Cleaning out old email

Well I ran out of email space at google... which means I had somehow collected 8GB or mail from lists, attachments and such. Looking at what I have kept over the last 8 years.. there is a lot of stuff I am wondering.. why am I keeping especially since most of it email kept on various mailman's and then replicate through many gmanes and such.

So it is time for the great email cleaning. If I somehow delete your email.. sorry. Happy end of the year clearance time everyone.


Things to remember

1) People are not rational creatures. We like to believe we act rationally but we usually just use rationality to excuse us not thinking in the first place. The primary thing we use rationality is to say "I THOUGHT OF THAT MYSELF"

2) People are social herd creatures. We end up saving 'energy' by making decisions based on what other people are doing. When you see every other organization doing something your brain gets stressed about "WHY AREN'T YOU DOING IT TOO!"

3) Marketing and sales is all based on using 1 and 2 in conjunction to get someone to do what you want them.

You can have the best widget in the world, but if not enough of the Herd is using it.. then "no-one" will use it. Not sure what this means.. but it been swimming around in the brain all day so I am writing it down.


Peeved off board member

Dear Fedora Community

Why is it that for 4 months, I kept asking "How are things going?" and people kept saying "Everythings fine.. heck things seem to be mellow?" And once the release is done every problem that could have been dealt with in the last 4 months comes out of the wood work with "Oh my god the sky is falling intensity."

To quote Matt Domsch as he said it better than me:

And this is my concern with the Fedora Community today. Rather than
assume good intentions and put the best construction on everything, it
seems that people actively _want_ to be offended (even when no offence
was intended), people _want_ to look for hidden agendas and
conspiracies (even when none such exist), people _want_ to find a
reason to be argumentative rather than constructive, and, IMHO, people
want to be armchair quarterbacks, suggesting how things should be
done, rather than actively being the agent that _does_ it.

I've never seen anyone, in any office or role, actively set out to
destroy the Community, or other individuals' involvement, or ramrod
some unspecified corporate agenda down the throats of contributors.
I've only seen people _who actually do stuff_ run for office with the
best of intentions, only to get tired of the above when _doing stuff_
seems to hack people off at every turn. Maybe that's why so many of
our long-standing contributors are finding other ways to spend their
time now.

I am seriously really tired of it. If you really have a problem do something beyond arm chair bossing:
  1. Find a part of the project and make it better.
  2. Find people who agree with you and make a remix that shows how things should be done.
  3. Find or create a project that better fits your needs.

I say this as someone who has done all of the above at various points in my life. It is not as hard and scary as people make it out to be.


Helping other Linux people.

While our various Linux sub-communities may snipe and bad mouth each other quite a bit, there is a lot that ties us together. For many of us it is helping others when they are in need.

Ubuntu community member Amber Graner's and family suffered a tragedy earlier this week when their house burnt down. Fellow Ubuntu community member Rikki Kite has set up a ChipIn site to allow them to afford clothing and food until any insurance comes through.

It would be nice if those who can help, do so.

"Let us be kind, one to another, for most of us are fighting a hard
battle." -- Ian MacLaren


F15 Elections

F15 elections for FESCO, Fedora Advisory Board and F15 name are either in the voting stage, the nomination stage, or just some other stage.

For names, I voted for Blarney. I like its whimsical nature and the fact that Irish Pandas would be cool for a March 17th release :).

For nominations, I am still a board member (though only appointed) and will just wait til next May's elections.

Due to the fact that we only get 100->200 people out of a possible several thousand, I am still working on a mandatory voting policy. I am trying to figure out how to have "None of the above" as a candidate and make it enforceable :).


Fedora Spin Issues

It would seem that the Fedora Spins SIG is in 'bad shape'. From information posted to the Fedora Advisory Board it is clear that it is running on too few people and too many demands.

I do not believe that having some people volunteer at this time would be beneficial if underlying issues are not first found out and fixed.

  1. How are Spins helpful for Fedora project?
  2. Does that help match the extra work required?
  3. Are Spins more or less helpful than 'Remixes'
  4. What kind of skills are required to maintain Spins?
  5. how much time is required?

I realize some of the questions may be more provocative than they should be but I am tired.


Customer Review Requested

Robyn writes:

Ryan and I drove up today from that magical place known as Tempe, Arizona, starting a bit after lunch. We met up with Smooge, who was in town to do magical things with servers, and had a good lunch and talk about all sorts of things (infrastructure, vision, and our Epic Waiter Who Talks All Manly and Buttery).

It was a good lunch, and the first one where the wait staff asked us to fill out a performance review:

When speaking with your waiter, did you feel
  1. Cold like ice
  2. Warm like a late spring day
  3. Hot and buttery like Fabio himself had come off the hot desert sands riding a black stallion to cart you off to his tent

Was your waiter's eye contact
  1. Short and indirect
  2. Moderate and business like
  3. Long and intense, making you feel that your every whim would be fulfilled with extra chocolate sauce

These sorts of things only seem to happen when you go to lunch with marketing people.


Dear Hardware people

Today I spent a lovely time working on < redacted > hardware today. It takes 1 minute for the initial EFI to get to the point that the < redacted > BIOS screen comes up. It takes another minute for the system to get to the point where I can get a F1,F2,F12 entry. After that the UEFI takes another minute to time out because its looking for DHCP when I told it to boot statically. Then it takes 1 minute to initialize the Broadcom network and LSI controller.

AND THEN THE BLOODY LSI ONLY ACCEPTS CONTROL-C FOR 4 SECONDS before it goes to boot from the disk or PXE.

Please could you make the various hardware faster and make the prompt for making changes to the LSI a bit longer. kthnxbye.

[This rant brought to you by a person who missed the prompt for making changes to the LSI raid containers maybe 9 times because of various things happening while waiting long periods of time. I timed the amount of time it takes for the hardware and its pretty much down to the second 1 minute per step. This is also why server people really don't find boot-time races from upstart/systemd/etc all that relevant.]


Dear American Airlines

If you are going to treat me and my fellow passengers as cattle, please learn to do it from the best: South West. The lines move faster, the seats were more comfortable, and the flight while only having coffee and peanuts was nicer.

  1. Please don't charge for luggage because it takes more time to load because everyone then tries to bring it on. And it takes longer to get out because people can't get their overstuffed luggage from the overhead compartments.
  2. If you are going to charge for renting a pillow and blanket please have them aboard.
  3. Please don't have your attendants shilling deals while we are trying to get into our uncomforable seats. The attendants don't like it when they are told what passengers think about it. (This was not me but I could hear it multiple times ahead of me.)
  4. Please make sure the seats are working. Having my seat fall out when I was getting up did not help our confidence.
  5. When designing your cattle drives, please use a humane design from Temple Grandin or such.


My vision of Fedora 20

I would like that Fedora 20 is the RPM based start-up friendly Debian.

I am going with "RPM based" because that is what we package with.. and have for a long time. I don't see that changing by Fedora 20.. well unless dpkg2 is even cooler than it sounds. [I had dreams of Fedora 10 using conary but those have faded so I am picking my battles a bit better this time :).]

By Debian, I am looking at its large number of packages, its open-books policies and 'organization', and its developer centred culture. I think Fedora has many of these and they are so primary in their being that trying to change them would be more futile than Sisyphus's task. However I believe we can improve on opening the books and having a charter that people understand and know.

Finally the hardest, "start-up friendly". By this I mean in the way that Adam Miller blogged about, the ability for a team of people to focus on developing the parts they really want to in a way that can be separate but also able to feed back those changes to 'upstream'. Thus if a team of people want to create, brand, enhance, (possibly) sell, support Kepi Linux they can. And if another group wants to focus on Nephelae Linux they can... and the Fedora Project is built around helping them start-up, improve, and feedback to Fedora. I guess what I want Fedora to be is an Incubator (as they called them in the 1990's.. they probably have some cloud name these days).

If we can do this I would love to focus on Nephelae. It would focus on web development and web developers. Its desktop would be lightweight and clean with contemporary artwork and fonts. Its work mode would be streamlined for spinning up test servers with the frameworks web developers care about and need. And it would make sure they were easily manageable from the web developers desktop whether local or a 1000 miles away in a co-location. [Thanks to the person who started this idea for me.]

So Fedora would continue to grow and probably stay as "chaotic" as it has been, but it would also allow for people to build a focused product that meets their needs.


