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Recent time between travel

This year has pretty much been consumed by travel and events. I’ll dive into that more in a wrap-up post in a couple weeks, but for now I’ll just note that it’s been tiring and I’ve worked to value my time at home as much as possible.

It’s been uncharacteristically wet here in San Francisco since coming home from Jamaica. We’re fortunate to have the rain since we’re currently undergoing a pretty massive drought here in California, but I would have been happier if it didn’t come at once! There was some flooding in our basement garage at the beginning (fortunately a leak was found and fixed) and we had possibly the first power outage since I moved here almost five years ago. Internet has had outages too, which could be a bit tedious work-wise even with a back up connection. All because of a few inches of rain that we’d not think anything of back in Pennsylvania, let alone during the kinds of winter storms I grew up with in Maine.

On Thanksgiving I got ambitious about my time at home and decided to actually make a full dinner. We’d typically either gone out or picked up prepared food somewhere, so this was quite a change from the norm. I skipped the full turkey and went with cutlets I prepared in a pan, the rest of the menu included the usual suspects: gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans and rolls. I had leftovers for days. I also made MJ suffer with me through a Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day marathon, hah!

I’ve spent a lot of time catching up with project work in the past few weeks. Following up on a number of my Xubuntu tasks and working through my Partimus backlog. Xubuntu-wise we’re working on a few contributor incentives, so I’m receiving a box of Xubuntu stickers in the mail soon, courtesy of UnixStickers.com, which I’ll be sending out to select QA contributors in the coming months. We’re also working on a couple of polls that can give us a better idea of who are user base is and how to serve them better. I also spent an afternoon in Alameda recently to meet with an organization that Partimus may partner with and met up with the Executive Director this past weekend for a board meeting where we identified some organizational work for the next quarter.

At home I’ve been organizing the condo and I’m happy to report that the boxes have gone, even working from home means I still have too much stuff around all the time. MJ took some time to set up our shiny new PlayStation 4 and several antennas so our TV now has channels and we can get AM and FM radio. I’ll finally be able to watch baseball at home! I also got holiday cards sent out and some Hanukkah lights put up, so it’s feeling quite comfortable here.

Having time at home has also meant I’ve been able to make time for friends who’ve come into town to visit lately. Laura Czajkowski, who I’ve worked with for years in the Ubuntu community, was recently in town and we met up for dinner. I also recently had dinner with my friend BJ, who I know from the Linux scene back in Philadelphia, though we’ve both moved since. Now I just need to make more time for my local friends.

The holiday season has afforded us some time to dress up and go out, like to a recent holiday party by MJ’s employer.

Plus I’ve had the typical things to keep me busy outside of work, an Ubuntu Hour and Debian Dinner last week and the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter which will hit issue 400 early next year. Plus, I have work on my book, which I wish were going faster, but is coming along.

I have one more trip coming this year, off to St. Louis late next week. I’ll be spending few days visiting with friends and traveling around a city I’ve never been to! This trip will put me over 100k miles for the calendar year, which is a pretty big milestone for me, and one I’m not sure I’ll reach again. Plans are still firming up for how my travel schedule will look next year, but I do have a couple big international trips on the horizon that I’m excited about.

My father passed away 10 years ago

It’s December 7th, which marks 10 years since my father passed away. In the past decade I’ve had much to reflect on about his life.

When he passed away I was 23 and had bought a house in the suburbs of Philadelphia. I had just transitioned from doing web development contract work to working various temp jobs to pay the bills. It was one of those temp jobs that I went to the morning after I learned my father had passed, because I didn’t know what else to do, I learned quickly that people tend to take a few days off when they have such a loss and why. The distance from home made it challenging to work through the loss, as is seen in my blog post from the week it happened, I felt pretty rutterless.

My father had been an inspiration for me. He was always making things, had a wood workshop where he’d build dollhouses, model planes, and even a stable for my My Little Ponies. He was also a devout Tolkien fan, making The Hobbit a more familiar story for me growing up than Noah’s Ark. I first saw and fell in love with Star Wars because he was a big scifi fan. My passion for technology was sparked when his brother at IBM shipped us our first computer and he told me stories about talking to people from around the world on his HAM radios. He was also an artist, with his drawings of horses being among my favorites growing up. Quite the Renaissance man. Just this year, when my grandmother passed, I was honored received several of his favorite things that she had kept, including a painting that hung in our house growing up, a video of his time at college and photos that highlighted his love of travel.

