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CI, Validation and more at DebConf14

I’ve been a Debian user since 2002 and got my first package into Debian in 2006. Though I continued to maintain a couple packages through the years, my open source interests (and career) have expanded significantly so that I now spend much more time with Ubuntu and OpenStack than anything else. Still, I do still host Bay Area Debian events in San Francisco and when I learned that DebConf14 would only be quick plane flight away from home I was eager for the opportunity to attend.

Given my other obligations, I decided to come in halfway through the conference, arriving Wednesday evening. Thursday was particularly interesting to me because they were doing most of the Debian Validation & CI discussions then. Given my day job on the OpenStack Infrastructure team, it seemed to be a great place to meet other folks who are interested in CI and see where our team could support Debian’s initiatives.

First up was the Validation and Continuous Integration BoF led by Neil Williams.

It was interesting to learn the current validation methods being used in Debian, including:

From there talk moved into what kinds of integration tests people wanted, where various ideas were covered, including package sets (collections of related packages) and how to inject “dirty” data into systems to test in more real world like situations. Someone also mentioned doing tests on more real systems rather than in chrooted environments.

Discussion touched upon having a Gerrit-like workflow that had packages submitted for review and testing prior to landing in the archive. This led to my having some interesting conversations with the drivers of Gerrit efforts in Debian after the session (nice to meet you, mika!). There was also discussion about notification to developers when their packages run afoul of the testing infrastructure, either themselves or as part of a dependency chain (who wants notifications? how to make them useful and not overwhelming?).

I’ve uploaded the gobby notes from the session here: validation-bof and the video of the session is available on the meetings-archive.

Next up on the schedule was debci and the Debian Continuous Integration project presented by Antonio Terceiro. He gave a tour of the Debian Continuous Integration system and talked about how packages can take advantage of the system by having their own test suites. He also discussed some about the current architecture for handling tests and optimizations they want to make in the future. Documentation for debci can be found here: ci.debian.net/doc/. Video of the session is also available on the meetings-archive.

The final CI talk I went to of the day was Automated Validation in Debian using LAVA where Neil Williams gave a tour of the expanded LAVA (Linaro Automated Validation Architecture). I heard about it back when it was a more simple ARM-only testing infrastructure, but it’s grown beyond that to now test distribution kernel images, package combinations and installer images and has been encouraging folks to write tests. He also talked about some of the work they’re doing to bring along LAVA demo stations to conferences, nice! Slides from this talk are available on the debconf annex site, here: http://annex.debconf.org/debconf-share/debconf14/slides/lava/

On Friday I also bumped into a testing-related talk by Paul Wise during a series of Live Demos, he showed off check-all-the-things which runs a pile of tools against your project to check… all the things, detecting what it needs to do automatically. Check out the README for rationale, and for a taste of things it checks and future plans, have a peek at some of the data files, like this one.

It’s really exciting to see more effort being spent on testing in Debian, and open source projects in general. This has long been the space of companies doing private, internal testing of open source products they use and reporting results back to projects in the form of patches and bug reports. Having the projects themselves provide QA is a huge step for the maturity of open source, and I believe will lead to even more success for projects as we move into the future.

The rest of DebConf for me was following my more personal interests in Debian. I also have to admit that my lack of involvement lately made me feel like a bit of an outsider and I’m quite shy anyway, so I was thankful to know a few Debian folks who I could hang out with and join for meals.

On Thursday evening I attended A glimpse into a systemd future by Josh Triplett. I haven’t really been keeping up with systemd news or features, so I learned a lot. I have to say, it would be great to see things like session management, screen brightness and other user settings be controlled by something lower level than the desktop environment. Friday I attended Thomas Goirand’s OpenStack update & packaging experience sharing. I’ve been loosely tracking this, but it was good to learn that Jessie will come with Icehouse and that install docs exist for Wheezy (here).

