Planet Ubuntu California

August 28, 2016

Elizabeth Krumbach

Local Sights

I’ve been going running along the Embarcadero here in San Francisco lately. These runs afford me fresh air coming off the bay, stunning views of the bay itself, a chance to run under the beautiful Bay Bridge and down to the AT&T ballpark. I run past palm trees and E-Line street cars, and the weather is cool and clear enough to pretty much do it every day. In short, it sometimes feels like we live in paradise.

Naturally, we like to share that with friends and family who visit. I’ve had a fun year of local touristing as cousins, sisters and friends have been in town visiting. Our favorite place to take them is Fort Baker. It’s almost always less chaotic than the lookout point at the north side of the bridge, and you actually get to walk around a fair amount to get some views of both the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco itself. It’s also where I got my head shots done, including the header image I’ve used for this blog for several years. I’m a big fan of the city skyline from there.

Back in April we made a visit up to The Marine Mammal Center, which I wrote about here. We took an alternate route back due to a closed tunnel, and that’s how we ended up looking down at the Golden Gate Bridge from the northwest edge, the one view I hadn’t seen yet. It’s a pretty exceptional ones, getting to see the undeveloped hilly area on the north side and then the San Francisco city skyline in the far distance. I probably could have sat there all day.

Alas, I didn’t have all day. I had only taken the morning off from work and I had to grab a bite before catching the ferry back to San Francisco from Sausalito while MJ took everyone else on to Muir Woods. Now, I’d taken a ferry in the bay before, one to Alcatraz to do some tourist visiting, another to Alameda and back when visiting a potential location for a Partimus computer lab deployment. It’s always been a beautiful ride, but the ride from Sausalito to San Francisco lands into exceptional territory. You get views of several islands, both of San Francisco’s bridges, Alcatraz, Sausalito and the city. I was so happy on this ferry ride that I even had a conversation with a couple who was in town visiting from Canada and answered piles of questions about what we were seeing. This is something that shy, introvert me hardly ever does.

We also take folks up to Twin Peaks. How many cities in the world are there where you can climb a hill and look at downtown? In San Francisco, you can go up to Twin Peaks. It’s breathtaking.

Nice bay, right? We have an ocean too. I spent my youth on the coast of Maine. I didn’t sneak out to late night parties when I was a teenager, I snuck out to go to the park and sit by the ocean. My head clearing spot? The ocean. Needed cheering up when I was depressed? Trip to the ocean. First kiss? Happened right there on the rocks by the ocean. My love for being near the coast is a pretty deep part of who I am.

From the Cliff House on the western side of the city you get some great views of the beach stretching south.

Looking north you can see the ruins of the Sutro Baths that were opened in 1896 and lasted through the middle of the 20th century. Looking beyond to the other side of the golden gate.

Further views we caught this spring are in a pair of albums on Flickr, by month: April and June

by pleia2 at August 28, 2016 10:07 PM

August 27, 2016

kdub

Mir 0.24 Release

Mir 0.24 was just released this week!

We’ve reworked a few things internally and fixed a fair amount of bugs. Notably, our buffer swapping system and our input keymapping system were reworked (Alt-Gr should now work for international keyboards). There was also some improvements made to the server API to make window management better.

I’m most excited about the internal buffer swapping mechanism changes, as its what I’ve been working to release for a while now. The internal changes get us ready for Vulkan [1], and improve our multimedia support [2], improve  our WiDi support, and to reduce latency in nested server scenarios [3].

Mir ImageThis is prep work  for releasing some new client API functions (perhaps in 0.25, depending on how the trade winds are blowing… they’re currently gated in non-public project directories here). More on that once the headers are released.

[1]
Vulkan is  a new rendering API from Khronos designed to give finer-grained gpu control and more parallel operation between CPU and the GPU.

[2]
Especially multimedia decoding and encoding, which need more arbitrary buffer control.

[3]
“Unity8” runs in a nested server configuration for multiuser support (among other reasons). unity-system-compositor controls the framebuffer, unity8 sessions connect to unity-system-compositor, and clients connect to the appropriate unity8 session. More fine-grained buffer submissions allow us to forward buffers more creatively, making sure the clients have zero-copy more often.

by kdub at August 27, 2016 07:19 AM

August 26, 2016

Akkana Peck

More map file conversions: ESRI Shapefiles and GeoJSON

I recently wrote about Translating track files between mapping formats like GPX, KML, KMZ and UTM But there's one common mapping format that keeps coming up that's hard to handle using free software, and tricky to translate to other formats: ESRI shapefiles.

ArcGIS shapefiles are crazy. Typically they come as an archive that includes many different files, with the same base name but different extensions: filename.sbn, filename.shx, filename.cpg, filename.sbx, filename.dbf, filename.shp, filename.prj, and so forth. Which of these are important and which aren't?

To be honest, I don't know. I found this description in my searches: "A shape file map consists of the geometry (.shp), the spatial index (.shx), the attribute table (.dbf) and the projection metadata file (.prj)." Poking around, I found that most of the interesting metadata (trail name, description, type, access restrictions and so on) was in the .dbf file.

You can convert the whole mess into other formats using the ogr2ogr program. On Debian it's part of the gdal-bin package. Pass it the .shp filename, and it will look in the same directory for files with the same basename and other shapefile-related extensions. For instance, to convert to KML:

 ogr2ogr -f KML output.kml input.shp

Unfortunately, most of the metadata -- comments on trail conditions and access restrictions that were in the .dbf file -- didn't make it into the KML.

GPX was even worse. ogr2ogr knows how to convert directly to GPX, but that printed a lot of errors like "Field of name 'foo' is not supported in GPX schema. Use GPX_USE_EXTENSIONS creation option to allow use of the <extensions> element." So I tried ogr2ogr -f "GPX" -dsco GPX_USE_EXTENSIONS=YES output.gpx input.shp but that just led to more errors. It did produce a GPX file, but it had almost no useful data in it, far less than the KML did. I got a better GPX file by using ogr2ogr to convert to KML, then using gpsbabel to convert that KML to GPX.

Use GeoJSON instead to preserve the metadata

But there is a better way: GeoJSON.

ogr2ogr -f "GeoJSON" -t_srs crs:84 output.geojson input.shp

That preserved most, maybe all, of the metadata the .dbf file and gave me a nicely formatted file. The only problem was that I didn't have any programs that could read GeoJSON ...

[PyTopo showing metadata from GeoJSON converted from a shapefile]

But JSON is a nice straightforward format, easy to read and easy to parse, and it took surprisingly little work to add GeoJSON parsing to PyTopo. Now, at least, I have a way to view the maps converted from shapefiles, click on a trail and see the metadata from the original shapefile.

See also:

August 26, 2016 06:11 PM

August 25, 2016

Jono Bacon

Social Media: 10 Ways To Not Screw It Up

Social media is everywhere. Millions of users, seemingly almost as many networks, and many agencies touting that they have mastered the zen-like secrets to social media and can bring incredible traction.

While social media has had undeniable benefits to many, it has also been contorted and twisted in awkward ways. For every elegant, well deliver social account there are countless blatant attention-grabbing efforts.

While I am by no means a social media expert, over the years I have picked up some techniques and approaches that I have found useful with the communities, companies, and clients I have worked with. My goal has always been to strike a good balance between quality, engagement, and humility.

I haven’t always succeeded, but here are 10 things I recommend you do if you want to do social media well:

1. Focus on Your Core Networks

There are loads of social media networks out there. For some organizations there is an inherent temptation to grow an audience on all of them. More audiences mean more people, right?

Well, not really.

As with most things in life, it is better to have focus and deliver quality than to spread yourself too thin. So, pick a few core networks and focus on them. Focus on delivering great content, growing your audience, and engaging well.

My personal recommendations are to focus n Twitter and Facebook for sure, as they have significant traction, but also Instagram and Google+ are good targets too. It is really up to you though for what works best for your organization/goals.

2. Configure Your Accounts Well

Every social media network has some options for choosing an avatar, banner, and adding a little text. It is important to get this right.

Put yourself in the position of your audience. Imagine they don’t know who you are and they stumble on your profile. Sure, a picture of a care bear and a quote from The Big Lebowski may look cool, but it doesn’t help the reader.

Their reading of this content is going to result in a judgement call about you. So, reflect yourself accurately. Want to be a professional? Look and write professionally. Want to be a movie fan who believes in magical bears? Well, erm, I guess you know what to do.

It is also important to do this for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). If you want more Google juice for your name/organization, be sure to incorporate it in your profiles and content.

3. Quality vs. Quantity

A while back I spent a bit of time working with some folks who were really into social media. They had all kinds of theories about how the Facebook and Twitter algorithms prioritize content, hide it from users, and only display certain types of content to others. Of course this is not an exact science as these algorithms are typically confidential to those networks.

There is no doubt that social networks have to make some kind of judgement on what to show – there is just too much material to show it all. So, we want to be mindful of these restrictions, but also be wary that a lot of this is guessing.

The trick here is simple: focus on delivering high quality content and just don’t overdo it. Posting 50 tweets in a day is not going to help – it will be too much and probably not high quality (likely due to the quantity). Even if your audience sees it all, it will just seem spammy.

Now, you may be asking what high quality content would look like? Fundamentally I see it as understanding your audience, how they communicate, and mirroring those interests and tonality. Some examples:

  • Well written content that is concise, loose, and fun.
  • Interesting thoughts, ideas, and discussions.
  • Links to interesting articles, data, and other material.
  • Interesting embedded pictures, videos, and other content.

Speaking of embedding…

4. Embed Smartly

All the networks allow you to embed pictures and videos in your social posts.

Where possible, always embed something. It typically results in higher performing posts both in terms of views and click-rate.

Video has proven to do very well on social media networks. People are naturally curious and click the video to see it. Be mindful here though – posting a 45 minute documentary isn’t going to work well. A 2 minute clip will work great though.

Also, check how different networks display videos. For example, on Twitter and Google+, YouTube videos get a decent sized thumbnail and are simple to play. On Facebook though, YouTube videos are noticeably smaller (likely because Facebook doesn’t want people embedding YouTube videos). So, when posting on Facebook, uploading a native video might be best.

Pictures are an interesting one. A few tips:

  • Square pictures work especially well. They resize well in most social interfaces to take up the maximum amount of space.
  • The ideal size is 505×505 pixels on Facebook. I have found this size to work well on other networks too.
  • Images that work particularly well are high contrast and have large letters. They stand out more in a feed and make people want to click them. An example of an image I am using for my Reddit AMA next week:

Social Media

Authenticity is essential in any human communication. As humans we are constantly advertised to, sold, and marketed at, and thus evolution has increasingly expanded our bullshit radar.

This radar gets triggered when we see inauthentic content. Examples of this include content trying to be overly peppy, material that requires too many commitments (e.g. registrations), or clickbait. A classic example from our friends at Microsoft:

Social Media

Social media is fundamentally about sharing and discussion and representing content and tonality that matches your audience. Make sure that you do both authentically.

Share openly, and discuss openly. Act and talk like a human, not a business book, don’t try to be someone you are not, and you will find your audience enjoys your content and finds your efforts rewarding.

6. Connect and Schedule Your Content

Managing all these social media networks is a pain. Of course, there are many tools that you can use for extensive analytics, content delivery, and team collaboration. While these are handy for professional social media people, for many people they are not particularly necessary.

What I do recommend for everyone though is Buffer.

The idea is simple. Buffer lets you fill a giant bucket full of social media posts that will hit the major networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+ (pages), and Instagram. You then set a schedule for when these posts should go out and Buffer will take care of sending them for you at an optimal chosen time.

Part of the reason I love this is that if you have a busy week and forget to post on social media, you know that you are always sharing content. Speaking personally, I often line up my posts on a Sunday night and then periodically post during the week.

Speaking of optimal times…

7. Timing Is Everything

If you want your content to get a decent number of views and clicks, there are definitely better times than others to post.

Much of this depends on your audience and where you are geographically. As an example, while I have a fairly global audience for my work, a significant number of people are based in US. As such, I have found that the best time for my content is in the morning between 8am and 9am Pacific. This then still hits Europe and out towards India.

To figure out the best time for you, post some social posts and look at the analytics to see which times work best. Each social network has analytics available and Buffer provides a nice analytics view too, although the nicer stats require a professional plan.

Knowing what is the best time to post combined with the scheduled posting capabilities of Buffer is a great combo.

8. Deliver Structured Campaigns

You might also want to explore some structured campaigns for your social media efforts. These are essentially themed campaigns designed to get people interested or involved.

A few examples:

  • Twitter Chats – here you simply choose a hashtag and some guests, announce the chat, and then invite your guests to answer the questions via Twitter and for the audience to respond. They can be rather fun.
  • Calls For Action – again, choose a hashtag, and ask your audience for feedback to certain questions. This could be questions, suggestions, content, and more.
  • Thematic Content – here you post a series of posts with similar images or videos attached.

You are only limited by your imagination, but remember, be authentic. Social media is riddled with cheesy last-breath attempts at engagement. Don’t be one of those people.

9. Don’t Take Yourself too Seriously

There has much various studies to suggest social media encourages narcissism. There is certainly observational evidence that backs this up.

You should be proud of your work, proud of your projects, and focus on doing great things. Always try to ensure that you are down to earth though, and demonstrate a grounded demeanor in your posts. No one likes ego, and it is more tempting than ever to use social media as a platform for a confidence boost and increasingly post ego-drive narcissistic content.

Let’s be honest, we have all made this mistake from time to time. I know I have. We are human beings, after all.

As I mentioned earlier, you always want to try to match your tonality to your audience. For some global audiences though it can be tempting to err on the side of caution and be a little too buttoned up. This often ends up being just boring. Be professional, sure, but surprise your audience in your humanity, your humility, and that there is a real person behind the tweet or post.

10. What Not To Do

Social media can be a lot of fun and with some simple steps (such as these) you can perform some successful and rewarding work. There are a few things I would recommend you don’t do though:

  • Unless you want to be a professional provocateur, avoid deliberately fighting with your audience. You will almost certainly disagree with many of your followers on some political stances – picking fights won’t get you anywhere.
  • Don’t go and follow everyone for the purposes of getting followed back. When I see that Joe Bloggs has 5,434 followers and is following 5,654 people, it smacks of this behavior. 😉
  • Don’t be overtly crass. I know some folks online, and even worked with some people, who just can’t help dropping F bombs, crass jokes, and more online. Be fun, be a little edgy, but keep it classy, people.

So, that’s it. Just a few little tips and tricks I have learned over the years. I hope some of this helps. If you found it handy, click those social buttons on the side and practice what you preach and share this post. 🙂

I would love to learn from you though. What approaches, methods, and techniques have you found for doing social media better? Share your ideas in the comment box and let’s have a discussion…

The post Social Media: 10 Ways To Not Screw It Up appeared first on Jono Bacon.

by Jono Bacon at August 25, 2016 03:00 PM

August 23, 2016

Elizabeth Krumbach

FOSSCON 2016

Last week I was in Philadelphia, which was fun and I got to do some Ubuntu stuff but I was actually there to speak at FOSSCON. It’s not the largest open source conference, but it is in my adopted home city of Philadelphia and I have piles of friends, mentors and family there. I love attending FOSSCON because I get to catch up with so many people, making it a very hug-heavy conference. I sadly missed it last year, but I made sure to come out this year.

They also invited me to give a closing keynote. After some back and forth about topics, I ended up with a talk on “Listening to the Needs of Your Global Open Source Community” but more on that later.

I kicked off my morning by visiting my friends at the Ubuntu booth, and meeting up with my OpenStack and HPE colleague Ma Dong who had flown in from Beijing to join us. I made sure we got our picture taken by the beautiful Philadelphia-themed banner that the HPE open source office designed and sent for the event.

At 11AM I gave my regular track talk, “A Tour Of OpenStack Deployment Scenarios.” My goal here was to provide a gentle introduction, with examples, of the basics of OpenStack and how it may be used by organizations. My hope is that the live demos of launching instances from the Horizon web UI and OpenStack client were particularly valuable in making the connection between the concepts of building a cloud the actual tooling you might use. The talk was well-attended and I had some interesting chats later in the day. I learned that a number of the attendees are currently using proprietary cloud offerings and looking for options to in-house some of that.

The demos were very similar to the tutorial I gave at SANOG earlier this month, but the talk format was different. Notes from demos here and slides (219K).


Thanks to Ma Dong for taking a picture during my talk! (source)

For lunch I joined other sponsors at the sponsor lunch over at the wonderful White Dog Cafe just a couple blocks from the venue. Then it was a quick dash back to the venue for Ma Dong’s talk on “Continuous Integration And Delivery For Open Source Development.”

He outlined some of the common mechanisms for CI/CD in open source projects, and how the OpenStack project has solved them for a project that eclipses most others in size, scale and development pace. Obviously it’s a topic I’m incredibly familiar with, but I appreciated his perspective as a contributor who comes from an open source CI background and has now joined us doing QA in OpenStack.


Ma Dong on Open Source CI/CD

After his talk it was also nice to sit down for a bit to chat about some of the latest changes in the OpenStack Infrastructure. We were able to catch up about the status of our Zuul tooling and general direction of some of our other projects and services. The day continued with some chats about Jenkins, Nodepool and how we’ve played around with infrastructure tooling to cover some interesting side cases. It was really fun to meet up with some new folks doing CI things to swap tips and stories.

Just before my keynote I attended the lightning talks for a few minutes, but had to depart early to get set up in the big room.

They keynote on “Listening to the Needs of Your Global Open Source Community” was a completely new talk for me. I wrote the abstract for it a few weeks ago for another conference CFP after the suggestion from my boss. The talk walked through eight tips for facilitating the collection of feedback from your community as one of the project leaders or infrastructure representatives.

  • Provide a simple way for contributors to contact project owners
  • Acknowledge every piece of feedback
  • Stay calm
  • Communicate potential changes and ask for feedback
  • Check in with teams
  • Document your processes
  • Read between the lines
  • Stick to your principles

With each of these, I gave some examples from my work mostly in the Ubuntu and OpenStack communities. Some of the examples were pretty funny, and likely very familiar with any systems folks who are interfacing with users. The Q&A at the end of the presentation was particularly interesting, I was very focused on open source projects since that’s where my expertise lies, but members of the audience felt that my suggestions were more broadly applicable. In those moments after my talk I was invited to speak on a podcast and encouraged to write a series of articles related to my talk. Now I’m aiming for writing some OpenSource.com content on over the next couple weeks.

Slides from the talk are here (7.3M pdf).


And thanks to Josh, José, Vincent and Nathan for snapping some photos of the talk too!

The conference wound down and following the keynote with a raffle and we then went our separate ways. For me, it was time for spending time with friends over a martini.

A handful of other photos from the conference here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157671843605132

by pleia2 at August 23, 2016 09:01 PM

Jono Bacon

Bacon Roundup – 23rd August 2016

Well, hello there, people. I am back with another Bacon Roundup which summarizes some of the various things I have published recently. Don’t forget to subscribe to get the latest posts right to your inbox.

Also, don’t forget that I am doing a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Tues 30th August 2016 at 9am Pacific. Find out the details here.

Without further ado, the roundup:

Building a Career in Open Source (opensource.com)
A piece I wrote about how to build a successful career in open source. It delves into finding opportunity, building a network, always learning/evolving, and more. If you aspire to work in open source, be sure to check it out.

Cutting the Cord With Playstation Vue (jonobacon.org)
At home we recently severed ties with DirecTV (for lots of reasons, this being one), and moved our entertainment to a Playstation 4 and Playstation Vue for TV. Here’s how I did it, how it works, and how you can get in on the action.

Running a Hackathon for Security Hackers (jonobacon.org)
Recently I have been working with HackerOne and we recently ran a hackathon for some of the best hackers in the world to hack popular products and services for fun and profit. Here’s what happened, how it looked, and what went down.

Opening Up Data Science with data.world (jonobacon.org)
Recently I have also been working with data.world who are building a global platform and community for data, collaboration, and insights. This piece delves into the importance of data, the potential for data.world, and what the future might hold for a true data community.

From The Archive

To round out this roundup, here are a few pieces I published from the archive. As usual, you can find more here.

Using behavioral patterns to build awesome communities (opensource.com)
Human beings are pretty irrational a lot of the time, but irrational in predictable ways. These traits can provide a helpful foundation in which we build human systems and communities. This piece delves into some practical ways in which you can harness behavioral economics in your community or organization.

Atom: My New Favorite Code Editor (jonobacon.org)
Atom is an extensible text editor that provides a thin and sleek core and a raft of community-developed plugins for expanding it into the editor you want. Want it like vim? No worries. Want it like Eclipse? No worries. Here’s my piece on why it is neat and recommendations for which plugins you should install.

Ultimate unconference survival guide (opensource.com)
Unconferences, for those who are new to them, are conferences in which the attendees define the content on the fly. They provide a phenomenal way to bring fresh ideas to the surface. They can though, be a little complicated to figure out for attendees. Here’s some tips on getting the most out of them.

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The post Bacon Roundup – 23rd August 2016 appeared first on Jono Bacon.

by Jono Bacon at August 23, 2016 01:48 PM

Elizabeth Krumbach

Wandering around Philadelphia

Philadelphia is my figurative (and may soon be literal…) second home. Visits are always filled with activities, events, friends and family. This trip was a considerably less structured. I flew in several days before the conference I was attending and stayed in my friend’s guest room, and didn’t take much time off from work, instead working from a couch most of the week with my little dog friend Blackie.

I did have some time for adventuring throughout the week though, taking a day off to check out The Science Behind Pixar exhibit down at The Franklin Institute with a friend. On our way down we stopped at Pudge’s in Conshohocken to satisfy my chicken cheesesteak craving. It hit the spot.

Then we were off to the city! The premise of the exhibit seemed to be trying to encourage youth into STEM fields by way of the creative processes and interesting jobs at a company like Pixar. As such, they walked you through various phases of production of Pixar films and have hands-on exhibits that let you simply play around with the themes of what professionals in the industry do. It’s probably a good idea to encourage interest, even if a museum exhibit can’t begin to tackle the complexity of these fields, as a technologist I agree that the work is ultimately fun and exciting.

But let’s be honest, I’m an adult who already has an STEM career and I’ve been a Pixar fan since the beginning. I was there so I could get selfies with Wall-E (and Buzz, Sully and Mike, Edna Mode, Dory…).

A few more photos from the exhibit here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157671629547292

We had the whole afternoon, so I also got to see the Lost Egypt exhibit, which was fun to see after the Egypt exhibit I saw at de Young last month. We went to a couple planetarium shows and also got all the nostalgia on as I revisited all the standing exhibits. Like the trains. I love the trains. The Franklin Institute is definitely one of my favorite museums.

That evening I also got to check out the new Hive76 location. The resurgence of hackerspaces had just started when I left Philly, and while I was never super involved, I did host a few “PLUG into Hive” meetings there when I was coordinating the LUG and had friends at Hive. It was nice getting to see their new space. After dinner I had the amusing experience of going to catch Pokémon in a park after dark, along with several other folks who were there for the same reason. There really is something to be said for a game that gets people out of their house at night to go for walks and socialize over augmented reality. Even if I didn’t catch any new Pokémon. Hah!

Wednesday and Thursday nights I spent time with my best buddies Danita and Crissi. Dinner, drinks, lots of good chatting. It had absolutely been too much time since we’d spend time together, spending time catching up was just the thing I needed. I’ll have to make sure I don’t let so much time pass between getting together in the future.

More photos from various wanderings this past week (including dinosaurs!) here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157671629567332

And then MJ and I spent Friday and Sunday on a secret mission before flying home. I’ll write more about that once it becomes unclassified.

by pleia2 at August 23, 2016 02:35 AM

August 22, 2016

Elizabeth Krumbach

Ubuntu in Philadelphia

Last week I traveled to Philadelphia to spend some time with friends and speak at FOSSCON. While I was there, I noticed a Philadelphia area Linux Users Group (PLUG) meeting would land during that week and decided to propose a talk on Ubuntu 16.04.

But first I happened to be out getting my nails done with a friend on Sunday before my talk. Since I was there, I decided to Ubuntu theme things up again. Drawing freehand, the manicurist gave me some lovely Ubuntu logos.

Girly nails aside, that’s how I ended up at The ATS Group on Monday evening for a PLUG West meeting. They had a very nice welcome sign for the group. Danita and I arrived shortly after 7PM for the Q&A portion of the meeting. This pre-presentation time gave me the opportunity to pass around my BQ Aquaris M10 tablet running Ubuntu. After the first unceremonious pass, I sent it around a second time with more of an introduction, and the Bluetooth keyboard and mouse combo so people could see convergence in action by switching between the tablet and desktop view. Unlike my previous presentations, I was traveling so I didn’t have my bag of laptops and extra tablet, so that was the extent of the demos.

The meeting was very well attended and the talk went well. It was nice to have folks chiming in on a few of the topics (like the transition to systemd) and there were good questions. I also was able to give away a copy of our The Official Ubuntu Book, 9th Edition to an attendee who was new to Ubuntu.

Keith C. Perry shared a video of the talk on G+ here. Slides are similar to past talks, but I added a couple since I was presenting on a Xubuntu system (rather than Ubuntu) and didn’t have pure Ubuntu demos available: slides (7.6M PDF, lots of screenshots).

After the meeting we all had an enjoyable time at The Office, which I hadn’t been to since moving away from Philadelphia almost seven years ago.

Thanks again to everyone who came out, it was nice to meet a few new folks and catch up with a bunch of people I haven’t seen in several years.

Saturday was FOSSCON! The Ubuntu Pennsylvania LoCo team showed up to have a booth, staffed by long time LoCo member Randy Gold.

They had Ubuntu demos, giveaways from the Ubuntu conference pack (lanyards, USB sticks, pins) and I dropped off a copy of the Ubuntu book for people to browse, along with some discount coupons for folks who wanted to buy it. My Ubuntu tablet also spent time at the table so people could play around with that.


Thanks to Randy for the booth photo!