Need help from other distros and old RH distros

So what started as a minor exercise in updating names of Red Hat Linux, turned into a large table of packages for not just Red Hat Linux, Fedora and Debian. I would like to add in Ubuntu, Mandriva and SuSE also at some point.. but this is what I got from downloads this weekend:

Red Hat Linux Release Name Date of Release # of .src.rpms kernel glibc gcc XFree86
0.8 Preview 1994-??-??
0.9 Halloween 1994-10-31
1.0 Mother's Day 1995-??-??
1.1 Mother's Day2 1995-??-??
2.0 NoName 1995-??-??
2.1 No Name 2 1995-??-??
3.0.3 Picasso 1996-03-15
4.0 Colgate 1996-10-03
4.1 Vanderbilt 1997-02-03
4.2 Biltmore 1997-04-24 373 2.0.30 (2.0.36) libc 5.3.12 3.2 (3.3.5)
5.0 Hurricane 1997-10-10 385 2.0.32 (2.0.36) 2.0.5c (2.0.7) 3.3.1 (
5.1 Manhatten 1998-05-07 405 2.0.34 (2.0.36) 2.0.7 3.3.2 (
5.2 Apollo 1998-10-12 434 2.0.36 2.0.7 (3.3.5)
6.0 Hegwig 1999-04-19 476 2.2.5 (2.2.17) 2.1.1 (2.1.3) egcs-1.1.2 (3.3.5)
6.1 Cartmann 1999-09-26 500 2.2.12 (2.2.17) 2.1.2 (2.1.3) egcs-1.1.2 3.3.5 (3.3.5)
6.2 Zoot 2000-03-08 511 2.2.14 (2.2.24) 2.1.3 egcs-1.1.2 3.3.6
7.0 Guinness 2000-08-28 568 2.2.16 (2.2.24) 2.1.92 (2.2.4) 2.96 4.0.1
7.1 Seawolf 2001-04-04 634 2.4.2 (2.4.20) 2.2.2 (2.2.4) 2.96 4.0.3 (4.1.0)
7.2 Enigma 2001-10-22 759 2.4.7 (2.4.20) 2.2.4 2.96 4.1.0
7.3 Valhalla 2002-05-06 815 2.4.18 (2.4.20) 2.2.5 2.96 4.2.0 (4.2.1)
8.0 Psyche 2002-09-30 838 2.4.18 (2.4.20) 2.2.93 (2.3.2) 3.2 4.2.0 (4.2.1)
9.0 Shrike 2003-03-31 839 2.4.20-NPTL 2.3.2 3.2.2 4.3.0
Red Hat Enterprise Linux Release Name Date of Release # of .src.rpms kernel glibc gcc XFree86
1 (6.2EE) Zoot 2000-03-27 511 2.2.14 (2.2.24) 2.1.3 egcs-1.1.2 3.3.6
2.1 Pensacola / Panama 2002-03-26 728 2.4.9 2.2.4 2.96 XFree86-3.3.6
3 Taroon 2003-10-22 712 2.4.21 2.3.2 3.2.3 XFree86-4.3.0
4 Nahant 2005-02-15 881 2.6.9 2.3.4 3.4.6 6.8.2
5 Tikango 2007-03-14 1226 2.6.18 2.5 4.1.2 1.1.1
6 Santiago 201?-??-?? 2057 2.6.32 2.12 4.4.4 1.7.7
Fedora OS Version Release Name Date of Release # of .src.rpms kernel glibc gcc X
01 Yarrow 2003-11-05 876 2.4.22-nptl 2.3.2 3.3.2 XFree86 4.3.0
02 Tettnang 2004-05-18 946 2.6.5 (2.6.10) 2.3.3 3.3.3 x.org 6.7.0
03 Heidelberg 2004-11-08 2079 2.6.9 (2.6.12) 2.3.3 (2.3.4) 3.4.2 (3.4.4) 6.8.1 (6.8.2)
04 Stentz 2005-06-13 2753 2.6.11 (2.6.17) 2.3.5 (2.3.6) 4.0.0 (4.0.2) 6.8.2
05 Bordeaux 2006-03-20 3137 2.6.15 (2.6.20) 2.4 4.1.0 (4.1.1) server 1.0.1
06 Zod 2006-10-24 3681 2.6.18 ( 2.5 4.1.1 (4.1.2) 1.1.1
07 Moonshine 2007-05-31 5189 2.6.21 ( 2.6 4.1.2
08 Werewolf 2007-11-08 6042 ( 2.7 4.1.2
09 Sulphur 2008-05-13 7085 2.6.25 ( 2.8 4.3.0 (1.5.2)
10 Cambridge 2008-11-25 8103 ( 2.9 4.3.2 1.5.3
11 Leonidas 2009-06-09 8935 ( 2.10.1 (2.10.2) 4.4.0 (4.4.1) (1.6.4)
12 Constantine 2009-11-17 9428 ( 2.11 (2.11.2) 4.4.2 (4.4.4) 1.7.1 (1.7.6)
13 Goddard 2010-05-25 9555 ( 2.12 4.4.4 1.8.0 (1.8.2)
14 Laughlin (2010-09-14) 9644 2.12.90 4.5.1 ()
Rawhide Rawhide (2010-09-14) 9701 2.6.36 2.12.90 4.5.1 7.6
Debian GNU/Linux Release Name Date of Release # of src dpkgs kernel glibc gcc XFree86
1.1 Buzz 1996-06-17
1.2 Rexz 1996-12-12
1.3 Bo 1997-06-05
2.0 Hamm 1998-06-17 1115
2.1 Slink 1999-03-09 1580
2.2 Potato 2000-08-15 2647
3.0 Woody 2002-07-19 5218
3.1 Sarge 2005-06-06 8727
4.0 Etch 2007-04-08 10215
5.0 Lenny 2009-02-14 12108
6.0 Squeeze(2010-09-15) 2010-??-?? 14835
7.0 Wheezy 2010-??-??
Unstable Sid (2010-09-15) 15888

Pointers on where I can get the information missing I would really appreciate. Thanks


Board Phone Meeting (2010-09-08)

Many many thanks to Máirín Duffy for being the secretary to this meeting when I was supposed to be secretary. I make a very bad one as I keep writing down my thoughts on what people say ... not what they actually say. [And thanks to Caillon for reminding me that I should make sure Máirín gets credit for her work.]

Her general notes are here. Her more detailed ones will be later. She was very nice to avoid my general grumpiness in the meeting which I apologize to the other board members for.


Too much Top Gear

Well I think watching 3 seasons of Top Gear on the telly in the last couple of weeks has reached its end. [Well especially since Netflix doesn't have any of the older series yet on instant view.] The last couple of nights I have had dreams of Thomas the Tank Engine narrated by Jeremy Clarkson. And yes the race between Bertie and Thomas ended in "and across the line."

Now to see if I can get a Region 1 DVD player so I can watch James May's latest series: Toy Stories. I really want to see Big Ideas too, but that does not look available. I will just have to order the books. Of the three and a half (the Stig) presenters, I have found I like James the best... as sadly I have his sense of direction and love of little details.

[Oh and I had such a great challenge idea after watching the Gumpert race.. build a car that can drive upside down. I figure a large wind tunnel could simulate the velocity to push a vehicle 'down' (or in this case up)... and you could crash several of them to see if any of the ideas work.]


Ubuntu Bashing: Please Stop

Recently someone posted a set of pictures of burning an Ubuntu cd case and breaking up a dvd or cdrom. Hurray a great victory for the rights of Freedom everywhere, correct? No. It is just a ritualistic act to try and rally one group of apes who think they are about to be wiped out by some other clan of apes. It reeks of fear, hatred, and intolerance and I want the Fedora community to be above that.

Having had to deal with Red Hat Linux boxed sets returned to us stuffed with dog faeces, or ashes of disks.. I don't like seeing other people's work crapped on. Having grown up in area where book burnings still happened because of some group thinking it would save their children from the sinful world.. I will not stand quiet on this.

You want to promote freedom, make Fedora or the world a better place. Burning disks and posting hatred will not do that.


A reminder about the important things

As found on http://www.newsfromme.com/

Sometimes it takes anthropomorphic pictures to remind us what we are supposed to be doing things.

Silly thing.. number of .src.rpm in RHL stable

So in answering a question about growth of the OS over time.. I realized I didn't have any numbers... so time to pull out the table

OS Name Number of .src.rpms
RHL 4.2 367
RHL 5.2 453
RHL 6.2 594
RHL 7.3 819
RHL 8 838
RHL 9 839
Fed 01 875
Fed 02 947
Fed 03 970
Fed 04 965
Fed 05 1158
Fed 06 1155
Fed 07 1098/4228
Fed 08 1283/4835
Fed 09 1316/5548
Fed 10 1377/6407
Fed 11 1395/7448
Fed 12 1477/8519
Fed 13 1540/9153
Fed 14/Raw 1753/9712

Edited to add (2010-08-30): Numbers after the / are from the Fedora Everything repository. Numbers before are on the installer.


