• Archives

  • Categories

  • Other profiles


  • wallaceadngromit.net

  • Partimus

  • Secular Humanism

  • Debian

  • Ubuntu Women

  • Xubuntu

  • OpenStack

A Career in FOSS at Fosscon in Philadelphia, August 9th

After years fueled by hobbyist passion, I’ve been really excited to see how work that many of my peers and I have been doing in open source has grown into us having serious technical careers these past few years. Whether you’re a programmer, community manager, systems administrator like me or other type of technologist, familiarity with Open Source technology, culture and projects can be a serious boon to your career.

Last year when I attended Fosscon in Philadelphia, I did a talk about my work as an “Open Source Sysadmin” – meaning all my work for the OpenStack Infrastructure team is done in public code repositories. Following my talk I got a lot of questions about how I’m funded to do this, and a lot of interest in the fact that a company like HP is making such an investment.

So this year I’m returning to Fosscon to talk about these things! In addition to my own experiences with volunteer and paid work in Open Source, I’ll be drawing experience from my colleague at HP, Mark Atwood, who recently wrote 7 skills to land your open source dream job and those of others folks I work with who are also “living the dream” with a job in open source.

I’m delighted to be joined at this conference by keynote speaker and friend Corey Quinn and Charlie Reisinger of Penn Manor School District who I’ve chatted with via email and social media many times about the amazing Ubuntu deployment at his district and whom am looking forward to finally meeting.

In Philadelphia or near by? The conference is coming up on Saturday, August 9th and is being held at the the world-renowned Franklin Institute science museum.

Registration to the conference is free, but you get a t-shirt if you pay the small stipend of $25 to support the conference (I did!): http://fosscon.us/Attend

Surgery coming up, Pride, Tiburon and a painting

This year has been super packed with conferences and travel. I’ve done 13 talks across 3 continents and have several more coming up in the next few months. I’ve also been squeezing in the hosting of Ubuntu Hours each month.


Buttercup at his first Utopic Unicorn cycle Ubuntu Hour

Aside from all this, life-wise things have been pretty mellow due to my abdominal pain (sick of hearing about it yet?). I’ve been watching a lot of TV because of how exhausted the pain is making me. Exercise has totally taken a back seat, this compounds the tiredness and means I’ve put on some weight that I’m not at all happy about. Once I’m better I plan on starting Couch to 5K again and may also join a new gym to get back into shape.

The gallbladder removal surgery itself is on Thursday and I’m terribly nervous about it. Jet lag combined with surgery nervousness means I haven’t been sleeping exceptionally well either. I’m not looking forward to the recovery, it should be relatively fast (a couple of weeks), but I’m a terrible patient and get bored easily when I’m not doing things. It will take a lot of effort to not put too much stress on my system too quickly. I’ll be so happy when this is all over.

I did take some time to do a few things though. On June 29th our friend Danita was still in town and we got to check out the Pride parade, which is always a lot of fun, even if I did get a bit too much sun.

Lots more photos from the parade here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157645439712155/

MJ and I also took a Sunday to drive north a couple weeks ago to visit Tiburon for some brunch. It was a beautiful day for it, and always nice to further explore the beautiful places around where we live, I hope we can make more time for it.


Sunny day in Tiburon!

Finally, I’m happy to report that after a couple months, I’ve gotten a painting back from Chandler Fine Art who was working with a restoration artist to clean it up and to have it framed. Not much can be done about the cracks without a significant amount of work (the nature of oil paintings!) but they were able to fix a dent in the canvas and clean up some stains, I can’t even tell where the defects were now.

It may not strictly match the decor of our home, but it was a favorite of my father’s growing up and it’s nice to have such a nice memory from my childhood hanging here now.

The Official Ubuntu Book, 8th Edition now available!

This past spring I had the great opportunity to work with Matthew Helmke, José Antonio Rey and Debra Williams of Pearson on the 8th edition of The Official Ubuntu Book.

