Humans are hard, lets go shopping.

On of the big problems I am having with the "FESCo wants to ban direct stable pushes in Bodhi (urgent call for feedback)" thread on Fedora Development list is that it is not a reasoned discussion. Instead it basically hits upon every point highlighted in the Wikipedia article on propaganda. Over and over the conversation is pushed towards making your brain's partisan filters fire off.

Partisan filters are parts of the brain that shuts down rational thinking so that your subconscious can possibly save you from getting your head smashed in. It was a great thing back 10 million years ago when tribes of austra lapethicus met each other a small watering hole and there was only enough food for some set. One side had to stay and one side had to go.. and since it might happen really fast, you needed to join a side or die. Over the years as humans evolved more into a social species more of these circuits got built so that by appealing to certain emotional triggers, you can get people to join up.

While I feel one side has done an over-large share of this, I can see both sides doing it to shore up their sides of the water hole. And it pisses me off. This whole discussion could have been rational, reasonable and dealt with in normal coding methods:

  1. A proposal is generally made.
  2. A request for comments is called for. This requires the proposal to be written out and viewed by the organization at large (if they so want.)
  3. Patches are proposed and accepted/rejected. Counter RFC's could be generated.
  4. The members of FESCO are communicated with by their constituants and make a vote that they feel best.
Instead we have a

  1. A proposal is generally made.
  2. A call for a proposal is asked for (not in the best wau but it does occur.)
  3. An appeal to the general audience of developers is made by one party.
  4. 100+ emails later we have split into two groups around the water hole ready to drive the other side away. One side will eventually be able to claim a victory .. or not.
I expect something written starting with "When in the course of developer events, it becomes necessary for one ..." but I hope we will somehow be able to reconcile.


Dear Craig Ferguson

Thanks for doing a Tom Snyder style interview with Stephen Fry. While I like watching the puppets, I think I enjoyed this quite a bit. [Also thanks for some of your monologues on things like citizenship and drinking.. I wish someone had said that to me back when I was 17.]


Anyway thanks it was nice to think for a bit.


Today's smile

You better damn believe it.

Don't mess with a sysadmins' uptime.. they will go all BOFH on you. [Scenes deleted from "Uptime the movie": Death by waffle iron, Death in the lift, Death by a thousand punch cards.]

Thanks xkcd for a smile.


Dealing with flames

A departed friend of mine had a quote that he used quite often.. but I never wrote down until it was too late. It went something like this:

It is not what you say in the conversation that matters, it is what people hear.

Most of the time, we write things on mailing lists and everyone else hears something completely different. This is probably what causes the worst suffering of the readers and writers. Having started to post some stuff today, I realized I was approaching things all wrong... that what was irking me wasn't what the person wrote but what I read and thought they meant. So the rest of this post is mainly for myself to point to when I fail to do this:

  1. If I feels angry after reading a post, the first thing I should ask is Why? What made me angry, what triggered this feeling. Then instead of writing what I am feeling I should just take that part and respond with:

    I am not sure I understand what you meant here. Can you please elaborate?

    I need to find the root cause of both my anger for as much as I would like to think that my anger is righteous, it mainly out of some fear. And until I confront that fear, there can be no conversation.
  2. If I post something and all I receive back is angry responses I need to ask stop because there isn't going to be any conversation. If they ask me why I can try to better explain, but don't try to explain to someone who doesn't want to know. It just makes things worse.
  3. I say a lot of stupid things at times trying to make people laugh. It doesn't help :).

Fedora and its many audiences

One of the longest ongoing conversations in Fedora is what is Fedora about and who does it serve (aka a Target Audience). A large part of the confusion appears to me that everyone comes to the table with their own definition of what Fedora means, what a Target Audience means, and why defining things makes things better and worse.

First what is Fedora. Looking through the long conversations, it is clear that some people are talking about Fedora the distribution, others are talking about Fedora the community, Fedora the websites, Fedora the desktop, or even Fedora the hat. Very few people go into what they are talking about and everyone seems to assume that the other person knows exactly what is going on in their heads. Those that do define what they are talking about usually get some headway but too many partisan brain circuits have fired off so listening is very hard.

So I am going to start off by trying to define what I am going to talk about.

'Fedora the community':
People who are interested in some part of the Venn Diagram: Freedom, Friends, Features, First. That covers a lot of things, and also excludes some things also ( a person who is not interested in any of the 4 principles is not in the primary target audience.)

'Fedora the website':
The site where individuals go to do everything from finding out about the OS to discussing the intricacies of PAM modules and selinux (mailing lists, etc).

