Ubuntu Pennsylvania Planet

January 24, 2016

Brandon Plaufcan

Monogamy in humans!

From a very young age, we are instilled with the value of being monogamous.  From the words of a thousand year old book, to school, and everywhere else, we are taught that being monogamous is the only way to be.  We should only have one partner, and that partner should be of the opposite sex.  Why?  We as humans weren’t meant to be monogamous, we were meant to be polyamourous.  We are informed that if we like someone of the same sex, that we are wrong and going to hell for this.  I call bull on this.  As long as you and your partner are happy, even if you have multiple partners or a partner of the same sex, what’s the big deal?  You’re not harming anybody, and you get to experience new things and perhaps try them with your other partner.  We humans only have a short time on this blue pebble, so why not make it enjoyable?  Enjoy sex, enjoy life, enjoy new experiences, enjoy everything that life has to offer, because inevitably, we are all going to do one thing.  We will cease to exist, we will be buried or cremated, and that will be it for us.  I for one can guarantee that I will enjoy this life, and I will not allow others to control my happiness or well being.  If you need to criticize others about their life, maybe you should look at yours first.  Make sure you’re life is one hundred percent perfect.  That’s all I got for this one, I’ll say goodbye to those that can’t handle this stuff in advance.  And have a beautiful life!

by perlluver at January 24, 2016 08:23 PM

March 17, 2015

Brandon Plaufcan

Make love to life!

Life sucks, life’s boring, life hurts, get over it!  Life is what you make it.  You can be whatever you want to be, you can do whatever you want to do.  Maybe life is about helping others, maybe it’s about being happy with what you have?  Maybe it’s enjoying the small things?  It’s not always good, but it is worth it.  You get hurt, you break, you love, you lose.  If you find that person that makes you happy, that is there thru thick and thin, that you would do anything, just to make sure they’re happy.  Hang onto them, don’t let them slip away.  Do everything you can to trust them, and don’t let petty insecurities come between the two of you.  Never abuse their trust, it will never be the same, or it may end your relationship all together.  Nobody is perfect, people make mistakes, just don’t let them mistakes be with someones heart.

We’re only given a short time on this planet, why spend it miserable, when you can make the best of it?  Enjoy time with friends, volunteer, meet new people, have a family, enjoy nature, put down the electronic leash.  Create experiences with the people you love and care about.  Life doesn’t have to be difficult, it can be quite enjoyable.  Quit stressing over things that you can’t change.  There are millions of people that would love to have the life you do.  So stop complaining about it, and enjoy it.  Go to the beach, take a walk in the woods, go look at a waterfall, enjoy the sounds of a babbling brook, sit around a campfire and enjoy the crackling.  Spend the night in a tent, go fishing or hunting, go on a mini vacation right in your own backyard.  Enjoy the air you’re breathing in while out in nature, and for the love of everything holy, put down that cell phone, or tablet, or iPod, or whatever electronic device you may have.  Enjoy the sounds of nature, the sights, the experiences.  Take a bike ride, go rock climbing, sailing, take a canoe down the river.

We have become so enamored with electronic devices, the constant need to know every minute what another person is doing, what they’re eating, who they’re dating.  The question remains, what does it matter?  The main point of life, is to enjoy it.  I’m guilty of this myself, most times I wish cell phones had never even been invented.  Yes they are nice to have, you can keep in touch with a few taps on a screen or a keypad.  But, they have taken over our lives.  They ruin relationships, they make it easier to cheat, they make it easier for people to be able to locate you to a specific location.  They interfere with work.  They interfere with conversations.  They interfere with just about every aspect of life, and we’re only getting worse with them.  Go to a restaurant, or a coffee shop.  Look around, and how many people do you see with their heads pointing down looking at their cell phone?  It’s amazing how a few years can change everything so drastically.

In the end, do what makes you genuinely happy, treat yourself to the simpler things.  Make love to life.  Let other people do what they’re going to do, you aren’t going to change them.  You’ll just end up worrying about something that you can’t change or fix.  Nobody controls your happiness, except you.  So do just that, take control of your happiness and enjoy this short time that you were given.  Nobody was promised forever, it could all end tomorrow.  So make the best of what you have, use your talents, show the world your talent.  Remember to enjoy the small and simple things, memories can last lifetime, make them happy memories.

by perlluver at March 17, 2015 07:10 PM

January 07, 2015

Asheesh Laroia

Engaging Developers with Content -- talk notes by Asheesh

How to think about marketing, when marketing to developers

Video link:

  • http://www.heavybit.com/library/video/2013-10-22-danielle-morrill

Interesting phrases:

  • Sales is getting rejected one by one. Marketing is "getting rejected at scale."
  • Much of the time, "You're trying to write to about 200 people" (at a time).
  • "Every single one of those tweets [referencing other people's content] is a missed opportunity to link to your own content."
  • "You'll never be able to think like a noob again" -- "your content will basically suffer from the curse of knowledge."
  • "Your blog is, like, the cheapest banner ad in the world."
  • "It has to be OK to ship something crappy, incrementally improve it, and then never ever ever stop doing it."
  • "People _love_ the process of how the sausage is getting made." My remark -- the great thing is you can show them just the parts you want to.
  • "Anything you do is news in your community. It doesn't matter that it's not news in the rest of the world."
  • "Troll slayers have to be above reproach."
  • "The good thing is, when you make people angry, it means they're thinking about you."
  • "The value of different channels is you need multiple opportunities to connect with the same people."
  • "Write Google Voice in 50 lines of code." The idea here is, say clearly how people can use your tools as technical leverage. People aren't as good as you at connecting the dots of why your thing is so cool.
  • "Sometimes it's good to just power the toys, and let the hobbyists decide what's exciting to them."
  • "You want to get your community helping each other."
  • "In the early days, you want to talk to everyone."
  • "The company voice becomes an amalgamation of personal voices," except when something bad happens (unless the CEO is visible and willing to communicate).
  • "To write good content, you need to read a lot."
  • On topics that you can get other people to write: "You have to convince them they picked [the topic] for themselves, or you have to let them pick them."
  • "Read the people your community trusts and respects."
  • "Surround people, so they can find you in the channels they like."
  • "Go do all the things people would do to try to find you."

Types of content:

  • Email newsletter
  • Email drip campaign; these two are enough for the first year. Care about open rates.
  • Ranked #3: Make a blog. Possible content: (1) anything at all. (2) Contests. (3) Write glorious beautiful documentation as blog posts.
  • "How it works" diagram.
  • Write about customers. "Didn't you actually change the world?"

Interesting things they found:

  • "Trailing open rates of months on the first email" -- that is to say, the first email newsletter was pure gold, so people kept re-opening it.
  • Developer Marketing is a thing Microsofties figured out in the '90s; google for it.
  • "Get good at comments, because you're gonna have to fix things."
  • Good self-introduction posts answer the question, "What are you bringing to the table?" (The audience should care that you're part of $COMPANY.) How can your presence in the company make customers more successful?
  • If you want every engineer to be able to present what the product is, then ask everyone to build something using the product plus present it to the company, and now they won't be afraid of presenting things to other people.
  • "Have developers write the documentation themselves."
  • Write short blog posts.
  • "The content that makes the most money is case studies."
  • "The best piece of content is something that makes people think of your company more highly than before."
  • "The under-appreciated thing where you can be best at it is the content that rocks."
  • (No video. Too much work.)
  • "Tweet the same thing -- once at 10am, once at 4pm. . . . No one is looking at stuff at the same time."
  • "You know better than anyone the businesses that can be built on your platform, so write the recipes for them."
  • For emails: "Automatically opt people in, then make sure to build good segemented lists. Keep your lists for your campaigns separate from your newsletter."
  • "If the production quality of the email is high, people will assume it's high quality."
  • "Make sure you have a clear conversation internally about what you do and don't want to share."

Interesting questions:

  • On Sandstorm, how many people use which pages? Blog vs. app vs. app store list.

Things I need to revisit:

  • Repurposing content.

More content ideas:

  • Publish internal emails.
  • Blog your FAQ. (Also make sure the content appears everywhere else it needs to -- Stack Overflow, etc.)
  • Any time we go and give a talk.
  • Take photos at Meetups.

Questions for me:

  • Perhaps Sandstorm should use Stack Overflow as our main Q&A plan.
  • Perhaps I should publish my first all at corp.sandstorm.io mail?
  • Does Sandstorm have enough blog posts by non-Kenton people? ("No one sells it like a first ten engineering team.")
  • Are we set up for our website to communicate effectively? Does the product communicate effectively?

What to measure, early on:

  • Look at web traffic.
  • How many times you got mentioned on Twitter.
  • Whether or not people comment at all (on external discussion areas like Hacker News).
  • Broadly the levels of how many people hang out in your IRC room. "Just monitor the level of people helping each other."
  • In the first six months, don't focus on revenue, because the opportunity is all the customers you haven't reached yet.

January 07, 2015 07:58 PM

Quick thoughts about Jade's Meteor community talk


  • http://www.heavybit.com/library/video/2014-07-08-jade-wang

Very interesting phrases:

  • "they are in charge"
  • "power law"
  • "invest in leadership, not participation"
  • "don't be afraid to give people real power"
  • "what if you look for community organizers in your community?"
  • "poured fuel on the fire"

Very interesting concepts:

  • Devshop London.

Remaining questions for Jade:

  • What were some of the Devshop failure modes that were continually tweaked? How will they get tweaked in London?

Questions/thoughts it brings up for me:

  • Meteor & co. have a "Chapters" list. I'm borderline surprised that they are using mailing lists. Moreover, how do they get activity on the list? (Do they?)
  • Who are the leaders we could massively empower for OSCTC? Probably Davis.
  • Does this mean we should rethink the idea of Chapters?
  • For Railsbridge, where are their leaders that they empower? Luckily the chapters process structurally encourages local leadership. I've seen it at least in Boston.
  • What would we say for BPW? Chicago? Almost. Philly? Probably/possibly.
  • Was the real failure of BPW that we didn't try to identify local leaders for regional chapters? If so, how did I miss that?
    • I guess we tried to, but we didn't structurally encourage it. Amazing.
  • What do we say about Debian, then?
    • 1K developers, but leaders? Maybe not as much. Which results in less growth in terms of user base. Breath-taking.
  • For Ubuntu+Debian, and presumably meteor, The leadership needed is not so much technical as community/marketing. Jade tries not to call it marketing, but I don't know if she realizes how it's not technical leadership she's after.
    • Debian always wanted technical leaders to show up, and the package maintainer based process encourages that structurally. But it does nothing structurally to encourage community/marketing leadership.

Other remarks:

  • Jade looks back and forth at the computer a lot. Maybe not given a lot of talks yet?
  • Very few "um"s, but some.
  • Infrequent smiles at the audience -- interesting.
  • A great talk, regardless of some trivial style quibbles.
  • 62 meetup groups, 1-5 captains apiece.
  • First meetup, reimburse for food and snacks. Generally cover the Meetup.com dues.
  • Initially, found people doing interesting things with Meteor -- publicized their work, but also got in touch.
  • The day of the monthly Meteor DevShops, they invite people to show up IRL, which fosters peer to peer communication.

Overall remarks:

It's not every day I watch a talk from someone who works in my space who has an idea that makes me rethink a lot of what I've done.

Welcome to Sandstorm.

January 07, 2015 07:27 PM

June 22, 2014

Asheesh Laroia

Interactive semi-automated package review (by abusing Travis-CI)

I just did some Debian package review in a somewhat unusual way, and I wanted to share that. I'm hoping other Debian developers (and other free software contributors) that need to review others' contributions can learn something from this, and that I can use this blog post as a way to find out if other people are doing something similar.

It was pretty exciting! At the end of it, I joined #debian-mentors to talk about how my cool process. Someone summarized it very accurately:

<sney> it almost sounds like you're working to replace yourself with automation

Context about alpine in Debian

(Skip to "Package review, with automation" if you're familiar with Debian.)

I'm the maintainer of alpine in Debian. There are quite a few problems with the alpine package in Debian right now, the biggest of which are:

  • We're one version behind -- 2.11 is the latest available, but 2.10 is the newest that we have in Debian.
  • The packaging uses a decreasingly-popular packaging helper, cdbs, about which I happen to know less than the dh-style helper (aka dh7).
  • There are lots of bugs filed, and I don't respond in a timely fashion.

This doesn't change my deep love for alpine -- I've had that for about half my life now, and so far, I don't see it going away.

A month or so ago, I got a friendly private message from Unit193, saying he had converted the package to the dh style, and also packaged the newer version. They wanted to know if they should clean this up into something high-enough quality to land in Debian.

(In Debian, we have a common situation where enthusiastic users update or create a new package, and aren't yet Debian Developers, so they don't have permission to upload that directly to the "Debian archive", which is the Debian equivalent of git master. Package "sponsorship" is how we handle that -- a Debian Developer reviews the package, makes sure it is of high quality, and uploads it to the Debian archive along with the Debian Developer's OpenPGP signature, so the archive processing tools know to trust it.)

