Thursday, February 21, 2008

Tethered capture with gphoto2

It turns out that it's fairly easy to use a linux box to
take pictures using my Nikon D50 and display the results
to the screen:



$ gphoto2 --capture-image --interval 10 -F 2 --hook-script showpic.sh

The above takes two frames ten seconds apart (making a D50 into
a very expensive webcam). Alternatively, I could use the following
to use the camera normally but have the pictures show up on the
computer screen:



$ gphoto2 --capture-tethered --hook-script showpic.sh

The "hook script" is what does the actual display after each shot:



$ cat showpic.sh
#! /bin/bash

self=`basename $0`

case "$ACTION" in
init)
echo "$self: INIT"
# exit 1 # non-null exit to make gphoto2 call fail
;;
start)
echo "$self: START"
;;
download)
echo "$self: DOWNLOAD to $ARGUMENT"
eog ${ARGUMENT} &
;;
stop)
echo "$self: STOP"
;;
*)
echo "$self: Unknown action: $ACTION"
;;
esac

exit 0

Pretty darn cool!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Thought for the day

In drobbins' post today, http://blog.funtoo.org/2008/02/refocus.html,
he offers the following advice:



If a project doesn't meet your needs, I encourage you to create your own
project. If you do, I recommend keeping the development team small,
tight-knit and independent. I think this will maximize your productivity
as well as your overall enjoyment of collaborative and open development.

Is that the future for Gentoo? It's already happening to some extent.
The next generation of the (in)famous Gentoo init system is now
an independent project (http://roy.marples.name/openrc). Paludis
(http://paludis.pioto.org/) and pkgcore (http://www.pkgcore.org/trac/pkgcore)
are independent package managers designed to work with Gentoo's
portage tree. Drobbins independently releases x86 and amd64
stage tarballs (http://www.funtoo.org/linux/). Anybody who
wants to can create their own overlay repository such as those
at http://overlays.gentoo.org/.


Internally, though, Gentoo works pretty much the same way. Take
a look at
http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/index.xml?showlevel=3
sometime. Most Gentoo developers spend their time toiling
on a handful of specific projects. Yet that specialization inside
Gentoo seems to contribute to the feeling that Gentoo lacks any
sort of coherent direction. Would things really be that different
if those projects were independent, external projects?


I've no idea. Thoughts / comments welcome.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Shaving the D50

The nikon D50 viewfinder is only about 95% accurate. Specifically,
it misses about 50px total on the left and right, and 75px total
at the top and bottom. Here's a fix:



$ convert foo.jpg -shave 25x38 +repage foo_shaved.jpg

This way the final result is what was actually seen.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Paperwork arrived in NM. Forking Gentoo? Some corrections.


Paperwork arrived


It appears that the reinstatement paperwork was delivered
to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission on Tuesday.
(It actually arrived last Saturday, but there was nobody to
sign for it, so it didn't actually get delivered until Tuesday.)


Now we wait for NM to process the paperwork.




Encouraging forks...


The first respondent to a recent blog post by drobbins,
http://blog.funtoo.org/2008/01/gentoo-developer-reply.html,
has urged drobbins to fork Gentoo. Drobbins has replied that
he'll consider it. Cool. I wish him well, if he decides to
to do it.


One of the great strengths of the open source world is that if you
think you can do something better, you can create a fork, and try
to validate your ideas in the marketplace.




A few corrections of "the response"


In drobbins' blog post "The Response...",
http://blog.funtoo.org/2008/01/response.html,
there are a few misapprehensions that I'd like to correct.
I wasn't particularly clear on the phone, I'm afraid.


It's quite true that I would not be happy handing over the reins of the
Foundation to anybody without first having a vote of the members of the
Foundation. Indeed, were Gentoo to be accepted as a member project of either
the SFC or SPI, then a formal vote of the membership would have been required
to approve such a radical change. That said, what I mentioned to drobbins is
that I thought we should have an actual vote on accepting his proposal. I also
pointed out that a vote would have a deadline attached. I was thinking of the
polls being open for two weeks, but I would have been happy to negotiate on
that point. In any event, I thought I was proposing something that was
absolutely _not_ "an extremely long-term...decision-making process". It
certainly would have been political, though. What else is a process that tries
to find a consensus? Shrug (As an aside, the current Foundation members are
any previous dev who voted in a Trustee election, whether or not that person is
still an active dev, and any current or previous Trustee. Eligible members are
any active devs who have would have been developers for at least one year at
the time the polls close.) I assume from what drobbins has written, however,
that I failed miserably in getting this idea across.