At the conference closing, we had three Ubuntu books to raffle off! They seemed to go to people who appreciated them and since both José and I attended the conference, the raffle winners had 2/3 of the authors there to sign the books.


My co-author, José Antonio Rey, signing a copy of our book!

by pleia2 at August 22, 2016 07:53 PM

A lecture, a symphony and a lot of street cars

My local July adventures weren’t confined to mummies, baseball and food. I also attended a few shows a lectures.

On July 14th I met up with a friend to see a Kevin Kelly speak on The Next 30 Digital Years, put on by The Long Now Foundation. This lecture covered a series of trends (not specific technologies) that Kelly felt would drive the future. This included proliferation of “screens” on a variety of surfaces to meet our ever-increasing desire to be connected to media we now depend on in our work and lives. He also talked about the rise of augmented reality, increased tracking for increased personalization of services (with a sidebar about privacy) and increasing sharing economy, where access continues to replace ownership.

What I enjoyed most about this talk was how optimistic he was. Even while tackling difficult topics like privacy in a very connected world, he was incredibly positive about what our future holds in store for us. This held true even when questions from the audience expressed more pessimistic views.

In a weekend that revolved around events near City Hall, the very next evening I went to the San Francisco Symphony for the first time. As SciFi fan who has a sidebar love for movie scores, my introduction to the symphony here was appropriately Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage — A 50th Anniversary Celebration (article). The event featured the full symphony, with a screen above them that showed clips and a narrated exploration through the Star Trek universe as they played scores from movies and selections from each series. They definitely focused on TOS and TNG, but there was decent representation of the rest. I also learned that SF trekkies really like Janeway. Me too. It was a really fun night.

We also went to an event put on by the Western Neighborhoods Project (WNP), Streetcar San Francisco: Transit Tales of the City in Motion at Balboa Theatre.

The event featured short films and clips of historic streetcars and expertise from folks over at Market Street Railway (which may have been how I heard about it). The clips covered the whole city, including a lot of downtown as they walked us through some the milestones and transit campaigns in the history of the city. It was particularly interesting to learn about the street cars in the west side of the city, where they used to have have a line that ran up around Land’s End, and some neat (or tacky) hanging “sky-trams” which took you from Cliff House to Point Lobos, an article about them here: A Brief History of San Francisco’s Long-Lost Sky Tram, which also references the WNP page about them.

This event also clued me in to the existence of OpenSF History by WNP. They’re going through a collection of historic San Francisco photos that have been donated and are now being digitized, indexed and shared online. Very fun to browse through, and there are great pictures of historic streetcars and other transit.

by pleia2 at August 22, 2016 01:56 PM

August 18, 2016

Jono Bacon

Opening Up Data Science with data.world

Earlier this year when I was in Austin, my friend Andy Sernovitz introduced me to a new startup called data.world.

What caught my interest is that they are building a platform to make data science and discovery easier, more accessible, and more collaborative. I love these kinds of big juicy challenges!

Recently I signed them up as a client to help them build their community, and I want to share a few words about why I think they are important, not just for data science fans, but from a wider scientific discovery perspective.

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Armchair Discovery

Data plays a critical role in the world. Buried in rows and rows of seemingly flat content are patterns, trends, and discoveries that can help us to learn, explore new ideas, and work more effectively.

The work that leads to these discoveries is often bringing together different data sets to explore and reach new conclusions. As an example, traffic accident data for a single town is interesting, but when we combine it with data sets for national/international traffic accidents, insurance claims, drink driving, and more, we can often find patterns that can help us to influence and encourage new behavior and technology.

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Many of these discoveries are hiding in plain sight. Sadly, while talented data scientists are able to pull together these different data sets, it is often hard and laborious work. Surely if we make this work easier, more accessible, consistent, and available to all we can speed up innovation and discovery?

Exactly.

As history has taught us, the right mixture of access, tooling, and community can have a tremendous impact. We have seen examples of this in open source (e.g. GitLab / GitHub), funding (e.g. Kickstarter / Indiegogo), and security (e.g. HackerOne).

data.world are doing this for data.

Data Science is Tough

There are four key areas where I think data.world can make a potent impact:

  1. Access – while there is lots of data in the world, access is inconsistent. Data is often spread across different sites, formats, and accessible to different people. We can bring this data together into a consistent platform, available to everyone.
  2. Preparation – much of the work data scientists perform is learning and prepping datasets for use. This work should be simplified, done once, and then shared with everyone, as opposed to being performed by each person who consumes the data.
  3. Collaboration – a lot of data science is fairly ad-hoc in how people work together. In much the same way open source has helped create common approaches for code, there is potential to do the same with data.
  4. Community – there is a great opportunity to build a diverse global community, not just of data scientists, but also organizations, charities, activists, and armchair sleuths who, armed with the right tools and expertise, could make many meaningful discoveries.

This is what data.world is building and I find the combination of access, platform, and network effects of data and community particularly exciting.

Unlocking Curiosity

If we look at the most profound impacts technology has had in recent years it is in bubbling people’s curiosity and creativity to the surface.

When we build community-based platforms that tap into this curiosity and creativity, we generate new ideas and approaches. New ideas and approaches then become the foundation for changing how the world thinks and operates.

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As one such example, open source tapped the curiosity and creativity of developers to produce a rich patchwork of software and tooling, but more importantly, a culture of openness and collaboration. While it is easy to see the software as the primary outcome, the impact of open source has been much deeper and impacted skills, education, career opportunities, business, collaboration, and more.

Enabling the same curiosity and creativity with the wealth of data we have in the world is going to be an exciting journey. Stay tuned.

The post Opening Up Data Science with data.world appeared first on Jono Bacon.

by Jono Bacon at August 18, 2016 03:00 PM

August 17, 2016

Akkana Peck

Making New Map Tracks with Google Earth

A few days ago I wrote about track files in maps, specifically Translating track files between mapping formats. I promised to follow up with information on how to create new tracks.

For instance, I have some scans of old maps from the 60s and 70s showing the trails in the local neighborhood. There's no newer version. (In many cases, the trails have disappeared from lack of use -- no one knows where they're supposed to be even though they're legally trails where you're allowed to walk.) I wanted a way to turn trails from the old map into GPX tracks.

My first thought was to trace the old PDF map. A lot of web searching found a grand total of one page that talks about that: How to convert image of map into vector format?. It involves using GIMP to make an image containing just black lines on a white background, saving as uncompressed TIFF, then using a series of commands in GRASS. I made a start on that, but it was looking like it might be a big job that way. Since a lot of the old trails are still visible as faint traces in satellite photos, I decided to investigate tracing satellite photos in a map editor first, before trying the GRASS method.

But finding a working open source map editor turns out to be basically impossible. (Opportunity alert: it actually wouldn't be that hard to add that to PyTopo. Some day I'll try that, but now I was trying to solve a problem and hoping not to get sidetracked.)

The only open source map editor I've found is called Viking, and it's terrible. The user interface is complicated and poorly documented, and I could input only two or three trail segments before it crashed and I had to restart. Saving often, I did build up part of the trail network that way, but it was so slow and tedious restoring between crashes that I gave up.

OpenStreetMap has several editors available, and some of them are quite good, but they're (quite understandably) oriented toward defining roads that you're going to upload to the OpenStreetMap world map. I do that for real trails that I've walked myself, but it doesn't seem appropriate for historical paths between houses, some of which are now fenced off and few of which I've actually tried walking yet.

Editing a track in Google Earth

In the end, the only reasonable map editor I found was Google Earth -- free as in beer, not speech. It's actually quite a good track editor once I figured out how to use it -- the documentation is sketchy and no one who writes about it tells you the important parts, which were, for me:

Click on "My Places" in the sidebar before starting, assuming you'll want to keep these tracks around.

Right-click on My Places and choose Add->Folder if you're going to be creating more than one path. That way you can have a single KML file (Google Earth creates KML/KMZ, not GPX) with all your tracks together.

Move and zoom the map to where you can see the starting point for your path.

Click the "Add Path" button in the toolbar. This brings up a dialog where you can name the path and choose a color that will stand out against the map. Do not hit Return after typing the name -- that will immediately dismiss the dialog and take you out of path editing mode, leaving you with an empty named object in your sidebar. If you forget, like I kept doing, you'll have to right-click it and choose Properties to get back into editing mode.

Iconify, shade or do whatever your window manager allows to get that large, intrusive dialog out of the way of the map you're trying to edit. Shade worked well for me in Openbox.

Click on the starting point for your path. If you forgot to move the map so that this point is visible, you're out of luck: there's no way I've found to move the map at this point. (You might expect something like dragging with the middle mouse button, but you'd be wrong.) Do not in any circumstances be tempted to drag with the left button to move the map: this will draw lots of path points.

If you added points you don't want -- for instance, if you dragged on the map trying to move it -- Ctrl-Z doesn't undo, and there's no Undo in the menus, but Delete removes previous points. Whew.

Once you've started adding points, you can move the map using the arrow keys on your keyboard. And you can always zoom with the mousewheel.

When you finish one path, click OK in its properties dialog to end it.

Save periodically: click on the folder you created in My Places and choose Save Place As... Google Earth is a lot less crashy than Viking, but I have seen crashes.

When you're done for the day, be sure to File->Save->Save My Places. Google Earth apparently doesn't do this automatically; I was forever being confused why it didn't remember things I had done, and why every time I started it it would give me syntax errors on My Places saying it was about to correct the problem, then the next time I'd get the exact same error. Save My Places finally fixed that, so I guess it's something we're expected to do now and then in Google Earth.

Once I'd learned those tricks, the map-making went fairly quickly. I had intended only to trace a few trails then stop for the night, but when I realized I was more than halfway through I decided to push through, and ended up with a nice set of KML tracks which I converted to GPX and loaded onto my phone. Now I'm ready to explore.

August 17, 2016 11:26 PM

Jono Bacon

Join My Reddit AMA – 30th August 2016 at 9am Pacific

On Tuesday 30th August 2016 at 9am Pacific (see other time zone times here) I will be doing a Reddit AMA about my work in community strategy, management, developer relations, open source, music, and elsewhere.

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 10.45.40 PM

For those unfamiliar with Reddit AMAs, it is essentially a way in which people can ask questions that someone will respond to. You simply add your questions (serious, or fun both welcome!) and I will respond to as many as I can.

It has been a while since my last AMA, so I am looking forward to this one.

Feel free to ask any questions you like, and this could include questions that relate to:

  • Community management, leadership, and best practice.
  • Working at Canonical, GitHub, XPRIZE, and elsewhere.
  • The open source industry, how it has changed, and what the future looks like.
  • The projects I have been involved in such as Ubuntu, GNOME, KDE, and others.
  • The driving forces behind people and groups, behavioral economics, etc.
  • My other things such as my music, conferences, writing etc.
  • Anything else – politics, movies, news, tech…ask away!

If you want to ask about something else though, go ahead! 🙂

How to Join

Joining the AMA is simple. Just follow these steps:

  • Be sure to have a Reddit account. If you don’t have one, head over here and sign up.
  • On Tuesday 30th August 2016 at 9am Pacific (see other time zone times here) I will share the link to my AMA on Twitter (I am not allowed to share it until we run the AMA). You can look for this tweet by clicking here.
  • Click the link in my tweet to go to the AMA and then click the text box to add your question(s).
  • Now just wait until I respond. Feel free to follow up, challenge my response, and otherwise have fun!

Simple as that. 🙂

A Bit of Background

For those of you unfamiliar with my work, you can read more here, but here is a quick summary:

  • I run a community strategy/management and developer relations consultancy practice.
  • My clients include Deutsche Bank, HackerOne, data.world, Intel, Sony Mobile, Open Networking Foundation, and others.
  • I previously served as director of community for GitHub, Canonical, and XPRIZE.
  • I serve as an advisor to various organizations including Open Networking Foundation, Mycroft AI, Mod Duo, and Open Cloud Consortium.
  • I wrote The Art of Community and have columns for Forbes and opensource.com. I have also written four other books and hundreds of articles.
  • I have been involved with various open source projects including Ubuntu, GNOME, KDE, Jokosher, and others.
  • I am an active podcaster, previously with LugRadio and Shot of Jaq, and now with Bad Voltage.
  • I am really into music and have played in Seraphidian and Severed Fifth.

So, I hope you manage to make it over to the AMA, ask some fun and interesting questions, and we can have a good time. Thanks!

The post Join My Reddit AMA – 30th August 2016 at 9am Pacific appeared first on Jono Bacon.

by Jono Bacon at August 17, 2016 03:00 PM

Elizabeth Krumbach

The West, Mummies and Baseball

I spent most of July at home, which gave us time to take some time get over to the Legion of Honor for an exhibit I was looking forward to, and to another Giants game this season.

The exhibit I wanted to see was Wild West: Plains to the Pacific. There are absolutely heartbreaking things about the west story, but I grew up on westerns and stories of wagon trains. I have a visceral connection to the west story. People from the east building their new life out west, braving hardship and heartbreak. Even my own move west was a re-invention of myself. So I was definitely drawn to this exhibit.

The exhibit takes you through various periods of time, from the frontier to present day. Journeys by the first artists who captured the beauty of the western territories, wild west shows, farmers and beyond. Some of the most striking images were those advertising fruit boxes from California, each drawing distinction for their brand with bright colors and clever names.

While we were there, we decided to also go to a lecture that happened to be presented that day on “Mummies! The Medicine, Myths, and Marvels of Ancient Egyptian Mummification” by Charlotte Read which accompanied another exhibit they had, The Future of the Past: Mummies and Medicine. It was a great talk to see prior to seeing the exhibit, since she described many of the things we’d later see, including details about amulets, which played a prominent role and gave us a glimpse into the technologies they’re using today to peer under the wrapping of mummies, non-destructively.

The exhibit itself was quite small, only taking up one room, but it was worth seeing. You get to see the pair mummies themselves, along with facial reconstructions and the high resolution CT scans preformed on them. The exhibit also presented several of the artifacts that are often buried alongside mummies.

More photos from the Legion of Honor here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157667790231333

Later in the month we went to see the San Francisco Giants play over at the beautiful AT&T Park.

It was the second game we saw this season, and sadly they did not triumph this time. It was a good game to watch though, and the weather was beautiful. Plus, we had great company as a friend of ours joined us.

by pleia2 at August 17, 2016 01:01 PM

August 16, 2016

Jono Bacon

Cutting the Cord With Playstation Vue

We just cut the cord, and glory is ours. I thought I would share how we did it to provide food for thought for those of you sick of cable (and maybe so people can stop bickering on my DirecTV blog post from years back).

Photo on 8-16-16 at 2.12 PM

I will walk through the requirements we had, what we used to have, and what the new setup looks like.

Requirements

The requirements for us are fairly simple:

  • We want access to a core set of channels:
    • Comedy Central
    • CNN
    • Food Network
    • HGTV
    • Local Channels (e.g. CBS, NBC, ABC).
  • Be able to favorite shows and replay them after they have aired.
  • Have access to streaming channels/services:
    • Amazon Prime
    • Netflix
    • Crackle
    • Spotify
    • Pandora
  • Be able to play Blu-ray discs, DVDs, and other optical content. While we rarely do this, we want the option.
  • Have a reliable Internet connection and uninterrupted service.
  • Have all of this both in our living room and in our bedroom.
  • Reduce our costs.
  • Bonus: access some channels on mobile devices. Sometimes I would like to watch the daily show or the news while on the elliptical on my tablet.

Previous Setup

Our previous setup had most of these requirements in place.

For TV we were with DirecTV. We had all of the channels that we needed and we could record TV downstairs but also replay it upstairs in the bedroom.

We have a Roku that provides the streaming channels (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Crackle, Spotify, and Pandora).

We also have a cheap Blueray player which while rarely used, does come in handy from time time.

Everything goes into Pioneer Elite amp and I tried to consolidate the remotes with a Logitech Harmony but it broke immediately and I have heard from others the quality is awful. As such, we used a cheaper all in one remote which could do everything except the Roku as that is bluetooth.

The New Setup

At the core of our new setup is a Playstation 4. I have actually had this for a while but it has been sat up in my office and barely used.

Photo on 8-16-16 at 2.10 PM

The Playstation 4 provides the bulk of what we need:

  • Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Spotify. I haven’t found a Pandora app yet, but this is fine.
  • Blueray playback.
  • Obviously we have the additional benefit of now being able to play games downstairs. I am enjoying having a blast on Battlefield from time to time and I installed some simple games for Jack to play on.

For the TV we are using Playstation Vue. This is a streaming service that has the most comprehensive set of channels I have seen so far, and the bulk of what we wanted is in the lowest tier plan ($40/month). I had assessed some other services but key channels (e.g. Comedy Central) were missing.

Photo on 8-16-16 at 2.14 PM

Playstation Vue has some nice features:

  • It is a lot cheaper. Our $80+/month cable bill has now gone down to $40/month with Vue.
  • The overall experience (e.g. browsing the guide, selecting shows, viewing information) is far quicker, more modern, and smoother than the clunky old DirecTV box.
  • When browsing the guide you can not just watch live TV but also watch previous shows that were on too. For example, missed The Daily Shows this week? No worries, you can just go back and watch them.
  • Playstation Vue is also available on Android, IOS, Roku and other devices which means I can watch TV and play back shows wherever I am.

In terms of the remote control I bought the official Playstation 4 remote and it works pretty well. It is still a little clunky in some areas as the apps on the Playstation sometimes refer to the usual playstation buttons as opposed to the buttons on the remote. Overall though it works great and it also powers my other devices (e.g. TV and amp), although I couldn’t get volume pass-through working.

Networking wise, we have a router upstairs in the bedroom which is where the feed comes in. I then take a cable from it and send it over our power lines with a Ethernet Over Power adapter. Then, downstairs I have an additional router which is chained and I take ethernet from the router to the Playstation. This results in considerably more reliable performance than using wireless. This is a big improvement as the Roku doesn’t have an ethernet port.

In Conclusion

Overall, we love the new setup. The Playstation 4 is a great center-point for our entertainment system. It is awesome having a single remote, everything on one box and in one interface. I also love the higher-fidelity experience – the Roku is great but the interface looks a little dated and the apps are rather restricted.

Playstation Vue is absolutely awesome and I would highlight recommend it for people looking to ditch cable. You don’t even need a Playstation 4 – you can use it on a Roku, for example.

I also love that we are future proofed. I am planning on getting Playstation VR, which will now work downstairs, and Sony are bringing more and more content and apps to the Playstation Store. For example, there are lots of movies, TV shows, and other content which may not be available elsewhere.

I would love to hear your stories though about your cord cutting. Which services and products did you move to? What do you think about a games console running your entertainment setup? What am I doing wrong? Let me know in the comments!

The post Cutting the Cord With Playstation Vue appeared first on Jono Bacon.

by Jono Bacon at August 16, 2016 09:27 PM

August 15, 2016

Jono Bacon

Running a Hackathon for Security Hackers

A few weeks ago I flew out to Las Vegas with HackerOne to help run an event we had been working on for a while called H1-702. It was a hackathon designed for some of the world’s most talented security hackers.

H1-702 was one piece in a picture to ensure HackerOne is the very best platform and community for hackers to hack, learn, and grow.

This was the event that we invite the cream of the crop to…hackers who have been doing significant and sustained work and who have delivered some awesome vulnerability reports.

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Hacking For Fun and Profit

For the event we booked a MGM Grand Skyloft for three evenings. We invited the most prolific hackers on HackerOne to join us where they would be invited to hack on a specific company’s technology each night. They didn’t learn about which company it was until the evening they arrived…this kept a bit of mystery in the air. 😉

The first night had Zenefits, the second Snapchat, and the third Panasonic Avionics. This was a nice mixture of web, mobile, and embedded.

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Each evening Hackers were provided with the scope and then invited to hack these different products and submit vulnerabilities. Each company had their security team and developers on-hand where they would be able to answer questions, review and confirm reports quickly (and then fix the issues.)

Confirmed reports would result in a payout from the company and reputation points. This would then bump the hacker higher up on the H1-702 leaderboard and closer to winning the prestige of H1-702 Most Valued Hacker, complete with a pretty badass winners belt. As you can imagine, things got a little competitive. 😉

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Each evening kicked off at around 7pm – 8pm and ran until the wee hours. The first night, for example, I ended up heading to bed at around 5.30am and they were still going.

There was an awesome electricity in the air and these hackers really brought their A-game. Lots of hackers walked out the door having made thousands of dollars for an evening’s hacking.

While competitive, it was also social, with people having a good time and getting to know each other. Speaking personally, it was great to meet some hackers who I have been following for a while. It was a thrill to watch them work.

Taking Care of Your Best

In every community you always get a variance of quality and commitment. Some people will be casual contributors and some will invest significant time and energy in the community and their work. It is always critical to really take care of your best, and H1-702 was one way in how want to do this at HackerOne.

Given this, we wanted deliver a genuinely premium event for these hackers and ensure that everyone received impeccable service and attention, not just at the event but from the minute they arrived in Vegas. After all, they have earned it.

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This was an exercise in detail. We ensured we had a comfortable event space in a cool hotel. We had oodles of booze, with some top-shelf liquor. We provided food throughout the evening and brought in-chair massages later in the night to re-invigorate everyone. We provided plenty of seating, both in quiet and noisier spaces, lots of power sockets and we worked to have fast and reliable Internet. We provided each hacker with a HackerOne backpack, limited edition t-shirts, and other swag such as H1-702 challenge coins. We ensured that there was always someone hackers could call to solve problems, and we were receptive to feedback each night to improve it the following night.

Throughout the evening we worked to cater to the needs of hackers. We had members of HackerOne helping hackers solve problems, keep everyone hydrated and fed, and having a good time. HackerOne CEO Mårten Mickos was also running around like a waiter (amusingly with a white towel) ensuring everyone had drinks in their hands.

Overall, it was a fun event and while it went pretty well, there is always plenty to learn and improve for next time. If this sounds like fun, be sure to go and sign up and hack on some programs and earn a spot next year.

The post Running a Hackathon for Security Hackers appeared first on Jono Bacon.

by Jono Bacon at August 15, 2016 03:00 PM

Elizabeth Krumbach

Local Edibles

San Francisco has a lot of great food, and more restaurants than we could possibly visit. Over the past month or so we’ve tried a couple more and returned to a couple of our favorites.

While MJ was working in the city, I finally got to visit Hakkasan, an upscale Cantonese restaurant. They have an array of delicious entrees, but their “small eats” and dim sum are exceptional. The food is also beautiful, upon receiving our first round of dishes, including the amazing Crispy prawn with mango, MJ asked where I wanted to start. “I want to start by taking a picture of my food!”

Our new dining adventures continued with a visit to Tadich Grill, arguably “the oldest continuously running restaurant in San Francisco” (via wikipedia). The place started out as a coffee stand in 1849 and has changed names and owners, making their “oldest” claim a bit tenuous, but however you count, it is an old place by San Francisco standards and they’ve been in their current location since 1967. They don’t take reservations, and we came in around 9PM and still had about a half hour wait along with the crowd that was mostly tourists. We were finally seated as one of the last seatings of the evening. They specialize in seafood dishes, and the wait staff where all wearing white jackets, looking pretty formal. The appetizers and entrees didn’t blow me away, but it was a decent seafood. What did make me happy was dessert, they have a solid carrot cake, which I’m not used to finding in San Francisco. Paired with a Claiborne & Churchill 2014 Dry Gewürztraminer, it was a perfect ending to the evening. As a bonus, it made me explore Claiborne & Churchill’s wines, and their selection of sweet wines is really nice, I’ve ordered a Port, a couple of their Muscats and of course some more Gewürztraminer.

We also recently joined friends for a dinner at Lazy Bear, which we first went to in December. As I wrote then, the seating is family style and they serve a fixed tasting menu. This time I also did the wine pairing, which was totally worth it, they had a really nice list of wines and the portions were nicely timed with the dishes.

Going to Lazy Bear is always an experience, more photos from the evening here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157669411350191

Last, but the most important, we went back to Jardiniere to celebrate our third wedding anniversary… a couple months late. I was traveling on our actual anniversary at the end of April, and then between trips and general being busy, it took until July to actually get reservations and settle on the evening. It was nice to finally go out to celebrate together. They have a variety of French inspired dishes that I love, but they prepare an amazing rare wagyu both proper the Japanese Wagyu, and American. We got one of each, along with a lovely dessert.

by pleia2 at August 15, 2016 02:42 PM

August 14, 2016

Akkana Peck

Translating track files between mapping formats

I use map tracks quite a bit. On my Android phone, I use OsmAnd, an excellent open-source mapping tool that can download map data generated from free OpenStreetMap, then display the maps offline, so I can use them in places where there's no cellphone signal (like nearly any hiking trail). At my computer, I never found a decent open-source mapping program, so I wrote my own, PyTopo, which downloads tiles from OpenStreetMap.

In OsmAnd, I record tracks from all my hikes, upload the GPX files, and view them in PyTopo. But it's nice to go the other way, too, and take tracks or waypoints from other people or from the web and view them in my own mapping programs, or use them to find them when hiking.

Translating between KML, KMZ and GPX

Both OsmAnd and PyTopo can show Garmin track files in the GPX format. PyTopo can also show KML and KMZ files, Google's more complicated mapping format, but OsmAnd can't. A lot of track files are distributed in Google formats, and I find I have to translate them fairly often -- for instance, lists of trails or lists of waypoints on a new hike I plan to do may be distributed as KML or KMZ.

The command-line gpsbabel program does a fine job translating KML to GPX. But I find its syntax hard to remember, so I wrote a shell alias:

kml2gpx () {
        gpsbabel -i kml -f $1 -o gpx -F $1:t:r.gpx
}
so I can just type kml2gpx file.kml and it will create a file.gpx for me.

More often, people distribute KMZ files, because they're smaller. They're just gzipped KML files, so the shell alias is only a little bit longer:

kmz2gpx () {
        kmlfile=/tmp/$1:t:r.kml 
        gunzip -c $1 > $kmlfile
        gpsbabel -i kml -f $kmlfile -o gpx -F $kmlfile:t:r.gpx
}

Of course, if you ever have a need to go from GPX to KML, you can reverse the gpsbabel arguments appropriately; and if you need KMZ, run gzip afterward.