On Friday evening, I had a spare moment, so I sent a private message to Unit193 apologizing for not getting back to them in a reasonable amount of time. Having another person help maintain is a pretty exciting prospect, and I wanted to treat that enthusiasm with the respect it deserves, or at least apologize when I haven't. I was surprised to see a reply within a few minutes. At that point, I thought: I wasn't planning on doing any package review this weekend, but if they're online and I'm online... might as well!

Package review, with automation

Unit193 and I popped into ##alpine on irc.freenode.net, and I started reading through their packaging changes, asking questions. As I asked questions, I wondered -- how will I know if they are going to fix the issues I'm raising?

Luckily, Unit193 wanted to use git to track the packaging, and we settled on using git-buildpackage, a tool that was fairly new to both of us. I thought, I might as well have some executable documentation so I don't forget how to use it. ("Executable documentation" is Asheesh-speak for a shell script.)

One thing I knew was that I'd have to test the package in a pbuilder, or other pristine build environment. But all I had on me at the moment was my work laptop, which didn't have one set up. Then I had a bright idea: I could use Travis-CI, a public continuous integration service, to check Unit193's packaging. If I had any concerns, I could add them to the shell script and then point at the build log and say, "This needs to be fixed." Then there would be great clarity about the problems.

Some wonderful things about Travis-CI:

  • They give you root access on an Ubuntu Precise (10.04) virtual machine.
  • Their build hosts are well-connected to the Internet, which means fast downloads in e.g. pbuilder.
  • They will let you run a build for up to 50 minutes, for free.
  • Build just means "command" or "set of commands," so you can just write a shell script and they will run it.
  • Travis-CI will watch a github.com repository, if you like. This means you can 'git commit --allow-empty' then 'git push' and ask it to re-run your script.

Since Unit193's packaging was in git (but not on github), I created a git repo containing the same contents, where I would experiment with fixes for packaging problems I found. It'd be up to Unit193 to fix the problems in the Alioth packaging. This way, I would be providing advice, and Unit193 would have an opportunity to ask questions, so it would be more like mentorship and less like me fixing things.

We did a few rounds of feedback this way, and got the packaging to higher and higher quality. Every time Unit193 made a fix and pushed it, I would re-run the auto-build, and see if the problems I spotted had gone away.

While the auto-build runs, I can focus on conversing with my mentee about problems or just generally chatting. Chatting is valuable community-building! It's extremely nice that I can do that while waiting on the build, knowing that I don't have to read it carefully -- I can just wait a few minutes, then see if it's done, and see if it's red or green. Having the mentee around while I'm reviewing it means that I can use the time I'm waiting on builds as fun free software social time. (Contrast this with asynchronous review, where, all alone, I would wait for a build to finish, then write up an email at the end of it all.)

This kind of mentorship + chatting was spread out over Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday morning. By the end of it, we had a superb package that I'm excited to sign and push into Debian when I'm next near my OpenPGP key.

Implementation details

You can see the final shell script here:

And you can see the various builds here:

The shell script:

  • Alternates between the Alioth packaging vs. my fork of it. (This way, I can test packaging changes/suggestions.)
  • Disables ccache in pbuilder, due to a permissions problem with ccache/pbuilder/travis-ci, and I didn't need ccache anyway.
  • Handles 'git dch' slightly wrong. I need to figure that out.
  • Optionally passes --git-ignore-new to git-buildpackage, which was required initially, but should not be required by the time the package is ready. (This is an example of a thing I might forget to remark upon to my mentee.)
  • Plays games with git branches so that git-buildpackage on Travis-CI can find the pristine-tar branch.
  • Tries to use cdn.debian.net as its mirror, but on Saturday ran into problems with whicever mirror that is, so it falls back to mirror.mit.edu in case that fails.
  • Contains a GPG homedir, and imports the Debian archive key, so that it can get past Ubuntu-Debian pbuilder trust issues.

I also had a local shell script that would run, effectively:

  • git commit --allow-empty -m 'Trigger build'
  • git push

This was needed since I was basically using Travis-CI as remote shell service -- moreover, the scripts Travis-CI runs are in a different repo (travis-debcheck) than the software I'm actually testing (collab-maint/alpine.git).

Unit193 and I had a technical disagreement at one point, and I realized that rather than discuss it, I could just ask Travis-CI to test which one of us was right. At one point in the revisions, the binary package build failed to build on Precise Pangolin (the Ubuntu release that the Travis-CI worker is running), and Unit193 said that it was probably due to a problem with building on Ubuntu. So I added a configuration option to build just the source package in Ubuntu, keeping the binary package test-build within the Debian sid pbuilder, although I believed that there was actually a problem with the packaging. This way, I could modify the script so that I could demonstrate the problem could be reproduced in a sid pbuilder. Of course, by the time I got that far, Unit193 had figured out that it was indeed a packaging bug.

I also created an option to SKIP_PBUILDER; initially, I wanted to get quick automated feedback on the quality of the source package without waiting for pbuilder to create the chroot and for the test build to happen.

You might notice that the script is not very secure -- Niels Thykier already did! That's fine by me; it's only Travis-CI's machines that could be worsened by that insecurity, and really, they already gave me a root shell with no password. (This might sound dismissive of Travis-CI -- I don't mean it to be! I just mean that their security model already presumably involves throwing away the environment in which my code is executing, and I enjoy taking advantage of that.)

Since the Travis virtual machine is Ubuntu, and we want to run the latest version of lintian (a Debian packaging "lint" checker), we run lintian within the Debian sid pbuilder. To do that, I use the glorious "B90lintian" sample pbuilder hook script, which comes bundled with pbuilder in /usr/share/doc/pbuilder/.

The full build, which includes creating a sid pbuilder from scratch, takes merely 7-10 minutes. I personally find this kind of shockingly speedy -- in 2005, when I first got involved, doing a pbuilder build seemed like it would take forever. Now, a random free shell service on the Internet will create a pbuilder, and do a test build within it, in about 5 minutes.

Package review, without automation

I've done package review for other mentees in the past. I tend to do it in a very bursty fashion -- one weekend day or one weeknight I decide sure, it's a good day to read Debian packages and provide feedback.

Usually we do it asynchronously on the following protocol:

  1. I dig up an email from someone who needed review.
  2. I read through the packaging files, doing a variety of checks as they occur to me.
  3. If I find problems, I write an email about them to the mentee. If not, success! I sign and upload the package.

There are some problems with the above:

  • The burstiness means that if someone fixes the issues, I might not have time to re-review for another month or longer.
  • The absence of an exhaustive list of things to look for means that I could fail to provide that feedback in the first round of review, leading to a longer wait time.
  • The person receiving the email might not understand my comments, which could interact really badly with the burstiness.

I did this for Simon Fondrie-Teitler's python-pypump package recently. We followed the above protocol. I wrote a long email to Simon, where I remarked on various good and bad points of the packaging. It was part commentary, part terminal transcript -- I use the terminal transcripts to explain what I mean. This is part of the email I sent:

I got an error in the man page generation phase -- because at 
build-time, I don't have requests-oauthlib:

make[2]: Leaving directory `/tmp/python-pypump-0.5-1+dfsg/docs'
help2man --no-info \
	-n 'sets up an environment and oauth tokens and allows for interactive testing' \
        --version-string=0.5.1 /tmp/python-pypump-0.5-1+dfsg/pypump-shell > /tmp/python-pypump-0.5-1+dfsg/debian/pypump-shell.1
help2man: can't get `--help' info from /tmp/python-pypump-0.5-1+dfsg/pypump-shell
Try `--no-discard-stderr' if option outputs to stderr
make[1]: *** [override_dh_auto_build] Error 1

This seems to be because:

➜  python-pypump-0.5-1+dfsg  ./pypump-shell 
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "./pypump-shell", line 26, in <module>
    from pypump import PyPump, Client
  File "/tmp/python-pypump-0.5-1+dfsg/pypump/__init__.py", line 19, in <module>
    from pypump.pypump import PyPump, WebPump
  File "/tmp/python-pypump-0.5-1+dfsg/pypump/pypump.py", line 28, in <module>
    from six.moves.urllib import parse
ImportError: No module named urllib

$ ./pypump-shell 
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "./pypump-shell", line 26, in <module>
    from pypump import PyPump, Client
  File "/tmp/python-pypump-0.5-1+dfsg/pypump/__init__.py", line 19, in <module>
    from pypump.pypump import PyPump, WebPump
  File "/tmp/python-pypump-0.5-1+dfsg/pypump/pypump.py", line 29, in <module>
    from requests_oauthlib import OAuth1
ImportError: No module named requests_oauthlib

The deeper problem was a missing build-dependency, and I explained that in my email. But the meta problem is that Simon didn't try building this in a pbuilder, or otherwise clean build environment.

Simon fixed these problems, and submitted a fresh package to Paul Tagliamonte and myself. It happened to have some typos in the names of the new build dependencies. Paul reviewed the fixed package, noticed the typos, fixed them, and uploaded it. Simon had forgotten to do a test build the second time, too, which is an understandable human failure. There was a two-day delay between Simon's fixed resubmission, and Paul signing+uploading the fixed result.

In a pedagogical sense, there's something disappointing about that exchange for me: Paul fixed an error Simon introduced, so we're not teaching Simon to take total responsibility for his packages in Debian, nor to understand the Debian system as well as he could. (Luckily, I think Simon already understands the importance of taking responsibility! In this case, it's just a hypothetical in this case.)

For the future

The next time I review a package, I'm going to try to do something similar to my Travis-CI hack. It would be nice to have the do.sh script be a little more abstract; I imagine that as I try to use it for a different package, I'll discover the right abstractions.

I'd love it if Travis-CI did not require the git repositories to be on GitHub. I'd also like if the .travis.yml file could be in a different path. If so, we could create debian/travis-configuration (or something) and keep the packaging files nice and separate from the upstream source.

I'd also love to hear about other people's feedback. Are you doing something similar? Do you want to be? Would you have done some of this differently? Leave a comment here, or ping me (paulproteus) on #debian-mentors on irc.debian.org (aka irc.oftc.net).

I'll leave you with some conversation from #debian-mentors:

<paulproteus> The automation here, I think, is really interesting.
<paulproteus> What I really want is for mentees to show up to me and say "Here is my package + build log with pbuilder, can you sponsor it please?"
<Unit193> Oooooh!
-*- Unit193 gets ideas.
<paulproteus> Although the irony is that I actually like the community-building and relationship-building nature of having these things be conversations.
<bremner> how will this brave new world cope with licensing issues?
<paulproteus> bremner: It's not a replacement for actual review, just a tool-assist.
<paulproteus> bremner: You might be relieved to know that much of Unit193's and my back and forth related to get-orig-source and licensing. (-:
<bremner> I didn't doubt you ;).
<paulproteus> If necessary I can just be a highly productive reviewer, but I would prefer to figure out some way that I can get other non-paulproteus people to get a similar assist.
<paulproteus> I think the current blocker is "omg travis why are you bound to githubbbbbbbb" which is a reasonable concern.

June 22, 2014 10:02 PM

April 27, 2014

Asheesh Laroia

Personal backups

My main computers nowadays are:

  • My personal laptop.
  • My work laptop.
  • My phone.

Given that, and given my propensity to start large fun home networking related projects but then leave them unfinished, here is my strategy for having reliable backups of my personal laptop:

  • Buy an external hard disk, preferably the kind that requires no external power supply.
  • Store it at work, and make an encrypted filesystem on it.
  • Once per two weeks, take my personal laptop to work, where I will connect the external disk over USB, and do backups to it using e.g. dirvish (which is something like Apple's Time Machine software).
  • When the backup finishes, use a post-it note to write today's date on the external disk, then put it back in my work filing box.

This seems to have the following advantages:

  • No decrease in privacy -- the data is stored encrypted.
  • Convenient off-site storage.
  • I don't have to be thoughtful about what I am backing up.
  • Since I'll be using dirvish, restoring data will be easy.

If people have any thoughts about this, or do things a different way and have pros or cons to share, I'd love to hear.

I realize this doesn't protect my phone or work laptop. I'll work on those some other time.

April 27, 2014 11:59 PM

January 29, 2014

Asheesh Laroia

What happens in my inbox

At this moment, I'm so impressed by what happens in my inbox. I see quotes like these, all referring to events or resources made as part of Open Source Comes to Campus.

  • "I had a student stop by the office today and tell me that Saturday's event was a real game changer for him."
  • Conversations with freegeekchicago.org.
  • "I worked through the student GIT setup <https://openhatch.org/wiki/Open_Source_Comes_to_Campus/Practicing_Git/Students>. It looks good."
  • Other people than me are staying in touch with computer science departments to show them that our event pages do in fact thank them.
  • "Please be sure to emphasize that OpenHatch has a focus on being newcomer-friendly and gender-diverse," says someone who is a new volunteer (we met them in October).
  • " I just wanted to say thank you so much for taking the time to walk us through the [git] tutorial. My classmate and I were attending our first open source event ever in our lives, and we were a bit intimidated at the beginning. It was great to meet your team and to have some fun in a group setting."

