A bonus before parting

In the same month that I was told I was RIFed, I was given a bonus. I’m not complaining, I’m just bemused at how big companies operate.

Pango 1.14.2 and Cairo 1.2.4

After upgrading to use recent bug-fix releases of Pango and Cairo, I’m now eyeballing and verifying the output of over 300 tests with differences, but so far the Pango and Cairo bug fixes don’t seem to have resulted in any fortuitous fixes for xmlroff bugs. At least the xmlroff testing module automates identifying the tests with differences so I don’t have to check the output of several hundred other tests.

Website reworked

For the last ten years, the first line on http://www.menteith.com/ has been “Forgive the spartan appearance, but w’re just moving in.”

It may have taken ten years and there are still a few rough edges, but we’ve, or I’ve, finally moved in.

The website uses Norm’s DocBook Website DTD and stylesheets. It was a learning experience to get it building correctly on Windows (since my Linux laptops will shortly no longer be mine). The best part of the whole exercise was finding the existence of the “hspacer” named template for adding space between the navigation bar and the body of a page. I’ve been wanting something like that for about the last five years, and the next thing I’ll do is update the xmlroff website at http://xmlroff.org/ to also use it. To give credit where credit is due, I found out about it from Bob Stayton’s “DocBook XSL: The Complete Guide” at http://sagehill.net/docbookxsl/WebsiteFormat.html.

xmlroff 0.3.99

xmlroff 0.3.99 is now available from http://xmlroff.org/. This is an development snapshot that includes a new manpage in DocBook XML and a truly experimental SVG output capability. The “testing” and “testsuite” modules are also updated.

In one sense this is snapshot of xmlroff as it was when I was told that I was RIFed (funny how everything seems to come back to that these days), but it is really more a snapshot of the changes made when I had a week off work in mid-July.

De Valera: The Man & The Myths

I have just finished reading De Valera: The Man & The Myths by T. Ryle Dwyer. I’ve read a few Irish history books since moving here, but I still have trouble sorting out who’s who, who was on which side with whom in what, and any one person’s position on an issue – privately, publicly, at the time, and after “mature recollection” but with each book I come closer to wearing a groove in my brain such that I can remember some of these details.

While it’s almost true that everything I know about Irish history I learned from Tim Pat Coogan, I did learn a few things from this book. I certainly picked up more about the relationship, or lack of it, between de Valera and David Gray, U.S. Minister to Ireland, 1940-47, and the book reinforced my opinion of Winston Churchill. However, after reading books by TPC, I was surprised that this book made no mention of how de Valera arrived at the money to found the Irish Press. Also, I don’t know that the author, a historian, is sufficiently qualified to repeatedly assert how the psychology of de Valera’s relationship with his mother affected de Valera’s actions.

In summary, a useful book to have read. I consider that recent Irish history is too complex and multi-faceted for anyone to trust their own opinions after reading only one author on the subject, so this book is doubly useful to me for providing a second (or fifth or so) perspective on events.

The LinkedIn game

When I was RIFed, several past colleagues (both RIFed and unRIFed) sent me their LinkedIn details. Since I hadn’t paid it any attention before, I asked around and was told variously that it was useful, that it was potentially useful, and by one person that he expected to do most of his job-hunting there.

So I joined.

When last I checked, my LinkedIn home page breathlessly informed me that I had over 88,200 connections and that my network had recently expanded to include the Fishery industry. I don’t know that I care. I do know that I’m not planning on doing anything involving the Fishery industry (though I make no promises that I won’t), and I also know that the 88,200+ includes, but is not limited to, an Independent Ranching Professional and at least one Railroad Manufacture Professional. The LinkedIn premise of building “a powerful network of trusted professionals” so that I can “[t]ap into inside connections and information” wears a bit thin when the vast majority of my “network” are that far outside my sphere.

LinkedIn may be a useful place to keep your contacts’ information (provided the information doesn’t go the way of 700GB of PlusNet emails), but you’d still want a local copy if you’re writing email while offline.

LinkedIn’s real use may be for catching up with people that I used to know, the “Find and reconnect with colleagues and classmates” part of their value proposition, but I have found that there’s many names for which I searched for which there is no match. I did discover Ikeda-san who I first met when I lived in Japan and did also find the name of someone who was RIFed from Sun Ireland last year. LinkedIn, however, doesn’t provide contact details until you have a “Connection”, so rather than issuing a LinkedIn “Invitation” and relying on the kindness of people in the USA to forward my invitation through multiple hops and back to Ireland, I used the old-fashioned technique of doing a web search to find him, and tomorrow I will use the old, old-fashioned technique of using the telephone to call him.

So LinkedIn mostly seems to me to be a large, multi-player computer game where you earn points in the game by making connections to increase the size of your network. My character in the game is a 15-contact Personal Account with 90% profile completeness, 33% network completion, 1 endorsement, and 88,200+ network points.


This is the first blog entry for http://tkg.menteith.com.

I have walked my shadow over from my previous, much neglected blog at http://blogs.sun.com/roller/page/menteith (which may soon be heard no more).

The benighted template system for this blog software, which comes with the web hosting service, won’t let me put the complete quote from Shakespeare that I want in the tag line, so here it is:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5

Here’s hoping that you’ll walk with me as I strut and fret my hour upon the stage (which itself is four times as long as Andy Warhol would have credited me with).