Fires of Fedora

In reading through various business literature lately, I have come to the realization that I was mistaken in what I thought Fedora to be. For a long time I was under the impression that Fedora was the replacement for Red Hat Linux.  A place where an RPM-based Linux could be built and slowly changed, with its target audience being small businesses and small cost enterprises that did not fit into the larger mould that Red Hat Enterprise Linux handled.

However, in my readings on technology creation and acceptance, I have found that Fedora is not there and has not been there for quite some time. At some point, probably when Extras and Core merged, Fedora began to morph into a distribution for Innovators by Innovators. Its target audience is innovators who are looking to be on the bleeding edge of technology because that is what drives them day in and day out.

In the 'standard' technology acceptance curve... new shiny neat things are forged on the left hand side by innovators. Things that might work are then adopted by those in the visionary area and tested.. and if enough momentum occurs the basic technology will cross the chasm into mainstream acceptance. In our own myopic picture of Linux technology changes and acceptances.. we see the following chart

On the left we have the Fires of Fedora, where our smiths forge the many new things that are later used in other Linux distributions. As we move right, we go for more and more conservative change sets. Some things the smiths create make it into more conservative distributions, some stay in Fedora... and some get thrown back into the smelter for a later date.

After looking at this, I have realized that many of our cultural problems within Fedora are because we haven't realized how much Fedora has changed. We are trying to put in stability and brakes on a runaway innovation train, and our arguments sound as 'strong' as those of people wanting to return to a Gold standard for currency.

This does not mean that our arguments aren't without merit, for without some visionary intermediary technologies, the Fedora created in the fiery pits will never escape to larger audiences.
So what do we do? We need to look at creating a middle ground, a place were visionaries can pull from Fedora products that meet their longer term goals.

[I want to thank Mizmo for the help with the art. The art represents my views and mine alone. I need to add a CC BY license to the art somewhere.. will figure that out later.]


Quotes for the Day (not sure why)

  1. May you live in interesting times.
  2. May you come to the attention of powerful people.
  3. May you find what you are looking for


Must be going around.

I am guessing it is the summer affecting people's tempers, but it would seem a common question from various people has been "What did I say and why are people so hating?" Someone pointed me to a blog on the Christian Science Monitor that reminded me about the major reasons people start shouting at each other when someone starts trying to change things:

  1. The Illusionary Superiority Effect. This is where individuals in a group will come up with all the reasons that their tribe is superior than some other one
  2. Loss Aversion.The brain has all kinds of circuits to enforce "A bird in the hand is better than 2 in the bush". The idea of losing what one has even for something that might be better is hard.
  3. Staus Quo Bias The 90% of the brain that is the subconscious is happier when things are stable and not changing.
  4. A long list of other circuits in the brain

Now I can see how all of these have strong evolutionary saving abilities in big brained creatures. By throwing ape-cakes and screaming at blighters who are suggesting something that might mean less food and mates, you are probably going to survive longer than the guy who decides that hunting mammoths would be better than living off the berries and bunnies you have had before. What gets me though, is how we ever got to even agriculture, pottery or the wheel. I can only guess that there are other biases which show that young ones who take wild chances and survive are more likely going to attract mates and fans who follow them thus ensuring that some amount of chance taking is done. [I guess that comes under the Red Mustang With No Governor Effect.]

In any case that is far from my original point which is that if you are starting to feel like your blood pressure is going up while reading emails about KDE update mechanisms .. try to figure out what parts of the brain are getting fired off and are they really helpful.

Learning from Others

I found this article via some link or another today, and while I am not in any position to talk about Google or Pixar cultures.. the general tenets seem sound:

...is a culture where the fear of complacency is a strong motivator, where new problems are identified, discussed, and addressed openly and honestly, all of which requires humility.

Fedora can be very good about 'openness' and 'honesty', but I rarely see good cases of humility... but much more of humiliate. There are days where I just want to pull the car over to the side of the road, and say another line my dad and grandfather used a lot: "I don't care which one of you started it.. you are all in for it now." [Well ok I am cleaning up the language a bit.. my father was a sailor and my grandfather a sergeant in the army.]

Having an Old Man Day

It must be getting to release season as all the mailing lists are full of the standard vitriol and closed minded partisanship that has made too many people zone out. It has gotten to the point where I realized that I am sounding like my father talking to my self-absorbed teenage self:

The World Doesn't Revolve Around You!

Then I have to sit down and take my geriatric medicine and wonder.. at what point did I become a Really Cranky Old Man (I remember that I became an Old Man at 19, and a Cranky Old Man at 29, but Really Cranky?)


Listening to Norwegian Radio

So most of the time I listen while I am working at home, I am listening to WCPE Classical Radio. It is a habit I got into when I lived in North Carolina, and I am so glad they have an OGG stream for me to keep up with them. However today I thought I would try some new and been listening to various radios listed as NRK in the Rhythmbox Radio section.

NRK P1 has been where I have been today. Its an interesting mix of old jazz, American country and I think some pop music (though today's American Country isn't that much different from American Pop.). It is funny but I can see why Norwegian is said to be the easiest language for English speakers to learn.. I actually sort of understood the last DJ piece on David and Victoria Beckham.. though I probably got most of it wrong.

NRK P2 seems to be classical music (or at least every time I tuned in). The NRK Alltid Klassick is also nice to listen to. I think NRK Alltid Nyheter is a talk/news radio. Anyway it is a nice change.

[I like Absolute Radio also (used to be Virgin radio), but today I wanted to listen to some stuff where I didn't understand a word of the DJ's.]


Happy Birthday Steve Wozniak

60 years ago today (2010-08-11) Steve Wozniak was born. If it were not for "the Woz", I do not believe I would be doing much with computers but would have gone onto being a textile chemist. It was the Apple ][+ that my neighbour had and the Apple ][e that my dad later bought me that got me really into computers. Between all the programs I could debug from Creative Computing magazine and the various hidden hacks in the integer ROM (the maze game was the coolest)... I learned enough to be dangerous with computers.

While I have never met Steve Wozniak, the stories of what he is like have always inspired me. The reason I got an Apple versus an Altair or some similar home brew was that my Dad's friends were happy with the layout and design of the ones they had rebuilt. One fellow had even sent some improvements to Apple (resulting in I think a cease and desist from Steve Jobs and a "Wow cool thanks" from Steve Wozniak).

I don't think I could say it any better than I did in 1986: "When I grow up I want to be Steve Wozniak".


The Strength of Minority Opinions

A link from Discovery News led me to a very interesting study on the strength of "Minority Opinions". Basically the original study by Dr Richard Petty goes into explaining why people may hold onto dissenting views stronger than expected. It would seem that the brain is more likely to hold onto an opinion if it knows that it is in the minority than if it is in the majority. It will be interesting to see if someone extends this with brain imagery to see if it is a different zone than the partisan filters we all come equipped with.

Mainly I find this interesting because it could explain why some of our long standing Fedora arguments go on and on. The infamous fast innovation/risky updates poll may have made some people more likely to feel they were correct because A) the arguments for/against it were 'weak' to them, and B) they ended up in the minority. Since they had already made a choice before the poll, they felt more vindicated afterwords than before. There are probably many other examples one could find, but what I would like to point as learning lessons is:

A) Make sure that your arguments/reasons are 'strong' before you present them. This can be hard for subjective things but having clear and reasoned examples can help greatly.

B) Make sure that your polling, presentation of results occurs early versus late in the process.

How to learn from Google Wave

One thing I have seen a lot of is projects that start up, do a lot of work, and then disappear.. you never know what is going on, where it is at, why etc. One day the links work and the next it does not. This can cause quite a lot of problems because many times people who signed up to the project also signed up a bit of emotional capital in choosing your potential product X over another's why , and you end up with cranky frustrated people both inside and outside of the project. People inside are frustrated that something did not take off, and people outside are miffed because they have no idea what is going on. In the end, you end up with crankiness and if its your commercial product pissed of customers.

Thus in the open source world there is a lot of talk about "Failing Fast and Open". Make sure that if something isn't panning out for you that you tell your customers whats not working and then leave them something that if they really want to improve they can do so.

About a year ago Google announced its product of Google Wave which was meant to be a next stage collaboration site. It had many interesting and neat ideas of combining everything from Usenet, Email, Editors, Wikis etc into a "new" thing, and from that it sounded all very cool and WoW. However in practice things did not work out as well as hoped and today Google announced a sort of EOD for the product. I am not going analyse why Google Wave didn't become the next big editor.. I am sure there will be plenty of MBA and Master of Sociology/Psychology papers on it in the next couple of years. But instead I wanted to go over how the End of Development was handled as it can be an example of what to do when a project you are working on goes to the great Apple Lisa hunting grounds.