I ran into these because I was searching for OpenHatch-related mails to reply to. I figured I should archive/delete the ones that are already taken care-of. So the mail mostly isn't directed at me; instead, it's just stuff in OpenHatch-land generally.

I seem to have worked on something that is at least moderately successful, and at least moderately well-organized. That is pretty seriously heartening.

January 29, 2014 06:28 AM

December 30, 2013

Asheesh Laroia

Schedule something with me

If you want to set up an evening hang out with me, or anything else where you'd like to meet up, here's the best strategy if you use Google Calendar:

  • Create an event on your calendar with the time and date. In the name of the event, summarize it (for example: "Alice and Asheesh catch up re: fundraising" or "Bob and Asheesh hang out at El Rio bar").
  • "Edit" the event, and add asheesh@asheesh.org as a person to invite.
  • Click "Save" and send me an invitation.

To do an amazing job, here are some extra rules:

  • Always give me 24 hours or more lead-time.
  • Give me two options, one labeled "(backup)" -- for example. "Bob and Asheesh hang out at El Rio bar" and "Bob and Asheesh hang out at El Rio bar (backup)".
    • Then I'll click confirm on one of them, and I will click "No" on the other one. And that'll be that!

If you're too impatient for that (which is fine)

  • Submit two proposed times
  • Wait for me to eamil you saying yes (I'll also GCal invite you back)


This may seem bizarrely bureaucratic and impersonal, but since I often drop the ball on scheduling social or professional catch-up time, I wanted to create a system where successful results are easily achieved. In return for dealing with this automated interaction, you'll get a happy, relaxed, attentive Asheesh.

December 30, 2013 07:44 AM

December 27, 2013

Asheesh Laroia

New job (what running Debian means to me)

Five weeks ago, I started a new job (Security Engineer, Eventbrite). I accepted the offer on a Friday evening at about 5:30 PM. That evening, my new boss and I traded emails to help me figure out what kind of computer I'd like. Time was of the essence because my start date was very next day, Tuesday.

I wrote about how I value pixel count, and then RAM, and then a speedy disk, and then a speedy CPU. I named a few ThinkPad models that could be good, and with advice from the inimitable danjared, I pointed out that some Dell laptops come pre-installed with Ubuntu (which I could easily swap out for Debian).

On Monday, my boss replied. Given the options that the IT department supports, he picked out the best one by my metrics: a MacBook Pro. The IT department would set up the company-mandated full-disk encryption and anti-virus scanning. If I wanted to run Linux, I could set up BootCamp or a virtualization solution.

As I read the email, my heart nearly stopped. I just couldn't see myself using a Mac.

I thought about it. Does it really matter to me enough to call up my boss and undo an IT request that is already in the works, backpedaling on what I claimed was important to me, opting for brand anti-loyalty to Apple over hardware speed?

Yes, I thought to myself. I am willing to just not work there if I have to use a Mac.

So I called $BOSS, and I asked, "What can we do to not get me a Mac?" It all worked out fine; I use a ThinkPad X1 Carbon running Debian for work now, and it absolutely does everything I need. It does have a slower CPU, fewer pixels, and less RAM, and I am the only person in the San Francisco engineering office not running Mac OS. But it all works.

In the process, I thought it made sense to write up some text to $BOSS. Here is how it goes.


Thanks for hearing my concerns about having a Mac. It would basically be a fairly serious blow to my self image. It's possible I could rationalize it, but it would take a long time, and I'm not sure it would work.

I don't at all need to start work using the computer I'm going to be using for the weeks afterward. I'm OK with using something temporarily that is whatever is available, Mac or non-Mac; I could happily borrow something out of the equipment closet in the short term if there are plans in the works to replace it with something else that makes me productive in the long term.

For full-disk encryption, there are great solutions for this on Linux.

For anti-virus, it seems Symantec AV is available for Linux <http://www.symantec.com/business/support/index?page=content&id=HOWTO17995>.

It sounds like Apple and possibly Lenovo are the only brands that are available through the IT department, but it is worth mentioning that Dell sells perfectly great laptops with Linux pre-installed, such as the XPS 13. I would perfectly happily use that.

If getting me more RAM is the priority, and the T440s is a bad fit for $COMPANY, then the Lenovo X230 would be a great option, and is noticeably less expensive, and it fits 16GB of RAM.

BootCamp and the like are theoretical possibilities on Macs, but one worry I have is that if there were a configuration issue, it might not be worth me spending work time to have me fix my environment, but instead I would be encouraged for efficiency to use Mac OS, which is well-tested on Apple hardware, and then I would basically hate using my computer, which is a strong emotion, but basically how I would feel.

Another issue (less technical) is that if I took my work machine to the kinds of conferences that I go to, like Debconf, I would find myself in the extremely uncomfortable position of advertising for Apple. I am pretty strongly unexcited about doing that.

Relating to the self-image issue is that it means a lot to me to sort of carry the open source community with me as I do my technical work, even if that technical work is not making more open source software. Feeling part of this world that shares software, and Debian in particular where I have a strong feeling of attachment to the community, even while doing something different, is part of what makes using computers fun for me. So it clashes with that to use Mac OS on my main machine, or to feel like I'm externally indistinguishable from people who don't care about this sort of community.

I am unenthusiastic about making your life harder and looking like a prima donna with my possibly obscure requirements.

I am, however, excited to contribute to $COMPANY!

I hope that helps! Probably nothing you couldn't have guessed in here, but I thought it was worth spelling some of that out. Happy to talk more.

-- Asheesh.

December 27, 2013 02:56 AM

December 12, 2013

Brandon Plaufcan

V2 Electronic Cigarettes

I’ve recently began to give up smoking, I bought an electronic cigarette from V2.  As of this point in time, I am cigarette free, and I only “vape”.  It truly has set me free, and this e-cig has to be the best of the best.  V2 offers many flavors, their cartridges have a great throat hit, and the price is really good.  If you are thinking about quitting, I would definitely give them a try.


by perlluver at December 12, 2013 05:30 AM

December 11, 2013

Brandon Plaufcan


You hear it everyday: Tell me the truth, be honest, the truth will set you free, if you don’t lie, you’ll have nothing to remember.  The truth is; most people can’t handle the truth.

For example: Your significant other asks, does this dress make me look fat?  Be honest!  You say no babe, you look great.  If she actually looks bad, you don’t want to tell her that, you will hurt her.  So you tell a little white lie, you look perfectly fine.  This is what most people want, they want to hear what they want to hear, they don’t want the brutal honesty.

We as people like to hear what makes us feel good.  We don’t want the whole truth, we need, we crave them little white lies.  This is how it all starts, a little white lie here, a little bigger lie there.  Than it all starts snowballing, we go crazy with lies.  If we’re honest all the time, it hurts loved ones, we lose friends, people tell you, you don’t care about anyone but yourself.  Yes it will hurt, yes you will lose friends, but it needs to be done, for yourself and the people around you.

Start being honest with yourself, be honest with others.  Do you really want people that lie around you?  Do you need that negativity, that deceitfulness?  I want others to be honest with me.  Does it hurt, oh hell yeah it hurts, but you know what?  It needs to be done, honesty needs to be there.  Tell me the truth, I don’t need liars around me, and I will be honest with you.

Do what you need to do to make your life better.  Be honest, treat others with respect, and expect the same from them.  Those that lie have no respect for themselves, or for you.

You only have this one life, live it honestly, be yourself, do what’s right, and most importantly: enjoy your life.  Once you start telling the truth, and others start being honest with you, you will be amazed at the results.

Well, that’s it for this blog, soon as I think of the next topic, I will post another.

by perlluver at December 11, 2013 05:35 AM

December 08, 2013

Brandon Plaufcan


I wake up everyday with hope, hope that it is a good day, hope that people will be decent, hope that the future generation is learning.

However, everyday that hope is shattered. I am losing my hope for the human race. Children and young adults have no respect for their elders. People can’t spell, they fight over the most meaningless things, and whatever they happen to be doing is more important than anything you may have to do. Most of the time, these people are willing to end a life, just to be sure that there selfish desires are met.

 It appears most of the people on this earth, are here just to serve themselves. 

Most people are fixated on a broken government, and how their party will fix all the problems.  News flash: it hasn’t happened yet, it isn’t going to in the future.  Time to get rid of both outdated parties, and start a whole new government.   

People complain about their jobs.  If you have a job, that is great, if you have a job where you are making over 40,000 a year, quit your bitching, suck it up, and do the damn job.  I don’t want to hear whining and complaining about how bad your life is and how much your job sucks.  You chose to do it, you choose to stay, so do it. If you are making over 80,000 a year, I sure as hell don’t want to hear you bitching about it. You are making twice as much as a lot of people, if you don’t like it give it up for someone else to do.  I’m quite certain there are many people who would love to have your job.

I’m beyond tired of holding my tongue, because no one can handle the truth.  The freedom of speech means just that, Freedom to speak what’s on your mind.  If I feel like swearing, I’m going to do it, if I feel like calling someone and idiot or stupid, I’m going to do it.  It’s my life, not yours, I’m not here to please you, I am here to be my own person.  Stop trying to force me to believe what you believe.  I do not care about your religion, that is your choice, keep it to yourself.  Don’t say you will pray for me, keep it to yourself. 

Start standing up for yourself, if something is bothering you, work on fixing it.  If you want something, go after it before it’s to late.  Start being honest with yourself, you are who you are.  You have only yourself to blame if something is wrong in your life. 

From this day forward, go out there, take life by the horns, go after what you want, fix your own problems, worry about your life, and I’ll worry about my life.  It’s time to stop pussy footing around, stand up, speak out, and be heard.  You only have this one life, start living it and stop being afraid. 

Now get out there, and do whatever it is you do, and be the best you can at it!

by perlluver at December 08, 2013 01:44 AM

November 30, 2013

Jim Fisher

BsidesDE, Project.Phree, and Amateur Radio

Security BSides Delaware 2013

Thanks Josh and Janice for hosting BsidesDE. (Janice does all the work)

Friday: Project.Phree talk. Another great job by BTS. Video.

This year also included a FREE wireless essentials training class. The class was taught by a team of world-class instructors including Mike Kershaw (drag0rn), author of the immensely popular Kismet wireless tool, Russell Handorf from the FBI Cyber Squad, and Rick Farina, lead developer for Pentoo. The class covered everything from wireless basics to software-defined radio hacking. An absolutely amazing class. (excerpted from: http://blog.godshell.com/blog/archives/320-BSides-Delaware-2013.html)


First slide I remember from presentation: "BECOME A HAM"  You want to learn about wireless, become a ham.

Sunday morning, ordered this: BaoFeng UV-5R  and began to study for my Technician License.

Best advice ever. Hams are/were hackers. I guess ham clubs were the first hackerspaces. Natural fit for me.


Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Phree Wi-Fi

Thanks to the fine folks at Nonprofit Technology Resources Project.Phree now has a physical location, named Phree.Labs at 1522 Brandywine St. Phila, PA 19130.

We are currently working to get it ready for use. Painting etc. Stop by irc and check if we are there:

We've registered #project.phree on Freenode.
If you're new to IRC or wish to not install an IRC client, Freenode has a webchat client.

Amateur License - KC3BRA - Fisher, James G  Help in new window
  New Search Icon New Search   Refine Search Icon Refine Search   Return to Results Icon Return to Results    Printer Icon Printable Page    Reference Copy Icon Reference Copy

Call SignKC3BRA  Radio ServiceHA - Amateur
StatusActive Auth TypeRegular 
Grant11/27/2013 Expiration11/27/2023 

Let the games begin.

by Jim Fisher (noreply@blogger.com) at November 30, 2013 06:02 PM

November 22, 2013

Colin Dean


current as a puppy

Current is the latest addition to our family. She is a wirehaired vizsla, aged 14 weeks in this picture.


I’ll be posting more pictures and videos over at Current Times, a Tumblog devoted to her.

by Colin Dean at November 22, 2013 03:55 AM

October 19, 2013

Asheesh Laroia


I've noticed that there are some tasks that seem important, and for which I am happy to invest sporadic effort, but that don't seem to repeatedly attract my attention. The obvious one here is my nice external disk array for doing backups.

By contrast, I've been energized this morning to work on OpenHatch and the Open Source Comes to Campus program. Right now I'm a volunteer with OpenHatch, not a paid staffer.

It feels much more interesting to work on OpenHatch things while Shauna is running an event in NYC (and where I can see on IRC and by email the activity going on there) than it seems interesting to fix my personal storage array. I suspect this relates to my sense of personal meaning being intertwined with feeling like I'm part of some activity that other people are part of, synchronously.

October 19, 2013 05:48 PM

October 18, 2013

Asheesh Laroia

On Humility

Today I'd like to quote a passage from one of my favorite books, Open Advice, edited by the astounding Lydia Pintscher.

