Buenos Aires

by Miguel de Icaza

I arrived to Buenos Aires from Santiago de Chile early in the morning with very little sleep. But turns out that even if American Airlines and Lan Chile are partners of the One World alliance, American Airlines forces you to go through immigration and customs even if you are a passenger in transit.

Forms had to be filled, immigration cleared, and customs cleared. Only to find out that I lost my airplane by five minutes. Thank you American Airlines.

Loosing this plane was particularly annoying, because there are no more flights from the Buenos Aires international airport to Montevideo that day. I had to go to the Aeroparque airport (40 minutes away) to catch a different airplane.

Cultural note: when you make changes to your airline tickets, airlines feel the need to charge you a hundred dollars for the change. This is a pressing need that they can not avoid, but when it is the airlines fault (like, say, this time), they do not reimburse you anything, or give you a hundred dollars.

Of course the employees that you deal with are not the ones to blame for the company policies, but I wish I was not completely at mercy of the airlines will. Worth reading: `Plane Insanity'.

If I had known that I would be for so long in Buenos Aires, I would have set something up with the local users group.

The one good thing about missing the airplane was a small restaurant in the airport that was cooking `Lomitos' in the airport. I ordered a `Lomito Completo' which is a sandwitch with two steaks of Lomito, ham, cheese, and a egg on top with french fries on the side.

It is not only the best food I ever had in an airport, but one of the most delicious sandwitches ever.

I could not believe an airport could have such delicious food. The restaurant also had wine, which I did not want to have to avoid further dehydration.


Rodolfo and Haroldo picked me up at the Carrasco airport in Montevideo, Uruguay. I was at this point completely exhausted by the lack of sleep from the trip from Lima.

I had a meeting with the founders of a company called Genexus and I got to see their product.

They produce software to ease the development of database applications. A developer only defines the schema of the database, and hooks up the rules, the user interface and the reports they want. What is particularly interesting about this tool, its that it provides an evolution path to evolve the databases: as you make changes and introduce new relationships the software moves the information from the existing tables to new tables and creates and populates them for you.

The software is a multi-plaform software, it is not free software, but it is genuinely interesting.


I did a presentation of GNOME 2 in the University in Uruguay shortly after the previous meeting, this was in what used to be an old church inside a convent. The talk was well attended and we discussed issues of free software, Gnome, and Mono. If people are interested in my OpenOffice slides, I can mail those.

I got to meet my friend Pablo that I have met a few times at previous Usenix events.

After the talk, a group of people went for dinner to a vegetarian restaurant. But being in Uruguay and eating vegetarian food was not ideal, so we split off and went to eat some traditional food from Uruguay. This picture was taken late that night.

Posted on 25 Jun 2002


by Miguel de Icaza

In the morning I met with Federico Heinz (from Via Libre) and Enrique Chaparro, both representing the FSF and the GNU project. We had breakfast (and I spilled coffee all over my brand new IBM Thinkpad) and headed over to the Peruvian Congress.

Federico and Enrique are part of the group in Argentina that drafted the law that is being discussed in Argentina, and is the foundation for the law that was submitted by Edgar Villanueva and is being discussed by the Peruvian Congress.
Here I am with Congressman Edgar Villanueva in the Congress meeting, he has introduced the free software project of law. He became internationally famous after his reply to Microsoft's comments on the law (the text is available in Spanish and English).


After the meeting in the Congress with the congressman and the commission evaluating the project of law we went for lunch in Lima and got to try the ceviche from Peru. Different style, but just as tasty as the mexican version.

Linux and Free Software in the State

In the afternoon I participated in the `Linux and Free Software in the State' conference. There were six hundred registered people for the conference. It was inaugurated by Edgar Villanueva.
During this trip, I arrived to an interesting conclussion, nothing really new, but it finally "clicked" for me. It is interesting to note that different groups of people have very different reasons for adopting free software/open source software. Not everyone agrees on the needs for it.

For instance, recently we learned that the US administration is interested mostly in free software for its reliability and security. Third world countries and US corporations want to reduce their licensing costs. Other countries consider the use for free software a matter of national security; others a matter of technological independence.

Some groups want to have the four freedoms promoted by the free software foundation; some others only care about the particular technical benefits, others want to use it as a vehicle to distribute their software.

We all converge on the licensing and the basic guidelines for what constitutes free software/open source software and we agree to cooperate, because open source/free software has the pieces required to have multiple parties participate. But the different parties might not necessarily agree on the objectives.

And I do bring this up, because I was asked a few times whether I was an `Open Source' person or a `Free Software' person and what was mi position on the debate.

I personally think that the distinction is silly and a complete waste of time. I do have many different reasons for using and developing Linux, Gnome and Mono, and they are not the same as everyone else. Sometimes I care about freedom, sometimes about security, sometimes about innovation, sometimes about the gadget factor, sometimes it is nice to be part of a community.

A group of Ximian users greeted me at the entrance of the conference.


The next step in the Gnome en el Sur was Montevideo. To go from Lima to Montevideo I had to take a number of planes: Lima to Santiago de Chile (2am); Santiago de Chile to Buenos Aires (5am) and then Buenos Aires to Montevideo.

I did not get a lot of sleep that night, but being very tired from the activities in Lima helped me get to sleep for a few hours.

