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Paul Hoffman

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Folks interested in Amazon's EC2 might find the following snippet from the FreeBSD quarterly report interesting.


  URL:   URL:

  Contact: Colin Percival <>

  FreeBSD images are available for use in EC2 for 8.3-RELEASE,
  8.4-RELEASE, 9.0-RELEASE, 9.1-RELEASE, and 9.2-RELEASE. In 9.2-RELEASE,
  FreeBSD runs in EC2 using an unpatched source tree, but it needs the
  XENHVM kernel configuration.

  Starting from FreeBSD 10.0-ALPHA3, the GENERIC kernel configuration now
  contains all the XENHVM bits needed to allow FreeBSD to run in EC2
  natively. Consequently, FreeBSD 10.0 will be the first release for
  which FreeBSD/EC2 is purely "bits off the ISO". This also means that
  starting with 10.0 it will be possible to use freebsd-update(8) for all
  base system updates -- in earlier releases it was necessary to
  recompile the XENHVM kernel manually.

  Due to FreeBSD's use of HVM virtualization, running on "old" EC2
  instance types (m1, m2, c1, t1) requires that FreeBSD pretends to be
  Windows, which unfortunately results in paying the higher "windows" EC2
  instance prices. On "new" EC2 instances (cc1, cc2, cg1, cr1, hi1, hs1,
  and m3) FreeBSD can run as a "unix" image at the lower rate.

Open tasks:

   1. Test FreeBSD 10.0-ALPHAs/BETAs/RCs as they become available. Plenty
      of new Xen code has been committed recently and there are probably
      bugs to find before the release.
   2. Keep nagging Amazon to provide more instance types which FreeBSD
      can run on without paying a "Windows tax".
   3. Provide some mechanism for instance configuration via EC2
      user-data. This might involve using cloud-init, or it might be a
      new system.
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The JSON Working Group is getting into some nitty-gritty, and now we get to deal with whether strings that have escaped characters are considered equivalent. I would have hoped that this would not be important, but it turns out it was important enough for the Python community to change how it worked between Python 2 and Python 3.

# python2
Python 2.7.2 (default, Oct 11 2012, 20:14:37)
[GCC 4.2.1 Compatible Apple Clang 4.0 (tags/Apple/clang-418.0.60)] on darwin
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> a = "a"
>>> a1 = "\u0061"
>>> b = { a: 1, a1: 2 }
>>> b
{'a': 1, '\\u0061': 2}

# python3
Python 3.3.2 (default, Jun 29 2013, 09:49:31)
[GCC 4.2.1 Compatible Apple Clang 4.1 ((tags/Apple/clang-421.11.65))] on darwin
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> a = "a"
>>> a1 = "\u0061"
>>> b = { a: 1, a1: 2 }
>>> b
{'a': 2}

In other words, \0066\u0075ck escaping.
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I needed to create a new data type for a Python program so that I could differentiate a returned value from normal values. But wait! I can just be lazy and use a built-in type that already exists but is rarely used. Yay for "frozenset".
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A friend of mine is a local businessperson who has an energetic, engaging web site designed to get you excited about the business. It's full of bright, encouraging exhortations.

Recently, she posted on a social network:

Haha! I just had someone make this comment after reading some of my blogs "I ’ve read several just right stuff here. Definitely worth bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how much effort you set to create this type of great informative site." Yeah! Thank you! It's because I LOVE IT! =)

The language in that seemed just wrong enough to me that it set off my spamdar. Searching for "Definitely worth bookmarking for revisiting" shows a bazillion links to what is clearly spam. So, I let her know; I thought she might want to take down her post so that other folks with good spamdar didn't think less of her.

Her response humbled me. "Thanks for heads up. Good thing is the SEO is better so spammers and others are finding me." Now that's a positive attitude. Many of us don't believe in the value of SEO, but we might still be in the minority. May she rock on without the cynicism I might have tried to bring her.
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For any of you who have, or know, or are teenagers. It's serious, and it's worthwhile.
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This person saw the comedian Patton Oswalt act in a way she thought was an asshole:

Patton's response is a very interesting view from a very different angle:

And Jonas Polsky takes it in a different direction, showing how audience taping of live comedy is very different than audience taping of live music:

The three together is a fascinating view of the world where people with cameras on their cell phones feel entitled to tape whatever the hell they want to.
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Android versions are named after desserts. We just got "Ice Cream Sandwich" for "I", and people are guessing on what the next few will be. "Jellybean" seems like a natural for "J", and I would like to propose "Kheer" for "K".

There are a zillion first- and second-generation Indians at Google. Further, non-Indians, even those who are a bit xenophobic about food, find kheer to be yummy. Seems like a natural to me, even though it will make creating the statue for the sculpture garden a bit more challenging.
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