Official Ubuntu Book, 8th Edition

In addition to the obvious task of updating content, one of our most important tasks was working to “future proof” the book more by doing rewrites in a way that would make sure the content of the book was going to be useful until the next Long Term Support release, in 2016. This meant a fair amount of content refactoring, less specifics when it came to members of teams and lots of goodies for folks looking to become power users of Unity.

Quoting the product page from Pearson:

The Official Ubuntu Book, Eighth Edition, has been extensively updated with a single goal: to make running today’s Ubuntu even more pleasant and productive for you. It’s the ideal one-stop knowledge source for Ubuntu novices, those upgrading from older versions or other Linux distributions, and anyone moving toward power-user status.

Its expert authors focus on what you need to know most about installation, applications, media, administration, software applications, and much more. You’ll discover powerful Unity desktop improvements that make Ubuntu even friendlier and more convenient. You’ll also connect with the amazing Ubuntu community and the incredible resources it offers you.

Huge thanks to all my collaborators on this project. It was a lot of fun to work them and I already have plans to work with all three of them on other projects in the future.

So go pick up a copy! As my first published book, I’d be thrilled to sign it for you if you bring it to an event I’m at, upcoming events include:

And of course, monthly Ubuntu Hours and Debian Dinners in San Francisco.

Tourist in Darmstadt

This past week I was in Germany! I’ve gone through Frankfurt many times over the years, but this was the first time I actually left the airport via ground transportation.


Trip began with a flight on a Lufthansa 380

Upon arrival I found the bus stop for the shuttle to Darmstadt and after a 20 minute ride was at Hauptbahnhof (main transit station) in Darmstadt and a very short walk took me to the Maritim Konferenzhotel Darmstadt where I’d be staying for the week.

The hotel was great, particularly for a European hotel. The rooms were roomy, the shower was amazing, and all the food I had was good.

Our timing on the sprint was pretty exceptional, with most of us arriving on Sunday just in time to spend the evening watching the World Cup final, which Germany was in! Unfortunately for us the beer gardens in the city required reservations and we didn’t have any, so we ended up camping out in the hotel bar and enjoying the game there, along with some beers and good conversations. In spite of my current gallbladder situation, I made an exception to my abstinence from alcohol that night and had a couple of beers to commemorate the World Cup and my first proper time in Germany.


Beer, World Cup

Unfortunately I wasn’t so lucky gallbladder-wise the rest of the week. I’m not sure if I was having some psychosomatic reaction to knowing the removal surgery is so close, but it definitely felt like I was in more pain this week. This kept me pretty close to the hotel and I sadly had to skip most of the evenings out with my co-workers at beer gardens because I was too tired, in pain and couldn’t have beer anyway.

I did make it out on Wednesday night, since I couldn’t resist a visit to Darmstädter Ratskeller, even if I did only have apple juice. This evening brought me into Darmstadt center where I got to take all my tourist photos, and also gave me an opportunity to visit the beer garden and chat with everyone.


Darmstädter Ratskeller

Plus, I managed to avoid pork by ordering Goulash – a dish I hadn’t had the opportunity to enjoy since my childhood.


Goulash! Accompanied by apple juice

I wish I had felt up to more adventuring. Had I felt better I probably would have spent a few extra days in Frankfurt proper giving myself a mini-vacation to explore. Next time.

All photos from my adventure that night in Darmstadt center (and planes and food and things!) here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157645839688233/

OpenStack QA/Infrastructure Meetup in Darmstadt

I spent this week at the QA/Infrastructure Meetup in Darmstadt, Germany.

Our host was Marc Koderer of Deutsche Telekom who sorted out all logistics for having our event at their office in Darmstadt. Aside from the summer heat (the conference room lacked air conditioning) it all worked out very well, we had a lot of space to work, the food was great, we had plenty of water. It was also nice that the hotel most of us stayed at was an easy walk away.