I traveled with Enrique's wife which happened to be heading to Buenos Aires on the first two airplanes. She researches Asian cultures. Since I had been reading Saramago's Gospel according to Jesus Christ and pondering who exactly are the Palestinians in Israel, I had developed a theory of mine: the Palestinians are the same people that populated the area two thousand years ago, but have switched religions as invasions came and went.

She confirmed my theory: both palestinians and israeli decendants are semites (surprise!) and gave me some details on the origins of words that both populations use. Very interesting.

Posted on 24 Jun 2002

trip intro

by Miguel de Icaza

Today I start my trip to South America to promote free software, GNOME and Mono. Three cities, five days, nine airplanes.

Of special importance is the meeting with the Congressman Edgar Villanueva and the team creating the law for the use of free software in the state. The Congressman became famous for his reply to the objections that Microsoft sent about the proposed law.

Coverage on Slashdot took a few weeks after the actual reply; The Associated Press is running a story with an update as well.


The trip begun at 12:30 Boston time, I was as usual late for the airplane, I only had time to get a bottle of water and get into my emergency exit row on time.
Eating before going into an American Airlines flight has become rather important. You would think that when American Airlines acquired TWA, they will bring the good features of AA to TWA. For instance, that you would finally get decent food in TWA.

Instead the opposite happened: Now American Airlines gives either terrible food, or none at all.


Over the Ecuador.


I was received by some members of the Lima Linux Users Group at the airport. We went for a tour of the city.

While looking for a place to have dinner, we did a stop and found some ponchos. I took this opportunity to purchase a few souvenirs. I will be using them on the next winter in Boston.

Posted on 23 Jun 2002

Mark Fiore

by Miguel de Icaza

If you have not seen yet the animated cartoons from Mark Fiore, I suggest you go and watch them now.

They are Flash-based.

Posted on 27 May 2002

Gnome News

by Miguel de Icaza

New site for tracking GNOME: www.gnomedesktop.com. Beautiful.

Funny cartoons

Funny flash-based cartoons Here

Posted on 22 May 2002

NY Times

by Miguel de Icaza

On E-Mexico, I spoke to Graham Gory from the NY Times, and it just got published

Ingo Rammer

Today I had a little chat with Ingo about OpenOffice. He tried it out after a while. I left to walk around Boston in one nice day, and found this on my logs:

*Ingo* ok. I tried OpenOffice
*Ingo* I'm impressed
*Ingo* I could open a chapter from my book and everything
 (including "track changes") worked. WOW!
*Ingo* I then created an XLS which would interface with my 
SQL server and should be able to refresh the data
*Ingo* it also worked
*Ingo* hmmm ...
*Ingo* this makes me think

I hope Ingo does not mind the quote.

Open Office

Great news about Open Office 1.0: They do have a pre-compiled setup for people who want to focus only on improving a little part of it. Now, rather than having to build the entire beast, you can just compile and hack on a tiny portion!

Posted on 19 May 2002


by Miguel de Icaza

Today Duncan and I went to see Changing Lanes. We were not too excited at the beginning, but the movie turned out to be pretty good.

Posted on 18 May 2002


by Miguel de Icaza

Today I went to Viviane's birthday party.

Posted on 16 May 2002

Episode III

by Miguel de Icaza

Chris Lahey got us tickets to watch the midnight show of Attack of the Clones.

Posted on 15 May 2002

Interview with Abunima

by Miguel de Icaza

A great interview at the Washington Post with Ali Abunimah, creator of the Electronic Intifada.


I found finally some pictures of the conflict. The army that receives 3 billion dollars in US tax payer money vs the rocks.


Last year I went to Davos, and had a chance to see the debate between Peres and Arafat. I did not know much about the story of Israel and Palestine at the time.

Arafat was supposed to go first, and Peres second. But Arafat had a technical problem (his translator I believe was not there). Peres went first, and delivered his speech. Not knowing much about the situation back then, I only concluded that Peres was just another politician delivering a regular speach: no content, but a lot of promises. I noticed immediately this, being a mexican. Being a mexican and living in Mexico makes you very sensitive to this particular kind of speaches: content free and promises that make you look good, but with no intentions to deliver.

I figured `This is Davos, probably every speach is just like this'. Politicians at their core.

The turn came to Arafat to speak. I do not remember the content of his speach (and I wish the speach was available on-line somewhere; Update: found a transcript), but it was a very sad thing to listen to, and it touched a nerve to listen to the story this man was telling.

Arafat was trembling, and you could see that he was a man that had a lot of pain.

Klaus Schwab closed this debate on peace, by asking each leader to say what they wished for the other country. Peres answer was exactly what you would expect from a mexican politician. I know this because I can not remember anything interesting about it.

But Arafat's reply said something that immediately caught my attention: `I wish to the Israeli people, and the Israeli children that they do not ever have to live the lives that the Palestinian people and the Palestinian children'.

This was a translation, and I do not remember the exact words, as that happened more than a year ago, and transcripts of the closing remarks are not to be found.

The Destruction of Culture

I guess children were hiding weapons of mass destruction in their paintings.

Some Real Audio about Israel Channel 2 Broadcast. About the ambulance that could not pick her wife up: `Its a mistake'. The Israel Occupation Forces must be really dumb to make 1,500 mistakes like this, either that, or they are confident that the world is stupid.

The good news is that 50,000 to 100,000 Israeli citizens (depending on your source) protested in Tel Aviv the government policy of occupation of Palestine.

Posted on 12 May 2002

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