I also attended Outsourcing your webapp maintenance to Debian with Francois Marier. The rationale for his talk was that one should build their application with the mature versions of web frameworks included with Debian in mind, making it so you don’t have the burden of, say, managing Django along with your Django-based app, since Debian handles that. I continue to have mixed feelings when it comes to webapps in the main Debian repository, while some developers who are interested in reducing maintenance burden are ok with using older versions shipped with Debian, most developers I’ve worked with are very much not in this camp and I’m better off trying to support what they want than fighting with them about versions. Then it was off to Docker + Debian = ♥ with Paul Tagliamonte where he talked about some of his best practices for using Docker on Debian and ideas for leveraging it more in development (having multiple versions of services running on one host, exporting docker images to help with replication of tests and development environments).

Friday night Linus Torvalds joined us for a Q&A session. As someone who has put a lot of work into making friendly environments for new open source contributors, I can’t say I’m thrilled with his abrasive conduct in the Linux kernel project. I do worry that he sets a tone that impressionable kernel hackers then go on to emulate, perpetuating the caustic environment that spills out beyond just the kernel, but he has no interest in changing. That aside, it was interesting to hear him talk about other aspects of his work, his thoughts on systemd, a rant about compiling against specific libraries for every distro and versions (companies won’t do it, they’ll just ship their own statically linked ones) and his continued comments in support of Google Chrome.

DebConf wrapped up on Sunday. I spent the morning in one of the HackLabs catching up on some work, and at 1:30 headed up to the Plenary room for the last few talks of the event, starting with a series of lightning talks. A few of the talks stood out for me, including Geoffrey Thomas’ talk on being a bit of an outsider at DebConf and how difficult it is to be running a non-Debian/Linux system at the event. I’ve long been disappointed when people bring along their proprietary OSes to Linux events, but he made good points about people being able to contribute without fully “buying in” to having free software everywhere, including their laptop. He’s right. Margarita Manterola shared some stats from the Mini-DebConf Barcelona which focused on having only female speakers, it was great to hear such positive statistics, particularly since DebConf14 itself had a pretty poor ratio, there were several talks I attended (particularly around CI) where I was the only woman in the room. It was also interesting to learn about safe-rm to save us from ourselves and non-free.org to help make a distinction between what is Debian and what is not.

There was also a great talk by Vagrant Cascadian about his work on packages that he saw needed help but he didn’t necessarily know everything about, and encouraged others to take the same leap to work on things that may be outside their comfort zone. To help he listed several resources people could use to find work in Debian:

Next up for the afternoon was the Bits from the Release Team where they fleshed out what the next few months leading up to the freeze would look like and sharing the Jessie Freeze Policy.

DebConf wrapped up with a thank you to the volunteers (thank you!) and peek at the next DebConf, to be held in Heidelberg, Germany the 15th-22nd of August 2015.

Then it was off to the airport for me!

The rest of my photos from DebConf14 here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157646626186269/

OpenStack Infrastructure August 2014 Bug Day

The OpenStack Infrastructure team has a pretty big bug collection.

1855 collection
Well, not literal bugs

We’ve slowly been moving new bugs for some projects over to StoryBoard in order to kick the tires on that new system, but today we focused back on our Launchpad Bugs to par down our list.

Interested in running a bug day? 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-august2014 (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 (thanks Clark) and close others we may have lost track of (thanks everyone).

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

Starting bug day count: 270

31 New bugs
39 In-progress bugs
6 Critical bugs
15 High importance bugs
8 Incomplete bugs

Ending bug day count: 233

0 New bugs
37 In-progress bugs
3 Critical bugs
10 High importance bugs
14 Incomplete bugs

Full disclosure, 4 of the bugs we “closed” were actually moved to the Zuul project on Launchpad so we can import them into StoryBoard at a later date. The rest were legitimate though!

It was a busy day, thanks to everyone who participated.

Market Street Railway Exploratorium Charter

Last month I learned about an Exploratorium Charter being put on by Market Street Railway. I’m a member of the organization and they do charters throughout the year, but my schedule rarely syncs up with when charters or other events are happening, so I was delighted when I firmed up my DebConf schedule and knew I’d be in town for this one!

It was a 2 hour planned charter, which would pick is up at the railway museum near Ferry building and take us down to Muni Metro East, “the current home of the historic streetcar fleet and not usually open to the public.” Sign me up.

The car taking us on our journey was the 1050, which was originally a Philadelphia street car (built in 1948, given No. 2119) which had been painted in Muni livery. MJ’s best friend is in town this weekend, so I had both Matti and MJ to join me on this excursion.