Good things
  1. It is announced openly and in a very public manner what has happened to the product.. basically it didn't take off and overall development will be moved into other areas
  2. The developers are given laurels in public of the hard work they did and the various innovative things they enabled.
  3. The customers are told that Google will work on making sure that the work the customers have put into the product will be 'liberated' back to them.
  4. Source code for important parts are said to be available for people to improve on if they wish to.
  5. Google Wave was not shut off and everything 404'd [been part of that at least once sadly.] Instead the site will be around til the end of the year which gives customers 3-5 months to move on, etc.

My not great things is rather short but no where does it say where that source code is or where customers can get more information on the transition of their parts out of Wave. In the end, I think this is (on the outside) a good lesson for other organizations that need to move off of a 'project' and onto something else.


Good Old Days can never return...

but new ones can occur if you work on them Mr Boyer.  Personally I just have to ignore the rants and one sided talk from various people and just focus on what is fun for me. When I start feeling nostalgic and thinking things were better in the past, I go and read the lists and realize.. no same old arguments/conspiracy talk from some people and other people would still have their own agendas toward other things. That is when I realize I just need to focus on the people now who write the good things and realize that I have to ignore the people who I seemed to have ignored in my memories :).

Anyway, I hope you feel better soon and come up with things to be happy about.


Silly Idea: Balanced Budget Tax

When I was in my teens and twenties, I was a Reagan Republican. I watched Family Ties and never understood that Alex P Keaton of Family Ties was meant to be a joke. I looked at certain things and said "Its simple and thus makes sense." and with the blinders of youth went my way. One of those things was that if you lowered taxes continuously eventually you would starve the Government beast and have a smaller government. Well 30 years later, we have found that when you untie spending from taxes.. "We the People" will just treat it like a Credit Card and spend spend spend because we are sure that we will somehow be richer in 2 weeks and be able to pay it all off.

I could blame Congress for this, but well Congress is just people that "We the People" have the responsibility of voting into and out of office and keeping track of what they do. And basically as long as they gave us stuff and billed us later we have been over-all happy with them. So anyway, as an experiment in a great line of experiments that the American democracy has had, I would say that "Starving the Beast" has been a flop. So its time to come up with something radical from the other side of the coin. If "we" will spend like crazy when Taxes are down.. then lets raise see about the other route. Thus a call for the Balanced Budget Tax:

All taxes are raised per year to make sure that the United States Budget is balanced, and any outstanding debt will paid off in no more than 20 years. Congress may not put off costs to future years but make sure that any program is paid for with current funds. (Basically treat the current debt as a traditional fixed rate mortgage that we will pay off in 20 years.)

I have the feeling that this might have a stronger incentive to get people to understand what is being spent and what for. If a super majority of people want more government programs it is paid for now versus future generations.

Yes this idea is too simple and would fall over badly in the real world... however this seems to be the year of silly idea.


When Designing Products for System Administrators

System administrators are a usually very grumpy lot. In the 22 years of being a system administrator of some sort or another, it has been a rare job where I have not been split between 4 tasks, 3 managers, and multiple goals. Most of the people I have known have rarely become system administrators by choice but have been thrust into it by some outside influence (oh the printer works when you jiggle it.. your now the sysadmin.) Usually time for training or learning new things is non-existant... managers (even those who were once techies) seem to have an idea that a System Administrator just needs to see a new box and will know everything about it like some evil wizard from old. It is a myth that many of us System Administrators or Bastard Operators try to keep up in some form because a) we either don't feel confident enough already but are good at faking it, or b) we already overworked and need as much alone time as possible to keep what hardware we have running.
These are things that I have found most developers of system administration tools and configurations don't get. Looking at some of the insane configuration tools from AIX SMIT to HPUX SAM, we end up with configuation tools that you require about 6 months of deep training to be able to get it to boot and stay up reasonably well. Yes it does inspire a certain kind of brand loyalty.. a sort of passive aggressive one that is also something BOFH's and SA's are known for. For my part I try to evaluate any tool or product by what I call the 2am pager incident:

Take a product and get it running. Then spend 24-48 hours awake working on some other hot project that has to be done by X. After you finally get to sleep, set up the pager to wake you at 2am. If you can rebuild, configure and get the product working by 6am it can be used in production. If it can't be it is too complex or unreliable to be useful in any server environment. I came up with this test after having this happen multiple times at both my first consulting job and then my first job at a startup. I would never deal with Digital OSF or HPUX again because of this complexity, but found Solaris 2.4 and Red Hat Linux 3 to be perfectly workable (AIX was just fun to have smitty run and fall over.. at 6 am its always funny).

The second test is to get the new administrator to get it working. Always give them a 24-48 hour deadline and then 'break' it just after it has been put up. If the new administrator can fix the system without having to call technical support its a good sign. On the other hand if the sysadmin quits or sets the box on fire... its probably not something you want in production.

While I have been using these tests for 10+ years now to good results, I have found that most senior sysadmins have similar rules (though the can you configure it after a quart of jagermeister is just too extreme for me). In the end they come down to the following:

  1. Assume that your customer is under-trained, tired, but does not want too much to get in their way of finding and fixing a problem.  Clippy should only be there if you can set him on fire at 6am. 
  2. Put configuration files in obvious places. Putting some configuration files in /etc and others in /var/lib/moo and some elsewhere is definitely a killer."
  3. Document what flags do. No one wants to find out right before the presentation that '--clean' cleans up bad data but '--clean --clean' reformats the whole Database.
  4. Make sure that commands are simple, easy to remember and
  5. "Everyone knows that debugging is twice as hard as writing a program in the first place. So if you're as clever as you can be when you write it, how will you ever debug it?" - Brian W. Kernighan and P.J. Plauger, The Elements of Programming Style, Second Edition
  6. "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction." -- Albert Einstein 
  7.  "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- [possibly] Albert Einstein
So when creating things for an enterprise, cloud, cluster, or small business system... please try to remember that the person who is either going praise you OR send fecal matter in the mail to you is going to be tired, irritable, and overworked when the problem occurs. [Not that I think that fecal matter should be sent to developers.. I have just seen it happen before]


Things to Think About

Todays SANS newsletter had a quote from a poem that hung in Mother Theresa of Calcutta's childrens home. It is probably unknown how these words got from a 19 year old 1969 student leader to Mother Theresa.., but I think they have a resonant feeling towards Linux in general and Fedora in specific. [ I won't comment on some of the pretentiousness of the title or some of the wording.. I remember quite a bit of bluster I had when I was 19 years old.]

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

One of the things that happens over and over again in Fedora is things get built and then thrown away. We have changed scripts, we have changed backgrounds, programs that were here in FC-1 are gone.. and it can be quite frustrating. On the other hand, many times its the lessons learned and insights found that make later things better or just different.

[I keep saying this to myself as I go looking through the F-14 systemd and wondering why all the stuff I am used to is going out the door.]


Santa Fe Opera: The Magic Flute

We went on Tuesday to see the Santa Fe Opera's production of The Magic Flute which was very very nice. It was a special for kids so there were lots of young ladies in tiaras and various other groups (Big Brothers supposedly had a nice tail gate party before the opera got going).

It was the first Opera I have been physically to having grown up listening to the weekly Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts :). While this was billed as the final dress rehearsal, it still came across smashingly. I can see why the part of Queen of the Night is so demanding.. the famous aria where she is asking Pamina to kill Sarastro was breath-taking. The children found that Joshua Hopkins performance as Papageno was hilarious and while Charles Castronovo's Tamino was very strong, I heard many girls wonder if Papageno and Pamina were going to get together due to their time together in Act I. [Actually I think it had to do with the clothing choices for Pamina, but more on that later.]

The set design was really well done, it was a minimalist design which works well with the outdoor Santa Fe opera, and the kids were ooohing at how the set would have hidden doors in the walls, and would completely transform into the prison of Act II. For the most part, the children seemed enthralled except for the part of Act II where Tamino and Pamina join together to go through the trials of Fire and Water. Here the set was way too minimal using only color and the children were all quite fidgety around us as the two actors really tried to show they were undergoing great threats.. I think having some items appear out of the hidden doors looking like fire and waves would have made it a bit more real to them.

The costume design was interesting. The Queen of the Night and her ladies in waiting were very well done Elizabethan clothing. The court and followers of Sarastro were a more fitting 18th century Enlightened which fits their role. Sarastro's 'baddies' were goose-stepping uniformed thugs which the kids and audience immediately caught on. Papageno and Papagena were wearing more 20th century cloths that showed the more 'rural' nature that they were supposed to represent. Tamino wore an 18th century armour in the beginning which worked as he is sort of transformed from the Queen's court to Sarasotro's over time. However Pamina's costume had many of us guessing. It was more of a 1950's bobby sox and fit more with Papageno's clothing than anyone else on the stage. I believe it was what caused the confusion of some in the audience during intermission. [Actually that would be an interesting twisted opera rewrite... where Pamina ends up with Papageno and Papagena marries Tamino. However I believe that would be more like Gilbert and Sullivan.]

