Most XEmacs package up to date

This weekend I finally got to work on Gentoo after getting my access all set up last weekend. So, after two days of committing a lot of changes, most of the 118 XEmacs packages are now up-to-date again in portage. Not everything is done yet: some new packages still need to be added, and I have some minor keywording issues to be resolved with some of the other packages. But it is a good start towards getting XEmacs back in shape in Gentoo.

Published on 12/11/2006 at 17h21 by Hans de Graaff, tags

XEmacs updating started in Gentoo

Finally my recruitment process has been finished and I am now an official Gentoo developer. Today I’ve started by setting up common stuff such as email, herd, bugzilla searches, etc. Next on the list is updating xemacs and related packages. I’ve begun to remove some old xemacs packages from the tree to get a better understanding of how things work. Especially repoman is a tool that can’t really be practised with, as is true for some of the special portage features. I’ve only seem to have messed up once, checking in the wrong metadata file, but that was easily fixed.

Next step is a mega-update for xemacs, consisting of most of the fixes that have been sitting in my overlay for quite a while. I’m currently sorting all of it out, so that all the associated bugs can also be closed.

Published on 05/11/2006 at 15h25 by Hans de Graaff, tags

HCI Index now has an ICS calendar

I figured it would be nice today to spend an hour or so to add an ICS calendar to the HCI Index listing all the events in the HCI Index. This allows you to easily import HCI events into your own calendar. Each event also contains the conference URL so that it is easy to get additional information quickly. The calender is in standard iCalendar format (or so I hope), so it should work with most calendar applications.

I haven’t added deadlines yet and I’m not sure whether that is useful or not, so feel free to leave comments about that.

Published on 01/11/2006 at 15h54 by Hans de Graaff, tags ,

Kicking up leaves

Every fall I try to plan a hike so that I get to walk on a carpet of fallen leaves, kicking them up on occasion, and listening to the sounds that makes. Yesterday was such a day. It would have been even better with a bit more sunshine and some dramatic dark-grey clouds in the sky being swept by by a stormy wind, but at least it didn’t rain.

We hiked in the Gooi area, just north of Hilversum, about half forest and half parkland belonging to some estates, with some smithereens of moorland. The forest was varied and especially on the way back had some really nice leaf-covered paths. The parkland was varied with open fields, water features and beech-lined lanes. Recommended.

Published on 30/10/2006 at 21h32 by Hans de Graaff, tags , ,


8 months ago I dislocated my shoulder while skiing. During the last two months I finally got full motion back in my shoulder, so today I figured that skiing would be a good idea to test this. Actually full motion in the shoulder isn’t really needed for skiing, but anyway… Testing my new ski boots was another good reason to go skiing, or so I told myself, so I’ve been to the indoor ski track. The girl at the ticket counter warned that it was icy, and boy was she right. No problem, though, as I got back into the movements really quickly, and even at the first run I was flying confidently on top of the snow.

Even though it’s just an indoor track it made me realize how I missed out last holiday, and it reaffirmed my idea to go skiing in the Alps for a long weekend in December, provided a decent amount of snow falls before that time. I did try to make a picture while in the lift, but it wasn’t that good. Actually, it was so bad I’m not showing it here in the blog.

Published on 19/10/2006 at 20h05 by Hans de Graaff, tags , ,

Information worker attention

Last Friday was the first time I attended a talk at a university in a long time. After regular visiting of conferences in the past I had not had much time and opportunity to go, and so I did not attend talks or conferences for a few years. But with Mary Czerwinski from Microsoft Research being in the Netherlands and talking about worker attention I had to find time to attend. I know Mary from a joint term in the SIGCHI committee, but at that time we never really talked about work interest because the committee meetings were usually fully booked anyway. Besides, at that time I was not so much interested in information workers, at least not professionally.

I’m not going to summarize the talk here (which would be somewhat hard to do due to the fact that she was highlighting a number of different projects from her research group at Microsoft Research), but two things that stood out for me at the end were logging and context.

A number of the projects had user logging at its basis, and I completely understand the utility of the idea. There is so much information in what we are doing that can be useful later that it really is a waste to let all that information just disappear. On the other hand the amount of data can be vast, so some kind of filtering strategy is needed at the source to keep things manageable. Obviously this is not a new idea, I remember using a predictive unix shell in the early 90’s, for example, but today’s processing power and memory make it much more feasible to do this at a grander level. I will certainly raise the idea at work to see if we can add logging to our Wat vinden wij over Service or incorporate it in one of our future projects.

This would also be a nice challenge for the GNOME desktop I’m using. What can you log on my behalf, and how can you help me with that information later. Sounds like a big but interesting project, but due to the size not something I’ll be able to explore at the moment. I’ve mentioned this on the GNOME 3.0 wiki.

The other interesting concept was, as I mentioned, context. (Just putting you back into that context). A nice visual example of this is Scalable Fabric, where you pile up windows on the side of the screen when not in active use, and group them into clusters. A single window or pile can be restored easily. A more down-to-earth but immediately useful tool is Groupbar, which allows the taskbar to be manually grouped and clustered in meaningful sections, instead of clustering many open windows by application type as is the default in Windows and GNOME. I’ve opened a bug/feature request for that.

But the use of context goes beyond simply piling some windows together and hoping for the best. It also has to do with the documents, to do items, etc. that all make up the context of what you are working on right now, just before being interrupted by that phone call, and what was I doing again? Providing better support for maintaining and switching context can still use a lot of improvement, and will mean a major step forward in making computers truly usable.

Published on 16/10/2006 at 22h38 by Hans de Graaff, tags

Kaapse bossen

Glorious sunny late-summer weather is always a good excuse to get out of the house. This morning I explored the Kaapse Bossen near Doorn. This time not one of the long-distance hiking tracks, but a GPS route of my own creation. While the route didn’t always work out very well it was fun to just wander around the forest without paying notice to the painted signs.

I got up really early to be in the forest at daybreak. Unfortunately I didn’t spot any animals, but the forest is always beautiful in the early morning light. The Kaapse Bossen also have the added attraction of a watch tower with a panoramic view of the whole area. Especially nice with the morning light striking the crowns of the trees.

Published on 10/09/2006 at 18h52 by Hans de Graaff, tags ,

Hiking near Eersel

Last week finally allowed for some hiking again. With rain almost every day for the last weeks and not much free time I had not been able to do much hiking, but last Sunday we hiked from Postel abbey in Belgium to the town of Eersel.

The abbey was a bit of a surprise as it turned out to be the local magnet for daytrippers. We counted 6 ‘frietkot’ places near the parking lot and at the end of the afternoon all of them were busy. So much for the peace and quiet, but they do have a great selection of cheese.

The main attraction of the trip was the heather on the moors which is blooming at this time of year. Surely we saw enough of the stuff on the Cartierheide.

Published on 04/09/2006 at 18h48 by Hans de Graaff, tags

Gentoo Developer update

Things are progressing with my goal to become a Gentoo Developer so that my XEmacs overlay can be put into portage for the benefit of all Gentoo users.

I now have a mentor, and I've already turned in the first of two quizes which are part of the Gentoo training program. With the weather so hot in The Netherlands I don't have much energy to work on new things, but doing the quiz and browsing through all the Gentoo documentation for the right answers was a good alternative.

I also noticed a few changes that need to be made in the xemacs ebuild to make it conform to the latest insights. I try to look in to fixing this in the next week.

Published on 26/07/2006 at 22h53 by Hans de Graaff, tags

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