UTM coordinates

A couple of people I know use a different format, called UTM, which stands for Universal Transverse Mercator, for waypoints, and there are some secret lists of interesting local features passed around in that format.

It's a strange system. Instead of using latitude and longitude like most world mapping coordinate systems, UTM breaks the world into 60 longitudinal zones. UTM coordinates don't usually specify their zone (at least, none of the ones I've been given ever have), so if someone gives you a UTM coordinate, you need to know what zone you're in before you can translate it to a latitude and longitude. Then a pair of UTM coordinates specifies easting, and northing which tells you where you are inside the zone. Wikipedia has a map of UTM zones.

Note that UTM isn't a file format: it's just a way of specifying two (really three, if you count the zone) coordinates. So if you're given a list of UTM coordinate pairs, gpsbabel doesn't have a ready-made way to translate them into a GPX file. Fortunately, it allows a "universal CSV" (comma separated values) format, where the first line specifies which field goes where. So you can define a UTM UniCSV format that looks like this:

name,utm_z,utm_e,utm_n,comment
Trailhead,13,0395145,3966291,Trailhead on Buckman Rd
Sierra Club TH,13,0396210,3966597,Alternate trailhead in the arroyo
then translate it like this:
gpsbabel -i unicsv -f filename.csv -o gpx -F filename.gpx
I (and all the UTM coordinates I've had to deal with) are in zone 13, so that's what I used for that example and I hardwired that into my alias, but if you're near a zone boundary, you'll need to figure out which zone to use for each coordinate.

I also know someone who tends to send me single UTM coordinate pairs, because that's what she has her Garmin configured to show her. For instance, "We'll be using the trailhead at 0395145 3966291". This happened often enough, and I got tired of looking up the UTM UniCSV format every time, that I made another shell function just for that.

utm2gpx () {
        unicsv=`mktemp /tmp/point-XXXXX.csv` 
        gpxfile=$unicsv:r.gpx 
        echo "name,utm_z,utm_e,utm_n,comment" >> $unicsv
        printf "Point,13,%s,%s,point" $1 $2 >> $unicsv
        gpsbabel -i unicsv -f $unicsv -o gpx -F $gpxfile
        echo Created $gpxfile
}
So I can say utm2gpx 0395145 3966291, pasting the two coordinates from her email, and get a nice GPX file that I can push to my phone.

What if all you have is a printed map, or a scan of an old map from the pre-digital days? That's part 2, which I'll post in a few days.

August 14, 2016 04:29 PM

August 13, 2016

Elizabeth Krumbach

Local Critters

I already wrote about some of the local drinks we’ve been enjoying over these past few months, it’s time to move on to animals! Most of which have had their existence proven by science.

Back in April I made one of my standard pilgrimages to the San Francisco Zoo, where we’re members. This time we went with my sister and law and her husband, and the highlight of the visit for me was finally seeing little Jasiri, the lion cub. He was a bit hard to make out, hidden under the shade of a bush, but I was able to find him, near his mother Sukari.


Jasiri and Sukari

We made our usual stops, visiting the rescued sea lions, the grizzly sisters frolicking in their pool and of course to penguin island. I also got my first look at Claudia, the Andean Condor who recently became a resident there. I’ll have to go back soon, they opened up their new Mexican gray wolf exhibit in June and their Sifaka Lemur exhibit opens in a week.


Rainbow at Penguin Island

More photos from that visit to the San Francisco Zoo here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157666612834551

During the same visit to San Francisco, the four of us also made our way up to Sausalito to visit the The Marine Mammal Center (TMMC). It’s one of our favorite organizations, and following our donation this year they reached out to us to offer a tour, which we decided to take advantage of while we had family in town.

The volunteer spent about an hour with us, walking us through the public areas, including the holding pens where we saw the elephant seals being fed, a lab where they were doing blood analysis, their “fish kitchen” where they prepare food for the animals and over to their public autopsy area. He also demonstrated for us how they go about capturing the animal, joking that “everything is a seal, and everything is about 100 lbs” when people call in reports. In reality, they also rescue many sea lions as well and most of the animals are quite a bit heftier and powerful than the 100 lbs claim suggests.

We then went behind the scenes. The site is owned by the US government and the organization is granted use of what is actually and old missile facility. Part of the massive filtration system for all their tanks and pools is now located where they used to store missiles. Fortuitously, we also got to see a truck coming in with some newly rescued patients. A baby harbor seal was among the rescues, who we got to see unloaded and nearly broke my heart when he cried his “maaa” cry. He’s in excellent hands though, they do really great work there.

Picture taking behind the scenes was limited, but I do have several more photos The Marine Mammal Center here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157664556780964

Finally, I made a visit to a more… elusive critter. After giving an Ubuntu presentation at Felton LUG a few months ago, I took the opportunity of being in Felton to visit the Bigfoot Discovery Museum right down the street. It was amusing, but completely coincidental, that this visit came on the heels of my visit just weeks before to the International Cryptozoology Museum in Maine. It’s true that I’m terribly fascinated by the search for cryptids like bigfoot, but the skeptic in me won’t get me much further than fascination until there’s more solid evidence.

This museum walks you through the evidence that does exist, including various footprint casts, an analysis of the famous Patterson–Gimlin film and maps of reported sightings throughout northern California. There’s also nearly a full room devoted to the pop culture around the creatures, from toys to movie posters. The proprietor was enthusiastic about sharing stories with visitors about sightings and the evidence that exists, and hearing his enthusiasm for his work was alone worth the visit for me.

More photos from the museum here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157670265156315

by pleia2 at August 13, 2016 05:14 PM

Local Potions

As I look through my blog posts this year, I’ve noticed a very travel and conference-focused trend. It seems I’ve been really good about staying on top of writing about these things, and less so with some of our local adventures. At this point it seems I have to reach all the way back to April to start writing about what we’ve been up to, covering visits with friends and family, trips up to wine country, adventures to new theaters and the symphony. Instead of stepping through these chronologically, I thought it might be more interesting to group things up.

To begin, let’s talk about some of the wonderful things I’ve had to drink this year.

Back in April, my sister in law and her husband were in town visiting. When we have guests in town there’s a bunch of stuff we love to do, but it’s also fun to check off some of the attractions we haven’t seen yet either. That brought us to the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. Going into this I didn’t have any expectations, I wasn’t sure what it had, how big it was or anything. Now that I’ve been, I can definitely recommend a visit.

There’s a path that winds through the garden, taking you through various Japanese trees, flowers and other plants. Throughout they have pagodas of varied provenance, some created in Japan and shipped over, some with dedications, one that came from the Pan-Pacific International Exposition (world’s fair) that was held in San Francisco in 1915. There’s a distinctive arched bridge, stone lanterns and various water features, from fountains and streams, to a koi pond. The walk through these lovely gardens concluded for us at their tea house, where we got snacks and some hot Matcha green tea.

More photos from our visit to the Japanese Tea Garden here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157666201291390

Moving from tea to something a bit stronger, in June we had a pair of friends in town who we took up to Sonoma County for some wine tasting. Now, we’ve done this journey with many folks, so I won’t give a play by play this time around, but it was worth noting because we went on the Partners Wine Tour at Benziger Family Winery, something I hadn’t done in years.

But first, we had lunch! We ordered sandwiches at the nearby Glen Ellen Village Market, bought a bottle of 2013 Dragonsleaf Pinot Noir and sat outside in the shade outside the tasting room at Benziger. There are few things in the world so relaxing and satisfying as that picnic lunch with friends was.

It was then onward for the tour! Taking a little over an hour, the tour took us on a long ride through the vineyards, giving history of the winery and tastings throughout our journey. We then went into the wine caves, where we sampled some not-quite-finished wine right out of the cask. The dining room in the cave was closed for maintenance, so our final tour stop was into the library, where our membership status got us a sample of one of their amazing old library wines.

More photos from the Benziger Partners Tour, and stops at Jacuzzi Winery and Imagery Winery here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157669175719622

Wine adventures continued later in the month when MJ and I went up to Napa Valley for an afternoon of dining at Rutherford Grill and tasting as Rutherford Hill Winery, where we are members and had to drive up to pick up our shipment of wines. I’m a fan of Merlots, and Rutherford Hill is internationally famous for them, but what really made membership for us was how well we’re treated as members. They have an amazing tasting room in their wine caves, and are very flexible about wines you can pick up in your shipment, since price is determined by precisely what you buy anyway. With them, membership turns out to essentially be an agreement to buy a certain number of wine bottles per cycle, with a set of recommendations as a default. It was all very refreshing for such a large Napa winery, and their wines are exceptional.

Upon arrival, we were led back to the caves where we sat in a little alcove to sample a series of wines. Our host was wonderful and we really enjoyed the ambiance and coolness of the cave, especially with how bright and warm it was outside. Once the tasting was concluded, I took advantage of the springtime climate that had all their flowers in full bloom before going inside to pick up our wines and a few other goodies.

More photos (especially flowers!) from our day up at Rutherford Hill here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157667277830503

My final drink adventure was closer to home than all the rest, a quick walk from home down 2nd street and over to Black Hammer Brewing. It was here that I met my friend Pasi who was in town from Finland and another fellow in town from Copenhagen. It’s on the newer side and they don’t serve food (though outside food is allowed), so I hadn’t been to this brewery before. We arrived pretty late and only had a couple rounds, but I was really impressed with the variety available in their small batches of beers. I went with the Nautical Twilight and Sunrise Set.

I love living in a place where I can not only find some delicious things to drink, but do so in beautiful places. Even the brewery, though lacking in scenery of my tea and wine trips, had a comfortable atmosphere that’s begging me to return.

by pleia2 at August 13, 2016 12:06 AM

August 12, 2016

Elizabeth Krumbach

Laundry, Lunches, Trains, Temple and Shopping in Mumbai

My tourist adventures in Mumbai continued on Saturday following the conference. I made plans through the hotel concierge to hire a driver and tour guide for the day. I was initially a bit worried about the weather, since reports (and warnings!) had forecasted rain, but we lucked out. I was picked up from the hotel promptly at 10AM and thus began a wonderful day with my tour guide, Mala Bangera.

I’ll start off by say that Mala was a wonderful guide, one of the best I’ve ever had. She had over 20 years of experience and so was extremely knowledgeable, had lived all over the world (including the US) and had strong relationships with people at all the places we visited. She was able to advise me when I could take pictures, and honestly explain how much and when to tip people we encountered and interacted with throughout our journey (a fellow I got my picture with, a woman whose wares I asked for a photo of, a fellow who watched our shoes at a temple). I had a wonderful day under her guidance, and I’m so glad I worked with her instead of spending the day venturing out on my own!

As for where we went, I largely let her set the agenda when I explained that I just wanted to see some popular tourist sites and temples. It was the right choice. Our first stop was the Dhobi Ghat, a huge open air laundry facility. As I’ve learned some about domestic history, laundry looms large in the list of things that was incredibly laborious and time-consuming until the modern era of washing machines that people like me now have in our homes. Of course the modern washer and dryer I have assume access to a lot of water and electricity, and space, which is not ubiquitous in India. Instead, Mala explained that many people send their clothes out to be washed, dried, pressed and delivered back to their home, and a lot of this work happens at a dhobi ghat.


Dhobi Ghat (laundry)

Our next stop was to see the Dabbawalas. These folks collect your prepared lunch from your house in morning and deliver it to work around lunchtime. That means you get your home-cooked meal at lunch (which is typically a large meal there) and you don’t need to carry it with you when you leave home early in the morning. Doing this in bulk allows for an inexpensive service and a lifelong profession for the Dabbawalas, one fellow my tour guide introduced me to has been doing it for over 25 years. It was a Saturday so the pickup location we visited wasn’t as busy as it was on week days, but it was worth seeing anyway.


Dabbawalas sorting and carrying lunches

From there we went to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), the train station! A Gothic Revival designed by Frederick William Stevens in 1887, the station first caught my eye on the previous Sunday when we drove by it. This time we were able to actually go inside, buy a platform ticket and wander around. I advised against taking pictures inside the station itself, but I did see a whole bunch of trains, from the city commuter trains to the larger long-distance trains. I learned that they have cars reserved exclusively for women, which is understandable given the need to accommodate modest religious faiths on trains that get incredibly packed during weekday commutes (genders were also segregated at most security check points I went through, frequently with women given private screening behind a curtain).


Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

We then drove over to a highly respected shop in the area where I picked up some little gifts, and a couple not so little things for myself. I had a lovely experience, while shopping for some Indian sapphire jewelry (my birthstone) they brought over some wonderfully spiced Kashmiri Kahwa hot tea, and also gave me some to take home with me as I was checking out.

The next stop was the Babu Amichand Panalal Adishwarji Jain Temple, which is routinely called the most beautiful Jain Temple in Mumbai. As far as temples go, my guide explained that those by the Jains tend to be the most beautiful in India. This temple absolutely lived up to the hype. When you enter you’re instructed to remove your shoes as you walk around. My guide is a friend of the temple and was able to escort me inside and encouraged my photo taking, unaccompanied tourists are asked to remain in the courtyard so it was a real honor to be able to go in.


At the Jain Temple

More photos from the Jain temple here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157669057260703

Our final big stop was the Hanging Gardens of Mumbai. The gardens are perched on a hill that covers a water reservoir. It’s quite pretty, with various flowering plants and bushes, and a collection of animal-shaped topiaries (giraffe! elephant! ox cart!). The garden is also located near the Zoroastrian Tower of Silence, where their dead are exposed for reclamation by nature.

On the drive back to my hotel we passed the Siddhivinayak Temple, dedicated to the Hindu Lord Ganesha. We also stopped to get some fruit-flavored ice cream from Natural Ice Cream, after a few samples, I had the watermelon and jackfruit ice creams, yum! We also passed the Haji Ali Dargah, a mosque and tomb that sits in Worli Bay. A thin strip of land goes out to the mosque, but it’s covered over during high tide, limiting when visits are possible. As a result, when you see it during high tide the building seems to be floating out in the bay. I developed a fascination for this as I was there, passing it a few times during my trip during varying levels of tide. I would love to visit it more closely some day.


Haji Ali Dargah

Saturday evening was spent out to dinner and drinks with some of the SANOG conference folks, where I had a Bira91 White Ale, a wheat beer that is one of the few solid, non-lager beers I’ve encountered in Asia. In addition to enjoying wonderful company and beer at dinner, I had my final trip in an auto rickshaw that night as we wanted to get back to the hotel without getting drenched from the rain. This rickshaw ride was outside of high traffic areas, so it was considerably less nerve-wracking than the ride earlier in the week!


Inside an auto rickshaw earlier in the week, with a cameo from a double-decker bus!

My final day in Mumbai was Sunday, which I spent getting loose ends tied off, visiting with some conference people and then in the evening with my friend Devdas who took me on a train to south Mumbai again. Now, you all know me. I love trains. It was nice to get to take one on a Sunday evening, not too crowded and as a critical piece of infrastructure the trains are kept maintained.


Selfie on a train

We got off at the station I had visited the day before and walked down to Leopold Cafe, which was recommended by a friend who visited Mumbai in the recent past. As a landmark and tourist destination, the cafe also made headlines eight years ago as one of the sites of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. I admit that with a flight ahead of me, I just had some pretty basic continental food, though my chicken sandwich still had a nice bite to it. The walk to the restaurant took us into the Colaba Causeway market. I had already done my shopping for the trip, but it was neat to see all of the stuff they had for sale, and to make our way through the crowds of people on the sidewalks and streets.

My evening concluded by skipping the train back due to the long, soggy walk back to the station and my inclination to stay dry before my flight. I instead took a long Uber ride back to the hotel to pick up my luggage. The ride back started out in a downpour, but eventually cleared up. I was able to see the Haji Ali Dargah lit up at night, and all the people hanging out on Marine Drive, with the signature Queen’s Necklace lights along the boulevard. I also enjoyed going over the Sky Link bridge one final time at night when it wasn’t raining.

And with that, my trip concluded! More photos from throughout my adventures in Mumbai here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157671033977871

by pleia2 at August 12, 2016 04:26 PM

Jono Bacon

My Blog is Creative Commons Licensed

Earlier this week I was asked this on Twitter:

Screenshot from 2016-08-12 22-50-26

An entirely reasonable question given that I had entirely failed to provide clarity on how my content is licensed on each page. So, thanks, Elio, for helping me to fix this. You will now see a licensing blurb at the bottom of each post as well as a licensing drop-down item in the menu.

To clarify, all content on my blog is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license. I have been a long-time free culture and Creative Commons fan, supporter, and artist (see my archive of music, podcasts, and more here), so this license is a natural choice.

Let’s now explore what you can do with my content under the parameters of this license.

What You Can Do

The license is pretty simple. You are allowed to:

  • Share – feel free to share my blog posts with whoever you want.
  • Remix – you are welcome to use my posts and create derived works from them.

…there is a requirement though. You are required to provide attribution for my content. I don’t need a glowing missive about how the article changed your life, just a few words that reference me as the author and point to the original article, that’s all. Something like:

‘My Blog is Creative Commons Licensed’ originally written by Jono Bacon and originally published at http://www.jonobacon.org/2016/08/12/my-blog-is-creative-commons-licensed/

will be great. Thanks!

To learn more about your rights with my content, so the license details.

What I Would Love You Do

So, that’s what you are allowed to do, but what would I selfishly love you to do with my content?

Well, a bunch of things:

  • Share it – I try to write things on this blog that are helpful to others, but it is only helpful if people read it. So, your help sharing and submitting my posts on and to social media, news sites, other blogs, and elsewhere is super helpful.
  • Include and reference it in other work – I always love to see my work included and referenced in other blog posts, books, research papers, and elsewhere. If you find something useful in my writing, feel free to go ahead and use it.
  • Translate it – I would love to see my posts translated into different languages, just like Elio offered to do. If you do make a translation, let me know so I can add a link to it in the original article.

Of course, if you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch and whether you just read my content or choose to share, derive, or translate it, thanks for being a part of it! 🙂

The post My Blog is Creative Commons Licensed appeared first on Jono Bacon.

by Jono Bacon at August 12, 2016 02:59 PM

August 11, 2016

Jono Bacon

Speaking at Abstractions

Update: my talk has been moved to 1.30pm on Friday 19th August 2016.

Just a quick note to let you know that I will be zooming my way on the reddest of red eyes to Pittsburgh, PA to speak at Abstractions next week.

I first heard about Abstractions some time ago and I was pretty stunned by the speaker roster which includes Jeffrey Zeldman, Richard Stallman, Mitchell Hashimoto, Larry Wall, and others.

I absolutely love events such as Abstractions. The team have clearly worked hard to put together a solid event with a great line-up, professional look and feel, great speaker relations, and more.

Building a Community Exoskeleton

I am going to delivering a talk on Friday at 4.20pm called Building a Community Exoskeleton. The abstract:

Community is at the core of all successful open source projects. The challenge is that building empowered, productive, and inclusive communities is complex work that lives in the connective tissue between technology and people. In this new presentation from Jono Bacon, he will share some insight into how you can build an exoskeleton that wraps around community members to help them to do great work, form meaningful relationships, and help each other to be successful. The presentation will delve into success stories in open source and elsewhere, the underlying behavioral principles we can tap into, infrastructure and workflow decisions, and how we get people through the door and involved in our projects. Bacon will also cover the risks and potholes you will want to delicately swerve around. If you are running an existing project or company, or starting something new, be sure to get along to this presentation, all delivered in Bacon’s trademark loose and amusing style.

I am hoping I will get an opportunity to see many of you there (details of how to attend are here), and I want to offer a huge thanks to the Abstractions team for their kindness, hospitality, and service. I am looking forward to getting out there!

The post Speaking at Abstractions appeared first on Jono Bacon.

by Jono Bacon at August 11, 2016 03:53 PM

August 10, 2016

Jono Bacon

The Bacon Travel Survival Guide

plane

I spend a fair bit of time traveling. Like many of you, this involves catching planes, trains, and automobiles, schlepping around between airports and hotels, figuring out conference centers, and more.

Some years back I shared a room with my friend Pete Graner and was amused by how much crap he packed into his bag. Despite my mild mockery, whenever anyone needed something, Pete got pinged.

Over the years I too have learned how to tame the road, and I want to share some lessons learned from how to pack the right items, book your travel wisely, stay connected, and more.

Build a Backpack

Your backpack is your travel buddy. You will carry it everywhere and it will contain the most critical things you need on your journey. You want it to be comfortable, contain the essentials, and be ready for action whether in your hotel room, at the office, at an airport, or elsewhere.

The Bag

First, you need to get the bag itself. Don’t skimp on cost here, this thing is going to get thrown around and trust me, you don’t want it to drop apart in an airport. Some essential features I look for in the bag:

  • Handles that can wrap around the handle on your suitcase. This means you can then attach it to the suitcase and not have to carry the bag when rolling your suitcase along.
  • Includes at least 4 different compartments, which I would use for:
    1. Your laptop/tablet. Some bags can open up to make it easier for scanning laptops in X-Ray machines. Not essential, but nice to have.
    2. Travel documents and important things (e.g. cash).
    3. Your cables, chargers, and other peripherals/devices.
    4. Medicines and other consumables.
  • A means to attach a water bottle (e.g. an included hook) or pocket to strap it into.
  • Bonus side pockets for sunglasses, tissues, and other items are always nice.

More than anything, ensure the bag is comfortable to wear. This thing is going to strapped to your back a lot, so make sure it feels comfortable to carry and doesn’t rub up against your shoulders.

Filling It

OK, so we have a nice shiny bag. What do we put in it?

You want to ensure you carry items not just for your common tasks, but also for a few outliers too. Also, I recommend many of these items always live in your bag (even if you buy duplicate items for your home.) This then ensures that you don’t forget to pack them when you travel.

Here is a shopping list of what I carry with me, which could be inspiration for your own bag:

Tech

  • Laptop – the jewel in the crown. This always comes with me.
  • Other gadgets – I often also carry:
    • Tablet.
    • Kindle.
  • Laptop charger – obviously this is pretty essential if you want some juice in your laptop.
  • Cables – I carry a bunch of cables, including:
    • 2 x Micro-USB for phones and devices.
    • 1 x Lightning for Apple devices.
    • Fitbit charging cable.
  • Multi-outlet adapter – a handy travel multi-outlet adapter where I can plug in 4 devices into a single outlet.
  • USB outlets – these are those little gadgets with a USB socket that you plug into the wall. I carry at least two and they are used to juice my devices.
  • Outlet adapters – these are the devices that convert between different power outlet types for different countries. I have been through dozens of these, so spend your money on quality. Be sure to buy one that supports every socket in the world. I always carry 2.
  • Battery pack – this is one of those battery packs that you can use for charging your devices when out and about. Get a decent one (at least 12000mAh) with both the 1A and 2.1A ports so you can get a fast charge.
  • USB sticks – I carry a couple of USB sticks around in case I need to transfer data between machines. I often have one as a bootable Ubuntu stick just in case I need to boot into Linux on another machine.
  • Headphones – get some decent headphones (with a built in mic), you will be using them a lot. I use Bose headphones and love them. They may be more expensive, but totally worth it.
  • Notebook and pen – always handy for scribbling down ideas, notes, and other musings. Also critical if you working with a company that doesn’t let you take a laptop into their office due to security measures – you will use this to take notes.

Personal Care

For the ladies reading, adjust to taste (e.g. perfume, not cologne):

  • First aid kit – always have this just in case.
  • Tissues – get a couple of pocket packs, useful for when you have the sniffles.
  • Mints – no one likes travel breath, so this is a handy way of combating it when you have to run straight into a meeting after a flight.
  • Hand sanitizer – other people are icky, wipe them off you.
  • Headache tablets – get tablets your doctor recommends. I carry Aleve, but make sure the ones you get are safe for you (that you are not allergic to).
  • Diarrhea medicine – always handy to have and critical for some further flung destinations. I carry Pepto-Bismol tablets.
  • Cologne – I always like to smell good and usually carry two colognes with me. You can buy an atomizer that you can pre-fill with your cologne before you travel. Or, buy a travel size cologne.
  • Deodorant – essential. You never know when you are going to be stuck in a hot place and you don’t want to get sweaty. I usually carry a roll on.
  • Band-aids/plasters – I carry a few of these, not just in case I cut myself but also in case I get blisters on my feet when I have bought new shoes.
  • Gas/heartburn medicine – always handy to have, particularly for some destinations with richer food.
  • Hangover medicine – it has been known that I have the odd beer here or there on the road. Some scientific research has resulted in me carrying some Blowfish. Be sure to check what you carry is safe (some medicines have ingredients you may be allergic to).
  • Sunscreen – as a pasty white chap, the sun can be my enemy. I carry a small spray can that I can lacquer myself with if I am going to be outside for a while.
  • Water bottle – I always carry a quality water bottle. When traveling you should stay hydrated. Be sure to get a bottle that can strap to your backpack. If there is no means to strap it, buy a carabiner hook. Also, get a bottle where the spout is covered and the cover is lockable. This will ensure you don’t get germs on the spout and that water doesn’t spray out while walking.

Other

  • Cash – I always carry a small amount of bills and coins in my bag. The bills are handy for tipping and purchasing small items when you have run out of cash in your wallet. The coins are helpful for parking meters.
  • Sunglasses – always handy in sunny climbs. I have a dedicated travel pair of sunnies that always lives in my bag so I never forget them.

Get Expedited Customs Entry

If you are traveling regularly, you should strive to make your overall journey as simple and effortless as possible. One easy way to do this is with expedited customs entry.

This varies from country to country but here in the USA there are two programs that are essential – TSA Pre and Global Entry.

The latter, Global Entry, means you can skip the lines when you arrive from an international trip and simply go to a machine where your documents are checked. It can literally save you hours stood in line after a long trip.

TSA Pre is a program in which you can get expedited screening in American airports. It means you can join a shorter line and you don’t have to take off your shoes or belt, or take your laptop out of your bag. TSA Pre is awesome.