I wanted to say that the performances of Ekaterina Siurina, Andrea Silvestrelli, and all the others I have not mentioned were really good. I do not know if it is still fitting, but on the curtain call I really wanted to throw roses at the stage (though I would have missed and probably taken some poor violists eye.) The orchestra was splendid, and I hope to see them later in the season.

Anyway my non computer related post of the month.


Party of GNO

I have to heartily agree with Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier's article about the party of GNO. Where the FSF and other organizations have been useful is where they have been able to point out viable alternatives. Where it has fallen down is where it has gotten into "no don't use THAT.. we have a cathedral that will have all that and more Real Soon Now (TM)"

In the end this is where the 'rubber' meets the road. Humans are beings that crave immediate rewards and will put off potential long term risks as non-existent for as long as possible.

I am not saying that you should not point out that SaaS or DRM has issues. But unless you have a marketable alternative, it only sounds like the fellow yelling "Repent! The End is Nigh!" After a bit no one will listen even if someday you will be right.


Board Appointment

I wanted to thank everyone for their confidence in me to be a part of the Fedora Board for 2010-2011.

I appreciate the thought and will use my appointed position as best I can. Please let me know if there are issues you feel need answers from the board on or are unclear. I can be reached via email or this blog.


Google keeps track of cannibals

I was reading through a Google blog post about the release of their RLZ code.

Google Picture from Blog

What truly scares me was that each line lets you know if someone is a cannibal or not. They say its because:

cannibal tells if the library has evidence that the user was a user prior to installing the software. It's from the term "cannibalization" which refers to the fact that users who get client products through distribution were already loyal customers, thus impacting the actual incremental value of the channel.

But I wonder... is it more likely a setting to let you know what kind of customer you really have?
  • c for cannibal. (possible competition.. use caution and extra tenderizer.)
  • z for zombie. (definite competition and are undead so no eating value.)
  • v for vegetarian (possibly a bit stringy, but probably better to eat.)
  • b for bacon (known to be good to eat.)
  • r for runner (possibly stringy and good for long distances.. stick with b)
Filed under bizarre thoughts while out of coffee.

Reading Common Sense

Currently I am making my way through a small collection of Thomas Paine's works. Thomas Paine was a British subject who came over the Pond in 1774 or so and found that after being a failure at all his other jobs was able to find his life course as a Revolutionary propagandist. His works "Common Sense" and "The Crisis Papers" are often cited in United States high school history courses with a few fragments here and there. However it is rare for it to be read... I had put it off until this year when watching a documentary on the American Revolution, and I had said I had never read it. My wife kindly reminded me we had a copy of Thomas Paine's works, and I should read through it or turn it into the library for someone else to read.

The book is a compendium of selected works that seems to have been printed in 1943. I am guessing my grandfather picked it up at some point to read it enough to argue about politics at some point or another. "Common Sense" is a pretty strong propaganda piece about the evils of monarchy and the quick victory expected by states standing together... "The Crisis Papers" is more of a reality check to keep people together when it didn't turn out quickly.

What does this have to do with Fedora? Well the style of Common Sense is often used in writing emails about "Why FESCO is eating your babies!" or "The switch to ABC Desktop Environment will save the world!" or "As long as Red Hat is a part of Fedora there is NO FREEDOM". It is a strong rhetoric designed to move the emotions of the reader, but it falls rather empty after a bit.

I think it is time though that we move past rhetoric and towards getting work done. I hope that we are able to do that in the coming year.


Fedora Elections:

I would like to congralutate the winners of the FESCO and Fedora Board elections. On the Board I believe Tom, Mizmo, and Rex will do excellent jobs. I would also like to really thank the 229 people who voted whether you voted for me or not. I hope that we can improve the ratio in future elections.


Repost from xkcd

[The xkcd work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License. ]

I can only say that sadly I am both people in that comic. I have a Facebook page (which will go to diaspora when its ready) and I try to use .odt as much as possible. [My left hand holds the worlds tiniest open source violin, my right hand is blogging in blogger.com.]


Please Vote for Advistory and FESCO board seats

As Paul Frields pointed out the elections for 3 seats on the Fedora Advisory Board and 5 seats on the FESCO board are open and being voted on. There have been several questionaire's, several town hall meetings for people to ask questions, and all of the candidates are available to talk to via email if you have a question.

Please vote. While I am running for the FAB, I would just like people to vote even if its against me. Currently we have less that 10% of potential voters electing the people, and that is a shame because it means people who do not vote have given up their voice. And not being happy with any of the candidates is not an excuse. Range Voting allows for you to log in, give zero points to every person if you don't like any candidate OR give the same number of points to every candidate if you like them all.

And here is a reason to vote against me :). If I win a board seat, I will work on making it so that voting in one FESCO and Board meeting a year is mandatory to remain as a packager in good standing.


Is having Sheldon as a hero a good or bad thing?

A tour de force of Ubuntu marketing happened when the 'Big Bang Theory' had one of their main characters, mention was his favourite Linux operating system.

However I wonder if that would be the character I would want Sheldon as my mascot. He is known for being overly egotist, but maybe that is the attraction in a Steve Jobs way.


New Mexico Mountains: 2+ Smoogen: 0

So yesterday we went on a nice hike up and down the La Luz trail to get out and see the sites. Hiking in New Mexico is a beautiful experience. The hike is 7 miles to the peak and listed as 'strenuous' in several guides, but the first 2 miles is pretty nice. We got to the 2 mile point and could see all of Albuquerque and partially south to parts of the Magdalena Mountains and west to Mount Taylor. At 2 miles it began to rain, and we decided it was a good time and get the kids back to the cars. It had been a pretty hike, and I wondered "Why I don't do this more?"

It was the downward part where I was reminded why. The stone that the Sandia mountains are mainly made of is I think a loose pyroclastic rock. There are small hard parts embedded in a loose sand so that they break apart in what people call "BB-granite". Walking down in various spots it was very much like walking on bb's.. and well I fell down a couple of times (I had forgotten my walking stick). While no where near Seth Vidal levels of injury.. I did get a back spasm, and my hands are messed up a bit. Funny enough, 23 years ago I had done the same thing in the Magdalena mountains.. though that time had been a rolling fall down 20 or 30 feet into a canyon.. it had been the last time I went hiking...

Well played New Mexico mountains, well played. [Of course if all is well I will be trying a different hike next week with the kids.]


Target audiences.

A question in IRC that I missed due to eye problems was basically this:

Who did Red Hat Linux have as a target audience, because it didn't seem like they did and they were fairly successful.

Actually Red Hat Linux had several audiences:

  1. The developers had to get stuff done. If Alan Cox needed joe to edit, then joe was always in a release. If rpm development needed xyz-lib then it was there. For the most part, it just had the things people felt they needed to make the distro what they wanted. [Name for audience: OS Developers.]
  2. The staff of Red Hat. It was a requirement for everyone to use Red Hat Linux as their desktop. The only people who got away for a short time with it would be new transplants or for short term jobs (filing reports to the taxman that required a Windows 3.11 utility). If something broke marketing's desktops it usually got fixed pretty quick. [Name for audience: Small business staff.]
  3. Spouses and parents. This was the big target and the most demanding in some ways. Well especially for 2 people: Mr Troan's wife and Mr Szulik's dad. However, this target was usually the next release target.[Name for audience: casual users.]
  4. People who wanted things. Be it customers or the larger set of users downloading from the internet, the requests of things from users would be weighed against "Can we support this?", "Will it fit on the Cdrom?", or "What has to go to put this on?". Since we originally were trying to keep things down to 1-2 cdrom's.. most requests for things would end up on the "goes to powertools.", "will the emacs or the vi users raise a bigger stink?", "we will try for it next release." In most cases we can call this audience: home-DYI user.

After RHL-6 came out.. target audiences changed. Where the money was coming in wasn't the home-user crowd but the server organizations. The needs of those organizations pushed RHL more into moving their needs up the ladder, and the DYI user further down the stack. Eventually many of those people went to other distros (Gentoo was really really big in 2001.) or putting stuff into fedora.us (and then either going onto Fedora Project or doing their own thing.)

So what does this say about the target audience(s) of Fedora? I think that in the end #1 is the same: OS developers. #2 is where things get wishy washy and people either think they are it or they will never be it. I would prefer for us to look at #2 being the same as it was for RHL: 'the staff'. There are a lot of cursory things that need to be done (setup fudcons, review packages, make nice icons, or make webservers go) to get a release done, and without that work audiences 3,4,5, etc aren't going to be happy either.

