Infrequently Noted

Alex Russell on browsers, standards, and the process of progress.


I've been meaning to post this for something like a week.

One of my current interests is in trying to figure out how in the heck to get Subversion to support a large number of users, perform hot syncs and backups between locations spread across the globe, and authenticate against a directory (in this case, Active Directory). Oh, and it's gotta happen securely end to end.

In my common usage scenarios so far, I've been very concerned about the way BDB (the database that the 1.0 version uses as a backend) gives up the operational ghost at the first sign of trouble and requires a "repair" operation to get it back in a consistent state. Things like file permission problems routinely cause this scenario. Given that source code is the lifeblood of a geek-driven organization, this seems a stupid way to fail. To be fair though, BDB databases always seem to be recoverable.

As a result of this "set it up and pray" relationship with subversion, I was very excited to see that SVN 1.1 is going to include a new (optional) backend. Given that it's file-based (think CVS's reliance on RCS files), it should be harder to foobar this new backend and as a huge bonus, backup tools can use it to get a consistent version of the repository at any (and every) point in time. This means that in addition to being able to rely on the incremental backup utilities, one can just flock() the repository and backup everything.

Now I just have to solve the little problem of authenticating hundreds of users who will be using SVN repository via SSH (to a linux box) against an ActiveDirectory domain without requiring different credentials.

Yeah. Sure. No sweat.

..and speaking of movies

So last night's giant mistake was followed up by 14.5 hours of sleep and a good call on Jennifer's part.

A week or 2 ago we heard about outfoxed on NPR (probably on On The Media), and so Jennifer ordered a copy and invited a bunch of people over for this afternoon. It's quite the indictment against Fox, but I do think it could be stronger. Regardless, if you have a chance, go see it somewhere. Normally I think the left in general gets a lot of things wrong, but in laying the problems with Fox out for everyone to see, this movie helps to illuminate a situation that could eventually lead to an America that can no longer discuss any point of view on its own merits.

You can get your own copy at

duller than a joke in spider-man...

Jennifer and I had a wonderful dinner this evening which was followed up by an incredible mistake: we knowingly walked into a theater and paid real, actual money to see Spider-Man 2.

I had talked to people (who shall go un-named) who assured me that it was much better than the first one. Given the quality of the plot, acting, dialogue, effects, and editing of the first one, I should have known that it was damning with faint praise. Anyone who was kicked awake at any point in their 7th grade science class will bristle any time the rubes who wrote this thing decided that they were going to be all smarty-pants and use words like "fusion". The "romance" in the film consists of both stars gazing at each other with glassily stoned looks and going "umm..." a lot. Paint has a more believable and exciting potential for romantic interaction.

Yeah, I'm bitter. Those are 2 hours I'm never getting back.


Had lunch with Joyce, Dylan, and David today. It's really nice to be able to hang out with geeks that understand your particular kind of pain.

...speaking of comment

Trying out blogger comments.

Horay for blogs as NNTP.

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