I'd like to quote it because someone helped me with a technical problem today, and today was definitely a day when I needed it.

This passage is written by Rich Bowen.


I had been doing technical support, particularly on mailing lists, for about two years, when I first started attending technical conferences. Those first few years were a lot of fun. Idiots would come onto a mailing list, and ask a stupid question that a thousand other losers had asked before them. If they had taken even two minutes to just look, they would have found all the places the question had been answered before. But they were too lazy and dumb to do that.

Then I attended a conference, and discovered a few things.

First, I discovered that the people asking these questions were people. They were not merely a block of monospaced black text on a white background. They were individuals. They had kids. They had hobbies. They knew so much more than I did about a whole range of things. I met brilliant people for whom technology was a tool to accomplish something non-technical. They wanted to share their recipes with other chefs. They wanted to help children in west Africa learn how to read. They were passionate about wine, and wanted to learn more. They were, in short, smarter than I am, and my arrogance was the only thing between them and further success.

When I returned from that first conference, I saw the users mailing list in an entirely different light. These were no longer idiots asking stupid questions. These were people who needed just a little bit of my help so that they could get a task done, but, for the most part, their passions were not technology. Technology was just a tool. So if they did not spend hours reading last year’s mailing list archives, and chose instead to ask the question afresh, that was understandable.

And, surely, if on any given day it is irritating to have to help them, the polite thing to do is to step back and let someone else handle the question, rather than telling them what an imbecile they are. And, too, to remember all of the times I have had to ask the stupid questions.

October 18, 2013 11:13 PM

September 30, 2013

Asheesh Laroia

Linux 3.8 (or newer) on Ubuntu Precise (12.04)

At this time, the latest Linux kernel that has been specially prepared for use with Ubuntu 12.04 is based on Linux 3.8. The rest of this answer is about how to get Linux 3.8 within Ubuntu 12.04.

(Before I get into that, first an aside: you've linked to the "mainline kernel" PPA, a collection of Linux kernel packages that have not been specially tested and prepared by the Ubuntu kernel team. You can read more about mainline kernels here. The mainline kernels are not suggested for installation, except if you are doing tests or you experience a major problem that it can be resolved with a specific mainline kernel.)

The recommended way to get the latest kernel on Ubuntu 12.04 is to stay within Ubuntu 12.04, rather than enabling separate package archives like the PPA you linked to. The latest Ubuntu 12.04 provides special package names to install the more up-to-date packages.

To install them, open a terminal (CTRL+ALT+T) and issue the following commands.

sudo apt-get install linux-image-generic-lts-raring
sudo apt-get install linux-headers-generic-lts-raring

When the installation completes, you can reboot your system to boot from 3.8 kernel. (The above commands won't uninstall anything (unless your APT is somehow misconfigured), and definitely won't auto-reboot, so you can run the commands and then do the reboot at some later time.)

The bootloader that Ubuntu uses (Grub) lists the newer kernel first, so it will boot from 3.8 automatically (except if you have installed a newer than 3.8) (and except if you know you've customized Grub somehow).

A note about why 3.8: Because of the Long Term Support status of Ubuntu 12.04, many different kernels will be backported (aka specially prepared) from newer versions of Ubuntu. (Additionally, a backported graphics stack (X and related packages) is available.) The 12.04.3 version (that has been released on 22 August 2013) contains the latest kernel and graphics (X) packages from Ubuntu 13.04 (raring). Ubuntu raring has 3.8, so therefore the "backported" version of Linux from raring to precise is also 3.8.

A note about the best way to get an even fresher version, like 3.11: Wait for Ubuntu Saucy (13.10) to come out, and then wait (not very long) for the Ubuntu Long Term Support process to backport that to Precise (12.04). Per the release schedule, Saucy should be out on October 17. Then you will be able to install linux-image-generic-lts-saucy!

September 30, 2013 05:27 PM

August 17, 2013

Jim Fisher

Fosscon 2013

Another great Fosscon is now done. Thanks Jonathan and Crissi for all the hard work you do all year to make this event happen. I'd also like to thank all of the staff that assists with this event. Finally, I'd like to thank all that support and attend this local event.

The Ubuntu Local Community Team always sponsors an Installfest at Fosscon. This year, we had an open Installfest. Any distro that wanted, could represent themselves and be part of the Installfest.
Fedora stepped up to that challenge. Ben and his wife drove all the way from North Carolina to represent Fedora. They are wonderful people and wonderful advocates. It was a pleasure working with them.

The Installfest yielded 2 new installs and 1 issue resolution (performed by the Fedora Team). The 2 new installs came via NTR.

Many Ubuntu-Us-PA members, alumni and friends were among the attendees at Fosscon. Some were speakers.

Alumna Elizabeth Joseph was a speaker.

Member Brent Saner was a speaker.

Friend/Member by default, Walt Mankowski was a speaker.

Exhibitors and Sponsors entertained and informed all.

Even Sunday, the day after Fosscon, some met at Hive76 for an impromptu Hackfest.

Project.Phree, point.io, and Ecere were represented at the Hackfest on Sunday.

Each year gets bigger and better. Help us keep this going.

by Jim Fisher (noreply@blogger.com) at August 17, 2013 12:13 AM

July 28, 2013

Asheesh Laroia

Recommendations on setting up wifi repeaters

My old housemate Will emailed me saying he wanted to get a second wifi router to use as a repeater. I realized that I haven't written my standard recommendation down ever, just repeatedly used it to great success. So, here it is:

My general recommendation here is to build your own "wifi repeater" out of two "wifi routers", rather than buying something that calls itself a repeater. It relies on Ethernet bridging rather than any advanced wifi technology, which in my opinion makes it easy to diagnose.

 |   Main wifi router                                                  |
 |  uplink                  port 1    port 2       port 3      port 4  |
   |     |                 |      |  |         |  |       |   |      |
   +-----+                 +---+--+  +---------+  +-------+   +------+
     |                         |
     |                         |
     |                         |
     V                         |
  +-----------+                |
  | cable     |                |
  | modem or  |                |
  | whatever  |                |
  +-----------+                V
                        +----------------+                    +------------------------+
                        |                |  a/c power         |                        |
                        | ethernet over  +------------------->| ethernet over          |
                        | powerline      |                    | powerline              |
                        +----------------+                    +----------+-------------+
  DO NOT USE!!!        +------+                                          V      
+--------------------->|      |            +-------+   +---------+  +----------+  +--------+
                       |uplink|            |port 1 |   | port 2  |  |port 3    |  | port 4 |
                       |   second wifi router  (DISABLE DHCP on internal network on 2nd rtr)

If you don't want to do ethernet over powerline between them, you can do regular old Ethernet.

Crucially, you must disable DHCP for the second wifi router. Then anyone on the second network will have their DHCP broadcasts answered by the first wifi router.

Also you should manually set the admin IP on the second router to something like if the main network uses as the admin IP address.

Do not connect the second network's uplink port to anything.

It doesn't really matter if you set the ESSID (network name) of both networks to be the same or different. I would gently recommend setting them to be the same, and have the same key, so people's laptops can happily roam between them.

Note also that if you need wired network connectivity for computers near "2nd router", any computers you plug into the "port 1-4" ports will work fine. And the choice of port 1 on "Main wifi router" and "port 3" for "second wifi router" as the connection points is totally arbitrary.

Happy wifi-ing!

July 28, 2013 06:44 PM

June 11, 2013

Asheesh Laroia

De-spammed this blog (with Naive Bayes)

This morning, I was trying to decrease the amount of email in my inbox. I had a few messages with subjects like:

  • comment on http://www.asheesh.org/note/debian/freed-software
  • comment on http://www.asheesh.org/note/sysop/comments
  • comment on http://www.asheesh.org/note/debian/freed-software

But all the comments in this case were spam. I'm using an Akismet API plugin for pyblosxom, but that has a few shortcomings. Like anything else, it misses some spam, but moreover, it doesn't help me find and remove old spam comments in bulk.

My pattern with email is basically to ignore it for a while, and then deal with it in bulk, sometimes missing messages from the past. The result is that I have often missed these comment notifications, and it was a bit of a drag to figure out which comments I had dealt with already.

So I wrote a small tool this morning. Here is how it works:

  • It loops over the comments directory.
  • A script reads each comment and prints it to standard out in mailbox format, piping the message to spambayes for processing.
  • The main script shows me spambayes' guess as to if the message is spam, as well as spambayes' certainty, and asks me to confirm. If I confirm it is spam, it asks if I want to delete it. (If it notices spambayes got it wrong, it retrains spambayes.)
  • After I have dealt with the comment, it creates a stamp file next to the comment so that it won't ask me about that the next time I run the tool.

Voila! A spam moderation queue with artificial intelligence.

You can find it here, on my Github account: https://github.com/paulproteus/spambayes-pyblosxom

Permission to re-use the code is granted under the terms of CC Zero or Apache License 2.0, at your option.

Moreover, now I believe there are zero spam comments left lying around this blog!

June 11, 2013 07:09 PM

May 12, 2013

Asheesh Laroia

Crockpots and kitchen improvements

Preeya and I cooked together at my place yesterday, and after the event, I wrote down some notes so that next time it can be even better.

The idea of the cooking was to create leftovers for us both to eat during the work-week. Preeya's angle is that she loses interest in eating something during cooking it, so we thought we could make food for each other.

We cooked:


Here are the notes I wrote up from the event. Mostly I'm sharing these to provide some insight into the process of "Do something in the kitchen, then think about how to improve the kitchen" that I've been going through a lot lately.

Dry things we could have had but didn't

  • Brown rice
  • Black beans

(Fix: bought them by Google Shopping Express)

  • Canned diced tomatoes... (reading http://www.cooksillustrated.com/tastetests/overview.asp?docid=25627 suggests Hunt's is good; fix is to stock a few cans. I should get that from a local store since Google Shopping Express doesn't have Hunt's. Muir Glen Organic is also good, says this. Personal note: Jersey Fresh brand is super great, but hard to get.)

Locations of things in kitchen

  • Scissors were easy to use once Asheesh said where they were.
  • Counter space was not cleared-off before we began.
  • Oven gloves were in a weird spot. (Fix: I moved two magnetic hooks
  • We didn't have a garlic press, which would have been nice. (Fix: I did some research and bought http://www.amazon.com/Zyliss-Susi-3-Garlic-Press/dp/B007D3V00Q/ . Note that this press does not need one to peel the clove, which is good news.)
  • Now that the 5lb gag of basmati is open, I'm afraid it'll get infested with moths. (Fix: Buy a 1 gallon Mason jar and see if I can fit all the rice into that.)
  • Some spices aren't in the "spice rack" (but there's a fix already in the works for that, awaiting delivery of more spice jars).
  • Preeya didn't know where chopping boards were, though they were easy to get once found.
  • We tried two different locations for Preeya's slow cooker, settling on to the right of the sink / underneath the window there.


  • The pork butt was very reasonably priced, but it meant round-tripping to Mission Street for Preeya's favorite meat market. Asheesh could have tried La Gallinita next time.
  • Buying the rest of things was easy. Casa Lucas had everything, I think.


  • Things in the slow cooker take ages to cool down.
  • We don't have any tupperware large enough to fit a full 4 quart slow cooker cooking result.
  • The programmable-ness is super nice in Preeya's slow cooker.
  • Using our can opener on the Maesri curry paste just sucks.
  • Preeya had to go back to her place to get her slow cooker, which we could have thought of.
  • Preeya mentioned the Mezzaluna style of cutting board, which has a dome to rock a knife within, for dicing. (Other names for similar things: ulus, uluut.) Such a thing might be worth getting.


  • The rice in the recipe for Asheesh became mush. Should probably have stuck to brown rice.
  • Asheesh thought he'd add spinach to Preeya's recipe but hasn't yet.


  • It was nice cooking together. The scheduling was somewhat messy. We could have pre-picked our recipes. Preeya didn't bring a computer so only Asheesh really looked.

May 12, 2013 07:04 PM

May 06, 2013

Asheesh Laroia

asheesh.org/scratch/ back in business

For a few years, I had been storing public notes to myself (that might possibly be useful to others) at http://asheesh.org/scratch/.

Then OpenHatch happened in May 2009, and I paid decreasing attention to that site.

Eventually, as a semi-unprotected MediaWiki instance, it became spammed to smithereens.

Last night and this morning, I did the following things:

  • Made it so only sysops can edit the site.
  • Clicked every link off the front page, and manually reverted it to the most recent non-vandalized page I could find.

Now you can more easily read my scratchy notes, like:

Honestly, it is a huge relief to see those old bits of text back on the web. It makes me feel so much more pleasantly connected to the timeline.

May 06, 2013 05:43 PM

April 30, 2013

Asheesh Laroia

How I just imported my signed keys

First I set up GPG Agent. To do that I followed the Gentoo documentation, with particular attention paid to section 4 and configuration files.

