Thursday, October 30, 2003

Packaging Woes

I've been trying for the last few weeks to put together fink packages for libgcrypt and gnutls. There was probably something else I packaged as well, in my quest to get fink's gaim to work with MSN and Yahoo, but those are the two packages that give me

For some reason, libgcrypt build cleanly, but doesn't pass its own 'make check'. I've contacted the libgcrypt developers about this (via the libgcrypt-bug email address), but so far they haven't gotten back to me. It's very annoying. Without libgcrypt, there will
be no libgnutls.

I noticed that gaim supports the Mozilla NSS library. So I downloaded the tarball to see if building that was any less painful. The directions aren't even quite clear about what to
compile, much less where to compile it. I'm digging through the documentation in my free time to see what I'll need to build, but NSS seems to be much more annoying than libgcrypt/gnutls.

Oh well. The quest continues.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

MSN Messenger

So, as some of you have been lucky enough to discover, Microsoft changed the login method for Messenger on 15 October. In and of itself this is annoying, because they didn't actually document the new method. Never underestimate the power of geeks in large numbers. The new login method has been reverse-engineered, and most of the open IM clients are smart enough to use the new login method. (plug: I use gaim).

The annoying part about this, is that the new login method requires some TLS/SSL silliness. So to get it to work in gaim, the developers used gnutls. Now, on my Debian box, this is no problem. But on my OS X box, it's a bit annoying. No package exists for gnutls. gnutls requires libgcrypt, which also is not package. libgcrypt requires libtasn1 and libgpg-error. Hey, wow. they're not packaged either.

So lately I've been making a lot of fink .info files for these packages. Some of the libraries, libgcrypt in particular, aren't amenable to compilation under OS X. I think that this might have to do with the way that the compiler chain on OS X is an unholy marriage of BSD, GNU, and Apple's own tools.

On the bright side, this is good practice for me, and eventually (it'd better be soon, dammit), I'll have MSN working on my laptop again. Stuff like this makes me want to convert my friends over to a sane messenger, like jabber.

Sunday, October 05, 2003


Sometimes it requires a finely honed sense of irony in order to be able to keep up with current politics and not run screaming from the roof of the nearest tall building.

In his article Ask not what telemarketers can do to you of 31 Aug, Dave Barry published the toll-free number of the ATA, a large telemarketing association. This organization is one of several that is opposed to the National Do Not Call Registry. The registry is, to my mind, a neat and good idea. If you're on it, telemarketers cannot call you. If they call you anyway, they have to pay an 11,000$ fine.

The telemarketers claim that this registry is somehow a violation of their constitutional rights. I find this argument hard to swallow. Remove the telephone from the argument; now the telemarketers are asserting that salesmen have the right to walk into your home at any time they please.

In any case, the ironic part: after Mr. Barry published the ATA's number, their phone began ringing off the hook, at inconvenient times. It got so bad that they disconnected their phone number.

If this were all, it would merely be funny. But no, it doesn't end there. Apparently the ATA wrote a rather nasty article about Mr. Barry in a direct marketing journal. Highlights from that article can be found in Mr. Barry's column of 05 Oct, So what's their hang-up?

Take home message: telemarketers want to be able to call you whenever they feel like, but it's inconvenient for them and unpleasant when we return the favor.