Hixie's Natural Log

2003-11-08 06:24 UTC San Diego 2003: Part 2

I'm now in Surf, a meeting room at HP in San Diego. It's Tuesday now.


I'm now at Tutto Mare, a seafood restaurant in San Diego. It's still Tuesday. I was at HP earlier but I didn't have time to write much because we were working on CSS2.1 issues and I'm the one who keeps track of how we've decided to deal with each issue (this is separate from the minutes).

But I'm jumping ahead. I was telling you about Monday. After the teleconference and the morning shower bryner took me to the Mozilla Foundation headquarters in Mountain View. They're currently based in a large office with no inner cube walls to speak of, with desks dotted around and ethernet cables dropping from the ceiling.

They have two phone lines at the moment, one is their incoming fax line and the outgoing conference line (so answering this phone before the fax gets it results in a screeching sound across the building) and one is their normal phone line, which has somehow made its way onto the telemarketer "these guys are suckers" list. It's quite amusing, they haven't yet worked out who should answer the phone or what to say when the do, so everytime the phone rings they all sort of look at each other.

All, that is, except those who aren't technically Mozilla Foundation employees, which was probably about half the people present when I was there. It's quite amusing how many hangers-on Mozilla Foundation (MF) has. It must be the cool place to be. Even people who have perfectly good offices in, for example, Menlo Park, instead hang out with the cool kids at MF.

At one point Ben showed me his new G5 running Panther. I'm no Mac geek but I have to admit, it is very pretty. Fast user switching is just great, the desktop just flips as if on a cube. It really is visually stunning.

It doesn't beat my UI though. I use ion. I don't have windows, there's very little 3D-ness at all in fact in my UI... For example, at the moment, my screen is split into five panes. The top left contains my Emacs buffer, the top right contains my SSH session displaying my mail client, and also has a separate "tab" containing my SSH session to my Web server running Emacs so that I can edit my site on the fly; the bottom right corner has a small xload "tile" and a small xclock tile above it, and the remaining space in the bottom left and across most of the bottom of the screen is my X-Chat pane. I also have an alternate tab that shares the same area as X-Chat, which is just an xterm running watch -n 1 'iwconfig 2>/dev/null' for easy monitoring of the wireless connection status. Similarly the clock "tile" also has two other tabs associated with it, one that contains an xterm that I use to run apm --suspend when I want to suspend the machine for transport (I don't suspend it when I close the lid as almost everything I do involves persistent network connections), and one with xconsole that I drag out of that tab and into another when I want to see what my laptop is doing.

I also have two other workspaces, both of which currently just have one large unsplit pane. Both contain browsers; which browser depends on the time of day and what browser I last had to test.

Now, admittedly, my UI also has the potential to make UI experts cry. My X-Chat window has its own tabs nested inside the window manager's tabs, as have my browsers usually, and as does Emacs. Emacs even has multiple sets of tabs.

Of all the UIs I've used, this feels like the most productive to me. (I am aware that tests show that people who claim keyboard shortcuts are faster than mouse access have been repeatedly demonstrated to be wrong in scientific testing. That's another story...) I use the mouse still, largely for switching between panes (I have focus-follows-mouse). But what's funny to me is that basically all the applications I use are text based, some even using a text mode UI. Yes, MacOSX is pretty and so forth, but that just gets in the way for me. I feel more at home knowing exactly what's going on at the command line than having to second-guess the UI. And it just feels more efficient to be able to guarentee that all the "windows" will exactly abut each other and take up all available space rather than have to keep resizing them to be next to each other.

My laptop also has an Access IBM button that I have hijacked and now just spawns an xterm.

Incidentally this laptop is called Alpaca. My previous laptop was called Abyssinian. I'm naming my laptops alphabetically after domestic cat breeds. (The Alpaca is an old name for the Dalles LaPerm.)

Mowmows are so cute.

Back to Monday though. At lunch time a bunch of us ate at La Fiesta (I really miss going to that place), and later for Dinner another bunch of us ate at Burrito Real (I miss that place at least as much). And that was Monday.

On Tuesday I met up with some more other friends from my Bay Area days and went back to La Fiesta with them, for a most enjoyable meal. I did some work during the afternoon. Asa was busy installing Windows on his cheaply-built dedicated embedded Linux box. That box had a CD ROM drive that sounded like some sort of power sander everytime it span up. Ouch.

David then drove me to the Mountain View Caltrain stop where I took the train to Milbrae and then the Bart to SFO.

This is where I first heard the term "quad-S" that I mentioned earlier (in part 1). I also heard much shouting of "Male assist! We need a male assist!". Seems that the SSSS thing is associated with the whole ticket not just the boarding pass. They were surprisingly polite, though.