Within ~/Maildir/cur/ I just ran:

for thing in `grep -l -i 'Subject: .*signed'`           
gpg --decrypt < $thing | gpg --import

As it happens, I synchronized all my email using Dovecot dsync, so I could do this on my laptop.

Then I just ran:

gpg --keyserver pgp.mit.edu --send-keys 37E1C17570096AD1
gpg --keyserver pgp.mit.edu --send-keys EC4B033C70096AD1

to upload those to the keyservers.

Now I can delete all those three month old caff emails. Sorry everyone.

April 30, 2013 05:48 AM

April 20, 2013

Colin Dean

A simple thought on declining relevancy of social categorization, relating to gender and sexuality

I found myself engaged in a Facebook discussion on a local politician’s personal profile wall. He’d expressed his sentiment that marriage should be defined as between one man and one woman, a common view for conservatives from western Pennsylvania. A fairly even number of people posted that they agreed or disagreed, expressing their support for the state representative or vowing never to vote for him again.

A battle ensued and eventually most people left the discussion. I tend to 386 pretty hard sometimes. I did this time, so I kept it going for a few days between myself and one or two other posters.

The original discussion on Facebook was friends-only, and I’ll respect that choice by not posting names or what people said, other than myself. One thing I said that felt profound was this statement, something I’ve kept open on a text file in the nearly a month since this occurred as a way of thinking about its sentiment daily:

It turns out that, when you open your *mind*, your *doors*, and your *heart* as wide as possible, you meet a lot of people who can change your views. Gender isn’t binary: masculine or feminine. Sex isn’t binary: male or female. Nature complicates things from time to time, and whatever created them made them this way. We shouldn’t judge them by placing them into our bins, but rather endeavor to make our bins irrelevant.

by Colin Dean at April 20, 2013 06:42 PM

April 18, 2013

Colin Dean

Quoted in the Post-Gazette’s first article on Bitcoin

I’m quoted extensively in an article about Bitcoin today in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Colin Dean, 28, a software engineer who lives in Wilkinsburg, has invested about $500 in bitcoins. Mostly, though, he accumulates bitcoin through mining. In bitcoin lingo, this means he is rewarded with bitcoins for offering his computer hardware to aid in the confirmation of bitcoin transactions.

“I’m very bullish on it,” Mr. Dean said of bitcoin. “I think it has a distinct future as, at a minimum, a simple means of international and long-distance value exchange.”

Read more: Pittsburgh’s bitcoin faithful few, but fervent

by Colin Dean at April 18, 2013 03:12 AM

April 13, 2013

Asheesh Laroia

Why are you doing all of this?

fijal just asked me, on IRC:

<fijal> paulproteus: if you have a second, can you tell me *why* are you doing all of this?

Briefly, here is the reason I work on OpenHatch:

For free software to take over the world, and for all users of software to be able to have control over their computing, we need a few things it seems to me.

  1. Software that is free ought to be better.
  2. That will probably take more collaboration and contributors.
  3. More people ought to feel comfortable doing things like filing bugs and participating in projects.
  4. For people to understand that, it helps a great deal if they know how to program.
  5. Free software contribution experiences are best when you have in-person communities to work with and bounce ideas off, or at least people who you know fairly well even if you collaborate remotely.

I think that explains basically all of what we do at OpenHatch.

April 13, 2013 11:29 PM

March 20, 2013

Colin Dean

On paying for something once free: update distribution

This article Facebook: The Great Party Ends at 12 hits the trend on the button:

If you don’t want to be the product, you have to be the consumer. Hence, Pay up! … And if you don’t want to pay, then it is probably time to lower your expectations.

This is something of which I became acutely aware during Pittsburgh LAN Coalition event planning last year. In 2011 we more than doubled the number of Facebook likes we had on our page by using ads. Our investment paid off. We held the second largest land party we’d ever had. However, during the latter parts of 2011 and into 2012, Facebook changed the way that Pages were able to reach subscribers. Gone were the days of an update reaching all subscribers. At least for free. Now, it would cost us 5 to 10 dollars per day in order to reach all of our subscribers. This is peanuts for a for-profit organization. Do I expect anything different? No. Facebook can control its platform and make money however it pleases. But if it crosses the line into charging individual users… I can choose another platform for my social media needs.

by Colin Dean at March 20, 2013 12:30 PM

February 24, 2013

Zoe Valentine

Closet Renovation

This is the closet I saw on Pinterest.

This was my closet.  Stuffed with crap.  Kids just threw their coats on the bottom of the steps when they came home.

So Hannah and I got to work.  50/50 hair conditioner/warm water peeled that old musty wallpaper right off!

Messy, but with a pleasant coconut smell.

Games, junk, out of season coats were all moved to the guest room closet.  Shoes have been relocated to a bench/shoe organizer under the window.

I painted.  Kevin put in the chair rail and the hooks (after I stripped out some screws because I am so not handy with the drill...oopsie).  And now, the kids come home and hang up their backpacks and coats.  EVERY. DAY.

And I am one happy Mom.  Pinterest WIN!

by Jamie (noreply@blogger.com) at February 24, 2013 03:05 PM

February 09, 2013

Brandon Plaufcan

Current Musings!!

I have come to realize over the years, that if you want something you have to work for it.  I get so tired of seeing people that think the whole world owes them.  I used to think that way too, but lately I’ve come to realize that you can only rely on yourself.  I’m tired of being told what I should believe and what I should be doing.  I’m tired of seeing all the posts about the guns.  If you own one good for you, if you don’t also good for you.  I don’t care about your guns.  If I can’t fight with my own two hands, then I shouldn’t be fighting.

I don’t care what religion you are, if you believe in God, that’s awesome, so do I.  But I don’t need your posts about it.  Go to church, pray, and be happy that you are doing it.  That is the freedom of religion.  However I have my own religion, and it isn’t any better than yours.  Nor is yours any better than mine.

In short, stop being a sheeple.  Learn to think for yourself, stop following others because it is the cool thing to do, start leading by example, stop being lazy, stop expecting others to help you, they won’t.  From here on out, I will look after me and my family, you should do the same.  If you have the ability to help someone, by all means, help them.  But don’t enable them, don’t give them money for food, if they are going to buy drugs.  Instead buy them food.

by perlluver at February 09, 2013 05:55 PM

February 08, 2013

Asheesh Laroia

Notes from attempting to despam a wiki with git-remote-mediawiki

I just tried to despam a mediawiki instance with git-remote-mediawiki.

The idea is as follows:

  • Make a list of bad users, either by skimming Special:RecentChanges, or by some other more automated means. For example, use 'git log' to get everyone since the last time you felt the wiki was clean:
git log --since='Wed Dec 5 22:57:06 2012 +0000'

(You can process that with either 'grep ^Author' and so on, or you can use an overwrought Python script I wrote.)

  • Get a list of their commits:
git log --author=bad_user_1 --author=bad_user_2 --pretty="format:%H"

Here's where things start to go wrong.

You might try to revert them all:

git log --author=bad_user_1 --author=bad_user_2 --pretty="format:%H" |
xargs -n1 git revert

That works great until the first merge conflict.

So then you write a wrapper script that does "git revert $1 || git revert --abort", and you can still only revert the first few hundred (out of ~800) spam edits because one of the commits causes a conflict when you try to revert it.

Why a conflict? I suspect it's because there are spam edits that I neglected to include in the revert stream. (Update: The conflict was actually a real conflict -- some kind soul on the web had already reverted a bunch of the spam edits!)

In our case, there are fairly few pages getting spammed, so it'd be simpler to 'git log' the pages we care about and revert back to the commit IDs that look clean. 'git revert' could still be useful in the case of tangled history, but (apparently) there is a limit to how useful it can be, anyway.

Oh, also:

It'd be useful to be able to create MediaWiki dump files from git-remote-mediawiki exports. That way, I could use 'git rebase -i' to clean up history. (That would break links *unless* the MediaWiki revision IDs somehow stayed constant for the revisions with the same content. Maybe that's feasible. Actually, the simplest way might be to write a tool that filters the dump file itself, rather than exporting straight from git-remote-mediawiki.)

Also also, I fixed a format string bug in git mergetool, one of my favorite little pieces of git.

P.S. In this corpus, of the IP address editors (i.e., not logged in), 0 (of 16) are spammers. About 80% of the logged-in editors are spammers. (Admittedly our wiki does require you to log in if you are posting new URLs to a page.)

Update: It is way faster if you run it with low latency to the MediaWiki server in question. It probably could be adjusted to make fewer API calls, and to make more of them in parallel.

February 08, 2013 01:28 AM

February 02, 2013

Asheesh Laroia

Receiving mail virtually

This is the most beautiful piece of mail I have ever received virtually:

Since a few months ago, I have been a very happy customer of Virtual Post Mail, a service where they'll receive mail on my behalf and, if I want them to, scan it. And if there is a check inside, they'll send it to my bank's "Deposit by mail" address so it gets into my bank account.

I've been using it for a number of OpenHatch inbound mail things, so that I don't have to go deposit checks at a bank branch if e.g. I'm traveling. But I've also been using it for a few personal things.

I suspect this is a wedding invitation. I've clicked the "Open and Scan" button in the website, and expect to find out shortly (in 1-24 hours).

February 02, 2013 10:07 AM

Zoe Valentine

Book Learnin'

A picture of the cake! A few days late due to illness but fun nevertheless. (There were 4 candles, one is hiding.)

But enough birthday talk - let's talk school!  At Zoe's first evaluation in early December the teacher told me that Zoe is pretty much right in the middle of the pack academically.  However, she is the most polite little girl, a friend to everyone in class (including the special needs children that are mainstreamed for part of the day with her class) and a little diplomat that helps other children work out their scuffles.  That made my heart soar!

But I still want to improve those "grades."  Well, there are no grades until third grade.  Each skill is marked with a B(eginning to develop), D(eveloping at this time) or P(roficient level at this time).

Here we are working on tens and ones with the help of Hannah's duplos!

I think Zoe is a little frustrated that her friends are reading chapter books (like Junie B. Jones and Captain Underpants) and they are above her level.  Luckily our local librarian helped me find some "junior" chapter books that have the look and feel of chapter books but are at her level.  Our other problem is fatigue.  She is just so tired after school and her reading suffers.  (She reads better for me on the weekends.)  The internet told me that using a glass marble to highlight the words can be fun and keep a child's attention.  It does!

Hannah is really making strides in preschool!  She couldn't even hold a pencil in September and now she can write her name and numbers.  (And yes that is *my* diet Dr. Pepper that I put down to take the picture!)

My favorite is when this happens:

On this day Hannah and I were working together.  "Ww.  Ww.  Scarecrow?  Moon?  Mommy, there is no Ww sound."  I think its a witch Hannah.  "No, its a scarecrow.  See the hair and the nose..."  She's got a point.

Arts and crafts - more internet inspiration.  We made little heart stencils and used pencil erasers for stamps. 

Finished product (and proof that no one believes in candy anymore - these kids have tons of Halloween, Christmas and Valentines pencils.  But now I don't have to sharpen them because we have re-purposed them as stamps!)

After Christmas I bought the girls this awesome doll house!  We set it up where the Christmas tree was in the living room with the rule that all of their dolls have to be tucked in the bin behind the house at the end of the day.  So far so good!  In fact Zoe has been waking up in the mornings and just playing happily by herself.

Hannah likes the house but also likes to set up her corral in the front yard.

Mommy, who is bigger?!?  It's close...

 (Our vet says that though Davey could stand to lose 1-2 lbs, he really is just a big cat.)

by Jamie (noreply@blogger.com) at February 02, 2013 01:45 AM

January 27, 2013

Zoe Valentine

January 26th!

Well, the day before Hannah's birthday was a happy one!  We made cupcakes to share with her preschool class.  So excited that they were cheetah cupcakes!

 Zoe being a weirdo!

It snowed and we got to play outside.  (I didn't get a picture but Hannah was spinning in circles trying to catch flakes on her tongue!)

Unfortunately, at about 5am on January 26th* Hannah hopped on the puke train.  Note the absence of Cubby - he was in the wash.

 Our dear neighbor brought us Gatorade.  And we tried to have a little fun. 

But the cake and the celebrating will have to happen another day.  Bedtime with the best night nurse (he loves feverish kids - so warm! )

* I am emphasizing the date of Hannah's birth because no one seems to remember it - myself included.  She was due on February 4th but I knew my scheduled C date from early on: January 29th.  So that date is stuck in my head.  Alyssa likes Christmas in January, the 25th.  My mom goes with the 23rd probably because Zoe is May 23rd. 

by Jamie (noreply@blogger.com) at January 27, 2013 03:30 AM

January 13, 2013

Jim Fisher

Happy New Year

Xmas for me was an Eggbot. Cool gift. Fun build. Now to play with Inkscape more and print cool stuff.

Also have been wanting to build a multi-channel controller for Cindy's Xmas light display. Easy build, just never got around to it. Decided to just order some Power Tails and do it.
Unfortunately they didn't get here while her whole display was up. The nativity was down already, and of course, the infant Jesus was going to be the star.