'Fedora the distro':
Whatever shows up in a branch of the Fedora build system under.. It is much more than could be delivered on a single cdrom or DVD. [When we start delivering 64 GB USB sticks we might be able to put it on something.]

'Fedora the release':
The items that are culled out of 'Fedora the distro' to be the 'flagship' that people download for their or others usage. What many people think of as the 'release' is what appears on the default DVD.

'Fedora the desktop':
Whatever 'default' desktop environment shows up on the default DVD spin of each release. Currently its GNOME based, but heck with all this convergence on the Moblin/Maemo/Migo front it might be KDE someday.
Many of these things have defined their target audience already mostly through processes similar to making sausage. The big question is 'are they in alignment?', 'can we make it clearer?', 'can we help people find things that meet their needs easier?'
  • 'Fedora the community' has the widest target audience. As long as someone has some interest in the non-euclidean venn diagram.. they are potential members of the community. The more things that overlap for a person, the more likely they will be involved, but even a person who is just interested in 'First' has some place and should be welcomed. I see a lot of arguments when people expect everyone to fit in their part of this complex diagram.

  • 'Fedora the website' has a slightly smaller target audience. It needs to help everyone from 'newbies' to 'greybeard gurus'. People coming to it will need to download new stuff, find old stuff, communicate to other people, fix problems, start builds, get fixes, and a million other things. Target audiences here are most likely going to be 'page' by 'page' versus something across the board. Discussions become most heated when people forget that.

  • 'Fedora the desktop' is pretty much defined by the Fedora Desktop SIG. Its a sausage making where many different people come in with filet Mignon and out comes beef Bologna. The target audience is defined by what they include and what they exclude. People who do not like Bologna can create Special Interest Groups that spin it into whatever dish they want.

  • 'Fedora the distro' is pretty much defined by the 1000 of packagers who find software, package and patch it up, and build it in koji. The 'target' audience are people who like to do those tasks. People who do not really aren't going to be interested or want to know.

  • 'Fedora the release' seems to be the current Hot Potato in many discussions. In some ways, it can be seen what the 'target audience' is by what groups it does not work for 'OUT OF THE BOX.'
    1. It is not meant for resource constrained systems. Trying to get the default install to run on less than 256 MB, or small CPU, etc is something the default install is not going to allow for.
    2. It is not meant for long term deployment. Each release has ~18 months before its end of lifed. This cuts out various audiences which require support lifetimes for multi-years or may not deploy a new OS for 6-9 months after its first released so that initial patching is 'done'.
    3. It is not meant for hardware or applications that only works with closed source drivers. People wanting to play DVD's, make mp3's, do the 'best' 3D stuff on an nvidia card are not going to get that 'out of the box.'

    There are probably other negatives that can be used, but those three allow for one to know that the install is not going to cater to circa 1995 computers. It will also not cater to people who are looking for 7 year deployment schedules. People wanting itunes are out of luck.

    Positives can probably be also applied to things a person can find on the default DVD to meet their needs.

    1. People who want to learn or need to program.
    2. People who are needing to write papers.
    3. General browsing of the web (not counting flash sites that gnash doesn't work on.)
    4. People needing to look at what future RHEL releases might be like.
    5. People who want to do more with Fedora.
If I saw the lists above and were asked to say "who would most likely want to use this straight out fo the box?" I would say "Duh this is a product for students of some sort." I would make sure my mockups were done in a way to make sure I was educating people when asked for and getting out of their way otherwise. Sure there are going to be a lot of people who don't fit that model (myself being one) but I can start from there and move out.

Anyway, my thoughts on an empty stomach. [I am sure there are various false dichotomies in this post.. but most dichotomies are false in the first place :)]


Lent Season: News Programs

It is the season of Lent in some communities, and I have decided to learn to meditate, work on F13 testing, and give up reading, listening, and watching various News programs for the next 40 days as best I can.

That is turning out to be the hardest.. already today I have had to unsubscribe from 20 RSS channels, remove a couple of bi-daily email mailings and stop myself from hitting the BBC website 3-4 times. My hope however is that I will break out of this malaise of fear, anger, hatred, and suffering that reading the news seems to bring every day. [Nothing is going right, its all X's fault, expect this weeks apocalypse by Thursday of next week...] In the end, I am hoping that some level of ignorance will be bliss :). We shall see.