So what is #3? Well that is the 99 million dollar question, that we successfully avoided for nearly 6 years until last October:

Someone who
  1. is voluntarily switching to Linux,
  2. is familiar with computers, but is not necessarily a hacker or developer,
  3. is likely to collaborate in some fashion when something is wrong with Fedora,
  4. wants to use Fedora for general productivity, either using desktop applications or a Web browser.
Ok so we aren't looking at Mr Szulik's father nor (to update names) Mr McGrath's wife any more. Now while it doesn't define who our target should be, we can see from data that is collected in smolt and via maps of mirror requests who currently uses Fedora.
  1. a sizeable chuck (40%) of the systems are running on less than 2 GB of ram and 2GB of disk-space.
  2. the majority of systems (70%) are running i686 versions of Fedora versus other types.
  3. the CPU of many systems are not the latest and greatest.
  4. updates are looked at from both high-speed places and slow-speed places (versus just one).
While I can't see other hardware, I would expect that monitors and such would be mainly lower end ones. That gives a pretty good idea of who will be using the general release. To become more specific, I think we would need to target for spin(s): The sysadmin who wants to work from the coffee shop on his less than stellar spare laptop that the guy in marketing dropped off on his desk last week. Or something like that.


WRT madness...

So over the weekend, I rebuilt the home network because of some IP address conflicts I had been getting into, and also to get a wireless connection to my Samsung DVD player so I could watch Netflix online. Well I had 3 WRT54G models of different years but similar makes (WRT54G 3.0 or WRT54GL.) The main one is running OpenWRT White Russian because it was what I was experimenting with originally when I got the GL. Originally I wanted the other systems to be Client Bridges which I had working with one (running an older version of dd-wrt.) The 3rd router was one my parents sent me to play with when they replaced it with something 802.11n.

My project then was to update the routers, set them up in various places through the house and see if I could Bridging to work so that everything on the wireless was on the same 'network'. Due to work on Monday and various other tasks.. the project had to end at 3pm on Sunday with all systems either working or put back into a working 'original settings' mode. Going through various networks, I realized that the 172.16 was a /12 and I could use all the way up to 172.31... most places I have had conflicts only use a /15 so I decided some high networks were what I would use in renumbering the network.

My first problem... what is my password. I try to keep passwords stored in an encrypted file or locked safe for cases where I don't log in regularly. Going through the ones in both the file and printed copy, it turned out none of them were ones used on the routers. I eventually got one to work by uppercasing letters I had lowercased in the printout... [I guess I was being clever or something.] This got one router, but the other one I eventually had to reset the working dd-wrt one to get into it. This one had had a working client bridge mode which I found I could not replicate afterwords. [Not a problem I thought.. I have a newer version of both OS's so it should work when I update the routers to a newer set.]

Ok second problem... which WRT to use. I went with Tomato first... if for no other reason that I love its picture graphs for network traffic. Well I installed it on the two non-WRT's and found the configuration very easy and useful. However, client-bridge mode and client mode do not seem to be supported in WPA (only in WEP and clear-text.) Since I know of too many war-driving people with WEP 'crackers'.. I decided that I didn't want to get a "Hey look smooge! we pwned your home network this weekend!" as my motd or some other thing.

So Tomato was flashed over with OpenWRT. I went through several Howto's and tried to get them to work, but for some reason wasn't able to get it to work. Next went dd-wrt and again I could not get them to get into a working client-bridge mode. As it was reaching 3pm on Sunday, and my family was wanting to get back onto the Internet for various things.. it was time to come up with plan B. I gave Router A (it is still OpenWRT), Router B, and Router C dd-wrt was able to set up a WPA-2 Client mode and so the family was able to watch MythBusters on the Samsung that evening.

Next week, I will reflash the top router to be Tomato (I do love those graphs) and change the networks from being NAT'd to being open so machines on the network can talk with each other 'clearly'.

I think my biggest wonder was that for all the similarity between the different embedded OS's each one has different strengths and weaknesses.. Each seems to be able to implement some things or none at all.. I am guessing it is mostly due to the closed source nature of the Broadcom switch/wireless and then how 'open' each project is in how it solves things :). In the next technology upgrade I will look for something more open (though Tomato only implements for the Broadcom.. and I really like those pretty graphs).


Learned Helplessness and other problems

I am getting old it would seem.. I have seen the same story over and over... and have been part of it a couple of times myself. It is a common story where two people meet, maybe fall in love, and have a deep relationship of some sort. However over time, one side doesn't like what is happening any more. Maybe they want to move, or they want to leave, or they don't like where things are changing. The other side will say something like "Oh no, please don't.. We can make this work. Just don't go." but things don't work out.

In a healthy relationship, the people will try to find help maybe from some outside counsel or they will just end things knowing that things have changed too much for them to stay around. However it seems too many times, people will keep trying to "make it work." Ask them why and it is because "we have worked so hard on this, how can we walk away from it?", "this time it will be different, really.", or some other line that sounds good but is really not going to happen. In the worst cases one person doesn't think they can leave.. that their or someone elses livelihood is in jeopardy or that it won't help because the other side will just find them anyway.

The not-so-funny things is how many times its both people who have this idea in their heads... each afraid of what being without the other might be like more than whatever continual pain they are with each other. Or neither will leave because they want to outlast the other person... it has become some sort of twisted game to see who blinks first.

If things have progressed to the later stages, the best thing to do is leave, find out how not to end up there again, and start over somewhere new. [The second step is critical because I have seen too many people go back to the same kind of relationships, I am guessing from some kind of conditioning or learned helplessness.] Don't try to come back, don't see if things will get better next time... just go. Sometimes, if the relationship really mattered, this is the only way to get the other side to change. And if it wasn't, then better to get on with your life than stay unhappy.

What this has to do with myself? I ruined my first Real relationship by not getting help for my depression. I learned that I really needed to change by having that person leave. They have lived a happy life since then, and after I got help.. so did I.

What this has to do with the Fedora Community is up to the reader.

At least they had a burning cloud to follow...

Ok in watching many of our Fedora conversations digress, I see a major issue is that everyone uses the same words but means them differently... and then we all get miffed at each other because how could anyone use a word any other way but how we mean it. It then becomes a long set of misunderstandings that only the people reading the lists from other organizations can laugh at. [Sorry for breaking the fourth wall here. Hi guys, you know who you are.]

Take for instance the word contributor. When we talk about everyone being a potential contributor, it means different things to a lot of people. From reading Ralf Corsepius's emails on it, it would seem to some people that contributor is a developer who knows how to package software. To read through Paul Frield's emails it would be that a contributor could just be someone who hands out Fedora DVD's to some friends and says "Try this." Vastly different definitions for the word, and if each does not realize what the other is talking about.. we end up with confusion where some feel we are forcing people who do not have the developer's mindset into becoming packagers and others feel we are driving off people who make substantial contributions by 'meeting and greeting' other users.

However, the very act of defining things causes a lot of problems. Definitions are personal identifications.. being told that we aren't using YOUR definition seems to get people even more riled up than not defining it at all. Look at all the turmoil on defining what Fedora means. "You can't do that." say some people, because well they are afraid their definition will be thrown out and it is better to just put off anything like that til later.

So for 7 years we have basically wandered around in the wilderness knowing which direction we could go but never agreeing on which way it is. I only hope it doesn't take us another 33 years to get there.


Orange is the new Green

No I mean Blue, no I mean Red, no.. One of the things I have noticed is how colours change in marketing campaigns regularly. A couple of years ago, EVERYTHING had to be Green: green backgrounds, green fonts, etc.. Lush deep plant greens to symbolize the "Green movement" of 2007/2008 where everyone wanted to show how "Green" they were in lowering energy costs (or some similar marketing bull.) A couple of years before that it was Blue, going from powder blue to deep sky with images of "Sky's the limit.", "Deep Blue ocean wonders", etc.. And before that I think it was Red as the colour people went for.

Now we have Orange. So far today I have seen 2 Linux ads with Orange, a Toyota ad using an Orange I have not seen since 1966 ads (even with the modernist font of that time frame), and various others using Orange in various bright forms. Technically some of these colors are probably called Amber, but using he Male XKCD color argument, I am calling it orange.

Orange is an interesting colour. It is the contrast to blue so it will stand out much brighter. Anyway a couple of interesting questions:

1) What will the next big colour be in 2 or so years?
2) What if your current community colours are blue? And your rival changes to Orange? :)

Blame Games

I was in the middle of some other posts... but this one was related to the subject matter and a bit more precise:

A discovery news blip on how humans react to problems. Does this sound like a lot of emails lately? I believe people on both sides of some Fedora issues could point out quite a few.