The video was the 4 channel test. I then ordered a Teensy 2.0 for the
real build.

Here is the simple test build:

Good start to the New Year. 
Hope everyone has a healthy 2013 and we do some cool stuff.

by Jim Fisher (noreply@blogger.com) at January 13, 2013 08:09 PM

January 12, 2013

Asheesh Laroia

A brief tribute

Angel engineer,
Peaceful pioneer[...].

Hold me.

The news.

January 12, 2013 09:03 AM

January 01, 2013

Zoe Valentine

Year End Wrap Up!

Remember when I was a frequent blogger?  Yeah, me too.  I was going to cut it out but: (a) I find myself referring back to it to remember things the kids did at certain ages and (b) I can see that whenever I put up a post a whole bunch of people read it.  Only my mom and my bff usually leave comments.  So maybe the blog is coming up in Russian search engines or something.  Or maybe, just maybe, more of our far away family and friends are reading this than are commenting (gentle nudge).  Regardless, I think I will try to be better at keeping it up if only for my own memory aid.
So what have I been doing instead of blogging in the evenings whilst watching crappy television?  Crocheting!

Bow making!

Neither of which is as lucrative as lawyering.  But I make enough money for more craft supplies and starbucks.  (And I do feel very, very thankful to be able to be a stay home mom, volunteer at school, etc.)

Another blogging problem: I haven't been taking many pictures of late.  And the ones I do take are lousy.  But the memory card keeps getting filled up with a lot of these:

And some of these:

 So apparently Hannah is enjoying the camera.

Anyway, on with the recap.  I can't even find Halloween pictures.  But Zoe was a unicorn and Hannah was (obviously) a cheetah.

We made a trip to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving.  There was a lot of family and love and visiting.  Even Aunty Sarah was there!

And after Thanksgiving turkey Aunty Nancy, Uncle Tom and Gramma had early Christmas for the girls.  They were so excited!

December was getting ready for Christmas at home.  Making cookies from packaged dough because mine are awful.  (And Ikea makes some good cookie dough! As does Trader Joe's!)

Decorating the tree:

Grampa came down to Pennsylvania the weekend before Christmas.  Lots of love and visiting and PRESENTS!

Since we didn't travel for Christmas we got to take advantage of a virtually empty Delaware Children's Museum  on Christmas Eve.  (And of course took Zoe for crabs at Joe's Crab Shack next door for Christmas Eve dinner.)

And on Christmas morning I awoke to shouts of "He came!  He came!" The girls were so happy and surprised and thankful.  It was just...awesome!

by Jamie (noreply@blogger.com) at January 01, 2013 04:22 AM

November 18, 2012

Colin Dean

Reinvestment in your private employer: exercising options for fun and profit

Investments are interesting beasts. An investment requires some amount of risk. That is, a percentage change that one will lose whatever was invested. In general the risk is money, but it can be time, too. The loss of money, being a physical or logical possession, is easy to conceptualize. The loss of time is not so much a loss, because time is not a tangible object that can be acquired or surrendered. Rather, time lost is simply time spent doing something that was not productive. The general expected product is, of course, money, but may also be sanity or saved time. Thus, if money is not the return of time invested, time is itself the return, in the form of not having to spend time doing something undesirable later on!

Employment is an investment of time. One invests their time, perhaps eight hours per day for five days per week, in order to earn an expected return: money. Some employers respect employees’ investment of time enough to pay the employee even when they are not working, because the employer recognizes the investment it has made in building the knowledge and reputation of its employee. Sometimes, there’s an unexpected return in addition to the agreed-upon money. An unexpected return can be knowledge, or perhaps a higher than expected compensation in the form of a bonus. Employees like employers who give bonuses.

I believe that the ultimate recognition of an employee’s time, and therefore knowledge and reputation, or really, trust, is the gift of ownership of the company. This comes in many forms, but most often simply stock or stock options. A gift of stock, or stock in place of money for compensation, is very generous and rare for a normal employee of a company. Such is generally reserved for investors and co-founders, or employees who have done something very important for the success of the company.

Stock options are more common. Instead of giving direct ownership of the company, the employer gives the employee the option of becoming a part owner of the company by reinvesting the return of their time investment: their money. In exchange for some money, the employee gains an sense of ownership of the company and some control of its future. This ownership is important because we humans enjoy a sense of possession, of ownership of the fruits of our labor.

It may be a sacrifice for an employee to reinvest in their employer. That’s understandable. However, there is another way.

If an unexpected return – a bonus – is possible, the employee should consider reinvesting that unexpected return in the employer when the employee has been granted stock options. To reinvest via stock options, one exercises stock options by purchasing stock and thus becoming a stockholder. In order to see a return on investment on stock, the company must pay dividends or exit, which means that its stockholders agree to sell the company to another, or the stockholders agree to make the stock available for anyone to purchase, and not just trusted investors or employees.

There are many things to consider before embarking on ownership.

  • Is the company profitable? The answer does not have to be yes, but a profitable company is more likely to survive to see an exit than an unprofitable one!
  • Is the product sound? If the product is in demand and its customers value it, and it’s an honest product, meaning that it’s not snake oil, then it’s more likely that the company will be profitable because it has a product to sell. Products are not necessarily goods. Products can be services, too.
  • Does the company respect its employees enough to retain the most valuable employees? A company is but a group of people. Do the people in charge of that group show the others kindness and appreciation, generally in the form of a permissive work environment or unexpected generosity?
  • Does the company spend its money wisely? It is one problem to be hemorrhaging cash or taking on debts without the employees, product, or profitability to repay said debts. It is another problem for the company to be so stingy and pennywise that expenditures necessary or desirable to keep employees happy and production positive are overlooked or ignored. Finding a balance is important, and so is understanding this question from a wider time scale.
  • How much of its market(s) does it control? A company that controls 1% of a $100 million market is a $1 million company. A company that controls 1% of a $1 billion market is a $10 million company. There’s a significant difference in the change of order of magnitude: a significant difference in the needs of the company and its employees in order to ensure a solid product and thus profitability. Does the company have a presence in the market? Is that market share growing or contracting? Is the need for the product short term or long term? Is the market going to disappear in a few years because of overall falling demand even though the company’s market share is growing?
  • Does the company pay dividends to stockholders? Dividends in small companies are rare, as it is often more valuable for the company to spend its money on its employees who are not stockholders or on building its business via marketing or additional product lines. However, a dividend is money returned than can be again reinvested in the company. It can also be invested in something such as a cold beverage or relaxing vacation, or saved for when one does not need to work! That’s called retirement.
  • What are your financial goals? Is the value of saving unexpected income for retirement or another major life event – or even just paying the bills – more valuable than the potential return if the company exits?
  • How will the company exit? Is it more likely to be acquired by a larger company, or will it go public? If there is no exit and there is no dividend, there’s no return on the investment. Of course, either of those can change at any time, but of course, it’s important to balance that chance with the chance that the income can be better spent elsewhere.

My previous employer exited by selling to a larger company. I foresaw such an event and opted to reinvest a portion of any unexpected income in exercising my vested stock options. Vested means earned and available.

The return was worth it. Why? Taxes.

The sale of stock held for a certain period of time is taxed at one rate, while the conversion of options to sold stock at sale time is taxed at a higher rate. If I’d exercised options that were vested but not yet exercised, my return would have been even higher. If I had not exercised vested options, I would have some money – which would likely have been spent on other things – and my option would have yielded far less return because of the difference in tax rates.

I urge any person offered stock options to consider heavily exercising them if the health of their company is good.

by Colin Dean at November 18, 2012 01:10 AM

November 06, 2012

Colin Dean

Why I am no longer a Republican

This post has been a long time coming, and a long time in writing. I started it August 24, 2012 after reading a Daily Kos blog post entitled “I abandoned the Republican Party!“. While I most certainly am not switching back to the Democratic Party, as the author of that post clearly is, I feel that he or she and I have similar reasons for no longer wanting to associate ourselves with a political organization so corrupt that it would change its own rules at the last minute in order to keep a person from being nominated for its candidate for president.

I used to be a Democrat. I really liked Barack Obama and was among the first wave of people to sign up for this web site before the primaries. His policies were better than those of the Republican party’s candidates. I was largely apathetic about politics, but Obama was something new and different. I saw that “change” as sufficient to receive my support.

Until I read about a certain, relatively unknown Republican candidate who’d run for president in the ’80s as a Libertarian.

I became a Republican in order to vote in the 2008 primaries for Ron Paul, a politician unlike any other I’d ever encountered. Dr. Paul, an OB/GYN from Texas (originally from Pittsburgh!), opened my eyes and changed my entire political philosophy. His adherence to the non-aggression principle and rejection of classification of people made sense and continue to be principles that guide not only my political philosophy, but my every day activities. I’ve read most of his books and find the key points of self-reliance, freedom of economy, volunteerism, and limited government to be sensible policies that can improve our country and the world. I don’t agree with Dr. Paul on all points — he and I disagree fundamentally on education, women’s reproductive rights, and a few other points. Maybe one day I’ll go through his political philosophies one-by-one and write down my dissenting opinions.

I’ve spent an enormous amount of time increasing my knowledge of his political points while trying to understand the other opinions on the issues. This research, along with actions by the Republican National Committee and its franchisees, leads me to believe that I can no longer represent myself as a member of its ranks. I can no longer proudly say, “I am a Republican.” I can no longer sheepishly say, “I am a Republican.” I refuse to suffer it any longer, and chose to sever ties so that I can grow as an educated political thinker.

Herein are my “95 theses”, per-say. I offer these without linked proof because I feel they are evident to the up-on-things reader. I’ll do my best to offer evidence where challenged in the comments, but much of this is subjective observation and may not be documented beyond my own memories and experiences. If I’m wrong, call me out and let’s have a discussion — that’s something that Republicans seem to avoid these days.

  1. The leadership of the party changes the rules on the fly in order to silence a vocal and growing minority within the party, and the affected members are powerless to stop the rule changes in a timely manner. The former is the corruption, the latter is a problem inherent in the party system.
  2. The RNC essentially chose its champion before the votes had been tallied, despite the existence of a credible challenger to that champion with significant support.
  3. The local parties, in many areas, are full of squabbling and disagreement that follows along the candidate lines: those who supported Romney and McCain represent the incumbent forces who are the problem in the party, while those who support Paul squabble over who is more libertarian-than-thou and cannot focus enough to grow and overcome the threat of the incumbency.
  4. The legislators of the party have continually supported with their vote legislation that prolongs military presence and action in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other sovereign nations where our presence is similar to an occupation. We cannot continue to police the world, or use our military as a police force in countries without a functional government.
  5. Building on the prior point, the party consistently supports an increase in military spending, despite it already consuming more than 30% of the US budget each year. We cannot afford to increase our defense spending when we have no traditional threat against which to defend.
  6. The members and leaders of the party choose religious doctrine as their guiding principles, regardless of if that doctrine tramples the rights of others.
  7. The members and leaders of the party ask “What are you?” before they welcome members and ask  “How can you help?” If they don’t like the labels you’ve given to yourself through the groups you entertain, activities you conduct, or philosophies you espouse, you are unwelcome: this party breeds and breathes homogeneity.
  8. The leaders of the party who find themselves in the news are most often cast as bumbling idiots, even in the traditionally Republican media outlets.
  9. The party has become so deeply involved in traditional media that its bias is unavoidable, even to the point of outright lies being presented as facts.
  10. The leaders of the party have tricked the membership into supporting initiatives that serve to make the former richer and the latter poorer by playing on the fears of the latter or fabricating altogether new things for the latter to fear.
  11. The leadership treats the Constitution as guidelines at best, if not ignoring it altogether, except when convenient. This convenience manifests when the Democrats try to affect rights in a way that is actually in line with their political beliefs, and neither party is willing to submit an amendment.
  12. The party stands to see an amendment passed that would institutionalize a religious practice that already has government-recognized equivalents that work just as well, but lack the traditional components – that one be physically male and the other be physically female – that are irrelevant to the interpersonal agreement.
  13. The party desires to reduce the level of charity taxpayers are forced to provide, yet it does not espouse no-strings-attached voluntary charity. If a person does not supply the right answer to “What are you?”, that person does not matter to the party. We must enjoin a culture of voluntary altruism before the safety nets supported by government force can be reduced; another way to make a government program go away is make it irrelevant and unused.
  14. The party legislators would rather enact miles of red tape and conditions, or establish rules that will be changed or broken when convenient, rather than engage others in a discussion about a topic. Avoidance only lasts as long as the patience of those who are avoided. They even stoop to the level of detaining or incarcerating dissenters in order to keep the dissent from being heard.
  15. The party legislators fail to ask themselves, “Will this law make us freer?” when considering legislation. They act only to serve themselves and the people they care about: the people who give them the most money.
  16. Campaigns result to attacking candidates and misleading voters, and even taking out of context one opposing candidate’s comments in video games.
  17. GOP state legislators, empowered with enacting laws describing how elections will be held, result to dirty tricks and poor implementations in order to purposefully disenfranchise voters. As a Pennsylvanian, I’m absolutely ashamed of PA Rep. Mike Turzai’s bragging that VoterID will help Romney win PA. Fortunately, a state judge issued an injunction in time for the 2012 presidential election, but not without being lambasted by the party for being an “activist judge”.
  18. The state parties actively sabotaged the campaigns of other parties’ candidates through illegal Watergate-style tactics. The party should have condemned this, but instead stays silent. Silence in this in acceptance, and acceptance of criminal acts is insufferable. It also actively unreasonably prevented a third party candidate from being on the ballot because his paperwork was submitted three minutes late. Rules are rules, but when tens of thousands of people have signed that paperwork saying that they would vote for the candidate and their wish to have their choice is denied by the incumbents, whose candidate needed only to collect a small percentage of signatures comparatively because of an artificially implied sentiment that, because the party’s candidate garnered some arbitrary percentage of the vote in a previous election, their candidacy is desired and immediately validated, a miscarriage of justice has occurred and those with the power to right the wrong have no incentive to do so.
  19. The party tolerates local officials who throw valid, unprocessed voter registration paperwork into the trash in another state.
  20. The party leaders, politicians, and others engage in a remarkable amount of voter misdirection, suppression, intimidation, and more. It threatens the very way our country decides its direction. It’s so widespread and difficult to record that it’s nearly impossible to prosecute effectively. When someone does get called out on it, they get away with a simple “I’m sorry; I stand corrected” or “A staffer was wrong and has been fired”. These excuses just don’t cut it.
  21. The party fails to abstract its points of contention among members into a central platform upon which a larger number of people agree. 66% is not a consensus: it’s one-third of a party ready to split off into its own party. That one-third just needs the sudden gumption to do so.