The first day kicked off with an introduction by Deutsche Telekom that covered what they’re using OpenStack for in their company. Since they’re a network provider, networking support was a huge component, but they use other components as well to build an infrastructure as they plan to have a quicker software development cycle that’s less tied to the hardware lifetime. We also got a quick tour of one of their data centers and a demo of some of the running prototypes for quicker provisioning and changing of service levels for their customers.

Monday afternoon was spent with an on-boarding tutorial for newcomers to OpenStack when it comes to contributing, and on Tuesday we transitioned into an overview of the OpenStack Infrastructure and QA systems that we’d be working on for the rest of the week. Beyond the overview of the infrastructure presented by James E. Blair, key topics included in the infrastructure included jeepyb presented by Jeremy Stanley, devstack-gate and Grenade presented by Sean Dague, Tempest presented by Matthew Treinish (including the very useful Tempest Field Guide) and our Elasticsearch, Logstash and Kibana (ELK) stack presented by Clark Boylan.

Wednesday we began the hacking/sprint portion of the event, where we moved to another conference room and moved tables around so we could get into our respective working groups. Anita Kuno presented the Infrastructure User Manual which we’re looking to flesh out, and gave attendees a task of helping to write a section to help guide users of our CI system. This ended up being a great thing for newcomers to get their feet wet with, and I hope to have a kind of entry level task at every infrastructure sprint moving forward. Some folks worked on getting support for uploading log files to Swift, some on getting multinode testing architected, and others worked on Tempest. In the early afternoon we had some discussions covering recheck language, next steps I’d be taking when it comes to the evaluation of translations tools, a “Gerrit wishlist” for items that developers are looking for as Khai Do prepares to attend a Gerrit hack event and more. I also took time on Wednesday to dive into some documentation I noticed needed some updating after the tutorial day the day before.

Thursday the work continued, I did some reviews, helped out a couple of new contributors and wrote my own patch for the Infra Manual. It was also great to learn and collaborate on some of the aspects of the systems we use that I’m less familiar with and explain portions to others that I was familiar with.


Zuul supervised my work

Friday was a full day of discussions, which were great but a bit overwhelming (might have been nice to have had more on Thursday). Discussions kicked off with strategies for handling the continued publishing of OpenStack Documentation, which is currently just being published to a proprietary web platform donated by one of the project sponsors.

A very long discussion was then had about managing the gate runtime growth. Managing developer and user expectations for our gating system (thorough, accurate testing) while balancing the human and compute resources that we have available on the project is a tough thing to do. Some technical solutions to ease the pain on some failures were floated and may end up being used, but the key takeaway I had from this discussion was that we’d really like the community to be more engaged with us and each other (particularly when patches impact projects or functionality that you might not feel is central to your patch). We also want to stress that the infrastructure is a living entity that evolves and we accept input as to ideas and solutions to problems that we’re encountering, since right now the team is quite small for what we’re doing. Finally, there were some comments about how we run tests in the process of reviewing, and how scalable the growth of tests is over time and how we might lighten that load (start doing some “traditional CI” post merge jobs? having some periodic jobs? leverage experimental jobs more?).

The discussion I was most keen on was around the refactoring of our infrastructure to make it more easily consumable by 3rd parties. Our vision early on was that we were an open source project ourselves, but that all of our customizations were a kind of example for others to use, not that they’d want to use them directly, so we hard coded a lot into our special openstack_projects module. As the project has grown and more organizations are starting to use the infrastructure, we’ve discovered that many want to use one largely identical to ours and that making this easier is important to them. To this end, we’re developing a Specification to outline the key steps we need to go through to achieve this goal, including splitting out our puppet modules, developing a separate infra system repo (what you need to run an infrastructure) and project stuff repo (data we load into our infrastructure) and then finally looking toward a way to “productize” the infrastructure to make it as easily consumable by others as possible.

The afternoon finished up with discussions about vetting and signing of release artifacts, ideas for possible adjustment of the job definition language and how teams can effectively manage their current patch queues now that the auto-abandon feature has been turned off.