=== From the article ===

Why is blame our default setting? Morewedge said there could be several reasons, but a big one is that unexpected events are difficult to predict. And unpredictable things can be scary. That's why it can feel safer to assume that negative events are due to some external thing so you can avoid being harmed again. Morewedge said more awareness of this phenomenon could lead to better human relations.


The human brain is filled with lots of short circuits that do things like this. When we have made up our mind on something, we only want to listen to people who agree with us.. and will go to great lengths to drive out or disregard those that don't.

Basically we as a species have not progressed much further than the opening of 2001. Our mailing lists become re-enactments of picking up bones and waving them around like the primitive beasts that we so desperately hide in ourselves (hmmm too much Werner Herzog).

However, its not all a loss.. German nihilist existentialism only gets you so far in a day. People can work together if they want to. They can compromise, find common things they enjoy and get along. Or they can leave and find happiness elsewhere. Staying around because you think you can change or will change others is just so much battered nerd syndrome.

Other interesting articles:

Bruce Schneier on terrorism failures

Partisan Brain Studies


Are you having problems with EC2 and EPEL?

So I got asked about some problems with Fedora maps starting late last week. Well since I had played with some code last week, I figured it was probably something I had done.. the basic rule is that for every line you edit, you have probably introduced 2 bugs... and I had played with about 40 lines.

However it turns out it might be a change at someone else site.. the error.txt file was filled with lines like:

WTF: epel-5 epel-5 $basea$ /mirrorlist?repo=epel-5&arch=$basea$

So I went to look at where/what this was coming from. Pretty much all the IPs associated with these lines are from hostnames like ec2-XXX-XXX-XXX-XXX-compute-X.amazonaws.com. My guess is that some configuration change was pushed out over the last couple of days and has affected a lot of Amazon EC2 hosts.

Anyone know exactly what is up?


Interesting clarifications...

One of the interesting things I run into is how computer security terminology is used at times. A standing practice at many of my previous jobs was to list things like network probes as 'attacks'... yes they sort of go hand in hand, but when looking for funding it was always better to word things as "the XYZ enterprise-class firewall repels millions of attacks per day." versus the more mundane "the DMZ firewall stops millions of probes per day."

Having become quite used to seeing this sort of terminology bandied about (and doing the Politics2Geek translation) it was refreshing to read an actual clarification at a high level meeting:

When asked by Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut) how
serious the threat to the Department of Defense was,
Alexander replied that its networks see “hundreds of
thousands of probes a day,” though he qualified that
quickly by adding “these are not attacks, they are
attempts to… scan the network to see what kind of
software we are using.”

Anyway it was one of those things that I am sure various people are saying "Oh crap, he did what? Well hopefully no one will remember when our budget comes up."


The Best Job in the World....

that I won't be applying for. Ok its a tough job where you have to be able to swing with the blows and keep things going when various people just want to kvetch and moan.

There was a time when I really wanted to try for Fedora Project Leader. Why? Well I had a whole bunch of good reasons then, but to be honest it probably was just thinking "wow that is the coolest job ever."

Now though, I know I wouldn't be the right person for the job. However, there are a lot of good people out there who would be.

  1. Be friendly
  2. Be open minded
  3. Be able to handle criticism
  4. Realize that most of the problems between people are miscommunication, mistakes versus misconduct.
  5. Be able to handle and help large amounts of people.
  6. Be able to get out of the way when you need to

Fedora Project Leader Job Ad

Good luck people, and may the best candidate come forward.


Running for Fedora Board (Spring 2010)

While nominations are not open yet, I was reading poelcat's blog on his term in office and realized I needed to 'formalize' before I talked myself out of running. My goals are pretty simple:

  • To listen. Listening is a hard thing to do.. I find that I have to work a lot on it because what I assume I heard isn't always what anyone said. Thinking and asking for clarification helps a lot on clearing up problems for me.
  • To be responsible. If I bat over 0.250 in making good decisions I am doing better than most people. For that 0.750+ I will acknowledge and try to fix any problems from when I was wrong.
  • To make sure that board meetings are as open as possible, with an explanation of when they are not.
  • To make sure that we understand that for every Freedom that Fedora gives its members, that there are Responsibilities or things end up like a 'tragedy of the commons.'

Anyway, that is all I wanted to say for now.

[Edited to add: It turns out that the general term of the tragedy of the commons should lead one to read:




Linux Planet article

Ok so there has been some talk about how many Ubuntu installs there really are versus how many Fedora installs there are.

The main contention was over Sean Michael Kerner's line:

In contrast, as of March 29, Red Hat's Fedora Linux was reporting usage of its Linux distribution at approximately 24 million installations.

Like most engineers, I look at that and say "Bwa?" and could go into a deep nitpicking about apples and orange comparisons.. instead I am going to nitpick another line:

"We have no phone home or registration process, so it's always a guesstimate. But based on the same methodology that we came up with for the 2008 number, our present belief is that it's somewhere north of 12 million users at the moment," Chris Kenyon, vice president for OEM at Canonical, told InternetNews.com

Mr Kenyon is right. The Ubuntu install and OS does not have a registration process, nor an explicit 'phone home' system. However on the one that I am using it does do the same sort of check that is used by Fedora to get our data.. checkins to see if you have updates. This should allow for an apples to apples comparison of number of unique IP's asking per release for updates.

[This does not say how many users there are... but should give an answer within +/- 1 order of magnitude due to the fact that many users will checkin with different IP addresses and many users will check in proxied behind one IP address.]

Need a roof redone in Albuquerque?

Well this is not my usual post, but I wanted to say a good thing about a roofing contractor. The house we bought in Albuquerque has been a real fixer-upper. One of the first things we had to get done was having the flat roof's redone as they had not been replaced since 1984. Instead they had about 4 inches of tar and gravel from multiple patching. We had a couple of contractors come out to make bids, and we were really impressed by Lawrence Otero's bid. He came in, showed us what was the problem and was honest that this was not a minor repair.

When the roof repair work was done, he grew the team to meet the needs of the roof as lots of old tar had to be removed, and it was threatening to rain that evening. We had both flat roofs done in a day due to the increased workers and equipment. The area was cleaned up, and he came out later to go over what had been done to make sure everything was up to our satisfaction. We had one problem with a clogged drain pipe that they repaired and cleaned up.

This week we went with Otero and Sons to replace the rear porch roof. It was also a 'mess' of patching and tars which had given up in parts due to last summer's monsoons. Old material was removed, inspection of rotten wood found only a damaged sheet of plywood that was replaced, and the roof was redone and resealed. This morning they came in and did the chimney's roof which had several 'leaks'. They cleaned up and everyone was friendly and explained what was going on (something I have found that some

All in all, my wife and I are very happy with the work. It was not the lowest bid, but it was the best bid and the work was quite good. In two years when we get the last major roof (a 1200 square foot sloping roof currently with old ceramic tile) redone, we will be going with them again.

Otero and Sons

[For computer related information: a) roofing is a job where adding more people can get it done faster versus software. b) when you are doing contract work, cleaning up after you are done and going over what was done goes a long way.]


Math Proof: An attempted answer

I would like to thank all the people who answered my post on wanting a proof for the problem (thank you also to the people who hunted me down in IRC and pointed out what I needed to do also.) From all that help here is my attempt at a 'proof'.


In the series of non-negative integers, every number is divible
by one of the following: 3m, 3m+1, or 3m+2.

The series n^2 would thus be looked at as

(3m)^2 = 9m^2
(3m+1)^2 = 9m^2+6m+1
(3m+2)^2 = 9m^2+12m+4

9m^2 is always divisible by 3 as any number multiplied by 3 is
divisible by 3.
9m^2+6m and 9m^2+12 mis always divisible by 3 because a) but parts
of the sum are divisible by 3, and adding two numbers divisible
by 3 leaves you a number still divisible by 3.].. so we can simplify
this a bit

(3m)^2 = 9m^2 = 3j
(3m+1)^2 = 9m^2+6m+1 = 3j+3k+1 = 3(j+k)+1 = 3l+1 (or not divisible by 3)
(3m+2)^2 = 9m^2+12m+4 = 3j+3k+4 = 3(j+k)+4 = 3l+4
= 3l+3+1 = 3(l+1)+1 => 3n+1 (or not divisible by 3)

Thus all numbers squared are either divisible by 3 or 3x+1 (where x is
some number). And from that we can show that n^2+1 are never divisible
by 3 because they are either 3x+1 or 3x+2.