The reported treatment of Ron Paul and his supporters at the August 28 RNC convention was what sealed the fate of the RNC in my mind and heart. If an organization dismisses and actively fetters such a sizable contingent of its membership, that organization is no longer lead by its membership. It is lead by a powerful incumbency that acts autonomously with reckless disregard of the membership’s will. The organization is not deserving of these sabotaged members and deserves to lose their minds, their time, and, most important of all to its leadership, their money.

After all, Ron Paul won. Whether or not Romney himself was involved in the unethical behavior that installed him as the nominee is irrelevant. Proving such would only harm him; providing that he was not involved would not affect his reputation in the eyes of those who oppose him. At issue is the simple fact that the RNC leadership actively permitted the rules changes at the convention that prevented Ron Paul from even being nominated for the presidential nomination. Unfortunately, there is no feasible appeal process for an RNC nomination, as those would hear the appeal are among the dishonest and unethical leadership of the party.

I believe it is worth describing the state of this schism within the Republican party as a blood cell nearing division. The party was one unit, one strong cohesive unit. As it has gained mass, it’s feeling constrained. To the external observer, it appears as though there are nearly two individual cells. That cell still believes itself to be one, singular cell and tries to act that way. However, its operation is untenable. In short time, in order to preserve itself, it must divide. The division is inevitable once it started. It’s only a matter of time until the molecules destined for the new cell are ready to depart. I’m ready to depart.

I did not shred that card with a heavy heart. I do not regret shredding a piece of plastic that stands for everything I see wrong with the party. I shredded that card with the intention of finishing the revolution of my heart.

Thus, I have departed. My change of party registration is in the mail. I’m supporting the Libertarian Party, and voting for Gary Johnson. Won’t you join me?

by Colin Dean at November 06, 2012 05:00 AM

October 14, 2012

Zoe Valentine


Hannah doesn't understand that you just need one piece of bold print in an outfit.  A little pop.  She is all pop.  

Hannah loves textures.  She especially loves feeling things with her feet.  She would never wear shoes if it were up to her.  As a reward for having a good day at preschool she can walk home barefoot.  Kevin decided that putting her into my new bag of fluffy stuffing would be a good idea.  Good Daddy; Bad Husband.

Hannah has finally started drawing.  She never has been interested in sitting still for long...anyway, here is one of her masterpieces called "Mom and Dad".  I have the large nose.  Kevin has the long legs.

Further evidence of her settling down a bit - the other day when I was playing a math memory game with Zoe, Hannah set up her own game to play with Davey.

The children are taking swimming lessons at the YMCA.  Look closely.  Here are two red shirted teachers tossing Zoe in from the platform to her waiting teacher.  I am afraid she will end up a doggy-paddler like her mother.  (Hannah of course is jumping off before the teacher is even ready for her.)

On the other hand, Zoe was so, so, so excited about the free (FREE!) pony rides at the park.  Hannah would only watch from far, far away.

Zoe is growing her hair long.  I like it shorter but she is keeping it pretty snarl free and letting me try new braids so I guess I'll let her grow it a while longer.

Gross alert!!!!!!! Remember in August when Zoe opened a door over her toe and it swelled up and bled a little?  Me either.  But her toe nail does and it is just hanging on by a thread.  Of course Zoe refuses to take it off.

by Jamie (noreply@blogger.com) at October 14, 2012 02:17 PM

September 27, 2012

Asheesh Laroia

Censored on Facebook

For the first time in what feels like years, I wanted to share something with my friends on Facebook.

The background was that I read a note on Slashdot that Linus Torvalds thought a presidential candidate's remarks on a topic related to airline security were "moron"ic. So I did my own research, and I disagred. I figured this was a topic of general enough interest that all my Facebook friends might be interested in knowing my position, so I wanted to share that.

Facebook didn't let me.

I tried first with a link to snopes.com, which blocked me with the rationale that http://snopes.com/images/template/snopes.gif is "spammy or unsafe":

You can't post this because it has a blocked link. The content you're trying to share includes a link that's been blocked for being spammy or unsafe. http://snopes.com/images/template/snopes.gif For more information, visit the Help Center. If you think you're seeing this by mistake, please let us know.

Then I thought I'd be clever, and I linked to the .nyud.net version of the snopes page on the topic. I earned the same message that my post included a blocked link.

So then I tried again, with a link to a video on YouTube of the same clip.

That's when I first got the extremely generic message that "The message could not be posted to this Wall."

Finally, I removed all the links, and kept the first bit of text. For this, I got the same generic error: "The message could not be posted to this Wall."

Update: Patrick points out I should link to the actual video. Here it is, embedded:

(BTW: The first thing I did was to click "let us know" to indicate that I think I'm seeing this by mistake. I filled out the form to indicate there was a problem in an honest, respectful way. I got back an email autoresponse that said, "Thanks for taking the time to submit this report. While we don't currently provide individual support for this issue, this information will help us identify bugs on our site.")

September 27, 2012 05:49 AM

Censored on Facebook

For the first time in what feels like years, I wanted to share something with my friends on Facebook.

The background was that I read a note on Slashdot that Linus Torvalds thought a presidential candidate's remarks on a topic related to airline security were "moron"ic. So I did my own research, and I disagred. I figured this was a topic of general enough interest that all my Facebook friends might be interested in knowing my position, so I wanted to share that.

Facebook didn't let me.

I tried first with a link to snopes.com, which blocked me with the rationale that http://snopes.com/images/template/snopes.gif is "spammy or unsafe":

You can't post this because it has a blocked link. The content you're trying to share includes a link that's been blocked for being spammy or unsafe. http://snopes.com/images/template/snopes.gif For more information, visit the Help Center. If you think you're seeing this by mistake, please let us know.

Then I thought I'd be clever, and I linked to the .nyud.net version of the snopes page on the topic. I earned the same message that my post included a blocked link.

So then I tried again, with a link to a video on YouTube of the same clip.

That's when I first got the extremely generic message that "The message could not be posted to this Wall."

Finally, I removed all the links, and kept the first bit of text. For this, I got the same generic error: "The message could not be posted to this Wall."

(BTW: The first thing I did was to click "let us know" to indicate that I think I'm seeing this by mistake. I filled out the form to indicate there was a problem in an honest, respectful way. I got back an email autoresponse that said, "Thanks for taking the time to submit this report. While we don't currently provide individual support for this issue, this information will help us identify bugs on our site.")

September 27, 2012 01:42 AM

September 17, 2012

Zoe Valentine


Big news at our house: Zoe is now a first grader!  Woooo!

And Hannah is now a preschooler!  Woooo!

Zoe started school a week before Hannah.  Her first day was an hour long orientation for the kids in their classroom and the parents in the cafeteria.  I have chosen not to use the pictures taken before orientation as "First Day" pictures.  For obvious reasons...

Orientation was overwhelming.  Thus the blur.  But here is Zoe and her dear friend Rhyan.  (They dance together too if her cute little face looks familiar.) 


Hannah was a little lonely with Zoe gone so we tried out some of the things I've seen on Pinterest.  Like crockpot granola.  You leave the lid cracked so the moisture escapes and it's crispy.  And the oven doesn't heat up the whole kitchen.  Yay!

 (Beth, I can hear you saying "Really, Jamie, really?!")

 I was so, so worried about Zoe starting First Grade.  She has been anxious in the past.  The school houses 1st through 8th grade.  The kids are expected to be much more independent.  But as this picture that Hannah snapped of Zoe on the playground the other morning shows...She's GOT THIS! 

PS what have I been doing in my 6 hours of week with no kids?

by Jamie (noreply@blogger.com) at September 17, 2012 02:26 AM

September 01, 2012

Zoe Valentine


Well this summer just flew right by!  Operation Spend-the-Summer-Outside was a success!  We found lots of fun playgrounds.  

Cades in Swarthmore:

The Merry Place in Haverford:

 Glendale Park, Haverford:

Freedom Playground, Haverford.  Hannah LOVED the misters!

 (I found the Art Museum/Rocky Statue rock wall hilarious.)

 Linvilla Orchards:

Bodie's Place, Milford, CT:

(When did Zoe get so brave?)

We went to the beach:

Nana came to visit:

 And most importantly, we found out that Davey will eat a bowl of oatmeal.

by Jamie (noreply@blogger.com) at September 01, 2012 01:16 PM

August 14, 2012

Asheesh Laroia

Zooming in

She zoomed in on the git commits to check that the new contributors were thanked properly. She was not looking for bad programmers or bad community managers. She was looking for the kinds of misses that even excellent programmers and community managers can make under pressure.

A mis-quote of "Can Hospital Chains Improve the Medical Industry?".

August 14, 2012 01:53 AM

From Zephyr

   geofft / supost.q / geofft  19:56  (Wobbuffet!)
       "the cuttest girls on campus"
   geofft / supost.q / christy  20:13  (Christy Swartz)
       The cute ones are always the deadliest.
-> geofft / supost.q / ageng  20:19  (Homomorphosis: when a caterpillar turns into another caterpillar.)
       a cut above the rest.

August 14, 2012 01:05 AM

August 10, 2012

Colin Dean

A system is only secure when nobody has total control.

A system is only secure when nobody has total control.

It is vital to understand this. People can bang on all day about the security of something, but their arguments are worthless if this basic principle of distribution is not the central point. Decentralization helps; a federated network of systems is more resilient than a centralized system. However, the resiliency of a fully distributed system is unmatched.

Dir biyabir anbessa yasir.

The original link. If you see the original post, comment with the URL.

by Colin Dean at August 10, 2012 03:12 AM

August 03, 2012

Asheesh Laroia

Anonymous should submit patches

About a day ago, there was a problem with the Wikimedia Foundation websites.

Leslie Carr provided this explanation:

[22:26:13] <LeslieCarr> in reality, looks like a bad squid config was pushed, then when it was rolled back, the site came back up

Apparently, the BBC asked why the sites were down.

George Herbert suggests:

They probably wanted to make sure it was accidental and not some denial of service attack (i.e., newsworthy). Were say Anonymous to jump on us for some unforseeable reason, it would be newsworthy, and I am sure the newsies would come running to everyone ever publicly identified as knowing anything about ops at the site...

Conclusion: Anonymous should start submitting (broken) patches to the Wikimedia operations team, in the hopes one of them lands and causes the site to go down, so it can get more press.

August 03, 2012 06:17 PM

July 30, 2012

Asheesh Laroia


I only just figured out that AisleRiot is supposed to be a pronounceable pun.

...in addition, I wrote AisleRiot (pronounced I'll Riot), the GNOME solitaire program.

The source of that quote has a plausible Last-Modified header of Mon, 28 Aug 2000 04:07:12 GMT.

July 30, 2012 07:00 AM

RHEL 7 will (probably) have GNOME 3

While chatting with Greg Price earlier this evening about the coming Linpocalypse, I said something I wanted to research. Upon further review, it seems that Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 will ship GNOME 3.

You can see a video of Jonathan Blandford talking about it, where he says:

And then looking forward to the future, RHEL 7.... We're giving demos of GNOME3, and the new desktop is a huge change; we're doing some pretty exciting things there. So if you're interested in it, please come by and take a look!