And with that – our sprint concluded! And given the rise in temperature on Friday and how worn out we all were from discussions and work, it was well-timed.

Huge thanks to Deutsche Telekom for hosting this event, being able to meet like this is really valuable to the work we’re all doing in the infrastructure and QA for OpenStack.

Full (read-only) notes from our time spent throughout the week available here: https://etherpad.openstack.org/p/r.OsxMMUDUOYJFKgkE

OpenStack Infrastructure July 2014 Bug Day

Today the OpenStack Infrastructure team hosted our first bug day of the cycle.

The Killing Jar; the last moments of a Parage aegeria

The steps we have for running a bug day can be a bit tedious, but it’s not hard, here’s the rundown:

  1. I create our etherpad: cibugreview-july2014 (see etherpad from past bug days on the wiki at: InfraTeam#Bugs)
  2. I run my simple infra_bugday.py script and populate the etherpad.
  3. Grab the bug stats from launchpad and copy them into the pad so we (hopefully) have inspiring statistics at the end of the day.
  4. Then comes the real work. I open up the old etherpad and go through all the bugs, copying over comments from the old etherpad where applicable and making my own comments as necessary about obvious updates I see (and updating my own bugs).
  5. Let the rest of the team dive in on the etherpad and bugs!

Throughout the day we chat in #openstack-infra about bug statuses, whether we should continue pursuing certain strategies outlined in bugs, reaching out to folks who have outstanding bugs in the tracker that we’d like to see movement on but haven’t in a while. Plus, we get to triage a whole pile of New bugs and close others we may have lost track of.

As we wrap up, here are the stats from today:

Bug day start total open bugs: 281

  • 64 New bugs
  • 41 In-progress bugs
  • 5 Critical bugs
  • 22 High importance bugs
  • 2 Incomplete bugs

Bug day end total open bugs: 231

  • 0 New bugs
  • 33 In-progress bugs
  • 4 Critical bugs
  • 16 High importance bugs
  • 10 Incomplete bugs

Thanks again everyone!

Google I/O 2014

Last week I had the opportunity to attend Google I/O. As someone who has only done much hardware-focused development as a hobby I’d never been to a vendor-specific developer conference. Google’s was a natural choice for me, I’m a fan of Android (yay Linux!) and their events always have cool goodies for attendees, plus it was 2 blocks from home. My friend Danita attended with me, so it was also nice to not go alone.

We registered on Tuesday, before the conference. Wednesday we headed over what we thought was early, but then after picking up breakfast and getting in line for the 9:00 keynote at 8:25 found ourselves in a line that had wrapped around the whole block of Moscone West + Intercontinental! The keynote began while we were very much still in line, and didn’t get into the main room until around 9:30. The line was still wrapped around the building when we got in, so I can’t imagine how late the other folks got in, and many of them must have ended up in some kind of overflow room since we got some of the last few seats in the main room.

Once we got in, the keynote itself was fun. Talked about Android design, Android Wear including a couple watches that we later learned we’d get to take home (woo! One we could pick up the next day, the next later this year when it’s released) and Android Auto which has partnerships with several vehicle manufacturers that will start coming out later this year (they didn’t give us one of these though). They also talked about Android TV, which was nice to hear about since it always seemed a bit strange that they had a separate division for the OS they run on tablets/phones, TVs and for Google Fiber. The keynote wrapped up by talking about Google’s cloud offerings.

By the time the keynote had finished at 11:40 the first session was pretty much over, so I grabbed some lunch and then made my way over to Who cares about new domain names? We do. If you want happy users, then you should too. In this session they announced their initiative to sell domain names as a registrar and then, most interestingly, dove into the details related to how the new naming scheme will impact web and application development when it comes to URL and email validation. Beyond just parsing of more domains, there are now considerations for UTF-8 characters included in some new domain names and how that works with DNS. I particularly liked that they showed off some of the problems Google itself was having with applications like GMail when it comes to these new domains, and how they fixed them.

