No Food for Thought


admin Tuesday May 27, 2014

So after a long time, summer is back in Quebec... what we call summer anyway. With these high temperatures, bugs are back too. Yesterday I came back at 1 AM. With the street lamps, I noticed that - obviously - bugs were also back on the door, just waiting for me to open it before infesting the basement. At that time a great idea came to mind, which resulted in me coining Chealer's architectural law:

Philippe Cloutier wrote:
One shall never install a white external door.

Cloutier's architectural law can be generalized - external doors and door frames should reflect as little light as possible on their outside part. Unless insects would seek darkness to sleep safely.

Yes, I hate bugs. I must have become an adult the day a summer camp destroyed my childhood dream of a bug-free world, presenting insects as an essential link of the food chain. Bugs should be small, but they're stealing a big part of my life.

Thankfully, I'm mostly an inside person. A few minutes after enunciating my architectural law, I was enjoying the insect-free inside by eating dinner in a well-illuminated but very silent kitchen. At some point, I realized there were some noises coming from one window. After nearly starting to get scared, I realized one awful huge bug was repeatedly trying to go through the windows.

Fortunately, the kitchen stayed bug-free despite the stupid bug's tens of impacts. Bugs can't go through windows, right? Unfortunately, even though I rarely open Windows, my PC attracts lots of bugs. In fact, an important part of my contribution to free software is to report bugs I hit when using or trying software.

I certainly file several tickets per week, but many are never resolved or even investigated. That's why the following view hit me today:
packages.debian.org has been lagging a little more lately. I take more time to confirm resolutions, so now the 7 latest mails in my inbox are bugfix notifications in 7 different projects/packages, which all arrived in less than 100 hours. If that rate was maintained, all of my open bugs would be solved by 2016. Unfortunately, I experienced 2 bugs just in the process of writing this post, one which was already fixed, and one which I reported (my fifth ticket against Debian's issue tracking system), which made me hit a Thunderbird bug (which I didn't report this time). So that schedule might slip a little with the software I use - or should I say, test.

Debian developers don't always treat tickets diligently, but now is an occasion to send a big kudos to my squashing colleagues. The bugs above weren't the most difficult, but there's one which has already started making my desktop less buggy.

I won't surprise anyone announcing that my favorite Firefox extension is Firebug. But as Firebug doesn't apply to Thunderbird, my favorite Thunderbird extension is FireTray. FireTray works around Mozilla's biggest issue on GNU/Linux - new mail notifications.

FireTray still has some way to go before reaching maturity, but my biggest issue with it was by far #119, a show-stopper if a show is expected to be attractive. I expected an easier fix - all I wanted was a non-broken notification icon. But I didn't expect the result to be so pleasing:
After hard work by Foudil Brétel, I now get this superb new icon (at least until I switch back to KMail, to which I'm hoping to give another chance soon). And you too will with version 0.5. Thanks to you too, foudfou! The next bug-squashing spree will be even more enjoyable smile

Now, let's just hope that shiny new icon won't attract more bugs... otherwise, it will take the door.

Update 1

A couple of years after writing this, I found an image about bugs I had forgotten I had created:
In French, the colloquial verb 'to bug' means software is misbehaving due to a software bug.
In French, the colloquial verb 'to bug' means software is misbehaving due to a software bug.

13 years later, after many more started offering such certifications, it is well overdue to put this timeless work of art in the public domain so it can be adapted to your favorite(?) software provider.

Update 2

Years after writing this, I realized the publication date didn't make sense. And eventually figured out that the update I did in 2016 had changed the year from 2014 to 2016. Because the blog engine wasn't designed to publish a post with a past date... so the HTML dropdown's options only started at the current year, causing the date to be silently changed - ah, bugsexclaim

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