a weblog by Schuyler D. Erle
Fri, 27 Sep 2002
In a couple minutes, I'll be leaving for the Tenth Anniversary Critical Mass ride, on which the Chronicle has a middlin' fair article. After wrestling with myself over the contradiction of driving 65 miles to participate in a bike protest, I decided it was more important to lend my presence to the event than to be daunted by the apparent inconsistency. Besides, it'll be my first Critical Mass, and it looks like loads of fun. Maybe I can atone for driving there by organizing one in Sonoma County through the local Bicycle Coalition -- the traffic patterns in Sebastopol, CA are so notoriously bad that three or four dozen determined cyclists could grind traffic to a total halt throughout the center of town for pretty much as long as they liked. I thought we might top something like that off with a ride down the two-lane highway connecting Sebastopol with the Santa Rosa city limit, and then a ride down Fourth St and perhaps Santa Rosa Avenue for good measure. Anyway, I'm late for the ride.
So I wrote my first Linux kernel module yesterday, based on an idea of Jesse Vincent's for a /proc filesystem entry that would display the original configuration used to build the running kernel. This instantly became one of those technical problems that I obsess over until I either solve it or get dragged kicking and screaming away from it. I actually managed to come up with working code that provided the current config via /proc/kconfig within a few short hours of work. At this point, I decided to find out what the next step should be towards submitting the code to the kernel maintainers, and so found myself on irc.kernelnewbies.org #kernelnewbies. "Great," I figured, "What better place to ask questions and learn without getting mocked for my ignorance of the subject!" Of course, I was completely wrong about that. As usual, even when someone feeds me a good software development idea, it turns out someone's already implemented it first. Doh. :-)
Okay, I know I haven't written anything here in over a month. Here's partly why: For a couple of weeks since Burning Man (oh, yeah, I went to Burning Man), I was pulling 16 hour days, getting up at 6, working at O'Reilly for my 8 hours, then driving the 65 miles to the Alameda County Computer Resource Center in Oakland to work for 6 or 8 hours there to build PCs to send to activists and schools in Ecuador. You can read my O'Reilly Net weblog on the subject, as well as the Independent Media Center coverage. The story has since been covered by Kuro5hin and Salon, the latter of which was picked up by Slashdot. Not half bad, considering.
Of course, the project has hit a few diplomatic snags, which I will probably go into in another weblog on O'Reilly Net later today or tomorrow. The kicker to the whole project will hopefully be the two or three weeks I'll get to spend in Quito from Oct 21 to Nov 3, setting up wireless links to network the PCs we're shipping. If the wireless gear shows up, that is. The timing of the community network phase of the project was chosen to fit between the Bioneers conference in Marin County and the FTAA summit at the end of October. Some concern has been aired that certain parties who might donate wireless gear might be less than thrilled to know that we will be supporting, in addition to educational institutions in disavantaged communites, independent media activists and probably anti-globalization demonstrators. Oh well. I think both causes are important and probably ultimately inseparable.
So everything's still up in the air. I'm not going to go to Quito as a tourist, so I'm really hoping we can get enough Wi-Fi gear to make my presence worthwhile. You can meanwhile read the proposal I submitted to O'Reilly on the subject, now a week ago and still no response. And, of course, donations to cover our costs are always welcome. (Bravo to Matt Shipley who donated money before I knew we were even accepting donations.) More news as events warrant...
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