The next session I went to was Making sense of online course data. I’m a big fan of MOOCs, so this was of particular interest to me. Peter Norvig and Julia Wilkowski discussed some of Google’s initiatives in developing MOOCs and what they’ve learned from their students following each one. It was refreshing to hear that they were catering to the educational needs of the students by going as far as completely breaking down old course models and doing things like offering search tools for classes if students only want to complete a portion of it, making all materials and schedule (including quiz dates and deadlines) available at the beginning and largely giving the students the ability to create their own lesson plans based on what they want to learn.

We also found time in the day to check out vendor booths and get our pictures taken with giant Androids!

The last session I attended the first day was HTTPS Everywhere. As a technical person, I’m very careful about my online activities and simply avoid authentication for non-HTTPS sites when I’m not on a trusted network. The main argument that kicked off this talk was that most people don’t do that, plus the cumulative effect of having all your HTTP-based traffic sniffed can be a major privacy violation even if there are no authentication details leaked. Fair enough. The rest of the talk covered tools and tips for migrating a site to be HTTPS-only, including how to do things properly so that your search rankings don’t plummet during the switch. Some of the key resources I gleaned from this talk include:

The first day after party was held by the conference in Yerba Buena park, and I got plenty of rest before Thursday morning when we got our chance to check out Android Auto in one of the several cars they got up to the 3rd floor for demoing! As someone who has almost always driven older cars, I am concerned about how dated the Android Auto technology will quickly become, but it does seem better than many of the current dead end technologies that seem to be shipping with cars today that are fully built in.

We also got to pick up our Android watch! After finally tracking down the developer info and charging for a bit I was able to get mine going. It’s still pretty buggy, but it is nice to get alerts on my wrist without having to pull my phone out of my purse.

Session-wise, we started out with the packed Cardboard: VR for Android session. Google Cardboard sure seems like a joke, but it’s actually a pretty cool way to use your phone for a cheap Virtual Reality environment. The session covered some of the history of the project (and of VR in general), the current apps available to try out for Cardboard and some ideas for developers.

From there I went to Transforming democracy and disasters with APIs. After seeing a presentation on Poplus when I was in Croatia, I was interested to see what Google was doing in the space of civic hacking, and was pleasantly surprised! Many of these sorts of organizations – Code for America, Poplus, Google’s initiatives, actually make efforts work together in this space. Some of the things Google has been focusing on include getting voting data to people (including who their representative is, where polling places are) accessible via the Google Civic Information API. They also talked some about the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), which is an XML standard that Google is trying to help encourage adoption for so their and other services can more easily consume alerts worldwide for tools that use these feeds to alert populations. From this, they talked about various other sites, including:

And many more 3rd party APIs documented in this Google doc.

After lunch I went to the very crowded Nest for developers session. Even after watching this I am somewhat skeptical about how much more home automation you can get from a system that started with a thermostat and still focuses on environmental control. On the flip side, I’ve actually seen Nest “in the wild” so perhaps it gets closer to home automation than most other technologies have in this space.

Continuing my interest in sessions about civic good, I then attended Maps for good: Saving trees and saving lives with petapixel-scale computing. Presenter Rebecca Moore started off with this great story about how she stopped a very bad logging plan in her area by leveraging maps and other technology tools to give presentations around her community (see here for more). Out of her work here, and further 20% work at Google, came the birth of the initiative she currently works on full time, Google Earth Outreach.

Google Earth Outreach gives nonprofits and public benefit organizations the knowledge and resources they need to visualize their cause and tell their story in Google Earth & Maps to hundreds of millions of people.

Pretty cool stuff. She spoke more in depth about some really map geek stuff, including collection and inclusion of historical and current Landsat data in Google Earth, as well as the tools now available for organizations looking to process map data now and over time for everything from disaster relief to tracking loss of habitat.

