Monthly Archives: March 2009

Electing the worst

As expected, Netanyahu is to be Israeli prime minister.


This is the man who tore up the 1993 peace deal, vigorously expanded his Lebensraum, and made it perfectly clear that nothing short of a Final Solution would satisfy him. In the process, he also threw away most of the tremendous international goodwill (particularly in Europe) his country had won with a succession of positive moves.

But the responsibility wasn’t his alone. The international community stood back and let it happen: so long as the palestinians maintained their side of the agreement, noone was interested. The world sent a loud and clear message to the palestinians: peace does not pay.

And who was at the head of that international community? Oh look, it was the husband of the present US secretary of state.

Some things come round again …

In 1933 the germans elected a monster. But they only elected him once. Nor did he throw away a good situation: he came to a country in collapse.  I’d say that makes what they did rather less inexcusable.


We had a very small keysigning last Wednesday at ApacheCon (thanks Jean-Frederic Clere for organising it). I exchanged identity details with about 20 others, many of whom I already know.

Today I got around to digging up my list of details, and signing 11 keys I hadn’t already signed from some earlier event. If you were there and I got your details, my signature on your key should now appear on the keyservers.

ApacheCon last day

OK, most of it hasn’t happened yet.  I’m sitting in the ASF pioneers panel, a non-techie event to celebrate 10 years of the ASF, and lighten the day.  Just checked out of the hotel and left the luggage with concierge.

This afternoon sees the best Apache HTTPD sessions.  I’m not giving any of them, but I’m down for the easy task: chairing two sessions.  May miss out on blogging them, as we’ll be off to catch the ferry later this afternoon.

After two days of pissing rain, the weather has cleared up and the sun is shining.  Poor ol’ Sarah got soaked twice while touristing the city during the day, but it looks like she’ll at least be spared travelling with wet stuff.

Day two

The second day of ApacheCon saw me largely, but not exclusively, on more familiar technical territory than much of what came before.  The highlight was definitely the keynote “open sourcing the analyst business” by James Governor: a brilliant speaker and entertainer.  Also of interest was the HTTPD BoF session, at which interested users and developers discussed ideas for future developments.

The low point was trying to order food in the hotel bar.  Nightmare of non-service.  I didn’t really need it after stuffing myself at the conference, but Sarah did.

Language abuse bites back

In the early days of Tomcat, they settled on an architecture wherein tomcat is fronted by an HTTPD proxy, which would also serve the application’s static data.  That makes sense, not least from a performance point of view.

But it gives rise to a by-product.  Tomcat folks come to use the word static to refer to anything served by httpd and not tomcat, regardless of whether it is in fact static or dynamic.  A minor irritation, but not one on which I’ve hitherto felt the need to rant.

Today that little abomination bit back, when Jean-Frederic Clere used it in his talk on proxying/clustering/loadbalancing solutions for tomcat.  An audience member took the word at face value and questioned him on a usage that just didn’t make sense.  Oops!

(no disrespect to Jean-Frederic – a much-respected developer, and since English isn’t his native language, he has no strong reason to feel the abuse).

Happy birthday ASF

I seem to have overlooked the most important thing in yesterday’s blog entry.  The Apache Software Foundation is ten years old!

It’s come a long way from the (pre-ASF) days of just being the world’s leading webserver.  Now it’s the world’s leading webserver, together with lots of other world-leading software projects.  And more importantly, home of world-leading software ecosystems.

Happy Birthday ASF!

ApacheCon day 1

Today was the first day of the main conference.  It mostly feels very alive this year, though that may or may not have any basis in reality.  Today was also hugely improved by the fact that we got a very good lunch, and my stomach was sufficiently recovered to enjoy it.

There were no talks today directly relevant to my work, so I thought I’d try some of the hadoop track, to learn a little about one of the ASF’s more exciting projects.  Unfortunately Owen O’Malley’s introduction in the first slot was too packed to get in, so I went elsewhere.   I did get to see Olga Natkovich’s[1] talk on pig after lunch, but that was all for hadoop.