If the SSSS thing really does mean "he paid cash, he must be a terrorist", then I'd like to point out that I've been paying cash for tickets in Norway around twice a week for the last 3 months or so and never ever had any troubles there.

When I got to San Diego, Hyatt was waiting for me, and we then waited for David Baron. While we were doing that we met Kimberley (a new CSS working group member, representing AOL), who was waiting for Tantek. Five people, of which four came from the Bay Area, from three different airports, on four different planes, with three different airlines, headed for two different hotels, all within about an hour of each other.

We decided to just use one rental car for the rest of the journey.

On the way to Rancho Bernardo we stopped by TGI Friday's for a late night snack and some merriment. We left as they were closing, I think, around 02:00 local time.

I checked in to the hotel, which Opera had prepaid for me (since I don't have a credit card...). I think that their prepaying for the room is the reason that I got the room I did. It is huge. It's almost two rooms, in fact. It even has a two-person bath. And two TVs. And a DSL wireless router, although it was one of those credit-card requiring ones and I don't have a credit card. This was becoming quite an annoying recurring trend, as you may have noticed. And a very nice large bed. And a balcony with a great view of the car park.

Wednesday we started working on the CSS2.1 Issues List at 9am. By 5pm we had resolved all the issues up to number 60, which is about 25% of the way down the issues file. The editors still have to actually make the changes though, and we still need to send responses to the e-mails (for last call drafts, every issue has to have an archived response, and we then need to check all the responses are acceptable to the people who raised the issues).

After that a group of us went to see the latest Matrix movie, for which we had prebooked tickets. We ended up joing the queue two hours before the movie started, and we were already the 50th to 55th people in the queue. (Quick thinking from Tantek as we entered the theatre and me as we reached the seats managed to get us some of the best seats in the room, though — eye level with the middle of the screen).

It was quite funny being sat in a queue with our laptops out. It raised our geeky level enough to make us not feel too out of place, given that there were numerous people in attendance who were all dressed up as characters from the previous Matrix episodes. Some were so well done I was quite intimidated, to be honest.

I enjoyed it. It arrives near the top of my favourite films list.

Thursday was much the same. We reached about 70% of the way through the issues list, then went to Tutto Mare, where the food was excellent, and many hilarious anecdotes about browser development were shared.

Friday. Friday (today, now, in fact) we mainly discussed the CSS working group roadmap, which is basically deciding what we're going to work on next. CSS2.1 and the CSS2.1 Test Suite are my priorities, with BECSS, Selectors, Presentation Index, Lists, and Generated and Replaced Content being the rest of my list roughly in the order I care about them (not that I don't care about generated content, of course).

We ended the meeting around 15:00 local time for logistical reasons and those of us who weren't rushing off to the airport piled into my room. We wanted to use the internet but the room's DSL wireless router would only serve DHCP to one MAC address at a time (I presume the company didn't want more than one person to give them money per router, otherwise they would make too much money and go bankr— no wait...). We tried using the Ethernet port on the back of the router, we tried putting two wireless cards into one laptop, we tried various things. In the end we just created an adhoc network for file sharing. I had fun with the following command:

tcpdump -efnvvvX > hotel-room & tail -f hotel-room

It was quite funny seeing how many machines were doing weird things like trying to resolve IPs for random hosts on the net, doing arp who-has requests for IPs of the proxies we used at HP, and so forth. Since my laptop has an IRC server running (I do mozbot development on alternate weekends so I need an IRC server to test on), we even chatted on IRC. That felt rather odd though since we were all within 2 metres of each other. Meanwhile David Baron had fun trying to work out which machines had to be routed how in order to get all the machines talking together. We had six laptops, with six different operating systems: Panther, Jaguar, MacOS 9, Debian, RedHat, and Windows. The OS9 machine would only talk to the rest of the network if it had its packets routed through the Panther machine, and the Windows machine would only talk to the rest of the network directly, so David ended up with a rather... interesting routing table.

Later, when only Bert and I were left (the others having gone to catch their respective flights), I got internet access through the DSL router (thanks to Hyatt letting me use his credit card quickly) and we then managed to actually set up my machine to provide internet access for Bert's machine without us having to pay extra. This involved running four commands as root on my Debian laptop:

ifconfig eth0
route add -host dev eth0
iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o eth1 -j MASQUERADE
echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forward

...and setting up Bert's Jaguar laptop to use as its IP and as its gateway, with the two laptops connected together by Ethernet.

We ate dinner at the Elephant Bar near the hotel, and then retired to our rooms. That's where I'm sitting now, finishing off this Web log entry.

Tomorrow I return to Norway, where I hope to spend a lot of time in my bed. It's been a while since I've had a decent night's sleep.

End of part two.

Hopefully tomorrow will be uneventful enough that I won't need a part three!