The last slot of the day was a contentious one, so many things I wanted to see! Fortunately it’s all recorded so I can go back and see the ones I missed. I decided to go to Strengthening communities with technology: A discussion with Bay Area Impact Challenge finalists. This session featured three bay-area organizations who have been doing good in the community:

  • One Degree – “The easiest way to find, manage, and share nonprofit services for you and your family.”
  • Hack the Hood – “Hack the Hood provides technical training in high in-demand multimedia and tech skills to youth who will then apply their learning through real-world consulting projects with locally-owned businesses and non-profits.”
  • Beyond 12 – “Ensuring all students have the opportunity to succeed in college and beyond.”

Google brought these organizations together as finalists in their Bay Area Impact Challenge, from which they all received large grants. There were some interesting observations from all these organizations, on the technical side I learned that most low income people in the bay area have a smartphone, whereas only half have a computer and internet at home. There was also higher access to text messaging abilities than to email, which was an important consideration when some organizations were launching their online services – it’s better to rely on text for registration than email. They also all work with existing organizations and are very involved with communities they serve so they make sure they are meeting the needs of their communities – which may seem obvious, but there are many technical initiatives for under-served communities that fail because they are either solving the wrong problem, have the wrong solution or aren’t very accessible.

And with that, Google I/O came to a close!

In all, it was a worthwhile experience, but as someone who is not doing application development as my core job function it was more “fun and interesting” than truly valuable (particularly with the $900 price tag). I sure do enjoy my Android watch though! And am looking forward to the round face version coming out in a few months (which we’ll also get one of!).

More photos from the event here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157645456636793/

Symphony, giraffes and pinnipeds

Prior to my trips to Texas and Croatia, MJ and I were able to make it over to Sherith Israel to enjoy the wonderful acoustics in a show by the Musicians of the San Francisco Symphony in a concert to benefit the SF-Marin Food Bank. It was a wonderful concert, and a wonderful way to round out a busy weekend before my trips.


During intermission

Last weekend our friend Danita came into town to visit for a week. Saturday we spent with a leisurely brunch at the Beach Chalet, one of my favorites. From there we went to the San Francisco Zoo to catch up with our new little friend, the baby patas monkey, who has grown even since my last visit a couple weeks ago!

We visited with the giraffes, as is appropriate since it was World Giraffe Day. I also got to finally see the peccary babies, but we were too late to make it into the lion house by 4pm to visit the two-toed sloth who I’ve never met. Next time.

On Sunday we went the amusement park route and made our way up to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Given my health lately, I wasn’t keen on going on any rides, but I learned a while back that this park has walruses (the only place in the bay area that does), along with lots of other animals, so I was pretty excited.

The walruses didn’t disappoint. One of the larger of the three seemed thrilled to delight the humans who were visiting their tank:

And the rest swam around doing walrus things. It was awesome to see them, I’m a general pinniped fan but I don’t get to see walruses all that often.

I also got to visit the seals and sea lions, and got to feed a mamma sea lion, the baby was a bit too shy.

Continuing on our giraffe trend, we also got to visit the giraffes there at the park as they celebrated a whole weekend of World Giraffe Day!

More photos from Six Flags here (I even got one of a roller coaster!): https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157645359472733/

Then I had a busy week. I attended Google I/O for the first time, which I’ll write about later. I also had an Upper Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS) done to poke around to see what was going in with my gallbladder. The worst part about the procedure was the sore throat and mild neck bruising I had following it, which hasn’t made me feel great when coupled with the cough I’m recovering from. The doctor looking at the initial results mentioned sludge, but didn’t think there was concern, but upon follow-up with the surgeon I’ve been working with I learned that the amount of sludge when combined with my symptoms and family history made him think the right course of action would be gallbladder removal. I’m scheduled to have it removed on July 24th. I’ve never had surgery aside from wisdom teeth removal, so I’m pretty apprehensive about the procedure, but thankful that they finally found something so there is hope that the abdominal pain I’ve been having since April will finally go away.

Tourist in Zagreb, Croatia

In addition to attending and presenting at DORS/CLUC, I had the opportunity to see some sights while I was in Zagreb, Croatia this past week.