He was also very hard on me. Every time I excelled, he pushed harder. Unfortunately it felt like “I could never do good enough” when in fact I now believe he pushed me for my own good, I could usually take it and I’m ultimately better for it. I know he was also supremely disappointed that I never went to college, something that was very important to him. This all took me some time to reconcile, but deep down I know my father loved my sisters and I very much, and regardless of what we accomplished I’m sure he’d be proud of all of us.

And he struggled with alcoholism. It’s something I’ve tended to gloss over in most public discussions about him because it’s so painful. It’s had a major impact on my life, I’m pretty much as text book example of “eldest child of an alcoholic” as you can get. It also tore apart my family and inevitably lead to my father’s death from cirrhosis of the liver. For a long time I was angry with him. Why couldn’t he give it up for his family? Not even to save his own life? I’ve since come to understand that alcoholism is a terrible, destructive thing and for many people it’s a lifelong battle that requires a tremendous amount of support from family and community. While I may have gotten genetic fun bag of dyslexia, migraines and seizures from my father, I’m routinely thankful I didn’t inherit the predisposition toward alcoholism.

And so, on this sad anniversary, I won’t be having an drink to his life. Instead I think I’ll honor his memory by spending the evening working on one of the many projects that his legacy inspired and brings me so much joy. I love you, Daddy.

December 2014 OpenStack Infrastructure User Manual Sprint

Back in April, the OpenStack Infrastructure project create the Infrastructure User Manual. This manual sought consolidate our existing documentation for Developers, Core Reviewers and Project Drivers, which was spread across wiki pages, project-specific documentation files and general institutional knowledge that was mostly just in our brains.

Books

In July, at our mid-cycle sprint, Anita Kuno drove a push to start getting this document populated. There was some success here, we had a couple of new contributors. Unfortunately, after the mid-cycle reviews only trickled in and vast segments of the manual remained empty.

At the summit, we had a session to plan out how to change this and announced an online sprint in the new #openstack-sprint channel (see here for scheduling: https://wiki.openstack.org/wiki/VirtualSprints). We hosted the sprint on Monday and Tuesday of this week.

Over these 2 days we collaborated on an etherpad so no one was duplicating work and we all did a lot of reviewing. Contributors worked to flesh out missing pieces of the guide and added a Project Creator’s section to the manual.

We’re now happy to report, that with the exception of the Third Party section of the manual (to be worked on collaboratively with the broader Third Party community at a later date), our manual is looking great!

The following are some stats about our sprint gleaned from Gerrit and Stackalytics:

Sprint start

  • Patches open for review: 10
  • Patches merged in total repo history: 13

Sprint end:

  • Patches open for review: 3, plus 2 WIP (source)
  • Patches merged during sprint: 30 (source)
  • Reviews: Over 200 (source)

We also have 16 patches for documentation in flight that were initiated or reviewed elsewhere in the openstack-infra project during this sprint, including the important reorganization of the git-review documentation (source)

Finally, thanks to sprint participants who joined me for this sprint, sorted chronologically by reviews: Andreas Jaeger, James E. Blair, Anita Kuno, Clark Boylan, Spencer Krum, Jeremy Stanley, Doug Hellmann, Khai Do, Antoine Musso, Stefano Maffulli, Thierry Carrez and Yolanda Robla

My Smart Watch

I wear a watch.

Like many people, I went through a period where I thought my phone was enough. However, when my travel schedule picked up and I often found myself in planes with my phone off in an effort to save my battery for whatever exotic land I found myself in next. I also found it was nice to be able to have a clock I could adjust so I knew what time it was in this foreign land before I got there. Enter the mechanical watch.

When I learned I’d be receiving an Android Wear device at Google I/O I was skeptical that I’d have a real use for it, but amused and happy to give it a chance. I didn’t have high hopes though, another device to charge? Will interaction with my phone through a tiny device actually be that useful?

I’m happy to report that my skepticism was unnecessary. I have the Samsung Gear Live and I couldn’t be happier.

The battery life will last me a couple days, which is plenty of time to get me to my next destination, and I turn it off at night if I’m really concerned about not getting to an outlet (or just being to lazy to do so).

And usefulness? It sends alerts to my watch, so at a glance can see Twitter mentions and replies, and quickly favorite or retweet them from my watch. Perhaps my favorite feature is the ability to control Google Play music via the watch, walking around town I no longer need to dig my phone out of my purse to change the song (or now, adjust volume!). As an added bonus, the watch also has an icon for when it’s disconnected from my phone, so if I walk out the door and don’t remember if I grabbed my phone? Check my watch.

