Linux, musical road-dogging, and daily life by Paul W. Frields
Notes on a weekend.

Notes on a weekend.

It was a nice weekend even though it was blisteringly hot. Saturday my wife took my daughter out for haircuts and some shopping, so I stayed at home with Trouble (we should probably just get around to changing my son’s name legally) and we played a bit. I also checked to see how his reading is coming along, and at age 4.5 he’s doing about as well as we could possibly hope. He trips a bit on words like “casually” but generally he can read even things he’s never seen before at a decent speed.

I also tuned my wife’s old autoharp — which has been sitting in various closets since we moved in together close to 20 years ago — so my daughter could use it. In actuality it probably badly needs new strings, but those generally cost upward of $60 and I have yet to see if Evie will keep up with it. They’re kind of limited, but very easy to play, and there’s a huge number of songs that are within reach with just a handful of chords. She seemed pretty psyched about it, but she’s much more into reading, writing, and making crafts.

I worked a little on a revamp of the Fedora release notes to try and get them building with publican. However, I ran into some pretty thorny problems because publican doesn’t seem to do things with XML in an XML-ish way. Instead, it relies on a lot of awk and sed commands to query or change the XML during the validation, translation, and build processes.

I remember several years ago when I was one of the people working on the Fedora documentation tool chain, that I had initially tried doing a lot of work this same way. The downfall in that methodology is it makes assumptions about the way the input document is physically formatted, which is a huge fail when it comes to XML (as I later learned, slowly and painfully). It also makes life very hard for people who want to use your tools on their pre-existing documents. Instead, there are a large variety of ways to do these same things programmatically using XSLT. Your input document is “understood” as a set of data nodes, and can be queried, manipulated, and output in ways that are sensible.

In any case, I was pretty disappointed, and although I was initially very enthusiastic about getting our Fedora docs working using this toolchain, I’m a little less so now. I’ll probably see if I can’t pull out some specific problems and file them as bugs. That means I should probably publish a git repository of the document on which I’m working, as a sort of test for the toolchain. Hopefully I’ll get some time for that this week.

Saturday night I stayed up a bit and watched Le scaphandre et le papillon (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), which was simply superb. The lead, Mathieu Amalric, was great, but the actor who most surprised me was Max von Sydow as his father — phenomenal performance.

On Sunday morning Evie and I went out for some more bike riding practice. There were a couple of near-spills, but nothing too traumatic, other than the usual whining because she couldn’t immediately do it perfectly. I think it’s just a matter of a few more practices and she’ll be confident enough to start turning. By lunchtime, it was practically too hot to be out, but nevertheless I was running alongside her down the street as she went. We finished up covered with sweat, and went in to get cleaned up and have lunch.

Last night, Eleya and I watched another great film — El Orfanato (The Orphanage). It’s a Spanish language film that purports to be a horror movie, but only in the same sense as The Sixth Sense. Notably, it was produced by Guillermo del Toro, who seems to be racking up quite the résumé of tragedic horror fantasies featuring children. Well worth seeing.