View from my room at Panorama Zagreb

My tourist days began in the late afternoon on Monday when my local friend Jasna could pull herself away from conference things. Huge thanks to her for doing this, I know the exhaustion and pressure of working with a conference, and I’m really grateful that she was willing to take the time in the midst of this to walk around the city with me.

We did about 7 miles of walking around the center of the city. Our first stop was to visit the Nikola Tesla statue! I learned on my trip that Tesla was born in what is modern day Croatia so visiting the statue quickly became a must.

From the statue, we walked north and picked up a snack at one of the dozens of small bakeries that are all over the city and sat down next to the beautiful Croatian National Theatre to enjoy.

I was able to get some shopping done and when we made it to the main square in Upper Town I noticed that it had been almost completely taken over by World Cup festivities. Most of the United States doesn’t get too excited about the World Cup, so being in a country that cares about it during it was a treat. In addition to giant screens put up, they had little soccer (er, football?) games set up at pubs, roadside stands selling fan goodies and even cars were sporting the iconic red and white checkers of the Croatian team.

As our adventures wound down, I also got to see the outside of the main railway station in the city, which we’d go back to on Tuesday to catch a tram down to the zoo.

Monday night after tourist adventures, the conference organizers had a wonderful dinner for the keynote speakers at Pod grickim topom or “Under the Canon.” The food was exceptional, and even though I’m off alcohol at the moment (no honey schnapps for me!), I really enjoyed the family style dinner that was prepared for us.

Photos from the rest of my touristing adventures here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157645274192044/

On Tuesday evening we went to the Zagreb Zoo! It’s always interesting to visit zoos in other countries, but I’m also a bit apprehensive since they often aren’t particularly accredited by organizations like the AZA for many zoos in the United States, so I am not sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the Zagreb Zoo – many of the animals had big enclosures, very natural. The new lion enclosure was particularly impressive. As a city zoo in a park it reminded me a lot of the Central Park Zoo, but it definitely larger, if not as big as some of the other zoos I’ve been to.

More photos from the zoo here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157645264459992/

Unfortunately I had to cut my touristing short by Wednesday as I had come down with a cold and decided that my time would be better spent getting some rest before my trip home. Still, I got a lot in during my stay. Next time I’ll have to visit the coast, I hear the beaches on the Adriatic are well worth the visit.

DORS/CLUC 2014 OpenStack CI Keynote and more

Several months ago I was invited to give a keynote at the DORS/CLUC conference in Croatia on the OpenStack Continuous Integration System. I’ve been excited about this opportunity since it came up, so it was a real pleasure to spend this past week at the conference, getting to know my friend Jasna better and meeting the rest of the conference crew and attendees.

Each day I attended for the keynotes, as they were all in English, and on Monday I also participated in a Women in FLOSS panel. The evenings were spent exploring the beautiful city of Zagreb, which I’ll write about in another post once I upload my photos.

The first keynote was by Georg Greve who spoke on Kolab in his talk “Kolab: Do it right, or don’t do it at all” (slides here). I evaluated Kolab for use about 3 years ago and it was a bit rough around the edges, and I believe it was still using Horde as the webmail client. It was interesting to learn about where they’ve gone with development and the progress they’ve made. I was happy to learn that they are still fully open source (no “open core” or other kinds of proprietary modules for paying customers). Today it uses RoundCube for webmail, which I’d also go with if I were in a position to deploy a webmail client again. Finally, he spoke some about the somewhat unexpected success of their hosted Kolab solution, MyKolab, which had me seriously thinking again about my non-free use of Google Apps for email.