If you apply for Global Entry you also get TSA Pre, so that is the way to do. Sure, it involves you filling in a large form and taking a trip out to the airport for a meeting, but given the amount of time an frustration it saves, it is critical.

Tip: When booking your flights be sure to specify your Known Traveler number (which you get with Global Entry) when booking. If you don’t specify it you won’t be able to use Global Entry or TSA Pre on your itinerary, which is rather annoying.

Book Your Travel Wisely

For the majority of trips you take there will be a mode of transportation (e.g. plane, train, car) and a hotel. When booking either of these you should always (a) choose the wisest providers, (b) book the best trips, and (c) always work towards to status/rewards.

Pick good providers

For picking the best providers, do your research. Ask your friends what their favorite airlines are, which hotels they like, and other opinions. Also do some online research.

As an example, a couple of current viewpoints from me currently about airlines:

  • United – pretty average service but cost effective and have a great rewards program. Also easy to spend your miles (few blackout dates).
  • Virgin Atlantic – awesome airline, but more expensive. OK rewards program but I have found it difficult to spend miles (lots of blackout dates).
  • Southwest – great airline, services a lot of the USA. Really nice staff, but their rewards only really gets you on the plane earlier.

Do your research and find the right balance of service and value.

Book the trip that works for you

For booking the best trips, be sure to check out some of the modern providers such as Hipmunk, Kayak, and others. This can make putting together an itinerary much easier.

A few tips for booking flights;

  • When picking seats check SeatGuru to see if it works well for you. Always pick your preferred seat when you book your flight.
  • Always check the layover time – I never layover for less than an hour. Too risky of you have a late takeoff time.
  • Sometimes I also check the cancellation/delay record of an airport. For example, Shenzhen has a pretty poor record and so I have taken a train to reduce the risk of a canceled flight.
  • Remember that bulkhead seats don’t have movable arms so if you get a row to yourself you won’t be able to stretch out.

Work towards rewards

Most airlines and hotels offer rewards programs for regular business. Where possible, you should try to book with the same providers to build up your status. This will the open up perks such as free flights, lounge access, free bags, complimentary upgrades, and more.

When evaluating which rewards plans to use, consider the following:

  • Assess how the rewards program works. Some can be a fairly complex and some are simple. Make sure you understand how you can get the most out of it.
  • Choose airlines that have lots of flights from your nearest airports. This will make it easier to ensure you pick the same airline for most flights.
  • Review how easy it is to book free flights. Do they have lots of blackout dates that make it difficult?
  • Review the perks of the airline. Is it worth it and can you accomplish the different status levels with your typical travel?

Load Up Your Phone

When you are on the road your phone is your trusty companion. It will keep you entertained, informed, and connected.

Aside from ensuring it is always charged, we want to ensure it is connected and has the right apps on to make our trip easier.

Choosing a Plan

Be sure to check what your carrier’s travel/roaming rates are. This varies tremendously between carriers and getting this wrong can cost you a fortune.

Where possible, I always recommend that you are able to have roaming and data when you travel. While it is often slow, it can be essential as part of your trip for contacting colleagues/customers, coordinating travel, finding places to eat, learning the local culture and more.

As an example, T-Mobile has phenomenal unlimited international roaming. Ever since they switched this on it has made travel infinitely better and more reassuring.

Be sure to check the parameters of how this works though. As an example, with T-Mobile, for me to have a call with my wife in America it is better if I call her (the rate is much lower) than if she calls me. Be sure to know these specifics so you can make the most out of your service.

Install Essential Apps

Everyone will have different requirements here, but I recommend you install the following types of apps:

  • Itinerary – I love TripIt. It is a simple app you can forward your email itinerary confirmations to and it provides a simple way of viewing them and providing additional information.
  • Airline – be sure to install the apps for the airlines you fly. Often you can check-in with the app as well as use an electronic boarding pass so you don’t have to print your boarding pass at the airport.
  • Carsharing – be sure to get Uber / Lyft and any regional travel apps (e.g. taxi apps for towns that have banned ridesharing).
  • Business discovery – be sure to install Yelp and TripAdvisor which is hugely helpful for finding decent places to eat, fun bars, and more.
  • Translation – I also recommend you install the Google Translate app. It can not just translate text but also translate text in photos and via the camera too.
  • Entertainment – be sure to install the video, music, reading, and games apps you love. This is always handy for evenings when you just want to relax in your hotel room or for the long trips.

So, there we have it. I hope some of these recommendations are helpful.

Travel Tips

Outside of getting prepped for your trip, here are some random tips that might be handy for while you are on your trip:

At the Airport

  • Check in as soon as your flight opens. When you make the booking, add a cell-phone number so you get texted when check-in opens. This will ensure you get a decent seat choice.
  • Before you fly, buy some essentials in case you need them in the air:
    • A few bottles of water.
    • A few snacks (e.g. protein bars).
  • I always like to eat a big meal before a big flight. Plane food is usually not great and they may have run out of the option you want.
  • Explore off-site parking options. Often it can be way cheaper for parking. Also, check for coupons, there are usually decent discounts available online.

On the Plane

  • Wipe down your tray table and arm-rest with a sanitation wipe. This can prevent getting sick while traveling (which is never fun).
  • When you get to your seat, take your headphones, e-book reader, and tissues out of your bag. This means you don’t have to wait for the seat-belt lights to go out before you can grab them.
  • Track your flight time and be sure to hit the restroom around 45 minutes before landing. When they announce the plane is descending there is often a bum rush for the loo.
  • When they offer drinks and they pour you a little cup, ask for the full can. They usually give it to you.

At the Hotel

  • If you wear shirts/blouses, be sure to check if an ironing board and iron is in your room when you arrive. If not, ask for it to be brought up before you go to bed so you are not rushed in the morning.
  • Don’t have an ironing board and have creases in your clothes? Use a hairdryer on your clothes while you wear them. It often gets most of the creases out.
  • When you got to bed, plug everything into charge, including your portable battery pack. This will ensure you are powered up the following day.
  • You can call reception for a wake up call, but always set a wake-up call on your phone/tablet. Too many hotels forget to actually wake you up.
  • As soon as you wake up, switch the shower on and see if there is hot water. Some hotels take a while to warm up and this prevents you getting delayed.
  • Have one of those rooms where you need to enter your room card to keep the lights on? Just put any other card in there (e.g. an old subway pass) and it usually works. 😉

I would love to hear your tips though. What travel secrets have you unlocked? Be sure to let everyone know in the comments…

The post The Bacon Travel Survival Guide appeared first on Jono Bacon.

by Jono Bacon at August 10, 2016 03:00 PM

Akkana Peck

Double Rainbow, with Hummingbirds

A couple of days ago we had a spectacular afternoon double rainbow. I was out planting grama grass seeds, hoping to take take advantage of a rainy week, but I cut the planting short to run up and get my camera.

[Double rainbow]

[Hummingbirds and rainbow] And then after shooting rainbow shots with the fisheye lens, it occurred to me that I could switch to the zoom and take some hummingbird shots with the rainbow in the background. How often do you get a chance to do that? (Not to mention a great excuse not to go back to planting grass seeds.)

(Actually, here, it isn't all that uncommon since we get a lot of afternoon rainbows. But it's the first time I thought of trying it.)

Focus is always chancy when you're standing next to the feeder, waiting for birds to fly by and shooting whatever you can. Next time maybe I'll have time to set up a tripod and remote shutter release. But I was pretty happy with what I got.

Photos: Double rainbow, with hummingbirds.

August 10, 2016 01:40 AM

August 07, 2016

Elizabeth Krumbach

A Gateway, a Synagogue and a Museum in Mumbai

Last Saturday I arrived in India for the first time. A conference was on my schedule, but since this was my first time visiting this country I decided to do some touristing around Mumbai. Unfortunately it’s monsoon season, so it’s been an incredibly soggy trip. I joked that coming from drought-ridden California, I was coming to visit in order to get my rain quota met for the year. Mumbai didn’t disappoint.

This first day my plan was to meet up with my friend Nigel Babu, who I met in the Ubuntu community. Our real life paths first met at an Ubuntu Developer Summit in Budapest, and then again a couple years ago when he came to my home of San Francisco for a conference. It was really nice to finally meet in his home territory. He picked me up at my hotel, and we took a drive over the Bandra–Worli Sea Link, a beautiful bridge that links the hotel where I am staying with south Mumbai. Once over the bridge, we stopped briefly to check out the views of the sea, but the rain drove us back into the car pretty quickly. It was then south to the Marine Drive, or Queen’s Necklace. That’s where I got my rainy day picture taken, before we stopped for some snacks and Masala chai at a nearby hotel cafe.

Our journey continued south, where we first walked to the Knesset Eliyahoo Synagogue, the 2nd oldest in the city. I had been clued into the existence of this synagogue by a friend of mine who had visited a few years before, and the description of the place in my tourist book cemented my desire to go. The whole building is turquoise, and that bright color extends to the inside of the building. It was a quiet day there and we were the only visitors, so they welcomed us inside and allowed some picture taking.

The stained class inside was beautiful, but the damp climate definitely was taking a toll on the building. One of the more interesting things to see in this Sephardic synagogue was a marble slab on the wall near the ark that had the 10 commandments, not in Hebrew or a local language, but in English. They had a little gift shop and I picked up a small Haggadah branded with their location as a keepsake of my visit.

More photos from the synagogue here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157671835673625

From there we walked down to the Gateway of India, where we got an all important selfie.

Visiting there also offered a nice look over at the lovely Taj Mahal hotel (not to be confused with the Taj Mahal in Agra). As a tourist attraction, it was worth seeing, but there’s not much to actually do by the gateway, so we quickly were off to our next stop, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India.

As my first full day in India, it was nice to visit this museum. I like museums, it gave Nigel and I some time to chat, but also gave me a wonderful view into the local culture from a locally curated collection. Most of the museum was casually air conditioned, so walking through the galleries was not challenging, though I did enjoy the select galleries that had strong air conditioning. The galleries had an interesting mix of very old Indian artifacts, statues, weaving, weapons, as well as some paintings, furniture and more from the colonial periods. I enjoyed the relationship between these galleries in a building that itself was from the colonial period.


Ganesha statue at CSMVS

I bought a photo pass, so lots of photos from the museum are here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157668844045884

By this time evening was creeping up and we had dinner plans. We stopped for some hot chocolate and then got exceptionally lost as we looked for the local friends we were meeting for dinner. We did make it eventually, and had a lovely, if late, seafood dinner at Gajalee. The adventurous day, heat and humidity, and jet lag were eating at my appetite, I tried everything but it wasn’t a big meal for me. Good company though, I got to meet Mehul Ved from Ubuntu India for the first time!

The conference then took over most of the rest of my week, but I was able to sneak out to the Taraporewala Aquarium between amidst the rain storms on Friday. The aquarium was redone in 2015, but it still couldn’t really compare to the world class aquariums I’ve grown accustomed to, both in size and cleanliness. I’m pretty sure most tanks in aquariums are cleaned around the clock to keep them looking spiffy. Still, the building is beautiful and I did enjoy seeing a sea turtle and the sea horses.

The entire week was also accented by amazing food, most of which was unnoticeably and unintentionally (for me) vegetarian. Most mornings I began my day with Masala Dosa with Sambar, except for the last when I went with Poori Bhaji, along with watermelon juice and a cup or two of strong coffee. I got some fruit flavored ice cream (jackfruit and watermelon) and the conference introduced me to the near-candy dessert, Jalebi.

Perhaps the crowning meal of my trip was at a vegetarian Thali place (largest picture below), where we were served endless little cups of food, which when accompanied by various flatbreads was a deceptively large amount of food. Given my love for animals, I rely upon cognitive dissonance to keep me a meat eater, since vegetarianism is still a challenge to pull off in the US and have the satisfying diet I want (a salad is not an acceptable vegetarian option). If I were living here and had the array of amazing food that’s vegetarian it would be a no-brainer. The only challenge for me here was the spice, which my stomach is not at all accustom to. Even ordering everything extremely mild, my antacid bottle was never far away, and I might actually go for some bland foods upon returning home.

Saturday I hired a guide through the hotel concierge and saw a whole collection of other places, but that’s for another post. More uncategorized photos from my adventures including ones the following weekend that I haven’t written about yet here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157671033977871/

by pleia2 at August 07, 2016 10:50 AM

SANOG 28

This week I traveled to Mumbai, India to participate in SANOG 28, (South Asian Network Operators Group). This was an unusual conference for me. My husband is the networking guru and he routinely attends NANOG meetings, for the North American group. I even had dinner here at SANOG with a woman who knows him. The closest I’ve gotten to NANOG is tagging along when the conference brings him to interesting of useful place (San Juan, Philadelphia) and doing some dinners with attendees who I know when I happen to be around. Plus, I usually go to open source or systems operations conferences. This was the first time I’d been to a conference focused on networking operations.

So, what brought me to the other side of the world to this uncharacteristic-for-me conference? I was encouraged to submit a proposal to do an OpenStack tutorial, and it was accepted! I’m really grateful to my friend Devdas Bhagat who encouraged me to submit. He has kept me in the loop all week with social activities and generally being around for me as I started interacting with a community that’s so new to me.

As the conference began, I learned that there have been nine SANOGs in India, and that this was the third time they’ve come to Mumbai. SANOG itself covers Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri-Lanka, but given the venue the first speaker spoke on some of the challenges confronting India specifically.

I enjoyed a keynote by Joe Abley of Dyn, where he spoke on treating your technical teams well and making sure you’re doing everything you can to support them in their work and goals. He also mentioned the splitting of technical from managerial tracks. This is becoming increasingly common in the bay area, they learned some time ago that engineering and manager skills are very different and people should be leveling up on their own tracks. It’s a message that I’m glad is being spread more widely, as an engineer myself I can confidently say that I’ll be a happy person if I can continue moving up in my career to conquer more interesting technical problems, and without ever having to manage other people.

Speaking directly to the technical talks we had Paul Wilson, the director of APNIC, give a keynote on the transition of IANA stewardship from the US Government to ICANN. Speaking as an operations person who is aware of the broader internet governance work because that’s where my servers live, I knew this transition had been in the works for several years but I didn’t know much about the actual plans or status. This presentation was the clearest, most concise summary of the plans, progress and status of the work they had been doing, and how close they are to finishing!

The most surprising part about this conference for me was the status of IPv6 in APAC, a view into which was presented by Byron Ellacott of APNIC. I had been under the naive assumption that given the explosive growth of network infrastructure in the regions over the past several years, it would go without saying that these green fields be IPv6 capable. I was wrong. While IPv6 adoption in the US and a few countries in Europe has continued to grow, it remains very low, to non-existent in most APAC regions. At a speaker dinner later in the week I asked about this, and the consensus was a chicken and egg problem. A considerable amount of content is still IPv4, so until that moves to IPv6, providing capability for it doesn’t make sense. As long as adoption remains low (estimated 6.5% worldwide) and IPv4 is still supported, organizations don’t have incentive to offer their content over IPv6. Instead, they’re taking extensive advantage of NAT and keep trying to find ways to get more IPv4 addresses (even if the math is against them). The whole discussion gave me some pause about the push for IPv6. Having a husband in the industry and working on a team that is eager to see strong IPv6 support in our infrastructure, I was an early adopter (I’ve had a AAAA record for this blog for years!). I thought we were all moving in the direction of adoption, but are we really?

The second day began with a talk about the status of Root DNS anycast in South Asia and how that impacts users by Anurag Bhatia of Hurricane Electric. It continued with an update from Champika Wijayatunga if ICANN on the rotation of and changes to ICANN’s Root Zone Keysigning key (KSK) and related Verisign Zonesigning Key (ZKZ), which I didn’t now a lot about but you can by checking out ICANN’s site on the topic. It definitely was surprising to learn that a rotation plan for the KSK wasn’t previously in place and that it’s remained the same since 2010.

These first morning talks concluded with a pair that were amusingly juxtaposed: The first was by Matthew Jackson on how geo-restrictions in New Zealand lead to the development of technologies to get around the limitations and subsequent policy changes. As a native of the US, I’ve only rarely been impacted by region-blocking, but it has always been troublesome to me. As he said in his talk: “The internet we built wasn’t meant to be geo-restricted.” Indeed. The talk that came after it was about ISP/network-level content filtering technologies. Hah!

As the day wound down, so did the conference. The closing event was held at the nearby Mumbai Cricket Association Indoor Cricket Academy and Recreation Center. It’s the off-season, so no Cricket was happening and the field was dark, but the inside of the building was beautiful. Though I’m not much of a party type, it was nice to meet a few folks and have some snacks before concluding my evening.


Hanging out with Devdas at the closing party!

The week continued with tutorials. On Thursday I presented mine: An Introduction to OpenStack. When my presentation was being evaluated by the committee in early July, I worked with them to tune the description to make an allowance for familiarity with Linux. Following acceptance, they strategically scheduled my tutorial the day after an Introduction to Linux hosted by Devdas.

As I wrote about in this interview, the tutorial was divided up into three parts:

  1. Introduction to some OpenStack deployments
  2. Demonstration
  3. Building your own cloud

Since the audience was very networking focused (less open source, systems), what I sought to communicate was the basic concepts around OpenStack and some of the services it could provide. Then, by giving a demonstration of using different components through a DevStack install, give people a practical view into launching instances, adding block storage, metering and object storage. The talk concluded by doing a section very similar to my CodeConf talk back in June, where I explored the next steps as they begin their journey into OpenStack territory.

The tutorial was 90 minutes long, and I had a few very engaged members of the audience. Afterwards I was able to talk to a couple of folks who previously had trouble separating all the Open* named projects, and were glad to learn more about OpenStack so at least that one stood out. My publisher also gave me some coupons for the digital version of Common OpenStack Deployments so I was able to give those out to three participants, and pre-order discounts for the rest of the audience.

Slides from the here, which include a link out to the DevStack demonstration instructions: sanog_2016_intro_to_openstack.pdf

I think what I enjoyed most about this conference was simply being exposed to a new community, it was a real plasure to be able to sit down at dinner with some of the brilliant people solving problems with these expanding networks. Beyond our discussions about the expansion of (or lack of) IPv6, I was able to chat with a DNS engineer at RIPE about infrastructure they use for the root server they run. I was specifically interested in how much organizational sharing happens between operators of the root DNS servers. His answer? Very little, intentionally. As a champion of open source infrastructures, it took some time for me to come around, but I conceded that in this it does make sense. By using different tooling and methodologies, the heart of the internet is kept safe against inevitable vulnerabilities that arise in one tool or another.

Huge thanks to the organizers of this conference and everyone who made me feel so welcome during my first visit to India. These past few nights I’ve had some great food and very friendly company of some great people from organizations whose work I admire.

More photos from the event here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157671053188251

by pleia2 at August 07, 2016 06:36 AM

August 06, 2016

Akkana Peck

Adding a Back button in Python Webkit-GTK

I have a little browser script in Python, called quickbrowse, based on Python-Webkit-GTK. I use it for things like quickly calling up an anonymous window with full javascript and cookies, for when I hit a page that doesn't work with Firefox and privacy blocking; and as a quick solution for calling up HTML conversions of doc and pdf email attachments.

Python-webkit comes with a simple browser as an example -- on Debian it's installed in /usr/share/doc/python-webkit/examples/browser.py. But it's very minimal, and lacks important basic features like command-line arguments. One of those basic features I've been meaning to add is Back and Forward buttons.

Should be easy, right? Of course webkit has a go_back() method, so I just have to add a button and call that, right? Ha. It turned out to be a lot more difficult than I expected, and although I found a fair number of pages asking about it, I didn't find many working examples. So here's how to do it.

Add a toolbar button

In the WebToolbar class (derived from gtk.Toolbar): In __init__(), after initializing the parent class and before creating the location text entry (assuming you want your buttons left of the location bar), create the two buttons:

        backButton = gtk.ToolButton(gtk.STOCK_GO_BACK)
        backButton.connect("clicked", self.back_cb)
        self.insert(backButton, -1)
        backButton.show()

        forwardButton = gtk.ToolButton(gtk.STOCK_GO_FORWARD)
        forwardButton.connect("clicked", self.forward_cb)
        self.insert(forwardButton, -1)
        forwardButton.show()

Now create those callbacks you just referenced:

   def back_cb(self, w):
        self.emit("go-back-requested")

    def forward_cb(self, w):
        self.emit("go-forward-requested")

That's right, you can't just call go_back on the web view, because GtkToolbar doesn't know anything about the window containing it. All it can do is pass signals up the chain.

But wait -- it can't even pass signals unless you define them. There's a __gsignals__ object defined at the beginning of the class that needs all its signals spelled out. In this case, what you need is

       "go-back-requested": (gobject.SIGNAL_RUN_FIRST,
                              gobject.TYPE_NONE, ()),
       "go-forward-requested": (gobject.SIGNAL_RUN_FIRST,
                              gobject.TYPE_NONE, ()),
Now these signals will bubble up to the window containing the toolbar.

Handle the signals in the containing window

So now you have to handle those signals in the window. In WebBrowserWindow (derived from gtk.Window), in __init__ after creating the toolbar:

        toolbar.connect("go-back-requested", self.go_back_requested_cb,
                        self.content_tabs)
        toolbar.connect("go-forward-requested", self.go_forward_requested_cb,
                        self.content_tabs)

And then of course you have to define those callbacks:

def go_back_requested_cb (self, widget, content_pane):
    # Oops! What goes here?
def go_forward_requested_cb (self, widget, content_pane):
    # Oops! What goes here?

But whoops! What do we put there? It turns out that WebBrowserWindow has no better idea than WebToolbar did of where its content is or how to tell it to go back or forward. What it does have is a ContentPane (derived from gtk.Notebook), which is basically just a container with no exposed methods that have anything to do with web browsing.

Get the BrowserView for the current tab

Fortunately we can fix that. In ContentPane, you can get the current page (meaning the current browser tab, in this case); and each page has a child, which turns out to be a BrowserView. So you can add this function to ContentPane to help other classes get the current BrowserView:

    def current_view(self):
        return self.get_nth_page(self.get_current_page()).get_child()

And now, using that, we can define those callbacks in WebBrowserWindow:

def go_back_requested_cb (self, widget, content_pane):
    content_pane.current_view().go_back()
def go_forward_requested_cb (self, widget, content_pane):
    content_pane.current_view().go_forward()

Whew! That's a lot of steps for something I thought was going to be just adding two buttons and two callbacks.

August 06, 2016 10:45 PM

August 02, 2016

Elizabeth Krumbach

Ubuntu 16.04 Release Party San Francisco Concluded!

On the evening of Thursday, July 28th I hosted the Ubuntu 16.04 Release Party in San Francisco. It was a couple months after release, but nicely lined up with the 16.04.1 release, where folks running 14.04 would finally be prompted to upgrade to 16.04. It also ended up being just a week after the release of the 9th edition of The Official Ubuntu Book, so I was able to give away a couple of copies during the party!

The evening was hosted by OpenDNS, who were incredibly welcoming and gracious hosts. Thanks so much, Jennifer Basalone and crew!

The space was excellent, having power strips set up at a pair of tables near the entrance, a whole area of seating for the presentation and an open floor plan that lent itself to casual chats as well as pulling out laptops to swap tips with each other. An Ubuntu Studio install was even started during the event. We did have the unfortunate snafu of a baseball game just down the street messing up nearby traffic a bit, but hopefully that didn’t discourage too many attendees, as public transit to the venue was still pretty easy.

The venue provided drinks and I was able to order salad and a pile of pizzas to make sure everyone was well fed throughout the event.

Like with my past presentations at LUGs in June and July, I brought along my underpowered Lenovo G575, which I had Ubuntu 16.04 running on and my Dell Mini 9 with Xubuntu 16.04. Plus I had my pair of tablets, Nexus 7 and Aquaris M10 with the hot-off-the-download OTA-12.

The tablets definitely got the most attention at this event, and showing off desktop mode (convergence!) by connecting my Lenovo keyboard+mouse combo to the Aquaris M10 was a lot of fun.

I did my release presentation a final time at this event, this time updated with OTA-12 notes. Slides available: sf_release_party_ubuntu_1604.pdf (6.0M), sf_release_party_ubuntu_1604.odp (5.4M), please feel free to use them as you see fit.

A few more photos from the event here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157671609240786

by pleia2 at August 02, 2016 03:06 AM

August 01, 2016

Jono Bacon

10 Lessons Learned in Training Knowledge Workers

Earlier this week, @naval (CEO and co-founder of AngelList) asked a question on Twitter:

Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 11.38.04 AM

At the heart of his question is an interesting observation. As automation and artificial intelligence replaces manual jobs, how do we retrain people in the new knowledge economy where information handling and management is in high demand?

I thought I would share some experiences, observations, and recommendations based upon when I did this previously in my career.

OpenAdvantage

Back in 2004 I was peddling my wares as a journalist, writing for the tech press. I was living in the West Midlands in England and heard about a new organization in nearby Birmingham called OpenAdvantage.

The premise was neat: open source was becoming a powerful force in technology and OpenAdvantage was set up to provide free consultancy for companies wanting to harness open source, as well as individuals who wanted to upskill in these new technologies. At the time in the West Midlands lots of industry was being automated and moved out to Asia, so lots of Midlanders were out of jobs and looking to retrain. This required, by definition, retaining the workforce as knowledge workers.

uceopenadvantbigimage1

OpenAdvantage was funded by the UK government and the University of Central England, had a decent war chest, and was founded by Scott Thompon and Paul Cooper (the latter of which I met when he heckled me at a talk I gave at a Linux User Group once. 🙂 )

So, I went along to their launch event and wrote a piece about them. Shortly after, Paul and Scott invited me back over to the office and offered me a job there as an open source consultant.

I took the role, and this is where I cut my teeth on a lot of open source, community, and working with businesses. We had crazy targets to hit each month, so we ended up working with and training hundreds of organizations and individuals across a wide range of areas, and covering a wide berth of open source technology and approaches.