Drobbins noted that I "did not express interest in resigning".
That's true, although I don't believe he asked me about it.
(It's quite possible that he did so indirectly, though, and that I
completely missed it.) I didn't mention it because I thought
it was obvious. I haven't made a secret of my having been a poor
steward of the Foundation, and I've publicly stated that I think the
Foundation urgently needs new trustees. (Trustee nominations
are now being taken on -nfp, by the way.)


Finally, it seems that I incorrectly conveyed the notion that the Foundation
is "stuck with developers and just developers as voting members".
That's not quite accurate. Right now the Foundation membership
is all current and ex-devs, but the members could vote to change that
in the future, if they so desired.




Sticks and stones


I've received some particularly vicious comments recently from some
Gentoo users. In case you were not sure, I find that polite,
well-reasoned arguments tend to be much more persuasive (to me,
anyway) than are vulgar, vicious screeds. I dare say that it's
a character flaw in my nature to not be that interested in reading
past the vitriol, but that's the way it is.



Friday, January 18, 2008

Foundation update


Current state of affairs


With help from Renat Lumpau (rl03), I spent some time this week talking to
the Foundation's lawyers, collecting documents, and sifting through old e-mails.
As I posted on gentoo-nfp a couple of days ago, the state of New Mexico did, indeed,
revoke the charter for the Gentoo Foundation, Inc. in October of 2007. It's
still not entirely clear why, since I mailed a check along with the (then) current
and past-due annual reports to the state of NM way back in July. Since the check
never cleared, it seems a good guess that the paperwork went astray, but we won't
know until Renat's request (and $5) are processed by NM and they get back to him.


In any event, having the Foundation's charter revoked is exceptionally embarrassing,
but not catastrophic. The state of NM has a straightforward procedure for
reinstating a revoked charter, as long as the request to do so is filed within two
years of the charter's revocation. This morning I sent by USPS Express Mail (tracking
number EO 943 358 815 US for those who want to play follow-the-paperwork from
home) an envelope to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, Corporations
Bureau containing an application for reinstatement, copies of the missing annual
reports, and a check for $60.




Does the Foundation currently exist?


Yes.


Many, many people have assumed, quite understandably, that with the
Foundation's charter having been revoked, that the Foundation has thus ceased
to exist. That's not really true. You can see this by looking at the NM
statutes, but it's simplest to see by looking at what happens when NM receives
the application for reinstatement. The New Mexico public regulation commission
will determine if all of our paperwork is in order. If it isn't, they'll let
us know what we need to do to complete it. Once it is, the commission will
cancel the certificate of revocation and file a certificate of reinstatement
that takes effect "as of the effective date of the administrative revocation
and the corporation resumes carrying on its business as if the administrative
revocation had never occurred".


http://tinyurl.com/2v6qtl




Who is in charge here, anyway?


Well, for the moment, I am. Of course, since I'm one of the people who let
the Foundation's charter get revoked, that's probably not a good thing, but
that's what we have right at the moment. Who am I? I'm one of the two
Trustees who hasn't resigned. (The other is pauldv.) I'm also one of
the original Trustees from when the Foundation was incorporated. During that
initial period I was made the Secretary of the Foundation so that I could
establish banking (which requires that the Secretary sign the forms), and
in 2005 I was chosen by the then-newly-elected Trustees to be the President
of the Foundation. The important part from the above is that I had the
legal authority to sign the application for reinstatement that I mailed
earlier today.




Could somebody else be in charge?


Yes, but it would take some time.


The Foundation has members. Those members could set up an election, vote
out the current bums, and choose new, more dedicated folks to run things.
Who are these members? It's anybody who voted in a previous Trustee election,
and all current Gentoo devs who have been a developer for one year at the closing
of the election poll and actually vote in the election. The Gentoo Foundation
has a _lot_ of members.