"CubedRoot" on fedoraforum.org did take a look, and (s)he wries:

I went down to the Partner Pavillion and spent over an hour with Jonathan and the RHEL7 demo they had running. Besides a new wallpaper (Which was very beautiful BTW) they were running Gnome 3.5 on the demo, an the only other major changes were a few more account service providers and chat plugins (like Sametime, Yahoo, and stuff). It did not handle multi-monitors with different resolutions worth a flip (but it is beta after all). This is when I asked him if they planned on putting XFCE or LXDE or even Cinnamon in the Extra's channel, and they very confidently said they would not be in there. They had no plans to offer them.

July 30, 2012 06:51 AM

July 07, 2012

Jim Fisher

Hiveberry Pi!

Sunday, we had a little Linux meetup at Hive76. This is how it went:

Ben, and everyone, awesome *first* meeting. Welcome all newcomers to
Hive76, I really hope you come around to open houses and let the rest
of the members meet you!

While playing with the Rasberry Pi we did some stuff that was very
Linux'y, but did it rather quickly to get the Pi running.

I will recap some of the things we did, and break down how they apply
to using Linux in an everyday situation:

1) dd - we used to make a bit for bit copy of an iso to a card to boot the R pi.

2) Getting sound to work, we covered many things quickly:

     a) alsamixer - a sound control app for alsa   (it wasn't
installed in the distro), so you would    think: sudo apt-get install
alsamixer (for Debian based distros)

      BUT that returns E: Couldn't find package alsamixer

      WHY? because alsamixer is an app, part of a larger *package* of apps

      HOW TO FIND? (**Debian based distos**)
               i) apt-cache search alsamixer
              ii) apt-file   (has to be installed and updated;
contains all files available in repos for local
             iii) web based search of distro's packages

   b) Still no worky  *wonk wonk*  But why Mommy? So we tried aplay -l
 (which lists sound
       devices on system)

        1) returned nada zippo zero. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? It means
there is no module
            installed for the device

            HOW DO WE FIND module info? device info? *HELP* I'm drowning........

            i) module commands  - lsmod (list modules in use) modinfo
(list specific info for mod
                parameters, etc.) modprobe (install module) rmmod
(remove module)

            ii) device info - lshw (list hardware all) lsusb (list usb
devices) lspci (list pci devices) ETC
                *add* -v or more v's for more info (verbosity)
                Google - DDG - internet search  device and module info
can usually be found too.

   c) modprobe snd-bcm2835 (installs proper module)

   d) aplay -l again to see if it worked - SUCCESS

   e) alsamixer again to make sure nothing is muted - PCM must not be
muted and must be up
       (others too on different systems, but PCM is a big fail point)


   g) next boot, have to modprobe again or no sound or add module to
/etc/modules to have it
       install automagically at every boot.

WOW - we did all that - YEP, and most of it can be applied to any
device that isn't recognized automagically for your Debian based
system - wireless stuff - anything.

Happy Hacking!

by Jim Fisher (noreply@blogger.com) at July 07, 2012 02:05 AM

June 21, 2012

Zoe Valentine


Well we've been busy!  First Zoe turned SIX!  Where does the time go?

Then there was the big kindergarten field trip to the ZOO!  Here is Zoe with her BFF:

Watching the lions:

"I got the butterfly!!!"

That night we had to clean up and rush off to dress rehearsal.  "Hi Mom!"

Grampa and Camy came to visit and we took them strawberry picking.  Hannah was so excited on the tractor ride!

Then there was the Kindergarten Final Celebration.  Zoe was so psyched! (And glamorous in her dress from Great Gramma!)

Zoe in the front row singing.  I was bawling through the whole thing.  Becoming a mom has made me an embarrassing blubber-er. Sigh.

They hung Zoe and her BFF's graduation self-portraits together.  So cute!

Then there was dance recital!  Zoe and her friends did great.  Plus they really had a lot of fun!  Such cuties too...

Breaking news: Cutie and Lovie got married!  The girls worked on their portraits for some time today.

And this was tonight on our walk around the block.  Phew!  You are all up to date!

by Jamie (noreply@blogger.com) at June 21, 2012 01:46 AM

June 14, 2012

Asheesh Laroia

Reactions to a public disaster

Quoth Laila Winter:

"It's a setback, but... it'll be fine. These things happen. It's just a strange day."

June 14, 2012 05:00 PM

June 06, 2012

Colin Dean

Quick video of Cecilia

I took this video on my Galaxy Nexus as a test of what the WordPress for Android app can do. Neat!

by Colin Dean at June 06, 2012 11:56 PM

June 01, 2012

Colin Dean

2012: Some new chapters

I never got around to posting a 2011 retrospective. 2011 was pretty boring at first: ~2 weeks per month on the road for work, spending a good bit of time working on PLAS. I was on-site during the high tension 11th hour license renewal at the heart of the second largest deal in Vivísimo history. Then 2011 picked up. Pittco had its second largest LAN party ever, Iron Storm XII. Brigette graduated from college in May and I bought an early 2000s Nissan Xterra as a second vehicle, largely for her use (we’ve ended up splitting it 50/50).

Our dining room

Our dining room

Then 2011 got crazy. I bought a house in a suburb of Pittsburgh between the city and nearby Monroeville. It’s a ’50s colonial with two garages — a rarity for my new neighborhood! Brigette and I moved in together and spent most of the rest of the year being frugal when the Xterra’s engine blew a head gasket and had to be replaced. Ouch, my wallet. We’ve since settled in pretty nicely. We’re not really ready yet to show off many pictures of our place, but with each passing month, we’re able to make it look more like a home than a house.

Then came 2012. Why am I doing the first half of 2012 already? It’s just that crazy.

CES this year was great. I met a ton of new folks and connected with some old friends, one of whom may be the last time I see her at CES for a while (she changed jobs shortly after). I really made some solid contacts for Pittco and even talked to a few who’d heard of it outside of my bantering! Sweet! Brand recognition!

Which brings me to Pittco, specifically Iron Storm XIII. IS13 was our largest event ever, as I stated in my STATE OF THE LAN address: 186 people attended! Someone in the media said last year, “LAN parties are dead.” To that, I say, “Well, you mustn’t have been at Iron Storm XIII. I’ve never seen so much life at a LAN party.” Granted, I’m a little biased, but seriously. We’ve grown to the point that we’ve exceeded what our current, longtime venue can hold, so we’re looking for a new place in Pittsburgh to house our event.

I got involved in the planning of the Steel City Ruby Conference, a developer conference aimed at Rubyists. Its target audience is any Rubyist, but primarily Rubyists who’d never attended a Ruby conference. I’m lending my event planning skills (thanks, Pittco! thanks, WPAYL!) while also building expectations as someone who has never attended a Ruby conference but has attended other conferences. Registration went live in early May and we were 50% sold out within a couple of days. The event is in August 2012, so check it out!

The craziest part of this year started April 23 when IBM announced its intentions to acquire Vivísimo. The small startup I joined when there were ~85 people had grown to >120 and “fired its warp drive long enough to be detected” by a megacorp. Lots of confusion ensued, but ultimately most people were on board. The deal officially closed Thursday, May 24. Terms were not disclosed publicly, so I can’t discuss them here. Sorry!

Vivisimo logoIBM logo

Thusly, tomorrow, June 1, 2012, is my first day as an IBMer. I never imagined that I’d ever work for such a massive company (#1-2-3 most recognized brand in the world, as we’ve been constantly told) or that I would get into it in this way, via acquisition. I’ll be sticking with it for the foreseeable future, as Vivísimo’s main product, Velocity, a search engine platform, becomes the center of IBM’s push into the Big Data market.

by Colin Dean at June 01, 2012 04:10 AM

May 22, 2012

Zoe Valentine


Beach Trip!  The weather was perfect on Saturday so we headed down to Delaware! As always the girls had so much fun!

Did you know that Zoe *loves* crabs?  Well she does.

She really, really does.  So whenever we go to Delaware we take her to Crabby Dicks (which is famous for its 'balls', ya know crab balls, hush puppies.  Thankfully this all flies right over Zoe's head!)

I don't know where she got this love of crab.  (Kevin and I shared mussels and 'The Feast of Balls' and Hannah had chicken nuggets.)

We also loved our motel.  So much room!  Room for everyone!  Too bad Kevin slept in the trundle bed, Zoe slept on the day bed and Hannah kicked me in the face all night and I slept together in a double bed. K and I were just so tired we did whatever would make them fall asleep!

Sunday was supposed to be 77 and sunny.  It wasn't.  So I dragged us to a lightship which just so happened to have a fun playground.  The kids had a blast!

Until next time - ahoy!

by Jamie (noreply@blogger.com) at May 22, 2012 01:45 AM

Easter, remember Easter?

Remember Easter?  Before I forget ... we were all taking turns getting sick so we stayed home for Easter.  But that doesn't mean we didn't have some fun!  As you see we saw a baby lamb.  Then Zoe and I went on a (freezing cold) hayride:

And saw the Easter Bunny!

Our dear friends had us over for an egg hunt:

And the girls got some good loot from the Easter Bunny on Easter Morning.  

The only problem was the eggs...I only had BROWN eggs.  The colors were kind of ...earthy?  And then when you cracked them open...let's just say they were super soft boiled.  Oopsie!  Double fail for me!

Zoe's dance recital is coming soon! Her ballet recital song is Under the Sea.  She is so excited to be a mermaid! Thankfully her teacher told her they were only allowed to try it on ONE TIME before the recital otherwise she would be wearing this get up all the time!

We always have fun when we visit the 'bird forest.'  This past trip, Hannah trail-blazed into the reeds.  

Kevin and Zoe (and a reluctant me) followed.  

Zoe set up this cute picnic snack for her and Hannah in the yard:

Hannah at the library being Hannah.  Or as the librarian calls her The Hannicane!

Wait 'til you see what we did last weekend!

by Jamie (noreply@blogger.com) at May 22, 2012 01:24 AM

April 30, 2012

Jim Fisher

Philly Tech Week Gala - Passion FTW

Friday night, Hive76 had a table in the Vendor area of the Philly Tech Week Gala at Moore College of Art and Design.

Big kudos to all involved in making Philly Tech Week happen, and making it great.

I am an event whore. I love getting out into the wild and promoting "Geek" to the masses; Linux, Electronics and all that falls in between.

Our table generated a ton of interest. I think that we stood out because most of the other vendors had standard, corporate style show booths, and booth people, that had to be at the booth. It was work; a job.

We, on the other hand, were at our vibrant, self-created table, showing things that we, or our friends, designed and brought to life. We wanted to be there. We want you to be there with us next year.

I think people could 'feel' the difference. Attendees could feel the passion that we had as we engaged them, and ignited their passions.

Hope to see some new visitors at Open Houses on Wednesday, stalking us on the mailings list, and grabbing the RSS of our site.

by Jim Fisher (noreply@blogger.com) at April 30, 2012 03:22 PM

April 20, 2012

Asheesh Laroia

Absurd Asheesh lunch: Friday April 20, MIT Media Lab, 1 PM

I'm visiting the Boston area for a few hours (like literally less than 24), and so I thought I'd stop by the MIT Media Lab's 5th floor lounge and have lunch there with Deb, and anyone else who wants to join.

Bring lunch from home, or buy food at the lovely MIT trucks, or just come for the company.

It's quite easy to get to; take the Red Line to Kendall, then walk to the end of the street with the food trucks. If you need help finding me/it, call my cell phone!

P.S. I'm in town just while in transit to Troy, NY, to run an open source teaching workshop there.

April 20, 2012 12:24 PM

April 15, 2012

Jim Fisher


I finally setup an OpenVPN server. I use ssh and all it's glory but have known that a VPN would be good to have and a good experience also.

I used this Guide.

Note that bridging must be set up FIRST.

**Remember to which brctl and change the up and down scripts to reflect your location.

Remember to use tap and TCP.

In the client.conf I used the full paths to the certs:

ca /etc/openvpn/ca.crt
cert /etc/openvpn/easy-rsa/keys/1104.crt
key /etc/openvpn/easy-rsa/keys/1104.key

Also install network-manager-openvpn to connect via network-manager

Import your client.conf file.

It should work.

If you have any problems increase verbosity on both sides and start to track the issues.

by Jim Fisher (noreply@blogger.com) at April 15, 2012 11:12 PM

April 08, 2012

Zoe Valentine

The Big Girl

And now a Zoe post.  This has been a busy few weeks for her.  Dance class is getting busy - recital is in early June.  They had another open studio so we could check out the cuteness!

Her school put on the musical A Year with Frog and Toad.  Note Zoe's location in the second row behind the girl with the shoulder length light hair.  It will help you find her in the video

And there was the Jump-a-thon where they raised money for the American Heart Association.  Here is Zoe trying to make a basket (to Alyssa's favorite song...)

Running with the football:

Posing with her teacher, Mrs. Spiotta, who I just love!

An Easter post coming soon!

by Jamie (noreply@blogger.com) at April 08, 2012 01:34 AM