All of our services were entirely free IF the person or organization was based in the West Midlands (as this is the area our funding was supporting.)

Training Knowledge Workers

So, what lessons did we learn from this work that can be applied to Naval’s question? I have 10 primary recommendations for training new knowledge workers…

1. Understand your audience and their diversity

Many people who are being retrained will come from varying backgrounds and have different levels of experience, goals, insecurities, and ambitions. As an example, some people may not possess the foundational computing skills required for the topic you are training, yet others will. Also, there may be different concerns about connectivity, social media, and networking based on how much your audience have been exposed to technology.

Be sure to understand your audience and craft your training to their comprehensive set of needs. A good way to do this is to survey your audience before they join. Then you can tune your training effectively.

2. Teach skills that have clear market value

When someone needs to change careers, their top concern is usually supporting their family and bringing financial security to the home. They will only consider skills that have clear market value. So, be aware of what the market needs and train based on those skills. The market is ever changing, and thus are the requirements, so adapt your program to these needs.

So, even though you may love Haskell, if the market is demanding Ruby developers, teach Ruby. Sure, you may love SugarCRM, but if the market demands Salesforce, do the same. One caveat here though is always keeping an eye on new trends so you can provide training on technologies and services as they ripen so you can equip your audience for the very best and most timely opportunities.

3. Tie the training to direct market benefits

Aside from market value, you also want to ensure your audience understands the potential of acquiring those skills before they embark on the training. Benefits such as job security, good salaries, health/insurance benefits, and more can be a useful forcing function that will get them through the training.

Also be sure to train a mixture of vocational skills (e.g. technologies) as well as best practice, methodologies, and approaches for being successful in the workplace. This could include topics such as project management, leadership skills, time management, and more.

4. Provide training at zero (or very low) cost

One of the major benefits of our work at OpenAdvantage was that we provided free services. This made it a no-brainer for many people to consume these services.

You should also try to engineer a situation where your training is also a no-brainer and the cost is free or as close to free as possible. If you charge a high sticker value for the training, many people may not be able to justify or afford it.

A good way to offset costs is with partnerships and sponsorships. Explore different vendors to see if they can sponsor the training, talk to local chambers and charities to see if they can help, and see if local businesses can provide venues, equipment, and other resources to keep the costs low and your training as accessible as possible to your audience.

5. Build in clear intrinsic/extrinsic rewards

For the training to really succeed, the audience needs to gain both intrinsic rewards (such as better capabilities, confidence, digital literacy etc) and extrinsic rewards (material items such as t-shirts, trophies, mugs etc).

Focus on the intrinsic rewards first: they are the confidence and opportunity boosting benefits that will get them over the hump to changing careers and succeeding in their new profession.

The extrinsic rewards can be a boon here though, but where possible, ensure they are useful in their career development. Items such as notepads/pens, USB sticks, books, training materials, and other items are good examples that can support your audience and make them feel rewarded. Avoid gimmicks or tat that doesn’t play a functional benefit as a knowledge worker.

6. Teach by doing, not just by presenting

Having someone sit down in front of a day of presentations is boring. Instead, present short bursts of core skills, but get your audience doing stuff, talking, and working together. Have them execute tasks, experiment, and play. This is what seals the skills in.

My favorite approach here is to teach multiple short presentations (15 minutes or less) and then provide a “challenge” or “task” for them to complete to exercise these new skills, explore, and experiment.

This is important not just for skills development but it also encourages your audience to talk to each other in the session, collaborate, solving problems together, and build relationships.

7. Provide follow up service and connections

It is tempting to assume that when that exhausting day of training is over, you are done. Not at all.

Always follow up with your audience to see how they are doing, introduce them to local communities, show them useful tools, introduce them to other people they may find helpful, connect them to organizations looking for staff and more.

Retraining people is not just about soaking up knowledge it is about bridging the gap to new industries and the people within them. These additional recommendations, connections, and introductions can often be one of the most empowering parts of the overall experience.

8. Teach them how to teach themselves

One of the major challenges with education is that it often teaches skills in a vacuum. Sadly, this just isn’t how the world works.

The most capable and successful people in the world develop the abilities to (a) always learn and grow new skills, (b) always be willing to challenge themselves and their assumptions, and (c) be willing to experiment and try new things. This is a lifelong process, but you should help your audience to learn how to teach themselves and expand their skills.

For example, teach them how to research problems online, how to find support forums and groups, ask meaningful questions, and how to experiment, debug issues, and solve problems. These are critical skills for knowledge workers to be successful.

9. Teach streetsmarts

Another element that is often sadly lacking in traditional education are streetsmarts such as modern trends, memes, and methods of engaging in technology and beyond.

Teach your audience some of these streetsmarts. Examples of this could include the do’s and dont’s of online communication, how to deal with trolls/critics, trending technologies and cultures, how to be successful in an internationally diverse world, and other areas. Again, this will reinforce their capabilities beyond the skills they need to do a job.

10. Build their confidence

One of the most notable things I remembered from my OpenAdvantage days (and have seen since then) is that a lot of people who are transitioning into the knowledge economy feel overwhelmed by the task. They often feel there are too many tools, too many things to learn, that they will never figure it out, and sometimes that they are too old to get started.

This is insecurity, and it can be conquered. The vast majority of people can traverse the challenge and do well, but they need confidence in themselves to get over the bumps in the road and that feeling of being overwhelmed.

Give them that confidence. Help them to understand that this is just technology, and it often looks harder than it really is. Help them to see their potential, what benefits this will open up for them, and how much bigger the market opportunity will be for them. Remind them of the abundance of choices that will open up to them, the confidence it will give them, and how their social and professional networks will grow. Remind them of the good they are doing for their family and the brighter future they will be building.


So, there we have it. I hope some of these learnings are useful to those of you doing this work, and I hope this provided some food for thought for Naval’s question on Twitter.

I would love to hear your thoughts too. What other ideas and methods can we use to make it easier to retrain people as knowledge workers? Which of my points can be expanded or improved? What are your stories from the trenches? Let us know in the squarkbox…

The post 10 Lessons Learned in Training Knowledge Workers appeared first on Jono Bacon.

by Jono Bacon at August 01, 2016 03:00 PM

July 30, 2016

kdub

ATTiny85 PWM from Timer/Counter1

 

I’ve been tinkering with the ATTiny chip a bit lately, and I wanted to hook up of my stepper motors to it. This chip has 2 timers, and a few pins that can output PWM signals.

I had OC1B on PB4/pin3 free, and the Timer/Counter1 module looked a bit better than the Timer/Counter0 module for the relatively-long pulse needed to control the stepper motor.

First thing to figure out is what I wanted the PWM signal to look like. Stepper motors care more about the pulse length than the frequency. My motor accepted 700-1500us as the control range, so I decided to go with a 4000us period (250Hz).

The way that the Timer/Counter1 module works is it will increase its count from 0 to a certain register value (OCR1C), and then reset to zero. In PWM mode, the OC1B pin is cleared when the counter hits a certain value (OCR1B), and set when the counter is 0. So, if you control OCR1C, you can control the the period, and by controlling OCR1B, you can control the pulse width. I decided to use the full width of the counting (8 bits), so OCR1C would be set to 0xFF.

Next I had to figure out how quickly the counter would be incrementing. This is selected via the system clock rate, and the prescaler on the timer. I needed the 16Mhz PLL clock on the chip (CLKSEL=0x0001), so that was fit. I selected 256 as the prescaler value so that:

16Mhz / 256 (prescalar) / 256 (OCR1C) = ~4ms.

Time to write some code!

//fuses: L: 0xE1 H: 0xDD E: 0xff
#define F_CPU 16500000
#include <avr/io.h>
#include <util/delay.h>
void main()
{
    //Set Pin3/PB4 to output
    DDRB = 1 << DDB4;
   
    //approximately a 700us pulse
    OCR1B = 0x2D;
    OCR1C = 0xFF;

    TCCR1 = 1 << CTC1 | //clear on match with OCR1C
            9 << CS10;  //set prescaling to clk/256
    GTCCR = 1 << PWM1B | //enable PWM mode on OC1B
            2 << COM1B0; //clear OC1B when we hit OCR1B
  
    for (;;)
        _delay_ms(100);
}

 

Now that that was written, hooked up a simple circuit, and hooked my logic analyzer to a resistor on the output pin to verify the output:

pwm-test

The logic analyzer showed:

pwm-screenshot

Success! A 4ms period with a 700us pulse width. I could now drive my stepper motor, and by changing OCR1B, I could designate which position the motor was in.

 

by kdub at July 30, 2016 09:14 AM

July 28, 2016

iheartubuntu

How to Run Android Apps Easily on Ubuntu For The First Time


There have been several instances where it would be more comfortable to run an Android app on my computer than to use my smart phone. I have tried running Android in a VirtualBox and it does work, however, Android is its own OS that you still need to boot into. But what if you could run an Android APK directly in Ubuntu? Well.... you can!*

Google released a Chrome app named ARC Welder, which allows you to run Android apps if you’re on the Chrome OS or using the Chrome web browser. Grab the ARC Welder Chrome app here (200MB)...

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/arc-welder/emfinbmielocnlhgmfkkmkngdoccbadn

Just open the link in Google Chrome or search for ARC Welder in the Chrome app store and install it.

Installing Android apps take a little bit of extra steps, but not a big deal. First, find the Android app you want in the Google Play Store...

https://play.google.com/store/apps

Copy the weblink of the app and paste it in the APK-DL website...

http://apk-dl.com/

This will generate an APK download link for the app. Once you have downloaded an APK file, open the ARC Welder app in your Chrome browser (thru the browser apps link). The first time you run ARC Welder it will ask you where to store files for the apps. Create a folder wherever you like before installing an APK. I created a folder in my HOME directory. Once you do that, simply add your APK file now.


You'll also be asked about the size of your app such as tablet or phone, landscape or portrait. Put them to your liking and then install!


* Here is the caveat. Not ALL Android apps are going to work. Some do, some dont. There’s no guarantee the apps you try will work or that they’ll be usable.

I originally did this so I can run an investment app called "Robinhood" (pictured at the top of this post) to buy and sell stocks without paying any commission fees. The app is nice, but its much easier to use it on a desktop computer. Other apps I have tried that work are basic programs like "Bitcoin Checker" and "Coin Pirates" and "Backgammon Free". Programs that require heavy graphics like car racing games probably wont work. Hulu DID work for me, Netflix did NOT. Your mileage may very. Have fun and Good Luck!




by iheartubuntu (noreply@blogger.com) at July 28, 2016 01:33 AM

July 27, 2016

Jono Bacon

Bacon Roundup

In my work I tend to create a lot of material both on my website here as well as on other websites (for example, my opensource.com column and my Forbes column. I also participate in interviews and other pieces.

I couldn’t think of an efficient way to pull these together for you folks to check out. So, I figured I will periodically share these goings on in a post. Let’s get this first Bacon Roundup rolling…

How hackers are making products safer (cio.com)
An interview about the work I am doing at HackerOne in building a global community of hackers that are incentivized to find security issues, build their expertise/skills, and earn some money.

8 ways to get your swag on (opensource.com)
A column about the challenges that face shipping swag out to community members. Here are 8 things I have learned to make this easier covering production, shipping, and more.

10 tips for new GitHub projects (opensource.com)
Kicking off a new GitHub project can be tough for new communities. I wrote this piece to provide 10 simple tips and tricks to ensure your new GitHub project is setting off on the right path.

The Risks of Over-Rewarding Communities (jonobacon.org)
A piece about some interesting research into the risks of over-rewarding people to the point of it impacting their performance. This covers the research, the implications for communities, and some practical ways to harness this in your community/organization.

GC On-Demand Podcast Interview (http://podcast.discoposse.com/)
I had a blast chatting to Eric Wright about community management, career development, traversing challenges, and constantly evolving and improving your craft. A fun discussion and I think a fun listen too.

Taking your GitHub issues from good to great (zenhub.com)
I was invited by my friends at ZenHub to participate in a piece about doing GitHub issues right. They wrote the lions-share of this piece but I contributed some material.

Finally, if you want to get my blog posts directly to your inbox, simple put your email address into the box to the right of this post. This will ensure you never miss a beat.

The post Bacon Roundup appeared first on Jono Bacon.

by Jono Bacon at July 27, 2016 03:00 PM

July 26, 2016

Jono Bacon

The Risks of Over-Rewarding Communities

Incentive plays an important role in communities. We see it everywhere: community members are rewarded with extrinsic rewards such as t-shirts, stickers, gadgets, or other material, or intrinsic rewards such as increased responsibilities, kudos, reputation, or other benefits.

too_many_T-shirts_2

The logic seems seems sound: if someone is the bees knees and doing a great job, they deserve to be rewarded. People like rewards, and rewards make people want to stick around and contribute more. What’s not to love?

There is though some interesting evidence to suggest that over-rewarding your communities, either internal to an organization or external, has some potent risks. Let’s explore the evidence and then see how we can harness it.

The Research

Back in 1908, Yerkes-Dodson, psychologists (and potential prog rock band) developed the Yerkes-Dodson Law. It suggests performance in a task increases with arousal, but only to a point. Now, before you get too hot under the collar, this study refers to mental or physiological arousal such as motivation. The study highlights a “peak arousal” time which is the ideal mix of the right amount of arousal to hit maximal performance.

Dan Ariely in The Upside of Irrationality took this research and built on it to test the effect of extrinsic rewards on performance. He asked a series of people in India to perform tasks with varying levels of financial reward (very small up to very high). His results were interesting:

Relative to those in the low- or medium-bonus conditions, they achieved good or very good performance less than a third of the time. The experience was so stressful to those in the very-large-bonus condition that they choked under the pressure.

I found this choke point insight interesting. We often see an inverse choke point when the stress of joining a community is too high (e.g. submitting a first code pull request to your peers). Do we see choke points for communities members with a high level of pressure to perform though?

Community Strategy Implications

I am not so sure. Many communities have high performing community members with high levels of responsibility (e.g. release managers, security teams, and core maintainers) who perform with predictably high quality results.

Where we often see the ugly head of community is with entitlement; that is, when some community members expect to be treated differently to others.

When I think back to the cases where I have seen examples of this entitlement (which shall remain anonymous to protect the innocent) it has invariably been due to an imbalance of expectations and rewards. In other words, when their expectations don’t match their level of influence on a community and/or they feel rewarded beyond that suitable level of influence, entitlement tends to brew.

As as such, my graph looks a little like this:

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 8.42.49 AM

This shows the Yerkes-Dodson curve but subdivides the timeline into three distinctive areas. The first area is used for growth and we use rewards as a means to encourage participation. The middle area is for maintenance and ensuring regular contribution over an extended period of time. The final area is the danger zone – this is where entitlement can set in, so we want to ensure that manage expectations and rewards carefully. In this end zone we want to reward great work, but ultimately cap the size of the reward – lavish gifts and experiences are probably not going to have as much impact and may even risk the dreaded entitlement phenomena.

This narrative matches a hunch I have had for a while that rewards have a direct line to expectations. If we can map our rewards to effectively mitigate the inverse choke point for new members (thus make it easier to get involved) and reduce the latter choke point (thus reduce entitlement), we will have a balanced community.

Things You Can Do

So, dear reader, this is where I give you some homework you can do to harness this research:

  1. Design what a ‘good’ contribution is – before you can reward people well you need to decide what a good contribution is. As an example, is a good code contribution a well formed, submitted, reviewed, and merged pull request? Decide what it is and write it down.
  2. Create a platform for effectively tracking capabilities – while you can always throw out rewards willy-nilly based on observations of performance, this risks accusations of rewarding some but not others. As such, implement an independent way of mapping this good contribution to some kind of automatically generated numeric representation (e.g. reputation/karma).
  3. Front-load intrinsic rewards – for new contributors in the growth stage, intrinsic rewards (such as respect, support, and mentoring) are more meaningful as these new members are often nervous about getting started. You want these intrinsic rewards primarily at the beginning of a new contributor on-ramp – it will build a personal sense of community with them.
  4. Carefully distribute extrinsic rewards – extrinsic rewards such as clothing, gadgets, and money should be carefully distributed along the curve in the graph above. In other words, give out great material, but don’t make it too opulent otherwise you may face the latter choke point.
  5. Create a distribution curve of expectations – in the same way we are mapping rewards to the above graph, we should do the same with expectations. At different points in the community lifecycle we need to provide different levels of expectations and information (e.g. limited scope for new contributions, much wider for regular participants). Map this out and design systems for delivering it.

If we can be mindful of the Yerkes-Dodson curve and balance expectations and rewards well, we have the ability to build truly engaging and incentivized communities and organizations.

I would love to have a discussion about this in the comments. Do you think this makes sense? What am I missing in my thinking here? What are great examples of effective rewards? How have you reduced entitlement? Share your thoughts…

The post The Risks of Over-Rewarding Communities appeared first on Jono Bacon.

by Jono Bacon at July 26, 2016 04:04 PM

July 25, 2016

Elizabeth Krumbach

The Official Ubuntu Book, 9th Edition released!

Back in 2014 I had the opportunity to lend my expertise to the 8th edition of The Official Ubuntu Book and began my path into authorship. Since then, I’ve completed the first edition of Common OpenStack Deployments, coming out in September. I was thrilled this year when Matthew Helmke invited me back to work on the 9th edition of The Official Ubuntu Book. We also had José Antonio Rey joining us for this edition as a third co-author.

One of the things we focused on with the 8th edition was, knowing that it would have a shelf life of 2 years, future-proofing. With the 9th edition we continued this focus, but also wanted to add a whole new chapter: Ubuntu, Convergence, and Devices of the Future

Taking a snippet from the book’s sample content, the chapter gives a whirlwind tour of where Ubuntu on desktops, servers and devices is going:

Chapter 10: Ubuntu, Convergence, and Devices of the Future 261

The Convergence Vision 262
Unity 263
Ubuntu Devices 264
The Internet of Things and Beyond 268
The Future of the Ubuntu Desktop 272
Summary 273

The biggest challenge with this chapter was the future-proofing. We’re in an exciting point in the world of Ubuntu and how it’s moved far beyond “Linux for Human Beings” on the desktop and into powering servers, tablets, robots and even refrigerators. With the Snappy and Ubuntu Core technologies both powering much of this progress and changing rapidly, we had to be cautious about how in depth we covered this tooling. With the help of Michael Hall, Nathan Haines and Sergio Schvezov I believe we’ve succeeded in presenting a chapter that gives the reader a firm overview of these new technologies, while being general enough to last us until the 10th edition of this book.

Also thanks to Thomas Mashos of the Mythbuntu team and Paul Mellors who also pitched in with this edition. Finally, as with the last edition, it was a pleasure to work with Matthew and José on this book. I hope you enjoy it!

by pleia2 at July 25, 2016 08:27 PM

Jono Bacon

Audio Interview: On Building Communities, Careers, and Traversing Challenges

GCOD-Header-Tall

Last week I was interviewed by the wonderful Eric Wright for the GC On-Demand Podcast.

Over the years I have participated in various interviews, and this was a particularly fun, meaty, and meaningful discussion. I think this could be worth a listen, particularly if you are interested in community growth, but also leadership and facing and traversing challenges.

Some of the topics we discussed included:

  • How I got into this business.
  • What great communities look like and how to build them.
  • How to keep communities personal, particularly when dealing with scale.
  • Managing the expectations of different parts of an organization.
  • My 1/10/100 rule for mentoring and growing your community.
  • How to evolve and grow the skills of your community members and teams in a productive way.
  • My experiences working at Canonical, GitHub and XPRIZE.
  • Increasing retention and participation in a community.
  • Building effective leadership and leading by example.
  • Balancing open source consumption and contribution.
  • My recommended reading list.
  • Lots of fun anecdotes and stories.

So, go and grab a cup of coffee, and use the handy player below to listen to the show:

You can also find the show here.

Eric is a great guy and has a great podcast. I encourage you to check out his website and subscribe to the podcast feed to stay up to date with future episodes.

The post Audio Interview: On Building Communities, Careers, and Traversing Challenges appeared first on Jono Bacon.

by Jono Bacon at July 25, 2016 03:00 PM

July 22, 2016

Elizabeth Krumbach

Ubuntu 16.04 in the SF Bay Area

Back in June I gave a presentation on the 16.04 release down at FeltonLUG, which I wrote about here.

Making my way closer to home, I continued my tour of Ubuntu 16.04 talks in the San Francisco Bay Area. A couple weeks ago I gave the talk at SVLUG (Silicon Valley Linux Users Group) and on Tuesday I spoke at BALUG (Bay Area Linux Users Group).

I hadn’t been down to an SVLUG meeting in a couple years, so I appreciated the invitation. They have a great space set up for presentations, and the crowd was very friendly. I particularly enjoyed that folks came with a lot of questions, which meant we had an engaging evening and it stretched what is alone a pretty short talk into one that filled the whole presentation time. Slides: svlug_ubuntu_1604.pdf (6.0M), svlug_ubuntu_1604.odp (5.4M)


Presentation, tablets and giveaways at SVLUG

At BALUG this week things were considerably more casual. The venue is a projector-less Chinese restaurant these days and the meetings tend to be on the small side. After family style dinner, attendees gathered around my big laptop running Ubuntu as I walked through my slide deck. It worked better than expected, and the format definitely lent itself to people asking questions and having discussions throughout too. Very similar slides to the ones I had at SVLUG: balug_ubuntu_1604.pdf (6.0M), balug_ubuntu_1604.odp (5.4M)


Setup and giveaways at BALUG

Next week my Ubuntu 16.04 talk adventures culminate in the event I’m most excited about, the San Francisco Ubuntu 16.04 release party at OpenDNS office located at 135 Bluxome St in San Francisco!

The event is on Thursday, July 28th from 6:30 – 8:30PM.

It’s right near the Caltrain station, so where ever you are in the bay it should be easy to get to.

  • Laptops running Ubuntu and Xubuntu 16.04.
  • Tablets running the latest Ubuntu build, including the bq Aquaris M10 that shipped with Ubuntu and demonstrates convergence.
  • Giveaways, including the 9th edition of the Official Ubuntu book (new release!), pens, stickers and more.

I’ll need to plan for food, so I need folks to RSVP. There are a few options for RSVP:

Need more convincing? It’ll be fun! And I’m a volunteer whose systems engineering job is unrelated to the Ubuntu project. In order to continue putting the work into hosting these events, I need the satisfaction of having people come.

Finally, event packs from Canonical are now being shipped out to LoCos! It’s noteworthy that for this release instead of shipping DVDs, which have been in sharp popularity decline over the past couple of years, they are now shipping USB sticks. These are really nice, but the distribution is limited to just 25 USB sticks in the shipment for the team. This is an order of magnitude fewer than we got with DVDs, but they’re also much more expensive.


Event pack from Canonical

Not in the San Francisco Bay Area? If you feel inspired to give an Ubuntu 16.04 presentation, you’re welcome to use my slides, and I’d love to see pictures from your event!

by pleia2 at July 22, 2016 12:17 AM

July 21, 2016

Jono Bacon

Hack The World

hacktheworld-logo

As some of you will know, recently I have been consulting with HackerOne.

I just wanted to share a new competition we launched yesterday called Hack The World. I think it could be interesting to those of you already hacking, but also those of you interested in learning to hack.

The idea is simple. HackerOne provides a platform where you can go and hack on popular products/services (e.g. Uber, Adobe, GitHub, Square, Slack, Dropbox, GM, Twitter, Yahoo!, and many more) and submit vulnerability reports. This is awesome for hackers as they can safely hack on products/services, try out new hacking approaches/tools, build relationships with security teams, build a resume of experience, and earn some cold hard cash.

Currently HackerOne has 550+ customers, has paid over $8.9 million in bounties, and fixed over 25,000 vulnerabilities, which makes for a safer Internet.

Hack The World

Hack The World is a competition that runs from 20th July 2016 – 19th September 2016. In that time period we are encouraging people to hack programs on HackerOne and submit vulnerability reports.

When you a submit a vulnerability report that is valid, the program may award you a bounty payment (many people all over the world earn significant buckets of money from bounties). In addition, you will be rewarded reputation and signal. Reputation is an indicator of active activity and participation, and signal is the average reputation in your reports.

Put simply, whoever earns the most reputation in the competition can win some awesome prizes including $1337 in cash, a hackable FPV drone kit, awesome limited edition swag, and bragging rights as being one of the most talented hackers in the world.

To ensure the competition is fair for everyone, we have two brackets – one for experienced hackers and one for new hackers. There will be 1st, 2nd, and runner up prizes in each bracket. This means you folks new at hacking have a fighting chance to win!

Joining in the fun

Getting started is simple. Just go and register an account or sign in if you already have an account.

To get you started, we are providing a free copy of Peter Yaworski’s awesome Web Hacking 101 book. Ensure you are logged in and then go here to grab the book. It will then be emailed to you.

Now go and and find a program, start hacking, learn how to write a great report, and submit reports.

When your reports are reviewed by the security teams in the programs you are hacking on the reputation will be awarded. You will then start appearing on the Hack The World Leaderboard which at the time of writing looks a little like this:

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 9.48.03 PM

This data is almost certainly out of date as you read this, so go and see the leaderboard here!

So that’s the basic idea. You can read all the details about Hack The World by clicking here.

Hack The World is a great opportunity to hack safely, explore new hacking methods/tools, make the Internet safer, earn some money, and potentially be crowned as a truly l33t hacker. Go hack and prosper, people!

The post Hack The World appeared first on Jono Bacon.

by Jono Bacon at July 21, 2016 03:00 PM

July 18, 2016

Elizabeth Krumbach

CodeConf 2016

In the last week of June I had the pleasure of attending CodeConf in sunny Hollywood, Los Angeles. As I wrote in my tourist account of this trip, it was my first visit to Hollywood.

The event commenced on Monday, when they had a series of tutorials and I took the opportunity to pick up my badge and get acquainted with the event staff. In the early evening I went to the venue, AVALON Hollywood to complete my A/V check. My laptop is restricted to display port and VGA and I think they mostly expected Macs, so I had a pile of adapters at my side to figure out which would work best. That’s when I got my first glimpse of the historic venue that the conference was hosted in, it was a beautiful space for a single track conference. Also, there was a really nice ceiling piece.


