Eric D. Schabell: December 2005

Saturday, December 31, 2005

A look back at AbTLinux in 2005

This has been a big year for me and AbTLinux, finally taking the big step to get this project started I have setup basically all our needed infrastructure over the last year. We have a wonderful website that has grown quite nicely to contain all our needs at

I have also setup a wiki environment which low has been very busy filling with development and design documents. This is the Wikka product, a very nice wiki that provides user controlled ACL's which is working very nice for us at

I have also added recently the Trac projects tool for bug tracking, reporting, source repository browsing and roadmapping. See

Furthermore, we have just finished a cycle of the depEngine requirements which produced (through six teams of students at the Radboud University Nijmegen) six documents I am currently reviewing. One will be selected as the winner and implemented!

Finally, the abt package manager has almost reached its 0.6 version which includes all use cases and a start is made on the scenarios. Please see our roadmap for the project planning and release cycles.

For 2006 I hope to see our first implementation of the abt package manager and maybe even our first iso release. I want to wish all those that have offered input, worked on parts of the project or are just following the developments as they happen a Happy New Year!

See you all in 2006!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Finished my loft!

I spent my Christmas holidays finishing up our long running project, a loft in our top floor for some serious storage room. I have finished off the sheetrocking and filled the gaps between with something they call Knauf here, it is now ready to be painted, here are a few pictures of how it now looks:

Loft 1

Loft 2

Loft 3

Loft 4

Family has a new member!

Not what you are thinking, but a new member of the auto family has arrived, check out this beautifully restored MGA, from 1961 now at its fourth owner since it rolled off the presses in California, USA.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Closing down the for 2005!

Today was my last day of work for 2006!

We close down the university after tomorrow but I am on my daddy day so will not be there. A week off to enjoy the Christmas holidays and New Years, lovely! I do have a set of six AbTLinux depEngine requirements documents to read and evaluate for a course given this last semester, am looking forward to that.

Only plans I have the coming week are to finish up the loft I built this last spring. Need to close out the wall and insulate it up to the ceiling. Furthermore, I would like to fill up the gaps between the sheetrock with filler so that it is ready to hang/paint or whatever it is we decide to do to the walls.

From my family to yours, wishing you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year for 2006!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A look back at 2005!

This has been a very good year for me, lots of progress and fine things have happened to me, much to be thankful for!

In January my best buddy was here for a week before he had to head off to Iraq (in the USMC). Was a great time with the high point him chugging a bottle of hot sauce at our poker night! All went well with his tour and he made it home in one piece thank God!

We also placed an addition to our livingroom onto our house, added about 3 meters of space. Was a bit project that really had me working overtime to help with various aspects of the building. Also put in a loft on the third floor, just finished that up this week!

At work I started on our IRIS Publication Management System, which kept me busy for most of the year. From requirements to implementation which is now finishing up the 1.0 functionality it has been my main project this last year. I submitted a technical report on the project just a few weeks ago, see my publications listing.

The sum total of my publications this year is three. I helped on one conference paper and published two technical reports on projects I was involved in, not too bad I guess.

Was also involved with evaluation, testing and leading the implementation of eGroupWare for our entire organization. With around 100 users it has been a bit of work. At the end of this year I have been tasked with upgrading to the new 1.2 release and providing both development and helpdesk support for our organization. I contacted the eGroupWare development group and am on the list to help out. I have started with the manual pages for English, which need a bit of work yet while I await more information from the very busy project team (with a new release not much time for other things).

Had a wonderful summer vacation in Limburg, which lead me to start biking again. I have picked up a nice road bike (24 gears, a real Van Tuyl) and received some sponsored gear. I have been biking to work (20km/day) anyway so not too much trouble with the distances. Highlight was a fall ride with Erik Proper in the Veluwe over 80kms, awsome! Planning another summer vacation in Limburg but this time I take my bike with me!

Only taught a few Linux courses for IBM this year, that has been slowing down along with the economy. Not sure what to expect in 2006, time will tell!

All is well with my baby girl, she turned 1 this year! Healthy, happy and very active. She just started walking this month so things are going faster and faster for us.

I will close now with a wish for everyone to have a safe end for 2005 and a very Happy New Year in 2006!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Symposium for Klop

Spent the day at a symposium for Jan Willem Klop in Amserdam at the CWI, dedicated to his 60th birthday and 25 years working with the CWI. This was a rather intense list of speakers and subjects all related to research done by and/or with Jan Willem.

The first speaker was extremely interesting and from MIT. The man was introduced as Arvind (CSAIL, MIT) and the title of his presentation was Industrial influences of J.W. Klop: Hardware synthesis from TRS.
He showed us how the Term Rewriting Systems were applied in his area of expertise which is designing of MicroSystem Architectures. He showed the tools generated, the companies that have been launched based on these actions (Bluespec Inc. - and how the worked for his students who designed 1 Million gate chip solutions in a 6 week lab exercise, can you imagine! Wow!

Another interesting presentation was given by Zena Ariola from the University of Oregon, my home state! She was previously affiliated with MIT, now on a year sabbatical back to her home country of Italy. Her talk was on Reasoning with syntax, an interesting though very mathematical, on Term Rewriting Systems as applied to optimization on the implicit parallel language Id.