The route began by going down what will become the E line next year, and we stopped at the AT&T ballpark for some photo ops. The conductor (not the driver) of the event posed for photos.

Throughout the ride various volunteers from Market Street Railway passed around photos and historic pieces from street cars to demonstrate how they worked and some of the historic routes where they ran. Of particular interest was learning just how busy Ferry Building was at it’s height in the 1930s, not only serving as a busy passenger ferry port, but also with lots of street cars and other transit stopping at the building pretty much non-stop.

From the E-line there the street car went down Third street through Dogpatch and finally arrived at our first destination, the Muni Metro East Light Rail Vehicle Maintenance & Operations Facility. We all had to bright vests in order to enter the working facility.


Obligatory “Me with streetcar” photo

The facility is a huge warehouse where repairs are done on both the street cars and the Metro coaches. We had quite a bit of time to look around and peek under the cars and see some of the ones that were under repair or getting phased into usage.

I think my favorite part of the visit was getting to go outside and see the several cars outside. Some of them were just coming in for scheduled maintenance, and others like the cream colored 1056 that are going to be sent off for restoration (hooray!).

The tour concluded by taking us back up the Embarcadero and dropping us off at the Exploratorium science museum, skipping a loop around Pier 39 due to being a bit behind schedule. We spent about an hour at the museum, which was a nice visit as MJ and I had just been several months earlier.

Lots more photos from our day here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157646412090817/

Huge thanks to Market Street Railway for putting on such a fun and accessible event!

August 2014 miscellany

It’s been about a month since my surgery. I feel like I’ve taken it easy, but looking at my schedule (which included a conference on the other side of the continent) I think it’s pretty safe to say I’m not very good at that. I’m happy to say I’m pretty much recovered though, so my activities don’t seem to have caused problems.

Although, going to the 4th birthday party for OpenStack just 6 days after my surgery was probably pushing it. I thoroughly rationalized it due to the proximity of the event to my home (a block), but I only lasted about an hour. At least I got a cool t-shirt and got to see the awesome OpenStack ice sculpture. Also, didn’t die, so all is good right?

Fast forward a week and a half and we were wrapping up our quick trip to Philadelphia for Fosscon. We had some time on Sunday so decided to visit the National Museum of American Jewish History right by Independence Mall. In addition to a fun special exhibit about minorities in baseball, the museum boasts 3 floors of permanent exhibits that trace the history of Jews in America from the first settlement until today. We made it through much of the museum before our flight time crept up, and even managed to swing by the gift shop where we found a beautiful glass menorah to bring home.

Safely back in San Francisco, I met up with a few of my local Ubuntu and Debian friends on the 13th for an Ubuntu Hour and a Debian dinner. The Ubuntu Hour was pretty standard, I was able to bring along my Nexus 7 with Ubuntu on it to show off the latest features in the development channel for the tablet version. I also received several copies of The Official Ubuntu Book so I was able to bring one along to give away to an attendee, hooray!

From there, we made it over to 21st Amendment Brewery where we’d be celebrating Debian’s 21st birthday (which was coming up on the 16th). It took some time to get a table, but had lots of time to chat while we were waiting. At the dinner we signed a card to send off to a donation to SPI on behalf of Debian.

In other excitement, our car needed some work last week and MJ has been putting a lot of work into getting a sound system set up to go along with a new TV. Since I’ve been feeling better this week my energy has finally returned and I’ve been able to get caught up on a lot of projects I had pushed aside during my recovery. I also signed up for a new gym this week, it’s not as beautiful as the club I used to go to, but it has comparable facilities (including pool!) and is about half of what I was paying before. I’m thinking as I ease back into a routine I’ll use my time there for swimming and strength exercises. I sure need it, being these past few months really did a number on my fitness.

Today I met up with my friend Steve for Chinese lunch and then a visit over to the Asian Art Museum to see the Gorgeous exhibit. I’m really glad we went, it was an unusual collection that I really enjoyed. While we were there we also browsed the rest of the galleries in the museum, making it the first time that I’d actually walked through the whole museum on an excursion there.