Performer-eye view of the stage at Avalon Hollywood

That evening I met up with the organizers and my fellow speakers at the EP Lounge. I really enjoyed this gathering, it was small enough that I felt comfortable, everyone was super friendly and eager to include shy, introverted me in their conversations and I met a whole slew of brilliant people. That’s also where they presented speakers with our speaker gift, CodeConf Vans SHOES! I’m still breaking them in, but they fit really well.

Tuesday kicked off the post-tutorials conference. Breakfast was provided via a series of food trucks in an adjacent lot. In spite of the heat, it was a great setup.

Conference-wise, I can’t possibly cover all the talks, but there were several which were notable in that I learned something new or was somehow inspired. Michael Bernstein got us started with a talk about “The Perfect Programming Language” where he told a story about an old notebook that outlined the key features of “the perfect programming language” but taught us that perfect goes beyond the code. Not only does the perfect programming language not exist, it’s also about things that are less glamorous than language mechanics, like documentation, testing, packaging and practical adoption. The perfect programming language, he posits, is the one you’re using now. He also implored the audience to rise above language wars and to instead appreciate the strengths of other languages and adopt from them what they do right.

Mid-day I had the pleasure of listening to E. Dunham talk about the community processes in the Rust community. What I particularly loved about her talk was that she addressed both how the social components of the community and the technical ones create a better atmosphere for contributors. The social components included having a high expectations for the behavior of your community members (including a Code of Conduct), providing simple methods of communications for all contributors and being culturally supportive of showing appreciation for contributions people have made, especially newcomers. On the technical side, she talked a lot about robots! Bots that send a welcome message to new contributors, bots that test the code before it’s merged, pull request templates on GitHub to help guide new contributors and more. There’s no replacing the personal touch, but there’s a lot of routine work that can be done by bots.


E. Dunham on Rust community processes

After lunch Anton McConville presented a talk about natural language processing by using his David Bowie Personas tooling. The heart of the talk was the modern ability to process natural language (say, your tweets) to draw conclusions. He demonstrated this with his Ziggy | Bowie Personas through lyric analysis website which is powered by IBM’s Watson and IBM’s natural language analysis tooling. Through his tooling and website he did an analysis of David Bowie lyrics across albums and decades to track various emotions and map them to the artist’s public personal history. In addition, there’s a feature where you can put your own Twitter handle in to see which David Bowie personal you most closely match with.

Another notable talk was that by Mike McQuaid on The Contributor Funnel. He used the well-known sales tunnel as an analog to present different, fluid groups of people in your community: users, contributors and trusted maintainers. The point of his talk was that efforts should be continually made to “upsell” community members to the next level of contributors. You want your users to become contributors, contributors to become maintainers and maintainers with the mindset to foster an environment where they can continually accept and welcome the newest generation of new maintainers. He suggested not making assumptions about users (like they know how to git/github) and have a new maintainer checklist so you don’t have to remember what resources tooling new folks need to be added to. He also talked about avoiding bikeshedding in communications, having a code of conduct and making constant growth of your community a priority.

I really enjoyed the next trio of talks. First up was Anjuan Simmons about Lending Privilege. What he meant by this was to work not only toward building up diversity in your organization, but also factoring in inclusion. His talk stressed the importance of what people in the majority populations in tech can do to help minorities, including lending them your credibility, helping them with access to the tooling and levels of trust they have, encouraging them in their roles and sharing of expertise. On a personal note, I’ll emphasize that it’s easier to be a mentor to people who you share a background, race and gender with, which results in minorities struggling to find mentors. We must do better than what is easy and work to mentor people who are different than we are.

David Molina then presented what was probably the most inspirational of talks at the conference: What Happens When Military Veterans Learn to Code. Through the organization he founded, Operation Code, he is seeking to put veterans in touch with the resources they need to get into code camps and launch a new career in programming. The organization accomplishes this through scholarships for veterans for code camps, recruitment of industry mentors (like us!), open source projects within the organization where their code camp graduates can publicly demonstrate expertise, and job placement. It was interesting to learn that the GI bill does not support code camps since they aren’t accredited, so in addition to handling the status quo through external scholarships, he’s also working with organizations to get accreditation and petition for modernization of the 1940s-era focused requirements for the GI bill, many of which don’t help veterans get job-ready skills today. I’m incredibly appreciative to David for his own service to our country as a veteran himself, his commitment to his fellow veterans and for bringing this to our attention.


David Molina on Operation Code

The final talk of the day was about the Let’s Encrpyt initiative. I’ve known about this initiative since the beta launch last year but I’ve been cautious about moving from CAcert for my own domains. Speaker and one of the founders, Josh Aas, spoke on the history and rationale of the project, which seeks to enable all sites to have at least the most basic SSL certificate, which they provide free of charge. They also have a goal of making it much easier process-wise, as the current process tends to be very technical and complicated, and varies greatly based on the SSL certificate vendor. I have to say that I’m much more inclined to seriously consider it the next time I renew my certificates after seeing this talk.

Wednesday began with an excellent talk by Nadia Eghbal, on Emerging Models for Open Source Contributions. She walked us through the history of open source with an eye toward leadership models. She covered the following:

  1. Early days (1980s through early 90s) where Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL) was common. Leadership was centralized and there were a limited number of contributors and users. This model is simple, but tended to make companies nervous due to control of the project and ability for it to continue should the BDFL cease involvement.
  2. Maturing of open source era (late 1990s through 2010) where meritocracy ruled and commitment to the project was still required. This helped highly competent (though non-diverse) communities grow and started to get companies involved.
  3. Modern open source communities (2010 through today) where many projects have adopted a liberal contributions model. With tooling like GitHub, contributors have a common set of tooling for contributions and one-off contributors are common. Sheu shared that of the largest projects on GitHub, many had a large percentage of contributors who only contributed to the project once. This style of contributions was more difficult in the past when you may have needed to be known by the BDFL or needed merit in the community before your contributions were reviewed and accepted.

I also liked that she didn’t just put all these methods into boxes and say there was a one size fits all model for all projects. While the leadership models have mapped to time and eras in Open Source, it didn’t necessarily mean that the newer models were appropriate everywhere. Instead, each project now has these models to seek ideas from and evaluate for their communities. I found further details about her talk here.

There was then a talk by Mitchell Hashimoto of HashiCorp on The HashiCorp Formula to Open Source. Having produced a series of successful open source projects, of which I’ve used two, Vagrant and Terraform, Mitchell spoke on the formula his company has used to continually produce successful projects. His six-step path for success was the following:

  1. Find a problem and evaluate other solutions on the market
  2. Design a solution with human language (don’t write code yet!)
  3. Build and release the 0.1 version based on a basic reference use case and spend 3-6 months on it (no more, no less)
  4. Write human-centric documentation and a landing page (these are different things!), partially so you can effectively collect and respond to 0.1 feedback
  5. Ship and share (0.2 should come quickly, aim for production-ready 0.3-.0.5 releases and then give talks about it!)

Of course his excellent talk dove into a considerable amount of detail on each, which is worth considering if the video is made available.

My talk was at noon, where I spoke on building an open source cloud (slides, PDF). The focus of my talk was squarely on OpenStack, but my recommendations for use of configuration management for maintainability and expertise you want on your cloud-building team were universal.


Thanks to E. Dunham for snapping a photo during my talk! (source)

After lunch I really enjoyed a talk by Tracy Osborn on Design for Non-designers. I’ll begin by saying that I have the utmost respect for designers who not only have the education background in design, but have design as a career. I have paid web designers before for this very reason. That said, as a systems engineer I can use all the help I can get with design! The talk format was a brief introduction to how design is taught, and how she’s not going into that, and then demonstrating considerable improvements that could be made to a dialog window with the suggestions she outlined. She covered: cutting down on clutter, lining things up, use of color (see pallets like those at ColourLovers.com for inspiration), use of a maximum of two fonts (use TypeWolf to find open source fonts to use), use of white space, use of bright colors for important things on your page and a super quick tutorial in migrating paragraphs to a series of bullet-points. I’m really taking these recommendations to heart, thanks Tracy!

The final two talks that really spoke to me were on public data and a tooling unspecific look at debugging. First up was Tyrone Grandison from from the US Department of Commerce. I’ll start off by saying I love open data talks. They always make me want to learn more programming so I can come up with fun and interesting ways to use data, and this talk was no exception. Tyrone himself is a self-proclaimed data geek, and that showed through, and his relatively new team has been really productive. They’ve been supporting US government organizations releasing their data in a public, usable form and in turn writing tutorials to help organizations use the data effectively. I’m really impressed by their work. A link dump of resources he shared: US Commerce Data Service, US Commerce Data Usability Project and US Commerce Data Service on GitHub, which includes aforementioned tutorials.

The last talk was by Kerri Miller on Crescent Wrenches, Socket Sets, and Other Tools For Debugging. I was somewhat worried this talk would be about specific technical tools (maybe crescent wrenches and socket sets are open source tools I don’t know about?), but I was pleasantly surprised to hear a very humor-filled, entertaining talk instead about a high level view of debugging. By providing a high level talk about debugging, she presented us with a world where you don’t make assumptions, are methodical about finding solutions but still have a lot of room for creativity.

To conclude, I had a wonderful time at this conference. I also want to applaud the CodeConf LA team for presenting such a diverse program of speakers. I have a great appreciation for the variety of perspectives that such a diverse conference speaker lineup includes. It also proved yet again that you don’t need to “lower the bar” to have a diverse lineup. All the speakers were world-class.

More photos from the event here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157667666687824

by pleia2 at July 18, 2016 08:46 PM

Jono Bacon

Reducing Texting and Driving: An Idea

This weekend I dropped Erica off at the airport. Driving through San Francisco we saw an inventive billboard designed to reduce texting and driving. Driver distraction is a big problem, with a 2012 study suggesting over 3,000 deaths and 421,000 injuries were a result of distraction. I am pretty confident those shiny, always connected cellphones are indeed a common distraction during a boring drive or in times when you are anxious for information.

So anyway, we were driving past this billboard designed to reduce texting and driving and it included an Apple messages icon with a message awaiting. It was similar to, but not the same as this:

DSCF5170_t670

While these billboards are good to have, I suspect they are only effective when they go beyond advocating a behavior and are actually able to trigger a real behavioral change. Rory Sutherland’s example of Scotland changing speeding signs from the number to an unhappy face, being a prime example – instead of telling drivers to drive more slowly, they tapped into the psychology of initiating that behavioral change.

When I saw this sign, it actually had the opposite effect on me. Seeing the notification icon with a message waiting caused a cognitive discomfort that something needed checking, tending to, and completing. You guessed it: it made me actually want to check my phone.

The Psychology of Notifications

This got me thinking about the impact of notifications on our lives and whether part of the reason people text and drive is not because they voluntarily pick up the phone and screw around with it, but instead because they are either (a) notified by audio, or (b) feel the notification itch to regularly check their phone to see if there are new notifications and then action them. Given how both Android and Apple phones both display notifications on the unlocked screen, this makes it particularly easy to see a notification and then action it by clicking on it and loading the app, and then potentially smash your car into a Taco Bell sign.

There is of course some psychology that supports this. Classical Conditioning demonstrates that we can associate regularly exposed stimuli with key responses. As such, we could potentially associate time away from our computers, travel, or other cognitive functions such as driving, as a time when we think about our relationships, our work, and therefore feel the urge to use our phones. In addition to this, research in Florida demonstrated that any kind of audio notifications fundamentally disrupt productivity and thus are distracting.

A Software Solution?

As such, it strikes me that a simple solution for reducing texting and driving could be to simply reduce notifications while driving.

For this work, I think a solution would need to be:

  • Automatic – it detects when you are traveling and suitably disengages notifications.
  • Contextual – sometimes we are speeding along but not driving (such as taking a subway, or as a passenger in a car).
  • Incentivized – it is unlikely we can expect all phone makers to switch this on by default and not make it able to be disabled (nor should we). As such, we need to incentivize people to use a feature like this.

For the automatic piece some kind of manual installation would likely be needed but then the app could actively block notifications when it automatically detects the phone is above a given speed threshold. This could be done via transitional points between GPS waypoints and/or wifi hotspots (if in a database). If the app detects someone going faster than a given speed, it kicks in.

For the contextual piece I am running thin on ideas for how to do this. One option could be to use the accelerometer to determine if the phone is stationary or not (most people seem to put their phones in a cup holder or phone holder when they drive). If the accelerometer is wiggling around it might suggest the person is a passenger and has the phone on their lap, pocket, or in their hand. Another option could be an additional device that connects to the phone over bluetooth that determines proximity of the person in the car (e.g. a wrist-band, camera, sensor on the seat, or something else), but this would get away from the goals of it being automatic.

For the incentive piece, this is a critical component. With teenagers a common demographic, and thus first-time drivers, money could be an incentive. Lower insurance fees (particularly given how expensive teenagers are to insure), discounts/offers at stores teenagers care about (e.g. hot topic for the greebos out there, free food and other ideas could be an incentive. For older drivers the same benefits could apply, just in a different context.

Conclusion

While putting up billboards to tell people to be responsible human beings is one tool in reducing accidents, we are better positioned than ever to use a mixture of technology and psychology to creatively influence behavior more effectively. If I had the time, I would love to work on something like this, but I don’t have the time, so I figured I would share the idea here as a means to inspire some discussion and ideas.

So, comments, feedback, and ideas welcome!

The post Reducing Texting and Driving: An Idea appeared first on Jono Bacon.

by Jono Bacon at July 18, 2016 03:29 PM

July 15, 2016

Jono Bacon

Scratch Community Manager Position Available

A while back Mako introduced me to Mitchel Resnick, LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research and head of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab. Mitchel is a tremendous human being; warm, passionate, and terribly creative in solving interesting problems.

Mitchel introduced me to some members of his team and the conversation was focused on how they can find a good community manager for the Scratch learning environment. For the cave-dwellers among you, Scratch is a wonderful platform for teaching kids programming and the core principles involved.

So, we discussed the role and I helped to shape the role description somewhat.

It is a really awesome and important opportunity, particularly if you are passionate about kids and technology. It is a role that is calling for a creative thinker to take Scratch to the next level and impact a whole new generation of kids and how they can build interesting things with computers. While some community managers focus a lot on the outreach pieces (blogging, social media, and events), I encourage those of you interested in this role to also think of it from a deeper perspective of workflow, building different types of community, active collaboration, and more.

Check out the role description here and apply. If you and I know each other, feel free to let them know this and I am happy to share with them more about you. Good luck!

The post Scratch Community Manager Position Available appeared first on Jono Bacon.

by Jono Bacon at July 15, 2016 04:27 AM

July 08, 2016

Jono Bacon

Building a Safer Internet with HackerOne

Recently I started doing some work with HackerOne and I thought many of you would find it interesting enough for me to share.

A while back my friend Mårten Mickos joined HackerOne as CEO. Around that time we had lunch and he shared with me more about the company. Mårten has an impressive track record, and I could see why he was so passionate about his new gig.

The idea is pretty neat: HackerOne provides a service where companies (e.g. Uber, Slack, General Motors etc, and even The Pentagon) can provide a bug bounty program that invites hackers to find security flaws in their products and services. The company specifies the scope of the program (e.g. which properties/apps), and hackers are encouraged to find and submit vulnerability reports. When a report is approved, the hacker is often issued a payment.

HackerOne is interesting for a few reasons. Firstly, it is helping to build a safer and more secure world. As we have seen in open source, crowdfunding, and crowdsourcing, a productive and enabled community can deliver great results and expand the scope of operations far beyond that of a single organization. This is such a logical fit when it comes to security as the potential attack surface is growing larger and larger every day as more of our lives move into a digital realm.

What I also love about HackerOne is the opportunity it opens up for those passionate about security. It provides a playground where hackers can safely explore vulnerabilities, report them responsibly, build experience and relationships with security teams at popular companies, and earn some money. Some hackers on HackerOne are earning significant amounts of money (some even doing this full-time), and some are just having a blast on evenings and weekends earning some extra cash while having fun hacking.

I am working with HackerOne on the community strategy and execution side and it has been interesting exploring the different elements of building an engaged community of hackers. One of the things I have learned over the years building communities is that every one is different, and that is very much the case for HackerOne.

Familiar Ground

More broadly, it is also interesting to see echoes of similar challenges that faced open source in the early days, but now applied to hacking. Back then the world was presented with the open source model in which anyone, anywhere, could contribute their skills and talents to improve software. Many organizations back then were pretty weirded out by this. They worried about their intellectual property, the impact on their customers, losing control, and how they would manage the PR.

wargames_still8

Believe it or not, WarGames is not a documentary.

In a similar way, HackerOne is presenting a model in which organizations can tap the talents of a distributed community of hackers. While some organizations will have similar concerns to the ones back in the early days of open source, I am confident we will traverse those. This will be great for the Internet, great for organizations, and great for hackers.

Get Involved

If you are a hacker, or a programmer who would like to learn about security and try your hand, go and sign up, then find a program, and submit a report.

If you are an existing HackerOne user, I would also love to hear your feedback, thoughts, and ideas about how we can build the very best community. Feel free to send me an email to jono@hackerone.com – let’s build a powerful, engaged, global community that is making the world more secure and making hackers more successful.

by Jono Bacon at July 08, 2016 05:42 PM

July 06, 2016

Akkana Peck

GIMP at Texas LinuxFest

I'll be at Texas LinuxFest in Austin, Texas this weekend. Friday, July 8 is the big day for open source imaging: first a morning Photo Walk led by Pat David, from 9-11, after which Pat, an active GIMP contributor and the driving force behind the PIXLS.US website and discussion forums, gives a talk on "Open Source Photography Tools". Then after lunch I'll give a GIMP tutorial. We may also have a Graphics Hackathon/Q&A session to discuss all the open-source graphics tools in the last slot of the day, but that part is still tentative. I'm hoping we can get some good discussion especially among the people who go on the photo walk.

Lots of interesting looking talks on Saturday, too. I've never been to Texas LinuxFest before: it's a short conference, just two days, but they're packing a lot into those two days and but it looks like it'll be a lot of fun.

July 06, 2016 12:37 AM

July 04, 2016

Elizabeth Krumbach

Simcoe’s March and June Checkups

I missed a checkup post! Looking back to January, she had been prescribed the Atopica for some scabbing that kept occurring around her eyes and she continues to be on that. Since starting that daily pill, she has only had one very mild breakout of scabbing around her eyes, but it cleared up quickly after we bumped up the dose.

We also started giving her an appetite stimulant to get her to eat more and put on some weight. It’s working so far, she still isn’t the biggest eater, so I think the pill bothers her because she has to eat a lot. We’re planning on switching over to a lower dose that she can take a bit more often to even out her eating schedule. She’s also been on Calcitriol, an active form of Vitamin D (info about usage in renal failure cats here). This spring she also suffered a UTI, which is pretty common in renal failure felines, but we’d gotten lucky so far. Thankfully a batch of antibiotics knocked it out without much trouble and it hasn’t returned. Finally, I mentioned in January that she’d been suffering some with constipation. That has continued and the dermatologist assured us it was unrelated to any of her medication. It hasn’t subsided, so we’re now giving both cats a small dollop of wet K/D food every night, and Simcoe’s getting some fiber mixed in. When she’s not stubborn about eating it, it seems to be doing the trick.

Levels! First up, her weight. In January she was at 8.8lbs. In March she dropped to the lowest she’s been, 8.3. By her appointment on June 29th she was up a bit to 8.4. Keeping her at a healthy weight is incredibly important, hopefully the new appetite stimulant regime will continue to help with that.

lbs

Her BUN dipped in March a bit, going from 71 from 85. In June it had risen again, now sitting at 100. As levels go, the vet seems to be less concerned about this and looking more at her CRE levels.

BUN

…which are also continuing to rise. 4.6 in January, 5.1 in March and now at 5.5. As expected, this is simply the renal failure continuing to progress like we always knew it would.

CRE

As always we’re enjoying our time together and making sure she’s continuing to live a healthy, active life. She certainly doesn’t care for all the traveling I do, including during the last vet appointment (MJ ended up taking her). I am home most of the time though since I work from home, so I can keep an eye on her and spend lots of quality time together.

Simcoe with plants

by pleia2 at July 04, 2016 02:51 AM

July 03, 2016

Elizabeth Krumbach

Tourist in Los Angeles

I’ve been to Los Angeles several times for the Southern California Linux Expo, but the first few trips only took me to the LAX airport area, and without a car I wasn’t venturing too far beyond the area. This year it wasn’t even in Los Angeles, moving over to nearby Pasadena (good move!).

At CodeConf this past week my experience finally changed! The event took place in the heart of Hollywood, and my nearby hotel was a lovely jumping off point for my Hollywood adventures.

Sunday morning I flew down to Burbank airport on a little regional jet (CJR-200), putting me at my hotel around 10AM. I stashed my suitcase at the hotel and grabbed an Uber over my first tourist stop, the Griffith Observatory. I’ve seen it in movies and shows, most recently as MJ and I made our way through the Star Trek Voyager series, but I didn’t know a whole lot about it as a place. It turns out that it is actually a public observatory, specifically built for the public to use. It was built in the early 20th century at Griffith J. Griffith’s direction after he saw how life-changing seeing the sky through a telescope was and his desire to share this experience with everyone. I really enjoyed the free showing of the observatory’s history in the new Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater. In the movie you learn that addition to the original structure that we enjoy today, in the early 2000s they shut down the entire observatory to do a multi-billion dollar restoration of the interior and built the underground addition that houses the theater and massive a new exhibit space. It’s pretty astonishing that they were able to do such a change with virtually no change to the original structure or look of the place from the outside.

The observatory also has a planetarium, where during my three hour visit I was able to get in a couple shows, Water is Life and Centered in the Universe, both of which I’d recommend seeing.

The hill the observatory is perched upon also offered great views of the Hollywood sign, so I was able to get my obligatory Hollywood sign photos out of the way early in my adventures. I really missed MJ on this observatory visit, I think it would have been a great place to explore together. I sent him a postcard to help share the experience, even if it was just a little bit.

I swung by my hotel to check into my room, where I snagged corner room that offered views of the Hollywood sign, Capitol Records building and Pantages Theatre. Quite nice! I could also see one of the three Dunkin’ Donuts in California from my room, but I suppose that’s not quite as noteworthy unless you’re me. Yes, I did get some coffee and donuts during my stay. OK, I got more than “some” coffee. I drank more iced coffee this past week than I have in years.

My day continued by going to the TLC Chinese Theatre. I decided to pay for a VIP tour ($15) and also see Independence Day: Resurgence in the classic theater, fitted with the third largest IMAX screen in North America ($22.75). I’ll say right off the bat that the tour isn’t worth it if you’re going to see a movie in that theater anyway. Half the tour was reading labels of clothing displayed in the lobby and continued by walking us through common areas telling us rather droll facts about the theater that are easy to find online. Since I had access to the theater with my movie ticket anyway, it wasn’t a very good use of my time or money.

Seeing a movie in that theater is totally worth doing though. It’s the most famous movie theater in the world, the screen and sound system were great, which I was initially skeptical about given the theater’s age. The curtains that cover the screen are beautiful, faithful reproductions of the long-worn originals and always novel to see in a movie theater. The movie itself? It was pretty silly, but if you’re going to see it the IMAX is the way to get the full level of enjoyment out of it. I joked that I was going to see a ridiculous movie in a ridiculous movie theater. It all felt appropriate.

After the movie I walked down Hollywood Boulevard for about a mile to get back to my hotel. Along the way I walked through some hyper tourist areas with the wax museums, people dressed up as various characters for photos and tourist goodie shops selling t-shirts, magnets and the like. The stars along the sidewalks are worth seeing, but a single walk through the area was plenty for me. There’s also lots of great food around. Los Angeles is famous for fresh sushi, and I managed to get some before I left on Wednesday night.

The conference took up the rest of my week, except that I did have to sneak out on Tuesday evening for an event I’d been waiting months AND pledged on a kickstarter for, the MST3K reunion show! I picked up tickets on Fandango for a theater in downtown LA. It was a shame to go alone, I missed my San Francisco MSTies but I’m glad I was able to make time for it in spite of being away from home, it was a lot of fun.

In all, I enjoyed Los Angeles on this trip. I’m glad I was finally able to make it beyond a conference venue, the city has a lot to offer. Next time I’ll have to check out the zoo.

More pictures from my adventures here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157669821167402/

by pleia2 at July 03, 2016 10:15 PM

Akkana Peck

Midsummer Nature Notes from Traveling

A few unusual nature observations noticed over the last few weeks ...

First, on a trip to Washington DC a week ago (my first time there). For me, the big highlight of the trip was my first view of fireflies -- bright green ones, lighting once or twice then flying away, congregating over every park, lawn or patch of damp grass. What fun!

Predatory grackle

[grackle]

But the unusual observation was around mid-day, on the lawn near the Lincoln Memorial. A grackle caught my attention as it flashed by me -- a male common grackle, I think (at least, it was glossy black, relatively small and with only a moderately long tail).

It turned out it was chasing a sparrow, which was dodging and trying to evade, but unsuccessfully. The grackle made contact, and the sparrow faltered, started to flutter to the ground. But the sparrow recovered and took off in another direction, the grackle still hot on its tail. The grackle made contact again, and again the sparrow recovered and kept flying. But the third hit was harder than the other two, and the sparrow went down maybe fifteen or twenty feet away from me, with the grackle on top of it.

The grackle mantled over its prey like a hawk and looked like it was ready to begin eating. I still couldn't quite believe what I'd seen, so I stepped out toward the spot, figuring I'd scare the grackle away and I'd see if the sparrow was really dead. But the grackle had its eye on me, and before I'd taken three steps, it picked up the sparrow in its bill and flew off with it.

I never knew grackles were predatory, much less capable of killing other birds on the wing and flying off with them. But a web search on grackles killing birds got quite a few hits about grackles killing and eating house sparrows, so apparently it's not uncommon.