In addition to all this, it’s also much less distracting, I can feel in touch with people trying to contact me without having my face rudely buried in my phone all the time. I only need to pull out my phone when I actually have something to act on, which is pretty rare.

It seems I’m not alone. I was delighted to read this piece in Smithsonian Magazine several months ago: The Pocket Watch Was the World’s First Wearable Tech Game Changer. Unless some other, more convenient and socially acceptable wearable tech comes out, I’m hoping smart watches will catch on.

Perhaps the only caveat is how it looks. When I’m attending a wedding or nice dinner, I’m not going to strap on my giant black Gear Live, I switch back to my pretty mechanical watch. So I’m looking forward to the market opening up and giving us more options device-wise. In addition to something more feminine, a hybrid of mechanical and digital like the upcoming Kairos watches would be a lot of fun.

My Vivid Vervet has crazy hair

Keeping with my Ubuntu toy tradition, I placed an order for a vervet stuffed toy, available in the US via: Miguel the Vervet Monkey.

He arrived today!

He’ll be coming along to his first Ubuntu event on December 10th, a San Francisco Ubuntu Hour.

Vacation in Jamaica

This year I’ve traveled more than ever, but almost all of my trips have been for work. This past week, MJ and I finally snuck off for a romantic vacation together in Jamaica, where neither of us had been before.

Unfortunately we showed up a day late after I forgot my passport at home. I had removed it from my bag earlier in the day to get a copy of it for a VISA application and left it on the scanner. I realized it an hour before our flight, and the check in was 45 minutes prior to, not enough time for me to get home and back to the airport before the cutoff (but I did try!). I felt horrible. Fortunately the day home together before the trip did give us a little bit of breathing room between mad dash from work to airport.

Friday evening we got a flight! We sprung for First Class on our flights and thankfully all travel was uneventful. We got to Couples Negril around 3PM the following day after 2 flights, a 6 hour layover and a 90 minute van ride from Montego Bay to Negril.

It was beautiful. The rooms had recently been renovated and looked great. It was also nice that the room air conditioning was very good, so on those days when the humidity got to be a bit much I had a wonderful refuge. The resort was all-inclusive and we had confirmed ahead of time that the food was good, so there were no disappointments there. They had some low-key activities and little events and entertainment at lunch and later into the evening (including some ice carving and a great show by Dance Xpressionz). As a self-proclaimed not cool person I found it all to be the perfect atmosphere to relax and feel comfortable going to some of the events.

The view from our room (2nd floor Beachfront suite) was great too:

I had planned on going into deep Ian Fleming mode and getting a lot of writing done on my book, but I only ended up spending about 4 hours on it throughout the week. Upon arrival I realized how much I really needed the time off and took full advantage of it, which was totally the right decision. By Tuesday I was clear-headed and finally excited again about some of my work plans for the upcoming weeks, rather than feeling tired and overwhelmed by them.

Also, there were bottomless Strawberry Daiquiris.

Alas, it had to come to an end. We packed our things and were on our way on Thursday. Prior to the trip, MJ had looked into AirLink in order to take a 12 minute flight from Negril to Montego Bay rather than the 90 minute van ride. At $250 for the pair of us, I was happy to give it a go for the opportunity to ride in a Cessna and take some nice aerial shots. After getting our photo with the pilot, at 11AM the pair of us got into the Cessna with the pilot and co-pilot.

The views were everything I expected, and I was happy to get some nice pictures.

Jamaica is definitely now on my list for going back to. I really enjoyed our time there and it seemed to be a good season for it.

More photos from the week here (admittedly, mostly of the Cessna flight): https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157649408324165/

Holiday cards 2014!

Every year I send out a big batch of wintertime holiday cards to friends and acquaintances online.

Reading this? That means you! Even if you’re outside the United States!

Just drop me an email at lyz@princessleia.com with your postal address, please put “Holiday Card” in the subject so I can filter it appropriately. Please do this even if I’ve sent you a card in the past, I won’t be reusing the list from last year.

Typical disclaimer: My husband is Jewish and I’m not religious, the cards will say “Happy Holidays”

Wedding in Philadelphia

This past weekend MJ and I met in Philadelphia to attend his step-sister’s wedding on Sunday. My flight came in from Paris on Saturday, and unfortunately MJ was battling a cold so we had a pretty low key evening.