Next up was Dave Whiteland in a talk he called “Sharing things that work or ‘hey I just had somebody else’s really good idea’” where he talked about the work that MySociety and Poplus are doing in the space of civic coding. I’m a big fan of civic coding projects, and it was great to hear that the existing projects are working together to provide platforms for governments and municipalities all over the world. He also talked about public engagement and the success of email alerts in the UK about politics, saying that if people have access to structured data, they will use it. This really resonated with me, as someone who is interested in being better informed, I find myself struggling to find the time to stay informed, we’re all busy people and if we can get access to the facts in a clean, simple interface that draws from officially released information (which is hopefully largely unbiased) it’s super helpful. It was really cool to hear about the Poplus components available today, including MapIt and WriteIt to make civic mapping and contact projects easier.


Dave Whiteland

It was then time for the “Women in FLOSS technology” round table where I participated in with Ana Mandić, Jasna Benčić, Lucija Pilić and Marta Milaković. Jasna did a great job of rounding up great, really technical women for this panel with a variety of experiences and experience levels in the FLOSS sphere. After introductions, we talked about challenges we’ve encountered in our work, which tended to be those that every new contributor runs into (not so gender-based) and ways in which we’ve been helped in our work, from women-focused groups like LinuxChix to more formal programs like the Outreach Program for Women organized by the GNOME Foundation, serving a vast array of FLOSS projects. Huge thanks to all my fellow round table participants and the great, positive comments from the audience about how they can help.


Women in FLOSS round table participants, thanks to Milan Rajačić for this photo

Tuesday kicked off with a keynote by Miklos Vajna on “Libre Office – what we fixed in 4.2/4.3.” During preparation for my recent talks on Ubuntu 14.04, I reviewed the release notes for 4.2, so I was somewhat familiar with changes like the bigger, improved Start Center screen that you get upon launch, but some of the other features I was less familiar with. They’ve added LibCMIS support (perhaps most notably for GDrive support), preliminary release of import of Keynote slide decks into Impress, per-character border support, spreadsheet (Calc) storage rewrite for improved functionality and speed, ability to print notes and more. Upcoming features include Impress slide control from Android and iPhone and ability collaborate on documents using the Jabber protocol.


Miklos Vajna

We then heard from Georg Greve in his second keynote, “Living in the Free Software Society” (slides here). He began his talk by covering some of the fundamentals of FLOSS philosophies and then went into the importance of having people understand their rights when it comes to software they use and depend upon. He had several quotes from Lawrence Lessig’s recent commentary on free software and civic involvement. There was the sad realization that even though FLOSS has had better arguments for being the preferred solution for users (transparency, rights), it often hasn’t “won” as the preferred solution. As a result, he stressed the importance of helping those in power understand the technological fundamentals of bills and laws they are getting through Congress/Parliament and our role there. I also appreciated the observation that companies need to make an investment in implementing FLOSS technologies the “right way” with upstream collaboration (not internal forking) to avoid the massive internal maintenance problem that so many companies have encountered when going down this path and causing their FLOSS deployment to ultimately fail. Finally, I learned about the Terms of Service; Didn’t Read project which seeks “to rate and label website terms & privacy policies, from very good Class A to very bad Class E.” Cool.


Georg Greve

Wednesday morning was my keynote, and I had unfortunately developed a cold by this point in my week! Fortunately, I was able to get a lot of rest prior to my talk and my familiarity with the material and slide deck made my talk go well in spite of this. Several of my colleagues have given this Overview of the Continuous Integration for OpenStack before, so I was excited about my own opportunity to give a talk on this fully open source system, particular to an audience who are pretty new to the relatively new CI concept – hopefully they’ll think of us when they do get around to setting up their own CI system.

Slides from my talk are available here. We manage the slide deck collaboratively in git and you can always view the most recent rendered version here: http://docs.openstack.org/infra/publications/overview/


Thanks to Vedran Papeš for this photo, source

I really enjoyed this conference, huge thanks to Jasna Benčić and the whole conference crew for helping organize my trip and providing meals and entertainment for all of us while we were in town. It means so much to be welcomed so warmly into a country I’m not familiar with!

A few more of my photos from the event available here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157644861010398/

And photos from others in the DORS/CLUC 2014 Group on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/groups/dc2014/