An alternative is for the existing Trustees to appoint new trustees to fill
the gaps left by those Trustees who have left. That would take less time, but
I'd feel much better doing that if new elections were scheduled to occur
within a reasonable amount of time.




What happened to the SFLC?


Weren't we going to consider joinging the Software Freedom Law Center's Software
Freedom Conservancy (http://conservancy.softwarefreedom.org/)? Yes, and the SFC
was, and still is, interested (as of just a few days ago, anyway), although they
have some concerns about managing the legal aspects of an entire distribution.
(Gentoo would be larger, by far, than any of their current member projects.)
I still think that's the right way to go, although it's ultimately going to
depend on what the Foundation's members want. The bottleneck right now is the
assembly of documents that the SFC needs to go forward:




  • Certificate of Incorporation (or analogous document for your org)



  • Existing By-Laws for the Organization



  • List of Directors (and historical list of previous directors, if
    available)



  • List of Officers (and historical list of previous officers, if
    available)



  • Minutes from all Board meetings for the last three years



  • All Board Resolutions passed by the Directors



  • Membership meeting minutes (if your organization is a membership
    organization)



  • All Membership Resolutions (if your organization is a membership
    organization)



  • All annual reports (published, or filed with any state or federal
    agency)



  • All audited annual finanicals (if any were audited and/or filed)



  • All financial reports of any kind for the last three years



  • Copy of all state and/or federal filings (particularly including but
    not limited to tax-related filings) for the last three years. In
    particular, be sure to include:




    • the IRS determination letter for the status of your filing

    • Your IRC Form 1023 filing




  • List of any ongoing threats of litigation, or other disputes, and
    documentation of any resolved past litigation



  • A list of all assets currently held by the organization (including
    backup documentation, such as copy of bank statements, etc.)




    • Include a copy of all bank statements for the last year




  • Any contracts that the organization has executed in the last three
    years (plus any older than that if they remain active)



  • A list of any outstanding loans, leans, or other debts held by the
    Organization





Much of this stuff needs to be assembled by me (because I have most of the docs),
and I got rather busy the last six months and didn't do any of it. I'm going
to try to pull together as much as possible this weekend, but I could use help
on a couple of items. Our sponsored ads on www.gentoo.org presumably constitute
contracts of some sort, so if we have anything in writing I could use a copy.
Our major tangible assets are the various gentoo boxes that we have, so a list
of those would be helpful. I vaguely remember that once upon a time we fired
a dev who then threatened to sue us (but never did, fortunately). Nonetheless,
we'd best include that info as well. Help from devrel on that one, please?
I'd like to have all of this stuff sent to the SFC on Monday, if at all possible.




Looking forward


So, what's next?


We need new Trustees. I don't think anybody will disagree there.


We need to decide (again) what the role of the Foundation should be.
Currently, the Foundation exists to handle Gentoo's financial matters,
protect and defend Gentoo's trademarks and other intellectual property,
and provide ownership of various "hard" assets, such as the various Gentoo
server boxes. The Foundation has almost no influence right now over actual
Gentoo (the OS) development. The only caveat there is that Gentoo needs
to satisfy the requirements of a non-profit organization, and it's the Foundation's
job to let the Council know if something is happening that might threaten the
Foundation's non-profit status. I believe that this role is what the majority of
the Foundation's members actually want, and it's one that I believe would be
even better served by having the SFC handle it instead of us. That said, there
has been a lot of support for what drobbins has proposed
(http://blog.funtoo.org/2008/01/here-my-offer.html), which would make the
Foundation responsible for the health and direction of Gentoo as a whole.
That's a discussion that's certainly worth having, and gentoo-nfp@gentoo.org
is standing by.... Let's try not to take forever having this discussion, so
consider Monday, 23:59 UTC, to be a deadline for your electronic voice to be
heard.




What about drobbins' proposal?


I'd like to push off until Monday any actual decision, so that
the above discussion can happen first. I don't think drobbins will mind
the delay, although he's not around right now for me to check first.



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