There were other presentations but of less interest to me and much harder to follow, consider some of the titles and you will see why:

  • Thread algebra for strategic interleaving

  • Sharing in the weak lambda-calculus

  • Field Rewriting

  • A Proof of the Church-Turing Thesis

I had a good time, was rather buried under the math, but enjoyed watching Jan Willem being the center of attention. It is rather funny to see such a name in Dutch mathematics blushing like a school boy as the guests are singing Happy Birthday to you!

After the symposium I met up with my buddies from the university for beers and some food before heading back down south. The only other thing worth noting about my trip was that I lost my rear bike light and had to stop at a bike shop to pick up a new one, bummer!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

IRIS Publication Management System update

Time to start mentioning my work on a development project for my work, called the IRIS Publication Management System or PMS for short. Believe me, I know the English meaning for PMS, but it does fit when you see the headaches it gives me! You can take a look at the production site running here:

This week I have received help from a colleage, who will be implementing the edit publication functionality. Good for me so I can concentrate on finishing the submission workflow for inproceedings, incollection and inbook, the bibtex types that are the most complicated.

I have finished the inproceedings it seems this week, so only two to go! I have a bit more testing and refining to do, but had two publications (proceedings and inproceedings) submitted at the end of the workflow so I am happy!

When I get this finished I will be releasing version 0.4. You can follow the progress on the Trac site I setup this week for the project:

Biking in the snow today!

I was going to ride today no matter what! I get up at 0800 and what do I find, snow on the ground... but not enough to stop me from riding. I had an appointment at VanTuyl's for a bike tune-up so off I went.

It was cold and had a nice chance to try out my new winter bike jacket that my Sinterklaas and birthday money bought. The head gear I got was great, my new gloves are warm, the only problem was my toes got rather cold even though I has over-socks. I guess I need to get the stay-dry ones for winter.
Winter jacket

Road only for about 25km, but was nice. Had to hose down the bike once home to clean off the road grime and salts. After a nice hot shower I was back to myself!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Second set of eGroupWare document udpates this week

Was a busy week but got one full day of documentation updating done. It takes more time than I would have thought, but I was able to complete three pages in total (English):
  • Main TOC page
  • Calendar main page
  • ACL page
I was also able to help a few persons on the mailinglist with basic problems that I was aware of from previous list discussions. A nice bonus, I bumped into ruske on irc! He was working on an eGroupWare test for a client and I have not chatted with him since leaving Sourcemage over a year ago.

Always nice to chat with old friends!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Vacation is over...

Today started working again after a week off in the woods. Stayed at a park with houses around a lovely lake, lots of ducks, a wonderful indoor swimming pool and activities for my daughter of 17 months. Was very nice.

My daughter walked for the first time in our house on 10 Dec 2005 at 1608 hrs!!!! Was a shock to both me and my wife. She was standing up and calling out "hey, hey, HEY!" until we would look. I would then say "Great, you are standing!" After about three of these in a row I added "How about walking?" She thought about it for a bit and then just walked over to us (about 6 steps) like a drunken sailor on shore leave at the end of a long night! But it was walking for the first time and we both saw it happen, amazing!

Back a work and I have been swamped with all kinds of small matters that keep me from the fun stuff, like developing!

Tonight we will setup the Christmas Tree. Time to get the lights out and into the Christmas spirit. As an American overseas I have a tradition of tacky lighting on my house to hold high!

Sunday, December 4, 2005

Visit to Margraten

A few weekends ago I dropped into Margraten to visit PFC H.L. Hooper. It was a few days after the heavy snowfall here in the Netherlands that left us with a 10cm thick pack of snow. I cannot tell you how in awe I was to walk into the cemetery area with more than 8000 crosses in the quite empty snow covered field. It was so still, as it only can be after snow as fallen... I was alone, no one else in the entire cemetery.

Friday, December 2, 2005

My first reported bug was fixed today

I submitted a trivial bug to eGroupWare project and today it made it into the fourth release cadidate! I had attached a fix, but this was in the wrong area of the code, oh well, can't win them all. It is really coming along nicely now I must say, quite a nice application.

I am feeling a bit better today so expect to be back to work again next week. Time to get the documentation rolling on the English 1.2 Manual.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Manual translations started

About two weeks ago I was given the task at work to spend one day a week supporting our eGroupWare setup. Seeing as I was the one who did the initial research and handled the initial testing phases before implementation, it was a logical step.

I contacted the current calendar lead (Ralf Becker) and made myself know as wanting to join the development team. It seems to me that eventually being in touch with the core developers of eGroupWare might be of some benefit should we desire to submit bug fixes or wish to have any input at all.

Ralf was very nice but let me know that they are currently busy with 1.2 release candidates, so not much time for new members. I made the offer to jump on the manual documentation, updating the current English version to match the soon to be released version. This offer was accepted and I now have access to the documentation.

The idea is to translate the current German version over to English, luckily I can still remember some of my German! I have taken a look but think I might just free-wheel a bit to make sure we are documenting everything. I started and completed the initial Calendar page, but there is much to do:
Calendar help

I have already been contacted by external users who wish to comment or request documentation features, so I guess I will be busy for the time being!