I think the Mythical bird-man was my favorite piece of the exhibit:

And I was greatly amused when Steve used his iPhone to take a picture of the first generation iPhone on exhibit, so I captured the moment.

On Wednesday afternoon I’ll be flying up to Portland, OR to attend my first DebConf! It actually started today, but given my current commitment load I decided that 9 days away from home was a bit much and picked days later in the week where some of the discussions were most interesting to me. I’m really looking forward to seeing some of my long time Debian friends and learning more about work the teams are doing in the Continuous Integration space for Debian.

SanDisk Clip Sport

I got my first MP3 player in 2006, a SanDisk Sansa e140. As that one aged, I picked up the SanDisk Sansa Fuze in 2009. Recently my poor Sansa Fuze has been having trouble updating the library (takes a long time) and would randomly freeze up. After getting worse over my past few trips, I finally resigned to getting a new player.

As I began looking for players, I was quickly struck by how limited the MP3 player market is these days. I suspect this is due to so many people using their phones for music these days, but that’s not a great option for me for a variety of reasons:

  • Limits to battery life on my phone make a 12 hour flight (or a 3 hour flight, then an 8 hour flight, then navigating a foreign city…) a bit tricky.
  • While I do use my phone for runs (yay for running apps) I don’t like using my phone in the gym, because it’s bulky and I’m afraid of breaking it.
  • Finally, my desire for an FM tuner hasn’t changed, and I’m quite fond of the range of formats my Fuze supported (flac, ogg, etc).

So I found the SanDisk Clip Sport MP3 Player. Since I’ve been happy with my SanDisk players throughout the years and the specs pages seemed to meet my needs, I didn’t hesitate too much about picking it up for $49.99 on Amazon. Obviously I got the one with pink trim.

I gave the player a spin on my recent trip to Philadelphia. Flight time: 5 hours each way. I’m happy to report that the battery life was quite good, I forgot to charge it while in Philadelphia but the charge level was still quite high when I turned it on for my flight home.

Overall, I’m very happy with it, but no review would be complete without the details!

Cons:

  • Feels a bit plasticy – the Fuze had a metal casing
  • I can’t figure out how it sorts music in file view, doesn’t seem alphabetical…

Pros:

  • Meets my requirements: FM Tuner, multiple formats – my oggs play fine out of the box, the Fuze required a firmware upgrade
  • Standard Micro USB connector for charging – the Fuze had a custom connector
  • File directory listing option, not just by tags
  • Mounts via USB mass storage in Linux
  • Micro SD/SDHC expansion slot if I need to go beyond 8G

We’ll see how it holds up through the abuse I put it through while traveling.

The Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter needs you!

On Monday we released Issue 378 of the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter. The newsletter has thousands of readers across various formats from wiki to email to forums and discourse.

As we creep toward the 400th issue, we’ve been running a bit low on contributors. Thanks to Tiago Carrondo and David Morfin for pitching in these past few weeks while they could, but the bulk of the work has fallen to José Antonio Rey and myself and we can’t keep this up forever.

So we need more volunteers like you to help us out!

We specifically need folks to let us know about news throughout the week (email them to ubuntu-news-team@lists.ubuntu.com) and to help write summaries over the weekend. All links and summaries are stored in a Google Doc, so you don’t need to learn any special documentation formatting or revision control software to participate. Plus, everyone who participates is welcome to add their name to the credits!

Summary writers. Summary writers receive an email every Friday evening (or early Saturday) with a link to the collaborative news links document for the past week which lists all the articles that need 2-3 sentence summaries. These people are vitally important to the newsletter. The time commitment is limited and it is easy to get started with from the first weekend you volunteer. No need to be shy about your writing skills, we have style guidelines to help you on your way and all summaries are reviewed before publishing so it’s easy to improve as you go on.

Interested? Email editor.ubuntu.news@ubuntu.com and we’ll get you added to the list of folks who are emailed each week and you can help as you have time.

Fosscon 2014

Flying off to a conference on the other side of the country 2 weeks after having my gallbladder removed may not have been one of the wisest decisions of my life, but I am very glad I went. Thankfully MJ had planned on coming along to this event anyway, so I had companionship… and someone to carry the luggage :)

This was Fosscon‘s 5th year, 4th in Philadelphia and the 3rd one I’ve been able to attend. I was delighted this year to have my employer, HP, sponsor the conference at a level that gave us a booth and track room. Throughout the day I was attending talks, giving my own and chatting with people at the HP booth about the work we’re doing in OpenStack and opportunities for people who are looking to work with open source technologies.