I would probably get an F from my favorite math professor Alan Sharples but it did make me feel a lot better when I got it out. Thanks for the help.. I can sleep easier tonight (well unless I get caught up in why Boron absorbs neutrons so well)


Math Proofs : Need Help

Every day I walk the dog a couple of miles to get her and me some fresh air and exercise.. it is usually the same route, meeting the same people, etc etc.. so I come up with things to keep my head busy. Sometimes its remembering as many elements and their isotopes, other times working out factors of numbers. Last week I started on the series (n^2+1) to see what their factors were. The first thing I realized was that while half of the numbers would be divisible by 2, around 40% would be divisible by 5 (because any number ending in 2,3,7,8 would square to a number that adding 1 would make it divisible by 5 (eg 13^2+1 = 169+1 = 170). Then after a lot of ticking off things I also realized that none of the numbers I could do (which isn't a lot .. I do this because math and me have a long bad history) were not divisible by 3.

Coming home I whipped up a python scriplet that basically did that for the first million digits and found that none of them were divisible by 3 (they weren't divisible by 7 either but I figured I would stick with 3 first). Now we know that n^2 is sometimes divisible by 3 (9, 36, 81 all being examples) and we know that a series that is always divisible by 3 is 3m (two series never divisible by three are 3m+1 and 3m+2). So from this I infer that the series n^2+1 only falls inside of the series 3m+1 and 3m+2 and never on 3m... and n^2 falls on 3m or 3m+1 (since if it fell on 3m+2 then n^2+1 would push those values to 3m). Ok but why?

Looking over the series I came up with the following:

n 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
n^2 1 4 9 16 25 36 49 64 81 100
m{3m+1/3m} 0 1 3 5 8 12 16 21 27 33
diff between m 1 2 2 3 4 4 5 6 6

Ok now I just have more silly numbers and probably a wild goose chase but it is interesting that the series of 3m/3m+1 growth grows in a regular pattern. Anyway, just an odd thing non-fedora related (i hope).


Ada Lovelace Day

March 24th 2010 is Ada Lovelace Day. Augusta Ada Byron-King, Countess of Lovelace is one of my heroines (next to Jane Austen). She was one of the first programmers and was able to see potential in one of the geekiest people of the 18th century, Charles Babbage. She was also a strong willed lady who pushed way beyond the limited boundaries women had then. Sadly cancer took her life at the age of 36 or we would have probably had a finished Analytical machine (pooie to anyone who thinks it wasn't physically possible.. nothing can stop Steam).

For some historical truth (and a golly fun steam punk fantasy) please read about Charles Babbage and Ada Byron at 2D goggles. Here is a 'history' of Countess Lovelace

Ada was also a pretty cool language that I learned after Pascal (the progress being Heathkit assembly, Apple Basic, Apple Assembly, Apple Pascal, then Ada).

[edited: 2010-03-24 15:14:22 UTC] corrected spelling of names. sorry about that


Mailing Lists, Parties and Fear

This blog post is more about my reactions to some posts, and maybe explain why some other people may not feel too happy about the analogy. In the end however, I do think making mailing lists into a more social medium is desired for certain areas.. especially ones designed for collaboration.

When I read through Mairin's post and then Luis's post via LWN, my first gut reaction was the same feeling I had at my High School Prom. The part where a girl asked me to dance, and the next thing I knew it was 10 minutes later and I was driving up the Interstate at 90 mph.

Parties are things I dread. I am socially awkward if not blind.. and never know if I am talking too long or what social gaffe I have enacted this time (that 40 minute monologue on Social Growth of Organizations at FUDcon.. probably way too long.... and the conversation on the bus about why some pictures are art and others demeaning, awkward.)

I have also never understood how do people shut off all the conversations going on? My brain is constantly trying to figure out if people over at the pool really should be talking with the people in the kitchen since they seem to be talking the same things. And how am I supposed to know that even though they agree with each other, they hate each others guts.

Thankfully after walking the dog, I started to think about why I was afraid versus making some angry supposedly "witty" response. Why was I afraid? In the end it is because email and mailing lists make everyone else socially blind like me. Is Jack a jerk, or someone who only knows English from Quentin Tarantino films? On a mailing list, you can not tell and so have to lumber along. The only social ques you get are if people respond to you, and well even if its a long rant about everything you had wrong in your post.. it is a response.

But why should everyone be 'blind' because I am? Being socially 'blind' is rather unfair, but so is making everyone else be that way. Neuro-typical people are built to be social creatures wanting to build tribes, and without various ques will degrade into sociopathic forms as evidenced on Fedora about updates or Ubuntu about where your buttons are.

So the important question is, how can we make this better for people in general? I think that having some sort 'out-of-band' ques will help the majority of neuro-typical people. It might even help me if there is some way that it can give me feedback on how to do better.


The 80's remembered through your kids

This blog about serious Fedora things (*cough*), and will go into the fact that I currently have the MacGyver and A-Team songs stuck in my head. We got parts of Season 1 of each to watch this week.. and the kid has been sucking through them like pixie sticks.

But other than the bad synthesizer music, and painful first season plots that every show goes through... the shows weren't too bad.. ok I lie, they were painful at first until I started watching it through my kids eyes. Over the top explosions were his first attraction, but then I noticed what he really thought cool was all the things the A-Team and MacGyver did with common things. And how often things broke down or plans blew up in their faces. It was like this sudden realization in both our perfectionist minds that its ok to fail. You learn from the failure, and you keep going.

Wait, I guess I did end up talking about Fedora after all :)


If you have nothing nice to say...

So going through various posts today, I came to the conclusion that the most wearing of body and soul are the ones where the writer has nothing but critiques of an idea, a position, the implied criticism that the person who wrote the letter has no worth as a human being, and the fact that no part of the idea should ever be implemented, reviewed, added onto or listened to.

It is really depressing... because it implies
  • that unless you have a perfect plan, do nothing.
  • that failure is never an option
  • failure reflects upon the very character of the person who tried.
  • that to speak is to open yourself up to being abused.
Personally I am tired of it. bone tired. I think the wise saying my parents told me seems to be missing:

If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.

Reply to a Reminder

Seth Vidal reminds us:

fedora is not a government nor a government body.

I often wonder about that. Why do so many of us (I have been under this delusion several times) make this mistake. What trappings of Fedora make it so we think that we have 'rights'? Is it because we have elections? Is it because of the words we use in the Five Foundations: "Freedom, Friends, First, Features, Failure"?

But even deeper than that we need to answer questions like:
  • What is a government?
  • What are rights?
  • What grants rights to us, and what takes them away from us?
  • What is politics?
  • What is bureaucracy? [And why can't I remember how to spell it correctly?]
The first definitions of government from good old Google comes from Princeton is:
  • the organization that is the governing authority of a political unit;
  • the act of governing; exercising authority;
  • (government) the system or form by which a community or other political unit is governed;
  • politics: the study of government of states and other political units
  • political unit: a unit with political responsibilities [whee circular definitions]
These would seem to cover various units like FESCO and the Fedora Board in that they exercise authority over things like the Fedora brand, what packages are in Fedora, how packages are built, etc.

However this still does not fit into the larger definitions of Government. Fedora can not start a war with something. It can not jail dissidents, any Legal issues would require local courts where the individual is located. Rights that a 'Government' can recognize and allow (Freedom of Press, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of PiDay) are not the same that Fedora can actually allow. Even if it were an independant foundation located in Switzerland, it would be bound by the laws of Switzerland, and each member would be bound by the laws of their own country. Anyway, I have probably completely missed the point here.. so I am going back to downloading an Alpha.


Hello Car Max (Customer Service done right)

So here is a good experience (again your mileage may vary, etc etc).

Yesterday we went to sell our 2000 Saturn SW1. It had been with us ever since the Red Hat IPO where I had used my stock to buy a nice practical car. It drove across country with me in 2002 so I could work in New Mexico, and it has carried the family around the state... however well it is a Saturn, and Saturn is no more. We have been cutting back expenses and such and we had decided something had to go. [The 1994 Saturn we are keeping.. its really too old to sell and well it got me to Red Hat back in 1997 :)]

After some research, we went to Car Max and had the most pleasant car buying experience since I bought my Saturn's last century :). We walked in and were greeted by a sales person. She asked us what we wanted and got us into a booth and the car to be inspected within 2 minutes. She got us coffee and asked some general questions but that was it. There was no pressure to walk the lot while we waited, there was no questions about cars we would like to replace the Saturn with, and there was no pushing. The car came back with a quote, and we sold the car. Smooth as silk.. we had spent more time getting the car cleaned that morning than we did at Car Max in Albuquerque NM. I can understand why my friends have been so happy with the place. When we go to replace the 1994 in the future, we will definately be using them.

Summary: Be friendly, be quick, state openly where I stand and what I can expect. Don't haggle with me. I hate it.