Sunday morning we were up ready to dress and pick up a truck to drive his sister to the church. The wedding itself didn’t begin until 2PM, but since we were coordinating transportation for the wedding party, we had to meet everyone pretty early to make sure everyone got into their respective bus/car to make it to St. Stephen’s Orthodox Cathedral on time.

I’d never been to an eastern Orthodox wedding, so it was an interesting ceremony to watch. It took about an hour, and we were all standing for the entire ceremony. There was a ring exchange in the back of the chapel, and then the bride and groom come up the center aisle together for the rest of their ceremony. I chose to keep my camera stashed away during the ceremony, but as soon as the priest had finished and was making some closing comments about the newlyweds I got one in real quick.

The weather in November can go either way in Philadelphia, but they got lucky with bright, clear skies and the quite comfortable temperature in the 60s.

The reception began at 4PM with a cocktail hour.

And we did manage to get a few minutes in with the beautiful bride, Irina :)

Big congratulations to Irina and Sam!

More photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157648832387979/

The trip was a short one, with us packing up on Monday to fly home that evening. I did manage to get in a quick lunch with my friend Crissi who made it down to the city for the occasion, so it was great to catch up with her. Our flights home were uneventful and I finally got to sleep in my own bed after 3 weeks on the road!

Tomorrow night we fly off to Jamaica for a proper vacation together, I’m very much looking forward to it.

Party in France

On Saturday November 1st I landed in Paris on a redeye flight from Miami. I didn’t manage to sleep much at all on the flight, but thankfully I was able to check into my hotel room around 8:30AM to drop off my bags and freshen up before going on a day of jetlag-battling tourism.

It was the right decision. Of all the days I spent in Paris, that Saturday was the most beautiful weather-wise. The sky was clear and blue, the temperature quite comfortable to be wandering around the city in a t-shirt. Since Saturday was one of my only 2 days to play the tourist in Paris, mixed in with some meetings with colleagues, I took the advice of my cousin Melissa and bought a ticket on one of the red hop-on, hop-off circuit buses that stopped at the various landmarks throughout the city.

The hotel I was staying not far from the Arc de Triomphe so I was able to have a look at that and pick up a bus at that stop. I rode the bus until it reached the Eiffel Tower.

The line to take a lift up to the top of the tower was quite long and I wasn’t keen on waiting while battling jet lag, so I took a nice long walk around the tower and the grounds, snapping pictures along the way. I also found myself hungry so I picked up a surprisingly delicious chicken sandwich at a booth under the tower and enjoyed it there.

I hopped on the bus again and drove through the grounds of the Louvre museum, which was an astonishingly large complex. Due to the crowds and other things on my list for the day, I skipped actually going to the Louvre and contented myself with simply seeing the glass pyramid and making a mental note to return the next time I’m in Paris.

Soon after my phone lit up with a notification from my friend and OpenStack colleague Chris Hoge saying that he was at Notre Dame and folks were welcome to join him. It was the next stop I was planning on making, so I made plans to meet up.

I adore old cathedrals, and Notre Dame is a special one for me. As funny as it sounds, Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame is one of my favorite movies. Being released in 1996, I must have just been finishing up my freshman year in high school where one of my history classes had started diving into world religions. I was also growing my skeptic brain. I had also developed a habit at that time of seeing all Disney full-length animated features in theaters the day they were released because I was such a hopeless fan. The confluence of all these things made the movie hit me at the right time. It was a surprising tale of serious issues around compassion, religion and ethics for an animated film, I was totally into it. Plus, they didn’t disappoint with the venue for the film, I fell in love with Notre Dame that summer and started developing a passion for cathedrals and stained glass, particularly rose windows.

I met up with Chris and we took the bell tower tour, which all told took us up 387 steps to the roof of the 226 foot cathedral. We stopped halfway up to walk between the towers and hear the bells ring, which is where I took this video (YouTube). If you’re still with me with the Disney film, it’s where the final battle between Frollo and Quasimodo takes place ;)

387 steps is a lot, and I have to admit getting a bit winded as we climbed the narrow spiral staircases, but it was totally worth it. I really enjoyed being so close to all the gargoyles and the view from the top of the cathedral was beautiful, not to mention a fantastic way to see the architecture of the cathedral from above.

After the tour, I was was able to go inside the cathedral to take a good luck at all those stunning stained glass windows!

