few heavy nights in between times. The best (or worst) was several days ago, where a huge gang of us went out to a club and I smacked my head on a beam. Its amazing how much blood can come out of a head wound. Anyway, I now have a great big scar there (on the top of my head) to remind me to duck.

  • Yesterday morning, I (once again) gave up on the nicotine sticks and placed one clear patch on my arm. Yep, I'm giving up smoking. Hoping that by making this public, it'll force me to actually give up properly.

And so, onto the future...

  • This morning, I have a phone interview for a really interesting and cool job, which I am starting to get nervous about.

  • This afternoon, I get to travel by train to Oxfordshire (8 flaming hours) for another job interview tomorrow (all day style) for a different job. Again, pretty cool sounding.

  • On Friday, I'm heading back up to Aberdeen for another weekend of debauchery. Well, maybe not completely, but a (belated) Christmas meal.

  • Next Monday, I get to go on my travels again down to Watford (near London) for yet another interview with yet another company.

So, for the various people that have sent me emails and are looking for responses, I promise to get around to them soon, although, it will be into next week before I get around to it. Also, due to this hectic schedule, any hacking on Labyrinth, Spoon, Foie Gras and Yelp are on hold until everything calms down. At some point, I'll put up some photos. Maybe. If you're lucky (since no-one knows what I look like and I need a hackergotchi for p.g.o).

Calling Documentation Newbies

A word from Joachim, as sent to the doc list. He's asked me to put this up on the planet as well. Want to contribute to GNOME, but aren't a programmer / want to do something a little different? Here's you're chance.

Calling any potential documentation writers...

I've started tagging some of our documentation bugs
with the 'gnome-love' keyword. These are pretty basic
fixes that will help you get familiar with the tools
and with messing about with DocBook.
Instructions on how to go about providing a patch for
these bugs are on the wiki:

Ask on the docs mailing list if you need any help.

In addition, the doc team also hangs around on IRC (#docs on irc.gimp.org). We're friendly really. Want to ask questions or lend a hand, either come by on IRC or let us know on the mailing list (gnome-doc-list@gnome.org). A list of some (but probably not all) documentation gnome-love bugs can be found using this bugzilla link.

That was the week that was

So the last week wasn't quite as hectic / bad as I thought it would be.

On Wednesday, I had my PhD viva. For those that haven't gone through this and have no idea what it's about, a viva involves 2 examiners (one from outside the University, one from inside) going over you're thesis, picking it apart and making sure you understand it all. This process normally takes ~ 3-4 hours. It is also the most nerve-wracking thing you'll ever go through, ever. Anyway, mine began at 10.30am and lasted 3 1/2 hours. At the end they did announce that I had passed my PhD subject to minor corrections in the thesis (completed 2 out of 4 already).

Today, I also turn 26 years old. Which, for those decimally-challenged is 11010. Brilliantly, the stag party for one of my friends has also been arranged for this evening. This can't be a good thing. My mother and brother (the one still in the country) are apparently heading through for lunch to celebrate. Well, not really. My mum decided to come to the Capital to go shopping. It's really a coincidence that it happens to be my birthday ;)

For reasons I won't go into, this week also saw me turn down a job. I'm still waiting to hear back from (at least) one other. So, if anyone out there knows of any jobs for a 26-year-old mathematician / physicist / meteorologist / remote sensor / hacker who is willing to move anywhere, please let me know :) Might as well ask. (DonScorgie Blueyonder co uk is my email address, since people are asking)

This week I imposed a no-coding week on myself. Apparently, you can have coding-addiction. Symptoms include "I'll just glance through this patch someone sent me", "That's an interesting stack trace. Wonder what causes that" and, when playing computer games seeing in you're mind the code structures and algorithms used. Then spending 3 hours repeating a small section of the game, testing out whether the algorithm in you're mind is correct (AFAICT, yes).


Couple of things...

  • Labyrinth is now packaged and available in Fedora Extras. This link has the details.

  • Yesterday, I released a new version of Spoon (not updated yet). Details can be found in this message

Have you ever had one of those weeks, where everything seems to collide at once? Or, as Doc Brown put it "It could mean that, that point in time inherently contains some sort of cosmic significance. Almost as if it were the junction point for the entire space-time continuum. On the other hand, it could just be an amazing coincidence.". I have a deep feeling in my gut that this week approaching is going to be one of those weeks for me. Not just the random deep feeling I sometimes get when I eat curry, but a solid feeling, backed up with facts and everything. I won't spill the beans yet. I may not be the most active person answering emails and such this week though (just a warning).