The day started off with a keynote by Corey Quinn titled “We are not special snowflakes” which stressed the importance of friendliness and good collaboration skills in technical candidates.

I, for one, am delighted to see us as an industry moving away from BOFHs and kudos for antisocial behavior. I may not be a social butterfly, but I value the work of my peers and strive to be someone people enjoy working with.

After the keynote I did a talk about having a career in FOSS. I was able to tell stories about my own work and experiences and those of some of my colleagues. I talked about my current role at HP and spent a fair amount of time giving participation examples related to my work on Xubuntu. I must really enjoy this topic, because I didn’t manage to leave time for questions! Fortunately I think I made up for it in some great chats with other attendees throughout the day.

My slides from the talk are available here: FOSSCON-2014-FOSS_career.pdf

Some other resources related to my talk:

During the conference I always was able to visit with my friends at the Ubuntu booth. They had brought along a couple copies of The Official Ubuntu Book, 8th Edition for me to sign (hooray!) and then sell to conference attendees. I brought along my Ubuntu tablet which they were able to have at the booth, and which MJ grabbed from me during a session when someone asked to see a demo.

After lunch I went to see Charlie Reisinger’s “Lessons From Open Source Schoolhouse” where he talked about the Ubuntu deployments in his school district. I’ve been in contact with Charlie for quite some time now since the work we do with Partimus also puts us in schools, but he’s been able to achieve some pretty exceptional success in his district. It was a great pleasure to finally meet him in person and his talk was very inspiring.

I’ve been worried for quite some time that children growing up today will only have access to tablets and smart phones that I classify as “read only devices.” I think back to when I first started playing with computers and the passion for them grew out of the ability to tinker and discover, if my only exposure had been a tablet I don’t think I’d be where I am today. Charlie’s talk went in a similar direction, particularly as he revealed that he controversially allows students to have administrative (sudo) access on the Ubuntu laptops! The students feel trusted, empowered and in the time the program has been going on, he’s been able to put together a team of student apprentices who are great at working with the software and can help train other students, and teachers too.

It was also interesting to learn that after the district got so much press the students began engaging people in online communities.

Fosscon talks aren’t recorded, but check out Charlie’s TEDx Lancaster talk to get a taste of the key points about student freedom and the apprentice program he covered: Enabling students in a digital age: Charlie Reisinger at TEDxLancaster

GitHub for Penn Manor School District here: https://github.com/pennmanor

The last talk I went to of the day was by Robinson Tryon on “LibreOffice Tools and Tricks For Making Your Work Easier” where I was delighted to see how far they’ve come with the Android/iOS Impress remote and work being done in the space of editing PDFs, including the development of Hybrid PDFs which can be opened by LibreOffice for editing or a PDF viewer and contain full versions of both documents. I also didn’t realized that LibreOffice retained any of the command line tools, so it was pretty cool to learn about soffice --headless --convert to do CLI-based conversions of files.

Huge thanks to the volunteers who make Fosscon happen. The Franklin Institute was a great venue and aside from the one room downstairs, I think the layout worked out well for us. Booths were in common spaces that attendees congregated in, and I was even able to meet some tech folks who were just at the museum and happened upon us, which was a lot of fun.

More photos from the event here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157646362111741/

Recovery reading

During the most painful phase of the recovery from my gallbladder removal I was able to do a whole lot. Short walks around the condo to relieve stiffness and bloating post-surgery, but mostly I was resting to encourage healing. Sitting up hurt, so I spent a lot of time in bed. But what to do? So bored! I ended up reading a lot.

I don’t often write about what I’ve been reading, but I typically have 6 or so books going of various genres, usually one or two about history and/or science, a self improvement type of book (improving speaking, time/project management), readable tech (not reference), scifi/fantasy, fiction (usually cheesy/easy read, see Ian Fleming below!), social justice. This is largely reflected in what I read this past week, but for some reason I’ve been slanted toward history more than scifi/fantasy lately.