Daytime swarm of nighthawks

Then, on a road trip to visit friends in Colorado, we had to drive carefully past the eastern slope of San Antonio Mountain as a flock of birds wheeled and dove across the road. From a distance it looked like a flock of swallows, but as we got closer we realized they were far larger. They turned out to be nighthawks -- at least fifty of them, probably considerably more. I've heard of flocks of nighthawks swarming around the bugs attracted to parking lot streetlights. And I've seen a single nighthawk, or occasionally two, hawking in the evenings from my window at home. But I've never seen a flock of nighthawks during the day like this. An amazing sight as they swoop past, just feet from the car's windshield.

Flying ants

[Flying ant courtesy of Jen Macke]

Finally, the flying ants. The stuff of a bad science fiction movie! Well, maybe if the ants were 100 times larger. For now, just an interesting view of the natural world.

Just a few days ago, Jennifer Macke wrote a fascinating article in the PEEC Blog, "Ants Take Wing!" letting everyone know that this is the time of year for ants to grow wings and fly. (Jen also showed me some winged lawn ants in the PEEC ant colony when I was there the day before the article came out.) Both males and females grow wings; they mate in the air, and then the newly impregnated females fly off, find a location, shed their wings (leaving a wing scar you can see if you have a strong enough magnifying glass) and become the queen of a new ant colony.

And yesterday morning, as Dave and I looked out the window, we saw something swarming right below the garden. I grabbed a magnifying lens and rushed out to take a look at the ones emerging from the ground, and sure enough, they were ants. I saw only black ants. Our native harvester ants -- which I know to be common in our yard, since I've seen the telltale anthills surrounded by a large bare area where they clear out all vegetation -- have sexes of different colors (at least when they're flying): females are red, males are black. These flying ants were about the size of harvester ants but all the ants I saw were black. I retreated to the house and watched the flights with binoculars, hoping to see mating, but all the flyers I saw seemed intent on dispersing. Either these were not harvester ants, or the females come out at a different time from the males. Alas, we had an appointment and had to leave so I wasn't able to monitor them to check for red ants. But in a few days I'll be watching for ants that have lost their wings ... and if I find any, I'll try to identify queens.

July 03, 2016 03:28 PM

July 02, 2016

Elizabeth Krumbach

Ubuntu 16.04 at FeltonLUG and the rest of California

On Saturday, June 25th my husband and I made our way south to Felton, California so I could give a presentation to the Felton Linux Users Group on Ubuntu 16.04.

I brought along my demo systems:

  • Lenovo G575 running Ubuntu 16.04, which I presented from
  • Dell mini9 running Xubuntu 16.04
  • Nexus 7 2013 running Ubuntu OTA-11
  • bq Aquaris M10 running Ubuntu OTA-11

All these were pristine systems so that I didn’t have any data loaded on them or anything. The Nexus 7 took some prep though. I had to swing by #ubuntu-touch on freenode to get some help with re-flashing it after it got stuck on a version from February and wouldn’t upgrade beyond that in the UI. Thanks to popey for being so responsive there and helping me out.

The presentation was pretty straight forward. I walked attendees through screenshots and basic updates of the flavors, and then dove into a variety of changes in the 16.04 release of Ubuntu itself, including disabling of Amazon search by default, replacement of Ubuntu Software Center by GNOME Software, replacement of Upstart with systemd (new since the last LTS release), ability to move the Unity launcher to the bottom of the screen, inclusion of ZFS and the introduction of Ubuntu Snappy.

Slides from my presentation are available for other folks to use as they see fit (but you probably want to introduce yourself, rather than me!): feltonlug_ubuntu_1604.pdf (3.1M), feltonlug_ubuntu_1604.odp (5.4M). If you’d like a smaller version of this slide deck, drop me a message at lyz@ubuntu.com and I’ll send you one without all the flavor screenshots.

After the presentation portion of the event, I answered questions and gave folks the opportunity to play with the laptops and tablets I brought along. About half the meeting was spent causally chatting with attendees about their experiences and plans to debug and flash the Ubuntu image on supported tablets.

Huge thanks to the group for being the welcoming crowd they always are, and Bob Lewis for inviting me down.

I’ll continue my presentation roadshow through July, presenting on Ubuntu 16.04 at the following Bay Area groups and events where I’m also bringing along Ubuntu pens, stickers and other goodies:

Bonus: At the release party in San Francisco I’ll also have copies of the The Official Book, 9th Edition which I’ll be signing and giving away!

Looking forward to these events, it should be a nice adventure around the bay area.

by pleia2 at July 02, 2016 12:30 AM

June 30, 2016

Elizabeth Krumbach

Family, moose, beer and cryptids

Our trip to Maine over Memorial Day weekend was quite the packed one. I wrote already about the trains, but we also squeezed in a brewery tour, a trip to a museum, a wildlife park visit and more.

We took an overnight (red eye) flight across the country to arrive in New Hampshire and drive up to Maine on Thursday morning. We had to adjust our plans away from the trolley museum when we learned it hadn’t opened yet, so we instead drove up to Portland to stop by one of my favorite breweries for a tour and tasting, Allagash Brewing. As a lover of Belgian style ales, I discovered Allagash in Pennsylvania several years ago, starting with their standard White and quickly falling in love with the Curieux. I left Maine before I could drink, and their tasting room and tour didn’t open until long after I moved away, so this was my first opportunity to visit. Now, you can drop by for a tasting flight at any time, but you have to reserve tour tickets in advance. It being a weekday was a huge help here, I was able to grab some of the last tickets for early in the afternoon as we drove up from Kennebunkport.

Our arrival coincided with lunchtime, and since they can’t serve food in their tasting room, they have a mutually beneficial relationship with a food truck, called Mothah Truckah, serving delicious sandwiches that sits in their parking lot on days they’re open. We ordered our sandwiches and wandered inside to eat it with their house beer. The tour itself was your typical brewery tour, with brewery history and tidbits about what makes this brewery unique throughout.

Having been party to hop growing and beer home brewing back when I lived in Pennsylvania, I’m quite familiar with the process, but am really interested to learn how breweries differ. Allagash does a huge business in kegs, with something like 70% of their beer ending up in kegs that are shipped to bars all over the country. The rest goes into one of two main bottling lines, the first of which is all their standard beers, and the second is their sours, which due to their nature require some special handling so they don’t contaminate each other. After seeing the keg and bottling lines, we went into their aging building where we had a series of other brews to taste: White, Saison, Little Brett, Golden Brett. I like Saisons a lot, and the Bretts trended in the sour, and I strongly preferred the Golden. We purchased a bottle of the Golden Brett and Uncommon Crow after the tour. An Allagash bottle opener keychain also came home with me. More photos from the brewery tour here: here.

This pretty much took up our afternoon, from there we stopped by the grocery store to per-order a Spiderman cake for my nephew’s birthday on Saturday and then checked into The Westin in Portland. After a couple snafus with the room choice, we were finally put into a room with a beautiful view of the Portland Art Museum and the harbor. We rested for a bit and then we went out in search of my lobster! We ended up at the locals-friendly J’s Oyster where I was able to order my steamed clams (steamers) and lobster, plus watch the Penguins win the game that put them in the Stanley Cup finals with our beloved Sharks. I slept well that night.

The next morning I let MJ sleep in while I made my way over to the International Cryptozoology Museum. It’s an interesting place for such a museum, but Maine is where museum founder and Cryptozoology legend Loren Coleman lives, so there we were. As I walked into the museum I was immediately met by Loren, who happily obliged my request for a photo together (he gets this a lot). He also signed some books for me, one of which went directly in the mail to one of my fellow cryptid lovers.

I keep talking about cryptids and cryptozoology. Cryptozoology is the search for creatures whose existence has not been proven due to lack of evidence, and cryptids are what we call these creatures. Think the Loch Ness Monster and the various incantations of Bigfoot, but they have a coelacanth as a mascot, since the coelacanth was thought long extinct until it’s modern existence was confirmed pretty recently. The okapi also tends to show up a lot in their literature, being probably the last large mammal to be confirmed by science. To be strictly honest with myself, it’s a pseudoscience and I’m a skeptic. Like many skeptics I like to see my ideas challenged and if I were the less skeptical type, totally would be out there in the wood searching for bigfoot. I can’t, but I want to believe. The museum itself was an important visit for me. A variety of casts of bigfoot feet, lots of kitsch and memorabilia from various cryptids, with Nessie being one of my favorites. They also had exhibits showcasing some of the lesser known and more local cryptids. I think these smaller exhibits were my favorite, since they walked the fine line between seriousness and self-deprecation on the part of cryptid seekers. With the “head of a moose, the body of a man and the wings and feet of an eagle” I’m not sure most people could honestly say they believe that the Pamola actually exists as an animal you may encounter.

The visit to this museum was definitely a memorable highlight of my trip, I’m glad I was able to visit it before they moved to their new location. The museum is closed for a few weeks this summer to do the move, I made it just in time! More photos from the museum here.

After my morning cryptid adventures, we made our way over to Fort Williams State Park, where the very famous Portland Headlight lighthouse is. Our reason was not to see the lighthouse though, we wanted lobster rolls at Bite into Maine. They remain my favorite lobster rolls. Going here is kind of a pilgrimage now.

After lunch we drove up to Freeport to meet up with my family and do a bit of shopping at L.L. Bean. We met up with my mother, youngest sister and my nephew. With my nephew I got my first glimpse at a moose! A stuffed moose.

We had dinner together at Jameson Tavern where I got a beloved slice of blueberry pie, a la mode. We then swung by the L.L. Bean outlet and did one last stop at the main retail store. I ordered a snazzy new travel pouch for toiletries when I travel.

As I wrote about previously, we spent Saturday morning at the Seashore Trolley Museum. Afterwards we swung by the bakery to pick up the cake we had ordered and drove to my sister’s place. The evening was spent with pizza, cake and birthday presents! It’s hard to believe my nephew is almost four already.

Sunday was moose day. This trip marked MJ’s second visit to Maine. I’d always told him tongue-in-cheek stories about all the moose in Maine, and the first time we visited the only moose he saw were stuffed ones at L.L. Bean. This time I was determined to show him a see a real, live moose! Alas, unless you go up to some of the northern or western parts of the state, they are actually pretty rare. In the 15 years I spent in Maine in my youth I could probably count my moose encounters on my hands.

Instead I “discovered” the Maine Wildlife Park. I put discovered in quotes because my mother informed me that I had actually been there as a child. Oh. She did say that it has changed a lot since then, so going again was a different adventure even for her. We met up with my mother, sister and nephew for lunch and then made our way out to the park in the early afternoon.

The park has improved enclosures for the animals, in keeping with modernization of many facilities. They also specialize in caring for wild animals and keeping the ones that can’t survive in the wild, writing: “Many of the animals at the Maine Wildlife Park were brought here because they were injured or orphaned, or because they were human dependent – raised, sometimes illegally, in captivity.” The collection of local animals is worth seeing. In addition to my lovely moose, their most popular exhibit, they have a pair of black bears, several eagles, mountain lions and more. Plus, it was a great place to take my nephew, with him switching between his stroller to running around to see the next animal pretty often.

And I got my moose selfie:

More photos from the Maine Wildlife Park here.

That evening MJ and I enjoyed dinner at Congress Squared at the hotel, and drinks upstairs in their Top of the East bar. With dinner we got to have some fried fiddleheads. So Maine!

Monday was Memorial Day, and that morning we met my family in Portland and went to the Narrow Gauge Railroad, which I already wrote about. The afternoon was spent getting some more lobster rolls and taking pictures throughout Cape Elizabeth, my home town. We rounded out the day with a visit to my old neighborhood, and even stopped for ice cream at the ice cream shop I frequented as a youth.

The evening on Monday concluded with MJ and I having another quiet evening out together, this time going to Eventide Oyster Co. in Portland, not too far from our hotel. As much as I love the Pacific, and living in San Francisco, I still prefer east coast oysters. It was a nice opportunity to sample a larger variety than I’ve had before. The rest of the meal was a couple small plates and cocktails, but it was plenty after that late afternoon ice cream we indulged in.

Tuesday I saw MJ off, as he needed to return home and my mother picked me up at the hotel when I checked out. We spent some time walking around downtown Portland, drifted into some book shops and had some lunch. In the mid afternoon we drove up to her place, where I got to see all her kitties! She has… several cats.

Eventually we went over to my sister’s place where I’d be staying for the rest of the week. On the way she tool me to a tractor supply store, where I marveled at all the country things (“raise your own chickens!”) and realized I’d turned into a city slicker. Hah! I was pretty out of my element.

I spent Wednesday through Friday working from my sister’s couch. My nephew went to his school program in the morning and my sister kept herself busy. I had to work late on Friday as we handled a maintenance window, but otherwise it all worked out. Working from there allowed them to not feel the need to keep me entertained, and I didn’t have to miss much work for my visit. The evenings I spent hanging out with my sister and mother, watching movies, drinking some adult root beer. It was nice to spend time with them.

On Thursday night my mother’s boyfriend took the three of us out to The Red Barn in Augusta. I’d never been to this place before, but they had top notch whole fried clams. Yummy!

Working from my sister’s couch and looking out her window at the forest view was also a nice change of pace. With just some finishing touches needed on my book, I had reached a place where I could finally relax. Being in such a quiet place helped me transition into a more peaceful spot.

Saturday was my flight day. I had planned a whale watching tour with my mother, but after waking up at 7AM and leaving before 8, the tour company called at 9:15 to cancel our 10AM tour! I was terribly disappointed. I’d never been on a whale watching tour, and with how much both my mother love animals it seemed like a perfect way to spend the day together. Since we were already so far down south, we made a detour to the Old Orchard Beach area, where we spent the morning walking around the seaside shops, walking barefoot in the warm sands (it was over 80 degrees out!) and visiting the beautiful historic carousel they have there. We had lunch at Bugaboo Creek steakhouse, and then killed time at the Maine Mall, where I picked up both Star Wars and Star Trek pajama pants, much to my delight.

It was then time for my flight out of little the little Portland jetport. Connecting through Philadelphia I had an easy time getting home, made even easier with a pair of complimentary upgrades!

This trip was a very busy one, but it was a special one for me. I don’t have the opportunity to spend a lot of time with my family in Maine, with my travel and work schedule, and splitting time with friends and family in Philadelphia as well. It was also nice to play the tourist, which I hadn’t felt super comfortable with until this trip. I finally don’t have anxiety about visiting my home town, and can appreciate it all for the beautiful place it is.

More photos from my trip, including some light houses and ocean views and our beach morning in Old Orchard are here.

by pleia2 at June 30, 2016 04:56 AM

June 26, 2016

Akkana Peck

How to un-deny a host blocked by denyhosts

We had a little crisis Friday when our server suddenly stopped accepting ssh connections.

The problem turned out to be denyhosts, a program that looks for things like failed login attempts and blacklists IP addresses.

But why was our own IP blacklisted? It was apparently because I'd been experimenting with a program called mailsync, which used to be a useful program for synchronizing IMAP folders with local mail folders. But at least on Debian, it has broken in a fairly serious way, so that it makes three or four tries with the wrong password before it actually uses the right one that you've configured in .mailsync. These failed logins are a good way to get yourself blacklisted, and there doesn't seem to be any way to fix mailsync or the c-client library it uses under the covers.

Okay, so first, stop using mailsync. But then how to get our IP off the server's blacklist? Just editing /etc/hosts.deny didn't do it -- the IP reappeared there a few minutes later.

A web search found lots of solutions -- you have to edit a long list of files, but no two articles had the same file list. It appears that it's safest to remove the IP from every file in /var/lib/denyhosts.

So here are the step by step instructions.

First, shut off the denyhosts service:

service denyhosts stop

Go to /var/lib/denyhosts/ and grep for any file that includes your IP:

grep aa.bb.cc.dd *

(If you aren't sure what your IP is as far as the outside world is concerned, Googling what's my IP will helpfully tell you, as well as giving you a list of other sites that will also tell you.)

Then edit each of these files in turn, removing your IP from them (it will probably be at the end of the file).

When you're done with that, you have one more file to edit: remove your IP from the end of /etc/hosts.deny

You may also want to add your IP to /etc/hosts.allow, but it may not make much difference, and if you're on a dynamic IP it might be a bad idea since that IP will eventually be used by someone else.

Finally, you're ready to re-start denyhosts:

service denyhosts start

Whew, un-blocked. And stay away from mailsync. I wish I knew of a program that actually worked to keep IMAP and mbox mailboxes in sync.

June 26, 2016 06:59 PM

June 24, 2016

Elizabeth Krumbach

Trains in Maine

I grew up just outside of Portland, Maine. About 45 minutes south of there is the Seashore Trolley Museum. I went several times as a kid, having been quite the little rail fan. But it wasn’t until I moved to San Francisco that I really picked up my love for rails again with all the historic transit here in the city. With my new love for San Francisco streetcars, I made plans during our last trip back to make to visit the beloved trolley museum of my youth.

I’ll pause for a moment now to talk about terminology. Here in San Francisco we call that colorful fleet of cars that ride down Market and long the Embarcadero “streetcars” but in Maine, and in various other parts of the world, they’re known as “trolleys” instead. I don’t know why this distinction exists, and both terms are pretty broad so a dictionary is no help here. Since I was visiting the trolley museum, I’ll be referring to the ones I saw there as trolleys.

Before my trip I became a member of the museum, which gave us free entrance to the museum and a discount at the gift shop. We had originally intended to go to the museum upon arrival in Maine on the 26th of May, but learned when we showed up that they hadn’t opened on weekdays yet since it was still before Memorial Day. Whoops! We adjusted our plans and went back on Saturday.

Saturday was a hot day, but not intolerable. We had a little time to kill before the next trolley was leaving, so we made our way over to the Burton B Shaw South Boston Car House to start checking out some of the trolleys they had on display. These ones were pretty far into the rust territory and it was the smallest barn of them all, but I was delighted to find one of their double deckers inside. The streetcar lines in San Francisco don’t have the electric overhead infrastructure to support these cars, so it was a real treat for me. Later in the day we also saw another double decker that I was actually able to go up inside!

It was then time to board! With the windows open on the Boston 5821 trolley we enjoyed a nice loop around the property. The car itself was unfamiliar to me, but here in San Francisco we have the 1059, a PCC that is painted in honor of the Boston Elevated Railway so I was familiar with the transit company and livery. During the ride around the loop we had a pair of very New England tour guides who enjoyed bantering (think Car Talk). I caught a video of a segment of our trolley car ride. Riding through the beautiful green woods of Maine is certainly a different experience than the downtown streets of San Francisco that I’m used to!

On this ride I learned that many of the early amusement parks were created by the rail companies in an effort to increase ridership on Sundays, and transit companies in Maine were no exception. They also stopped by a rock formation that had evidence of how they would split rocks using water that froze and expanded in the winter to make way for the railroad tracks during building. The rocks were then crushed and used to help build the foundation of the tracks. The route from Biddeford to Kennebunkport, which the tracks we rode on was part of, is slanted downhill in the southern direction, so we also heard tales of the electricity being shut off at midnight and the last train of the day sometimes relying upon speeding up near midnight and coasting the rest of the way to the final station. I think the jury is out about how much exaggeration is to be expected in stories like this.


5821, Boston Elevated Railway

After the loop, we were met by a tour guide who took us around the other two transit barns that they have on the property. For most of the tour I popped ahead of the tour group to take photos, while staying within auditory range to hear what he had to say. I think this explains the 250+ pictures I took throughout the day. The barns had trolleys going at least 4 deep, in 3-4 rows. They had cars from all over the world, ranging from a stunning open top car from Montreal to that double decker from Glasgow that I got to go up to the top of. Some of the trolleys had really stunning interiors, like the Liberty Bell Limited from Philadelphia, I wouldn’t mind riding in one of those! They also had a handful of other trains that weren’t passenger trolleys, like a snow sweeper from Ottawa and a very familiar cable car from San Francisco.

Our walk around the property concluded with a visit to the restoration shop where they do work on the trolleys. Inside we saw some of the trolley skeletons and a bunch of the tools and machines they use to do work on the cars.

As you may expect, had a blast. They have an impressive assortment of trolleys, and I enjoyed learning about them and taking pictures. The museum also has a small assortment of vintage buses and train cars from various transit agencies, with a strong bias toward Boston. It was fun to see some trains that looked eerily similar to the BART trains that we still run here in the bay area, along with some of Philadelphia’s SEPTA trains. I even caught a glimpse of a SEPTA PCC trolley with livery that was somewhat modern, but it was under a cover and likely not yet restored.

The icing on the cake was their gift shop. I picked up a book for my nephew, along with my standard “tourist stuff” shot glass and magnet. The real gems were the model trains. I selected a couple toys that will accompany the others that I have from Philadelphia and San Francisco that will go on the standard wooden track that many children have. The adult model trains are where my heart was, I was able to get one of the F-Line train models (1063 Baltimore) that I didn’t have yet, along with a much larger (1:48 scale) and more impressive 2352 Connecticut Company, Destination Middletwon Birney Safety Car. I’ll be happy when I finally have a place to display all of these, but for now my little F-Line cars are hanging out on top of my second monitor.

As I mentioned, I took a lot of photos during our adventure, a whole bunch more can be browsed in an album on Flickr, and I do recommend it if you’re interested! https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157669023849545

My visit to Maine was also to visit family and as I was making plans I tried to figure out things that would be fun, but not too tiring for my nearly four year old nephew. The Seashore Trolley Museum will be great when he’s a bit older, but could I sneak in a different train trip that would be more his speed? Absolutely! The Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum in Portland, Maine was perfect.

The train ride itself takes about 40 minutes total, and takes you on a 1.5 mile (3 miles round trip) voyage along Portland Harbor. This meant it was about 15 minutes each way, with a stop at the end of the line for about 10 minutes for the engine to detatch and re-attach to the other side of the train, I took a video of the reattachment, which took a few tries that day. The timing was perfect for someone so young, and I was delighted to see how much he enjoyed the ride.

I enjoyed it too, it was a beautiful spring day and Portland Harbor is a lovely place to ride a train along.

We spent about a half hour in the small accompanying museum. Narrow gauge is a broad term for a variety of gauges, and I learned the one that ran there in Portland had a 2 foot gauge. As I understand it, wider gauges tend to make for a smoother ride, and though these trains were very clearly passenger trains (and vintage ones at that), the ride was a bumpy one. They had a couple other passenger and freight cars in the museum, and my nephew enjoyed playing with some of the train toys.

I hadn’t really intended for this trip to Maine to be so train-heavy, but I’m glad we were able to take advantage of the stunning weather and make it so! More photos from the Narrow Gauge Railroad, including things like the telegraph and inside of the cars they had on display are here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157669122685275

by pleia2 at June 24, 2016 03:57 AM

June 20, 2016

Jono Bacon

Announcing Jono Bacon Consulting

A little while back I shared that I decided to leave GitHub. Firstly, thanks to all of you for your incredible support. I am blessed to have such wonderful people in my life.

Since that post I have been rather quiet about what my next adventure is going to be, and some of the speculation has been rather amusing. Now I am finally ready to share more details.

In a nutshell, I have started a new consultancy practice to provide community management, innersourcing, developer workflow/relations, and other related services. To keep things simple right now, this new practice is called Jono Bacon Consulting (original, eh?)

As some of you know, I have actually been providing community strategy and management consultancy for quite some time. Previously I have worked with organizations such as Deutsche Bank, Sony Mobile, ON.LAB, Open Networking Foundation, Intel and others. I am also an active advisor for organizations such as AlienVault, Open Networking Foundation, Open Cloud Consortium, Mycroft AI and I also advise some startup accelerators.

I have always loved this kind of work. My wider career ambitions have always been to help organizations build great communities and to further the wider art and science of collaboration and community development. I love the experience and insight I gain with each new client.

When I made the decision to move on from GitHub I was fortunate to have some compelling options on the table for new roles. After spending some time thinking about what I love doing and these wider ambitions, it became clear that consulting was the right step forward. I would have shared this news earlier but I have already been busy traveling and working with clients. 😉

I am really excited about this new chapter. While I feel I have a lot I can offer my clients today, I am looking forward to continuing to broaden my knowledge, expertise, and diversity of community strategy and leadership. I am also excited to share these learnings with you all in my writing, presentations, and elsewhere. This has always been a journey, and each new road opens up interesting new questions and potential, and I am thirsty to discover and explore more.

So, if you are interested in building a community, either inside or outside (or both) your organization, feel free to discover more and get in touch and we can talk more.

by Jono Bacon at June 20, 2016 02:45 PM

June 18, 2016

Akkana Peck

Cave 6" as a Quick-Look Scope

I haven't had a chance to do much astronomy since moving to New Mexico, despite the stunning dark skies. For one thing, those stunning dark skies are often covered with clouds -- New Mexico's dramatic skyscapes can go from clear to windy to cloudy to hail or thunderstorms and back to clear and hot over the course of a few hours. Gorgeous to watch, but distracting for astronomy, and particularly bad if you want to plan ahead and observe on a particular night. The Pajarito Astronomers' monthly star parties are often clouded or rained out, as was the PEEC Nature Center's moon-and-planets star party last week.

That sort of uncertainty means that the best bet is a so-called "quick-look scope": one that sits by the door, ready to be hauled out if the sky is clear and you have the urge. Usually that means some kind of tiny refractor; but it can also mean leaving a heavy mount permanently set up (with a cover to protect it from those thunderstorms) so it's easy to carry out a telescope tube and plunk it on the mount.

I have just that sort of scope sitting in our shed: an old, dusty Cave Astrola 6" Newtonian on an equatorian mount. My father got it for me on my 12th birthday. Where he got the money for such a princely gift -- we didn't have much in those days -- I never knew, but I cherished that telescope, and for years spent most of my nights in the backyard peering through the Los Angeles smog.