From a note 5 years ago

I am sadly not the most organized person. My wife's desk and part of the office is clean, swept with every book she needs in easy reach. Things on my side make Oscar Madison's room neat. Today I was reminded of this, when I found that my tea cozy was an index card I had been using 5 years ago for notes on an article for the history of Red Hat. I had been researching when various personalities had joined Marc Ewing's ragtag band of misfits and what they had accomplished... here for the moment is the list of names that I got from old Usenet postings and such:

  • Eric Troan (oot or ewt). Started posting July 1995. Major work was on rpm, installation code and general whipping boss over the years til 2001 or so.
  • Donnie Barnes (djb). Started posting November 1995. Started off as technical support. His office was technically under the desk as it was the only place private enough in the apartment for phone calls to customers. [Well there was the bathroom but supposedly they had to replace all the porcelein after the company was evicted.]
  • Michael Johnson. Started posting May 1996. Michael worked on many things over the years.. my first dealing with him was with ps tools and top.
  • A couple of other names that are now blurred from spreading coffee and tea stains: David Fiand, Jason Gills, ACC: Home of the PC Sulli.
Going through Google's archives didn't help much with the blur'd names.. it is funny how 'easy' it was to find this say 5 years ago but now is covered up with tons of searches. Oh well.


Priority is Certain .. Possible Meanings

Yeah that is a malpropism that makes no sense. In general it has no meaning, but it could also be a misquote or a partial quote. I wrote this earlier on the Schneier Blog but I figured it was good to post here now:

The question seems to have been "What is the probability of an ATTEMPTED attack in the next 6 months?" I would also lay the odds at 100% that someone, somewhere will ATTEMPT an attack in the United States in the next 6 months. The question is so open ended that to answer anything but would be wrong.

People who would like to become terrorists do try to come into the country all the time. The vast majority of them have been stopped for years with the same methods that were in use before 9/11/2001. So technically they are ATTEMPTING to commit terrorist acts. [Of course the various people who blow up mailboxes every April 15th to protest taxes may be technically committing terrorism ... so you can go beyond 'attempting'.]

To me, the unconscionable part of the conversation was the open ended question, and the lack of digging by the reporter on that.

Obligatory Fedora Item: The Fedora 13 release name Goddard is which is related in a way to the Beta from 2001 Roswell. Goddard did many rocket launches near Roswell NM. The Enigma of all this... what will follow Goddard?


Favorite Spam of the day

While I have worked in technical support and been a system administrator.. I really don't think I would want more abuse (or at least have it cheaper)

Subject: Personal abuse 75% Off

Now abusing users.. well I might go for that

Subject: User abuse Buy on 78% cheaper price

But why should I want to abuse winter? I mean its a nice season and all

Subject: abuse Winter -80% Deals

The sad part is that most of these things you can do for free.. so 80% off is still free (well unless you include shipping, handling, and VAT).


Broadband speeds: Quit your whining :)

jmrodri you could always have a different network spot. I live in a black hole it would seem.. drive 3 blocks in any direction and the houses all seem to have fibre access now. So I end up with speeds like (though most tests were slower):

Our area ends up being a little too far from any of the places to want to put in fibre until 2012 or so :(. [EG if I use either side of the Telecom duopoly here (Comcast or Qwest) I get somewhere between 0.5 -> 1.0 download. At this rate getting a T1 to the house may be more affordable.


Recovering from surgery

Had surgery on Friday and been 'recovering' since then. My mouth bloated up larger than Marlon Brandos' in the Godfather, and is now turning the color of a boxer who learned to lead with his face too much. Today I spent my workday catching up with email and learning that most C2 pain medicines build up in my blood system. The wife says I sat staring at my keyboard for 15 minutes this morning... I thought it was like 10-15 seconds. Thankfully I learned long ago the prime rule of systems administration and drugs: Do not combine.

Friends don't let friends use root while drugged.

So what have I done this weekend in not touching 'su':

1) Worked on packaging up some fonts for my first package inclusion. I like fonts.. even if I never use them.. so I am going to package up the ones Mairin has been presenting but no one has got yet.
2) Catching up with my email... you know all those emails that you put in the bit bucket to read later.. well today was the day. I think I overflowed the bit-bucket.
3) Thinking deep thoughts... like we could balance the budget if we canceled most of Social Security (600 billion), Medicare (500 billion), and Health(350 billion) , and halved the amount we paid on National Defense (350 billion). It would take 26 years to pay off the national debt with the money save (I estimate it would be about 500 billion dollars). Add in Unemployment Stuff, Education and Veteran Benefits we could cut it down to 10 years. If we say National Defense and Veteran Benefits and Commerce/Transportation was verbotten.. we could remove everything else and pay off the debt in 9 years.. [though I doubt people would want to pay such high taxes for 9 years to get nothing.] In any case, the only way I can see a balanced budget without raising taxes is to not only get the government's hands off of Medicare but to get rid of it completely.
4) Tried to fly a virtual plane in Wii resort. I don't think the island will let me fly anymore.
5) Slept a lot