Surviving Justice: America’s Wrongfully Convicted and Exonerated edited by Dave Eggers and Lola Vollen. I think I heard about this book from a podcast since I’ve had a recent increase in interest in capital punishment following the narrowly defeated Prop 34 in 2012 seeking to end capital punishment in California. I’ve long been against capital punishment for a variety of reasons, and the real faces that this book put on wrongfully accused people (some of whom were on death row) really solidified some of my feelings around it. The book is made up of interviews from several exonerated individuals from all walks of life and gives a sad view into how their convictions ruined their lives and the painful process they went through to finally prove their innocence. Highly recommended.

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. I read this book in high school, and it interested me then but I always wanted to get back and read it as an adult with my perspectives now. It was a real pleasure, and much shorter than I remembered!

Casino Royale, by Ian Fleming. One of my father’s guilty pleasures was reading Ian Fleming books. Unfortunately his copies have been lost over the years, so when I started looking for my latest paperback indulgence I loaded up my Nook to start diving in. Fleming’s opinion and handling of women in his books is pretty dreadful, but once I put aside that part of my brain and just enjoyed it I found it to be a lot of fun.

The foundation for an open source city by Jason Hibbets. I saw Hibbets speak at Scale12x this year and downloaded the epub version of this book then. He hails from Raleigh, NC where over the past several years he’s been working in the community there to make the city an “Open Source City” – defined by one which not only uses open source tools, but also has an open source philosophy for civic engagement, from ordinary citizen to the highest level of government. The book goes through a series of projects they’ve done in Raleigh, as well as expanding to experiences that he’s had with other cities around the country, giving advice for how other communities can accomplish the same.

Orla’s Code by Fiona Pearse. This book tells of the life and work of Orla, a computer programmer in London. Having subject matter in a fiction book about a women and which is near to my own profession was particularly enjoyable to me!

Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore. I heard about this book through another podcast, and as a big Ben Franklin fan I was eager to learn more about his sister! I loved how Lepore wove in pieces of Ben Franklin’s life with that of his sister and the historical context in which they were living. She also worked to give the unedited excerpts from Jane’s letters, even if she had to then spend a paragraph explaining the meaning and context due to Jane’s poor written skills. Having the book presented in this way gave an extra depth of understanding Jane’s level of education and subsequent hardships, while keeping it a very enjoyable, if often sad, read.

Freedom Rider Diary: Smuggled Notes from Parchman Prison by Carol Ruth Silver. I didn’t intend to read two books related to prisons while I was laid up (as I routinely tell my friends “I don’t like prison shows”), but I was eager to read this one because I’ve had the pleasure of working with Carol Ruth Silver on some OLPC-SF stuff and she’s been a real inspiration to me. The book covers Silver’s time as a Freedom Rider in the south in 1961 and the 40 days she spent in jail and prison with fellow Freedom Riders resisting bail. She was able to take shorthand-style notes on whatever paper she could find and then type them up following her experience, so now 50 years later they are available for this book. The journal style of this book really pulled me in to this foreign world of the Civil Rights movement which I’m otherwise inclined to feel was somehow very distant and backwards. It was also exceptionally inspiring to read how these young men and women traveled for these rides and put their bodies on the line for a cause that many argued “wasn’t their problem” at all. The Afterward by Cherie A. Gaines was also wonderful.

Those were the books I finished, but I also I put a pretty large dent in the following:

All of these are great so far!

The gallbladder ordeal

3 months ago I didn’t know where or what what a gallbladder was.

Turns out it’s a little thing that helps out the liver by storing some bile (gall). It also turns out to be not strictly required in most people, luckily for me.


“Blausen 0428 Gallbladder-Liver-Pancreas Location” by BruceBlaus – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Way back in April I came down with what I thought was a stomach bug. It was very painful and lasted 3 days before I went to an urgent care clinic to make sure nothing major was wrong. They took some blood samples and sent me on my way, calling it a stomach bug. When blood results came in I was showing elevated liver enzymes and was told to steer clear of red meat, alcohol and fatty foods.

The active “stomach bug” went away pretty quickly and after a couple weeks of boring diet the pain went away too. Hooray!