Eventually I hooked up with older astronomers (alas, my father had passed away) and cadged rides to star parties out in the Mojave desert. Fortunately for me, parenting standards back then allowed a lot more freedom, and my mother was a good judge of character and let me go. I wonder if there are any parents today who would let their daughter go off to the desert with a bunch of strange men? Even back then, she told me later, some of her friends ribbed her -- "Oh, 'astronomy'. Suuuuuure. They're probably all off doing drugs in the desert." I'm so lucky that my mom trusted me (and her own sense of the guys in the local astronomy club) more than her friends.

The Cave has followed me through quite a few moves, heavy, bulky and old fashioned as it is; even when I had scopes that were bigger, or more portable, I kept it for the sentimental value. But I hadn't actually set it up in years. Last week, I assembled the heavy mount and set it up on a clear spot in the yard. I dusted off the scope, cleaned the primary mirror and collimated everything, replaced the finder which had fallen out somewhere along the way, set it up ... and waited for a break in the clouds.

[Hyginus Rille by Michael Karrer] I'm happy to say that the optics are still excellent. As I write this (to be posted later), I just came in from beautiful views of Hyginus Rille and the Alpine Valley on the moon. On Jupiter the Great Red Spot was just rotating out. Mars, a couple of weeks before opposition, is still behind a cloud (yes, there are plenty of clouds). And now the clouds have covered the moon and Jupiter as well. Meanwhile, while I wait for a clear view of Mars, a bat makes frenetic passes overhead, and something in the junipers next to my observing spot is making rhythmic crunch, crunch, crunch sounds. A rabbit chewing something tough? Or just something rustling in the bushes?

I just went out again, and now the clouds have briefly uncovered Mars. It's the first good look I've had at the Red Planet in years. (Tiny achromatic refractors really don't do justice to tiny, bright objects.) Mars is the most difficult planet to observe: Dave liks to talk about needing to get your "Mars eyes" trained for each Mars opposition, since they only come every two years. But even without my "Mars eyes", I had no trouble seeing the North pole with dark Acidalia enveloping it, and, in the south, the sinuous chain of Sini Sabaeus, Meridiani, Margaritifer, and Mare Erythraeum. (I didn't identify any of these at the time; instead, I dusted off my sketch pad and sketched what I saw, then compared it with XEphem's Mars view afterward.)

I'm liking this new quick-look telescope -- not to mention the childhood memories it brings back.

June 18, 2016 02:53 PM

June 14, 2016

Elizabeth Krumbach

Spike, Dino and José

In the fall of 2014 we attended a wedding for one of MJ’s cousins and guests got to bring home their own little succulent plant wedding favor. At the time we didn’t even know what a succulent was, but we dutifully carted it home on the flight.

For the first few months we kept it in the temporary container it came in and I didn’t have a lot of faith in my ability to keep it alive. We managed though, MJ did some research to learn what it was and how to move it into a pot, and it’s been growing ever since.

One day, Caligula wasn’t feeling well. After months of ignoring the plant, he decided that a plant was just the thing to sooth is upset stomach. He tried to bite it, but couldn’t find a good spot because the leaves have a spike at the end. We named the plant Spike.


Simcoe and Spike

In December of last year our dear Spike had a brush with fame! I snapped a picture of the rain one afternoon, and a glimpse of Spike was included in an article.

In April I attended an OpenStack Summit in Austin, Texas. At one of the parties Canonical was giving out succulents in dinosaur planters. How could I resist that? Plus, I’d continue the trend of free plants traveling home in carry on luggage. Having a succulent in a dinosaur planter sticking out of my purse was quite the conversation starter as I traveled home.


Simcoe sits with Dino and Spike

Spike has grown since it was that little wedding favor plant, and it never grew straight. Perhaps because we didn’t turn it enough and it grew towards the sun, or because succulents just keep growing and that just happens. We weren’t sure what to do though, as it eventually got to the point where it was too top-heavy to properly support its own weight! Spike now has scaffolding.

We’d grown quite fond of our little plant, and wanted to see how we could save him and not do the same with Dino. MJ did some research and found the Cactus & Succulent Society of San Jose that appeared to be very welcoming to folks like us looking for help and to identify what the plants are. We went last Sunday, upon my return from Maine and brought Spike and Dino along.

The society meets at a meetinghouse in a park in San Jose and the society members were just as welcoming as their website led us to believe! We were welcomed as we walked in and immediately had a few of our questions answered. As the presentation began they gave us chairs and raffle tickets for later in the meeting. The meeting had a presentation from a woman who sells a lot of succulents and also does a lot of craft projects that use the plants, putting them in living wreathes and various types of cages. I had worried that Dino living in a plastic dinosaur planter would offend them (what are you doing to your precious plant?!), but it turns out that putting succulents into interesting planters is quite a popular hobby. We learned that Dino is perfectly happy in that planter for now.


From the presentation, a succulent box that hangs on the wall, and some cages and various types of succulents

After the meeting they gave out awards for the mini-show that they had for members who brought in plants they wanted to share. We were able to get all the rest of our questions answered as well. We learned a bunch.

  • Both Spike and Dino are of the Echeveria genus. We can do our own research online or at plant shows to compare ours to others to figure out exactly what kind of Echeveria they are. Spike has a purple tint to the leaves and dino has red.
  • We didn’t actually destroy Spike, in spite of the lop-sidedness. Succulents grow and grow and grow. A method of reproduction is when a leaf drops off it can grow into another plant! Spike is ready to become lots of mini-Spikes!
  • One of the reasons societies like this exist is so people can give away and sell their ever-growing population of succulents.
  • We picked up some Miracle Grow soil for cacti and succulents at a home improvement store. That’s fine, but our plant likely doesn’t actually need fertilizer. Something to think about.
  • We should be watering these succulents every week or two, but need to keep an eye on how moist the soil is since root rot is one of the only things that does kill these hearty plants.
  • It’s pretty hard to kill a succulent, so they do use them for all kinds of craft projects and inventive ways.

They gave us some advice about how to handle Spike. They recommended cutting off the top(!), drying it out for a few weeks and replanting that. The bottom of the plant will also grow a new top of the plant. Assuming all goes well, we’ll at least end up with two Spikes that will hopefully grow straight this time, plus as many of the leaves as we want to grow into new plants. We have four leaves drying out now. We haven’t done the scary cutting and replanting yet, but it may be a project for this upcoming weekend, along with picking up a few more pots.

As the meeting wound down they did a raffle. The final ticket called was mine! We ended up going home with a Notocactus Roseoluteus, a flowering cactus. We certainly hadn’t planned on adding to our plant family at this meeting, but it’s a nice plant, and hopefully as a cactus it’ll be another plant that we can keep alive. Since we got this cactus in San Jose, we named it José.


José, the Notocactus Roseoluteus

So far José is doing ok, we watered it yesterday morning and it’s now sitting on the windowsill with the other plants.

by pleia2 at June 14, 2016 12:11 AM

June 10, 2016

Akkana Peck

Visual diffs and file merges with vimdiff

I needed to merge some changes from a development file into the file on the real website, and discovered that the program I most often use for that, meld, is in one of its all too frequent periods where its developers break it in ways that make it unusable for a few months. (Some of this is related to GTK, which is a whole separate rant.)

That led me to explore some other diff/merge alternatives. I've used tkdiff quite a bit for viewing diffs, but when I tried to use it to merge one file into another I found its merge just too hard to use. Likewise for emacs: it's a wonderful editor but I never did figure out how to get ediff to show diffs reliably, let alone merge from one file to another.

But vimdiff looked a lot easier and had a lot more documentation available, and actually works pretty well.

I normally run vim in an xterm window, but for a diff/merge tool, I want a very wide window which will show the diffs side by side. So I used gvimdiff instead of regular vimdiff: gvimdiff docs.dev/filename docs.production/filename

Configuring gvimdiff to see diffs

gvimdiff initially pops up a tiny little window, and it ignores Xdefaults. Of course you can resize it, but who wants to do that every time? You can control the initial size by setting the lines and columns variables in .vimrc. About 180 columns by 60 lines worked pretty well for my fonts on my monitor, showing two 80-column files side by side. But clearly I don't want to set that in .vimrc so that it runs every time I run vim; I only want that super-wide size when I'm running a side-by-side diff.

You can control that by checking the &diff variable in .vimrc:

if &diff
    set lines=58
    set columns=180
endif

If you do decide to resize the window, you'll notice that the separator between the two files doesn't stay in the center: it gives you lots of space for the right file and hardly any for the left. Inside that same &diff clause, this somewhat arcane incantation tells vim to keep the separator centered:

    autocmd VimResized * exec "normal \<C-w>="

I also found that the colors, in the vim scheme I was using, made it impossible to see highlighted text. You can go in and edit the color scheme and make your own, of course, but an easy way quick fix is to set all highlighting to one color, like yellow, inside the if $diff section:

    highlight DiffAdd    cterm=bold gui=none guibg=Yellow
    highlight DiffDelete cterm=bold gui=none guibg=Yellow
    highlight DiffChange cterm=bold gui=none guibg=Yellow
    highlight DiffText   cterm=bold gui=none guibg=Yellow

Merging changes

Okay, once you can view the differences between the two files, how do you merge from one to the other? Most online sources are quite vague on that, but it's actually fairly easy:

]c jumps to the next difference
[c jumps to the previous difference
dp makes them both look like the left side (apparently stands for diff put
do makes them both look like the right side (apparently stands for diff obtain

The only difficult part is that it's not really undoable. u (the normal vim undo keystroke) works inconsistently after dp: the focus is generally in the left window, so u applies to that window, while dp modified the right window and the undo doesn't apply there. If you put this in your .vimrc

nmap du :wincmd w<cr>:normal u<cr>:wincmd w<cr>
then you can use du to undo changes in the right window, while u still undoes in the left window. So you still have to keep track of which direction your changes are going.

Worse, neither undo nor this du command restores the highlighting showing there's a difference between the two files. So, really, undoing should be reserved for emergencies; if you try to rely on it much you'll end up being unsure what has and hasn't changed.

In the end, vimdiff probably works best for straightforward diffs, and it's probably best get in the habit of always merging from right to left, using do. In other words, run vimdiff file-to-merge-to file-to-merge-from, and think about each change before doing it to make it less likely that you'll need to undo.

And hope that whatever silly transient bug in meld drove you to use vimdiff gets fixed quickly.

June 10, 2016 02:10 AM

June 06, 2016

Elizabeth Krumbach

Hashtag FirstJob

Back in February Gareth Rushgrove started the fantastic Twitter hashtag, #FirstTechJob. The responses were inspiring for many people, from those starting out to people like me who “fell into” a tech career. I had a natural love for computers, various junior tech jobs and volunteered in open source for years. I had no formal education in computer science. While my story is not uncommon in tech, it can still be isolating and embarrassing at academic conferences I participate in.

Lots of IT/software jobs ask for experience, but everyone starts somewhere. Lets encourage new folks with a tweet about our #FirstTechJob

I chimed in myself.

Contract web developer at a web development firm. Turned static designs into layouts on sites! Browser compatibility issues... #FirstTechJob

I knew when I posted it that 140 characters was not enough to provide context. For me and so many others it wasn’t just about having that first job and going through the prerequisite grunt work, but the long journey I had before getting said first tech job.

This week, two things inspired me to write more about this. First, I visited my old hometown. Second, several folks I know went to AlterConf and I saw a bunch of tweets about how tech workers should be more compassionate toward support/building/cleaning staff working around them. Don’t disrupt their work, but learn their names, engage them in conversation, treat them with respect.

I’ll begin by setting my privilege stage:

  1. I’m a white woman.
  2. Though we weren’t wealthy, I grew up in an affluent town with great public schools.
  3. I always had clothes, healthy food and a house to live in.
  4. Even though it was 10 years old (and so was I!) when it came to our house in 1991, I had desktop computer at home and I could use it as much as I wanted. We got online at home in 1998.
  5. In addition to a supportive Linux User Group community in Philadelphia, my white 20-something boyfriend referred and recommended me to the employer who gave me my first tech job.
  6. I had, and continue to have, time to learn, hack and experiment outside of work hours.

In spite of any of the other challenges I encountered as a child, youth and young adult, my life was a lot better than many others then and now. I had a lot going for me.


The same age as I am, I found the first computer we had in a museum

So what did my visit back home do?

My husband and I stayed in one of the nicest hotels in Portland, Maine. It was at the top of the highest hill in the city and had a beautiful view of the harbor and the Portland Art Museum.

My most vivid memory from that art museum was not visiting it, though I’m sure I did with a school trip, but when I was a teen and worked as catering staff for a wedding there. Looking out the hotel from our room I remembered the 16 hour day that left me dead on my feet and vowing never to do it again (though of course I did). I woke up early to help cart everything to the museum, helped to make sure the chefs and servers had everything they needed behind the scenes and washed the fancy champagne soup dishes, watching most the soup go down the drain. We rushed around the venue after the event concluded to clean and pack everything back into the van.

It brought back memories of other catering jobs I did too. At one of these jobs in my home town I served hors d’oeuvres to the extended family of people I went to school with. Being friendly and outgoing enough to offer food and carry around those trays while handing out the little napkins is a skill that I still have a lot of respect for.


The Portland Art Museum is in the center of my photo

It wasn’t just catering that I did as soon as I was old enough to work. As we drove through my home town in Cape Elizabeth my verbal tour to my husband included actual historical landmarks that make the town a tourist destination and “I babysat there!” and “I used to clean that house!” It turns out I worked a lot during high school and over those summer vacations.

All these hashtags and discussions really hit home. A formidable amount of my youth was spent as “the help” and I know what it’s like to be invisible to and disrespected by people I serve.

If nothing else, I’ll add my voice to those imploring my fellow techies to make an effort to be more compassionate to the support staff around them. After all, you know me, you can relate to me, and I spent time in their hard-working, worn out shoes.

by pleia2 at June 06, 2016 09:05 PM

June 04, 2016

Akkana Peck

Walking your Goat at the Summer Concert

I love this place. We just got back from this week's free Friday concert at Ashley Pond. Not a great band this time (the previous two were both excellent). But that's okay -- it's still fun to sit on the grass on a summer evening and watch the swallows wheeling over the pond and the old folks dancing up near the stage and the little kids and dogs dashing pell-mell through the crowd, while Dave, dredging up his rock-star past, explains why this band's sound is so muddy (too many stacked effects pedals).

And then on the way out, I'm watching appreciatively as the teen group, who were earlier walking a slack line strung between two trees, has now switched to juggling clubs. (I know old people are supposed to complain about "kids today", but honestly, the kids here seem smart and fit and into all kinds of cool activities.) One of the jugglers has just thrown three clubs and a ball, and is mostly keeping them all in the air, when I hear a bleat to my right -- it's a girl walking by with a goat on a leash.

Just another ordinary Friday evening in Los Alamos.

June 04, 2016 02:45 AM

May 29, 2016

Elizabeth Krumbach

Toys and Cats in Austin

It’s been a month since returning from my trip to Austin for the OpenStack Summit, but I’ve been overwhelmed with work and finishing my book, more on that in another post. Not much time for writing here in my blog! I had some side adventures in Austin that I’d hate to see go unmentioned.

The OpenStack Summits are pretty exhausting, so what better way to unwind than to snuggle up with some kitties? As we wrapped up our work on Friday afternoon I gathered a crew to join me at the Blue Cat Cafe, which was just under a mile from the conference venue. A bit after 5PM we made our way over there.

Along the way, we discovered the Austin Toy Museum. It was a small place, but it was a fun detour. I got my picture taken with R2-D2.

They had a relatively big Star Wars exhibit with a bunch of toys that my colleagues and I enjoyed pointing to and saying we had as kids. The museum definitely skewed toward toys from the 1980s, and the fellow who sold us our tickets waxed poetically about how the 1980s were the golden age of toys. Who am I to argue? I sure enjoyed my toys as a kid in the 1980s.


Hoth toys have always been a favorite of mine

The museum distinguishes itself by the video games, which you get to play as much as you want for the price of admission. They have a whole wall of consoles, plus several arcade games. I enjoyed getting smashed to pieces in Astroids and playing a bit of Pac-Man, both on arcade games. Plus, my 1980s flashback journey was completed by seeing a couple Popples hanging out on top of the Q*bert game.

From there we finally made our way over to the cat cafe! Cat cafes have been popping up in major cities, including one in San Francisco, but this was the first time I’d made it to one. Like many of them, their focus is on adoption and care for cats that don’t have homes. They’re also great for cat lovers who can’t have one at home, or are traveling for a conference and missing their own kitties!

The inside of this cafe was definitely the domain of kitties. An old drum set was transformed into kitty sleeping areas. An old furniture-style CRT TV had the mechanical components removed to make way for a nice cat bed. There were also plenty of places to climb!

There were also some unintentional cat toys. When someone left the bathroom door open we learned why you don’t leave the bathroom door open.

The cafe component of this establishment was served by a food truck in front of the building. You can order from inside with the kitties, but they take your order out to the food truck to be prepared and then you pick it up at a window inside, or they bring it to you. I enjoyed some hot cider while we petted the cats that wandered through where we were sitting on some couches.

Our adventure to the cat cafe was my perfect relaxing activity post-conference. Next time I’m in Austin I plan on checking out the Museum of the Weird and Austin Books & Comics, which I had planned on visiting but didn’t make it to.

A few more photos from the cat cafe here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157668283330182

by pleia2 at May 29, 2016 03:59 PM

May 25, 2016

Elizabeth Krumbach

Sharks and Giants

Six years ago sports weren’t on my radar. I’d been to a couple minor league baseball games (Sea Dogs in Portland when I was young, and the Reading Phillies a few years earlier) but it wasn’t until 2010 that I went to a major sporting event.

I’m not sure if it was the stunning AT&T Park or I was just at a point in my life where I could chill out and enjoy a game, but I fell in love that night in 2010 when we watched the Philadelphia Phillies play the San Francisco Giants. Since then I’ve attended a bunch more San Francisco Giants games, several Oakland A’s games, and MJ and I have branched out into hockey too by going to San Jose Sharks games. Back in December I went to my first football game. Baseball still holds my heart, and so does AT&T Park, but I do enjoy a good hockey game.

A couple weeks ago when we learned that the Sharks were going into the 7th game of second round finals we snapped up tickets. On May 12th we took Caltrain down to San Jose to see them play against Nashville.

It was the first time I’d ever been to a playoff game for any sport. Going to a sold out game with the energy that a playoff brings was quite the experience. It was a really enjoyable game for Sharks fans.

Nashville had lots of great passes, but the Sharks won 4-0, sealing their spot in the conference finals. Nice! This week will determine how far they continue to go, as I write this they’re in a 3-2 game lead in the conference finals.

More pictures from the evening and the game: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157666141427753

The only downside to the evening was the trek home. I’d love for Caltrain to be a good option both ways. Going down is pretty easy and quick on a bullet train during rush hour, but coming home is pretty rough. The game ended around 8:30, we were on the train platform by 9 to catch a 9:30 train. By the time we go home it was 11:30PM. Three hours from the end of the game to getting home was a bit much, especially since I was also recovering from a nasty cold that sapped my energy pretty severely.

I hadn’t planned on going to another game this month, but a friend and colleague who is staying in town for a few weeks contacted me to see if I’d be interested in catching a baseball game this week. Count me in. Last night MJ and I met up with my buddy Spencer and we caught a Giants game down at my beloved AT&T Park.

The weather was a bit gloomy, but we only had a bit of misting during the end of the game. The Giants were in their first game against the San Diego Padres, and the Padres put up a fight. The game was 0-0 until the bottom of the 9th. It was actually a little painful, but I had good company… who I dragged halfway across the stadium so we could get decent beer during the game. Happy to report that I enjoyed a Mango Wheat and Go West! IPA by Anchor Brewing Company along with my obligatory ball game hot dogs.

It was the bottom of the 9th inning, as we all were getting ready for extra innings, that the Giants scored a run. It sure made for an exciting final inning!

More photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157668743195896

No complaints about the commute home from AT&T Park. We live less than a mile from the stadium so just needed to use our feet to get home, along with dozens of other fans headed in the same direction.

by pleia2 at May 25, 2016 07:45 AM

May 23, 2016

Jono Bacon

Moving on From GitHub

Last year I joined GitHub as Director Of Community. My role has been to champion and manage GitHub’s global, scalable community development initiatives. Friday was my last day as a hubber and I wanted to share a few words about why I have decided to move on.

My passion has always been about building productive, engaging communities, particularly focused on open source and technology. I have devoted my career to understanding the nuances of this work and which workflow, technical, psychological, and leadership ingredients can deliver the most effective and rewarding results.

As part of this body of work I wrote The Art of Community, founded the annual Community Leadership Summit, and I have led the development of community at Canonical, XPRIZE, OpenAdvantage, and for a range of organizations as a consultant and advisor.

I was attracted to GitHub because I was already a fan and was excited by the potential within such a large ecosystem. GitHub’s story has been a remarkable one and it is such a core component in modern software development. I also love the creativity and elegance at the core of GitHub and the spirit and tone in which the company operates.

Like any growing organization though, GitHub will from time to time need to make adjustments in strategy and organization. One component in some recent adjustments sadly resulted in the Director of Community role going away.

The company was enthusiastic about my contributions and encouraged me to explore some other roles that included positions in product marketing, professional services, and elsewhere. So, I met with these different teams to explore some new and existing positions and see what might be a good fit. Thanks to everyone in those conversations for your time and energy.

Unfortunately, I ultimately didn’t feel they matched my passion and skills for building powerful, productive, engaging communities, as I mentioned above. As such, I decided it was time to part ways with GitHub.

Of course, I am sad to leave. Working at GitHub was a blast. GitHub is a great company and is working on some valuable and important areas that strike right at the center of how we build great software. I worked with some wonderful people and I have many fond memories. I am looking forward to staying in touch with my former colleagues and executives and I will continue to be an ardent supporter, fan, and user of both GitHub and Atom.

So, what is next? Well, I have a few things in the pipeline that I am not quite ready to share yet, so stay tuned and I will share this soon. In the meantime, to my fellow hubbers, live long and prosper!

by Jono Bacon at May 23, 2016 03:20 PM

May 18, 2016

Jono Bacon

Kindness and Community

On Friday last week I flew out to Austin to run the Community Leadership Summit and join OSCON. When I arrived in Austin, I called home and our son, Jack, was rather upset. It was clear he wasn’t just missing daddy, he also wasn’t feeling very well.

As the week unfolded he developed strep throat. While a fairly benign issue in the scheme of things, it is clearly uncomfortable for him and pretty scary for a 3 year-old. With my wife, Erica, flying out today to also join OSCON and perform one of the keynotes, it was clear that I needed to head home to take care of him. So, I packed my bag, wrestled to keep the OSCON FOMO at bay, and headed to the airport.

Coordinating the logistics was no simple feat, and stressful. We both feel awful when Jack is sick, and we had to coordinate new flights, reschedule meetings, notify colleagues and handover work, coordinate coverage for the few hours in-between her leaving and me landing, and other things. As I write this I am on the flight heading home and at some point she will zoom past me on another flight heading to Austin.

Now, none of this is unusual. Shit happens. People face challenges every day, and many far worse than this. What struck me so notably today though was the sheer level of kindness from our friends, family, and colleagues.

People wrapped around us like a glove. Countless people offered to take care of responsibilities, help us with travel and airport runs, share tips for helping Jack feel better, provide sympathy and support, and more.

This was all after a weekend of running the Community Leadership Summit, an event that solicited similar levels of kindness. There were volunteers who got out of bed at 5am to help us set up, people who offered to prepare and deliver keynotes and sessions, coordinate evening events, equipment, sponsorship contributions, and help run the event itself. Then, to top things off, there were remarkably generous words and appreciation for the event as a whole when it drew to a close.

This is the core of what makes community so special, and so important. While at times it can seem the world has been overrun with cynicism, narcissism, negativity, and selfishness, we are instead surrounded by an abundance of kindness. What helps this kindness bubble to the surface are great relationships, trust, respect, and clear ways in which people can play a participatory role and support each other. Whether it is something small like helping Erica and I to take care of our little man or something more involved such as an open source project, it never ceases to inspire and amaze me how innately kind and collaborative we are.

This is another example of why I have devoted my life to understanding every nuance I can of how we can tap into and foster these fundamental human instincts. This is how we innovate, how we make the world a better place, and how we build opportunity for everyone, no matter what their background is.

When we harness these instincts, understand the subtleties of how we think and operate, and wrap them in effective collaborative workflows and environments, we create the ability to build and disrupt things more effectively than ever.

It is an exciting journey, and I am thankful every day to be joined on it by so many remarkable people. We are going build an exciting future together and have a rocking great time doing so.

by Jono Bacon at May 18, 2016 07:48 PM

May 12, 2016

Elizabeth Krumbach

My Yakkety Yak has arrived!

I like toys, but I’m an adult who lives in a small condo, so I need to behave myself when it comes to bringing new friends into our home. I made an agreement with myself to try and limit my stuffed toy purchases to two per year, one for each Ubuntu release.

Even so, I now have quite the collection.

These toys serve the purpose of brightening up our events with some fun, and enjoy the search for a new animal to match Mark Shuttleworth’s latest animal announcement. Truth be told, my tahr is a goat that I found that kind of looks like a tahr. The same goes for my xerus. My pangolin ended up having to be a plastic toy, though awareness about the animal (and conservation effords) has grown since 2012 so I’d likely be able to find one now. The quetzal was the trickiest, I had to admit defeat bought an ornament instead, but I did find and buy some quetzal earrings during our honeymoon in Mexico.

I’ve had fun as well and learned more about animals, which I love anyway. For the salamander I bought a $55 Hellbender Salamander Adoption Kit from the World Wildlife fund, an organization my husband and I now donate to annually. Learning about pangolins led me to visit one in San Diego and become a made me aware of the Save Pangolins organization.

It is now time for a Yakkety Yak! After some indecisiveness, I went with an adorable NICI yak, which I found on Amazon and shipped from Shijiazhuang, China. He arrived today.

Here he is!

…though I did also enjoy the first photo I took, where trusty photobombed us.

by pleia2 at May 12, 2016 01:38 AM