The other interesting thing was in the business/social track.  I made a point of going to see Gianugo Rabellino’s talk: he’s a fine thinker and speaker, and always both interesting and entertaining.  I hadn’t planned to, but I stayed on to hear Paul Freemantle on WS02’s business model: fascinating because it had so many echos of my own experience in, and WS02 appear to be making a success of it.

In the early evening was keysigning.  Not so many this year: it wasn’t really adequately advertised.  But I’m certainly exchanging signatures with a few new folks, which is always useful.

[1] Natkovich?  Have patronymics gone unisex/politically correct?

Day Zero

The second day of ApacheCon week was the hackathon.  Having had breakfast at subway sandwiches next door to the hotel on Monday, we tried again, but they had no bread.  I managed to get a dicky tummy after no breakfast, and was running in and out a bit during the day, but that pretty-much cleared up by the end of the day.

In the hackathon, we had a chat around APR.  Is there really a good reason for APR-UTIL to be a separate library (nope)?  The work we’ve done recently to separate out big dependencies like the DBD libs is right – we don’t want to load a library we’re not using.  One option is to follow this direction further towards full modularisation.  And there seems little benefit in wrapping LDAP at all: so far as anyone knows, HTTPD is the only user of apr_ldap, and HTTPD can just clone what it needs from that code.  Some of that discussion has already moved to the mailinglist, to get the views of a wider community.

Tuesday being also Sarah’s birthday, it was a lovely coincidence that de Nederlandse Opera were performing Cosi fan tutte in he evening.  The production was a little strange: set in modern times, opening on a beach.  Despina was – at times – something straight out of the red light district – and had the figure for it!  By the end of the first act we were well-confused, but by the end of the evening it worked very well for us, and we much enjoyed it.

Coming out of the opera, we managed to get somewhat lost, before making our way to the Damrak and a reasonably decent late-opening pizza place that was sit-down rather than a dodgy takeaway.  Didn’t join apachecon folks in the hotel bar afterwards, as I was still not exposing the tummy to booze.  But I think I can draw a line under that today.

I think it’s now time to head down to the action!


Day 1 of ApacheCon Week was BarCamp.  And it was lots of fun!  In fact I preferred the friendly, informal style to that of the main conference: it’s more engaging, and it caught my interest in subjects that would otherwise probably have passed me by (such as Mahout, or a Lucene search), as well as more obvious candidates for my attention like open geodata, and apachecon classic themes like awareness of FOSS in education.

My “apache-helpdesk” session on support ecosystems for open-source projects was scheduled last, so we could have DrBacchus in (he was busy with training for most of the day).  He and pctony are the people present at ApacheCon who I already knew to be leading lights of that ecosystem, and it would’ve been a shame to run the session without both of them.  The session generated some discussion, but no great input from other projects, and I suspect the reality may be that httpd indeed leads the field.  A few slides I used to prime the discussion are here.

Only fly in the ointment was having to faff off into town to find our own lunch.  But that was amply compensated when I got the text from Sarah saying she was indeed – as hoped – coming to join me.  After meeting her at the station and dumping her luggage back at the hotel, we went for a wander around town, ending up in a little thai restaurant where we enjoyed an utterly gorgeous meal.  Yum!


So once again I’m in Amsterdam.  My hotel room is hot and very noisy, but at least it’s a comfy bed and there’s internet access.

Yesterday started off just fine.  Flight was half-empty, but on a propellor-driven plane which was noisier inside than I’ve encountered before, and vibrated quite a lot.  I had an excellent view of the left propellor, and it created some strange visual effects: a very static shadow whilst on the tarmac, and a rainbow shadow on cloud.  Bit of a drama getting to the plane, too: they put us on a bus but it wouldn’t start, so they brought another bus.  The distance the bus had to take us was 1 minute’s walk!

There were quite a few Apachecon folks around when I arrived in Amsterdam, so after a shower I joined them in the bar.  Later we went out for what was originally going to be an indian meal.  But then they ended up going into a b***** steak house.  Faced with a choice of going in or going off alone, I did the wrong thing and went in, to eat their only vegetarian option: a deeply uninspiring platter amongst which the only bit with any taste was the two one-inch-diameter mushrooms.

With a start like that, things can only get better.  Can’t they?