2 weeks later the pain and “stomach bug” came back. This time I ended up in the emergency room, dehydrated and in severe pain. They did some blood work and a CT scan to confirm my appendix wasn’t swollen and sent me home after a few hours. At this point we’re in early May and I had to cancel attending the OpenStack Summit in Atlanta because of the pain. That sucked.

May and June saw 3 major diagnostic tests to figure out what was wrong. I continued avoiding alcohol and fatty foods since they did make it worse, but the constant, dull pain persisted. I stopped exercising, switched to small meals which would hurt less and was quite tired and miserable. Finally, in July they came to the conclusion that I had gallbladder “sludge” and that my gallbladder should probably be removed.

Sign me up!

In preparation for my surgery I read a lot, talked with lots of people who had theirs out and found experiences landed into two categories:

  1. Best thing I ever did, no residual problems and the $%$# pain is gone!
  2. Wish I had tried managing it first, I now have trouble digesting fatty/fried foods and alcohol

This was a little worrying, but given the constant pain I’d been in for 3 months I was willing to deal with the potential side effects. Fortunately feedback was pretty consistent regarding immediate recovery: the surgery is easy and recovery is quick.

My surgery was on July 24th.

They offered it as either outpatient or a single night in the hospital, and I opted for outpatient. I arrived at 8AM and sent home without a gallbladder and nibbling on animal crackers and water by 1PM. Easy!

Actually, the first 3 days were a bit tough. It was a laparoscopic surgery that only required 4 small incisions, so I had pain in my belly and at the incision sites. Activity is based on the individual, but loosely estimated a week for basic recovery, and 2-3 weeks before you’re fully recovered. They recommend both a lot of rest and walking as you can so that you can rid your body of stiffness and bloating from the surgery, leading to a quicker recovery. MJ was able to take time off of work Thursday and Friday and spend the weekend taking care of me.

As the weekend progressed sitting up was still a bit painful, so that limited TV watching. I could only sleep on my back which started causing some neck and back soreness. I did a lot of reading! Books, magazines, caught up on RSS feeds that I fed to my phone. Sunday evening I was able to take the bandages off the incision sites, leaving the wound closure strips in place (in lieu of stitches, and they said they should fall off in 10-14 days). I got dizzy and became nauseated while removing the bandages, which was very unusual for me because blood and stuff doesn’t tend to bother me. I think I was just nervous about finding an infection or pulling on one of the closure strips too hard, but it all went well.

By Monday I was doing a bit better, was able to go outside to pick up some breakfast, walk a block down to the pharmacy (both in my pajamas – haha!). The rest of the week went like this, each day I felt a little better, but still taking the pain medication. Tuesday I spent some time at my desk on email triage so I could respond to anything urgent and have a clearer idea of my task list when I was feeling better. Sitting up got easier, so I added some binge TV watching into the mix and also finally had the opportunity to watch some videos from the OpenStack Summit I missed – awesome!

On Wednesday afternoon I started easing back into work with a couple of patch fix-ups and starting to more actively follow up with email. I even made it out to an OpenStack 4th birthday party for a little while on Wednesday night, which was fortuitously held at a gallery on my block so I was able to go home quickly as soon as I started feeling tired. I’m also happy to say that I wore an elastic waist cotton skirt to this, not my pajamas! Thursday and Friday I still took a lot of breaks from my desk, but was able to start getting caught up with work.

I’m still taking it easy this weekend and on Tuesday I have a follow-up appointment with the surgeon to confirm that everything is healing well. I am hopeful that I’ll be feeling much better by Monday, and certainly by the time I’m boarding a plane to Philly on Thursday. Fortunately MJ is coming with me and has offered to handle the luggage, which is great because aside from wanting him to join me on this trip anyway, I probably won’t be ready to haul around anything heavy yet.

So far I haven’t had trouble eating anything, even when I took a risk and had pizza (fatty!) and egg rolls (fried!) this week. And while I still have surgical pain lurking around and some more healing to do, the constant pain I was having left with my gallbladder. I am so happy! This has truly been a terrible few months for me, I’m looking forward to having energy again so I can get back to my usual productive self and to getting back on track with my diet and exercise routine.

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