December 25, 2006

You won’t see me much online in the next few days. Even though Santa apparently forgot to bring the snow, skiing looks possible. So we’ll try!

Big Bad Bug Labels from Jira – the recipe

October 2, 2006

We’re printing big labels with the titles of the (too many) open issues from the Cocoon bug tracking system (doesn’t mean Cocoon as so many bugs, but we’re doing a bad job at managing the issues in Jira, and many are obsolete or not relevant).

As I do this every year for the GT and usually lose the recipe in between, here it is:

Start from a Jira query and choose the XML format. Change the tempMax parameter in the URL to get all results in one file.

Save the XML file and apply the following XSLT to it:

<xsl:template match="/">
<xsl:call-template name="css"/>

<xsl:template match="item">
<div class="issue">
<div class="title">
<xsl:value-of select="substring-after(title,']')"/>
<span class="id">
<xsl:value-of select="key"/>

<xsl:template match="text()"/>

<xsl:template name="css">
<style type="text/css">
body { font-family:"Lucida Grande",sans-serif; }
.issue { margin-bottom: 4em; page-break-inside:avoid; }
.title { font-weight:bold; font-size:24pt; }
.id { font-size:14pt; font-weight:normal; }

Print the result from Opera, which supports the page-break-inside:avoid rule.

Cut the bug labels and put them on a big table so that a bunch of cool people can easily select their favorite issues (by physically grabbing the corresponding labels) to work on them. If like us you have 317 issues, make sure there’s enough pizza and drinks in the pipeline.

(hmm….I’m sitting besides a bunch of FOP guys, don’t tell them that I did it with HTML + CSS ;-) – the Open Source Geospatial Foundation

September 13, 2006

Exploring the world of Open Source GIS, one cannot miss the Open Source Geospatial Foundation, which is in many ways similar to the Apache Software Foundation, but focuses on GIS-related projects.

Frank Warmerdam from OSGeo is currently talking about their foundation, and he just said their incubator is modeled of the ASF’s because it seems to work very well.

It’s good to see the ASF’s model used as an example for other similar foundation – this is a great testimony to the vision of the people who created the ASF, and to those who go out of their way to keep it on the right track!

ongoing updates:

One interesting difference is their project sponsorship program (still being worked on IIUC), where people can give money to a specifiy project instead of the OSGeo foundation as a whole. Sounds like a useful way to get more targeted sponsoring, as long as the bases of the foundation are covered.

Frank also says they’re going to hire an executive director, it’ll be interesting to see how this compares to the ASF’s way of working.

Playing with Google Mini

July 18, 2006

Thanks to Colm (who’s finally published the much expected but-how-do-you-pronounce-your-name post) I got to play a bit with their Google Mini.

To summarize, it feels like a solid but basic search appliance. The ranking looks good, and it’s an important feature for Joe User. On the other hand, “advanced” features like multi-language stemming, date range searches and the much expected “did you mean?” keyword suggestions don’t seem to be available.

I haven’t been able to dig in the configuration parameters, but there doesn’t seem to be much in terms of enabling more precise “database-like” searches in addition to full text.

At this point, my conclusion would be that the mini is a nice out-of-the-box solution for “usual” search requirements, but toolboxes like SOLR can enable a much wider range of uses (dynamic RSS feeds, automatic generation of website navigations, faceted browsing, etc.).

Of course, products like SOLR will require more work to setup than just plugging the thing into your network – but the Mini is not free either, and gets more expensive the more documents you need to index.

Anyway, here’s a summary of my findings about the Mini:

  • Processing of French accented characters works, searching for “referencement” finds “référencement” (that’s an easy one).
  • Language inference looks good, a document in French is marked as such.
  • French stemming did not work in my tests, searching for analyse de code did not find a document containing analyses de code, even though it had been recognized as French. That’s a big drawback IMHO.
  • English stemming does not seem to work either.
  • Did you mean? suggestions do not seem to be implemented, searching for jawa language did not suggest java language.
  • Date-based searches do not seem to be implemented.

All in all, assuming my tests are valid, it seems like the Mini is missing many of the niceties that the real Google has spoiled us with.

Guy Goma: perception is reality

May 22, 2006

So this Guy, waiting for a job interview at a BBC office, is rushed to a TV studio, to answer questions live about the Apple vs. Apple case. Except he’s not the right Guy…

A noble man has got to do his job – and give the audience what they expect. Guy Goma answers the questions in a perceptually real way and gets instant fame. Is he really worse than the usual experts?

The video will stay as an important piece of our TV history.

Via pieceoplastic who’s got a great visual analysis of Guy Goma’s initial reaction (“it’s not me – but what the heck”).

yum provides

April 9, 2006

Trying to install Kino on a Fedora box for my son who’d like to play with video…but gtk-config is missing, which yum package do I have to install?

The answer is yum provides gtk-config, which tells you which package contains that file. Cute.

Teachers, parents, coaches: you *have* to hear Bill Strickland

March 22, 2006

On the way back from my teaching duties (riding my Flyer), I listened to Bill Strickland’s IT conversations interview, and it’s IMHO a must hear for the above categories of people. More about him at

Very briefly summarized, his message about enabling people to grow is

  • Set the bar high.
  • Consider people as assets instead of liabilities.
  • Provide a world-class environment (as in efficient and cool, not necessarily expensive).

All this rings lots of bells here, for several of my roles in life this sounds similar to how I’m trying to act, and I can tell that when I do it works. So go get the podcast!

Jazz comes up several times during the talk, paralleled with the state of mind that’s needed to make things happen – seems like a jazzy state of mind helps.

I’ve written about this before, so I cannot agree more: the jazzy way of playing music, where you set the bar high and improvise with people that you trust, with all your feedback channels fully active, applies to much more than playing music.

I really like improvisation…

Update: good synchronicity between this and my good friend Sylvain‘s post!