After Notre Dame, I did a little shopping and made my way back to the bus and eventually the hotel for a meeting and dinner with my colleagues.

Sunday morning I managed to sleep in a bit and made my way out of the hotel shortly before 10AM so I could make it over to the Catacombs of Paris. The line for the catacombs is very long, the website warning that you could wait 3-4 hours. I had hoped that getting there early would mitigate some of that wait, but it did end up taking 3 hours! I brought along my Nook so at least I got some reading done, but it probably was the longest I’ve ever waited in line.

I’d say that it was worth it though. I’d never been inside catacombs before, so it was a pretty exceptional experience. After walking through a fair number of tunnels going down and then you finally get to where they keep all the bones. So. Many. Bones. As you walk through the catacombs the walls are made of stacked bones, seeing skulls and leg bones piled up to make the walls, with all kinds of other bones stacked on the tops of the piles.

I also decided to bring along a bit of modernity into the catacombs with a selfie. I’ll leave it to the reader to judge whether or not I have respect for the dead.

By the time I left the catacombs it was after 2PM and I made my way over to the Avenue des Champs-Élysées to do some shopping. Most worthy of note was my stop at Louis Vuitton flagship store where I bought a lovely wallet.

And with that, my tourism wound down. Sunday night I began getting into the swing of things with the OpenStack Summit as we had a team dinner (for certain values of “team” – we’re so many now that any meal now is just a subset of us). I am looking forward to going again some day on a proper vacation with MJ, there are so many more things to see!

A couple hundred more photos from my travels around Paris here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157648830423229/

Final day of the OpenStack Kilo Summit

Today was the last day of the OpenStack Design Summit. It wrapped up with a change of pace this time around, each project had their own contributor meetup which was used to continue hashing out ideas and getting some work done. I think this was a really brilliant move. I was pretty tired by the time Friday rolled around (one of the reasons the later Ubuntu Developer Summits were shrunk to 4 days), so I’m not sure how useful I would have been in more discussion-driven sessions. The contributor meetup allowed us to chat about things we didn’t have time to run sessions on, or do in-person follow-ups to sessions we did have. We also had nice in-person time to collaborate on some things so that some of our projects got to a semi-working state before we all go home and take a vacation (my vacation starts next Thursday).

I spent my day meeting up with with people to talk about our new translations tools and did the first couple drafts of the infrastructure specification to get that project started. Given the timeline, I anticipate that my real work on that won’t really begin until after I return from Jamaica on November 21st, but that seemed to sync up with the timeline of others on the team who are either taking some time off post-summit or have some dependencies blocking their action items.

There was also time spent on talking about the Infrastructure User Manual as a follow up to the session earlier in the week. We decided to host a 48 hour virtual sprint on the first couple days of December in order to collaborate on fleshing out the rest of the document (announcement here). As we all know, I love documentation, so I’m glad to see this coming together. I was also able to have a chat with a contributor later in the day who is also looking forward to seeing it finished so he can build upon it as the foundation for more project-specific developer documentation.

Also, the topic of third party testing came up during one of my chats and was overheard by someone nearby – which is how we learned there were at least three teams talking about creating a more automatic mechanism for determining the health of the third party testing systems. That’s approximately two teams too many. Kurt Taylor was able to get us all on an email thread together so I’m happy to say that a specification for that project should be coming together too.

Late in the afternoon James E. Blair did a demo for developers of gertty. I wrote about the tool back in September (here) and I’m a big fan of CLI-based code review, so it was fun to see others excited and asking questions about it.

As things wound down, I realized that this was probably the best OpenStack summit I’ve attended. The occasional snafu aside (like the over-crowded lunch on Thursday – I ate elsewhere), for a conference with over 4,600 attendees it felt well-managed. The Design Summit itself had a format I was really pleased with, as in addition to having the Friday work day, Tuesday was devoted to much-needed cross-project summit sessions. As OpenStack grows and matures, I’m really happy to see everyone working to fine tune the summits like this to keep pace.

Tonight I joined several of my OpenStack colleagues for an early dinner, retiring early to my room so I could re-pack my suitcase (and hope it’s not over 50lbs) and get some work done before my flight tomorrow morning. As exhausting as this trip was, it sure flew by fast and I am quite sad to be leaving Paris! Alas, my sister in law’s wedding in Philadelphia on Sunday awaits and I’m looking forward to it (and finally seeing my husband again after almost 2 weeks).